Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century argues that the normal tendency of capitalism is to increase inequality (the book has a link-rich page here, eleven reviews here). It’s not a theoretically-ambitious work, but it gets to the point, well-supported by statistics. The simple, Zeitgeist-consistency of the thesis guarantees its success.
Because Piketty’s claim is casually Marxist, the impulse on the right is to attempt a refutation. I very much doubt this is going to work. Since capital is escalating at an exponential rate, while people definitely aren’t (and are in fact devolving), how could the trend identified by Piketty be considered anything other than the natural one? Under conditions of even minimally functional capitalism, for sub-inert, ever more conspicuously incompetent ape-creatures to successfully claim a stable share of techonomic product would be an astounding achievement, requiring highly artificial and increasingly byzantine redistribution mechanisms. No surprise from Outside in that this isn’t occurring, but rather a priori endorsement of Piketty’s conclusion — only radically anomalous developments have ever made the trend seem anything other than it is.
FILED UNDER :Political economy
TAGGED WITH :Capitalism , History , Inquality