Titel: ‘Inequality is not a Problem’: How (Some) Economists Responded to Thomas Piketty
Autor: J. E. King
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes hardly any reference to the ethics of inequality. Surprisingly, this is an omission shared by most of his critics. In this paper I investigate the literature on which he and his reviewers might have drawn and speculate on the reasons why they did not. I outline the four ‘views of society’ and the related issues in moral philosophy that were presented by Michael Schneider in his book on the distribution of wealth. I then summarise the criticisms of Piketty made by those few reviewers who did show some interest in ethical questions and examine the slightly earlier and quite different case against reducing inequality made by one of these critics, N. Gregory Mankiw. I consider the economic, political and social costs of inequality identified in a book-length study of Piketty’s work by Steven Pressman, and conclude by reflecting on the reasons for the widespread neglect of moral philosophy by mainstream economists.
Titel: Accumulating Capital: Capital and Ideology after Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Autor: Steven Pressman
Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster Capital in the Twenty-First Century was followed by the publication of Capital and Ideology in early 2020. This paper looks at the differences between the two books, and provides an analysis and a critique of the main advances in the new book. First, Piketty drops r>g as an explanation for rising inequality. Instead, inequality is generated and constrained by economic power supported by an ideology. Second, there is a focus on the political consequences of inequality, including the rise of right-wing populism and the election of people like Donald Trump. Third, there is a new policy proposal—changes in corporate governance that gives labor and government seats on the Board of Directors of public corporations.
Titel: Ideology and Institutions in the Evolution of Capital
Autor: Katharina Pistor
In Capital and Ideology, Thomas Piketty poses the intriguing thesis that ideology, or ideas about how society should be governed, is a powerful determinant for how society will be governed—as long as we take advantage of historical switch points. In this review essay I challenge this thesis by pointing out that many powerful ideas have run aground because of countervailing institutional arrangements. Oftentimes, they are leftovers from earlier times that precede the change and are now strategically employed for reconstituting private wealth. Clearly, ideology and institutions are deeply intertwined. I credit Piketty for putting ideology on the map of institutionalists in history, political sciences, sociology, and law. I therefore call for more research on the interaction of ideas and institutions.
Titel: Justice, Power, and Participatory Socialism: on Piketty’s Capital and Ideology
Autor: Martin O’Neill
Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology constitutes a landmark achievement in furthering our understanding of the history of inequality, and presents valuable proposals for constructing a future economic system that would allow us to transcend and move beyond contemporary forms of capitalism. This article discusses Piketty’s conceptions of ideology, property, and ‘inequality regimes’, and analyses his approach to social justice and its relation to the work of John Rawls. I examine how Piketty’s proposals for ‘participatory socialism’ would function not only to redistribute income and wealth, but also to disperse economic power within society, and I discuss the complementary roles of redistribution and predistribution in his proposals, and Piketty’s place in a tradition of egalitarian political economy associated with James Meade and Anthony Atkinson. Having elaborated on Piketty’s account of the relationship between economic policy and ideational change, and his important idea of the ‘desacralization’ of private property, I develop ‘seven theses’ on his proposals for participatory socialism, examining areas in which his approach could be enhanced or extended, so as to create a viable twenty-first century version of democratic socialism.
Titel: More Lessons to Learn: Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology and Alternative Archives of Social Experience
Autor: Andreas Langenohl
Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology has been written with the intention to offer lessons from the historical trajectory of economic redistribution in societies the world over. Thereby, the book suggests learning from the political-economic history of ‘social-democratic’ policies and societal arrangements. While the data presented speak to the plausibility of looking at social democracy, as understood by Piketty, as an archive for learning about the effects of redistribution mechanisms, I argue that the book, or future interventions might profit from integrating alternative archives. On the one hand, its current line of argumentation tends to underestimate the significance of power relations in the international political economy that continued after formal decolonization, and thus form the flip side of social democracy’s success in Europe and North America. On the other hand, the role of the polity might be imagined in a different and more empowering way, not just—as in Piketty—as an elite-liberal democratic governance institution; for instance, it would be interesting to explore the archive of the French solidaristes movement more deeply than Piketty does, as well as much more recent interventions in economic anthropology that deal with ‘economic citizenship’ in the Global South.
Titel: About Capital, Socialism and Ideology
Autor: Thomas Piketty
In this article, I attempt to briefly clarify a number of issues regarding what I have tried to achieve in my book Capital and Ideology. I also comment on the many limitations behind such a project, whose main objective is to stimulate further research on the global history of inequality regimes, at the intersection of economic, social and political history. Lastly, I address some of the many stimulating points raised in the reviews, particularly regarding the nature of participatory socialism and its incompleteness.
Titel: Capital, Ideology, and the Liberal Order
Autor: Nick Cowen* and Vincent Geloso
Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology (2020) offers a powerful critique of ideological justifications for inequality in capitalist societies. Does this mean we should reject capitalist institutions altogether? This paper defends some aspects of capitalism by explaining the epistemic function of market economies and their ability to harness capital to meet the needs of the relatively disadvantaged. We support this classical liberal position with reference to empirical research on historical trends in inequality that challenges some of Piketty’s interpretations of the data. Then we discuss the implications of this position in terms of limits on the efficacy of participatory governance within firms and the capacity of the state to levy systematic taxes on wealth.
Focus: Thomas Piketty, Capital and Ideology
2021 (43) Heft 1
Somehow it has been known all along: economic and social inequality is growing. But somehow this too had to be written down in black and white in detail, including perhaps a number of good reasons for its lawlike quality and future resilience. This was the achievement of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, highlighted by its notorious basic formula ‘r>g’. As it turned out the formula tried in a contentious way to put the inequality threat into a nutshell. Not to be mislead by a c...