Book review : Capital and ideology

Haynes, Jeffrey (2020) Book review : Capital and ideology. Democratization, 28 (2). pp. 456-458. ISSN 1743-890X


Book review of: Capital and ideology / by Thomas Piketty, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2020 (ix+1093 pages, £31.95 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-674-98082-2).

Our economy, Piketty observes, is not a natural fact. Markets, profits, and capital are all historical constructs that depend on choices. Piketty explores the material and ideological interactions of conflicting social groups that have given us slavery, serfdom, colonialism, communism, and hypercapitalism, shaping the lives of billions. He concludes that the great driver of human progress over the centuries has been the struggle for equality and education and not, as often argued, the assertion of property rights or the pursuit of stability. The new era of extreme inequality that has derailed that progress since the 1980s, he shows, is partly a reaction against communism, but it is also the fruit of ignorance, intellectual specialization, and our drift toward the dead-end politics of identity.

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