Pikettymania

by Andrew Stuttaford

Writing for Esquire, Stephen Marche describes Thomas Piketty’s confiscation manifesto in measured, restrained terms:

The term must-read has lost most of its urgency by this point—if indeed it had any urgency to begin with. When you see it in a review today, you assume it simply means the reviewer enjoyed the book, or that everybody else will be reading it and therefore you must, too. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a must-read in that sense: It’s at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and everyone with an interest in politics or policy or economics is at least pretending to read it right now. But it’s a must-read in another, deeper, truer sense: If you want to understand the world, if you want to comprehend the mechanics of the forces shaping our time, if you want to know the political choices we face, you must read it. I cannot think of a more important book published in my lifetime.

…Occupy was a mess of old-fashioned ideologies infused with inchoate rage, and it produced no clear vision and no clear goals. Piketty’s book is much more radical. Never again will the idea fly that all we must do as a society is permit the flow of capital and leave entrepreneurs alone and everything else will take care of itself. Society requires collective decisions about how and why resources are produced and consumed.

Quite where this idea has “flown” to any significant effect in the highly regulated, highly taxed welfare states of the West is left unsaid. 

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