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Capital and Ideology By Thomas Piketty

Capital and Ideology
by Thomas Piketty

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Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century showed that capitalism, left to itself, generates deepening inequality. In this audacious follow-up, he challenges us to revolutionize how we think about ideology and history, exposing the ideas that have sustained inequality since premodern times and outlining a fairer economic system.
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Capital and Ideology Summary

Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty

New York Times Best Seller

The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system.

Thomas Piketty's bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left are failing us today, and outlines the structure of a fairer economic system.

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.

Once we understand this, we can begin to envision a more balanced approach to economics and politics. Piketty argues for a new "participatory" socialism, a system founded on an ideology of equality, social property, education, and the sharing of knowledge and power. Capital and Ideology is destined to be one of the indispensable books of our time, a work that will not only help us understand the world, but that will change it.

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Capital and Ideology Reviews

In an election cycle where the political discourse has been thoroughly shaped by Piketty's work, his new book feels especially urgent. * GQ *
Might become even more politically influential than the French economist's 2013 overview of inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century...Piketty explains why this could be the moment for a turn to equality, and which policies could make that happen. -- Simon Kuper * Financial Times *
Thomas Piketty's books are always monumental...In the same way that Capital in the Twenty-First Century has transformed how economists look at inequality, Capital and Ideology will transform the way political scientists look at their own field. -- Branko Milanovic * ProMarket *
An astonishing experiment in social science, one that defies easy comparison. In its ambition, obsessive testimony and sheer oddness, it is closer to the spirit of Karl Ove Knausgard than of Karl Marx...Will be impossible to ignore. -- William Davies * The Guardian *
A book of remarkable clarity and dynamism. Drawing lessons from a breathtaking survey of different historical experiences, it teaches us that nothing is inevitable, that there exist a whole range of possibilities between hypercapitalism and the disasters of the communist experience. It's up to us to make our future. Let's roll up our sleeves. -- Esther Duflo, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences
A believer in how capitalism can be used to eradicate inequality, Piketty argues for new taxation systems that might minimize the gap between the one percent and the underserved. Whether he's right or wrong, his dazzling intellect makes for thought-provoking reading. * Washington Post *
Boldly proclaims that inequality is ultimately rooted in ideology...Offer[s] a global history of how different political systems have justified inequality, and how these systems have been transformed over time. * The Nation *
Spenglerian in scope, Piketty's critique reaches far back in history and across the globe...It's an admirable corrective to the usual Eurocentrism of Western economists...Piketty has modified his thinking since his previous opus. Rather than imply that rising inequality is a problem inherent in capitalism, he now suggests that the levels of inequality we get are the ones we countenance-that they're entirely a matter of political and ideological choices. -- Idrees Kahloon * New Yorker *
Seven years after the publication of his best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty returns with a global overview to understand some of the most pressing economic and social issues of our time. * New York Times Book Review *
The breadth of Piketty's learning is extraordinary...Politicians who hope for more than a short duree in power would do well to digest the main thesis. -- Howard Davies * Literary Review *
More like a history of the world than an economics book...An awe-inspiring breadth of data is tapped...And after dives into such detail, unlike the average data aficionado, Piketty always soars back up to the big picture. On occasion, a blistering insight can cut through reams of history. -- Tom Clark * Prospect *
Bears little resemblance to anything else written by contemporary economists, or even those of one or two generations past. The tendency in economics now-as well as in a great deal of public discussion-is to view the economy as a natural force, existing independently from our ideas about what it is and how it ought to work. This book systematically demolishes that self-serving conceit...Makes clear that a political and ideological revolution is necessary in order to achieve a new era of economic justice. -- Marshall Steinbaum * Boston Review *
[In] Piketty's magisterial survey of the central role that ideas and discourse have played in alternately justifying and questioning societies' inequities, we are reminded that political uprisings, financial collapses, and wars-think the French Revolution, the Great Depression, and World War II-are what drive change. -- Scott LaPierre * Harvard Business Review *
Just as powerful [as Capital in the Twentieth-First Century]. * Fast Company *
Has virtues that many post-Marxist critiques lack...Piketty's sweeping scholarship enhances, rather than obscures, his central argument. * The Economist *
Ranges widely across continents and centuries in its analysis of economic inequality and the ways it is justified. -- Matthew Reisz * Times Higher Education *
Thomas Piketty's magisterial global and connected history takes us on a whirlwind journey across the world during the past 500 years to show how shifting ideas and politics have shaped a wide variety of inequality regimes. Fully embracing the power of historical analysis, Capital and Ideology emboldens us to reimagine the possibilities of our present. Enormously rich in argument and evidence, this tour de force by one of the most influential thinkers of our age is a must-read for anyone grappling with the dilemmas of our present. -- Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Thomas Piketty's new book starts where Capital in the Twenty-First Century left off, revealing how inequality was allowed to develop into an acceptable condition, now and in the past, in the West and in the rest of the world. Still, not all is bad: if inequality is a social construct, that means it can also be undone. Based on monumental research, Capital and Ideology is an appeal to rethink capitalism-if not for today's politicians then perhaps for tomorrow's revolution! -- Reinier de Graaf, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, author of Four Walls and a Roof
[A] wide-ranging historical survey of 'inequality regimes'-dogmas that justify hierarchies of wealth and power...This ambitious manifesto will stir controversy, but also cement Piketty's position as the Left's leading economic theorist. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) *
A significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to 'non-European trifunctional societies,' Chinese-style communism, and 'hypercapitalist' orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution...A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion. * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) *
Outlines a fairer economic system for the world. -- Claire Warren * Management Today *
The journey through this book is long but rewarding. Piketty's historical analysis of inequality around the world is fascinating, and even the wishful thinking underlying his 'participatory socialism' makes for interesting reading. -- Willem H. Buiter * Project Syndicate *
[Piketty] expand[s] his investigations across the globe and over long periods of history to reveal how ideologies fuel inequalities. -- Ashish Mehta * The Wire *

About Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty is Director of Studies at L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Professor at the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Additional information

Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty
Harvard University Press
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