Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality....A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] wide-ranging historical survey....This ambitious manifesto will stir controversy, but also cement Piketty's position as the Left's leading economic theorist." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Piketty's latest book is an ambitious attempt to analyze inequality and offer ways to reduce it....This meticulous analysis will interest those with a serious concern for economic public policy." Library Journal
"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
"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
"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
About the Author
Thomas Piketty is a French economist who is Professor of Economics at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics and Centennial Professor of Economics in the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics.