Many people have been discussing Thomas Piketty’s book Capital In The 21st Century lately. As they should. It is a very important contribution to the fight against economic inequality. We have seen the writing on the wall for many years, but until now we didn’t have a quantifiable theory as to how or why wealth is gravitating towards the richest of the rich.
I have not read the book yet. It is buried under many other titles that are either in progress or take precedence (damn you, college!). But I do have a few thoughts to share concerning the subject.
It seems, first and foremost, that the idea of our society being transformed back into something resembling the Gilded Age has finally caught the attention of a few important groups. Left-leaning liberals/moderates (Democrats?) who were previously apathetic toward a Marxist analysis of capitalism, and some sympathetic/moderate libertarians who don’t only blame governments for economic woes and are willing to meet halfway on markets and their discontents.
The key to both of these groups joining with their radical (Anarchist, Communist, etc.) brothers and sisters is the baseline argument that we can all agree on: that the politicians that we have elected to represent us in our democracy have not been speaking for us. Have they ever really?
Not only are we as a people confronted with the reality of corporate dynasties (The Waltons, The Kochs) but who would have ever imagined we would have to deal with political ones as well? The possibility of another Clinton or another Bush in the oval office frightens me.
We are on an old road that hasn’t been walked on since the 1920s. It’s hard not to think that we could see another financial meltdown followed by another war. Would we survive? Can we prevent or even reverse what has been set in motion? I guess that’s if you even believe that history is repeating itself based on the data.
Wherever we’re going we are being driven by a vehicle built on a specific ideology that seeks to hinder our senses. The more we fight to see the truth the tighter the blindfold becomes. The more we fight to listen to one another the louder the megaphone of the elite becomes. It’s going to take a lot of people being okay with alternative ways to organize society for anything resembling democracy to return.
This is why Piketty’s book and others like it will gain more readers in the coming months and years. The more people that are aware of their lack of opportunity originating from their lack of wealth the more they will be willing to talk to one another about how to fix it.