Being labelled a Marxist can result in you losing your job in academia and being socially castigated. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. If he was to say he is a Marxist that may cloud the discussion because so many misconseptions, stereotyping and fearmongering is tied to him. Growth rates were much higher on average in the 50’s and 60’s: And the benefits of this growth were more widely disbursed: This is a nuanced argument for taking meaningful action to structure our economy more similarly to the economy into which the baby boomers were born. However, Piketty’s policy prescriptions to solve the problem of inequality have become the controversial and questionable part of his book. Piketty, however, has still felt it necessary to go to great lengths to reassure the world that he is not a Marxist, stating categorically his belief that, “we need private property and market institutions, not just for economic efficiency but for personal freedom,” (New York Times, 19 th April 2014) and affirming that, “I am … In 2010, stock-related compensation made up 62% of the total compensation of S&P 500 CEOs and 55% of total compensation for the CEOs of TSX 60 companies. Stock-related compensation for executives began on a small scale sometimes in the 1970s, grew in the 1980s to 26% of total compensation for the 50 largest American companies; during the 1990s, grew to 47% and to 60% during the period 2000-2005. Thomas Piketty & The Marxist Meme The Marxist meme, for those of you new to this blog, claims that we're poor because the rich people stole all the money . The claim that our society should disburse benefits moderately more equally is not equivalent to the claim that we should live in a perfectly equal Marxist utopia. How to Write a Marxist Critique of Thomas Piketty Without Actually Reading the Book. © 2020 Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. In other words, Piketty bites off more than he can chew. He is also that rarest of things: a bestselling academic author. We’ve got you covered. Thomas Piketty, the French economist from communism’s birthplace, is back and this time he wants to drive a stake through the heart of capitalism, end human rights, and deny equal protection of the law in the true spirit of Marxism. This would depress the rate of return to capital. Likewise, so do our current societies (this is commonly rejected, which is odd). Oh wait. Their proposal for … Stieglitz and krugman regarding inequality and underconsumption where you make a call for stieglitz. Thomas Piketty’s new book may prove as famous—and controversial—as its predecessor. Piketty totally misses the real driver of this huge increase in compensation of U.S. executives: stock options. His weighty 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century was a surprise bestseller, which sparked much commentary … In this kind of society, once a family becomes wealthy, it gets wealthier in perpetuity provided that no member of the family actively squanders the fortune. Piketty totally misses the real driver of this huge increase in compensation of U.S. executives and its contribution to wealth inequality: stock options and share-related compensation. Maybe for the sake of maintaining somewhat of rational discussion maybe the best thing would be to say he is not. Regarding Karl Marx and nationalisation of means of production, I also believe you are wrong. It is absurd how this can happen. Hence, the Marxists all over the world believed that it will not be possible to create an egalitarian political system or structure without … ( Log Out /  The magazine Alpha manages to collect and report the cash income of the 25 most successful hedge fund managers each year. First, Karl Marx not propose all the solutions that you suggest in your post. ( Log Out /  The next issue of Top Stories Newsletter will soon be in your inbox. Other aspects, such as labor theory of value seem more dubious. It’s not my task today to assess the empirical research behind this claim–Piketty uses almost 500 pages to defend it, and I don’t have that kind of verbage to spend here. thank you Benjamin for a clear and concise comment on Piketty and equality. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images . So yes, Piketty may agree with much of Marx analysis (just as Keynes and schumpeter) without proposing a soviet style communism (which I believe not even Karl Marx would agree with) Does that make him a Marxist? You may be interested in my blog King Solomon’s Wisdom for the GOP as an added perspective to your post. He does not even want socialist political parties to mass nationalize private sector business. Presumably, Piketty believes those funds could be redistributed to consumers for the purpose of consumption, disbursing the benefits of growth and stimulating the growth rate. They typically believe both that capitalism is morally wrong and that it is a material inevitability that it will be destroyed. Thomas Piketty’s 600-page, multi-million selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century won him both accolades, but both were wide of the mark. This is much closer to the Keynesian capitalist position (that capitalism can be made sound through state policy) than the Marxist one (that capitalism is intrinsically and unavoidably fated to collapse). Marxists think that capitalism is wrong because it generates one or both of two different negative outcomes: For Marxists, there is no way to organize capitalism so as to overcome these critiques. For example, the Argentinian economist Esteban Ezequiel Maito employs the Marxist approach, even using the same source data as Piketty(! Capitalism by its very nature generates these outcomes and it is only through the dissolution of capitalism into socialism that they can be avoided. This phenomenon, claims Piketty, flows from the fact that executives essentially set their own “salary.” Therefore, given the change in “social norms and acceptability” since Reagan and Thatcher, U.S. and U.K executives can pay themselves stupendous amounts without any social push-back. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We apologize, but this video has failed to load. Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. And only in the US would he be mistaken for a Marxist! Those that argue as much either do not understand what these left wing positions are or are failing to participate in the debate in an honest and forthright way. In discussion regarding this, Karl Marx said in Paris he was not a communist. Since the publication of the English version of his book, Piketty has become the coqueluche of the American left. Karl Marx talked about the unequal economic infrastructure that bolsters the political superstructure which, in return, helps the continuation of the economic inequalities. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. America is a capitalist society (a society ran by capitalists), therefore discussion of Marxism is a taboo. It is a slanderous, dismissive comparison and a straw man argument. To support his idealism, Thomas Piketty is reduced to a classic critique that reduces Marxism to economic determinism. He does not want a violent revolution. If you don't see it please check your junk folder. It provides a detailed long-term analysis of human civilisations (unlike Keynesianism/Statism) to demonstrate that all historical societies had rigid class structures which reflect property ownership and production-relations (this is commonly accepted). Though the issue will certainly do some damage, the “errors” are minor and do not change the overall picture the book describes. Thomas Piketty is no Marxist, he’s a Jacobin! A welcome email is on its way. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. In the United States, Marxism is rightly or wrongly looked upon as frivolous and naïve. Thomas Piketty (French: [tɔ.ma pi.kɛ.ti]; born 7 May 1971) is a French economist who is Professor of Economics at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics and Centennial Professor of Economics in the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics.. Piketty… This is a move in favor of making our economy more like the American economy in the 1950’s and 1960’s, not like the Soviet economy of the Marxists. If G > R, wealthy citizens will see economic growth outpace the rate at which their assets grow. Thomas Piketty is a Frenchman who had been promoting wealth redistribution in obscurity. The World Economic Forum is promoting a Marxist agenda with a 50-page manifesto organized by the communist Thomas Piketty. The Forum promotes a new Marxist world, calling upon Piketty’s “urgent new message on how to fight inequality” where they want to attack anyone with wealth. It should be noted that Piketty himself has now soft-pedaled on the book’s radical prescriptions, claiming they were merely put forth to stimulate discussion and debate. Piketty is engaged in a critique of capitalism not to abolish it, but to restore it to conditions under which its benefits are most widely and fairly disbursed. T homas Piketty’s global renown shouldn’t stop us from asking some hard political questions — or rather questions about his intellectual and political deception. Thomas Piketty is a French economist and the omnipresent author of Capital in the 21st Century. Even though Piketty and the Pope (formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio) have denied any interest or faith in Marxism, they will not be forgiven anytime soon because anyone who points out capitalism’s social … I believe you have a great career in academia with such clear and succicient writing. It is an idea that slides easily into the mind, quickly learned but very hard to unlearn, despite making no economic sense. They are alienated from other workers insofar as they are made to compete with one another for jobs and income and are played off against each other by the capitalist. The Rate of Economic Growth (G)–the rate at which the economy generates new wealth. By Zachary Levenson. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. Reformist Marxism–in the form espoused by the Fabians in Britain and by the old left more generally throughout Europe (much of which is no longer a serious political force even on that continent), capitalism is ended gradually through the democratic system via the gradual seizure of assets and nationalization of industries by a socialist party which maintains its mandate by winning elections. Keynes suggested that we increase public spending to compensate for reduction in private consumption. Thomas Piketty is a French economist and former wunderkind, who obtained his PhD from the London School of Economics at twenty-two. Marx believed that capitalism contained inherent contradictions that would reduce the workers to misery and compel them to overthrow the capitalist system. In order to maintain their status over extended periods, they and/or their children will have to find and develop additional sources of income. Piketty’s hostility to Paul Krugman is one of the most respected economist in the world. Benjamin Studebaker summarizes […]. In the revolutionary camp, there are now Leninists, Trotskyites, Stalinists, Maoists, and so on. Good for you to comment on the brainwashing presently going on about wealth distribution.’. In the reformist camp there are the Fabians, democratic socialists, and so on. Change ). By continuing to use our site, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. As such nationalisation was not what he was aiming for. Seven years ago the French economist Thomas Piketty released “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” a magnum opus on income inequality. The Rate of Return to Capital (R)–the rate at which existing wealth grows. Thomas Piketty and Millennial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality Capitalism’s new critics take on an economics run amok. Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a long book, and you just don’t have time in your busy schedule to finish it and formulate a materialist critique. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. To explain how thoroughly inapplicable the Marxist label is to Thomas Piketty, we must understand the following: Marxists are engaged in a critique of capitalism not for the sake of improving or bettering the capitalist system but for the sake of destroying it. But beginning in the 1980s there is, not surprisingly, an almost perfect correlation between total compensation of U.S. executives and the stock market. CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY By Thomas Piketty. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty does not argue either for a revolution or for the Fabian project, but instead proposes a global wealth tax. The point is that this is a very different kind of argument from the Marxist argument. Piketty’s policy solution is for states to collude on their tax rates so as to make it impossible for businesses and rich people to use capital flight to avoid higher rates. This is neither. Helpful article, but I think you are perpetuating negative dogmas about Marxist theory. One such group, about which the veil of ignorance is lifted ever briefly once a year, is made up of so-called hedge funds. Conservatives, who are often to some degree nostalgic for the social mores of yesteryear, should be sympathetic to this argument for consistency’s sake. Piketty assembles a lot of data to support his arguments. All Marxists, whether revolutionary or reformist, are necessarily committed to eventually doing away with capitalism altogether. Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a 2013 book by French economist Thomas Piketty.It focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century. Led by Robespierre, the Jacobins in the Reign of Terror passed radical legislation, hunting down and executing their opponents. Piketty is a Keynesian liberal rather than a Marxist; his goal is to return us to the 20th century economic conditions under which we saw rapid growth with disbursed benefits. Although branded as a neo-Marxist by right-wing pundits, Piketty is actually a Jacobin, an heir of the French Revolution to which he refers in several instances and always favourably. In the most recent issue, however, I saw something strange. I turned to the relevant article and discovered that the controversy being highlighted was over Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Marxist. Piketty’s definition of capital as predominantly a financial measure of equipment, money, financial assets, land and other valuables will discourage a more Marxist oriented perspective. Those who believe that wealth and income inequality must be reduced, that, at its current U.S. level, it becomes a socially explosive phenomenon, must come up with realistic and effective policies. This is evidence that Marxist theory is probably correct. They will become proportionally wealthier over time regardless of the amount of work they do or the extent to which they contribute to society. Piketty fails to note this, which is not surprising since he has since claimed, in the face of accusations in the right wing press that he is a Marxist in disguise, not to have read Marx’s Capital. Led by Robespierre, the Jacobins in the Reign of Terror passed radical legislation, hunting down and executing their opponents. tap here to see other videos from our team. Abstract: This critical review summarizes the arguments and facts in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21 st Century and then discusses the main differences between this work and Karl Marx’sCapital: For Piketty, capital is a mode of unequal distribution of wealth which can be remedied through higher taxation on the … I think it is possible for two reasons. This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Piketty claims that the causes of inequality are not intrinsic to capitalism–he argues that sound government policy can yield a more sustainable capitalist model. Given that the life of stock options is usually 10 years, given the general, though not universal, practice of granting stock and stock options every year, it is obvious why the compensation and wealth of American executives exploded during this period of 30 years. In the Nordics we have strengthened the institutional powers of workers (people who receive a salary) to ensure that the workers maintain their share of the pie as productivity grows ( and as such avoids/reduces the problems of underconsumption) However, as you write in your blog about Krugman/ Stieglitz, sustaining or increasing consumption by lending the money to workers just is not sustainable. In 2014, it reported that these 25 guys earned $21.15-billion, with income ranging from $300-million to $3.5-billion. While they will still gain wealth in absolute terms, in relative terms their wealth will slowly become a smaller piece of the economic pie. […] terms set out by Thomas Piketty in ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’. Some parts of may be very relevant and correct. Thomas Piketty's opponents liken him to anti-capitalist thinker Karl Marx, but those criticisms are unfounded, Don Pittis writes. Up to the 1990s, this form of compensation was virtually absent in Europe (except for the U.K.). 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4. His account of the differences between income and wealth is … Piketty is a Keynesian liberal rather than a Marxist; his goal is to return us to the 20th century economic conditions under which we saw rapid growth with disbursed benefits. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. I found this extremely troubling, both because Piketty is most certainly not a Marxist and because the practice of calling all those with radical left-wing views “Marxist” is an attempt to straw man those leftists and prevent people from thinking seriously about their views. What, in broad terms, is the Marxist view. Certainly not the prescriptions of Professor Piketty! Even though Piketty seeks to remedy this in his current work, his analysis undervalues several deeper issues. Basically, Piketty’s “Capital” shouldn’t pass muster in any kind of argumentative field. In all his work Karl Marx was very unclear about his solutions. However, he was very meticulous when it came to the analysis of capitalism and its inner logic. Is it possible to agree with some of the analysis of Marx without agreeing about solutions about nationalisation and dictatorship. They are alienated from the product of their labor insofar as the product’s design is determined by what the capitalist wants, not the laborer. If we only categorized as “Marxist” those who hold the views of Karl Marx himself, we would ignore the many forms of Marxism that have arisen post-Marx. Piketty’s goal is to restore the status quo ante and take capital flight off the table as a legitimate negotiating tactic businesses can use against states. It is only in the last several decades that capital mobility has become sufficiently fluid for businesses and rich people to credibly threaten to move their capital to other countries in the face of higher taxes or tougher regulations. Read more about cookies here. Thomas Piketty: I Don't Care for Marx An interview with the left's rock star economist. Piketty has estimates for the relationship between R and G over the last several centuries and a projection of what that relationship is likely to be over the course of this century. But Piketty seems unaware of these dynamic influences on wealth and income. In this kind of society, a family must continue to contribute to society in order to maintain its relative prominence. Many Neo-Marxists have made it their enterprise to figure out why this has not happened, often appealing to a cultural critique that alleges that the capitalist system uses hegemonic ideas and liberal reforms to keep itself palatable to the workers. Piketty also misses out on another very powerful driver of unequal wealth distribution and concentration of riches in the top 1% and top 0.1% of Americans: the peculiar evolution of the American (and U.K. and Canadian) finance industry. I particularly like your piece on. I subscribe to a weekly news magazine called The Week. A review of Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty–First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014), £29.95. Piketty rejects Marx’#8221;s analysis of the capitalist mode of production and believes that changes in taxation on wealth could alleviate inequality while preserving the ‘efficiencies of the market economy.’#8221; There is no question that Piketty is not a Marxist. There was an error, please provide a valid email address. R falls and G rises, so as to ensure that G continues to be greater than R. In the context of Marxism, Piketty’s view is actually remarkably conservative. Below the radar, unseen by the public, a large number of specialized, privately-owned outfits carry on financial transactions, trading, speculating, and creating immense wealth for their partners and managers. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is as much a sociological as an intellectual phenomenon. Now in his latest treatise, “Capital and Ideology,’’ he argues that governments should … Piketty believes that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have made it possible to avoid the Marxist apocalypse but have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality. ( Log Out /  This critique is an old one, but as Bihr and Husson remind us, it doesn’t stand up to a serious reading: for Marx was the first thinker to clearly conceive of the relations of production as social, and therefore … Thomas Piketty, whose new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is enjoying maximum exposure across the globe at the moment, is being described in much of the mainstream media as a Marxist or an 'anti-capitalist' (the headline below is from the recent Mayday edition of the London Evening Standard).Not only does this description mischaracterize Piketty's arguments, it also traduces Marxism. The only way out of a low rate of profit is a mass … It was initially published in French (as Le Capital au XXIe siècle) in August 2013; an English translation by Arthur Goldhammer followed in … Even by 2008, the compensation package of European executives was made up of only 19% in stock options and stock-related incentives. This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Then, connect the compensation of U.S. executives, which is made up of this large chunk of stock options and stock-related compensation, to the performance of the U.S. stock market. In the banner, there was a picture of Karl Marx, and the question “Is Marxism Back in Fashion?” This struck me as quite bizarre–I hadn’t seen any mention of Marx or Marxism in the last week. Marx himself presented the original revolutionary Marxism, but the movement Marx founded has since grown and fragmented. When Thomas Piketty was namechecked on Thought for the Day, he went mainstream. Alienation–workers in the capitalist system are alienated in four ways. The Financial Times ignited a virulent controversy when it questioned some of his statistics. There were bound to be some inaccuracies and debatable “corrections” in such a massive undertaking. I do not know. Marxism opposes private ownership of the means of production based on historical outcomes. However, in this piece I believe you are bit mistaken due to the scaremongering regarding Karl Marx. Revolutionary Marxism–in the classical form espoused by Marx, capitalism can only be ended by a violent revolution in which the workers seize the means of the production, i.e. Piketty attributes a large part of the blame to the huge increases in “salary” paid to executives of listed companies.