Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Thomas Piketty Wants to Bring Back Communism in the Guise of Democratic Socialism

Posted by M. C. on August 13, 2022

Piketty is a Marxist who has written a great deal on income distribution to promote income redistribution and other Marxist goals. He exhibits no knowledge of economics and economic theory except that implied by the construction of economic statistics. His proposed solutions are implicitly violent, destructive, and unable to achieve the desired results.

Mark Thornton

Thomas Piketty
A Brief History of Equality
Harvard University Press, 2022

Thomas Piketty’s Brief History is the fourth installment of his assault on economic inequality, following as it does the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Capital and Ideology. The third, Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016–2021, is just a collection of popular articles based on which the New York Times dubbed Piketty a “vaguely left-of-center” economist. This slim fourth volume from Harvard University Press calls for far-reaching socialist policies to establish economic equality. It is a siren song of communism: “economic justice” without any cost or noteworthy harm to society.

The primary reason for my concern with Piketty and this book is the relative influence of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto (written with Frederick Engels) versus his Kapital: A Critique of Political Economy. The Manifesto was short, on point, and politically actionable while Kapital was long, jargony, filled with footnotesand nebulous concerning political action. Indeed, Marx’s view of history told Kapital readers to sit tight for generations and suffer, while the Manifesto was an immediate call to arms around the world!

In terms of relevance, the Manifesto’s ten-point program would become the political action platform for democratic socialists worldwide and public policy in leading nations by 1917. In contrast, the highly improbable Marxist takeover of Russia had no blueprint from Kapital, led to one economic disaster after another, and ended in failure, as Ludwig von Mises predicted. Piketty may have at least learned that lesson and advocates a social-democratic-type takeover.

All of Piketty’s books are terrible from an economic perspective. Most importantly, all are as dangerous to political economy as Marx’s books were catastrophic to hundreds of millions of people, especially the lower-income people Marx and Piketty propose to help. The brevity of this book makes it potentially the most socially devastating of the four.

Brief History

Up until two centuries ago, more than 95 percent of humanity lived in “extreme poverty.” That number had fallen to about one-third of the global population by the end of the 1980s and is now less than 10 percent, and still falling, all during a period of rapid population increase. This is one of the most important facts you can say about the entire history of humanity, and yet it seems not widely known—and how it was achieved is completely lost on Piketty.

Piketty gives no indication to me that he is an economist or any kind of disinterested objective scientific observer. However, his statistic- and chart-filled books give the impression of a scientific basis for his policy conclusion. Piketty is a Marxist, an advocate for communism, but all in the guise of a conventional democratic socialism. However, his dedication of the book reminds readers of the Manifesto’s finale.

He does admit that the last quarter millennium has also been a powerful movement toward greater economic equality, but he largely ignores how the enormous, sustained increase in the standard of living was achieved. It just happened. He does want readers to understand his views that this improvement was not the result of capitalism, that sociopolitical systems are just a matter of democratic choice, and that various forms of socialist and union agitation are to be credited with economic progress.

See the rest here

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