Capital and Ideology

Thomas Piketty

Capital and Ideology



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Meritocracy is one of the great myths of our age, which is based on blind faith in private property as the route to emancipation. According to Thomas Piketty, this belief is a major source of inequality in today's society, maintaining that while it may carry with it a grain of truth, it has also created self-perpetuating injustice. The solution? Experimenting with new forms of political participation, while making sure that entrepreneurship, universal education and the redistribution of income are all given equal importance.

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Analysis and key concepts


Inequality is always justified by a dominant ideology, by a precise worldview


The trifunctional societies of the mediaeval era show social disparities that still exercise strong influence today


Colonialism and slave societies are the ultimate form of inequality


From the negative effects of the French Revolution to the burgeoning post-war period of the 1900s: a positive parable for Western nation-states


By the end of the 1900’s, people were resigned to the unfeasibility of overcoming regimes in which inequality reigned supreme


The new millennium and hyper capitalism. The challenges of modern society


Overcoming the concept of public debt and experimenting with new forms of ownership are two possible tools for a more just future.




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Analyse the history of inequality.
  • Understand the role ideology has played in political choices at different times in history.
  • Evaluate the promises, both kept and broken, in modern social democratic society.
  • Identify possible future market threats from a market economy that is increasingly lacking egalitarian regulation.

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. His studies focus on income inequality, wealth redistribution, social imbalances caused by hyper-capitalist policies, progressive taxation, and new forms of shared social and private ownership. Piketty has also been a regular columnist for Le Monde and the Libération newspapers.

Publishing house:

Belknap Pr