Book Review: CAPITAL in the Twenty-First Century (Piketty)

This book on the economy is long and heavy. The author, Thomas Piketty, writes in the first person. Implicitly inviting criticism, Piketty asserts that history, sociology, anthropology and other social sciences are equally important as economics in discussing society.

History is explored in depth, and there are plenty of charts and graphs to demonstrate many of his historical points.

Piketty acknowledges that he is “vaccinated” against Stalinism, but he doesn’t seem to recognize that there are different forms of communal organization, such as democratic socialism.

His conclusions? That there should be a social state, which takes care of human needs, such as jobs, healthcare and retirement plans (Social Security). He recommends steeply progressive income and wealth taxes on the very rich, while preserving competition. He makes no mention of the military budget.

His goal of reducing inequality would never be met through his tax proposals, which do not eliminate the control of the very rich. He never mentions unions or workers’ control of the workplace. He values competition, not cooperation. Socialists would do well to ignore this book, which is repetitive, wordy, and wrong.



Maggie Phair

is a lifelong activist and longtime member of the Socialist Party USA and Peace & Freedom Party. Through the Maggie Phair Institute, she continues to ensure that young people are educated about democratic socialism.

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