It probably is and with inequality causing major problems in the world it is lamentable. Not least since voters all over the world are turning to authoritarian demagogues who will not improve the lives of anybody but themselves. Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” looks at how patrimonial capitalism has the upper hand. Listen to BBC Newsnight’s Policy Editor Chris Cook explaning the main points:
Isn’t it great that a book could rattle clichés, upend dogma and, if correct, give the majority of human beings the knowledge necessary to stop the top 1% robbing them of their rights as citizens.
In his bestseller Thomas Piketty claims we are heading into a future dominated by inherited wealth, giving the few very rich ever greater power over politics, government and society.
It’s called “Patrimonial capitalism” and has potentially terrifying consequences for democracy. If you work for a living, the level of inequality in the United States is, according to Piketty “probably higher than in any other society, at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.” If he’s correct, patrimonial capitalism will spread globally. And already by 2030, according to Piketty’s predictions.
Doing a “Gordon Gekko” a thing of the past
To quote Krugman: “Gordon Gekko is a bad guy, he’s a predator. But he’s a self-made predator. And right now, what we’re really talking about is we’re talking about Gordon Gekko’s son or daughter. We’re talking about inherited wealth playing an ever-growing role. So he’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth, “patrimonial capitalism.” And he does it with an enormous amount of documentation and it’s a revelation. I mean, even for someone like me, it’s a revelation.” In other words, it will not be possible for anyone working for a living to become rich. You can watch Bill Moyer’s whole interview with Paul Krugman about the book here
Is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” the watershed reviewers call it? Do you agree with Piketty and Krugman that the world is heading for patrimonial capitalism? If so, do you believe it’s positive or negative for society? If patrimonial capitalism rules the world what will happen to democracy? Do you agree with Krugman that if the US were behind Pikett’s idea of a global tax on wealth it could happen in the future? Would you like to live in a world of patrimonial capitalism? Perhaps you are of the opinion that society as a whole will benefit from patrimonial capitalism?
Video: BBC Newsnight – Picture: The White House