MixedHarvard Magazine[An] ambitious book ... the new book optimistically suggests that the eventual reversal in fortunes then may augur one now ... To the lay reader, this logic is compelling. To the social scientist forever spouting about the distinction between correlation and causation, however, it is merely suggestive. Putnam and Garrett caution repeatedly that they cannot discern causes from effects, and freely admit that their study is, for all its marshaling of statistical series, a narrative one firmly in the genre of macrohistory. The trap of such sweeping efforts is the temptation to discern out of all the noise a single master arc that is subtly bending all of history ... The evidence justifying the thesis, intriguing as it is, is not nearly so strong.
Thomas Piketty, Trans. by Arthur Goldhammer
PositiveThe New YorkerIf inequality has become the subject of intense public attention, a good deal of the credit goes to the French economist Thomas Piketty ... And now...Piketty has published a yet more ambitious book, Capital and Ideology ... It encompasses history, political science, and political theory, and is even more voluminous than its predecessor. This reviewer must report that the eleven-hundred-page work broke an (admittedly unsteady) card table and later caused a carry-on to exceed the weight limit on an (admittedly stingy) European airline ... There’s a reason for the heft. Capital and Ideology sets out not only to describe capitalism but also to help us \'transcend\' it. Piketty both diagnoses and prescribes: he tries to expose the contradictions of the reigning ideology of \'hypercapitalism\' and its malign consequences...and, to stave off disaster, recommends a breathtaking series of reforms ... This picture is discouraging. If it’s also familiar, that is a tribute, in part, to the success of Piketty’s previous work ... Of course, the people who are most likely to hear—and heed—Piketty’s call to action, whether or not they scythe their way through his book, are all of the Brahmin left. Throughout the book, Piketty heaps praise on Sanders, Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jeremy Corbyn ... if a candidate were to go the full Piketty—by proposing enormous taxes on the rich and taking steps toward surrendering sovereignty to a transnational socialistic union—do we really think that nativism and nationalism would retreat, rather than redouble? Would erstwhile supporters of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, and Geert Wilders evolve beyond their fears of Muslim migration and accept the new utopia?