Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty review – if inequality is illegitimate, why not reduce it?

William Davies in The Guardian:

It is a journalistic convention that any author who writes a doorstopper of a book with the word “capital” in the title must be the heir to Karl Marx, while any economist whose books sell in the hundreds of thousands is a “rock star”. Thomas Piketty’s 600-page, multi-million selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century won him both accolades, but both were wide of the mark. There is nothing Marxist about Piketty’s politics, which are those of a liberal reformer, while his concept of capital is closer to an accounting category (a proxy for “wealth”) than the exploitative force that Marx saw it as.

And despite his unexpected celebrity, Piketty makes for an implausible rock star. In contrast to the suave rebellion of Yanis Varoufakis or the frat-boy know-alls of the Freakonomics franchise, Piketty comes across both on stage and in print as cautious and nerdish. He is fixated on statistics, in particular on percentiles. Not only does he mine them from unlikely sources, such as 18th-century tax records and Burke’s Peerage, he is clearly fascinated by the mechanics of how data came to be collected in the first place. Piketty is a brilliant and relentless anorak.

More here.