Such ‘an ideology [is] based on equal opportunity […] but its real purpose [is] to glorify the winners’ (103). After this the subject matter becomes more partisan and technical with remaining flashes of interesting arguments and their associated scholarship, but too much material is suspect and from ideological sources. In the end, Piketty’s book presents a wealth of information, economic evidence and political analysis, stretching over a whopping thousand pages. Email me when others comment on this review. In his previous book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” Thomas Piketty showed that inequality is inevitable when the economic system is left to operate on terms dictated by the market. CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY By Thomas Piketty. This leaves $100 million to live on – enough for the 2,208 billionaires of the world. The nearest he gets is a very contestable demonstration that “what made economic development and human progress possible was the struggle for equality,” with an emphasis on progressive taxation, “and education” - hardly the working out of a world view. In this audacious follow-up, he challenges us to revolutionize how we think about ideology and history, exposing the ideas that have sustained inequality since premodern times and outlining a fairer economic system. This is the task of propaganda and public relations (Bernays 1928; Wimberly 2019). As for the winners, this is ‘a very useful ideology for people [who] find themselves at the top of the heap. This smacks of blaming the victim. Ideologies have been used to justify wage stagnation on a global scale. As a necessary consequence of capital’s dependency on ideology, inequality regimes necessarily need to correspond with ideas of justice. $39.95. Originally developed by French philosopher Comte Destutt de Tracy, ‘ideology [was understood] as a method of knowledge in social science’ (Klikauer 2017: 83). At this point, Piketty’s interpretation, at least partly and at least in the case of Germany’s social-democracy, departs from reality. URL:, This review is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, Your email address will not be published. Although Piketty rejects the idea of historical inevitability, his arguments for societal agency and choice are weak. These inadequacies were a major issue of Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014). Based on this and to avoid a Piketty-like everything-and-nothing definition of ideology, perhaps a more useful characterisation of ideology might focus on the purpose of ideology. Piketty is a brilliant and relentless anorak. Meanwhile, large sections of the lower class have been captured by right-wing populism. While avoiding a healthy debate on the role of ideology in sustaining inequality regimes, Piketty pitches feudalist – Piketty’s ‘tri-functional societies’ (27) against modern property societies – his code word for capitalism. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century showed that capitalism, left to itself, generates deepening inequality. Introduction. Such a naturalisation is a classic tool of ideology in order to prevent emancipation. Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty (Harvard, 2020, 1,040 pages) By Andreas Ramos. Secondly, ideologies supportive of inequality regimes also need to maintain domination. Such a functional classification of ideology means that Piketty’s inequality regimes need to camouflage contradictions such as the promising equality – or at least equality of opportunity – while simultaneously sustain inequality regimes.