inequality

A Pirate reads Piketty, part 4: Transparency

George Walkden's picture

Transparency and its sister, the flip side of the coin, privacy, are at the heart of Pirate politics. The first of the seven principles on which the PPUK constitution is founded states that society is built on the sharing of knowledge (and we've already seen how important that is in reducing inequality, according to Piketty). The third principle makes this more explicit with respect to the role of government: "Everyone should have a say in the structure and processes of governance and the right to know what is done on their behalf".

A Pirate reads Piketty, part 3: The Rich Shall Inherit The Earth

George Walkden's picture

One of the refreshing things about Piketty’s book - at least for a humanities academic like me - is that he uses literary sources, particularly the novels of Austen and Balzac, as evidence of attitudes to wealth in the nineteenth century. His favourite episode is from Balzac’s Père Goriot, in which the young protagonist Rastignac is faced with a dilemma: marry Victorine and inherit a vast fortune, or work his way to the top? The cynical Vautrin comes to the rescue with a timely lesson, explaining to young Rastignac that even at the height of a career in law - for which he would have to fight hard and sacrifice much - he would still earn far less than he could simply by marrying into a wealthy family.

A depressing thought for anyone with the slightest attachment to meritocracy. But that sort of society is dead and gone. Isn’t it?

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