Definition, Features and Development Article shared by: After reading this article you will learn about Capitalism: Definition of Capitalism 2. Features of Capitalism 3.
It is on the boulevard Jourdan in the lower end of the 14th arrondissement, bordered on one side by the Parc Montsouris. Unlike most French parks, there is a distinct lack of Gallic order here; in fact, with lakes, open spaces, and its greedy and inquisitive ducks, you could very easily be in a park in any British city.
The campus of the Paris School of Economics, however, looks unmistakably and reassuringly like nearly all French university campuses. That is to say, it is grey, dull and broken down, the corridors smelling vaguely of cabbage. This is where I have arranged an interview with Professor Thomas Pikettya modest young Frenchman he is in his early 40swho has spent most of his career in archives and collecting data, but is just about to emerge as the most important thinker of his generation — as the Yale academic Jacob Hacker put it, a free thinker and a democrat who is no less than "an Alexis de Tocqueville for the 21st century".
This is on account of his latest work, which is called Capital in the Twenty-First Century. This is a huge book, more than pages long, dense with footnotes, graphs and mathematical formulae. At first sight it is unashamedly an academic tome and seems both daunting and incomprehensible.
In non-specialist blogs and websites across America, it has ignited arguments about power and money, questioning the myth at the very heart of American life — that capitalism improves the quality of life for everyone.
This is just not so, says Piketty, and he makes his case in a clear and rigorous manner that debunks everything that capitalists believe about the ethical status of making money. In short, the arguments have centred on two poles: At the opposite end of the spectrum is the work of Simon Kuznets, who won a Nobel prize in and who made the case that the inequality gap inevitably grows smaller as economies develop and become sophisticated.
Piketty says that neither of these arguments stand up to the evidence he has accumulated.
More to the point, he demonstrates that there is no reason to believe that capitalism can ever solve the problem of inequality, which he insists is getting worse rather than better. From the banking crisis of to the Occupy movement ofthis much has been intuited by ordinary people.
The singular significance of his book is that it proves "scientifically" that this intuition is correct. This is why his book has crossed over into the mainstream — it says what many people have already been thinking.
It is packed with anecdotes and literary references that illuminate the narrative. It also helps that it is fluently translated by Arthur Goldhammer, a literary stylist who has tackled the work of the likes of Albert Camus. So I asked him the most obvious question I could: And then I discovered that the data that did exist contradicted nearly all of the theories including Marx and Ricardo.
And then I started to look at other countries and I saw a pattern beginning to emerge, which is that capital, and the money that it produces, accumulates faster than growth in capital societies. And this pattern, which we last saw in the 19th century, has become even more predominant since the s when controls on capital were lifted in many rich countries.
For one thing, this changes the way we look at the past. We already knew that the end of capitalism predicted by Marx never happened — and that even by the time of the Russian revolution ofwages across the rest of Europe were already on the rise.
We also knew that Russia was anyway the most undeveloped country in Europe and it was for this reason that communism took root there. Piketty goes on to point out, however, that only the varying crises of the 20th century — mainly two world wars — prevented the steady growth of wealth by temporarily and artificially levelling out inequality.
Contrary to our perceived perception of the 20th century as an age in which inequality was eroded, in real terms it was always on the rise. In the 21st century, this is not only the case in the so-called "rich" countries — the US, the UK and western Europe — but also in Russia, China and other countries which are emerging from a phase of development.
The real danger is that if this process is not arrested, poverty will increase at the same rate and, Piketty argues, we may well find that the 21st century will be a century of greater inequality, and therefore greater social discord, than the 19th century. As he explains his ideas to me with formulae and theorems, it still sounds a little too technical I am someone who struggled with O-level maths.
But by listening carefully to Piketty he is clearly a good and patient teacher and by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks it does all start to make sense.
For this beginner he explains that income is a flow — it moves and can grow and change according to output. Capital is a stock — its wealth comes from what has been accumulated "in all prior years combined".
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