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Capital and Ideology

Sprecher: Rick Adamson
Spieldauer: 48 Std. und 57 Min.
4 out of 5 stars (5 Bewertungen)

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The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system

Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left are failing us today, and outlines the structure of a fairer economic system. 

Our economy, Piketty observes, is not a natural fact. Markets, profits, and capital are all historical constructs that depend on choices. Piketty explores the material and ideological interactions of conflicting social groups that have given us slavery, serfdom, colonialism, communism, and hypercapitalism, shaping the lives of billions. He concludes that the great driver of human progress over the centuries has been the struggle for equality and education, and not, as often argued, the assertion of property rights or the pursuit of stability. The new era of extreme inequality that has derailed that progress since the 1980s, he shows, is partly a reaction against communism, but it is also the fruit of ignorance, intellectual specialization, and our drift toward the dead-end politics of identity. 

Once we understand this, we can begin to envision a more balanced approach to economics and politics. Piketty argues for a new “participatory” socialism, a system founded on an ideology of equality, social property, education, and the sharing of knowledge and power. Capital and Ideology is destined to be one of the indispensable books of our time, a work that will not only help us understand the world, but that will change it.

©2020 Thomas Piketty; Arthur Goldhammer - translation (P)2020 Harvard University

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Great book, but no great Audiobook

The book is a treasure chest full of data on and explanations of inequality throughout history. To do justice to its content would require more than I could deliver in this review, which I am not writing to criticize the content, but to warn you of the audiobook. I have deep respect for the attempt to make such an important book available for listening – especially for those whose vision is impaired – but as long as my eyes allow me to opt for a written version, I would not buy the audio version again.

The subject matter, as well as the nature of such a book, are not very suitable as audiobooks. There are plenty of numbers and charts that are not easily captured by listening alone. Certain sentences are quite long and contain multiple parenthetical elements and footnotes, which would be fine in a written version, but quite heavy if you have to listen to it. I had to rewind multiple times in order to get some of the longer sentences or numbers. And although most of the listening difficulties are due to the book itself, some must be attributed to the speaker — or perhaps the way he was instructed to pronounce french words. The book is full of french terminology, which is oftentimes rendered completely unintelligible by the speaker, who does not seem to know how to pronounce french words. Even in cases where you do understand the words, however, the pronunciation is an offense to the ears of everyone with a minor understanding of the french language and constitutes an unpleasant distraction from the content of the book. No doubt, turning such a book into an audiobook is a huge challenge for anyone, but there are certain difficulties that could have been avoided.