Sunday, 30 March 2014

Thomas Piketty, New Fascist?


On the face of it Piketty's work is orthodox, envy-ridden social democracy. Backed up by dodgy charts. But when we poke around at the words in the FT article there's an odd smell:

US inequality may now be so sharp, and the political process so tightly captured by top earners, that necessary reforms will not happen – much like in Europe before the first world war.

Here's the thing - the masterpiece created by the Great War was Fascism. It's authoritarian, directed, Listian autarky was the solution to those very problems that Piketty alludes to - essetially the excesses of capitalism.

The essence of the the New Fascism is that there must be a new authoritarian, directed, Listian solution - but petty nationalist autarky is rejected just as is personal liberty, choice and the idea of individual achievement. The fruits of success are not ours but the state's to determine.

The deepest irony of the New Fascism is that its adherents use the old discredited Fascism as a threat to beat us into submission. We are told that we must embrace their new order or suffer a return to that frightening past, a past that scarred Europe so terribly:

Short of that, many may turn against globalisation. If, one day, they found a common voice, it would speak the disremembered mantras of nationalism and economic isolation.

But Piketty and others propose the same solutions as did Gentile and Spirito - that identity is subsumed in a wider society and individual sovereignty is a false aspiration. Above all this is the central idea that the state must enforce society's sacrifice for the greater good. In this case it is a vain search for material equality built on the idea that we are unequal because the powerful have stolen from the weak.

I don't comment here on Piketty's economics but on the imperative behind his words - that liberty must be sacrificed on the altar of equality. This is the New Fascism.


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