A rigorously researched and ultimately hopeful volume from the groundbreaking author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century that analyses the complex question of inequality through time and finds grounds for optimism in humanity's progress.
The world's leading economist of inequality presents a short but sweeping and surprisingly optimistic history of human progress toward equality despite crises, disasters, and backsliding. A perfect introduction to the ideas developed in his monumental earlier books.
It's easy to be pessimistic about inequality. We know it has increased dramatically in many parts of the world over the past two generations. No one has done more to reveal the problem than Thomas Piketty. Now, in this surprising and powerful new work, Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality.
Piketty guides us with elegance and concision through the great movements that have made the modern world for better and worse: the growth of capitalism, revolutions, imperialism, slavery, wars, and the building of the welfare state. It's a history of violence and social struggle, punctuated by regression and disaster. But through it all, Piketty shows, human societies have moved fitfully toward a more just distribution of income and assets, a reduction of racial and gender inequalities, and greater access to health care, education, and the rights of citizenship. Our rough march forward is political and ideological, an endless fight against injustice. To keep moving, Piketty argues, we need to learn and commit to what works, to institutional, legal, social, fiscal, and educational systems that can make equality a lasting reality. At the same time, we need to resist historical amnesia and the temptations of cultural separatism and intellectual compartmentalization. At stake is the quality of life for billions of people. We know we can do better, Piketty concludes. The past shows us how. The future is up to us.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 288
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
'There is no historian of global inequality more impactful today than Piketty. His latest book is a succinct synthesis of the important lessons of his work to date-a valuable resource for all of us trying to build an economy that is driven by value creation for all and not value extraction for the few.' - Mariana Mazzucato, author of Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism
'Thomas Piketty helped put inequality at the center of political debate. Now, he offers an ambitious program for addressing it. The revitalized democratic socialism he proposes goes beyond the welfare state by calling for guaranteed employment, inheritance for all, power-sharing in corporations, and new rules for globalization. This is political economy on a grand scale, a starting point for debate about the future of progressive politics.' - Michael J. Sandel, author of The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good?
'A Brief History of Equality is a literally exceptional book. Thomas Piketty documents the economic growth and moral progress humanity has experienced over the past three centuries and draws a new inspiration from this history. Others who emphasize progress succumb to flatfooted views of well-being, technocratic fear of politics, and quietism about justice. But Piketty confronts historical progress with a subtle understanding of human flourishing, a keen appreciation for political struggle, and a deep commitment to a more just world. In this way, Piketty makes past progress into a call to continue the struggle for justice, with stronger historical foundations, a deeper understanding of the present, and a clearer vision for the future.' - Daniel Markovits, author of The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite
'A profound and optimistic call to action and reflection. For Piketty, the arc of history is long, but it does bend toward equality. There is nothing automatic about it, however: as citizens, we must be ready to fight for it, and constantly (re)invent the myriad of institutions that will bring it about. This book is here to help.' - Esther Duflo, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences
'Marked by Piketty's trademark lucidity, impressive multidisciplinary scholarship, and provocative progressivism, this is a vital introduction to his ideas.' - Publishers Weekly
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