Thomas Piketty’s latest book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has had its fair share of criticisms. The political right continues to bludgeon the latest critique of capitalism by challenging the veracity of the book’s mathematics, formulas, and quantitative reasoning. But Harry Binswanger understands that the basis for every attack against capitalism is grounded in the idea that capitalism is inherently immoral. Therefore, any defense of capitalism cannot, and should not, be grounded in statistics, but must challenge the existing moral premises that permeate today’s society…
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” offers up the same failed, blood-soaked doctrines as its forbearer, “Das Kapital.” But in our Twitterized culture, yesterday’s disgraced notions, now forgotten, can be re-Tweeted as revelations.
Evil cannot be combated by offering counter-statistics, as many conservatives are doing. No one is concerned with the statistics, only with the moral narrative. And the book’s opening epigraph gives us that, via a quote from France’s 1789 “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen”:
“Social distinctions can be based only on common utility.”
In quiet, understated language, that statement lays down the formula for total collectivism. It cuts the ground out from under individual rights, substituting “common utility” as the standard for state action. It demands the yoking of the individual to the group.
M. Piketty doesn’t mention that four years after that ill-named Declaration of Rights came the Reign of Terror. The sequence is logical: the Declaration appealed to the raw envy of the mob, whose instrument became the guillotine.
The whole thing can be read here.