Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Picket Piketty

Thomas Piketty hasn't read Das Kapital, because it was too hard for him, apparently. I've not read Piketty either, so here's what I think about his book.

It's a 700-page fart by exactly the kind of asshole who won't accept people's real, lived experience or the evidence of his own eyes as valid unless there's a page of charts and tables next to a dust-dry digression by some prick with a PhD. The condition of the poor isn't real unless we can display it in a chart! You may not be able to feed yourself, but is that really data? And what are your policy prescriptions? Where did you go to school? And so on.

What do all these meticulously-collected and displayed data amount to? Why, some truly staggering insights. Did you know that wealth accumulates and concentrates, and that the ensuing inequality produces deleterious political and social outcomes? How could we have known! Why did nobody say anything!? And - make sure you're sitting down for this - what can be done to alleviate this situation? Well, you can, uh, tax the rich a bit more, I guess, or something. But not too much! We don't want to go too far, here! Wouldn't want to be a radical!

It takes - and this is worth repeating - 700 fucking pages to get to this.

Everyone but everyone is talking about it, of course, because there's apparently nothing like a 700 page book by a French academic stating the blatantly fucking obvious to finally concentrate the self-appointed Vox Populi's minds on certain realities of our Piss Hell Garbage Nightmare world for five minutes. Piketty's only useful function is to allow the bullshit-left media to continue to position itself as the Voice of Respectable Leftism without actually saying or doing anything that might actually make the world a less grinding, less miserable place. In the current formulation of our cult of expertise, it's only people like Piketty who are allowed to say, in essence, that shit is fucked, that capitalism is bullshit, and failing in its own terms, and the world is actually horrible for a lot of people, because Piketty can be trusted not to go overboard. He can be trusted to coat this bitter pill in respectable language, and of course to supply lots of charts. A normal, actual person who tried to say some of these things would be laughed out of the newsroom - I mean, come on, what are you, some kinda fuckin' anarchist!? Meanwhile, because Piketty's analysis and proposals come pre-neutered, they can be safely ignored. The news cycle rolls on.

And that's the punchline: Piketty doesn't matter. Piketty is going to be ignored. He's saying nothing we didn't already know (but now with charts!) while proposing next-to-nothing as a response, and it's still going to achieve the square root of jack shit except to launch a million shitty blogposts. This is one of them. Do you see?

Summary: Too Long, Didn't Read.

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