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A General Theory for Our Times: On Piketty

In: Historical Materialism
Author:
Geoff Mann Centre for Global Political Economy, Simon Fraser University geoffm@sfu.ca

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Thomas Piketty has offered, and many have desperately snatched at, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money of our epoch. Piketty’s affinity with John Maynard Keynes and his groundbreaking 1936 landmark is largely unreflexive. But the ties that bind him to Keynes are powerful, and manifest themselves at many levels in Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The epistemology, the political stance, the methodological commitments, and the politics resonate in imperfect but remarkable harmony. This is no accident, because the world in which Piketty’s book appeared is saturated with the specifically capitalist form of anxiety that Keynes sought to diagnose, and fix, the last time it made the richest economies in the world tremble.

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