Human progress

The deep roots of global inequality

Thomas Piketty, the French economist who shot to fame for writing a colossal work of economics that many people bought but few actually read, recently received some advice. ‘What you write is interesting,’ a friend told him, ‘but couldn’t you make it a little shorter?’ Piketty has answered the call for brevity with a book which by his standards is the equivalent of a Post-it note. It’s certainly ‘brief”– but is it a ‘history of equality’? Alas, no. What we have instead is an eye-wateringly left-wing manifesto for dismantling economic inequality, both domestically and internationally. ‘Inequality is first of all a social, historical and political construction,’ Piketty writes, and the