If the GFC produced anything of genuine use-value, it was the gift of Thomas Piketty. A French social democrat whose work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, remains a best seller, Piketty gave popular new life to the old view of the “fundamental inequality of capitalism”. The critique he has received from economic calculists, the centre right (usually that he is too utopian in his disdain for capitalism) and the hard left (usually that he is too utopian in his love for capitalism) notwithstanding, this newly celebrity thinker revived the discussion of an important idea. Namely, that we are all Thatcherites who have come to erroneously believe that wealth concentrated in the hands of a few is of eventual economic benefit to the many.
After holidaying for decades in the matter of the culture, progressives have been newly coaxed into reconsidering the value of a dollar. Many progressive readers, thanks in substantial part to Piketty and his rich data, have turned on the Cultural Turn to think about the stuff of wealth inequality and to finally concede that financial capital simply doesn’t trickle down.