In a first for academic writing, the largest deployment in the new edition, Socialist Europe has included on the front cover a three-panel treatment by well-known modern art practitioner Paul Cézanne. It is an attempt, says Peter Mullins, to inject a sense of a spirit of inquiry and conversation into the book.
The real editorial point of view is elsewhere, however, in the “documentations” organised across all three sections of the book; warts and all. There is a rich overview, recounting the science and history of three classes. It then turns to economic history, exploring Piketty’s theories about tax, wealth, production and consumption, and finally finally, starting in the second half of the book, the conflicts and crises that brought the current European idealism into view, and that, in turn, led to a number of high profile rebellions and counter revolts.
There is, without doubt, a forward engagement with the latest developments in contemporary European debates, as in this passage from the chapter on the crisis in Italy:
In Italy, the chief concern is the gridlock that has resulted from a spectacular recent upsurge in the popularity of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The party whose leaders dominated the referendum that killed the constitutional reform that was designed to consolidate Italy’s recently won political diversity is the most dominant force in Italian politics.
In assessing this event, the subtitle of the book is: “Why Europe Loses, the strategy and the danger.”
Read more: Piketty in the UK: ‘I think capitalism has lost its ability to deliver on its promises’