After the first shock of the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris had waned, criticism about the unequal attention the victims in France received compared to victims of similar attacks elsewhere in the world quickly surfaced. Why did President Obama give a public announcement relatively soon after the attacks in Paris but had said little about the equally horrible bombings in Beirut one day earlier? Why did Facebook have a Safety Check in the case of Paris but not in other cases? Why was there not a similar global outpour of sympathy for the victims of, for example, the even more lethal attacks at a university in Kenya earlier this year?
Abstract of my article ‘Who does the state work for? Geopolitical considerations in the organization of (global) finance’.
Thomas Piketty’s 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century (translated from the 2013 French version) has clearly reinvigorated the debate about inequality, in particular in the Anglo-Saxon world.
As I have already pointed out in an earlier piece in this blog, growing inequality has become a major issue of concern around the world. With the buzz Thomas Piketty’s work has generated, inequality now features prominently on the political agenda of Europe and the US. Piketty’s book is part of a wider trend in policy and public debates: the uncomfortable reality of inequality is brought back ‘home’ to the Western centres of economic development. It is not anymore the defining characteristic of economies like South Africa, Russia or Brazil.
One of the forefathers of the study of elites, Vilfredo Pareto, remarked that ‘history is a graveyard of aristocracies’. Indeed, maintaining an elite position is not self-evident and throughout history many elites have lost their position while new ones have risen to power.