Piketty's concerns are relevant to the growing inequality in China that has resulted from adopting the neo-liberal capitalist model from the West. Hence, Piketty's reflection on mainstream Western economics indirectly treads a delicate ground in China. It fits right into the current raging debate over which path China's reformers should take in the next stage of "structural reform."
For the rest of the world, much of which has experienced the truly heinous inequalities associated with the colonialism that so enriched the West, the discussion is old hat. Many countries are only recently recovering from the effects of plundering, destruction of social and cultural institutions and resource extraction. Ironically, the realm of finance now labels these nations as "emerging markets." And yet Piketty's analysis is framed exclusively by western historical experience and thus unfortunately ignores the context in which western wealth creation occurred, despite the fact that many seek to perpetuate and emulate it today.
Right now Thomas Piketty's book, and all the others that have exposed, analyzed and offered prescriptions for our economic inequality, are powerful ideas in search of a movement. Income equality is not like the weather. Rather than just complaining about it, we can actually do something to make it better.
Can the right continue to succeed as the party of unreality? In the recent past, conservatives have denied climate change, as well as evolution. Now, their strategy is to deny the reality of increasing concentration of income and wealth. When Thomas Piketty's book appeared, providing new documentation on increasing capital concentration, the right was temporarily thrown off guard. Some resorted to the claim that inequality was, by definition, earned, and necessary to produce incentives in a capitalist system. But somehow, our market economy did just fine -- better in fact -- back in the 1950s and 1960s with far lower levels of inequality. And much of Europe matches our growth rates with far less inequality. Others simply denied that inequality has been increasing.