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Capital and Ideology - Thomas Piketty

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Matheus Puppe

· 243 min read

Here is a summary of Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty:

Capital and Ideology is a book by French economist Thomas Piketty that examines the historical development of inequality and the ideologies that have supported it. The book is divided into four major parts:

Part 1 looks at pre-modern societies and how inequality was justified through trifunctional ideology, legal status hierarchies, and property ownership. It traces the development of ownership societies in Europe and how private property rights were extended from nobility to a larger segment of the population.

Part 2 examines slave and colonial societies, showing how extreme inequality was justified through racist ideologies. It looks at how European colonialism shaped India and other parts of Asia.

Part 3 covers the transformations of the 20th century, including the crises that undermined ownership societies, the rise of social democratic societies with incomplete equality, communist and postcommunist societies, and the emergence of hypercapitalism.

Part 4 rethinks political conflict dimensions, discussing borders and property, new ideological cleavages, identitarian nationalism, and elements for a participatory socialism.

In conclusion, the book provides a sweeping historical analysis of inequality regimes, ideologies, and potential policy solutions for greater equality. It aims to learn from history to rethink the dimensions of inequality and to develop a more just economic system.

  • Every society develops ideologies and narratives to justify economic and social inequalities. In modern societies, these narratives emphasize meritocracy, entrepreneurship, and property rights.

  • However, socioeconomic inequality has been increasing since the 1980s, making these narratives less credible. There are still many forms of discrimination based on status, race, and religion that contradict the narrative of meritocracy.

  • Without a new, more egalitarian and universal ideology, there is a risk of retreating into nationalist politics based on xenophobia and fears of population replacement. This could destroy the globalized economy.

  • Historical understanding is key to constructing a new ideology focused on equality, social ownership, education, and power sharing. This book analyzes the history and evolution of different inequality regimes to shed light on ongoing global transformations.

  • The goal is to sketch the outlines of a new “participatory socialism” - a universalistic, egalitarian ideology and narrative - that is more optimistic about human nature and firmly rooted in lessons from global history.

  • Inequality regimes consist of a set of coherent answers about political and property rights that justify social inequality. These answers imply commitments to educational, fiscal, etc regimes.

  • Inequality regimes depend on theories of borders (who belongs and who doesn’t) and property (what can be owned and by whom). These are closely linked as power over people and things were intertwined historically.

  • Modern ownership societies separated political and property rights, but they remain connected as property rights limit modifying property regimes politically.

  • The notion of “inequality regimes” encompasses political, property, educational and fiscal regimes and clarifies their interrelation. The lack of democratic mechanisms to alter fiscal regimes illustrates this.

  • Inequality is ideological and political, not just economic. Markets, profits, etc don’t exist inherently - they are social constructs shaped by laws, politics and conceptions of justice.

  • Ideas and ideologies shape history by enabling us to imagine alternative social systems. Inequality is not natural or inevitable.

  • This approach differs from Marxist determinism, instead arguing the ideological sphere is autonomous. A range of inequality regimes are possible for any given economic conditions.

I do not have the capacity to summarize such a long and complex text in full. However, I can provide a brief overview of some key points:

  • The author argues that simplistic critiques of capitalism fail to fully explain historical inequalities and alternatives that have existed. More nuanced, concrete analysis of institutions and ideologies is needed.

  • Ideologies often emerge from historical experiences and involve collective learning processes, though these have limitations such as short memories and nationalism.

  • Social scientists can help enhance learning by comparatively studying the histories of inequality, political regimes and ideologies across different societies and traditions. This can provide insights into better future organizations, including at the global level.

  • The author aims to rigorously study legal, fiscal and educational systems and take an ideological approach that recognizes some basis for social justice in varying ideologies. Comparative historical analysis is key.

  • ‘Facts’ have limits, as they are constructed by institutions. Ideal systems are complex and likely society-specific. But reasoned positions can be reached through study.

In summary, the author advocates a nuanced, empirical, comparative approach to ideology, inequality and institutions to derive potential lessons for improving social, political and economic organization.

  • The book draws on two main types of historical sources: data to measure the evolution of different forms of inequality, and sources to study changes in ideology and representations of inequality.

  • For data on inequality, it relies heavily on the World Inequality Database (WID.world), the largest available database on historical wealth and income inequality. This builds on earlier work since the 1950s-70s by researchers like Kuznets, Atkinson, and Piketty himself.

  • Literature is also an important source, as novels can provide unmatched insight into how inequality was experienced and justified in different societies. Examples used include 19th century works by Balzac and Austen, as well as more contemporary novels from around the world.

  • Ideological sources examined range from medieval religious texts to recent political speeches and publications defending various inequality regimes.

  • While data has improved, there are still many deficiencies, especially for non-Western and developing countries. The book aims to go beyond the focus on wealthy Western countries of Piketty’s previous work.

  • Overall, the goal is to study inequality and its justification historically and comparatively, using a diverse range of sources. This can yield lessons for understanding and addressing inequality in the present day.

  • There has been substantial human progress in health and education worldwide over the past two centuries. Life expectancy and literacy rates have increased dramatically.

  • However, this progress has masked large inequalities. There are still huge gaps between rich and poor countries in infant mortality rates, income levels, etc.

  • Progress has not been linear. There have been periods of regression, like World War I and II, colonialism, apartheid, and rising inequality since the 1980s.

  • Ideologies matter. Inegalitarian and identitarian ideologies can undermine progress. More just and egalitarian societies are possible through different inequality regimes.

  • The growth in population and income over the past centuries is not unambiguously positive. Issues around sustainability and multidimensional wellbeing need to be considered.

  • There are always vulnerabilities and ways we can do better. We should not rest on our laurels but continue striving for social justice.

  • Overall, human progress exists but it is fragile. We must be vigilant against forces that generate inequality and division. With the right ideologies and policies, more prospering and egalitarian societies can be achieved.

  • Income inequality has increased in most parts of the world since the 1980s, after a more egalitarian period from 1950-1980.

  • The share of income captured by the top 10% earners has risen from 25-35% in 1980 to 35-55% in 2018 across major regions like the US, Europe, China, India, and Russia.

  • The rise in inequality has come at the expense of the bottom 50% earners, whose share of income has fallen.

  • Some regions like Brazil, South Africa, and the Middle East have always been highly unequal and did not experience an egalitarian phase.

  • The causes of rising inequality vary - legacy of racial discrimination, privatization of public assets, concentration of oil wealth etc.

  • There is disagreement on whether rising inequality is justified - some argue equality was too high before 1980s and curbing it benefited growth and poverty reduction.

  • But higher inequality since 1980s has not clearly generated faster growth or benefited the poor, casting doubt on this argument.

  • The “elephant curve” shows the global middle class did not benefit much from growth since 1980s, while the very rich and some of the poor did.

  • The key question is not just the level of inequality but its origin and justification - was wealth justly acquired or through rent-seeking? A nuanced debate is needed.

  • The “elephant curve” shows that from 1980-2018, the bottom 50% of the global income distribution saw substantial income growth (60-120%) while the top 1% saw even stronger growth (80-240%). This indicates decreasing inequality between the bottom and middle and increasing inequality between the middle and top.

  • The top 1% captured 27% of global income growth compared to just 12% for the bottom 50%. This suggests the distribution of gains is as important as overall growth.

  • Large fortunes grew even faster than top incomes, indicating ongoing extreme wealth concentration. Justifications for this often praise “deserving” Western entrepreneurs while criticizing foreign billionaires.

  • Historical justifications cite the need for stability and property rights protection. But examining past inequality regimes like premodern trifunctional societies, 19th century ownership societies, and 20th century challenges from communism/social democracy provides lessons for understanding and addressing present inequality.

In summary, while globalization decreased inequality between the bottom and middle, extreme inequality has grown between the middle and top, requiring scrutiny of how gains are distributed and learning from historical attempts to address inequality.

  • The collapse of colonialist society in the 20th century transformed the structure and justification of inequality, leading to the present state of affairs. Countries like France, the UK, and Germany became more egalitarian between 1914-1945 due to the shocks of that period.

  • Progressive taxation of income and inherited wealth emerged in the 20th century and contributed to reduced inequality. The US and UK had steeply progressive taxes from the 1930s to the 1980s.

  • The ideological shift under Reagan and Thatcher led to a dramatic reduction in top tax rates, contributing to rising inequality since the 1980s. Top rates remain around half of what they were prior to 1980.

  • The arguments that high top tax rates had sapped entrepreneurship don’t withstand scrutiny. Many factors explain growth in Europe and Japan in 1950-1980.

  • The move to less progressive taxation played a large role in the growth of inequality since the 1980s. This fuelled distrust and identity politics. Rethinking progressive taxation is needed.

  • Social democrats have failed to construct a progressive transnational tax system or promote temporary social ownership via progressive taxes on private property. This political failure helps explain the revival of inequality.

The passage discusses how the ideological freeze of the Cold War discouraged new thinking about transcending capitalism, and the anticommunist euphoria after the fall of the Berlin Wall had a similar effect. This has made it only recently that people have begun thinking again about imposing firmer controls on capitalist forces.

The passage highlights educational inequality as a key factor behind rising inequality, using data to show the strong correlation between parental income and access to higher education in the US. It argues that social democracy has failed to address this inequality.

The passage then discusses the emergence of egalitarian coalitions in the mid-20th century, noting they were ideological as well as political. It states the discrediting of free market ideology played a key role.

It analyzes electoral patterns, arguing the left vote initially corresponded to the “workers’ party” but later reflected the choice of the educated, while the wealthiest remained wary of the left. It concludes political conflict used to be structured along class lines but this has decomposed, making building majoritarian coalitions complex.

  • From 1980-2000, the dimensions of social inequality (education, income, wealth) became disconnected, dividing the elite into an intellectual/cultural elite and a commercial/financial elite.

  • This elite division changed political conflict, with each elite attracting different voting blocs. One party attracts highly educated voters, while another appeals more to the wealthiest voters.

  • People without advanced degrees, large fortunes, or high incomes began feeling excluded, which may explain declining voter turnout among this group compared to 1950-1970. This could help explain the rise of “populist” movements.

  • The modern multiple elite structure resembles past trifunctional regimes with clerical and warrior elites counterbalancing each other, though with different legitimating discourses.

  • The rise of inequality since 1980 can be seen as either a cause or consequence of the conservative revolution and social/financial deregulation. Or as a result of the failure of social democrats to renew their programs and ideologies.

  • Key ideological failures include inability to conceptualize progressive taxation globally, address issues of ethnic diversity for redistribution, rethink ownership after communism, and develop just higher education policies.

  • To form a new egalitarian coalition requires radically redefining its intellectual and ideological basis, especially regarding the boundaries of community and transnational social justice.

  • This book relies primarily on natural language rather than mathematical language. Natural language is important for expressing social identities, political ideologies, and conducting social science research.

  • However, mathematics and statistics also play an important complementary role. They allow us to make meaningful comparisons between different societies and time periods.

  • Statistics reveal the need for additional data and allow us to be explicit about which comparisons are possible versus impossible. Comparisons can provide useful lessons from history and help build common norms of justice.

  • Concepts like income and capital, though imperfect, are necessary for devising fair fiscal systems. Educational justice also requires statistical measurement.

  • Mathematics has aided many political emancipation movements, for example by enabling fair universal suffrage and progressive taxation. It is an indispensable complement to natural language.

  • The book is divided into four parts: the history of inequality regimes; slave and colonial societies; the great transformation of the 20th century; and the future of inequality. It examines the persistence yet malleability of inequality through changing economic and social systems.

Here are the key points from the preface:

  • The book examines the history of inequality regimes and ideological systems that have justified extreme concentration of income and wealth. It covers the long period from slave societies in antiquity to present-day hypercapitalism.

  • The first part looks at the trifunctional societies of premodern Europe, divided into clergy, military, and labor, and the slave societies of ancient Greece and Rome. It argues these regimes led to a naturalization of inequality.

  • The second part covers the collapse of the trifunctional order in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the rise of ownerism, a new ideology promoting private property as a natural right. This facilitated the rise of patrimonial capitalism in the 19th century.

  • The third part examines the communist and social-democratic movements that challenged inequality in the 20th century. It argues their inability to address transnational redistribution and develop a credible alternative has fueled the rise of identity politics.

  • The fourth part looks at how the social structures of political parties and movements have evolved since the mid-20th century, and speculates on future changes. It traces the disaggregation of the egalitarian coalition.

  • The final chapter proposes reforms such as voting rights within firms, progressive taxes on property, and oversight on education and fiscal policies. It advocates reorganizing the global economy around social federalist principles to enable new forms of solidarity.

Here are the key points in summarizing the passage:

  • Ternary societies comprised three distinct social groups - clergy, nobility, and commoners - each fulfilling an essential function. This trifunctional organization was common globally, though with regional variations.

  • Inequality in ternary societies was justified by the trifunctional schema. Power was decentralized and existed locally, often with loose ties to central authority.

  • The clergy and nobility in ternary societies held both economic power through property ownership and political power through local regalian rights like justice, police functions, registrations of vital events, etc. Their power over workers could be extreme, like serfdom, or more benevolent.

  • Ternary societies predated modern centralized states. Power and property were deeply intertwined locally in the hands of clergy and nobles. This differed from later state formations where political and economic power separated.

  • The transition from ternary to modern societies involved a complex process of power centralization in states and a justification of inequality based on property rather than trifunctional schema. Understanding this transformation requires comparing ternary societies’ dynamics over time and place.

  • Ternary societies consisted of three groups - clergy, nobility, and commoners - with each providing different services to society. This trifunctional structure was closely interrelated at the local level.

  • The rise of centralized states tended to undermine ternary societies, as the state took over functions like security and education. However, in some cases elements of trifunctional ideology survived, like the British House of Lords.

  • The transition away from ternary societies varied - it could be gradual over centuries or accelerated by ideologies and revolutions. The French Revolution provides an example of rapid dismantling of privileges. British colonial rule in India disrupted native trifunctional society.

  • Ternary societies still matter today because: (1) inequality in premodern societies was not totally rigid, with some mobility between classes; (2) the conditions under which trifunctional societies changed have lasting impacts seen today. For example, size of top classes varied greatly between countries.

  • Studying efforts by states to categorize groups yields insight into political intentions as well as social structures. Overall, examining the rise and fall of ternary societies illuminates processes of social transformation relevant today.

  • Ternary societies, which divided people into three groups (clergy, nobility, commoners), should not be seen as completely static or different from modern societies. There was some social mobility between groups, though limited.

  • These societies justified inequality by arguing each group served necessary societal functions, like the parts of a body. This provided a degree of legitimacy, though the system was authoritarian and coercive.

  • The nature of the dominant ideologies, especially regarding division of elites and unity of the people, accounted for differences among ternary societies.

  • Issues like whether clergy could reproduce itself as a hereditary class affected its power versus nobility. Christianity’s celibate clergy was an exception, needing to draw ranks from other groups.

  • There was debate over whether commoners had unified or stratified status. This issue persisted in debates about Third Estate in French Revolution.

  • Historical transitions from ternary societies shaped the modern world, so we must study them, even if different from today. Their critiques of inequality were self-serving for new elites, not always more just.

Here is a summary of the key points about European societies of orders from the passage:

  • Medieval European societies were divided into three orders or classes: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. This trifunctional division was justified in texts starting around the year 1000.

  • The trifunctional ideology promoted a balance between the legitimacy of the intellectual/religious elite (clergy) and the warrior/military elite (nobility), both seen as indispensable to maintaining social order.

  • The size and resources of the noble and clerical classes evolved over time in the Ancien Regime, as did the property relations and economic regulations that embodied trifunctional ideology.

  • The Catholic Church played a key role as a property-owning institution and authority on economic, familial, and educational norms.

  • Studying the conditions under which European ternary societies transformed into ownership societies requires examining the role of the Church and nobility in property relations and economic regulation.

  • Comparing the French case (revolutionary rupture) with more gradual change in Britain and Sweden illustrates diversity in paths from ternary to successor societies.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The medieval trifunctional schema divided society into three orders - the clergy, the nobility/warriors, and laborers. It aimed to justify and stabilize the hierarchy, emphasizing each group’s duties.

  • Sources describe harsh punishments for rebellious peasants, like cutting off hands and feet. The goal was to pacify the lower orders and unify the elites.

  • Recent historians see the trifunctional ideology as important in ending slavery and serfdom by promoting the dignity of free labor. This contributed to economic growth 1000-1350.

  • Mathieu Arnoux argues the promotion of free labor explains why Western Europe overtook other areas, with a large, dynamic population on the brink of world conquest by 1500.

  • Jacques Le Goff says the trifunctional schema promoted labor until its task was done, so it faded away for more ambitious egalitarian ideologies.

  • The schema was complex, associated with different political positions over time. For instance, Abbé Sieyès wanted equal voting for the Third Estate in 1789 but still accepted only 50% of votes.

Here is a summary of the key points about the nationalization of clerical property and the abolition of the ecclesiastical tithe in pre-revolutionary France:

  • The tithe was a tax on agricultural production and animals that went to the Catholic Church. It provided the main source of income for the clergy.

  • The tithe originated in the early Middle Ages when voluntary contributions to the Church became obligatory. It was supported by the monarchy and nobility to cement their alliance with the clergy.

  • For Sieyès, abolishing the tithe would deprive the Church of funding needed to fulfill its social role, especially in education. The funds would go to wealthy landowners instead.

  • But the tithe was a proportional tax that did not require the rich to pay more, and the social benefits provided by the Church were limited.

  • Debates over the tithe reflected the complex relations between the three orders in French society. Controversy remained between supporting the clergy versus expropriating them and the nobility.

  • This illustrated the tensions in ternary societies between traditional powers and emerging centralized states.

  • Under the Ancien Régime in France, there were no official national estimates of the population of each estate. Estimates relied on imperfect local data and calculations.

  • The best estimates suggest the clergy and nobility accounted for around 3-4% of the total population from the 14th to 17th centuries.

  • From the late 17th century, the proportion of clergy and nobility declined sharply, falling to around 1.5% on the eve of the Revolution.

  • In absolute terms, the numbers of clergy and nobility also declined from the late 17th century after previously increasing along with the growing population.

  • The nobility declined especially sharply, with estimates of over 30% fewer nobles in 1780 compared to 1700.

  • This shrinking nobility coincided with a period of strong demographic growth, so the nobility’s share of the population halved in less than a century.

  • The reasons for the declining privileged orders are complex, but likely relate to changing economic conditions and perceptions of the nobility.

  • The demographic and social changes contributed to discontent with the nobility and monarchy in the lead up to the French Revolution.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding the decline in the number of nobles in France during the late 17th and 18th centuries:

  • The relative size of both the clergy and nobility declined, with the nobility shrinking more dramatically. In 1780 they accounted for only about 1.5% of the total population, down from over 5% in the 14th century.

  • There are several possible explanatory factors, though the exact weighting is unclear from the available sources:

  • The emerging centralized state under Louis XIV deliberately sought to limit the size of the nobility for political and budgetary reasons, by tightening rules around noble status.

  • Noble families pursued more “Malthusian” reproductive strategies, having fewer children and concentrating inheritances on the eldest son, to avoid subdivision of estates.

  • This may have been an offensive move to assert power like the English nobility, and/or a defensive move to maintain status amid diversification of the elite.

  • Rapid demographic and economic growth likely reduced the relative status and power of the traditional nobility.

  • The process of unifying and monetizing elites through state offices and titles for the bourgeoisie was also already underway, diminishing the distance between old and new elites.

  • The decline reflects long-term shifts linked to state centralization and delegitimation of noble functions and privileges. Political factors specific to each era played a role too.

So in summary, the decline reflects a complex mix of state policy, noble family strategies, socioeconomic change, and long-run ideological shifts. The sources make it hard to precisely weigh all the factors.

The clergy and nobility maintained dominance in pre-revolutionary France through their control of symbolic, patrimonial, and political resources, despite being a small percentage of the population. They owned a significant share of land - around 40-45% by 1780. The Revolution radically redistributed this, virtually eliminating ecclesiastical holdings and cutting noble holdings approximately in half. Estimates of noble share of the largest fortunes in Paris fell from around 50% in 1780 to 25% in 1810, then rose back to 40-45% during the 1830-1850 monarchies with property qualifications for voting, before gradually falling again to 10% by 1900-1910. The abrupt declines and increases reflect the redistribution of the Revolution, exile of nobles, and return of nobles after defeat of Napoleon. Though shrinking before the Revolution, the nobility remained economically powerful, and political and ideological factors drove key shifts in their status and wealth.

Here is a summary of the favors enjoyed by the nobility in the period 1815-1848:

  • The “émigré billion” adopted in 1825 compensated former émigré nobles for property lost during the Revolution, financed by taxpayers. This amounted to 15% of national income.

  • The governments of Louis XVIII and Charles X imposed a penalty of 150 million francs on Haiti to compensate former slaveowners, many aristocrats, for lost property when Haiti became independent.

  • The judicial system and bureaucracy were pro-noble, especially regarding lawsuits over property redistribution during the Revolution.

  • The political system between 1815-1848 slowed the transformation from a trifunctional to an ownership society. The rupture of 1789 did not preclude various subsequent trajectories.

In summary, the nobility enjoyed substantial financial compensation for property lost during the Revolution, favorable treatment by the legal system, and ongoing political influence in the decades following Napoleon’s defeat. This allowed the aristocracy to maintain privilege despite the challenges of the Revolutionary era.

In the early centuries of the Christian era, the Church was forced to confront questions about wealth and property as Christianity spread among wealthy Romans. While Jesus taught that it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven, once wealthy families embraced Christianity the Church accumulated great wealth. This required new thinking about acceptable forms of ownership compatible with Christianity.

Wealth could be accepted if some was donated to the Church to carry out its mission, and if economic rules were respected. The Church developed norms aimed at maximizing its gifts, such as opposing remarriage and adoption. More broadly, it sought to limit families’ control of property. This allowed the Church to consolidate power versus wealthy families. As a result, the Church owned 25-33% of property in Western Christendom for over a millennium.

The Church also developed specific economic and financial laws to protect its property. These laws dealt with issues like estate management and innovative financial instruments, forming the basis of modern capitalism. The key issue was regulating acceptable investments beyond land ownership. The Church took a pragmatic approach to issues like interest rates.

In summary, the Church played a pivotal role in developing concepts of property rights and economic laws in medieval Europe. This was necessary for it to function as a perpetual institution reliant on property income rather than heredity.

Here is a summary focusing on the celibacy of priests, Christian sexual morality, and the power of the Church as a property-owning organization:

The Catholic Church wielded significant power in medieval European societies due to its status as a major property owner. Church lands were worked by serfs, generating agricultural revenues. The clergy was exempt from taxes, further increasing the Church’s wealth. The Church also collected tithes, taking one-tenth of agricultural production, which strengthened its economic position.

Clerical celibacy, required for priests and other Church officials, aimed to prevent church property from being inherited by priests’ offspring. It also upheld Christian sexual morality, which valued chastity and constrained sexuality to marriage for procreation. Despite frequent violations, clerical celibacy generally enhanced the Church’s prestige and authority.

As a wealthy landowner relying on serf labor, the medieval Church sat atop the trifunctional hierarchy of medieval society. Its elevated economic status, along with doctrines like clerical celibacy, reinforced the Church’s moral authority and political sway in medieval Europe. Challenges to Church power, like Protestant criticisms of clerical corruption, eventually emerged but did not fundamentally undermine Catholic dominance until later eras.

  • In 1789, the French Revolution sought to overhaul power and property relations by abolishing the privileges of the clergy and nobility. A key issue was determining which existing claims should be preserved as new property rights versus abolished without compensation.

  • Revolutionary lawmakers tried to distinguish regalian powers (to be monopolized by the centralized state) from private property rights (guaranteed to individuals by the state). But in practice it was difficult to separate the two at the local level.

  • Different approaches were tried to determine the legitimacy of existing rights - a “historical” approach examining the contractual versus non-contractual origins of rights, a more pragmatic approach, and finally the Civil Code which aimed to create absolute property rights.

  • The revolution gave rise to a highly inegalitarian “proprietarian” society from 1800-1914, where property rights were paramount.

  • Comparison with other European countries shows there were multiple pathways in transforming trifunctional societies into ownership societies, involving both revolutionary rupture and more gradual change. The French case was an extreme form of revolutionary overhaul.

  • The National Assembly abolished fiscal privileges and public seigneuries without compensation, as well as the ecclesiastical tithe, nationalizing church property. This aimed to establish the state’s monopoly over the judicial system and public finances.

  • However, it was difficult to agree on abolishing other “privileges” without compensation, as many saw this as threatening property rights. Most seigneurial dues were initially maintained, seen as legitimate contractual relationships like rents.

  • Exceptions were made for corvées (unpaid labor) and banalités (monopolies on services), which were to be abolished without compensation as too reminiscent of serfdom. In practice, many were maintained or converted into rent.

  • Redemption of feudal dues was too expensive for most peasants. The “historical” approach taken allowed most rights to continue if they appeared long-established. The logic was “no land without a lord” rather than “no lord without title.”

  • As the Revolution radicalized, the feudal system broke down. Peasant uprisings attacked lords and burned titles. The republican triumph against nobles in the Valmy campaign seemed to make the old warrior nobility obsolete.

  • The French Revolution abolished many feudal rights and privileges. One example was the lod, a payment made to lords when peasant land usage rights were transferred.

  • The lod originated from the lord’s judicial powers but had expanded beyond that to become a major source of seigneurial income. Revolutionaries debated whether to abolish it outright or compensate lords.

  • In 1793 the National Convention took a radical approach, abolishing many rights including the lod without compensation if the terminology was linked to feudalism. This aimed to redistribute wealth.

  • However, the lod was often used in contracts between non-nobles as a term for ground rent. So the linguistic approach risked expropriating some non-aristocrats unintentionally.

  • The Revolution sought to replace the complex layering of perpetual property rights under the Ancien Regime with just private property owners and the centralized state. A key institution was the national land registry or cadastre.

  • The lod was transformed into a tax paid to the state when property changed hands. The question was whether existing lods should be abolished without compensation or treated as legitimate property rights.

  • Overall the legal changes led to many lawsuits over property as different revolutionary laws were implemented and sometimes reversed. Resolving the status of complex property rights took decades.

  • The French Revolution attempted to abolish feudal privileges through a “Great Demarcation” that separated regalian functions (now the role of the centralized state) from private property rights. However, this led to contradictions as social roles like the Church were eliminated without replacement.

  • On the critical issue of inequality of ownership, the Revolution failed. Wealth remained highly concentrated from 1789-1914, with a sharp increase in the late 19th century.

  • Revolutionary legislators struggled to address novel, complex issues in accelerated political time. Events often dictated policy rather than carefully accumulated knowledge and concrete experiments.

  • The Revolution illustrates how historical change stems from the interaction of short-term political events and long-term political ideologies. Actors draw from existing ideological repertoires, often lacking time for new experimentation.

  • Debates occurred on legitimate versus illegitimate inequality, progressive taxation, and inheritance taxes, but no highly progressive system was ever implemented. Aggressive wealth redistribution was never attempted.

  • Inequality of ownership was not coherently addressed due to the pace of events and lack of concrete models. The Revolution encouraged wealth accumulation and concentration rather than redistribution.

  • Debates about seigneurial rights and privileges had been occurring for centuries, but often dealt with general historical considerations rather than concrete solutions. Jurists like Dumoulin, Bodin, and Loyseau had criticized lords for acquiring excessive rights by taking advantage of weak princes. Defenders like Boulainvilliers and Montesquieu insisted the nobility had gained legitimacy through protecting people over time.

  • These debates focused on the roles of the centralized state versus local elites. Montesquieu defended maintaining seigneurial courts and sale of offices to limit the power of the king.

  • The Revolution rejected this view, transferring powers like justice from seigneurial class to centralized state and ending venality of offices.

  • In retrospect, it seems a properly organized state can better guarantee rights than local privileged elites. But confidence in the state was not a given, it had to be demonstrated through experience.

  • The Revolution’s main goal was transferring powers to the central state, not redistribution of wealth. But it became apparent these could not be neatly separated.

  • The abolition of privileges was open to many interpretations that could have led to more egalitarian outcomes. Contingent circumstances shaped the path taken.

  • There were intellectual conflicts over how to define and eliminate privileges and regulate property. The debates involved complex social learning with many proposals and perspectives.

  • The French Revolution illustrates the tension between the emancipatory potential of property rights and the tendency to sacralize existing property relations.

  • On one hand, private property was seen as a route to liberation from feudal privileges and arbitrary power. The ideal was equal rights and incentives for all to benefit from their property.

  • But there was also a tendency to treat existing property relations as quasi-sacred and not to be tampered with. This could entrench inequalities, even after feudal privileges were abolished.

  • Revolutionaries like Condorcet and Paine proposed moderate measures like progressive taxes to spread property ownership. More radical proposals existed too. But events moved quickly, preventing thorough experimentation before a conservative reaction set in.

  • Declarations from the Atlantic revolutions proclaimed equality but were ambiguous on property rights. They were invoked both for and against redistribution.

  • Once feudal privileges were abolished, many paths were possible within the proprietarian framework. The tension between emancipation through property and sacralization of existing relations persisted.

  • The French Revolution introduced ambiguous reforms regarding property rights. It abolished feudal privileges and protections but largely maintained existing property relations and inequalities.

  • Proprietarian ideology emerged to sacralize private property rights as a new form of social stability and fill the void left by declining religious authority. It aimed to justify inequality by arguing that questioning existing property distributions would undermine the whole system and cause chaos.

  • However, existing property distributions often lacked legitimacy, such as with slavery and colonialism. Extreme inequality is not inevitable for stability and prosperity, as shown by 20th century social democratic societies.

  • Proprietarian ideology should be critically analyzed rather than accepted at face value. It can have merit in allowing individual aspirations through property rights, but taken to an extreme it becomes an inegalitarian ideology used by the wealthiest groups to justify their position.

  • Alternative progressive approaches are needed that balance property rights with regulated redistribution and social justice, learning from historical experience. The proprietarian arguments concerning stability deserve consideration but can go too far in sacralizing the status quo.

Here are the key points about the evolution of property ownership and concentration in 19th century France after the French Revolution:

  • Thanks to digitized inheritance records from the rich archives left behind, we can study the distribution of wealth (land, buildings, financial assets, etc.) from the Revolution to today.

  • Private property concentration was already extremely high in 1800-1810, only slightly lower than on the eve of the Revolution in 1789.

  • During the 19th century, wealth concentration increased substantially, driven by the rapid pace of industrialization and urbanization.

  • By 1910, the top 10% owned over 90% of aggregate wealth. The top 1% alone owned 60% of wealth.

  • This extreme concentration was similar across different asset classes - land remained concentrated but so did financial assets and business assets in the new industrial economy.

  • Regional disparities in wealth were enormous, with Paris and a few other urban centers holding the vast majority of wealth.

  • The industrial revolution led to divergent wealth trajectories between a minority (the “winners” of modernization) and the rest (the “losers”).

  • The Revolution’s emancipation of labor and opening up of careers based on talent did not prevent the emergence of a “patrimonial” society dominated by rentiers.

  • The fiscal system established during the Revolution, which relied heavily on regressive taxes, persisted into the 20th century and did little to limit wealth concentration.

  • Wealth inequality in France steadily increased throughout the 19th century up until World War I. Looking at Paris specifically, the wealthiest 1% owned about 50% of all property in 1800-1810, rising to over 65% by 1910.

  • After a slight decline during the French Revolution, concentration of wealth rose again during the 19th century Belle Époque period (1880-1914).

  • Wealth inequality has fallen since the World Wars, but the benefits have gone to the “patrimonial middle class” (the middle 40% of the distribution) rather than the poorest 50%.

  • In the 19th century, the “upper classes” (wealthiest 10%) owned 80-90% of wealth, compared to 50-60% today.

  • In 19th century Paris, about 70% of residents died with no property to pass on. This highlights the extreme inequality, as depicted in classic novels like Balzac’s Père Goriot.

  • The emergence of a property-owning middle class in the 20th century represented a major social and political shift, contributing to reduced inequality, greater social mobility, and stronger growth.

  • Wealth inequality in Paris was extremely high in the Belle Époque period (1880-1914), with the top 1% owning over two-thirds of all wealth.

  • This concentration of wealth occurred despite modernization and diversification of assets during this period. Parisian fortunes became more financially-based, with 62% in stocks, bonds, and other financial assets by 1912.

  • The wealthiest Parisians held even more financial assets (66% for the top 1% in 1912), invested heavily abroad (25% foreign assets for the top 1%), and had diversified portfolios.

  • So while wealth was hyper-concentrated, it was modern and financially-based, not static landed estates. The Belle Époque saw “inegalitarian modernity” with great inequality despite financial and economic dynamism.

  • The novelist Balzac’s depictions of inequality in the early 19th century capture some key features of the later Belle Époque wealth distribution and “ownership society.”

  • Between 1880-1914 there was extreme concentration of wealth in Paris, with the top 1% owning 70% of wealth. This was more unequal than pre-Revolutionary France.

  • This rise in inequality came despite the abolition of aristocratic privileges during the French Revolution. It calls into question the idea of continual progress towards greater equality.

  • The tax system established during the Revolution facilitated this rise in inequality. Inheritance tax rates were very low, at just 1-1.5% on direct heirs, and taxes did not increase with the size of estates. Attempts at reform were rejected.

  • Revolutionary legislators saw inheritance tax as just recording ownership rather than redistributing wealth. There were fears that raising tax rates would undermine private property and lead to escalating demands for redistribution.

  • The pre-1914 tax system enabled large accumulations of wealth. The concentration of wealth reached extreme levels not seen since the Ancien Regime, despite the Revolution’s abolition of aristocratic privilege.

In summary, the post-Revolution tax system enabled rising inequality and wealth concentration, confounding expectations of continual progress towards equality. Fears of threatening private property blocked inheritance tax reform.

  • Revolutionary legislators in France established a system of direct taxes in 1790-1791 called the “quatre vieilles” (four old ones) that were based on proxies for wealth rather than income. This spared the bourgeoisie from high taxes and intrusive procedures.

  • The main tax was the land/real estate tax (contribution foncière), which was proportional and low (0.2% of property value annually). This served capitalists well, allowing them to accumulate wealth easily.

  • The inheritance tax was also proportional until 1901, when progressivity was introduced, though rates remained low initially. This marked an important change in fiscal philosophy.

  • Progressive income tax was not introduced until 1914, despite earlier proposals for limiting inequality through tax reform. Building a majority coalition around redistribution was difficult.

  • The 1901 inheritance tax and 1914 income tax laws were key steps toward modern fiscal progressivity, though effects were limited until after WW1. Breaking with proportional taxes required lengthy debates and overcoming conservative opposition.

  • The French tax system from the Revolution to WWI favored the wealthy through low taxes on capital and inheritances. This allowed the wealthy to accumulate and perpetuate large fortunes.

  • The main taxes were the four old direct taxes (quatre vieilles), including the land tax, which had a low flat rate. This favored landowners.

  • The tax system gave voting rights to the top 1% of property owners, ensuring the system stayed in place.

  • Calls grew to tax new forms of income like stocks and bonds. An income tax on securities passed in 1872 but had a flat 3-4% rate, so little redistribution.

  • After 1848, debate grew on progressive income and inheritance taxes, but the Senate blocked them. Inheritance tax passed in 1901 but with low initial rates.

  • Income tax passed in 1914 right before WWI, after publishing of inheritance tax data showed high inequality. But it had low top rate of 2% due to Senate.

  • WWI budget needs helped push through income tax. But real progressive rates didn’t come until the interwar period.

  • France has long presented itself as a champion of liberty, equality and fraternity due to events like the 1789 revolution. However, the promise of equality was never fully realized.

  • Wealth concentration steadily increased in France throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, showing the gap between revolutionary ideals and reality.

  • France was one of the last wealthy countries to adopt a progressive income tax, doing so only in 1914 to finance war rather than for more equitable purposes like funding public services.

  • French elites wrongly claimed the country was already egalitarian compared to places like the UK and Germany, using questionable comparisons like land ownership fragmentation. This denied the extreme inequality shown by data on inheritance concentration.

  • The myth of French egalitarian exceptionalism often served to mask inequality and elite self-interest. Similar ideological myths can serve as cover for inequality in other countries too.

  • Proprietarianism can be seen as the political ideology focused on absolute property protection, while capitalism is the historical form proprietarianism took in the industrial/financial era. Capitalism constantly pushes to expand property rights beyond existing bounds.

  • Capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to growing tensions between capitalists and the urban proletariat as industry expanded. This was reflected in 19th century novels - Balzac depicted an earlier period with less direct class confrontation, while Zola’s Germinal showed violent clashes.

  • Property relations hardened as capitalism developed, versus the more flexible ownership society seen in Balzac and Austen’s novels.

  • Inequality of wealth increased dramatically in France between 1800-1914 as capitalism took hold. The top centiles pulled away from the rest of society.

  • Inheritance taxes were debated but limited until the 20th century. The French Revolution had established proportional taxes rather than progressive ones.

  • The introduction of a progressive income tax in France was controversial and took a long time, being established in stages from 1901-1917.

  • 19th century French novelists like Balzac depicted inheritance practices like the “available quota” system that allowed parents to divide property unequally. This was criticized by some as harmful but faded as an issue in the 20th century.

Here is a summary of the key points about the size of the clergy in Europe from the given passage:

  • The size of the clergy as a percentage of the adult male population reached very high levels (3-5%) in the 16th and 17th centuries in Spain, France and the UK, before declining steadily to around 0.5% by the 19th century.

  • There are differences in the timing of the decline across countries - it happened earlier in the UK following the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII in the 1530s, later in Spain where the clergy’s numbers grew until 1700, and in between in France.

  • The long-term trend is similar across countries - a sharp decline from around 5% in the 17th century to 0.1% today - but the specific chronology reflects power relations and conflicts between state and church institutions in each society.

  • In the UK, dissolution of the monasteries transferred property and power from the clergy to the crown and nobility. In Spain, ‘desamortización’ laws in the 19th century stripped the church of property and finances.

  • The size and influence of the clergy declined earlier and more abruptly in the UK compared to Spain and France, going along with the rise of an extreme form of proprietary logic in the UK.

  • The nobility represented a much smaller portion of the population in some European countries like France, the UK and Sweden (1-2%) compared to others like Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Croatia (5-8%).

  • A small nobility meant it was a concentrated elite with significant wealth and power, while a large nobility meant many impoverished nobles with just a title.

  • These differences reflect the specific histories of state formation, territorial expansion, military service, and fiscal policies in each country.

  • The UK and Sweden are two well-documented cases of small nobilities worth examining further.

  • In the UK, the battle over progressive taxation led to the decline of the House of Lords in the crisis of 1909-1911.

  • The Irish question from 1880-1920 challenged the trifunctional, proprietarian and quasi-colonial dimensions of the UK’s inequality regime all at once.

  • Gradual change in the UK still involved important ruptures reflecting the multiplicity of possible trajectories for inegalitarian regimes.

  • In the 16th century, conflict between the English monarchy and the Catholic Church led to a reduction in the political power of the clergy and the dissolution of monasteries. This upset the traditional equilibrium between the nobility, clergy, and commoners.

  • The English aristocracy became highly concentrated, with a tiny number of noble families owning a huge proportion of land and occupying almost all seats in the House of Lords.

  • Until the late 19th century, the House of Lords played a dominant role in the British political system, with prime ministers typically coming from the hereditary nobility.

  • Most seats in the House of Commons were also occupied by nobles until reforms in the 1860s. Different ranks of nobility were represented - peers, baronets/knights, and the gentry.

  • The untitled gentry made up the largest section of the aristocracy. They lacked formal privileges but benefited from a political system that favored landowners.

  • Boundaries between different elite groups were somewhat porous compared to other European countries. Wealthy commoners could gain noble status through marriage or recognition. But a tiny aristocratic elite still dominated politics and land ownership.

The passage discusses the porosity of class boundaries and diversification of wealth in ownership societies as depicted in classic 19th century British and French novels. Key points:

  • Ownership societies had more complex and subtle logics than trifunctional societies with their clearly ascribed roles.

  • In novels like Austen’s, wealthier characters owned diversified fortunes including land, foreign assets, bonds, and even slaves and plantations abroad. The source of income mattered less than its amount.

  • Characters are not portrayed heroically but with nuance and humanity. There is no clear link between fortune and merit.

  • The novels show how the universal monetary equivalent allowed investment across communities and social stability, even amid stark inequality. The logic was one of capital accumulation rather than functional utility.

  • Novelists like Austen and Balzac convey individuals’ feelings and space for freedom despite the determinism of money and capital. Their role is not to imagine different systems but show humanity within the existing one.

  • Contrasting meritocratic discourse plays little role in justifying ownership society in the 19th century. Such discourse emerged later with industrial capitalism and especially in the hypercapitalist era of 1990-2020.

  • Inequality may seem a condition for civilization in a poor society, allowing a small elite the means to pursue more than subsistence. Austen and Balzac’s novels show the logic but also mock the pretensions.

  • Burke’s Peerage listed British nobility and gentry, validating their status. It later expanded to include global elite families and even petro-billionaires, resembling lists like Forbes’.

  • The British House of Lords protected the proprietarian order, enacting Enclosure Acts and harsh game laws. It saw itself as preventing instability and protecting property rights.

  • The House of Lords fell due to conflicts over expanding voting rights and progressive taxation, which threatened the proprietarian order. After reform, it lost veto power over legislation.

In summary, 19th century discourse justified inequality less through meritocracy and more through proprietarian logic and preservation of civilization. The nobility validated itself through publications like Burke’s. The House of Lords defended the proprietarian system but ultimately succumbed to pressures for reform and expansion of suffrage.

Here is a summary of the key points about the extension of suffrage, progressive taxation, and the fall of the House of Lords in Britain:

  • The movement to extend voting rights intensified in the 19th century, with reforms in 1867 and 1884 expanding the male suffrage from 10% to over 60% of the adult male population in Britain. This transformed the balance of power between the House of Commons and the aristocrat-dominated House of Lords.

  • The Liberal Party took up the cause of the new voters, adopting policies more favorable to the middle and working classes. This included progressive income and estate taxes to fund social programs.

  • In 1909, the Liberal government passed the “People’s Budget” with new progressive taxes targeting the wealthy. The House of Lords vetoed it, exposing their class bias.

  • In 1911, the Liberals passed a law limiting the Lords’ powers. After a political crisis, the Lords relented, marking the end of their real legislative power. This paved the way for the social democratic reforms after 1945.

  • The Irish question also contributed, as extreme inequality and absentee landlords ruling over impoverished Catholic peasants highlighted the need for reform. Ireland’s quasi-colonial status within Britain fueled demands for change.

  • Ultimately, the extension of voting rights to the working class, enabling the election of governments pursuing progressive taxation and policies, led to the decline of the aristocratic House of Lords and a reduction in social inequality.

Here is a summary of the key points about Sweden’s history related to inequality:

  • Sweden had a highly inegalitarian society until the early 20th century, with a system of four societal orders - nobility, clergy, burghers, and peasants.

  • This inequality was entrenched constitutionally, with political representation based on property ownership and taxes paid. The richer you were, the more votes you got in the Riksdag (parliament).

  • Sweden took the proprietarian ideology further than other European countries, with very sophisticated institutional arrangements to organize and perpetuate inequality.

  • In the late 19th century, Sweden adopted an audacious system of proportional representation based on the amount of property/tax each voter paid. The more tax you paid, the more votes you got.

  • This began to change in the early 20th century due to effective popular mobilization and strategic alliances between social democrats and farmers. The Social Democratic Party (SAP) came to power in the 1920s.

  • Under decades of SAP government from 1932-2006, Sweden developed an advanced welfare state and achieved very low inequality, completely transforming from its highly unequal past.

  • The Swedish case shows how even countries considered highly egalitarian today were founded on sophisticated proprietarian systems. Popular mobilization and political change were required to move toward greater equality.

  • Rather than cultures having some innate essence that makes them egalitarian or inegalitarian, the rules and institutions that societies establish determine the level of equality. Things can change quickly depending on the balance of power and historical trajectories.

  • Sweden demonstrates this, as it shifted from an extreme hyper-inegalitarian proprietarian system before 1909-1911 to an egalitarian social democratic society after the SAP gained power in the 1920s.

  • Sweden’s early centralized state enabled different political projects, first proprietarianism with weighted voting from 1865-1911, then the modern welfare state.

  • The Swedish experience shows proprietarian ideology is not monolithic and leaves the political regime open. The transition to universal suffrage and social democracy may have been a response to the excesses of the earlier system.

  • Popular mobilization, political parties, and reformist programs play an important role in transforming inequality regimes. Sweden illustrates how rapid, radical legal transformation can occur without violence.

The historical systems for allocating political power based on property ownership, such as the British censitary system, had relatively straightforward ways of dividing citizens into active vs passive based on wealth thresholds. These systems privileged the wealthiest but did not make voting power strictly proportional to wealth. Over time, more complex multi-tiered systems emerged, such as in France and Prussia. The Swedish system took this furthest by allowing the richest citizens up to 100 votes. These historical experiences are relevant for contemporary debates about limiting the power of money in politics. Though explicit wealth-based voting is not proposed today, issues like unlimited campaign contributions, private arbitration, university admissions preferences for donor families, and influence via public debt all raise similar concerns about the political power granted to private wealth. The forms of property rights and relations have always depended on the broader legal and social systems in which they are embedded, so analyzing 21st century neo-proprietarianism requires examining its historical roots and development.

Here is a summary of the key points about nineteenth-century ownership societies discussed in the passage:

  • Ownership societies in the UK, Sweden, and France in the 19th century exhibited similarly high levels of wealth concentration, with the top 10% owning 85-90% of wealth.

  • Inequality increased during the Belle Époque (1880-1914) across Europe. Significant deconcentration of wealth did not occur until after World War 1.

  • The UK had the highest wealth concentration (top 10% owned 90-92% of wealth), followed by Sweden (88%) and then France (85%).

  • By the early 20th century, most wealth was in urban real estate, financial assets, and corporations, not agricultural land. The legal systems allowed high capital accumulation across Europe.

  • On average in 1880-1914, the top 10% in Europe earned 50-55% of total income, the bottom 50% earned 10-15%, and the middle 40% earned 35%.

  • Three main challenges faced by ownership societies were high inequality, dependence on colonialism, and limitations to voting rights. This led to the emergence of socialist and social democratic movements.

  • The proprietarian order of the 19th century faced three main fragilities: the rise of the labor movement challenging economic inequality, the growth of anti-colonial movements in the colonies, and the rise of nationalism and competition between European nation-states.

  • These three challenges combined to produce an intense crisis for ownership society in the 20th century, as it confronted world war, social-democratic/communist challenges, and colonial independence movements.

  • The current world is a direct consequence of this crisis, but the lessons are often forgotten today with the revival of neo-proprietarian ideology following the fall of communism.

  • The book aims to analyze how the transformation of trifunctional societies outside Europe was affected by the intervention of proprietarian colonial powers in their developmental processes.

  • It will look beyond Europe at colonial and slave societies, and how the colonial powers shaped their development away from traditional trifunctional structures.

Here are the key points about slave societies:

  • Moses Finley made a distinction between “societies with slaves” and “slave societies”. In the former, slaves existed but played a minor role and were a small fraction of the population. In the latter, slaves occupied a central place in production, power, property relations, and accounted for a large share of the population.

  • True slave societies were rare - Finley identified Athens and Rome in antiquity and the plantation economies of the Americas from the 16th-19th centuries. In these societies, slaves made up 25-35% of the population.

  • Slavery existed in many societies before the 19th century, but these were “societies with slaves” where slaves were a small minority. The trifunctional schema sought to unify and free the laboring class, but slave and trifunctional logics coexisted for centuries.

  • In slave societies like ancient Athens and Rome, slaves were captured outsiders with no rights. Their status was hereditary and they had no path to freedom.

  • In the plantation economies of the Americas, the huge demand for slave labor led to the Atlantic slave trade which forcibly moved over 12 million Africans to the Americas as slaves.

  • These American slave societies were characterized by extreme inequality - slaves had no rights or freedoms. A racial hierarchy developed to justify this.

  • Slavery was gradually abolished in the 19th century, starting with northern US states and Haiti. Slaveowners received financial compensation, slaves did not. This illustrated the sacralization of private property.

  • In the US, slavery and racial inequality have had a lasting impact on the structure of inequality and politics.

  • The UK passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, which gradually abolished slavery in British colonies over the next decade.

  • The Act included full financial compensation to slave owners for the loss of their “property” (i.e. slaves).

  • The British government paid out around £20 million in compensation to around 4,000 slave owners, equal to about 5% of national income at the time.

  • No compensation was given to slaves for their unpaid labor or mistreatment.

  • The compensation money came from an increase in public debt, paid back by British taxpayers. It amounted to over 10 times the annual spending on education at the time.

  • The compensation reflects the view of slaves as property under British law. Abolition was gradual and slave owners were fully compensated for their loss of this property.

  • This contrasts with the lack of compensation to slaves themselves. It also shows the large amounts paid to a relatively small number of very wealthy slave owners.

  • The abolition and compensation in Britain was extremely gradual compared to revolutions in Haiti and elsewhere. It reflected the British preference for slow, orderly change.

  • The British Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 emancipated around 800,000 slaves, mostly in the British West Indies. Slaveholders were fully compensated by the government, at great expense to taxpayers. This compensation is considered a major cause of Britain’s decline in the 20th century.

  • The justification for compensating slaveholders was based on proprietarian ideology - the notion that property rights must be protected at all costs. Taking away slave “property” without compensation was seen as threatening all property claims.

  • Most Enlightenment thinkers, even moderates and liberals like Tocqueville, believed slaveholder compensation was necessary and obvious. Moral arguments against slavery did not provide a plan for reorganizing the proprietarian economic order.

  • Debates raged over whether free or slave labor was more efficient economically. Ultimately, Britain likely abolished slavery when it did because elites believed wage labor could be just as profitable.

  • France abolished slavery in two stages - in 1794 after a slave revolt, and then again in 1848 after the earlier abolition was reversed by Napoleon. The 1848 abolition did not involve compensation, showing evolution in attitudes.

  • Slavery was abolished in the French colonies during the French Revolution in 1794, following a major slave uprising in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). However, it was later reinstated by Napoleon.

  • Slavery was definitively abolished in the French colonies in 1848, after the fall of the monarchy and establishment of the Second Republic.

  • The crucial factor leading to abolition was the threat of further slave rebellions, as evidenced by the 1794 abolition coming after the Haitian revolt, and the 1848 abolition coming after the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in Jamaica.

  • Slaves represented an extremely high proportion of the population in the French colonies like Saint-Domingue, reaching over 90% on the eve of the French Revolution. This made the risk of uprising very high.

  • After Haiti declared independence in 1804, France demanded an enormous compensation sum from Haiti equivalent to 300% of its national income at the time. This debt burden undermined Haiti’s development for the next two centuries.

  • The French case shows that while abolitionist movements were important, the decisive factor was the slaves’ own rebellions and the fear of further unrest that pushed slave owners and governments to accept abolition.

  • Haiti was forced to pay enormous sums to France as “compensation” for French slaveowners’ losses from the Haitian revolution. This amounted to about 15% of Haiti’s national income annually for over a century.

  • The debt burden severely constrained Haiti’s economic and political development in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • The abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1848 also involved compensation for slaveowners, paid partly by the government and partly through requiring former slaves to work for low wages for 10 years.

  • Tocqueville proposed this arrangement as “fair to all participating parties” - but slaves were not compensated for centuries of unpaid labor.

  • The 1848 abolition decrees also punished “vagabondage” and called for disciplinary workshops to ensure planters had cheap labor.

  • So both the Haitian and 1848 abolitions maintained economic control over former slaves through debt and low-wage work requirements. The burden was put on the former slaves rather than compensating them.

The Emancipation Act of 1848 in France abolished slavery but did not provide real freedom for former slaves. Slaveowners were compensated while former slaves received nothing. Laws were passed that forced freed slaves to sign long-term work contracts with plantation owners or face arrest. This ensured they remained under planter control. Imported immigrant workers faced similar conditions. Courts were biased towards employers, allowing exploitation. Though slavery was abolished, forced labor persisted.

This illustrates the power of sacralized private property rights in the 19th century. Politicians like Schoelcher felt slaveowners had to be compensated since slavery was legally enshrined, even if morally wrong. Haiti was forced to repay its odious debt to France for over a century, until 1950. France still refuses reparations, though it pays compensation for 20th century injustices. The refusal to repay Haiti while compensating more recent crimes risks giving the impression some are more deserving than others. There is a case for French reparations to Haiti and for transparency regarding compensation to French slaveowners.

  • Slavery was critical to the economic rise of Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially through the production of cotton in the American South.

  • The slave population in the American South grew rapidly from 1 million in 1800 to 4 million in 1860, representing about one-third of the South’s population.

  • Slaveowners dominated the early American republic, providing multiple early presidents.

  • The American South produced 75% of the cotton imported by European factories by the 1850s, fueling industrialization.

  • The transatlantic slave system reached its peak in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, with millions of slaves providing agricultural production.

  • The American Civil War from 1860-1865 led to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

  • Issues of reparations and racial inequality continue to simmer in the United States as a legacy of slavery.

  • France also struggles with how to address its history with slavery and respond to calls for reparations related to Haiti and other former colonies.

The number of slaves in the US South, Brazil, and the Caribbean reached around 6 million by 1860. Slavery in the British and French Caribbean peaked at around 1.3 million in 1780-1790 before declining due to the Haitian revolt and abolition laws. Meanwhile, the balance of power in the US was shifting. In 1800 the North and South had equal populations, but by 1860 the non-slaveholding North had grown much faster and made up over 60% of the total population.

The North wanted new western territories to be free states, while the South feared this would make them a minority unable to defend slavery. When Lincoln was elected on a platform of not allowing slavery to expand westward, the South seceded, leading to the Civil War. Over 600,000 died before the South surrendered in 1865.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery with no compensation to slaveowners or slaves. Gradual abolition with compensation, as Lincoln proposed earlier, was likely impossible without huge transfers from the North or extending slavery for decades. In 1860, the market value of slaves exceeded 250% of Southern income and nearly 100% of US income. Compensating slaveowners would have saddled taxpayers with massive debts for generations.

  • Abolishing slavery posed ideological challenges for 19th century proprietarian societies, which feared that freeing slaves without compensating owners would undermine the whole system of private property. In the US, the cost of compensating slaveowners would have been enormous - around one year’s national income.

  • Figures like Jefferson and Calhoun tried to morally justify slavery. Calhoun argued slavery was a “positive good” providing care for the vulnerable. Jefferson saw it as a “necessary evil” but could not envision peaceful emancipation. Both felt blacks and whites could not coexist.

  • after the Civil War, the Democratic party, formerly the party of slavery, made small adjustments to its ideology and denounced the hypocrisy of Northern industrial elites. This allowed them to build a new coalition that brought them success in the New Deal era.

  • The debate over slavery had long-lasting impacts on racial inequality, discrimination, and the structure of US political conflict. The failure to achieve peaceful emancipation and cohabitation between blacks and whites after the Civil War was a missed opportunity for reconciliation.

Here is a summary of the key points about the abolition of slavery in Brazil:

  • Slavery existed in Brazil from the 16th century until its abolition in 1888. The slave population remained relatively stable at around 1.5 million from 1800 to abolition.

  • Brazil had a mixed-race society with substantial racial mixing between whites, indigenous people, and African slaves. This resulted in a large mixed-race population.

  • Abolition in Brazil was a relatively peaceful, gradual process enacted from above by the Emperor Pedro II. It did not involve a civil war like in the United States.

  • Pedro II pushed abolition to modernize Brazil and improve its reputation abroad. There was not a strong abolitionist movement pushing for it from below.

  • After abolition, Brazil did not create formal segregation or disenfranchisement of the black population like in the U.S. South. However, deep racial inequalities persisted.

  • The mixed-race nature of Brazilian society and top-down abolition without a race war contributed to less harsh post-emancipation racial policies than in the United States. However, racial inequality and discrimination remained deeply embedded in Brazilian society after abolition.

  • Despite British pressure, Brazilian slave trade continued through much of the 19th century, though on a declining scale. Slave population growth was limited by racial mixing and gradual emancipation.

  • In the 2010 census, Brazilians self-identified as 48% white, 43% mixed race, 8% black, and 1% Asian/indigenous. Research suggests over 90% have mixed European, African and/or Amerindian origins.

  • Racial mixing was extremely advanced in Brazil by the late 19th century, unlike in the U.S. However, it did not prevent discrimination and inequality.

  • The slave population was stable at 1-1.5 million from 1750-1850, decreasing from 50% of the population in 1750 to 15-20% in 1880.

  • Slavery was abolished in 1888 shortly before the fall of the Brazilian Empire in 1889. However, extreme inequality flowed from slavery.

  • The 1891 constitution denied votes to the illiterate, excluding 70% of adults initially. The poor were politically excluded until universal suffrage in 1988.

  • Russia emancipated serfs in 1861, coinciding with the U.S. Civil War. Serf owners were compensated, though the process was chaotic due to the weak Russian state.

The emancipation of serfs in Russia in 1861 was an incomplete reform that did little to transform power relations in the countryside. The imperial government lacked capacity to guarantee property rights, establish an independent legal and fiscal system, or limit the power of local elites. As a result, former serf owners maintained control over the peasantry, whose mobility remained restricted. The government required serfs to compensate landlords over 49 years rather than providing monetary redemption through public debt. Further reforms were attempted but failed to progress before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The failed emancipation in Russia shows that transitioning away from serfdom requires a centralized state able to limit local elite power through an autonomous bureaucracy and fiscal system. Without this, subaltern classes remain dependent. Russia transitioned directly to a communist society rather than completing the shift to an ownership society.

  • France debated compensating slave owners when abolishing slavery in the 1840s. Proposed compensation averaged around 1,300 francs per slave.

  • Compensated emancipation succeeded in ending slavery in most Northern US states in the early 1800s. However, it failed at the federal level.

  • Many slaveholders supported the American Colonization Society’s idea of deporting free blacks to Liberia while maintaining slavery.

  • The US party system aligned largely on regional lines in the 1800s. The Democrats did well in the South while the Federalists/Whigs/Republicans did better in the Northeast.

  • Debates over slavery and racial inequality have shaped American politics since the country’s founding. Issues of reparations and racial justice remain salient today.

Here is a summary of the key points about colonial societies from the passage:

  • There were two main eras of European colonization. The first from 1500-1800/1850 was focused on military domination, extraction of resources, and slavery, including the transatlantic slave trade. The second from 1800/1850-1960s involved the expansion of colonial empires and eventual independence of colonies.

  • The second colonial era is often portrayed as more benevolent, but violence and forced labor persisted. Abolition of slavery was gradual. Inequality remained extremely high.

  • Colonies varied in the proportion of Europeans. Slave societies required a high proportion of Europeans to control the slaves. The U.S. South and Brazil had significant European populations.

  • Most other colonies had very small European populations ruling over indigenous majorities. This facilitated intellectual justifications of domination.

  • Colonial institutions and investments were organized to benefit colonizers, not indigenous populations, entrenching socioeconomic inequality.

  • Legal distinctions between Europeans and indigenous populations were a basis of inequality. So was forced labor which persisted into the 20th century.

  • Debates occurred about potential democratic federalism and independence, but lasting inequality and domination were entrenched by colonialism’s institutions and mentalities. Lessons remain to be learned about transnational democratic governance.

  • European settlement in colonies during 1850-1960 was generally very limited compared to the large indigenous populations. For example, Europeans were only 0.1% of the population in British India and French Indochina.

  • There were some exceptions with larger European settler populations, such as 10-15% in French Algeria and 15-20% in South Africa during apartheid.

  • Slave and colonial societies were extremely unequal. In late 18th century Saint-Domingue, the top 10% of the population (slaveowners and settlers) appropriated around 80% of the wealth, while the bottom 90% (slaves) received just 20%.

  • Inequality was also very high in colonial Algeria and South Africa under apartheid, though not quite as extreme as Saint-Domingue.

  • The native populations in colonies were often treated brutally, such as the indigenous population in Mexico falling from 15-20 million in 1520 to under 2 million by 1600 due to disease, military conquest, and poor treatment by the Spanish colonizers.

  • There was also significant interbreeding between indigenous populations, Europeans, and Africans in many colonies, especially Latin America, leading to racially mixed societies.

Here is a summary of the key points about the subsistence constraint:

  • In slave societies where slaves made up 80-90% of the population (e.g. West Indies, Indian Ocean), the top 10% took 80-90% of total income, indicating extreme inequality.

  • In slave societies where slaves were 30-60% of population (e.g. Brazil, southern US), inequality was less extreme but still high, with the top 10% taking 60-70% of income.

  • In colonial societies in the early 20th century (e.g. British and French colonies), available tax data suggests the top 10% took around 70% of income (e.g. Algeria in 1930). This was less unequal than slave societies but more unequal than metropolitan France in 1910.

  • Looking at the top 1% share, some colonial societies (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia) were exceptionally unequal, with the top 1% taking 30-36% of income. Others (Algeria, Cameroon, Tanzania) were comparable to the US today at around 25%.

  • The key factor differentiating colonial inequality was the racial identity of the wealthy elite - Europeans accounted for 80-95% of top incomes despite being a small minority.

  • Overall, colonial societies ranked among the most unequal in history, though the extent varied. The racial domination of the colonizers was a key dimension of inequality.

  • There is a distinction between inequality of property (ownership of assets) and inequality of income. Property inequality can be extreme, with the top 10% or 1% owning nearly everything.

  • Income inequality is constrained by the need for the poorer sections of society to subsist. The richer a society, the more inequality of income it can sustain.

  • In a poor society where output is at subsistence level, income is evenly distributed out of necessity. In a society where output is 100x subsistence, the top 1% could take 99% of income with the rest at subsistence.

  • But the level of inequality is driven primarily by ideological, political, and institutional factors rather than just material constraints. Many past societies could have sustained high inequality.

  • Slave and colonial societies reached exceptionally high inequality of income, with the top decile taking 70-80% of income. This was enabled by their political and ideological systems.

  • Income inequality has limits - the share of the bottom 50% is always at least 5-10%. The top centile’s share rarely exceeds 20-30% of income.

  • Colonies were organized primarily to benefit the colonizers and metropole, with very limited investment in social/educational improvements for colonized populations. This persisted even in territories that remained part of France.

  • French colonies were meant to be self-sufficient budgetarily - taxes collected locally were meant to fund local expenditures. In practice this meant regressive taxes fell on the colonized to fund administrators and infrastructure mainly for the colonizers’ benefit.

  • Tax rates were high (10-12% of GDP) considering the poverty of colonized societies. Metropolitan France had lower tax rates over the same period.

  • Colonial budgets devoted very little to health, education, and civil servants for colonized peoples. Schools and healthcare were segregated and better funded for Europeans.

  • Inequality seems to have persisted even as France invested more nearing independence. For example, in Algeria education for colonizers got over 80% of funding even in 1955.

  • The colonial system operated in a highly unequal way and seems to have been resistant to reform.

  • Educational inequality in French colonial Algeria was extremely high. In the 1950s, the top 10% (children of colonizers) received over 80% of education spending, compared to only 38% in France in 1910. This shows the privileging of colonizers over the colonized.

  • Late in the colonial period, France transferred about 0.5% of its national income to colonial budgets, mainly to pay French civil servants rather than truly invest in the colonies. This was a low cost for controlling a large empire.

  • Private profits from slave colonies could be enormous, up to 7% of national income in 1790 just from Saint-Domingue. This benefited a small minority in the metropole.

  • In the later colonial era, foreign assets were huge - 190% of national income for UK in 1914 and 120% for France. This illustrates the financial power and profits drawn from colonial empires by the metropoles.

  • Colonial rivalries, as over Morocco, exacerbated tensions between European powers before WWI. Ultimately colonies were largely to benefit the colonizing countries and populations rather than the colonized.

  • France and Britain accumulated enormous foreign assets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reaching 125-191% of national income by 1914. This was far higher than foreign asset levels seen since then.

  • These foreign assets generated substantial income for France and Britain, providing 5-8% of national income. This helped boost living standards for certain segments of the population.

  • There are similarities but also key differences between this “second colonial era” of financial imperialism and the earlier era of brutal colonial appropriation through slavery.

  • While portrayed as mutually beneficial “gentle commerce”, much of these foreign assets were in fact extracted through unequal treaties, debt imposed through force, and military occupation.

  • So while less overtly violent than the slave trade, this financial imperialism was often not purely voluntary and involved significant coercion. The distinction between the two eras is therefore more complex than a simple contrast between immoral coercion and virtuous commerce.

  • France and Britain’s foreign assets in 1880-1914 partly came from trade surpluses, but these were facilitated by their colonial domination and cannot fully explain the large accumulation of assets. Appropriations and high returns on investments also played a role.

  • By 1880-1914, the UK and France earned so much from foreign investments (around 5-8% of national income) that they could run persistent trade deficits (1-2% of national income) while still accumulating foreign assets rapidly. This allowed their living standards to rise while foreign countries became increasingly indebted.

  • The goal of accumulating foreign assets, whether through trade or colonialism, is to enable the surplus country to eventually live off the income from those assets and import goods without needing to export. Contemporary examples are petroleum exporters and Japan.

  • International property relations, like property relations in general, are complex and conflictual, not spontaneously harmonious. Institutions are needed to regulate their scope and transmission, whether through unions, rent controls, estate taxes, etc. The fairy tale of mutually advantageous property relations told in economics textbooks does not match reality.

  • Property relations between colonizing and colonized countries often involved the colonized paying profits, rents, and dividends to the colonizers over long periods of time. This made property relations complex and potentially explosive.

  • Constructing norms of justice acceptable to both sides through democratic deliberation was very difficult when property owners were external to the colonized community.

  • International financial relations and investment strategies relied heavily on military force and coercion to ensure payment of debts and dividends and prevent expropriation.

  • The inequality regime of the Belle Époque was justified by both proprietarian and civilizing arguments.

  • Colonial legal systems were biased in favor of the colonizers. Different ethnic and racial groups did not have equal rights or access to the same courts.

  • Laws awarded nationality and citizenship rights based on racial criteria, even though such classifications were banned in the colonizers’ home countries.

  • Overall, the colonial inequality regime was founded on inequalities of status and racial/ethnic identity, with sweeping consequences.

The French colonies had a complex system of laws governing relationships between Europeans and natives. Interracial marriages were discouraged, and there was a separate legal system for natives that often contradicted principles of French law. One example was the legal framework for forced labor from 1912-1946. The colonial administration demanded unpaid labor from natives as a form of tax payment. In reality, the demanded labor often far exceeded the legal limits and occurred under brutal conditions, as in the building of the Congo-Ocean Railway where many workers died. The International Labor Organization criticized France’s use of forced labor as similar to servile labor, but France rejected this, defending the labor as “services” and conscription. Forced labor continued until after World War II when France sought to preserve its empire. Apartheid in South Africa from 1948-1994 was an extreme system separating colonizers and colonized.

  • At the end of the Boer War in 1902, the Union of South Africa was established, unifying several previously separate territories.

  • In some territories like the British Cape Colony, there was a qualified franchise where blacks, coloreds, and Asians could vote if they met a property/wealth requirement. But Boers opposed extending this nationwide.

  • Laws like the Native Labour Regulation Act (1911) and Natives Land Act (1913) imposed harsh restrictions and segregation on blacks.

  • Apartheid was formally established in 1948 with laws further restricting rights and cementing racial segregation.

  • Blacks were totally excluded from top jobs and the political process until the end of apartheid in the 1990s.

  • Since then, a minority of blacks have joined the elite, but whites remain dominant, owning over 85% of the top centile. Inequality between the top 10% and rest has increased since apartheid’s end.

  • The ANC government has not pursued major redistribution through land reform or taxation, so the extreme inequality built up over a century of segregation remains entrenched.

  • The South African case shows the enduring power of proprietarian inegalitarian mechanisms, where formal equality of rights has not been enough to undo entrenched racial disparities in wealth.

  • In the aftermath of World War II, France sought to reform its relationship with its African colonies. Some African leaders pushed for an egalitarian federal structure linking France and its colonies called the “Franco-African Union.” However, this was rejected in 1946 due to fears by French conservatives that it would give too much power to Africans.

  • Nevertheless, some Africans continued to serve in the French National Assembly from 1945-1960, including Léopold Senghor and Félix Houphouët-Boigny. They helped pass laws abolishing forced labor and establishing French citizenship for all inhabitants of the empire.

  • In 1946, France adopted a new constitution establishing the French Union linking France and its colonies. But it gave most power to France and fell short of true federalism desired by African leaders.

  • In the 1950s, Senghor tried to establish a West African political union, but other African leaders were focused on consolidating self-government. The Mali Federation created in 1959 linking several West African colonies collapsed in 1960.

  • Vestiges of political links between France and former colonies remain today through parliamentary representation of overseas departments/territories. But the vision of an egalitarian Franco-African federation was abandoned as colonies gained independence without cross-border cooperation.

  • European colonization led to extreme inequality between Europeans and indigenous populations in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. In places like Saint-Domingue (Haiti), the top decile’s share of income exceeded 100% at times.

  • After abolition, colonial states maintained dualist labor and fiscal systems that continued to extract resources from colonies. This helped fuel European industrialization and wealth accumulation.

  • By 1910, Europeans owned vast foreign assets equivalent to 70-100% of European national incomes. This gave European elites tremendous private wealth and power.

  • After independence, former colonies had negative net foreign asset positions while former colonial powers kept large positive positions. This financial dominance has persisted to some degree.

  • Postcolonial aid from Europe has been relatively small given the scale of historical resource transfers. Issues of debt, reparations, and tax justice remain inadequately addressed.

  • The global system continues to evolve. Improved cooperation and deliberation are needed at the regional and global level on issues like migration. Study of past switch points can help prepare for future transitions.

Here is a summary of the key points about ternary societies and colonialism in India:

  • India is particularly important for studying inequality regimes because of its caste system, often seen as a rigid and extreme type of inequality.

  • It is essential to understand the origins and peculiarities of the caste system and whether its trajectory can be explained by longstanding structural differences from European orders or by specific social/political trajectories and switch points.

  • The trajectory of Indian inequality must be analyzed within the framework of the transformation of premodern trifunctional societies.

  • What distinguishes India is that state construction and the homogenization of statuses/rights was interrupted by British colonialism in the 19th century.

  • The British used the census to map the caste hierarchy and assert control, but this had the unintended consequence of making the system more rigid.

  • Since 1947, independent India has tried to use the state’s legal powers to correct the legacy of caste but with limited success. Caste identities remain socially relevant.

  • India has had a very large population for centuries, even compared to China and Europe. However, Indian unity and a unified Indian state are recent developments.

  • India was divided into many different states and empires over history, including Hindu and Muslim kingdoms. The British then took control starting in the 18th century.

  • There was a complex cultural and political syncretism between Hindus and Muslims under Muslim rule in India from the 12th to 19th centuries. However, tensions and hostility also existed.

  • The British conducted imperial censuses of India starting in 1871. These showed Muslims were about 20% of the population in the late 19th century, rising to 24% by the 1930s due to higher birth rates.

  • After independence and partition in 1947, the Muslim share dropped to 10% as Pakistan and Bangladesh were separated. Since then it has risen slightly to 14% today.

  • India has achieved administrative and political unification as a democracy after 1947, on a larger scale than ever before in history.

  • The religious structure of India has been relatively stable from 1871 to 2011, with Hindus accounting for around 75-80% of the population, Muslims around 10-20%, and other religions like Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists around 5%.

  • However, the census categories like “Hindu” mask immense disparities and discrimination based on caste and untouchability within Hinduism.

  • The origins of the caste system can be traced back to ancient Hindu texts like Manusmriti which divided society into four varnas - Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (traders), Shudras (laborers).

  • This quaternary division aimed to place Brahmins at the top of the social hierarchy, though the actual social structure was more complex with thousands of castes and guilds.

  • The Manusmriti expressed a desire of Brahmins to restore their power and prestige that was challenged by Buddhist influences and Shudra rulers in ancient times.

  • The caste categories have taken new forms like SC/ST post-independence, but risks of discrimination remain.

  • The Manusmriti set forth an ideal Hindu social hierarchy consisting of four varnas (classes): Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants), and Shudras (workers). This hierarchy placed Brahmins at the top under a logic of intellectual and spiritual superiority.

  • In practice, the thousands of jatis (occupational/cultural groups) across India did not neatly fit into the four varnas. The jatis reflected horizontal solidarities, not a vertical hierarchy.

  • The British colonial administrators mistakenly conflated the complex jati system with the theoretical varna hierarchy, hardening caste identities in an effort to better understand and control Indian society.

  • Brahminic domination involved an intellectual and civilizing mission - promoting vegetarianism, sobriety, and patriarchal moral codes. Gandhi largely accepted this mission while seeking reforms, defending Brahmins’ role in promoting social harmony.

  • The varna system set forth an ideal order, not an accurate depiction of society. Similarly, the European trifunctional schema of clergy, nobility, and commoners was an idealized theoretical construct.

  • The confusion between jatis and varnas stems from Indian elites trying to organize society based on the varna hierarchy as well as the British colonial influence. In reality, the jatis reflect a more complex lived social experience.

  • Before British colonial rule, India’s social structures were complex and constantly evolving. They were not rigid, frozen caste systems as often depicted.

  • Recent scholarship shows that from the 15th-18th centuries, India’s social and political relations were in constant flux, similar to changes happening in Europe with the feudal system.

  • The trifunctional organization and social conflicts in India had parallels to Europe. Indian society cannot be treated as totally alien.

  • Colonial administrators saw caste as rigid and unchanging to justify their civilizing mission and entrench power. But this was an oversimplification.

  • Historians now see more fluidity - military, political, economic elites were renewed through new blood, warrior classes often dominated Brahmins.

  • Caste relations shaped by property and power, not just religion. Local power balances shifted over time.

  • Rise of Hindu kingdoms in 18th century led to some varna ideology revival to establish dominance. But compromises made between new rulers and Brahmins.

  • Social structures complex and evolving over time. Colonial freezing of caste for power was an oversimplification.

  • Hindu varnas (castes) in 17th-18th century India were flexible categories used by warriors and priests to justify rule, not fixed social classes. Indian society was evolving rapidly like Europe’s.

  • Absent British colonization, India’s inequality regime may have evolved similarly to Europe’s, with disappearance of caste inequalities during state centralization.

  • But Muslim rule weakened Hindu Kshatriya warrior class and enhanced Brahmin prestige, possibly leading to imbalance of power versus Europe.

  • Brahmins were a true hereditary class unlike Catholic clergy, possibly making their power harder to challenge.

  • Vasco da Gama’s 1497 expedition to India was driven by Portuguese goal of encircling Islam, based on myths of a Christian “Kingdom of Prester John” in Africa or India.

  • Da Gama mistakenly thought Hindu temples were churches, reflecting Portuguese ignorance about India. His voyage led to European discovery of extensive Indian Ocean trade networks centered on Arab, Indian, and Chinese merchants.

  • The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach India in 1498, seeking spices and converts to Christianity. Their messianic zeal led them to conflict with local Muslim and Hindu rulers.

  • The Spanish built a vast empire in the Americas starting in the early 1500s. They also came into conflict with Muslims in the Philippines and Indonesia.

  • The Dutch and British founded trading companies in the 1600s that grew into quasi-colonial powers in Asia. The British East India Company took control of much of India by the mid-1700s.

  • After scandals over EIC abuses, the British shifted to more formal colonial rule in India, justified as a “civilizing mission.” This embodied a new “cognitive” domination alongside military might.

  • European scholars and writers like Chateaubriand portrayed Asian societies as backwards and incapable of self-government, needing European rule. Edward Said labeled this “Orientalism.”

  • The British conducted extensive censuses in colonial India starting in the late 1800s, categorizing and counting the population in new ways. This shaped colonial policies and nationalist responses.

  • Overall, European colonialism in Asia evolved from religious conversion to trade to more formal imperialism justified via cultural domination and racial ideologies. The legacies influenced post-colonial perceptions and conflicts.

  • The British initially struggled to understand India’s complex caste system when conducting early censuses in the 1860s-1870s. They attempted to categorize castes based on the varnas but found jatis to be more relevant.

  • The first censuses enumerated thousands of jatis but with no clear order or structure. The average jati had fewer than 20,000 members and were often just small local groups.

  • Some British officials explored racial theories to explain castes, measuring skulls and features. But this yielded little insight as castes showed mixed origins.

  • Administrators like Nesfield learned more from dialogues with Indians. He described outcastes as living in unhygienic conditions and lacking morals, self-excluding from society.

  • Nesfield saw a hierarchy in occupations, with groups like weavers and metalworkers having more prestige than basket weavers. Brahmins and merchants followed similar moral codes.

  • Former warriors (Rajputs) lost prestige under British rule. Brahmins branched into professions like teaching but Nesfield felt there were too many.

  • The British census-taking and categorization impacted Indian identities and society despite their limited understanding. The colonial lens shaped the data collected.

Based on the passage, a few key points emerge:

  • The British colonial administrators in India had difficulty classifying the thousands of jatis (local caste groups) into broad categories like varnas. Some proposed abandoning varnas and using occupational classifications instead.

  • In practice, the British classified many local groups related to Brahmins simply as “Brahmin.” There were over 100 Brahmin groups identified already in 1834.

  • Brahmins made up 5-10% of the population in different parts of India in the late 19th century, based on British censuses. Kshatriyas made up around 3-4% based on groups like Rajputs.

  • Together, Brahmins and Kshatriyas accounted for around 10% of the Hindu population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • This 10% share for the top two varnas was not too different from the size of the clergy and nobility in parts of Europe in earlier centuries.

  • Brahmins dominated certain professions like teachers and lawyers, and owned a disproportionate share of land. The British saw Brahmins as oppressive but necessary for social control.

  • Literacy rates were very low overall, but much higher for Brahmin men than others. Brahmin women had higher literacy than other women.

  • The passage suggests Brahmins and Kshatriyas maintained a strong presence and high status in Indian society in the colonial era, though the British categorized and viewed them through an imperial lens.

  • The British colonial authorities attempted to categorize Indian society into castes based on the varna system, but this proved challenging and disruptive.

  • The census rigidified caste boundaries that had previously been more fluid at the local level. Colonial policies like assigning rights and recruiting labor based on caste status exacerbated tensions between groups.

  • The proportion of high castes - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Kayasths - remained stable at around 15% of the Hindu population from 1871 to 2014, despite population growth. This suggests the caste categories became quite rigid over this period.

  • The British realized their policies were exacerbating identity conflicts and changed the census approach, while independent India sought to end caste discrimination. But other surveys continued to track caste identity.

  • Overall, colonial administrative categorization and policies seem to have contributed to making caste boundaries more rigid over time, interrupting the evolution of India’s ancient trifunctional society.

Here are a few key points about the status inequalities in India discussed in the passage:

  • In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, being recognized as a member of a high caste conferred significant privileges like access to temples, schools, and public facilities.

  • The British began abolishing caste discrimination laws in the 1920s-30s under pressure from independence movements.

  • After independence in 1947, India adopted extensive affirmative action policies to correct past caste discriminations. The 1950 constitution abolished caste privileges, untouchability, and religious restrictions.

  • It established quotas and “reservations” for disadvantaged castes and tribes (SCs and STs - former untouchables and aboriginals) in education, jobs, and politics to promote their interests.

  • Conflicts arose between high castes who wanted to maintain their dominance in universities and government vs lower castes fighting for representation.

  • Defining which groups qualified for SC/ST status was contentious - it aimed to identify the most economically and socially backward communities based on past discrimination.

  • Tensions remained over issues like cow slaughter bans which disadvantaged Muslims and Dalits.

  • India’s affirmative action system is among the most extensive attempted globally, unlike the limited preferential policies in the US. Caste inequalities and conflicts over quotas continue to this day.

  • The Indian constitution established quotas for historically disadvantaged groups - the scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), and other backward classes (OBC) - in education, government jobs, and political representation.

  • SCs and STs, comprising former untouchables and marginalized tribes, were recognized from 1950 and made up 21-25% of the population. Muslims were largely excluded from SC/ST status.

  • Defining and implementing quotas for the broader OBC category took longer due to its fuzzy boundaries and greater potential impact on upper caste Hindus. Estimates of the OBC population share ranged from 32% to over 50%.

  • By the 2010s, nearly 70% of the population benefitted from SC/ST or OBC quotas. The remaining 30% were upper caste Hindus (20%) and non-SC/ST/OBC Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Sikhs (10%).

  • There are ongoing debates about the inclusion of the “creamy layer” - the wealthier members of disadvantaged groups - in quotas. The 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census was an attempt to comprehensively reevaluate group disadvantage.

  • The impact of quotas is complex, but they have likely reduced caste-based inequality of opportunity, though not fully eliminated caste identity or disadvantage. Continued evolution of India’s affirmative action system seems likely.

  • India has made significant progress in reducing inequality between disadvantaged lower castes (scheduled castes and tribes) and the rest of the population through policies like reserving seats in legislative bodies. However, inequalities remain high compared to reductions in other countries.

  • Measures like political reservations brought lower castes into electoral politics but benefited a minority within those groups. Truly reducing inequality requires greater investment in public services like education and healthcare for disadvantaged groups. This did not happen in India to the same extent as in neighboring countries.

  • India’s upper classes resisted paying the taxes needed to fund ambitious social programs. The quota system allowed progressive elites to reduce inequality without high taxes. A high-quality universal public system accessible to all would have required greater taxes on the advantaged.

  • No major agrarian reform redistributed land ownership. India’s leaders, including Ambedkar, took a conservative approach to property rights.

  • International trends like tax competition made it harder for poor countries like India to fund an ambitious welfare state. But domestic political culture and elitism also played a role in the inadequacy of social spending.

  • There were debates in India in the 1950s-1960s about the usefulness of agrarian reform and basing quotas on objective criteria rather than caste. Some argued caste was key for reducing inequality, while others worried reform would be hard to end once started.

  • India’s experience shows the need for anti-discrimination policies like quotas, but also to revise them over time. Quotas may solidify identities, so eventually moving to objective socioeconomic criteria is ideal.

  • India has pioneered quota systems, reflecting a desire to address its highly inegalitarian heritage of caste and colonial codification. This experience illustrates quotas can help disadvantaged groups, but must evolve to avoid perpetuating categories.

  • India may be transitioning its quota system from status categories to income/wealth criteria. This requires better income/wealth data and tax reform. Assessing India’s experience can inform reducing inequality globally.

Here is a summary of the key points in the excerpt:

  • The caste system in India has ancient roots, with theories linking its origins to the arrival of Indo-European peoples. Caste categories were cemented under British colonial rule.

  • The British conducted censuses starting in 1871 that rigidly classified the population into castes. The census results showed Brahmins and allied high castes were a small elite, about 6-7% of the population.

  • Colonial authorities saw caste as an integral part of Hinduism and Indian tradition. But anti-caste movements challenged this view.

  • Caste identity and barriers likely increased under British rule. The colonial state exploited caste divisions.

  • After independence, caste discrimination was outlawed but remained a reality. Caste-based quotas were introduced to increase opportunities for lower castes.

  • Debates continue about the origins and persistence of caste. But clear hierarchies and discrimination existed, were exacerbated by colonialism, and have not been eliminated.

Here are the key points about the role of colonialism, military domination, and Western prosperity:

  • European military domination emerged in the 17th-18th centuries due to unprecedented fiscal and administrative capacity of European states. This allowed them to finance soldiers, purchase commodities, and build infrastructure, far beyond the capacities of China and the Ottoman Empire.

  • Intense competition between major European states like France, the UK, and Germany drove this state capacity.

  • Tax data shows European states increased tax revenues enormously from the 16th to 19th centuries, while the Ottoman Empire stagnated.

  • Revenues were invested in navies and firearms, allowing domination of sea routes and colonies. Cotton and slave plantations generated profits that further financed European industry and power.

  • Abolition of slavery led to compensation for slavers and ongoing discrimination against former slaves. Post-slave colonialism persisted via legal inequality and forced labor into the 20th century.

  • European military and economic domination was underpinned by brutal coercion, especially slavery. However, state fiscal/administrative capacity driven by intra-European competition was a key factor enabling this colonial expansion and exploitation.

  • Tax receipts of European states increased dramatically between 1500-1800, from 100-150 tons of silver in 1500-1550 to 1600-1900 tons in the 1780s for powers like England and France. Meanwhile, Ottoman tax receipts stagnated at 150-200 tons.

  • This growth in fiscal capacity allowed European states to increase their expenditures and carry out more functions, while the Ottoman state remained weak and decentralized.

  • The growth in taxes was driven by intensified fiscal pressure from European rulers, not just population or output changes. Measured in days of urban wages, taxes went from 2-4 days in 1500-1600 to 10-20 days in 1750-1850 in Europe, while staying at 2-5 days in the Ottoman and Chinese empires.

  • This corresponded to a rise in tax revenue from 1-2% of national income in the 16th century to 6-8% by the late 18th century in Europe. This allowed European states to fund night watchman functions like courts, police, and a military.

  • The Ottoman and Chinese states remained weak centralized structures, unable to guarantee security and order throughout their territory until reforms in the 19th century.

  • The rise of European state capacity went hand in hand with the development of ownership societies and proprietary ideologies at home and colonialism and slavery abroad.

  • Between 1500-1800, leading European states increased their tax revenues from 1-2% to 6-8% of national income. This coincided with the development of colonial empires abroad.

  • Between 1910-1980, rich European countries increased tax revenues from 8-10% to 30-50% of national income. This enabled the development of social democratic societies and historic improvements in living standards.

  • Each major increase in European tax revenues corresponded to increased military recruitment needs due to near constant warfare between rival states from 1500-1800. This led to greater fiscal and administrative capacity.

  • In contrast, the Ottoman and Chinese states did not face the same incentives as they ruled large decentralized empires and did not engage in military rivalries to the same degree.

  • Interstate competition in Europe drove military innovation and capacity building. By 1780, European states had far larger armies and navies compared to the Ottoman empire.

  • Colonial exploitation provided raw materials and energy that fueled the Industrial Revolution, overcoming ecological constraints like deforestation that China did not face to the same degree.

  • Military control of trade routes allowed European states to develop profitable international supply chains and complementarities between colonies and the metropole.

So in summary, interstate competition drove state capacity building and colonial exploitation provided resources that helped fuel industrialization in Europe.

  • Europe’s economic development was aided in large part by silver mined in America starting in the 16th century. By 1830, Britain’s imports of cotton, wood, and sugar required exploiting over 10 million hectares of land in its colonies, 1.5-2 times the cultivable land in Britain itself.

  • China’s institutions in the 18th century were more aligned with Adam Smith’s recommendations than Britain’s - lower taxes, balanced budgets, integrated markets, and greater labor mobility. Europe also had more restrictions on labor mobility and property ownership.

  • Europe’s higher taxes and debts helped build state and military capacity that was decisive in increasing European power, even if the money could have been better spent on social services.

  • In the Opium Wars, Britain militarily forced China to accept the opium trade and give the British economic privileges, showing military might overcame China’s virtuous institutions. Ironically, China then had to take on public debt to pay indemnities.

  • Europe’s high public debts, like Britain’s after the Napoleonic Wars, aided financial development by requiring the issuance of public bonds and growth of banking.

So in summary, Europe’s economic success was aided by colonialism and military might, not just virtuous Smithian institutions. China functionally had better institutions but was overcome militarily.

  • European military and colonial domination in the 18th-19th centuries, along with related financial and technological innovations, played a decisive role in the “Great Divergence” between Europe and Asia. Mercantilist policies like protectionism helped Europe gain a comparative advantage.

  • Britain imposed high tariffs and import bans on Indian textiles, allowing their domestic industry to catch up and surpass India’s. This contributed to Britain’s industrialization and India’s de-industrialization.

  • In the 17th-18th centuries, China and India accounted for over half of global manufacturing output. By 1900 this had fallen to just 5% due to Europe’s colonial policies. Alternate historical paths without colonialism and protectionism were possible.

  • In Japan, the feudal Tokugawa shogunate dominated society along with Buddhist monks and Shinto priests. The arrival of Western colonial powers in the 1850s shook the shogunate’s legitimacy, leading to the Meiji Restoration.

  • The Meiji elite modernized Japan by abolishing feudalism, investing in education and industry, and adopting some Western practices. But they maintained imperial ideology and traditional inequality between warriors, priests, and commoners. This shaped Japan’s distinctive pathway to modernity.

  • Japan’s defeat by Western powers in the 1850s-60s led to intense political and ideological reflection, resulting in the Meiji Restoration of 1868. This ended the Tokugawa shogunate and restored symbolic imperial authority, with the goal of rapidly modernizing Japan to compete with the West.

  • The Meiji reforms eliminated legal privileges for the warrior nobility, gave financial compensation, and established a Western-style constitution with an elected parliament. Universal male suffrage came in 1925, women in 1947.

  • Discriminatory class distinctions were abolished, including the ‘burakumin’ outcast group. Mass literacy and industrialization were promoted through government investment in infrastructure and education.

  • Japan’s push for recognition as an equal power led to conflicts and ultimately war with the West, though its social reforms proved relatively effective in reducing inequality compared to Western colonial policies elsewhere.

  • The Japanese case demonstrates that proactive policies can overcome entrenched inequality in just decades, countering notions that such hierarchies are immutable. Its postwar development shows these transformations need not depend on European civilization or culture.

Here is a summary of the key points about inequality and improving the status of disadvantaged groups in China:

  • China historically had a trifunctional social structure similar to Europe and India, with scholar, warrior, and commoner groups. Confucianism played a central role as a scholarly philosophy focused on social harmony and moderation.

  • The imperial Chinese state was quite weak fiscally and administratively compared to modern states. It lacked the capacity for extensive control or intervention in society.

  • Literary elites did not dominate warrior elites in imperial China. The Qing dynasty was established by Manchu warriors who formed a privileged warrior nobility.

  • The Communist Party has sought national unity and social harmony in ways that connect to Confucianism, but direct parallels between past and present regimes overlook complexity.

  • Major programs of agrarian land reform and progressive taxation after 1949 helped reduce inequality and improve the status of disadvantaged groups.

  • Long-term policies of social and educational integration have aimed to overcome prejudice and raise the status of marginalized groups in China, similar to efforts with burakumin and lower castes in Japan and India.

  • Imperial Chinese society was highly hierarchical and divided into literati (scholar-officials), landowners, and warriors (bannermen).

  • The literati gained status by passing rigorous civil service examinations. About 4% of adult males had some classical education, but only 0.5% passed the exams to gain the shengyuan certificate required for government service.

  • Wealthy individuals could also buy these certificates, increasing their chances for government jobs without passing the exams. This allowed greater social reproduction among elites.

  • About half of government posts were reserved for bannermen, the warrior aristocracy. They took special exams and had quota systems to maintain their privileges.

  • There were many popular revolts against the inegalitarian system, notably the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s. The rebels promised land redistribution, threatening imperial power.

  • Overall, the regime balanced power among the elite groups of literati, landowners, and warriors. It was not static and conflicts arose, but no group managed to gain decisive power over the others before the Qing empire fell in 1911. Missed opportunities for major change came during periods of unrest.

  • Iran offers an example of a late constitutionalization of a clerical government with the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

  • The possibility of a clerical republic in Iran was related to the specific form that the trifunctional structure took in the history of Sunni and Shiite Islam, and more specifically the role of the Shiite clergy in resisting colonialism.

  • Broadly, Muslim societies have been differentiated by the relative importance of military/warrior elites (Sunni) versus clerical/intellectual elites (Shiite).

  • Shiites revere the authority of the imams more than the caliphs who were the temporal and military leaders. After the 12th imam, Shiite scholars renounced temporal power.

  • In Iran, the Shiite clergy led resistance to European colonialism in the 19th-20th centuries, gaining moral authority. This helped enable the possibility of a clerical republic post-1979.

  • The 1979 revolution against the Shah was contingent on various factors, including backlash to his ties to Western governments and oil companies, and Khomeini’s leadership. But the possibility of a clerical republic traces back to the Shiite clerical tradition and authority.

  • In the 16th century, the Safavid dynasty in Persia converted the country to Shiism and gave more power to Shiite clerics. This helped establish the bond between clerics and disadvantaged groups that persists today.

  • In the 18th-19th centuries, Shiite clerics in Iraq and Iran became very influential and acted as virtual heads of state, defying rulers they disagreed with. Clear doctrines emerged about following mujahids and marjas (highest clerics).

  • In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Shiite clergy gained legitimacy by leading resistance to Western colonial powers, while the Ottomans and Persians were seen as acquiescing.

  • After the 1953 coup returned the Shah to power in Iran, the clerics remained an anti-colonial force. In 1979, Khomeini took power and the clerics codified their grip on power in the constitution, with the Supreme Guide dominating.

  • The state power granted to clerics arouses suspicion among many clerics who prefer to avoid politics. The regime has a specific political cleric class distinct from Shiite clergy as a whole.

  • The Iranian regime portrays itself as more moral and egalitarian than Sunni monarchies like Saudi Arabia, but both have elite rule and dependence on oil wealth in practice.

  • Iran regularly accuses Gulf oil monarchies of using religion to hide the concentration of wealth by ruling families/clans. In contrast, Iran claims to stand for republican equality without dynastic privilege, and for the wisdom of religious scholars regardless of background.

  • Data show the Middle East is the most unequal region globally, primarily due to resources being captured by small oil state populations and thin elite strata. Ruling families in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar rely on strict religious doctrine while accumulating wealth.

  • Iran’s regime also lacks transparency on wealth distribution despite rhetoric. The Revolutionary Guards control a large chunk of the economy. Suspicions of corruption in Iran explain the fragility of the regime.

  • In Islam, promises of equality have often ended in disillusionment in practice. Ambiguities around slavery and zakat show a gap between theoretical ideals and practical implementation.

  • Zakat is vague in the Quran. In practice the amounts paid are unclear and record-keeping is poor, so it is hard to assess the impact on inequality. It is generally a proportional tax rather than an explicitly progressive one.

  • This lack of transparency and redistributive ambition in zakat is common to religions generally, not just Islam. The tithe in Christianity and Mormonism operates similarly.

  • The first two parts of the book examined the transformation of trifunctional societies into ownership societies, and the impact of European colonialism on trifunctional societies in other parts of the world.

  • Most premodern societies were organized around a trifunctional logic, with clerical/religious elites, warrior/military elites, and commoners. Between 1500-1900, trifunctional ideology was gradually replaced by proprietarian ideology based on property rights and state power.

  • This shift coincided with increased global contacts and colonialism under hierarchical conditions due to Europe’s superior fiscal and military capacity from internal rivalries. The colonial encounter affected societies differently depending on how it impacted traditional elites.

  • The objective was to show the diversity of means societies use to structure inequality, the intertwined socioeconomic and political-ideological processes by which different parts of the world interacted, and lessons from history about the capacity of ideologies and institutions to achieve justice.

  • Key lessons include the failure of the proprietarian promise to diffuse wealth, the hypocrisy of civilizing rhetoric and racial/cultural domination, and the lasting effects of state codification of status inequalities. Overall, the history illustrates the political and ideological nature of social inequality.

  • The economic divergence between Europe and Asia began around 1750-1800, not earlier as some Eurocentric views argue. Recent research shows the advanced parts of Asia were on par economically with Europe until the late 18th century.

  • Europe’s colonial exploitation and trade were key factors enabling its economic divergence and industrialization. The slave trade, colonial plunder, and unequal trading relationships gave Europe capital and resources to industrialize.

  • Asia also had some favorable conditions like property rights and merchant classes. Cultural or religious factors alone do not explain Europe’s divergence.

  • The global perspective shows industrialization relied on exploitation of resources and labor from Asia, Africa and the Americas. It was not just an internal European phenomenon.

  • Different national trajectories (e.g. Japan’s rapid industrialization) show there were multiple paths to modernization, not one single European model.

  • Intra-Asian colonization and exploitation also occurred, though the asymmetric relations with European powers were more important overall.

  • The analysis aims to go beyond Eurocentric views and examine global economic interconnections in explaining the great divergence.

  • The power of the papacy in medieval Europe found an official counterpart in the Holy Roman Empire, though this political system was fragile and limited. In contrast, Confucian literati served the Chinese emperor, not the papacy.

  • Fiscal pressure was higher in divided Song China than later united Ming/Qing China.

  • The Qing banner armies were a privileged hereditary minority analogous to European aristocracies.

  • After the fall of the Qing, China’s fragmentation led to foreign occupation and spheres of influence.

  • In Iran, the Shiite clergy have held significant power since the Safavid era. The 1979 revolution established a clerical regime under Khomeini.

  • The regime is now contested from both reformist and conservative religious factions. It tries to balance clerical power and popular legitimacy.

  • Historical debates continue on the treatment of women and non-Muslims in Islamic law and practice. Positions range from apologetic to critical.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding the collapse of inequality and private property from 1914-1945:

  • Between 1914 and 1945, income and wealth inequality decreased dramatically in Europe and the United States. This was due to a variety of political decisions that reduced the power of private property, including expropriation of assets, nationalization, rent/price controls, and reduced public debt through inflation, taxes on wealth, or repudiation.

  • Progressive taxation, with rates of 70-80% or more on top incomes and estates, played a key role in reducing inequality during this period. These high rates were maintained until the 1980s.

  • This transformation was made possible by profound changes in attitudes toward private property and markets that had been developing since the mid-19th century. Events like the world wars, Bolshevik Revolution, and Great Depression crystallized anti-capitalist views into majority opinion.

  • Three main challenges contributed to the collapse: 1) inequality within European societies led to communist and social democratic counter-movements 2) inequality between countries spurred anti-colonialism 3) nationalist competition exacerbated by World War I and II led to destruction of old order

  • While specific events and chaotic politics shaped decisions 1914-1950, they were underpinned by deep shifts in perceptions of capitalism’s legitimacy and ability to provide prosperity and stability. The postwar period saw a turn to social democracy and socialism in Europe and the New Deal in the US.

  • Income inequality in Europe was very high in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the top decile receiving around 50% of total income. This began to fall dramatically between 1914-1945, stabilizing around 30% in the post-WW2 period until 1980.

  • The decline in inequality was much more modest in the US over this period. Since 1980, inequality has risen sharply, especially in the US where the top decile now receives 45-50% of total income, similar to 1900-1910 levels in Europe.

  • Looking more closely at Europe, the fall in inequality between 1914-1945 was seen across countries. Since 1980 inequality has increased but to varying degrees - rising most in the UK, least in Sweden, with Germany and France in between.

  • Wealth inequality followed a similar pattern, with concentration at very high levels in Europe pre-WW1, falling to historic lows in the 1980s, and now rising again, especially sharply in the US.

  • While pre-1914 Europe saw inequality driven by returns on property/capital, today’s high US inequality also reflects high salaries for top executives.

  • Overall, the US today exhibits a ‘neo-proprietarian’ inequality, with less extreme wealth concentration than pre-1914 Europe but unprecedented labor income inequality. Europe saw a more dramatic ‘end of ownership society’ in the 20th century.

The passage discusses the evolution of wealth inequality and the concentration of property in Europe from the 19th to the 20th century. The key points are:

  • Wealth inequality was extremely high in the 19th century, with a slight upward trend until 1914.

  • The concentration of wealth and capital income increased up to World War I.

  • In the 20th century, for the first time, a significant share of total wealth (up to half) was owned by lower/middle classes, not just the top 10%. This was a major historical change.

  • The decline in inequality came entirely from the deconcentration of property and collapse of the share owned by the top centile.

  • Inequality of labor income did not decrease significantly over the 20th century. Only the deconcentration of capital income reduced overall income inequality.

  • The total value of private property relative to national income fell rapidly between 1914-1950 after being high in late 19th/early 20th century. This was driven by the World Wars and economic shocks.

  • After 1950 private property stabilized at a lower level before rising again by 2000-2010, but remained more evenly distributed than in the 19th century.

  • The ratio of private wealth to national income was very high from 1700-1914, around 6-8 years of national income. This reflects the extensive opportunities for accumulating wealth during this period.

  • Private wealth then collapsed between 1914 and 1950, falling to just 2-3 years of national income in Europe. This was due to a combination of factors:

  • Physical destruction of assets in the World Wars, accounting for 25-33% of the decline.

  • Explicit policies aimed at reducing private wealth, including expropriations, nationalizations, rent control, etc. These accounted for over a third of the decline.

  • Low returns on private investments, as savings were lent to governments to finance wars. This also accounted for over a third of the decline.

  • There was a major ideological shift against unrestrained private property rights. The Depression discredited laissez-faire policies. More “mixed” economies emerged with increased public ownership.

  • Foreign investments were expropriated as former colonies gained independence. This reduced both international and domestic inequality.

  • Overall, the period 1914-1950 saw a dramatic collapse in the value of private property in Europe, driven by war, economic crisis, ideological changes, and decolonization. This transformed the structure of wealth and reduced inequalities.

  • Between 1914-1950, private wealth fell substantially in Europe, due largely to destruction from the world wars as well as policies that regulated real estate and financial markets. This reflected a shift in attitudes about private property and inequality.

  • Nationalizations of industries like banking, mining, and automobiles took place, reducing the power of shareholders. In Germany and Sweden, corporate governance reforms after WWII gave more power to employees and stakeholders vs shareholders.

  • Low private investment and high inflation also contributed to the fall in private wealth. People invested savings in growing public debt rather than the private sector.

  • Public debt soared after the world wars, reaching 150-300% of national income in 1945-50. This was financed by individual savings and asset sales.

  • High inflation then quickly eroded the value of the public debt, with prices increasing massively from 1914-1950 in European countries like France and Germany. Inflation was much lower in the UK and US.

  • By 1950, public debts had fallen sharply in France and Germany due to debt cancellations and high inflation. This contributed significantly to the decline in private wealth over this period.

Here is a summary of the key points about income in the given passage:

  • In France, high inflation from 1945-1948 automatically reduced the public debt accumulated during World War 2, but also wiped out the savings of many ordinary people.

  • In Germany after World War 2, the government imposed progressive taxes on private wealth into the 1980s rather than rely solely on high inflation to reduce debt. This allowed a more targeted way of distributing the burden.

  • West Germany benefited from debt cancellation after 1953, allowing greater spending on reconstruction and infrastructure in the 1950s-60s.

  • Exceptional taxes on private wealth were used in many countries after World Wars 1 and 2 to reduce public debt. These allowed targeting the wealthy more than inflation does.

  • Such exceptional taxes on capital were a major development in the 20th century, overturning the 19th century sacralization of private property. Defaults became taboo after the French Revolution until the 20th century wars.

  • The summary provides examples of how exceptional taxes on wealth allowed countries like Germany and Japan to reduce debt after World War 2 in a way that promoted social reconstruction and economic growth more effectively than inflation would have.

  • Between 1914 and 1945-1950, the total value of private property in Europe collapsed due to destruction, expropriation, and inflation. This coincided with a sharp decrease in wealth concentration that began in 1914-1945 and continued through the 1970s.

  • The reduction in wealth concentration was amplified by the institution of permanent progressive taxation systems after World War I, with very high top marginal rates on incomes and inheritances. This affected large fortunes more than smaller ones.

  • Top income tax rates averaged 81% in the US and 89% in the UK between 1932-1980. Top inheritance tax rates averaged 75% in the US and 72% in the UK over the same period. This represented a dramatic change from pre-WWI levels below 10%.

  • Progressive taxation extended the impact of other shocks to wealth in 1914-1945. It was a key reason the overall wealth decline coincided with a durable reduction in inequality. The gradual decline reflected the erosion of large incomes and accumulations over time under high marginal rates.

  • The experience shows that a combination of shocks and progressive taxation can substantially reduce wealth concentration over the long run. This has lessons for addressing inequality today.

  • In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the wealthiest 1% of Parisians had incomes 30-40 times larger than average workers. They paid little in taxes (under 5%) and could maintain their standard of living across generations.

  • This changed dramatically after WW1 due to war shocks, inflation, rent controls, and new progressive income taxes. By the 1920s-30s, the top 1% had incomes only 5-10 times average workers.

  • Progressive income and inheritance taxes of 20-30% made it very difficult for the wealthiest families to maintain their prewar fortune levels. Some adapted their spending, while others depleted their wealth.

  • A similar pattern played out in the UK, where progressive taxes rose to 50-60% on top incomes in the 1920s-30s. This led to a massive sell-off of landed estates and financial assets by the wealthiest Britons.

  • From the 1930s-1960s, effective tax rates in the US and UK on the top 0.1-0.01% reached 50-80% of income. Marginal rates of 70-80% made it nearly impossible to maintain high capital incomes.

  • The US and UK played a key role in developing highly progressive income and inheritance taxes, much more so than France and Germany. The goal was to transform inequality through steeply progressive taxes.

  • The Democratic Party in the late 19th century appealed to working-class whites, small farmers, and recent immigrants by attacking the wealthy northeastern elites and calling for more equitable distribution of wealth.

  • The Populist Party in the 1890s advocated for land redistribution, credit for small farmers, and limiting corporate influence, though they never achieved power.

  • These parties helped drive reforms like the federal income tax and estate tax, which required constitutional amendments in 1913 after popular mobilization.

  • In the early 20th century, the U.S. was a leader in promoting progressive income taxes, influenced by economists like Edwin Seligman and Willford King’s research showing rising inequality.

  • By 1919, some economists worried the U.S. was becoming as unequal as “old Europe” and proposed inheritance taxes up to 100% over three generations.

  • High tax rates over 70% on top incomes were implemented under Wilson in 1918-1920, laying groundwork for FDR’s sweeping progressive taxation.

  • Overall, the political mobilization by parties like the Democrats and Populists against elite wealth concentration drove pivotal early 20th century reforms instituting progressive taxation.

Here is a summary of the key points about ology:

  • Ology refers to a field of study, especially in the sciences and humanities. Some common examples are biology, geology, archaeology, etc.

  • The suffix -ology comes from the Greek word logos meaning “word, speech, discourse.” When combined with other word roots, it denotes the academic study of that subject.

  • In the period from 1990-2020, there was a paradoxical stagnation in public investment in education and “knowledge economy” fields like ologies, even as more people pursued higher education. This was due to increased spending on pensions/healthcare coupled with frozen tax revenues.

  • Progressive taxation played an essential role in funding the rise of the social welfare state in the 20th century. Very high top marginal rates (70-80%) on the richest served to reduce inequality and concentrate wealth.

  • It is debated whether such high progressive taxes would have arisen without the disruptive experience of World War I. The war catalyzed demands for greater equality, but egalitarian trends may have emerged anyway from deeper societal causes.

  • Ultimately, major historical changes result from the interaction of crises, ideas, and political struggles. World War I opened up new possible trajectories, but outcomes depended on how social actors responded.

Here are the key points I gathered from the passage:

  • Foreign investments were generating substantial additional income for France and the UK before WWI, arousing envy and tensions. The rapid growth in investments was likely unsustainable without stirring major political tensions.

  • The rise of European nation-states heightened national identities and antagonisms, exacerbating divisions and enabling war.

  • The war alone does not explain the collapse of ownership society - other major events like the Bolshevik Revolution and Great Depression also played key roles. The effects of the war should be viewed in a broader context.

  • In the US, the push for progressive taxes and reducing inequality predated WWI. The Wall Street crash and Great Depression were more impactful events.

  • The Bolshevik Revolution forced elites to reconsider wealth redistribution and fiscal justice, especially in Europe. The threat of revolution made progressive taxes more palatable.

  • The end of ownership society stemmed largely from political-ideological changes regarding social justice, progressive taxes, and redistribution. This was amplified by crises and popular mobilizations shaped by each country’s history.

  • There were also common, increasingly global experiences that could accelerate the spread of certain practices and transformations across countries.

  • Karl Polanyi argued in The Great Transformation that 19th century civilization rested on pillars like the self-regulated market that ultimately collapsed. He showed how unregulated labor markets treat people as commodities, and how the gold standard’s collapse in the 1920s caused social chaos.

  • European powers mistakenly believed competitive balance-of-power politics would prevent war. Shifting demographics empowered Germany versus France. By 1910 Germany’s population was 50% larger than France’s, spurring German ambitions.

  • The Treaty of Versailles imposed crushing reparations on Germany after WWI, demanding payments worth over 250% of its national income. This perpetually disadvantaged Germany versus France. French occupation of the Ruhr in the 1920s to extract resources compounded tensions.

  • Polanyi believed the failures of self-regulation necessitated socially embedding the economy via collective bargaining and democratic socialism. The fragility of Europe’s equilibrium spiraled into the continent’s self-destructive and genocidal wars.

  • France’s demand for reparations from Germany after WWI was valid to some extent, but the sums demanded were over 10 times greater than what France paid Prussia after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. This convinced many Germans that military power was necessary for national survival.

  • Hitler’s Mein Kampf rails against France’s imposition of reparations and occupation of the Ruhr as an attempt to destroy Germany. He advocates for German territorial expansion in Europe and rearmament rather than financial/commercial colonialism.

  • The post-WWI tribute demanded of Germany brought the old system of military tributes and colonial extraction to a breaking point. It showed that financial transfers now affected trade and economic activity in interconnected economies.

  • The failure of intellectuals to moderate nationalist passions is criticized. The emergence of a new warrior order and justification of inequality in trifunctional terms continued in the interwar period.

  • Ultimately the extreme demands on Germany laid the groundwork for the rise of Nazism and WWII, showing the need for social reconciliation versus proprietarian excess. Military domination and supposed civilizational superiority remained central to Europe’s global power.

Here is a summary of the key points about Ownership Society and the Transcendence of the Nation-State:

  • 19th century European ownership societies promised individual emancipation and social harmony through universal property rights and state protection, replacing premodern trifunctional societies with rigid status hierarchies.

  • In practice, ownership societies used their military, technological, and financial power derived from intra-European competition to largely conquer the world.

  • But they failed due to extreme inequality/wealth concentration rivaling the Ancien Regime and the self-destruction of European nation-states, which were replaced by new continental states with different political/ideological projects.

  • Hannah Arendt analyzed the collapse of European societies in The Origins of Totalitarianism. She argued that nation-states were transcended by globalized capitalism they helped create, unable to control economic forces or social consequences.

  • Political projects like Bolshevism and Nazism succeeded by relying on postnational state forms adapted to the global economy. In contrast, social democrats failed by remaining confined within nation-state welfare policies.

  • Debates about federalism were common in the 1930s-40s but did not lead anywhere. Competing visions included democratic socialism, ordoliberalism, and global governance.

  • Key issues were how to reduce inequality and transcend capitalism versus constitutionally enshrining economic liberalism. The eventual form and content of new federalism remained uncertain.

  • In April 1940, a group of British and French academics met in Paris to discuss ideas for a potential Franco-British federal union, and possibly a wider European union, but they did not reach agreement on the economic and social principles it should be based on.

  • Some like Hayek favored a liberal free market union, while others like Beveridge and Wooton wanted more socialist policies with high taxes on incomes and wealth.

  • These debates continued during WWII, with Hayek warning against socialist policies in The Road to Serfdom (1944), while Spinelli wrote a “Manifesto for a Free and United Europe” in 1941.

  • The fall of the ownership society raises the question of what political level is best to transcend capitalism and regulate property relations - the nation state or transnational unions/federations.

  • Postwar economic and trade agreements that aimed to organize globalization were limited in transcending capitalism and national interests.

  • So the challenges of determining the appropriate form and content of transnational political entities to truly regulate capitalism remain today.

  • The capital/income ratio in Europe fell sharply between 1913 and 1950, from about 6-7 to 2-3, due to war destruction, inflation, and capital controls.

  • Public debt rose sharply due to war costs, reaching very high levels in the 1920s. This was partially reduced through inflation in the 1940s.

  • Progressive taxes on income and inheritance were introduced in the early 20th century and increased over time, especially at the top brackets. Top marginal tax rates reached 60-90% in the interwar period.

  • These policies led to a compression of private capital and a reduction in public debt between 1913 and 1950. The capital share fell while the tax share rose.

  • After 1950, capital controls were relaxed and inflation was low. The capital/income ratio gradually recovered to 5-6 by 2000-2010.

  • The evolution of capital taxation was different across countries. It increased more in Europe than in the US, contributing to lower European inequality in the postwar decades.

In summary, the period 1913-1950 saw major shocks to private capital in Europe, while the postwar decades led to a rebuilding of capital along with increased progressive taxation that compressed inequality.

Here is a summary of the key points from the indicated sections:

  • Taxation and public spending increased dramatically in the 20th century, with taxes rising from around 10% of national income in 1900-1910 to 30-55% in 1980-2020. This financed the rise of the welfare state, educational systems, health care, pensions, etc.

  • Progressive income taxes were introduced around World War I in response to the costs of war. Top rates reached 60-90% at times between 1930-1980. Inheritance taxes also became more progressive.

  • Taxation became seen as a legitimate tool to reduce inequality and fund public goods. Views changed from taxes as simply funding strict state necessities to taxes as promoting social justice and economic equality.

  • Wars played a large role in changing views on taxation. The World Wars led people to accept higher taxes as necessary for the war effort.

  • Democracy and the expansion of voting rights also contributed to rising taxes, as lower income groups favored more redistribution.

  • Opposition to taxes was reduced in the postwar period due to renewed patriotism, reduced inequality, strong economic growth, and lack of inherited fortunes from war destruction.

  • Since the 1980s, views on taxes have partly shifted again due to globalization, comeback of inherited wealth, slower growth, and changing political ideologies favoring lower taxes on the wealthy. But overall taxes remain high by historical standards.

Here is a summary of key points from Chapter 11 on social-democratic societies:

  • Social-democratic societies emerged in Europe, especially Scandinavia, as a “third way” between communism and liberal capitalism after WWII.

  • They sought to balance free markets with government intervention to promote equality and social welfare. Their policies included progressive taxation, strong unions, universal healthcare and education, and generous safety nets.

  • This model produced more equality and economic security than liberal societies, though not as much as communist societies. But growth and innovation lagged compared to liberal societies.

  • Challenges arose in the 1970s-80s as globalization and fiscal strain eroded the viability of the welfare state model. Efforts to reform created tensions between promoting equality and markets.

  • Social democracy remains influential today, though still grappling with how to best balance markets, state intervention, openness, and equality. The Nordic model offers an example blending flexibility, social investment, and global engagement.

In summary, the social-democratic societies of postwar Europe demonstrated it was possible to combine free markets and democracy with substantially greater equality and social support than in liberal societies. But this model also faced limitations in growth, fiscal pressures, and adapting to globalization, illustrating the difficulties of balancing different values and economic objectives.

  • Between 1914 and 1945, the prosperous and solid capitalist societies that existed on the eve of World War I collapsed. This collapse was so complete that even nominally capitalist countries turned into social democracies between 1950-1980 through policies like nationalizations, public education, health and pension reforms, and progressive taxation.

  • Despite successes, these social democracies began struggling in the 1980s as they failed to properly address rampant inequality. Attempts to institute new forms of social ownership and power sharing remained limited. Social democracy also struggled to provide equal access to education, especially higher education.

  • Social democracies did not succeed in building transnational forms of shared sovereignty or social and fiscal justice in the globalized economy. Regulation was undermined by free trade and capital flows that social democrats agreed to. This heightened international competition endangered the social contracts on which social democracies were built.

  • The “golden age” of social democracy from 1950-1980 saw reduced inequality due to fiscal and social policies that made societies more egalitarian. Sweden was the quintessential social democracy with the longest experiment.

  • The social and fiscal systems adopted by European countries after WWII puts many in the broad family of social democracies, even if not explicitly social democratic in name. This includes the UK, France, and Germany to varying degrees.

  • The New Deal in the US established a bargain-basement form of social democracy compared to Europe in terms of taxation and spending. The US never achieved universal health coverage on the European model.

  • Social democratic societies like those in Europe developed generous social welfare systems and progressive taxation between 1950-1980, reducing inequality compared to earlier periods. However, inequality has risen again since 1980.

  • Social democratic societies remain highly unequal - the top 10% income share is much higher than the bottom 50% share. Europe is more equal than the US but still has large inequality.

  • There are three main ways to move beyond private property and reduce inequality: public ownership (state-owned firms), social ownership (workers sharing control of firms), and temporary ownership (wealth taxes to facilitate circulation of wealth).

  • Communist societies relied too heavily on state ownership. Social democracies took a more balanced approach but did not go far enough on social and temporary ownership.

  • Each form of ownership has variations and allows for experimentation. The key is likely combining elements of public, social and temporary ownership. Social democracies made progress but need to be more ambitious about reducing private property’s dominance.

Here is a summary of the key points about sharing powers, instituting social ownership, and the unfinished history of co-management in Germany and Sweden:

  • Co-management, where workers share power with shareholders in company governance, was instituted in Germany starting in 1951. Laws required large firms to reserve half or one-third of board seats for worker representatives.

  • This resulted from strong union mobilization and Germany’s specific historical circumstances after WW1 and WW2, which briefly shifted power to workers.

  • In Sweden, laws since 1974 require firms with over 25 employees to reserve one-third of board seats for workers. This gives workers more operational control than the German system of separate oversight boards.

  • But co-management has limitations, as shareholders still have ultimate control in Germany through their decisive votes and control of executive appointments. Unions continue to push for more parity in management.

  • Overall, co-management has helped balance power and encourage more harmonious economic development. But it remains an unfinished project that could be pushed further to increase worker ownership and control.

  • The German and Nordic examples provide useful historical experience to build on as we seek to increase social ownership and redistribute power and wealth more broadly. But new solutions will likely need to go beyond the incomplete reforms instituted so far.

  • Co-management, where workers have representation on company boards, is well-established in Germany and the Nordic countries but has diffused slowly elsewhere. It emerged in these countries due to strong labor mobilization and a revision of corporate law.

  • Co-management leads to greater worker involvement, which improves productivity and helps limit inequality like excessive executive pay. It supplements other forms of worker representation like unions.

  • The limited diffusion reflects resistance to challenging private property rights and lack of political will. Conservatives oppose sharing control without sharing ownership.

  • In France and the UK, socialists focused more on nationalization than co-management as a way to shift power. Unions were also weaker in France than Germany.

  • Overall, co-management remains confined mostly to Germany and Scandinavia and has seen only tentative adoption elsewhere. This contrasts with the wider embrace of progressive taxation across many countries after World War I. The radical conceptual change required likely explains the slower, more limited diffusion.

  • The British Labour Party’s 1918 constitution set “common ownership of the means of production” as a central goal, similar to other socialist/social democratic parties like those in France and Germany at the time. This was interpreted as promoting nationalization.

  • In the 1980s, Labour was still promising further nationalizations. It wasn’t until Tony Blair’s “New Labour” in the 1990s that references to the property regime were eliminated from Clause IV.

  • The German SPD was an exception, moving away from nationalization earlier by endorsing co-management in the 1950s and abandoning nationalizations in 1959. This divergence was due to Germany’s unique political context and desire to distance itself from state power after Nazi rule.

  • In the 1990s, French and British parties also abandoned nationalizations as a core tenet, accepting private capitalism as the horizon. More recently, some renewed interest in nationalization, labor law reform, and worker representation has emerged in the UK Labour party.

  • In the 1970s, a proposed EU directive and UK commission proposed forms of power sharing between workers and shareholders in large firms, but these did not come to fruition.

  • The history of property regimes contains many switch points and is not deterministic. Further evolution of social ownership and power sharing within firms remains possible through new proposals like employee shareholding.

  • The influence of the property-owning middle class has declined as wealth concentration has increased dramatically in recent decades. More progressive fiscal policies and incentives for employee stock ownership could help change this.

  • Proposals like a progressive wealth tax along with a universal capital endowment could create new majorities and rebalance power and economic participation.

  • There is an old Anglo-American tradition of limiting the power of large shareholders that could be drawn on. Recent British proposals have suggested new ways to move beyond existing co-management models, like giving workers board seats and voting rights.

  • Cooperative and self-management models should be experimented with more, avoiding excessive structural rigidity. Voting rights can be allocated in creative ways, not just “one person, one vote” or “one share, one vote”.

  • Access to education, especially higher education, has played a key role in inequality regimes. The US long held an educational lead over Europe, helping explain its productivity edge. But this has eroded recently as Europe has expanded access. Education access and funding are key issues for social democracies today.

  • The United States had an early lead in labor productivity and education compared to Western European countries like Germany, France and the UK in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • This productivity lead started shrinking after 1950 as Europe caught up. Germany and France surpassed the UK and matched the US by the 1980s, while the UK remained 20% less productive.

  • The US lead was due to its advances in primary and secondary education starting in the 1800s, with near universal education by the 1850s compared to only 20-30% in Europe. This contributed to greater political participation and support for public school funding.

  • No country has fully responded to the challenge of transitioning from primary/secondary education revolution to the tertiary education revolution. Failures here have contributed to rising inequality since 1980 and issues with the social-democratic model.

  • The notion of productivity based on GDP has limitations, and better metrics like net domestic product should be used that account for damage to capital and the environment.

  • Reductions in working hours over time seem logical as productivity rises, to improve quality of life. But this depends on national policies and collective bargaining, not just market forces.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The US pioneered universal primary and secondary education and was more egalitarian than Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • However, since 1980 the US has become the most unequal country in the developed world.

  • In particular, the income share of the bottom 50% in the US has collapsed, falling from around 20% in 1980 to just 12% today. Meanwhile, the top 1% share has risen from 11% to over 20%.

  • This contrasts with Europe, where inequality has increased more modestly. The bottom 50% income share remains significantly higher than the top 1% share in Europe.

  • The evolution of the US education system, including highly stratified access to higher education, has played an important role in this growing inequality.

  • Other factors like changes in worker training, selection and the broader social system have also contributed to the relative collapse of the US lower classes since 1980.

Here are the key points about inequality trends in the United States vs Europe from 1960-2015:

  • The share of income going to the bottom 50% in the US fell from around 20% in the 1970s to 12-13% in the 2010s, while the share going to the top 1% rose from 11% to 20-21% over the same period.

  • In Europe, the bottom 50% share fell less dramatically from 26% to 23%, while the top 1% share rose from 7% to 10%.

  • In the US, the average income of the top 1% used to be around 25 times higher than the bottom 50%, but by 2015 it was over 80 times higher.

  • The incomes of the bottom 50% in the US have stagnated in real terms since the late 1960s, at around $15,000 per adult. Transfers have helped raise their post-tax income to around $20,000 but this is still very low.

  • The divergence between the US and Europe was not inevitable - both have comparable development levels. It appears to be due to differences in institutions and policies related to taxation, social programs, labor laws, etc.

  • Redistribution helps reduce inequality but does not address the underlying differences in primary income distribution. Policies to influence pre-distribution are also needed, such as reforms to corporate governance, minimum wage, and education access.

  • The purchasing power of the U.S. minimum wage has declined remarkably over the past half century despite economic growth. This contrasts with France where the minimum wage has risen with productivity. The decline in the U.S. minimum wage has contributed to rising inequality.

  • Tax policy changes since the 1980s, including lower top marginal rates, have contributed to rising executive pay and income inequality in the U.S.

  • Higher education attainment has stalled in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries. This gap in skills and education has exacerbated wage inequality.

  • Overall, the reversal in U.S. income inequality since the 1970s reflects ideological shifts that led to changes in institutions and policies which previously constrained inequality. This includes labor laws, corporate governance, tax policy, and educational access.

  • Education in the US is highly decentralized and relies heavily on local property taxes, leading to significant inequality between wealthy and poor communities. Compared to other developed countries, secondary education is less universal.

  • Access to higher education in the US is strongly linked to parental income. The probability of attending university rises almost linearly from 20-30% for the poorest children to 90% for the richest. This gradient appears steeper than in other countries.

  • Intergenerational mobility in the US is low compared to Europe, especially Nordic countries. Mobility has declined sharply in recent decades.

  • Private financing accounts for 60-70% of higher education costs in the US compared to an average of 30% or less in much of Europe. This stratifies the US system.

  • The US has some of the world’s wealthiest universities but also an imbalance between elite institutions and public ones. The gap in resources has widened.

  • Practices like legacy admissions likely play a smaller role than decentralized funding and high tuition, but still raise concerns about fairness and transparency.

  • No country has fully equal access to education. The expansion of higher education poses challenges to equality everywhere. But the US system appears particularly stratified compared to other developed countries.

The advent of mass higher education in the late 20th century posed new challenges for educational equality compared to earlier expansions of primary and secondary education. With tertiary education, it became unrealistic to think every student would pursue advanced degrees, and the variety of fields and aspirations lent itself more to hierarchical organization. This influenced social and professional hierarchies after graduation. Even with Europe’s more egalitarian systems compared to the US, educational investment stagnated at around 5-6% of GDP from 1990-2015, rather than increasing to account for rising college attendance. This likely contributed to rising inequality and slowing growth. The US saw growth halve from 2.2% in 1950-1990 to 1.1% in 1990-2020 as inequality rose and top tax rates fell. Europe saw a similar pattern. Strongly progressive taxes and lower inequality are not obstacles to growth, as the mid-20th century showed, contrary to claims that pre-WWI inequality was necessary for growth. The conservative revolution of the 1980s failed to raise growth. Egalitarian educational investment, which gave the US an advantage over Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries, illustrates the importance of policies that promote equal opportunity.

  • Social democracy in the 20th century focused on nationalizing private firms as a way to transcend capitalism, but this neglected other approaches like progressive taxation, co-management, and self-management.

  • Parties on the left failed to develop the international cooperation needed to protect and extend progressive taxation. There was fiscal competition between states rather than solidarity.

  • Thinking about just taxation often neglected the idea of a progressive wealth tax, which could help transcend private capitalism by financing a universal capital endowment.

  • Social democracy succeeded in building fiscal and social states after 1950, but within the narrow framework of nation-states rather than developing new transnational forms.

  • European integration from the 1950s onward was a “rescue of the nation-state” but suffered from limitations like lack of common fiscal or social policies, reliance on competition, and perceived penalization of the lower/middle classes.

  • The construction of Europe assumed free competition and circulation would achieve prosperity, neglecting needs for common fiscal policy and solidarity. But fiscal competition has damaged the idea of fiscal justice.

In summary, social democracy made strides within 20th century nation-states but failed to sufficiently develop progressive taxation or new transnational forms, undermining the long-term viability of its achievements. A focus on nationalization also neglected other approaches to transcending capitalism.

  • The ideology of competition in Europe is a response to past crises, but in pursuing this Europe forgot the need to temper markets with regulations.

  • European social democrats held power but did not formulate proposals to replace unanimous fiscal policymaking, missing an opportunity for reform. A democratic European federation could have agreed on common tax policies.

  • The unanimity rule and tax competition led to “fiscal dumping” as countries competed by lowering corporate tax rates since the 1980s.

  • Social democrats played a key role in liberalizing capital flows in Europe and globally since the late 1980s without fiscal or social objectives, as if globalization did not need tax revenues or regulations.

  • The inability of postwar social democracy to organize fiscal policy on a postnational scale was not limited to Europe but seen worldwide.

  • The high concentration of wealth and capital income in Europe has tested consent to taxation, as complex tax systems and lack of coordination tended to favor those who benefited most from globalization.

  • Liberalizing capital flows without fiscal coordination can undermine tax progressivity, as seen in many European countries in 1990-2020. Wealthy individuals can pay less taxes on capital income compared to labor income.

  • The overall tax profile in France shows taxes are slightly progressive from bottom to middle, but regressive at the top due to exemptions for the wealthy. This risks undermining the social contract if lower/middle classes feel they pay more than the rich.

  • The ideal tax system should balance progressive income, inheritance, and wealth taxes. Inheritance taxes reduce intergenerational wealth concentration. Annual wealth taxes promote wealth circulation and a permanent redistribution.

  • Many countries adopted exceptional one-time taxes on wealth after WWII, often at 40-50% rates on largest fortunes, to pay down debt and fund reconstruction.

  • Agrarian land reform can act as an exceptional tax on private wealth, redistributing land from largest owners to small farmers, but is often contentious.

  • Permanent annual wealth taxes have a more limited history but are central to 21st century debates on increased wealth concentration since the 1980s. They could help counter inequality and fund egalitarian investments.

  • There are two groups of countries when it comes to historical experiments with annual wealth taxes:

  1. The United States, France, and the UK resisted progressive annual wealth taxes and maintained proportional taxes inherited from the 18th/19th centuries.

  2. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark introduced progressive annual wealth taxes in the 1890-1910 period, along with progressive income and inheritance taxes.

  • In the first group, the real estate tax in France and property tax in the US were low, flat rate taxes on all property that didn’t threaten the wealthy and encouraged wealth concentration. They remained the main direct taxes until WWI (France) and the establishment of a federal income tax in 1913 (US).

  • In the second group, progressive annual wealth taxes were introduced around the same time as progressive income and inheritance taxes, marking a shift toward greater economic equality.

  • A key limitation of one-time wealth redistribution like land reform is that it doesn’t prevent reconcentration of wealth over time. An annual progressive wealth tax can continually redistribute wealth and prevent excessive concentration.

  • The debate over wealth taxation has recurred throughout history, with figures like Henry George and Huey Long proposing various policies, but annual progressive wealth taxes have faced resistance from property owners in some countries. Their implementation represents a political shift toward egalitarianism.

  • There are two main differences between a progressive wealth tax and existing property/real estate taxes. First, property taxes are proportional rather than progressive - the tax rate is the same regardless of how much property one owns. A wealth tax would be progressive, with higher rates on larger fortunes.

  • Second, property taxes only apply to real estate, leaving financial assets untouched. Wealth taxes would aim to encompass all forms of property, including financial assets which make up the largest share of fortunes today.

  • Historical debates in late 19th century Boston illustrate how property taxes were once more ambitious, applying to personal property and financial assets too. Wealthy Bostonians lobbied successfully to limit the tax to just real estate by the early 1900s.

  • The regressive nature of existing property taxes, which don’t account for mortgages/debts, is hard to justify. Surveys show most people would prefer a tax system based on both income and net wealth.

  • Wealth inequality has risen sharply since the 1980s, creating conditions for a challenge to the conservative turn of the 1980s. Leading Democrats are now proposing higher top rates on incomes and estates, signaling wealth taxes could make a comeback.

  • Some Democratic candidates in the US have proposed a wealth tax, such as Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a 2% tax on fortunes over $50 million and 3% above $1 billion. This is intended to put wealth back into circulation from the largest fortunes.

  • There is debate about what the appropriate rates should be, with suggestions ranging from 5-10% to dozens of percent on multibillion dollar fortunes. The goal is to facilitate a renewal of wealth and power.

  • Similar debates have occurred historically in countries like France and the UK about establishing a progressive wealth tax, but it has faced ideological resistance and practical challenges.

  • Some countries like Germany and the Nordic countries established annual progressive wealth taxes early on to complement income and estate taxes, but many repealed them in the 1990s and 2000s due to tax competition and design flaws.

  • The proposed and implemented wealth taxes generally only applied to a small minority of taxpayers (less than 1-2%) and had relatively low rates (0.2-4%), with exemptions.

  • There is an ongoing need to reassess property, inheritance, income and wealth taxes comprehensively to create a just tax system suited for the high inequality of wealth today.

  • Social democratic policies in Europe in the 20th century, while achieving many successes, had some shortcomings in areas like social ownership, education access, transcending nationalism, and progressive wealth taxation.

  • On wealth taxes specifically, policies have been inconsistent across countries and time periods, with frequent reforms and abolitions. This reflects hesitation about how to balance inequality concerns with tax competition fears.

  • Sweden’s experience is illustrative - the banking crisis of 1991-92 led to critiques of the welfare model, the Social Democrats lost power, and wealth taxes were reduced. This shows how fears of global capitalism and competitiveness can impact support for progressive taxes.

  • More broadly, the thirst for fiscal justice tends to grow with education/information. Avoiding debate on progressive wealth taxes risks social division and hostility. Historical debates should inform balanced efforts for fiscal and social solidarity.

  • The mixed economy that emerged after World War II, combining a large public sector with private property and markets, led to a period of strong economic growth and reduced inequality in Western countries.

  • However, the stability of this system depended on strong unions and left-wing parties that could counterbalance the power of capital owners. This political equilibrium started shifting to the right around 1980.

  • With the weakening of unions and left parties, privatization accelerated and income inequality started rising again. Center-left parties like Britain’s Labour and France’s Socialists failed to reverse these trends when in power in the 1990s-2000s.

  • possible reforms: increased worker representation on company boards (similar to Germany’s co-determination system), more progressive taxation, work-time reduction, new forms of property ownership (like cooperatives and foundations), and reform of the media sector. But such reforms require rebuilding unions and left-wing parties, and overcoming capital owners’ resistance.

  • Workers’ preferences for leisure vs income and social norms around working hours influence average hours worked. Some evidence suggests workers value leisure time, but no individual wants to be the first to work less.

  • The US lagged behind Europe in expanding public education in the 19th century, which contributed to greater inequality. Public funding for education grew more slowly compared to Europe.

  • Tax policy and public spending in the post-WW2 period substantially reduced inequality in Europe compared to the US. The US tax system today is less progressive.

  • Minimum wages, unions, and pay scales helped reduce inequality in Europe by setting wage floors and compressing pay ranges. These institutions have declined more in the US.

  • Optimal top tax rates on labor income could be over 80% to curb excessive pay-setting power of executives and prevent bargaining failures. Top tax rates have fallen more dramatically in the US than Europe.

  • There is growing awareness of the outsized influence of large private monopolies, especially big tech firms, in the US economy and the potential need for greater public oversight.

  • Inequalities in access to higher education have increased substantially since the 1980s, as public funding has not kept pace with costs. The US spends a larger share of GDP on higher ed than Europe, but Europe has more equitable access.

  • The large endowments of elite US universities, like Harvard and Yale, allow them to offer more generous aid packages and maintain their dominance. This reproduces inequality.

  • In the postwar decades Europe invested heavily in universal primary and secondary education, which promoted mobility. But tracked systems also perpetuated class divides.

  • Declining public investment and Reagan-era policies have exacerbated educational inequalities in the US since the 1980s.

  • The EU’s single market rules have limited member states’ ability to regulate capital flows and corporate taxation, contributing to a “race to the bottom.” This tends to benefit the wealthy.

  • Wealth inequality varies greatly by age group in France, with the 20-39 age group having the highest concentration (62% of wealth held by top 10%) due to the importance of inheritances.

  • Progressive income taxes were originally created to tax high capital incomes more than labor incomes. This was reversed in the 1960s-1970s.

  • Inheritance taxes have become less progressive over time in France. Estate taxes are more progressive but raise little revenue.

  • Land reform and land redistribution policies were used historically in East Asia and Mexico to reduce wealth inequality. Some argue this could be a policy option today.

  • Property taxes on real estate can be an important progressive tax on wealth, but implementation challenges exist, such as taxing financial assets and coordinating across local governments.

  • Recent US survey evidence suggests public support for higher taxes on wealth than income. Proposed wealth taxes aim to increase progressivity, such as Elizabeth Warren’s plan.

Here is a summary of the key points about communist and postcommunist societies:

  • The Soviet communist experiment (1917-1991) ultimately failed dramatically, which weighed heavily on future attempts to imagine alternatives to capitalism. A key reason was that the Bolsheviks lacked a clear plan for organizing production and property after abolishing private property. This led to excessive centralization and personalization of power.

  • After communism fell in Russia, the country took a kleptocratic turn with the rise of oligarchs who held wealth in opaque offshore entities. Russia became a leader in global tax evasion.

  • China took advantage of Soviet and Western failures to build a dynamic mixed economy under authoritarian rule. However, the opacity and centralism of its system is incompatible with effective regulation of inequality.

  • In Eastern Europe, postcommunism has allied with hypercapitalism and inspired disillusionment about the possibility of a just economy, encouraging identitarian disengagement.

  • Overall, the communist experiment reinforced the ideology of private property rather than overcoming capitalism. The failures of communism were a key factor in the 1980s rise of economic liberalism and new forms of sacralization of private property.

  • The Soviet regime failed to fully eliminate private property and small businesses, despite its ideological commitment to do so. This led to widespread petty theft and a large prison population of people accused of stealing state property to survive.

  • Over 5% of Soviet adults were in prison by 1953, mostly for minor economic crimes, representing a massive failure for a regime supposedly liberating the people. This incarceration rate was 5 times higher than the US today.

  • The regime briefly adopted a more expansive concept of private property after WWII to maximize war reparations from Germany. But this was mostly rhetoric rather than real restitution to individuals.

  • The Soviet ideology had strengths that helped it persist, including rapid modernization and reductions in inequality compared to the Tsarist regime. Income inequality remained relatively low throughout the Soviet period.

  • But the regime organized inequalities via in-kind benefits and status differences rather than money. Repression and restrictions on mobility were also key pillars.

  • Overall, the Soviet system failed to live up to its egalitarian ideals and resorted to mass incarceration, privilege and repression to sustain itself. But it did reduce monetary inequality compared to the past.

  • There were significant gaps in living standards between Eastern and Western Europe under Soviet rule, but measuring them is challenging due to differences in accounting methods. Estimates suggest Russia’s income per adult stagnated at around 35-40% of Western Europe’s level from 1870-1980, before rising to 60% by 1950 where it remained until 1990.

  • Demographic data indicates a worrying stagnation in Russian life expectancy and infant mortality from the 1950s onward, pointing to failures in the health system. By the 1980s, efforts to curb alcohol abuse contributed to the regime’s unpopularity and collapse.

  • The Soviet Union initially enjoyed moral prestige due to its role in defeating Nazism and its opposition to colonialism and racism in the 1950s. However, by the 1970s this had faded as decolonization occurred, black Americans obtained civil rights, and capitalist countries also adopted antiracist, egalitarian values.

  • The communist bloc lost its moral high ground on issues like repression of dissidents and poor economic performance. By the 1980s, the Soviet ideal had declined from its position as a champion of antiracism and anticolonialism.

  • In the 1950s-1980s, communist regimes like the Soviet Union promoted women’s equality through policies like public childcare and high representation of women in government. However, leadership remained male-dominated and assemblies had limited power.

  • After communism fell in the 1990s, female representation dropped sharply. The West eventually took up feminist causes, though progress on actual equality has been uneven.

  • The Soviet attitude toward private property stems from the fear that allowing any private property could lead capitalism to re-emerge. With hindsight, a decentralized participatory socialism allowing private property could have been possible.

  • The Soviet system failed to recognize the diversity and legitimacy of individual aspirations and needs. Decentralized organization is required to allow expression of these differences.

  • Private ownership, properly regulated, allows individual aspirations to flourish. Concentrations of private property and power must be debated and controlled.

Here is a summary of the key points about postcommunist Russia’s economic transition:

  • Russia underwent a rapid transition from an egalitarian communist system to a highly unequal capitalist system between 1990-2000.

  • Income inequality exploded, with the top 10% share rising from 25% to 45-50% and the top 1% share surging from 5% to 25%.

  • This transition was enabled by the “shock therapy” approach of rapidly privatizing state assets through vouchers, which allowed a small group of oligarchs to gain control of major firms and become billionaires.

  • Russia has the highest concentration of billionaires in the world, owning 30-40% of national income. Most live in Russia and benefited under Putin.

  • Overall, Russia transitioned from a “society of petty thieves” under communism to a kleptocratic society of oligarchs who were able to enrich themselves through capturing privatized assets.

  • The lack of progressive taxation, opaque fiscal policies, and prevalence of offshore entities make Russia’s inequality hard to measure but clearly among the highest in the world.

  • While incomes have recovered somewhat since the 1990s, overall economic performance has been mediocre compared to communist times, with average incomes at 70% of Western European levels.

  • A significant amount of wealth belonging to rich Russians is hidden abroad in tax havens, using complex legal arrangements like trusts and shell corporations. This allows assets to be kept outside of Russia’s legal jurisdiction.

  • The scale of this hidden wealth is enormous - by one estimate, Russian assets in tax havens are equal to the total amount of financial assets legally owned by all Russian households.

  • This capital flight to tax havens has happened since the 1990s, facilitated by globalization and lack of international regulation on capital flows. Russia abuses this system more than most countries.

  • Official statistics likely underestimate the true scale of Russian capital flight. One conservative estimate puts it at around 90% of national income as of 2015. Other estimates could be even higher.

  • The origins of this can be traced to the ‘shock therapy’ rapid privatization advocated by Western economists in the 1990s. This prioritized fast transition to capitalism over egalitarian concerns, inadvertently enabling oligarchs and kleptocracy.

In summary, a huge amount of Russian wealth is hidden abroad, enabled by globalization and lack of regulation. This originated from misguided Western economic policies in the 1990s transition.

  • Russia’s transition from communism to capitalism in the 1990s led to extreme inequality, with oligarchs capturing most of the country’s wealth. This was partly due to the shock therapy approach and lack of democratic processes.

  • In contrast, China’s transition has been more gradual, developing a mixed economy with significant public ownership. Around 30% of capital is still publicly owned.

  • Political-ideological factors strongly influenced both trajectories. In Russia, the failure of democratic socialist alternatives allowed authoritarian hypercapitalism to take hold.

  • The West has been tolerant of Russian oligarchs and their wealth, perhaps fearing backlash or their own role in enabling it. More could be done to scrutinize and address this.

  • China drew lessons from the USSR’s failures and its own Maoist era. It maintained Communist Party rule but developed a mixed economy with private and public ownership.

  • The contrast shows the importance of political-ideological dynamics and crises in shaping inequality regimes and their changes over time.

  • The Chinese state owns around 55% of the capital of Chinese firms, a share that has remained stable since 2005-2006. This gives the state significant control over the economy and scope for economic intervention.

  • In contrast, Western countries have ceased to be mixed economies, with public capital shrinking to less than 5% of national capital due to privatization and rising public debt. The US and UK now have negative public wealth, with debt exceeding public assets.

  • China appears to have settled on a permanent mixed economy model. Debate continues on whether further privatization is needed, with different camps pushing in opposite directions.

  • Definitions of public and private property are not fixed, and depend on the legal and political system. Estimates of public capital are also restrictive, focused on assets that can be exploited economically or sold.

  • If public assets were valued more broadly, including natural resources, intellectual creations etc., public capital would likely far exceed private capital. But such accounting is difficult and may not be useful for public debate.

Here is a summary of the key points about uses of global warming and knowledge appropriation:

  • Natural capital has an inherent tendency to depreciate, so the share of public capital in national accounts underestimates the magnitude of ongoing changes. The decline of net public capital is worrisome as it reduces governments’ ability to address major issues like climate change and inequality.

  • Rising public debt in the 1980s was part of a strategy to reduce the size of the state through tax cuts for the rich and privatization of public assets. This increased inequality and concentration of private wealth.

  • There is a contrast between the collapse of public wealth in the West after the financial crisis, where deregulation made some people rich but left taxpayers footing the bill, versus China where the share of public capital has remained stable.

  • Income inequality in China sharply increased from the start of reforms in 1978 until the mid-2000s when it stabilized, though it remains higher than Europe. China has been more egalitarian than India partly due to greater public investment.

  • The summary does not directly address global warming or knowledge appropriation as these were not major topics covered in the excerpt. The passage focuses more on public versus private capital and inequality.

  • Income inequality in China increased sharply between 1980 and 2018, though it remains below the level of the United States. China’s level of inequality rose from one of the most egalitarian in the 1980s to close to the high inequality of the US today.

  • The rise in inequality was not inevitable given China’s socialist system and raises questions about how privatization was conducted and about redistribution policies. Restrictions on internal migration may also contribute to inequality between rural and urban areas.

  • Data on inequality in China is extremely opaque, making it hard to accurately measure the level and evolution of inequality. There is very little transparency about the income tax system and no inheritance tax, unlike most major economies, making wealth inequality data particularly lacking.

  • The lack of an inheritance tax in China, including in Hong Kong after it returned to China in 1997, makes China attractive for the wealthy to pass on fortunes tax-free, contributing to rising inequality. This contrasts with the high inheritance taxes in other East Asian countries.

  • Overall, the rapid rise in inequality and lack of transparency around inequality measurement in China highlights potentially serious issues for a regime that officially promotes socialism, and limits analysis of the distributional impacts of China’s economic growth.

  • China’s political system combines communist ideology with plutocratic practices. The example of Hong Kong illustrates this - its governance shifted from being controlled by British elites to being controlled by pro-Beijing business elites after the handover to China.

  • There is a risk that China could follow the same kleptocratic path as Russia, with rampant inequality and corruption. However, the government claims it is aware of this risk and will develop progressive taxes and other remedies. So far there is little evidence of this happening.

  • The Cultural Revolution had a profound impact on perceptions of inequality and intergenerational transmission in China. Violent repression of former elites has made many reluctant to pursue policies to regulate inheritance and wealth transmission.

  • After the Cultural Revolution, the logic of accumulation reasserted itself rapidly in China. The novel Brothers depicts this shift from Maoist chastity to profit-seeking opportunism.

  • It remains unclear whether the Chinese government will be able to avoid high inequality and corruption without implementing concrete policies beyond imprisoning some oligarchs. The belief in Chinese exceptionalism may prevent learning from other countries’ experiences.

  • The passage discusses the Chinese regime’s critique of Western parliamentary democracy. The Chinese argue that equal political rights are illusory when the media and political parties are captured by moneyed interests.

  • The Chinese also argue that Western democracies lack a theory of borders - they allow endless separatism rather than keeping diverse communities united.

  • In addition, Western democracies have no theory of property - they allow majorities to immediately redistribute property rights.

  • The Chinese present their more authoritarian system as avoiding nationalist division and protecting economic stability.

  • The passage suggests these Chinese arguments should not simply be dismissed, but can point towards improving Western democracy, through reforms like public financing of media and parties, transnational integration, and balanced property rights.

  • The passage also cautions against authoritarian overreactions to democracy’s flaws, giving the example of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian socialism” devolving into rejection of election results.

  • Overall, the passage uses Chinese critiques not to condemn democracy, but to urge addressing its conceptual gaps and excesses in a thoughtful way.

  • The Chinese government argues its single-party system allows for more stable, harmonious, and rational policymaking compared to Western electoral democracy. It claims the CCP represents all segments of society and its large membership deliberates decisions in the national interest.

  • However, critics point out the CCP is not very transparent about its internal workings and decision-making. There is overrepresentation of the wealthy and business interests in the CCP’s main legislative bodies.

  • It is questionable whether workers, employees and peasants truly have an influential voice in the CCP. The sharp rise in inequality in China also casts doubt on the CCP’s claims to represent all classes.

  • While China’s criticisms of flaws in Western democracy like the power of money in politics are valid, its system has yet to demonstrate superiority. Interesting historical examples like Senegal show transitions are possible from single-party states.

  • Overall, China’s arguments defending party-managed democracy raise interesting points but currently lack convincing evidence of superior deliberation and representation compared to electoral democracy. More transparency and power-sharing with other parties could help strengthen the legitimacy of the system.

  • Income inequality rose sharply in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, though not as much as in Russia. Inequality remains lower in Eastern Europe than in the US.

  • The average income in Eastern Europe today remains below West European levels, similar to the 1980s before communism fell. Progress in catching up has been modest.

  • Frustration has grown on both sides in the EU. West Europeans see large transfers to the East and don’t understand the complaints. Eastern Europeans feel economically subordinate and that the West exploits cheap labor.

  • Much of Eastern European capital is foreign owned, so profits flow out. This exceeds the EU transfers flowing in.

  • The post-communist experience in Eastern Europe shows disillusionment and misunderstandings despite joining the prosperous EU. Dilemmas over foreign ownership and influence remain unresolved.

  • Eastern European countries have seen large outflows of private profits to Western corporations since the 1990s, despite hopes that transitioning to capitalism would raise wages. This is due to the bargaining power of Western investors.

  • These profit outflows are controversial, as the distribution of profits depends on institutions and rules, not just market forces. Dominant actors tend to “naturalize” market outcomes and inequality.

  • The question of how to distribute profits fairly within the EU is important for reducing tensions. Sacralizing markets and inequality exacerbates nationalist tensions, as seen in the Eurozone crisis where Germany and France were seen as benefiting at the expense of Greece.

  • Post-communist countries are disillusioned, feeling they paid the price for failed promises of fast wealth through capitalism. This breeds social nativism and authoritarianism, seen in Hungary and Poland, as people turn to nationalism.

  • A social-democratic European project with shared fiscal and social policies could reduce these tensions and build a post-national community. But this requires challenging the notion of sacrosanct market forces and building cross-national solidarity.

  • Disillusionment with communism and socialism runs deep in postcommunist societies. This colors their political attitudes and opposition to anything that seems similar to past regimes. However, this disillusionment sometimes lacks nuance in distinguishing different historical experiences.

  • The dramatic failure of Soviet communism does not negate the success of Swedish social democracy. But postcommunist countries often moved toward inegalitarian oligarchy rather than social democracy.

  • Small size and lack of resources limit options for autonomous development in Eastern Europe. Integration into the EU also restricts redistribution. Socialist and social democratic parties have virtually disappeared.

  • Poland exemplifies the political clash between conservative liberals and conservative nationalists that has emerged, rather than a traditional left-right conflict. PiS promotes social policies but also nationalism and opposes immigration.

  • Similar dynamics occur across Eastern Europe. The ideological divide between nationalist and liberal conservatives has little in common with the past left-right divide between social democrats and conservatives.

  • This trajectory is one potential direction for Western democracies as well, when socioeconomic equality is off the table but identitarian conflicts remain. Overcoming this requires a novel internationalist platform for greater equality.

Here are the key points from the provided texts:

  • Yukos was a major Russian oil company that was effectively renationalized by the Russian government in the early 2000s. This led to massive capital flight out of Russia as oligarchs sought to protect their wealth (ède, 2015; Nougayrède, 2017).

  • Estimates suggest 50-75% of Russia’s wealth in the 1990s-2000s was held offshore, facilitated by the use of shell companies and tax havens (Novokmet et al., 2018).

  • European countries have imposed some sanctions and asset freezes targeting Russian oligarchs, but the scale of capital flight from Russia limits the impact of these judicial tools (Piketty, 2014).

  • In China, the share of public capital in national capital fell from about 70-75% in 1978 to 35% in 2015, while private capital rose from 25-30% to 50% (Piketty, Zucman and Yang, 2017).

  • The decline in public capital in China was driven by privatization of industrial assets and land as well as the rise of private housing and financial assets (Piketty et al., 2017).

  • China has maintained significant state control and investment in key sectors like energy and finance, with the public share of capital in these sectors still 50-60% in 2015 (Piketty et al., 2017).

  • The rise of private wealth in Western countries since the 1970s-80s was also driven by privatization, asset price booms, slower growth, and policies favoring private property owners (Piketty, 2014).

Here is a summary of the key points from the requested sources:

  • The Chinese Communist Party has established an extensive system of surveillance and control over society, including monitoring of public opinion. High levels of apparent approval likely reflect this lack of freedom rather than genuine satisfaction.

  • The CCP surveils and grades individuals, seeking to make this systemic data collection and judgment seem morally acceptable. This represents a form of capitalist extraction of economic value from personal data.

  • Income and wealth inequality has increased substantially in China since 1980, but data remains limited. Official statistics likely understate the rise, as they do not include some income sources.

  • The CCP maintains a complex bureaucratic structure to manage China’s political system. Real power is concentrated at the top levels of the party. Lower bodies like the National People’s Congress have limited practical authority.

  • The CCP’s longevity can be partially attributed to its institutional learning and adaptation over time, such as gradually increased inner-party democracy. However, its authoritarian nature persists.

  • Democratic transitions tend to fare better when the former ruling party leads the process, rather than resisting or collapsing. But China’s single party state differs from cases like Ghana’s military rule.

Here are the key points summarizing the forms of inequality in the 21st century based on the provided sources:

  • The world is more interconnected than ever before due to globalization, digital technology, demographic growth, and shifting balances between regions. However, great diversity in inequality regimes persists.

  • Top decile income shares range from less than 35% in Europe to nearly 70% in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

  • In the most egalitarian countries, the top decile gets 1.5x the income share of the bottom 50%, while in highly unequal countries they get 7x as much.

  • The top centile in egalitarian countries gets about half the income share of the bottom 50%, while in unequal countries they get more than 3x as much.

  • Averages like GDP per capita can mask huge differences in income distribution between groups within countries.

  • Significant diversity in inequality regimes continues to exist globally despite greater interconnection. Understanding inequality requires looking beyond national averages at distribution between income groups.

  • Global inequality has increased sharply since the 1980s, reversing the decline seen over the 20th century.

  • Europe has lower inequality than other regions, but it has still risen since the 1980s and remains high in absolute terms.

  • The Middle East has exceptionally high inequality due to oil wealth concentration and borders imposed after WWI. This fuels instability in the region.

  • Measuring inequality is challenging, especially in places like the Middle East. More data transparency is needed.

  • Democratic, egalitarian, and postnational solutions are required to reduce global inequality. The status quo of power relations and property rights has failed to yield viable development models.

  • Inequality poses a profound challenge to the idea of progress and is closely tied to the climate crisis. Tackling global warming requires lifestyle changes that must be distributed equitably.

  • Democratic transparency about income and wealth inequality is critical for informed public debate, nationally and globally. Reliable data is needed, but current government statistics have major limitations, partly due to lack of political will.

  • Intuitive indices like income shares of population segments are preferable to complex metrics like the Gini coefficient. The ratio of top incomes to bottom incomes clearly shows inequality differences between countries.

  • Fiscal data, despite imperfections, improves measurement of inequality, especially at the top. But accessing tax records remains difficult, and international fiscal opacity has increased.

  • Official inequality statistics relying solely on household surveys tend to underestimate the concentration of income and wealth at the top. All sources should be compared for a comprehensive picture.

  • Greater fiscal transparency can help fight corruption and mobilize the public to demand change. But overcoming government resistance and international tax avoidance are ongoing challenges.

  • Measuring national income and wealth is complicated by the degradation of natural capital and the environment. Carbon emissions and climate change impose large social costs not fully captured in GDP.

  • Estimates of the depletion of natural resources like oil and minerals are uncertain and don’t account for their full social cost. The Stern Review estimated climate change could reduce global GDP by 5-20%.

  • Natural resources are only counted when exploitation begins, distorting measures of wealth over time. Private appropriation of public knowledge can also distort wealth measures.

  • Carbon emissions should account for individual consumption across borders. The top 10% of emitters produce 45% of emissions, with the top 1% producing 14%. North America accounts for a disproportionate share of high emissions compared to population.

  • Environmental inequality matters both in terms of environmental damage caused and suffered. Consumption-based accounting of emissions shows stark disparities between high-emitting individuals and countries versus the global average.

In summary, properly measuring environmental impacts and accounting for them in income and wealth poses challenges. But it reveals stark inequalities in environmental damages that should inform climate justice debates.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding global inequality in emissions and the measurement of inequality:

  • There is extreme inequality in carbon emissions globally. The top 10% of world emitters are responsible for 45% of emissions, compared to just 13% for the bottom 50% of emitters. The top 1% are responsible for 14% of emissions.

  • This extreme inequality is largely driven by high emissions from the United States, owing to high income inequality, large homes, and highly polluting vehicles.

  • Governments have failed to develop proper tools to adequately measure and track the distribution of wealth and income inequality over time. There are no technical barriers, just political and ideological choices.

  • Available data shows wealth inequality declined after WWI until the 1970s, then rose sharply in the 1980s, especially in the US, India, China, and Russia after privatization.

  • A proportional carbon tax can be socially unjust without exemptions and higher rates on high emitters. The French yellow vest protests showed the risk of regressive carbon taxes.

  • Just climate policy requires new forms of transnational taxation and transparency around inequality data. Abdication by governments to address inequality undermines climate action.

  • There are many unclear aspects of recent developments in wealth and income inequality data, paradoxically making older data (1900-1990) more reliable than newer data (1990-2020). This is due to poorer quality sources and lack of tools to track international wealth flows.

  • National accounts provide useful aggregate data on income and wealth totals, but not distribution. Household surveys provide distributional data but suffer from underreporting and inaccuracy, especially for top wealth holders.

  • Surveys by statistical agencies and central banks attempt to improve wealth data quality but still capture only 50-60% of total wealth estimated in national accounts, primarily due to underreporting of financial assets by the wealthy.

  • Custodian banks privately track ownership of financial assets but greater government regulation could establish public registers and identify ultimate asset holders.

  • Governments could require more corporate transparency on shareholders and strengthen requirements for financial institutions to report asset income and holdings to tax authorities. However, exemptions and separate rules for capital income limit the potential of this financial data.

  • Overall, there has been a degradation in the quality of available wealth data due to political choices, even though technology could enable better tracking of asset holdings and income. More systematic financial reporting and public wealth registers would help overcome the opacity of inequality data.

  • Wealth inequality statistics in Europe and the U.S. rely entirely on self-reported surveys, with no verification against administrative or financial data. This makes tracking the evolution of wealth, especially financial assets, impossible.

  • Using only surveys to measure wealth is backward, as income inequality statistics now combine surveys with tax data for more accuracy. This was key in revealing the growth of U.S. income inequality after 1980.

  • The lack of reliable wealth data seems driven by political fears that transparency about wealth inequality could spur demands for redistribution.

  • This “neo-proprietarian” fear of transparency about wealth is dangerous. It prevents understanding inequality and developing policies to reduce it.

  • Greater wealth transparency linked to a small wealth tax could fund programs to reduce inequality and make wealth distribution democratically accountable. But it is opposed by a “neo-proprietarian” ideology that wealth data enables government abuse.

  • International initiatives to increase financial transparency have faced resistance. Overcoming neo-proprietarian opposition to wealth transparency is key to reducing dangerous wealth inequalities.

  • Europe has been hit by several financial and fiscal scandals in recent years, such as LuxLeaks in 2014, which revealed how the Luxembourg government allowed companies to pay lower tax rates through secret agreements. This demonstrated the extent of tax evasion in Europe.

  • These revelations showed that progress is possible on addressing tax evasion with adequate sanctions, but Europe has so far focused more on declarations than real action. A key obstacle is the unanimity rule for tax decisions in the EU.

  • It is unclear how scandals like LuxLeaks affected public opinion, as Jean-Claude Juncker still became President of the European Commission. No real efforts were made to develop a public financial register or harmonize taxes.

  • Measuring wealth concentration is challenging without comprehensive data. Tax data has deteriorated, so other sources like Forbes billionaire rankings are used, but these are imprecise.

  • Available data suggests the world’s largest fortunes have grown much faster than average wealth and income in recent decades. This may be due to biases favoring large portfolios or tax avoidance.

  • The lack of precise public data on wealth inequality indicates a failure of institutions to address these democratic issues adequately. Calls are growing in some countries like the US for more progressive taxation on the wealthy.

  • Wealth inequality has resurged in recent decades, coupled with increased financial opacity through the use of tax havens and complex legal entities. This represents a return to neo-proprietarian inequality.

  • Patriarchy and male domination have proven persistent in the 21st century. Women remain a small minority of top income earners. At current rates of change, parity between men and women among top earners may not be achieved until the 22nd century.

  • Historical prejudice against women holding power persists. The mid-20th century ideal of the housewife has only recently receded. Pay and pension gaps between men and women remain high.

  • Proactive measures like quotas for women in top positions could accelerate progress towards gender equality. Rethinking work organization and schedules to balance professional and personal life is also important.

  • The concentration of wealth has exacerbated gender inequality in asset division among siblings and couples, as the wealthy seek to marry those with comparable assets. This reflects a return to patrimonial marriage patterns.

  • There has been a return to high levels of patrimonial homogamy (marrying someone of similar wealth) like in the 19th century, facilitated by rising professional homogamy (marrying someone of similar profession/education). This contributes to increased inequality between households.

  • Separate property regimes in marriage have become more common, which in theory promotes gender equality but in practice often benefits men more due to interrupted careers and lower incomes among women. This has paradoxically increased wealth inequality between genders.

  • The poorest countries, especially in Africa and South/Southeast Asia, have seen a decrease in tax revenues as a percentage of GDP between 1970-2000, partly due to rapid trade liberalization lowering customs duties. This has hampered their state development.

  • Meanwhile, rich countries have increased tax revenue collection. The global regime of tax havens and capital mobility promoted since the 1980s has damaged poor countries’ abilities to increase tax compliance and build fiscal capacity.

  • Since 2008, central banks have dramatically increased money creation, altering perceptions of their role. This represents a profound shift away from the pre-crisis consensus on restrained money creation and inflation targeting.

  • Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, central banks like the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank had balance sheets equivalent to only 5-10% of GDP, consisting primarily of short-term loans to banks.

  • After the crisis, central banks greatly expanded their balance sheets through “quantitative easing”, buying large quantities of bonds and assets to stabilize financial markets. By 2014, the Fed’s balance sheet rose to 25% of US GDP.

  • This intervention by central banks is credited with preventing an even deeper recession. However, central banks lack democratic legitimacy to take even more expansive action.

  • Financialization has grown enormously, with total financial assets now exceeding 1100% of GDP in the Eurozone. Central bank balance sheets could potentially grow much larger in response to future crises.

  • Some central banks like Japan and Switzerland already have balance sheets exceeding 100% of GDP due to their financial situations.

  • Central banks are not equipped to solve all economic problems or regulate capitalism alone. Democratic institutions and processes are still needed for issues like inequality and climate change.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Central bank assets of Japan and Switzerland exceeded 100% of GDP in 2017-2018, compared to around 20-40% for other rich countries.

  • This monetary activism poses problems. It prioritizes reducing private balance sheet size rather than engaging in a “race” to match their growth. An economy where all actors are indebted and the financial sector grows faster than the real economy is fragile.

  • The long-term effects of unconventional monetary policies like quantitative easing are not well understood. They may increase inequality of financial returns and wealth concentration.

  • Near-zero interest rates on safe assets like sovereign debt mean small savers earn little, while large investors can still profit from asset price movements.

  • Monetary activism reflects roadblocks governments face in other policy areas like financial regulation, taxes, and budgets. The EU in particular is paralyzed by unanimity rules on tax and budgets.

  • The ECB, as the only powerful EU institution, has expanded its balance sheet enormously. This reflects the inability of European governments to agree on common taxes and democratic budgeting.

  • Overall, swelling the money supply stems from fear of democracy and just taxation. The main instrument for financing common projects should be transparent, democratic taxation based on ability to pay. Reliance on monetary expansion risks undermining this.

Here are a few key points summarizing the passage:

  • Neo-proprietarianism lacks coherence and is unstable, especially in the context of the EU. It is a mix of influences, not a fixed ideology.

  • The EU combines ordoliberalism focused on free competition with undemocratic, authoritarian aspects. But it is unfinished and could evolve in different directions based on crises and debates.

  • Hayek represents an extreme version of neo-proprietarianism, seeking to limit democracy and progressive taxation. But the EU does not fully match his vision.

  • Neo-proprietarianism today also contains an extreme meritocratic ideology that glorifies winners and stigmatizes losers as lacking virtue. This idea of “undeserving poor” has long historical roots.

  • Overall, neo-proprietarianism is complex and evolving, not a single coherent doctrine. The EU embodies some related ideas but is more unstable and open-ended. Critically examining meritocracy can help analyze today’s inequality.

  • The emergence of meritocratic ideology helped justify inequality in modern societies. It shifted focus from overt ownership of the poor classes to justifying their lower status based on merit and discourse.

  • Meritocracy became more prominent with the rise of industrialization and new threats to the elite from class struggle and universal suffrage. It was seen as a way for elites to maintain power.

  • The development of higher education and emphasis on credentials exacerbated meritocratic dynamics. Bourdieu showed how it perpetuated privilege under the guise of “talent” and “merit”.

  • Sociologist Michael Young presciently warned in 1958 about a society stratified by cognitive capacity and education. He envisioned conflicts between elites and populists seeking educational equality.

  • Today’s ideology glorifies entrepreneurs and billionaires as having singly created innovations and prosperity. This overlooks their monopolistic practices, tax breaks, and use of public resources. Meritocracy is used to justify their status and wealth.

  • Extreme inequality exists in many parts of the world today, including Brazil, India, the Middle East, and South Africa. Inequality in the Middle East is the highest globally.

  • Inequality stems from a variety of factors: slavery’s legacy in Brazil, the lack of progressive taxation in oil-rich Middle Eastern states, the history of inequality in India’s caste system.

  • While inequality declined in Western countries over the 20th century due to progressive taxation and redistribution, it is now rising again, especially in the US. The top 1% income share in the US now exceeds 20%.

  • The rise of billionaires and their political influence, along with the decline of progressive taxation, are worrying for democracy. Philanthropy by the wealthy is not an adequate substitute for democratic participation in shaping public policy.

  • Tackling inequality requires transparency about taxes and spending, progressive taxation, inheritance taxation, and creating opportunities for citizens to participate equally in shaping public policy. Alternatives like participatory socialism could help move beyond current limitations of parliamentary democracy.

  • National income accounts are an essential tool for measuring inequality, but current methods underestimate inequality by excluding capital income and overestimating growth.

  • Capital income makes up a large and growing share of total income, but is excluded from standard inequality measures based on fiscal income.

  • Economic growth figures are overestimated because capital depreciation is not properly accounted for.

  • Natural capital depreciation from climate change and biodiversity loss should also be accounted for in assessing sustainable growth.

  • Wealth accounts are important for analyzing the distribution of assets and liabilities between different economic actors. But existing statistics are inadequate.

  • Improved statistical tools like Distributional National Accounts and Global Financial Registers are needed to better track inequality.

  • Carbon taxes and other environmental levies should be made progressive based on individual carbon footprints.

  • International cooperation is essential for solving issues like tax evasion and carbon emissions that cross borders. Statistical transparency is a prerequisite.

Here is a summary of the key points from the referenced materials:

  • There is a lack of transparency around ownership of financial assets like stocks and bonds, especially when held in offshore tax havens. This makes it difficult to accurately measure inequality.

  • Some countries like France exempt certain types of capital income from pre-filled tax returns, further obscuring information.

  • Reforms in countries like Germany and France to tax capital and labor income separately, while dual taxation, have actually hidden capital income distribution.

  • Comparing inheritance tax data to household surveys over time shows under-reporting of wealth concentration at the top. More systematic wealth registration is needed.

  • Women’s share of top incomes has gradually increased in recent decades but remains minority, around 20-30%. This reflects societal discrimination as well as legal barriers to ownership that persisted until the 20th century.

  • More systematic and transparent data on asset ownership and income sources is required to accurately track inequality. Global financial registries, wealth registries, and distributional national accounts have been proposed.

The key sources referenced are: de 2017 presentation, Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Zucman’s The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Pogge and Mehta’s Global Tax Fairness.

  • Gender inequality in labor income has declined substantially in recent decades, but large gaps remain, especially at the top of the distribution.

  • Inheritance and family structures play an important role in perpetuating wealth inequality between men and women. Married couples tend to pool income but keep inheritances separate, which advantages men.

  • Central bank balance sheets have increased massively since 2008, reflecting unconventional monetary policies such as quantitative easing. This has mitigated economic crises but also illustrates the need to find new ways to regulate capital.

  • Some argue for limiting democratic control over property and taxation, but there are risks to insulating an oligarchy from popular will. Democratic oversight remains essential.

  • Work and labor must be valued, but dangerous ideologies emerge when paid work is seen as the only worthwhile activity. Caregiving and other uncompensated work should not be excluded from concepts of contribution and value.

  • Political conflict is ideological, not just class-based. Individuals with similar socioeconomic characteristics can have very different political beliefs based on their personal histories, experiences, and ideas about an ideal society.

  • The notion of “social class” is multidimensional, involving occupation, education, income, wealth, and other factors like age, gender, ethnicity, etc. It cannot be reduced to a single dimension.

  • For these reasons, electoral and political cleavages cannot be simply reduced to “poor vs rich.” There are many complex factors shaping individual political views and party affiliations.

  • In the postwar period (1950-1980), lower classes tended to identify with left-wing parties pursuing social democracy. This changed in the neoliberal period (1990-2020) as leftist parties became associated more with educated voters and higher incomes.

  • This reflects the failure of postwar social democratic agendas to update on issues like globalization, taxation, education, etc. as well as the inherent complexity of building egalitarian political coalitions across different groups.

  • Understanding the multidimensional nature of political conflict and social class is key for making progress towards equality through democratic deliberation and participation.

  • In the postwar period until around 1980, lower classes tended to vote for left/social democratic parties while upper classes voted for conservative/right wing parties, with wealth being the most divisive factor followed by income and then education.

  • Since around 1990, this has reversed for education - now the highly educated tend to vote for left-wing parties while the less educated vote more conservative. The left has gone from being the “workers’ party” to the “party of the educated.”

  • This reversal is seen across Western democracies including France, the US, UK, Germany, and Sweden, despite their different histories and party systems.

  • Potential explanations include the left’s failure to update programs for globalization and education, disillusionment with economic equality ideals after communism’s failure, and rise of new cultural conflicts around race, immigration etc.

  • The consistency across countries suggests global rather than narrowly national explanations are more convincing for this major political realignment.

Here are the key points about cleavages in postcolonial societies:

  • To understand transformations in postcolonial societies, we need to carefully examine the trajectory of change in each country, without overgeneralizing or imagining alternative histories.

  • The analysis of cleavages is based on post-election surveys conducted in recent decades across many countries. These provide direct evidence on the socioeconomic structure of electorates and how they have changed over time.

  • The surveys have limitations, such as small sample sizes and potential biases in self-reported data. But long-term evolutions seen across many surveys appear robust.

  • The surveys show the three dimensions of social stratification (education, income, wealth) are correlated but not perfectly. There is a multidimensional social space.

  • The important change is political-ideological rather than just socioeconomic. It involves the ability of political groups to unite or divide the dimensions of inequality.

  • This analysis builds on the work of Lipset and Rokkan on multidimensional political cleavages originating from national and industrial revolutions.

  • It differs by identifying major transformations since the 1950s, and focusing on education, income and wealth rather than their cleavages. The ethno-racial dimension is also examined systematically.

  • The framework proposed by Lipset and Rokkan completely ignores ethno-racial cleavages, which have become more prominent political issues in recent decades in both Europe and the US.

  • Comparative analysis of ethno-racial divides in Europe, the US, and other democracies can shed light on their role in shaping political cleavages and possible future trajectories. This may help assess risks of increased social-nativist conflict versus a return to prominence of socioeconomic cleavages.

  • In France’s multiparty system, the “electoral left” (Socialists, Communists, etc) and “electoral right” (Gaullists, center-right, etc) have each obtained 40-58% of legislative vote shares since 1945, allowing comparison to bipartisan US and UK systems.

  • These broad party groups contain diverse internal opinions/sensibilities. Political conflict is multidimensional, with divisions over property/inequality and borders/immigration not perfectly correlated, leading to precarious equilibria.

  • Terminology of “left” and “right” is vehemently rejected currently in France, indicating a redefinition of the main political cleavage is underway. Historical study of the left-right divide in France and partisan divides elsewhere can shed light on this shift.

  • The concepts of “left” and “right” have no fixed meaning, but are sociohistorical constructs that structure political conflict in different contexts. Their meaning has constantly evolved, especially when new political cleavages emerge.

  • The goal is to study how left and right have been embodied electorally since WWII and compare cleavage structures across countries.

  • In French presidential runoffs between left and right candidates from 1965-2012, results have been fairly evenly split.

  • French voter turnout has declined more sharply in legislative than presidential elections, from around 80% before the 1970s to under 50% in 2017. Turnout has also fallen in the UK and, to a lesser extent, the US.

  • Strikingly, turnout has declined most among less advantaged groups, leading to a growing gap compared to more advantaged voters. This gap was small in the 1950s-1980s in France and the UK but has grown to around 10-12% today, nearing the longstanding US gap.

  • The declining turnout of the less advantaged illustrates the more “classist” cleavage of 1950-1980 brought redistributive issues into debate, whereas the current system of competing elites lacks this.

  • The most striking evolution is the reversal of the educational cleavage, with the left attracting the least educated and the right the most educated, the opposite of the 1950s-1970s pattern.

  • In the 1956 French legislative elections, left-wing parties (Socialists, Communists, Radicals) received 57% of the vote from those with only primary education (72% of electorate) compared to 49% from those with secondary education (23% of electorate) and just 37% from those with tertiary education (5% of electorate).

  • This educational cleavage was completely reversed by the 2012 presidential elections, where the left received 58% of the tertiary educated vote but only 47% of the primary educated vote.

  • The reversal was steady and gradual between 1956 and 2012. In the 1950s-60s the left vote was highest among the least educated and declined with education level. In the 2000s-2010s this was reversed.

  • The reversal held true both across and within educational categories (e.g. left vote increased with higher secondary and tertiary credential).

  • The reversal is robust even when controlling for age, as it occurred within each age cohort. The young tend to vote more left but this does not explain the educational cleavage reversal over time.

  • Similar reversals occurred in the US and UK, where left-wing parties went from doing better among the least educated to better among the highly educated over the past decades.

Based on the summary, the key points are:

  • In 2012, the difference in voting between those with and without tertiary education was 8 percentage points in the opposite direction compared to the 1950s-1960s.

  • Controlling for other factors like sex, marital status, income, and wealth does not affect the underlying trend of the reversal of the educational cleavage, only the levels.

  • Less educated groups like industrial workers have stopped voting for left parties compared to the 1950s-1960s.

  • Highly educated groups like teachers and public sector workers vote more for left parties compared to the past.

  • The reversal is not just due to specific occupational groups switching voting patterns but is a more general phenomenon.

  • Two hypotheses for the reversal are proposed:

  1. Social hypothesis: less advantaged classes feel abandoned by left parties which now draw more support from the highly educated.

  2. Nativist hypothesis: less advantaged classes were drawn to racism and anti-immigration stances of right-wing parties.

  • The social hypothesis seems more convincing as the reversal started before immigration became a major issue in Europe. Also, turnout of disadvantaged groups is low, suggesting dissatisfaction with electoral choices.

  • Among the descendants of left-leaning 1956 voters, those who attained higher education continued voting left, while those with less education grew disenchanted with left parties.

  • A hypothesis is that the left parties changed to favor the newly educated classes over the working classes. The left gradually transformed from workers’ parties into “Brahmin left” parties of the educated.

  • Conflict emerged between the new disadvantaged classes who deserted the left, and the new educated “Brahmin left”, over public services, cultural activities, transportation, taxation, etc.

  • The French education system is highly stratified and unequal, with grandes écoles for elites and regular universities for the masses. The left parties, as champions of the educated classes, perpetuate this “republican elitism”.

  • Socially disadvantaged schools get less funding and worse teachers than elite schools. The French left parties, when in power, did little to change this educational inequality that overlaps with social inequality.

  • Overall, the left parties evolved to represent the interests of the educated elite rather than the working classes, leading to disaffection from their original base. Educational inequalities perpetuated by the left reinforce social stratification.

  • There are extreme hypocrisies and inequalities in the French education system. Resources tend to be allocated more to advantaged schools, while “priority education zones” for disadvantaged schools are underfunded.

  • Social segregation in schools has increased dramatically. Many private schools that receive public funding can select students, leading to public schools with very few disadvantaged students.

  • Educational budgets have stagnated while the number of students has increased, leading to poorer conditions, especially in regular universities. This has frustrated disadvantaged youth who were promised opportunities.

  • The left parties have lost support among the disadvantaged classes due to the perception they care more about the educated elite. Recent TV shows have highlighted controversies around algorithms used for student assignments.

  • More transparency and democratic input is needed in designing assignment algorithms to achieve educational justice. Tools like social quotas have potential but need to be applied in a gradual, transparent manner.

  • Electoral support for the left among low-income groups has declined significantly since the 1950s. The left is now associated more with the educated elite. Issues like inheritance tax play a role, as does perception the left disregards working classes.

  • The profile of left-wing support has historically been quite flat across the lower 90% of the income distribution, but drops off sharply among the top 10-1% earners, especially from the 1950s-1970s.

  • This reflects the fact that higher income earners, especially those deriving income from capital/wealth, tend to support the political right. Wealth is a much stronger predictor of right-wing support than income or education.

  • However, the left now receives greater support from the highly educated, leading to a divide between the educated ‘Brahmin’ left and the wealthy ‘merchant’ right.

  • Historically, the left was suspicious of and unable to gain the support of small business owners and the self-employed, despite some attempts to reassure them. This flat profile of support across most of the income distribution reflects this weak support among independents.

  • It remains to be seen whether the highly educated will align more with high earners in the future within left-wing parties, or whether suspicions of the left among higher earners will persist.

  • From the 1950s to 1970s, lower income groups in France consisted largely of independent workers like peasants and small business owners. They were suspicious of leftist plans for collectivization.

  • The leftist parties in France never intended full Soviet-style collectivization but were ambiguous about their long-term plans for private property, causing distrust.

  • Debates over taxes also caused conflict, as leftists favored more deductions for wage earners while rightists criticized this as unfair to the self-employed.

  • After the Cold War, a “Brahmin left” of the highly educated and a “merchant right” of the wealthy emerged. They share a conservatism about inequality but differ on some policies.

  • This elite dual system is potent but precarious, as lower classes withdraw from politics, threatening the legitimacy of the system. Both left and right are fracturing over responses to inequality.

Here is a summary of the key points about the four-way division of the electorate in France in 2017:

  • Historically, there was a division between practicing Catholics who tended to vote right, non-practicing Catholics in the center, non-religious voters who tended to vote left, and religious minorities like Protestants and Jews who were in between.

  • Since the 1960s, the proportion of non-religious voters has greatly increased while practicing Catholics have declined sharply.

  • Since the 1990s, the share of Muslim voters has grown from under 1% to around 5% in 2017.

  • Muslim voters have consistently voted over 80-90% for left-wing parties since the 1990s, even more than non-religious voters.

  • This has contributed to a four-way split between practicing Catholics on the right, non-practicing Catholics in the center, non-religious voters to the left, and Muslim voters even further left.

  • The gap between Muslims and non-Muslims voting left is around 40-50 percentage points and mostly ideological rather than socioeconomic.

  • This reflects the rise of nativist sentiment and religious divides overlapping with political ones.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • There is a strong correlation between being Muslim and voting for left-wing parties in France. Around 80-90% of Muslims vote for left-wing parties.

  • This is likely because Muslims perceive right-wing parties, especially the far-right National Front (FN), as hostile towards them. The FN campaigns on anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

  • There is a separate correlation between having non-European origins (especially North African and sub-Saharan African) and voting left-wing. This effect is independent of religion.

  • The two dimensions - being Muslim and having non-European origins - reinforce each other. Voters with both identities are even more likely to vote left-wing.

  • The author argues this is not just about individual political preferences but rather reflects that these voters feel threatened by right-wing parties like the FN.

  • There are long-standing roots of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant attitudes among the French right-wing, going back to colonial times.

  • Research shows Muslims face discrimination in France and Europe, especially in employment. This likely further encourages them to vote for left-wing parties.

  • The French electorate has fractured into four roughly equal ideological groups based on attitudes towards immigration and inequality: egalitarian internationalists, inegalitarian nativists, inegalitarian internationalists, and egalitarian nativists.

  • In the 2017 French presidential election, the four main candidates represented these ideological quarters fairly closely: Mélenchon and Hamon for the egalitarian internationalists; Macron for the inegalitarian internationalists; Fillon for the inegalitarian nativists; and Le Pen for the egalitarian nativists.

  • This four-way ideological divide shows how the old left-right political spectrum has broken down and political conflict has become multi-dimensional. The relative weight of these groups can shift rapidly based on political events and media narratives.

  • The ideological quarters are defined based on survey questions about whether there are too many immigrants in France and whether we should “take from the rich and give to the poor” to achieve social justice. In 2017, the electorate was evenly split on both questions.

  • The egalitarian internationalist bloc is pro-immigrant, pro-redistribution, educated but relatively low income. The inegalitarian internationalist bloc represented by Macron is pro-immigrant, pro-rich, wealthy and educated. The inegalitarian nativist bloc of Fillon is anti-immigrant, pro-rich. The egalitarian nativist bloc of Le Pen is anti-immigrant, pro-poor.

  • In the 2017 French presidential election, the electorate was divided into four roughly equal quarters representing different ideological positions:

  1. The “egalitarian internationalist” vote (Mélenchon/Hamon) - pro-immigrant, pro-redistribution

  2. The “inegalitarian internationalist” vote (Macron) - pro-immigrant, anti-redistribution

  3. The “inegalitarian nativist” vote (Fillon) - anti-immigrant, anti-redistribution

  4. The “egalitarian nativist” vote (Le Pen/Dupont-Aignan) - anti-immigrant, pro-redistribution

  • This four-way division represents a breakdown of the traditional left-right divide that structured French politics in the postwar era.

  • The outcome was highly unstable, with any two of the top four candidates able to reach the runoff. It suggests deep divides around views on immigration and inequality.

  • In the future, this could evolve into a three-way divide between liberalism, nationalism and socialism, depending on how electoral blocs reshape.

  • The “bourgeois bloc” around Macron brings together the most educated, wealthy and pro-market parts of both left and right.

  • The political debate risks being simplistically framed as “progressives” vs “nationalists.” This binary view is misleading and dangerous.

  • The political landscape in France and other countries is multidimensional, with an egalitarian internationalist bloc that advocates for immigrant rights and redistribution of wealth. The size and influence of this bloc varies by context.

  • The progressive vs nationalist framing oversimplifies political conflict into a binary. In reality electorates are often divided four ways. This four-way division can evolve in different directions.

  • Portraying nationalism as the only alternative to progressivism risks empowering dangerous social-nativist ideologies that combine leftist economics with violent exclusion of immigrants.

  • The policies of the Macron government, including using Europe to justify tax cuts for the wealthy, risk further divorcing disadvantaged classes from the EU project.

  • Past EU referendums showed the upper classes voted yes while lower classes voted no, reflecting the perception the EU primarily benefited the elite.

  • No major reorientation of the EU to focus more on social justice followed the 2005 rejection of the EU constitution. The Lisbon Treaty incorporated similar provisions without a referendum.

  • Overall, the EU risks being seen as an instrument of the neo-proprietarian bloc unless it undertakes reforms for greater fiscal and social justice.

  • There has been a dramatic transformation in the political cleavage structure in France and other Western countries in recent decades. The traditional left-right divide based on economic class has weakened.

  • A new cleavage has emerged between a “globalist” pole that supports free trade, European integration, and immigration, and a “nationalist” pole that opposes these forces and values national identity.

  • This reflects a decline of the “left” (parties representing the disadvantaged classes) and a rise of the “far right” (parties representing the nationalism pole).

  • The left has gradually distanced itself from the disadvantaged classes as it adopted a more pro-globalization and urban worldview. This has opened space for the far right to attract working class voters.

  • The new cleavage crosses traditional left-right divides. Affluent voters who embrace globalization lean towards the “globalist” pole.

  • The shift can be seen in changing voter alignments and the collapse of traditional political parties in countries like France. New political forces on both the far right and far left have gained ground.

  • The change is driven by economic and technological forces like automation and offshoring that have disadvantaged the Western working classes. This fueled anti-globalization sentiment.

  • The left’s embrace of European integration and increased immigration has further alienated it from the working classes. The far right exploited this opening.

  • The new cleavage threatens social cohesion and democratic institutions. But the forces shaping it can be influenced by political choices and institutions.

  • Piketty analyzes survey data on voting patterns in France, the US, and the UK from 1948-2017 to study the evolution of political cleavages.

  • He finds the dominant cleavage has shifted from class/occupation to education level. Highly educated voters now strongly support left-wing parties while less educated voters support right-wing parties.

  • Income and wealth cleavages have also grown. High-income, high-wealth voters support right-wing parties while low-income, low-wealth voters support left-wing parties.

  • These education, income, and wealth cleavages have gradually replaced the classic left vs right cleavage based on class and occupation.

  • Piketty suggests current political conflict represents a confrontation between the intellectual elite and the business/financial elite on one side and the rest of society on the other side.

  • He argues this reflects a transformation in party systems and cleavages since the 1950s. New cleavages based on education now crosscut old class-based cleavages.

  • Piketty connects his analysis back to the framework of Lipset and Rokkan and discusses how it could be expanded beyond Europe to analyze cleavages in party systems like the US.

  • Voter turnout in the US is generally higher in presidential elections than in congressional or senate races, with a notable peak when Obama was first elected in 2008.

  • More complete data on income, education, and wealth might reveal larger gaps in participation rates between different groups in France, beyond just the gaps between registered versus unregistered voters.

  • Condorcet highlighted the ambiguity of electoral systems - they can aggregate useful information but can also lead to chaotic outcomes from competing interests.

  • The electoral-representative regime allowed high levels of social mobilization and ambitious social policy in Europe post-1945, unlike in the US.

  • Education has become the main predictive factor of voting behavior in recent decades in the US, UK, and France. More educated people now tend to vote for left-wing parties.

  • This reversal of the historical educational cleavage in voting took place gradually from the 1950s-2000s and was not planned by any actors, but emerged through the actions of many over time.

  • The populist right has recently begun to attract less educated voters who feel alienated from the educated urban left-wing parties.

  • The educational cleavage in countries like the US, where private higher education plays a large role, shows the adaptability of the new meritocratic ideology.

  • Paris has swung left politically since the 1990s, similar to changes in other prosperous cities like London and New York.

  • Raising the minimum school leaving age and establishing a common junior high curriculum in France helped reduce educational inequalities.

  • The grandes écoles system in France remains highly separate from universities.

  • Leftist parties have often held power in France, but some policies have still tended to benefit the elite.

  • Teacher quality and school funding favor more advantaged schools in France. Reforms are trying to address this.

  • Voting patterns in France show sharp divides based on income, education, and wealth, with higher socioeconomic status associated with right-wing voting.

  • The trifunctional order of clergy, nobility, and commoners had political effects in France’s past, though it could also be oppressive.

  • Brief communist participation in government after WWII helped establish major social reforms.

  • The post-war period in France saw a gradual weakening of the influence of religion on voting behavior. The proportion of regular churchgoers declined steadily.

  • In the 1950s-60s, practicing Catholics tended to vote more right-wing while non-practicing Catholics voted left. But this gap diminished over time.

  • Jews and Protestants, small minorities in France, tended to vote more centrist or left. Their voting patterns remained quite stable over time.

  • In recent decades, non-European immigrant origin populations, especially Muslims, have grown. They vote overwhelmingly for left candidates.

  • The weakening link between religion and vote in France contrasts with ethnic and religious voting patterns in India and other countries.

  • Overall, the influence of religion on voting has declined in France while that of immigrant origin has increased on the left, reflecting long-term social changes. Class identity remains influential.

  • The electoral geography of the 2017 French presidential election reveals a divided France, with Le Pen’s support coming mainly from peripheral regions and smaller towns and cities, while Macron did well in large metropolitan areas.

  • There is a cultural and political divide between nativists who want to close borders and progressives who support openness and diversity. Surveys show 50-60% of French voters want to reduce immigration.

  • Muslims overwhelmingly vote for the left. There is discrimination against those with North African and Muslim names.

  • New political cleavages are emerging beyond the classic left-right divide. An egalitarian internationalist camp faces off against an inegalitarian nativist camp.

  • The election saw four main candidates: Mélenchon on the left, Macron in the center, Fillon on the traditional right, and Le Pen on the far-right. Each drew support from distinct socio-demographic groups.

  • The old left-right cleavage around economic policy is being cross-cut by this new cultural cleavage around identity and immigration. The election revealed these new fault lines in French society.

Here are the key points about the transformation of the US party system since 1945:

  • The Democratic Party was initially the party of the “popular classes” (low education, income, wealth), while the Republican Party was the party of the “upper classes” (high education, income, wealth).

  • Over time, a new cleavage emerged based on education, with the Democrats becoming the party of the highly educated “Brahmin left” and the Republicans becoming the party of the less educated.

  • The Democratic Party is now a coalition of the Brahmin left and the popular classes, while the Republican Party represents the “merchant right” (high income, wealth) and less educated classes.

  • This represents a move from a class-based party system to a multiple elite party system focused on education (Democrats) and high income/wealth (Republicans).

  • The new cleavage is between the Brahmin left and the merchant right, both of which alternate in power.

  • There are parallels with the transformation seen in France and the UK, despite the countries’ differences. Understanding these dynamics and trajectories can provide insight into possible future developments.

Here is a summary of the key points about US presidential elections from 1948 to 2016:

  • The two major parties (Democrats and Republicans) typically received 40-60% of the popular vote each, with tight races.

  • Third party candidates usually got less than 10% of the vote, except George Wallace (14% in 1968) and Ross Perot (20% in 1992, 10% in 1996).

  • The educational cleavage reversed over this period. In 1948, those with higher education overwhelmingly voted Republican. Since the 1990s, those with advanced degrees now vote strongly Democratic.

  • This evolution mirrors the expansion of educational access. As more people got college degrees, those who experienced upward mobility educationally stuck with Democrats, while those left behind moved to Republicans.

  • A similar reversal occurred along income lines. Democrats were the party of lower income voters in the mid-20th century, but now earn more votes among the top income tiers.

  • However, it is complex whether Democrats will become the “party of the winners.” Factors like career choice and inherited wealth mean high education does not perfectly overlap with high income. The future party alignment remains open based on the evolving balance of power and mobilization capacities of different groups.

Here are the key points summarizing political and racial conflict in the US from 1948-2016:

  • The Democratic party historically was associated with slavery, segregation and states’ rights. The Republican party was seen as the party of Lincoln and emancipation.

  • In the 1930s-1950s, Democratic presidents like FDR and Truman relied on segregationist Southern Democrats for support, while making some progress on civil rights.

  • In the 1960s, Democrats under Kennedy and Johnson embraced civil rights, leading to a massive shift of black voters towards Democrats. Since 1964, around 90% of black voters have supported Democratic presidential candidates.

  • Republicans responded by adopting a “Southern strategy” of appealing to white racial resentment, especially under Nixon. This further aligned the parties along racial lines.

  • More recently, explicit racism has declined but conflicts over issues like affirmative action and criminal justice reform reveal enduring racial divides between the parties.

  • The election of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, as a Democrat likely further cemented black voters’ loyalty to the Democratic party.

So in summary, starting in the 1960s the Democratic party became seen as the party advancing civil rights, cementing an enduring loyalty from black voters, while Republicans tapped into white racial resentment, dividing the parties sharply along racial lines. This racial divide between the two major parties continues to define much of American politics today.

  • The Democratic Party, historically associated with slavery and segregation, became the preferred party of African Americans and other minorities starting in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the Republican Party, originally the party of Lincoln and emancipation, became the refuge for whites opposed to civil rights and integration.

  • This realignment was driven by conflict over civil rights and racial issues. Southern segregationist Democrats left the party and joined the Republicans in opposition to federal civil rights legislation and programs aimed at integrating schools and society.

  • Republicans pursued a “Southern strategy” of appealing to racial resentment among whites. They opposed busing and affirmative action and demonized welfare programs, using coded racial appeals like “welfare queens.”

  • Exploiting racial divides was central to the rise of conservative Republicans like Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan. Republicans combined racism and nativism with aggressive anti-communism and opposition to the New Deal welfare state.

  • Trump has continued this strategy, attacking immigrants, Muslims, and other minority groups. His racial politics builds on a longstanding Republican approach of exploiting white racial resentment.

  • The stark divide between overwhelming minority support for Democrats and majority white support for Republicans reflects deep conflicts over racial equality and integration in American politics and society.

  • In both the US and France, there is a massive electoral cleavage of around 40 percentage points based on racial/religious identity. Over 90% of African Americans vote Democratic in the US, while over 90% of Muslims vote left in France.

  • This reflects a historical white majority cohabitating politically with nonwhite populations once subordinate to them. Relations are now based more on dialogue and have progressed, though identity conflicts persist.

  • In the US, Latinos fall between whites and blacks in their voting patterns. In France, those of European origin vote similarly to native French, while those of non-European origin vote very differently.

  • Identities in France are more fluid than the fixed racial categories in the US. Over 30% of those with a North African parent in France have one native French parent. Intermarriage is blurring ethnic lines.

  • The US has historically assigned fixed racial identities, while France avoids this. But both countries see identity issues exploited politically with comparable electoral divides.

  • The theory that disadvantaged whites left the Democratic Party solely due to racial issues is too deterministic. The educational cleavage reversal occurred gradually across the US, North and South, and also in countries without a civil rights movement like France.

  • A more convincing explanation is that the Democratic Party changed its priorities, focusing more on serving the educated elite rather than the disadvantaged. This change occurred from the 1950s onward.

  • The Republicans exploited racial fears and loss of status among disadvantaged whites, but race alone does not fully explain the cleavage reversal on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Democrats failed to respond adequately to the conservative revolution of the 1980s. Reagan successfully sold tax cuts and limited government, exploiting fears of American decline.

  • Clinton moderated the Democrats’ message but failed to fully reverse course. The Obama years saw rising inequality and discontent.

  • Sanders brought renewed focus on egalitarian policies, but the Democrats have yet to fully articulate an economic vision to win back the working class.

In summary, the cleavage reversal likely stems from a change in the Democratic Party’s priorities over decades as well as the Republicans’ successful exploitation of racial issues, not race alone. The Democrats have struggled to put forth an egalitarian economic agenda to counter the conservative revolution.

  • The structure of the electorate in British elections has been more complex and fluctuating compared to the bipartite system in the US, with the Labour and Conservative parties being dominant but smaller parties playing a role too.

  • In the pivotal 1945 election, Labour won decisively under Clement Attlee, enabling them to establish the NHS, social insurance, and more progressive taxes. This represented an upending of the traditional two-party system of Conservatives and Liberals.

  • From the 1950s-1970s, the two big parties commanded over 80% of the vote, with Labour benefiting from working class support. The Liberal party declined over this period.

  • From 1970s-1990s, the two big parties’ combined vote share declined to 65-75%, challenged by the rise of the Liberal party again and later the emergence of smaller parties.

  • Education levels became the main electoral divide, with Labour dominating among less educated groups and Conservatives among more educated. This was a reversal from the postwar years.

  • New Labour under Tony Blair appealed more to the educated middle classes in the 1997 landslide, cementing the new electoral divide. But the traditional working class felt abandoned.

  • The rise of UKIP and Brexit reflected this working class discontent, leading to greater fragmentation and four-party politics today.

  • In the 1945 election, Labour won a major victory, replacing the Liberals as the main alternative to the Conservatives. This marked a major shift as Labour became a party that could hold power.

  • Over the past half century, Labour, like the Democrats in the US, has become the party of the highly educated. In the 1950s Labour did much worse among highly educated voters, but by the 2010s it was doing better among degree holders.

  • This educational reversal happened slower in the UK compared to France and the US, reflecting Labour’s stronger working class identity historically. Even in the 1950s some intellectuals like Keynes worried about Labour’s lack of intellectuals.

  • There was also an income cleavage, with lower income voters supporting Labour more and higher income voters supporting Conservatives more. This was especially pronounced under Thatcher in 1979.

  • Since the 1980s-90s, higher income voters have supported Labour more, such as with Tony Blair’s New Labour. Like the US Democrats, Labour largely validated the economic reforms of previous Conservative governments.

  • In the postwar period until the 1990s, the Labour Party was associated with lower levels of education, income, and wealth. Since the 1990s, it has become associated with high levels of education.

  • In the 2015 and 2017 UK elections, higher income voters shifted strongly to the Conservatives, widening the gap between the educational and income effects on voting. This may be due to Labour’s move to the left under Jeremy Corbyn.

  • In the 2016 US election and 2017 French election, the income/wealth and education effects converged rather than diverged as in the UK. This highlights how party strategies play a key role in shaping voting patterns.

  • Like France, the UK was largely ethnically and religiously homogenous until the 1960s. The share of minority religions has grown steadily since then, especially Muslims of South Asian origin.

  • As in France, Muslims in the UK vote overwhelmingly for left parties, with a gap of around 40 points compared to Christians. This persists even accounting for socioeconomic factors.

  • The growing education and ethnic/religious divides have led to increased instability and fragmentation in UK politics in recent decades. Various syntheses between elite groups remain possible depending on party strategies.

  • UK postelection surveys have included questions on ethnic self-identification since 1983, allowing respondents to classify themselves as “White,” “African-Caribbean,” “Indian-Pakistani,” or “other.”

  • In contrast, British surveys do not ask about grandparents’ country of origin, so it is not possible to directly compare results to France on this dimension.

  • In 2017, 89% identified as white, 3% African Caribbean, 6% Indian Pakistani, and 2% other ethnic groups. The non-white groups overwhelmingly voted Labour.

  • 5% refused to answer the ethnicity question in 2017, and 77% of them voted Labour, suggesting issues with ethnic classifications.

  • Immigration became a contentious political issue in the UK from the late 1960s, largely expressed within the Conservative Party.

  • Enoch Powell’s 1968 “rivers of blood” speech railing against non-European immigrants marked a politicization of the issue.

  • In 1979, the Conservatives exploited immigration as a wedge issue, while Labour voters hoped for more inclusive social policies.

  • Immigration controls tightened under Thatcher and New Labour, breeding resentment.

  • In the 2010s, UKIP attacked immigration and the EU, pressuring the Conservatives towards a Brexit referendum.

  • The UK’s vote to leave the EU in 2016 (Brexit) exposed deep social divisions, with less educated, lower income, and less wealthy voters strongly supporting “Leave” while the upper classes voted for “Remain.”

  • A similar class divide was seen in referendums on the EU in France in 1992 and 2005, suggesting a broader European trend.

  • The European project has focused on economic integration and competition rather than social and fiscal justice. This has disproportionately benefited the elites.

  • The EU lacks ambitious fiscal integration like federal budgets and taxes seen in the US and India. Its budget is only 1% of GDP versus 15-20% in the US and India.

  • Without greater fiscal and social equality measures, disadvantaged classes are unlikely to support the EU. Other countries may follow the UK in leaving.

  • Alternatively, nativist ideologies could seize control of the EU project if it is not reformed to be more socially just.

  • Brexit illustrates the limits of free movement of labor without common social and fiscal rules.

  • Overall, the European project needs to embody transparent social and fiscal justice to gain greater support among all classes.

  • There is a clear educational divide in voting patterns in the US and France, with more educated voters tending to support Democrats/the left and less educated voters supporting Republicans/the right. This educational effect has strengthened over time.

  • Income and wealth effects also favor Republicans/the right, though these are less pronounced than education effects, especially in the US. The correlation between income and wealth has increased, strengthening the effects.

  • Race remains a key factor in US voting patterns. Most minority groups overwhelmingly support Democrats. Republicans have exploited racial resentment among some white voters.

  • In the US, Democrats have shifted their focus away from class-based policies which has likely contributed to losing working class white voters. Some of these voters feel neglected and resentful.

  • The composition of the US electorate has changed over time, with increases in educated, minority, and immigrant voters favoring Democrats. This has impacted voting patterns.

  • In France, immigrants and minorities mostly support the left, similar to minority groups in the US supporting Democrats. Anti-immigrant sentiment has grown on the right in both countries.

Here are the key points summarizing the discussion of mixed marriages and attitudes towards immigrants and minorities in Europe and the US since 1970:

  • Rates of mixed marriages involving immigrants have increased over time, but remain relatively low (10-30% depending on the group). This suggests only partial assimilation.

  • Attitudes towards immigrants and minorities have followed a cyclical pattern, with increased hostility during economic downturns.

  • There are notable differences between the US and Europe. In the US, hostility has focused more on undocumented immigrants, while in Europe it has centered on Muslim immigrants.

  • The US saw a tax revolt in the late 1970s partly fueled by racial resentments among white voters. In Europe, anti-immigrant views have led some working-class voters to support far-right parties.

  • Looking ahead, further assimilation of immigrants and minorities depends on reducing discrimination and expanding equal access to education and employment. More progressive taxation and social spending may also dampen nativist sentiment.

  • The political and electoral cleavages seen in the UK, US, and France since WWII - the shift from “classist” party systems in 1950-1980 to a system of elites alternating power in 1990-2020 - are also found across Western democracies, including Germany and Sweden.

  • Eastern Europe, especially Poland, shows a different cleavage structure due to postcommunist disillusionment. This illustrates the importance of postcommunism in transforming party systems there.

  • Social nativism has emerged in many countries as a consequence of globalization and postcolonialism. It is based on hostility toward immigrants and cultural opening, appealing especially to the working classes and older generations.

  • The trap of social nativism risks exacerbating identity-based conflicts. The solution lies in increased redistribution and social investment to compensate globalization’s losers, but also in reducing the excessive weight given to origins.

  • Overall, the passage analyzes common political realignments across advanced democracies and argues that responding to economic anxieties without fueling identity politics will be key challenges going forward.

  • The reversal of the educational cleavage from left-leaning less educated voters to left-leaning more educated voters occurred not just in France, the US, and UK, but across Western democracies including Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  • In Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway, the social democratic parties were exceptionally strong among the working class and manual laborers in the postwar decades. But this base eroded from the 1970s onward as less educated voters lost confidence in social democrats.

  • The exception is Japan which never developed a class-based party system. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party has held power almost continuously since 1945, doing well among rural farmers and urban bourgeoisie.

  • The analysis will study India and Brazil in more detail as examples of incomplete development of class-based cleavages, to understand Western trajectories and global inequality better.

  • Finally, the book will outline elements of a program for new forms of participatory socialism adapted to the 21st century, learning from the previous analysis.

  • The left-right political party system that dominated Western democracies in the postwar period from 1950-1980 has gradually broken down over the past several decades.

  • This system was structured around economic inequality and redistribution, with left parties drawing support from disadvantaged classes and right parties supported by the advantaged.

  • But left parties failed to adapt their policies to new challenges like rising education levels and globalization, causing disadvantaged voters to lose faith in them.

  • The left became associated more with the highly educated “Brahmin left” while the right remained aligned with the wealthy. Their policies converged rather than being polarized.

  • This breakdown began well before recent debates over immigration, though anti-immigrant sentiment has further fragmented the party system.

  • The collapse of communism also reduced pressure for redistribution in capitalist societies. Social democratic parties contributed to financial deregulation in the 1980s-90s.

  • In Eastern Europe, disappointment with early postcommunist governments led to the rise of social nativism and nationalist parties. Voters felt the left had abandoned them.

In summary, the postwar class-based party system collapsed due to the left’s failure to address rising education, globalization, and reduce inequality, as well as the end of communism. This disillusionment paved the way for new nationalistic political forces.

  • In Poland, the postcommunist Social Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) adopted pro-market policies in the 1990s-2000s to facilitate EU accession, leading to rising inequality and disillusionment.

  • This fueled the rise of two parties - the center-right, pro-EU Civic Platform (PO) and the conservative nationalist, Euroskeptic Law and Justice Party (PiS).

  • The PO and PiS votes have polarized along class lines, with PO favored by the highly educated and wealthy, and PiS by the less educated and lower income.

  • PiS combines social conservatism with redistributive fiscal policies, a “social nativist” ideology also seen in Hungary under Orban’s Fidesz party.

  • A similar dynamic occurred in Hungary, where postcommunist social democrats also adopted pro-market policies before being replaced by the nationalistic Fidesz after the 2008 crisis.

  • Eastern Europe serves as a laboratory for trends also visible in Western Europe, including the rise of social nativism combining nationalism with redistributive social policies.

  • In Italy, the collapse of the postwar party system in the 1990s led to the emergence of new parties on both the left and right. On the right, the Lega Nord became an anti-immigrant nationalist party. On the left, the Democratic Party (PD) lost working class support due to its centrist economic policies.

  • In the 2018 elections, three main blocs emerged - the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the center-left PD, and a right-wing coalition including the Lega Nord. With no majority, M5S and Lega Nord formed a coalition government despite their ideological differences.

  • The M5S-Lega Nord coalition represents a “social-nativist” alliance - combining policies like guaranteed minimum income (M5S) with anti-immigrant nationalism (Lega Nord). This shows that such coalitions are possible in Western Europe, not just Eastern Europe.

  • A similar alliance seems unlikely in France currently between the far-left France Insoumise (LFI) and far-right National Rally (RN) due to their opposing views on immigration. But the Italian case suggests caution in ruling out future ideological realignments.

  • Key factors enabling the Italian social-nativist alliance were the collapse of old party loyalties and distinctive features of Italian immigration debates that blurred left-right divides. This highlights the potential for volatility when traditional political coordinates break down.

  • Italy became a major destination for refugees from Syria and Africa fleeing via Libya, but other European countries refused to share responsibility for taking in refugees. France was particularly hypocritical, turning back immigrants at the border and taking in far fewer refugees than Germany.

  • Salvini of the right-wing Lega party attacked France’s hypocrisy to justify Italy’s crackdown on immigrants. Anti-immigrant parties often use charges of elite hypocrisy, but Salvini made it more plausible by tying it to the Europe-wide conflict over immigration.

  • Disenchantment with EU rules, especially around budget constraints that prevented investment and recovery from the economic crisis, fuels the popularity of the Lega-M5S coalition. They propose alternatives like leaving the euro or changing ECB policies, but the consequences are unpredictable.

  • Some may see parallels to how the Democratic Party in the US combined nativism with egalitarian policies for whites before eventually supporting civil rights. However, nativist parties can do serious damage before any shift occurs. There are also doubts current European social nativists can or will enact redistributive policies.

  • Overall, the Italian case shows how anti-immigrant rhetoric can be combined with anti-elite and anti-EU sentiment as well as social policies to create a dangerous but potentially popular coalition. Preventing similar developments will require mobilizing around alternative policies.

  • The Polish government has reduced certain tax deductions that benefit high-income people, so they end up paying somewhat more taxes than before.

  • However, the Polish government has not dared to actually raise tax rates on the wealthy.

  • Social nativist parties like M5S lack appetite for progressive taxation, even though it could help fund their proposals like universal basic income.

  • Reasons include not wanting to be associated with the leftist legacy of progressive taxes, believing monetary creation can fund programs, and interstate competition to attract capital and high earners.

  • As a result, social nativist parties often end up adopting market-nativist ideologies when in power, cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations in the name of competition.

  • Examples are Trump in the US and similarities to Macron in France. Both cut corporate taxes and taxes on the rich while claiming to support workers and the middle class.

I cannot fully summarize the passage, as that would require copying large portions of the text verbatim. However, in summary, the passage discusses the possibility of developing social federalism and greater democratic participation in Europe to address economic inequality and other challenges. It critiques the current decision-making structure of the EU as limiting democratic deliberation and favoring national interests over pluralistic debate. The author advocates reforming European institutions to allow for more robust parliamentary debate and oversight, particularly on fiscal and social policies. Developing a transnational democratic space with greater public participation is presented as an alternative to rising nationalism and nativism. The passage overall argues for a more integrated European Union with shared fiscal policies and democratic accountability as a means to promote equitable growth and social justice.

  • The European Parliament is better suited than ministerial councils to deliberate on new taxes and budgets for Europe. However, there are still challenges with this approach.

  • The lobbying system in Brussels needs major reform and increased transparency. This is essential for a viable European democracy.

  • Transferring fiscal sovereignty to the European Parliament would bypass national institutions which currently approve taxes and budgets. This bypass already happens in other contexts but requires careful consideration.

  • The nation-states of Europe existed before the EU and their parliaments have long experience levying taxes and approving budgets. These powers cannot simply be transferred wholesale to Brussels.

  • A potential solution is creating a European Assembly with members from national parliaments and the European Parliament. This allows a European fiscal space while retaining a role for national institutions.

  • The Assembly could vote on common EU taxes and budgets. This would help demonstrate the EU’s commitment to fiscal and social justice.

  • Building the Assembly on national parliamentary sovereignty helps transform national elections into European ones. Parties would have to explain their European policies.

  • Overall, building European parliamentary sovereignty on top of national sovereignty is a promising approach for a transnational European democracy.

  • The T-Dem proposal would establish a transnational parliamentary assembly with the power to levy taxes and make budgets. This provides a new model of federalism tailored to Europe’s political realities.

  • Strict limits would be placed on fiscal transfers between member states. The goal is reducing inequality within countries rather than between them. This addresses current distrust between EU members.

  • The assembly could pool debt into a common fund, with each country servicing its own debt but at a common interest rate. This would end the crisis caused by divergent rates that emerged after 2008.

  • The proposal aims to achieve fiscal, social and environmental justice. It offers an alternative to the competitive dynamic associated with European integration.

  • Concrete trust-building measures like the transfer limits are needed now, but the long-term goal is a shared identity within a more just and cooperative union.

In summary, the T-Dem proposal lays out a concrete path for constructing a new social-federalist European Union built on justice, democracy and solidarity to overcome the current climate of division and distrust.

  • The emergency measures agreed by Eurozone countries to address the debt crisis failed to resolve long-term issues and will need to be revisited.

  • The new fiscal rules set in 2012 stipulating deficits not exceed 0.5% of GDP are unenforceable in practice due to their absurd strictness.

  • The rules require countries to run large primary budget surpluses potentially for decades to pay down high debt levels, diverting resources from investment.

  • The rules are applied inconsistently, as evidenced by the more flexible treatment of Italy versus the harsh stance taken against Greece.

  • The focus on austerity and debt repayment directs billions to bondholders rather than to productive investments in areas like education and clean energy research.

  • There should be open democratic deliberation on fiscal policy rather than technocratic rules, allowing consideration of the economic and political situation.

  • A solution could involve rescheduling debt payments over a longer horizon and requiring member states to balance primary budgets, while enabling strategic investments.

  • Overall, parliamentary democracy rather than automatic budget rules is needed for legitimate and adaptive fiscal decisions in the Eurozone.

  • The author proposes a “social-federalist” approach where a core group of European countries forms a stronger political and fiscal union called the European Parliamentary Union (EPU), while still remaining part of the broader EU.

  • The EPU would have new institutions like a European Assembly with true legislative and budgetary powers. This could enable policies to address fiscal, social, and environmental issues in a more robust way compared to the current EU structure.

  • For a peaceful transition, it would be ideal to have the four largest Eurozone countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) as part of the initial EPU. But it could still work with a smaller subset of countries.

  • Some EU countries like Luxembourg and Ireland that benefit from tax competition would likely resist this and might try to legally challenge or undermine the EPU. Tensions could arise during the transition.

  • Ultimately the biggest obstacle is political and ideological - whether large countries feel strongly enough about issues like tax competition to take proactive steps like sanctions against uncooperative states, even if it means temporarily violating EU treaties.

  • The risks of inaction may become high enough that a subgroup of countries will eventually pursue bolder steps toward integration like the EPU, despite resistance from defenders of the status quo.

  • The social-federalist transformation of Europe is urgent to address rising inequality, tax competition between countries, and the loss of sovereignty on fiscal policy. However, progress has been slow due to resistance from political leaders who still see benefits in fiscal competition.

  • Some parties like Podemos and LFI threaten to exit the EU to force change, but they lack concrete plans for new institutions and fiscal/social harmonization. This strategy risks being seen as anti-European.

  • Another risk is the “separatist trap” where wealthier regions pursue independence to keep more tax revenues, as seen in Catalonia. Support for independence rises with income and education levels.

  • Catalan regionalism shows the advantaged classes voting for autonomy, just as they supported the EU, to benefit from integration while retaining fiscal sovereignty. This pits regions against each other versus solidarity.

  • In summary, Europe needs social-federalist reforms but faces obstacles from fiscal competition defenders and separatist movements. Concrete plans and solidarity are needed to transform Europe while maintaining public support.

  • Catalonia’s desire for independence is partly driven by a desire to keep more tax revenue rather than share it with the rest of Spain. This illustrates the dangers of fiscal competition between regions.

  • The EU bears responsibility for the Catalan crisis due to its model of economic integration without fiscal solidarity or support for public goods. This pits regions against each other.

  • Small countries are susceptible to becoming tax havens, as seen in Luxembourg and Sweden which reduced tax progressivity despite having egalitarian ideologies.

  • The “social-localist” strategy of promoting equality at the local level has limits unless complemented by higher-level regulations. Efforts like blocking Google in Berlin can be circumvented.

  • Overall, the Catalan crisis shows the need to construct transnational authorities with progressive taxation and redistribution. Nationalism that simply allows regions to keep more tax revenue while undercutting neighbors is not a viable path to reducing inequality.

Here is a summary of the key points about the construction of Indian political parties and cleavages:

  • The Indian National Congress (INC) dominated Indian politics from independence in 1947 to 1990. It promoted a secular, multiconfessional vision of India and introduced quotas to help disadvantaged groups. But it relied on traditional elites and did not pursue major reforms.

  • INC’s dominance declined from the 1960s. By the 1970s it lost power briefly to an anti-INC coalition, but soon regained control.

  • From 1990-2020, India moved to a true multiparty system with alternating governments. INC’s vote share fell from 40% to 20%, though it remained substantial with allies.

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose as the main challenger to INC. It is the political arm of a Hindu nationalist organization that promotes a more exclusionary vision of Indian identity compared to INC’s secularism.

  • By the 2000s, there was increased political competition between INC representing center-left secularism and BJP representing right-wing Hindu nationalism. Regional and lower caste parties also grew in importance.

  • This reflects a politicization of ethnic and religious divides, though economic left-right conflicts remain relevant. Overall, India moved from one-party dominance to a complex multiparty system with competing visions of Indian identity.

  • In a 1939 essay, Golwalkar, a leader of the Hindu nationalist organization RSS, argued that Islam had profoundly handicapped the development of Hinduism and Indian civilization, which he saw as more refined than Christianity or Islam. This sense of humiliation under British rule fueled Hindu nationalism.

  • The RSS and BJP have proposed reviving Hindu civilization through principles like vegetarianism, respect for traditional families and Hinduism, and Sanskrit culture. But hostility to Islam is also strong, seen in violent riots fomented by Hindu groups starting in 1984 over rebuilding a temple in Ayodhya.

  • There is a persistent electoral cleavage based on caste and religion. The BJP vote is highest among upper castes like Brahmins and lower among lower castes and Muslims. Congress and left/center-left parties do better among Muslims and lower castes.

  • Over time, Congress has lost upper caste support to the BJP. It once did well across castes as the dominant independence party, but now relies more on Muslims and lower castes while the BJP captures more upper caste votes. Caste and religion have become deeply politicized divides.

  • India’s party system has shifted from a nationalist, cross-class system under Congress to a more “classist” system where upper castes vote BJP and lower castes vote Congress/left. This diverges from Western democracies where class cleavages are disappearing.

  • There is a high correlation between caste, education, income, and wealth in India. Brahmins are at the top on all measures while Muslims are near the bottom.

  • Introducing socioeconomic controls only slightly reduces the high caste effect on BJP voting and the lower caste effect against BJP. The Hindu-Muslim cleavage remains pronounced. This suggests caste itself, beyond just socioeconomics, shapes political cleavages.

  • Quota policies likely reinforce caste-based voting since they distribute resources based on caste rather than income/wealth.

  • Lower-caste Hindus and Muslims vote together against BJP, unlike working class whites and minorities in the West. Quotas created solidarity between OBC Hindus and Muslims in defending the system.

So in summary, India has developed classist voting cleavages based on caste identity itself, not just socioeconomics, shaped by the quota system and party strategies.

  • Parties representing lower castes have played a major role since 1990 in politicizing inequality and mobilizing disadvantaged groups in India. This has created some solidarity between disadvantaged Hindus and Muslims, similar to how disadvantaged blacks and whites were brought together by New Deal policies in the US.

  • However, there are also forces deepening religious and identitarian cleavages, especially the BJP stirring up hostility against Muslims. The BJP has tried to split lower-caste Hindu voters away from Muslims.

  • Conflicts over the boundaries of the national community, such as debates over secularism and multiculturalism, have taken precedence over issues of redistribution that require agreement on the community’s contours.

  • Nevertheless, the BJP’s pro-business policies have increased inequality, giving an opening to parties like Congress that proposed redistributive policies like a basic income scheme. Spending on health and education has stagnated or declined.

  • The future will depend on the relative strength of classist redistributive forces versus identitarian nationalist forces. But redistribution requires first defining the boundaries of the community.

  • The Congress Party’s proposal for a basic income scheme called NYAY had some shortcomings, including lack of detail on financing and not going far enough on progressive taxation. This was likely due to fear of backlash from BJP and business interests.

  • India’s political evolution has seen the importance of class cleavages increase since 1990, unlike in the West where it has declined. Hindu and Muslim lower classes vote together unlike divisions in the West.

  • The future trajectory of India could range from increased identity/religious conflicts to a secularist redistributive coalition. India’s experience with affirmative action quotas is also evolving and shifting from caste to income/wealth.

  • Political changes in Europe/US will impact India’s trajectory. If the West turns to more progressive taxation, it could enable a coalition like SP-BSP’s proposed wealth tax. If the West continues a race to the bottom on taxes, it will be harder for such a coalition in India.

  • Brazil saw a classist party system emerge from 1989-2018 with PT representing lower classes. This led to some redistribution and interacted with global forces. Bolsonaro’s election in 2018 marked a nationalist conservative turn.

The key points are:

  • In Brazil, voting for the Workers’ Party (PT) became associated with lower income and education levels over time, unlike in the early post-dictatorship elections.

  • PT governments focused on reducing poverty through programs like Bolsa Familia, which benefited lower income groups. This made PT popular among poorer groups but seen negatively by elites.

  • PT was unable to make major changes to Brazil’s regressive tax structure. Social policies were paid for by the middle class rather than the wealthy.

  • Inequality was reduced at the bottom but not the top. The lack of a parliamentary majority made major reforms difficult.

  • Two main political cleavages can be seen across societies: identitarian revolving around community boundaries, and classist revolving around inequality/redistribution. The weakening wealth cleavage and strengthened identity cleavage since the 1980s helps explain rising inequality.

  • The term “populism” is unhelpful for understanding current political conflicts, which involve multiple dimensions like attitudes to wealth and borders. It is often used by the privileged to dismiss dissent.

  • Political conflicts should be analyzed carefully in their multidimensionality. Lumping very different groups like socialist and nativists as “populist” obscures more than it reveals.

  • The debate about populism stifles needed discussion about issues like debt relief. Dismissing such ideas as inherently “populist” ignores relevant history and complexity.

  • The demand to address issues like debt may be confused but is legitimate. The response should be to open up debate on details and solutions, not shut it down by branding views as “populist.”

  • The populism debate may foster dangerous identity politics by obscuring key political cleavages and issues. A more nuanced analysis is needed.

In summary, the populism concept muddles more than it clarifies. A careful, contextual analysis of specific political conflicts and demands is required, without resorting to simplistic labeling.

  • The term “populism” is vague and can be used both positively and negatively. It is better to focus on specific policies and institutions rather than using this ambiguous term.

  • Historical change happens through short-term mobilization combined with longer-term institutional and intellectual evolution, not just through populist force. The US People’s Party in the late 19th/early 20th century played a role in the shift that led to the income tax and other progressive policies.

  • The reversal of the education cleavage in voting in many countries shows common factors matter more than national specificities. But local variations like family structure also play a role.

  • In eastern Europe after communism, economic liberalization did not always pair with political liberalization. Illiberal political tendencies emerged in Hungary and Poland based on identity cleavages like nationalism and traditional values rather than class.

  • In western Europe, the 2008 crisis strengthened populist parties on both left and right exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment. But traditional parties remain stronger overall.

  • The key is to focus on policies and institutions for an equitable society, allowing class cleavages to again take priority over identity.

Here is a summary of the key points made in this section:

  • The left argues for stronger European integration to counter nationalist forces, but this risks fueling further nativist backlash.

  • The right calls for returning power to the nation-state, but this could intensify competition between states.

  • New supranational institutions and processes are needed to regulate global capitalism and provide global public goods.

  • Reform is difficult due to unanimity rules giving veto power to individual states.

  • Possible reforms include new parliamentary assemblies, increased majority voting in the EU, international coordination on corporate taxes, and progressive global wealth taxes.

  • Ultimately the goal should be “ever closer union” via democratic means, not interstate competition. But this requires convincing metropolitan elites and peripheries there is an alternative to nationalism.

  • The qualified majority rule for EU decision-making requires 55% of countries representing 65% of the EU population. This was introduced in the Lisbon Treaty and has been in effect since 2014, replacing a previous system of weighted national votes.

  • The Eurogroup is an informal body of euro area finance ministers that became important during the euro crisis, despite having no treaty basis.

  • The Eurogroup’s poor crisis management helps explain the 2011-2012 recession in Europe.

  • More federalist EU reform proposals have envisioned a stronger European Parliament, but not one that could override a council of member states on major issues.

  • The proposed “Democratization Treaty” would create a new European Assembly with representatives from national parliaments that could adopt the EU budget and taxes.

  • The Assembly could better enable member states to tax corporations and wealthy individuals at the European level.

  • The treaty could be adopted by willing member states without violating existing EU rules or forcing countries to remain in the EU against their will.

Here is a summary of the key points from the excerpt of the “Manifesto for the Democratization of Europe” article 10:

  • The German proposal for a “redemption fund” aimed to reduce total debt to 60% of GDP over 20-30 years at a fixed rate, but this is unrealistic without flexibility for economic changes.

  • Net migration flows into Europe were around 1 million per year from 2000-2010, then fell to 0.7 million from 2010-2018 despite the 2015 refugee spike. This is only 0.2-0.3% of population annually.

  • The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG) sets a deficit target of 0.5% of GDP, stricter than the old 3% deficit rule, showing the lack of democratic debate on fiscal rules.

  • Greece was threatened with Eurozone expulsion in 2015 if it did not accept strict conditions on reforms without parliamentary oversight, further circumventing democracy.

  • The proposed T-Dem treaty would allow a subset of willing states to issue common bonds for investment under democratic supervision, moving towards fiscal federalism.

  • T-Dem would also increase ECB oversight and allow states to leave the euro if desired, enhancing monetary sovereignty. The goal is to open discussion on democratization.

  • Countries can unilaterally tax profits shifted by multinationals to tax havens, if they cooperate to define a common tax base. This only requires political will, not changing global rules.

  • The process of EU integration has been slow due to lack of political will and democratic control. More political integration and democratic control is needed.

  • Social-democratic parties like Spain’s PSOE abandoned ambitious redistribution policies too quickly. Regional tensions emerged as a result.

  • Nordic social democracies like Sweden went too far in abolishing inheritance and wealth taxes. This contributed to rising inequality.

  • Progressive taxation faces threats from tax competition between states and anti-tax lobbying. International coordination and democratic control over globalization are necessary.

The key ideas are that unilateral actions by states are possible, further political integration is needed in bodies like the EU, and recent policy shifts have undermined egalitarian taxation. Democratic control and progressive international coordination are essential to remedy this.

  • The threat of socialism and left-wing ideologies is taken very seriously by the current U.S. administration, as evidenced by the White House Council of Economic Advisors’ report against socialism. Significant resources have been allocated to fight this ideological battle.

  • It remains to be seen if this anti-socialist rhetoric will lead to real policy changes if the Democrats come to power, given the record of past Democratic administrations.

  • The passage then transitions to discussing party dynamics and voting patterns in India. Key points:

  • The Hindu nationalist BJP party has risen dramatically since the 1990s at the expense of the more secular Congress party.

  • Voting patterns show sharp cleavages along religious and caste lines. Muslims and lower castes vote for secular parties, higher castes for BJP.

  • Strategies of Modi’s BJP have exacerbated religious divides. But class divides have also grown as BJP gains more upper class votes.

  • Overall, the Indian case demonstrates how identity-based politics and dramatization of cultural cleavages can thrive in modern democracies.

  • Modi’s BJP party in India has exploited religious antagonism between Hindus and Muslims to gain political support, similar to accusations of “Islamo-leftism” in France.

  • The BJP’s policies have led to increased inequality and poverty among Muslims and lower castes in India.

  • In Brazil, the PT party under Lula and Rousseff initially reduced inequality through social programs, but was limited by the need to compromise with elite interests.

  • Political conflict in Brazil is multidimensional, involving regional divisions and racial issues as well as class. The PT lost support among higher income and more educated voters.

  • In Israel, the left has lost working class voters to right-wing parties, reflecting ideological shifts and ethnic divisions between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews.

  • The examples illustrate how distributional politics interacts with other social cleavages beyond pure economic class interests. This can limit the scope for redistribution.

Here is a summary of the key points about a participatory socialism for the 21st century from the given passage:

  • A just society allows all members access to fundamental goods like education, healthcare, voting rights, and participation in social, cultural, economic and political life.

  • It organizes socioeconomic relations and distributes income/wealth to allow the least advantaged members to enjoy the highest possible life conditions.

  • Some inequality arising from different aspirations/choices or improving standards for the disadvantaged may be considered just, but this must be demonstrated, not assumed.

  • Equality of access to fundamental goods should be absolute (e.g. no deprivation of voting rights, education, healthcare for some groups).

  • The contours of a new participatory socialism entail:

  • New forms of social ownership, with temporary private property rights and steeply progressive wealth taxes to enable circulation of property and wealth.

  • Progressive income taxes, universal basic incomes, and educational justice.

  • Reorganization of the global economy towards transnational democracy for social, fiscal and environmental justice.

  • Deliberation and mobilization for change are key - ideology will continue to play a central role.

  • Grand declarations like those in the French Revolution or US Declaration of Independence did little to prevent large inequalities or unjust systems like slavery and colonialism in those countries.

  • Hence, we should be wary of abstract general principles and focus instead on how principles are embodied in specific policies and institutions.

  • The participatory socialism proposals discussed are based on historical lessons, especially from 20th century transformations of inequality. They are intended for 21st century societies.

  • The proposals draw from the democratic socialist tradition, like worker involvement in corporate governance, but aim to move beyond previous social democracy.

  • The core ideas are to transcend capitalism and private property through greater power sharing in firms and making ownership temporary via progressive taxes to finance universal capital endowment.

  • Legal and fiscal changes in the 20th century like renter protections and progressive taxes already placed limits on private property rights. More extensive reforms could further advance social ownership.

  • Worker voting rights in Germany and Sweden are examples of power sharing in firms that could be built upon.

  • Progressive taxes on inheritances and incomes have made ownership temporary; higher rates could enhance this.

  • The proposals are put forth to spur experimentation and collective deliberation, not as definitive solutions. Improving justice requires ongoing debate.

  • Germano-Nordic co-management, where workers get half the board seats in firms, has been successful in promoting worker involvement, counterbalancing short-term financial interests, and developing a more productive and egalitarian economic model. It should be extended to other countries.

  • Co-management could be improved by reducing wealth inequality to allow workers to acquire shares, and by capping the voting rights of large shareholders in big firms.

  • Other proposals like electing some board members through a joint shareholder-worker assembly could also facilitate new deliberations and coalitions.

  • Private property and ownership will likely continue playing a role in a just society, so institutional arrangements are needed to prevent unlimited wealth concentration, which does not serve the general interest.

  • Historically, extreme wealth inequality has not been necessary for prosperity and industrial development. Progressive taxes on inheritances, income, and especially wealth can help prevent this.

  • An annual progressive wealth tax is important to complement income and inheritance taxes, as wealth itself indicates capacity to contribute and is harder to manipulate. It can help achieve true circulation of capital.

  • A progressive wealth tax can adapt more quickly to changes in wealth and ability to pay than inheritance taxes, which rely on wealth being passed down at death.

  • Annual wealth taxes like property taxes generate more revenue and are less unpopular than inheritance taxes. Polls show support for progressive annual wealth taxes but dislike of inheritance taxes.

  • Wealth has remained highly concentrated, with the bottom 50% owning just 5-10% of wealth. Broader diffusion of wealth is needed for economic participation.

  • Agrarian land reform has aimed to diffuse wealth, but has limitations. A universal capital endowment financed by progressive taxes on property and inheritances could better diffuse wealth broadly.

  • The tax system should include three progressive components: a property tax, an inheritance tax, and an income tax. Together these could finance a universal capital endowment as well as basic income and the welfare state.

  • The property and inheritance taxes could yield around 5% of national income to fund the capital endowment. The income tax around 45% to fund basic income and the welfare state.

  • Precise parameters require democratic discussion, but this system could enable broader circulation of wealth and economic participation.

  • The author proposes a system of participatory socialism with two main pillars: social ownership and shared voting rights in firms, and temporary ownership and circulation of capital.

  • For firms, the author suggests giving workers collectively 50% of voting rights on corporate boards. This would give workers greater say and power in company decisions.

  • For capital, the author proposes taxing large inheritances and wealth to fund a capital endowment of 60% of average wealth to be given to all young adults at age 25. This would promote a circulation of wealth.

  • To fund these proposals, the author suggests highly progressive tax rates on the largest inheritances and highest incomes, such as 60-90% taxes on fortunes over 100 times the average wealth or income.

  • The proposals aim to transcend capitalism through diffusing economic power more broadly (via power sharing in firms) and circulating capital more widely (via the capital endowment scheme).

  • The author sees these proposals as a culmination of an evolution away from private capitalism that began in the 19th and 20th centuries. The proposals would achieve a genuine transcendence of capitalism, in the author’s view.

  • Progressive taxation originated in the early 20th century as part of a social democratic project to reduce inequality, but this stalled in the 1980s due to the failure of social democrats to innovate and the rise of deregulation after the fall of Soviet communism.

  • Since the 2008 crisis, there has been renewed interest in progressive taxation and other policies to address inequality. The progressive property tax proposed by the author builds on the legacy of progressive taxes in the 20th century to make ownership temporary rather than permanent.

  • Ideally such policies would be implemented internationally, but even individual countries like the US and France have considerable room to maneuver. They can enforce progressive taxes and wealth transparency unilaterally if they have the political will.

  • For example, France quadrupled its wealth tax receipts from 1990-2018 despite lax enforcement. With greater transparency on ownership and cooperation from banks, countries could transform existing property taxes into progressive taxes on net wealth regardless of how assets are held.

  • The key obstacles are political and ideological rather than technical. Experiments with innovative policies for reducing inequality are needed to pave the way for broader change.

  • Implementing new forms of fiscal progressivity and wealth circulation may require constitutional changes in some countries. Constitutions often enshrine strong property rights and limit progressive taxation.

  • Constitutional amendments enacted democratic reforms in the past, like allowing income taxes in the US in 1913. Similar amendments may be needed to enable new policies today.

  • Constitutions should explicitly state principles of fiscal justice and require governments to publish detailed tax data. This prevents judges from obstructing progressive taxes.

  • Constitutional courts have sometimes struck down progressive fiscal and social policies, based on ideological views rather than law. Judges should not be allowed to set specific tax rates.

  • Constitutions must precisely define fiscal justice while leaving room for legislatures to determine appropriate progressivity levels. This prevents judicial overreach on economic policy.

  • Constitutional courts are important institutions but can overstep if judges inject partisan interests. Reforms should aim to check potential judicial abuses in fiscal and social domains.

  • The progressive income tax is essential for financing the welfare state and public spending on areas like education and health. It is more transparent and fairer than indirect taxes like VAT.

  • The basic income/minimum guaranteed income plays an important role in providing a floor for low incomes. But social justice requires going beyond that to transform the entire distribution of income and wealth.

  • Other key institutions for achieving a just society and wage include the educational system, labor laws, wage bargaining systems, and worker participation in firms.

  • Marginal tax rates of 70-90% on top incomes can help compress the pay scale and raise lower incomes. High overall tax rates are needed to fund ambitious social programs.

  • The basic income supplements but does not replace this broader institutional framework for achieving a just distribution of income and power. It should not be seen as a standalone solution.

  • Progressive taxation of carbon emissions is needed to combat climate change and reduce inequality. The carbon tax should be integrated into the progressive income tax system to compensate lower- and middle-class households and fund the transition to renewable energy.

  • The tax should not be the only approach - regulations and standards are also important. All carbon tax revenue should be redistributed to protect ordinary citizens.

  • A true progressive carbon tax could tax the heaviest individual emitters more, with small emitters taxed little if at all. This could help establish a norm of environmental justice.

  • Educational justice is also critical. There are huge inequalities in access to higher education, with opportunities strongly linked to parents’ income. Left-wing parties need to focus more on lower- and middle-class children if they want to regain lost voters.

  • In France’s education system, there are enormous disparities in public investment per student, ranging from 65,000-70,000 euros for the bottom 10% to 200,000-300,000 euros for the top 10%. This shows the system is not truly egalitarian or meritocratic.

  • Overall, progressive taxation and greater educational equality are needed to construct norms of justice and strengthen participatory socialism.

  • There are large disparities in public educational investment per student in France, ranging from 65,000-70,000 euros for the bottom 10% to 200,000-300,000 euros for the top 10%.

  • These gaps are equivalent to substantial inheritance inequalities and tend to reinforce them.

  • Private educational investments further widen these inequalities in countries like the US.

  • Possible principles for just distribution of educational investment are providing equal public funding per child and allowing unused funds to be used later for training.

  • Greater transparency is needed in how educational funds are allocated. Goals could be equalizing teacher pay and increasing investment in disadvantaged schools.

  • Admissions procedures should take social origins into account through individual factors like parental income or quotas by neighborhood/school. This requires experimentation, debate and adaptation.

  • Overall, transparency is essential for developing norms of educational justice that inspire collective confidence in the system. Countries need to learn from experiments elsewhere while crafting solutions specific to their context.

  • Inequality regimes are intimately tied to political regimes throughout history. Transforming inequality requires changing political rules.

  • Parliamentary democracy has limitations in addressing rising inequality today. Constitutional and legal changes may be needed to enable policies like corporate co-management, wealth taxes.

  • Political campaign financing can influence priorities and policies on inequality. Comprehensive reform is needed.

  • Promising ideas include “democratic equality vouchers” - providing citizens equal public funds to allocate to parties/movements annually. This could help counter big money interests.

  • Other political reforms worth exploring: proportional voting systems, participatory budgeting, sortition (selecting officials randomly), giving immigrants voting rights.

  • The goal is to empower ordinary citizens and counter the outsized influence of wealth in politics. Political regime reform is key for progress on inequality.

  • Democratic equality vouchers would provide public financing for political parties in a more egalitarian way compared to the current system. Citizens would receive a voucher that they can allocate to a party of their choice. This avoids biasing the political process towards the wealthy as occurs with private political financing.

  • The voucher system could also be applied to replace tax deductions for charitable contributions, which currently subsidize the preferences of the rich. The sums lost to these deductions could instead be reallocated as vouchers to all citizens.

  • Expanding direct democracy through vouchers, participatory budgeting, and referendums can make representative democracy more participatory. However, parliamentary deliberation remains indispensable for most budget decisions.

  • Current international rules like free trade agreements contradict national sovereignty over fiscal and social policies. This threatens the global system.

  • A solution is “treaties for codevelopment” that promote equitable and sustainable development through common goals on issues like taxation and carbon emissions. Democratic deliberation procedures can help develop these accords.

  • The goal should be trade and finance as means to higher ends, not ends in themselves. This can help resolve the contradictions between global economic integration and national policy autonomy.

  • Development strategies have had varying degrees of success and failure. The norm today is for countries to devote 1% of GDP to developmental assistance, which is substantial but not extraordinarily generous.

  • Ideas of transnational and global justice play an increasing role in debates about issues like the environment, climate change, and biodiversity. However, there is often hypocrisy and inconsistency in these debates. For example, countries agreed to limit global warming in Paris but then signed trade deals enabling increased emissions.

  • A major contradiction is around the free circulation of people versus goods and capital. Borders are open for goods and money but not for people. This has fueled nativist political movements in recent decades.

  • For transnational justice, the proposal is to create transnational assemblies to handle issues like global public goods and fiscal justice. This could start with regional unions and then expand more broadly over time. Limits on financial transfers may be needed initially to build trust.

  • The goal is to move decision-making into an open, deliberative setting instead of closed-door meetings dictated by national interests. This could transform debates on issues like taxing multinationals, climate change, migration, etc.

  • The author describes an ideal scenario where transnational democratic assemblies could approve policies like free movement of people, equal access to education globally, and progressive taxation at the transnational level. However, currently EU states struggle to agree on common taxes and policies.

  • Two principles should guide reform of globalization: propose a new cooperative framework before abandoning existing structures, and allow subgroups of countries to move toward social federalism together while remaining open to others joining later.

  • Rather than totally abandoning existing trade/finance agreements, new arrangements should be proposed that still allow investment but improve transparency. Sanctions on non-cooperating states should be reversible.

  • In the absence of full cooperation on taxing multinationals, individual countries could tax profits of companies based on their sales in that country. This transitional system could pave the way for better global cooperation on tax.

  • Similar logic could apply to taxing wealthy individuals and carbon emissions. The goal is to establish inclusive cooperation, not heighten tensions. Progress may be gradual, but some countries could lead the way.

Social democratic capitalism, which developed in the 1980s, is in crisis as rising inequality has made lower and middle classes wary of economic liberalism. This has fueled nationalist and authoritarian movements that could challenge the current trade system. Nationalist ideology will likely intensify competition between states, leading to fiscal and social dumping while encouraging anti-immigrant policies to unite native populations against foreign enemies. This is already happening in Europe, the US, India, Brazil, and China. To overcome these contradictions, we must move toward participatory and internationalist socialism based on social-federalist structures and a new cooperative world economy. While not answering every question, some solutions could gradually enable progress, demonstrating societies’ capacity to imagine new ideological and institutional arrangements. The future will require transnational ideologies, but no society can live without an ideology to justify its inequalities.

  • The proposed tax system consists of a progressive tax on property, a progressive tax on inheritance, and a progressive income tax, along with a carbon tax. No indirect taxes like VAT.

  • The property tax would yield around 4% of national income, the inheritance tax around 1%. Total revenues from these wealth taxes would be around 5% of national income.

  • The property tax would apply annual rates up to 2% on the largest fortunes. The inheritance tax would apply marginal rates up to 90% on the largest inheritances.

  • A universal capital endowment of 60% of average wealth (around 120,000 euros in Europe) would be paid to all young adults around age 25, financed by the inheritance tax revenues.

  • The progressive income tax would apply marginal rates up to 60% on the highest incomes. Combined with the wealth taxes, this would help reduce inequality and concentrated wealth and power.

  • The tax system aims to promote justice and equal opportunity. The revenues raised would allow investments in education, health, and the environment.

  • The inheritance tax schedule in Table 17.1 proposes rates up to 90% on the largest inheritances, to finance a universal capital endowment of 120,000 euros per young adult. This would require extensive discussion.

  • Tax schedules should apply to joint income of couples divided in half, as brackets are defined by individual income/wealth. Compensating children is better handled through basic income and family allowances rather than tax deductions.

  • Lower capital gains tax rates than labor income tax rates, as in Sweden in 1991, leads to unproductive income shifting. Capital and labor income should be taxed at the same rates.

  • Exempting “productive” capital from taxation makes little sense, as all capital and labor are productive. Exemptions risk leaving little left to tax.

  • Large-scale experiments with new policies are needed after electoral victories to produce decisive perception changes.

  • A progressive wealth tax and inheritance tax could finance a universal capital endowment. Real estate tax could be made progressive like the former ISF wealth tax in France.

  • Legal reforms may be needed to enable progressive taxes, such as constitutional amendments in the US. But overwhelmingly adopting progressive taxes can shift perceptions over time.

  • Hollande’s government did not fully implement his campaign promise to create a 75% tax bracket on incomes over 1 million euros. Ultimately, a temporary surtax was applied only to firms paying salaries over 1 million euros in 2013-2014.

  • Revenues from a progressive income tax, wealth tax, and carbon tax should be sufficient to finance a social state providing basic services and a basic income to lower income groups.

  • The basic income should be integrated into the income tax system, paid automatically based on income reported on tax returns, in order to reinforce the social contract.

  • Carbon taxes should be made progressive based on consumption or income level to account for inequality in emissions.

  • Inequality in access to education plays a key role in reproducing inequality and must be addressed, particularly regarding access to higher education based on parental income.

  • Educational budgets should be rebalanced to avoid extreme concentration of resources in elite institutions attended by a small minority, and to improve access to higher education.

  • Local taxes largely finance secondary education in the U.S., leading to inequality. Possible solutions include charging high tuition to wealthier students to subsidize poorer ones, or using educational capital allotments before age 25.

  • Spending on the bottom 90% of French students should be raised to the level of the top 10% (currently 200,000 euros per year) despite the significant cost of 2.5-3% of national income.

  • Social and racial quotas and bonuses should be used transparently and continuously based on parental income to promote diversity in schools. Meritocracy has limits.

  • Private education and foundations serving private interests should be taxed more to fund public education. Media and platforms should be regulated to promote democratic deliberation.

  • An egalitarian voucher system could allow citizens to allocate a portion of their taxes to causes of their choice.

  • Referendums are useful for complex issues like Brexit if alternatives are clearly presented and campaign financing is regulated.

  • Parliamentary diversity should be encouraged through social quotas or sortition. Capital mobility rules that enable tax evasion should be challenged.

  • The history of human societies can be seen as a continual struggle between competing ideologies about justice and equality. Ideas and ideologies matter greatly in shaping history.

  • The study of the history of inequality involves examining the systems and constructs that societies have created to justify and structure inequality, from premodern to modern times.

  • Today’s inequality regimes and how they are justified must be scrutinized carefully, drawing lessons from disasters like 20th century communism.

  • The struggle is not just between oppressors and the oppressed. Both sides have created sophisticated intellectual and institutional constructs that need close study.

  • The struggle of ideologies involves shared knowledge, respectful deliberation, and democracy, unlike just the clash of classes. No one has absolute truth about justice.

  • To achieve human emancipation, we must understand which social and economic arrangements truly further justice and equality. History shows the complexity of these issues.

  • The quest for justice is ongoing. Conclusions about inequality are always tentative and require more research and reflection. But studying history can clarify ideas about equality.

  • The history of human societies can be seen as a quest for justice, involving the struggle of ideologies and clearly defined positions and antagonists.

  • Capitalism and private property can be superseded by participatory socialism and social federalism. This requires power sharing between workers and shareholders, progressive taxation, universal capital endowment, collective regulation of emissions, and reorganization of the global economy through new treaties.

  • These conclusions may seem radical but belong to the historical movement toward democratic socialism since the late 19th century, interrupted by the conservative revolution of the 1980s.

  • Multiple trajectories are possible depending on the balance of power and interaction of events with intellectual evolutions. Avoiding fundamental change risks intensifying conflict.

  • The author has tried to decenter the Western-centric view of inequality regimes, using India as an example of overcoming caste legacy through quotas and reservations. But the book remains unbalanced towards Europe and the US.

  • The author’s gaze is shaped by cultural roots and limits of knowledge, reading mainly in French and English. More work is needed on other inequality regimes.

  • The author’s personal history likely also shapes perspectives, but studying history and new sources led to developing the ideas presented. Self-awareness of one’s progress is important.

  • Social scientists have a civic and political role to promote deliberation and comparison of diverse perspectives. New experiences can lead to evolution of thought. Truth emerges from contradictory debate.

Here are a few key points summarizing the content on ternary societies and European societies of orders in chapters 1-2:

  • Ternary societies structured around three groups - clergy, nobility, and commoners - were the predominant form of social organization in premodern societies around the world. This trifunctional logic helped justify social inequality.

  • In Europe, ternary societies evolved into “societies of orders” in the Middle Ages and early modern period, with power and privilege concentrated among hereditary elites in the clergy and nobility.

  • The clergy and nobility in countries like France controlled a large share of land and resources, but their numbers shrank over time, especially in the 18th century.

  • Various factors contributed to the decline of the old aristocracy, including rising commercial wealth, venality of offices, and changing inheritance practices.

  • The weakening of the traditional elites was one factor that contributed to the delegitimation of the old social order and paved the way for challenges to aristocratic privilege, from the French Revolution onwards.

  • Ternary social structures continued to influence developing societies into the 20th century, though the global spread of modern ideologies led to new bases for challenging traditional hierarchies.

This chapter discusses the nobility as a propertied class between the French Revolution and Restoration, the wealth of the Christian church versus wealthy families, ecclesiastical property as the basis of economic law and capitalism, the invention of modern property rights in 1789, the transition from feudalism to proprietarianism, and the transformation of knowledge, power and emancipation in ternary societies leading to new concepts of justice and inequality. Key points include:

  • The nobility retained significant property and privileges after the French Revolution, posing challenges for establishing equality.

  • The church accumulated vast wealth, competing with noble families over inheritance. Church property was seen as a basis for capitalism.

  • The “Great Demarcation” of 1789 established modern property rights, moving from feudal relations to proprietarianism based on absolute ownership.

  • Ternary societies underwent major shifts in knowledge, power and justice as a result of these property transformations.

  • New ideologies emerged justifying inequality under proprietarianism and ownership societies.

In summary, the chapter examines how modern property rights took shape after the French Revolution, transforming traditional ternary social structures and giving rise to new proprietarian justifications for inequality.

Here is a summary of the key points from the chapters you listed on the reformability of party-managed democracy, postcommunism, inequality, and the dimensions of political conflict:

  • Postcommunist societies in Eastern Europe experienced widespread disillusionment with democracy and market reforms in the 1990s, termed “postcommunist depression.” This was driven by rising inequality, loss of social protections, and perceived capture of the state by oligarchic elites.

  • The European Union has pushed market liberalization and privatization policies that have exacerbated inequality in postcommunist countries. This has fueled a social-nativist backlash against the EU.

  • Hypercapitalism has led to extreme inequality within and between countries in the 21st century. Top global wealth holders have captured a growing share of wealth.

  • Inequality manifests in opaque ways, including lack of fiscal transparency and absent or poor quality public statistics in many countries. This opacity prevents informed democratic deliberation.

  • The left vote has increasingly become a vote of the highly educated rather than the manual working class. This reflects an electoral reversal where the left has become a “Brahmin left” party.

  • Identitarian and nativist political divides have risen alongside this left-right economic cleavage. This takes different forms in Europe versus settler colonial states like the US.

  • A social-nativist trap has emerged from these tensions. Europe needs new social-federalist visions to overcome this, while avoiding separatism and localism.

  • More participatory, egalitarian, and socially federated models of democracy are needed to overcome these multidimensional 21st century political divides.

Here are the key points summarizing the figures and content related to “erspective”:

  • Figures depict trends in inequality, wealth concentration, incomes, taxation, public debt, demographics, political conflict, and other socioeconomic indicators over time, often in a comparative perspective between different countries or regions.

  • Several figures illustrate the extreme inequality and wealth concentration in colonial societies, especially in European colonies.

  • Figures compare inequality trajectories and political dynamics in European countries like France, the UK, Germany, as well as the US, showing educational and ideological reversals.

  • Data shows the decline of left-wing, worker-based parties and the rise of right-wing, populist parties in recent decades.

  • Figures also depict inequality, caste politics, and religious conflict in India over time.

  • There is a global comparative perspective showing international inequality, wealth concentration, carbon emissions across countries.

  • Overall, the figures provide empirical support for the book’s analysis of economic, social and political inequality and conflict from a historical, international, and comparative perspective.

Based on the summary, some key points about agricultural castes, Algeria, algorithms, All the Money in the World, Americanah, Ancien Régime, anti-immigrant groups/parties, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-intellectual sentiments, anti-terror laws, apartheid system, asset prices, assortative mating, Atkinson, Austen, balance sheets, Balzac, basic income, Beckert, Bolsheviks, Bolsonaro, bonds, borders, bourgeois, Brahmins, Brazil, Brexit, British Raj, British shipbuilding industry, British textile industry, British West Indies, brothers, budget, Bullock Commission, burakumin, business tax, Calhoun, Canada, capital, capital endowment, capital flight, capital flows, capital in the 21st century, capitalism, carbon emissions, cash transfers, caste, Catalan independence, Catholic Church, Catholics, Cedular tax, censitary suffrage, centralized state, China, Christian doctrine, church, civic platform, civilizing mission, class, classist cleavage, class struggles in France, clergy, codevelopment treaties, colonialism, colonialist ideology seem to be:

  • Agricultural castes were important parts of the Indian caste system, constituting over 300 castes and over 40% of the population.

  • Algeria experienced extreme inequality under French colonial rule. The legacy of colonialism continued to influence politics and inequality after independence.

  • Algorithms in the French education system have contributed to reproducing inequality.

  • The film All the Money in the World highlighted extreme wealth inequality.

  • The novel Americanah provides insights into inequality, race, and migration.

  • The French Ancien Régime was dominated by nobility, clergy, and commoners, with debate over the proportions of each group. The nobility and clergy shrank over time.

  • Anti-immigrant sentiment has risen in many countries, influencing politics and parties.

  • Anti-intellectual sentiments have accompanied nativist movements.

  • Apartheid in South Africa was an extreme system of legislated racial inequality.

  • Asset prices can be influenced by monetary policy interventions.

  • Assortative mating exacerbates inequality as elites marry each other.

  • Anthony Atkinson was an influential economist who studied inequality.

  • Jane Austen’s novels depicted the British landed elite.

  • Central bank balance sheets expanded greatly after the 2008 crisis.

  • The novelist Balzac portrayed inequality in 19th century France.

  • Basic income has been proposed by some as a response to inequality.

  • Sven Beckert studied the role of force and expropriation in the origins of inequality.

  • The Bolsheviks overthrew the unequal tsarist regime in Russia.

  • Jair Bolsonaro rose to power in Brazil on a far-right populist agenda.

  • Bonds and public debt contributed to the growth of inequality.

  • Borders and debates over them have been influenced by inequality and identity politics.

  • The term bourgeois emerged to describe the property-owning middle class.

  • Brahmins were at the top of the Indian caste hierarchy and remain influential.

  • Brazil has extremely high inequality rooted in its history of slavery and oligarchy.

  • Brexit embodied a revolt against economic integration by less advantaged groups.

  • British colonial rule in India exacerbated caste and religious divides.

  • Major British industries like shipbuilding and textiles contributed to inequality at home and imperialism abroad.

  • Slavery and its abolition shaped the West Indies.

  • The novel Brothers depicted inequality in modern China.

  • Government budgets and taxation are central to addressing inequality.

  • John C. Calhoun was a US proponent of slavery and inequality.

  • Canada has negotiated trade deals with the EU as an alternative to the US.

  • The ownership and taxation of capital are central issues in inequality.

  • Carbon emissions are extremely unequal between countries and social groups. Taxing them can address climate change.

  • Cash transfers have been used as a policy tool to reduce poverty.

  • The caste system has been central to inequality in India throughout its history.

  • Movements for Catalan independence reflect regional and nationalist tensions.

  • The Catholic Church amassed vast property and wealth, influencing the development of capitalism.

  • Class conflict has been tempered through welfare states and taxation.

  • Colonialism imposed tremendous inequality between countries.

  • Ideologies of colonialism and racism justified European imperialism.

Here is a summary of the key points about decolonization, European power rivalries, and inequality in communist and postcommunist societies:

  • Decolonization began in the mid-20th century, ending European colonial rule in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. This was driven by independence movements and shifting global power dynamics after WWII (pp. 19-20, 870).

  • European imperial powers had long rivalries over colonies, resources, and influence. These tensions contributed to the outbreak of WWI and WWII (pp. 277-278).

  • Communist societies aimed to abolish private property and class divisions but often ended up creating new elite classes and inequality. After the fall of communism, many postcommunist countries saw a rise in inequality and oligarchic capitalism (pp. 578-647).

  • In Russia, “shock therapy” privatization enabled a kleptocratic class to seize assets and wealth (pp. 601-606). China allowed growing inequality as it transitioned to a market economy (pp. 606-611, 617-622).

  • Offshore wealth and tax avoidance surged in Russia and other postcommunist countries as inequality grew (pp. 599-601). The EU expanded market logic but failed to establish transnational fiscal justice (pp. 641-645).

  • Social nativism emerged in Eastern Europe as a backlash to growing inequality and the social changes after communism (pp. 871-877).

So in summary, decolonization reshaped global politics but did not always change inequality within new nations. And the transition from communism often opened the door to new forms of oligarchy and unfair wealth concentration, sparking nationalist backlashes.

  • The chapter examines political cleavages, electoral trends, and ideological divisions from 1945 to the present in France and other European countries.

  • It analyzes the declining turnout and left-wing vote of the disadvantaged classes, as well as the rise of nativism, ethno-racial divides, and religious conflict.

  • The left has struggled to maintain the support of the working class and lower-income groups due to educational inequalities, social divisions, and the weakening of traditional class identities.

  • At the same time, the right has appealed more to the self-employed, business owners, and higher-income groups using neo-liberal and neo-proprietarian ideologies.

  • This has led to a four-way division between an internationalist elite left, a nativist left, a merchant right, and an identarian right, fragmenting national electorates.

  • The chapter calls for new norms of educational justice, progressive taxation, an egalitarian ethos, and reforms to rebuild trust in international cooperation and shared identity to counteract these divides.

  • It advocates constructing a transnational European parliamentary union and democratic federalism to regulate capitalism justly and reconnect citizens to democratic sovereignty.

Here is a summary of the key points about France from the passages:

  • Private property was central in France, with privatization of companies and progressive taxes on income and wealth. Public capital and public debt also played important roles.

  • France went through major political transformations, from the French Revolution which overturned the aristocratic order, to the rise of social democracy and socialist-communist alliances in the 20th century.

  • France was a highly unequal and hierarchical society under the Ancien Régime, with nobility dominating the Third Estate. The French Revolution promised greater equality but rising inequality returned in the 19th century.

  • France had a large colonial empire, extracting resources and taxes from colonies especially in Africa. After decolonization, immigrants from former colonies settled in France.

  • France has seen the return of identity and religious cleavages in recent decades, with debates over immigration and the integration of Muslims. Far-right nationalist parties have gained support.

  • The tax and social welfare system has aimed to reduce inequality. But wealth and inheritance remain highly concentrated at the top. Access to elite education plays an important role in reproducing inequality.

  • France has been seen as a prime example of conflict between socialism and capitalism, nationalizations versus free markets. But in practice it developed a social-democratic mixed economy.

Here are the key points about literacy in India:

  • Literacy rates were very low in India under British colonial rule. In 1881, only around 5% of the population was literate. This increased slowly over time, reaching around 16% by 1947 when India gained independence.

  • After independence, the Indian government focused heavily on expanding education and literacy. Adult literacy programs were implemented starting in the 1950s. As a result, literacy rates increased steadily, reaching 74% by 2011.

  • There are significant disparities in literacy rates based on gender, region, caste, and socioeconomic status. For example, in 2011 the literacy rate was 82% for men vs 65% for women. Literacy rates are higher in urban areas and among upper castes/classes.

  • The southern and western states of India tend to have higher literacy rates compared to northern and eastern states. Kerala has among the highest literacy at 94%, while Bihar has the lowest at around 63%.

  • The government continues efforts to achieve full literacy, especially focusing on marginalized groups like women, lower castes, tribes, and the rural poor. But major challenges remain due to poverty, child labor, gender inequality, and lack of schools in remote areas.

Here is a summary of the key points about voting, Indian democracy, and British rule in India:

  • At the time of British rule in India (the British Raj) from 1858-1947, there was very limited voting rights. Only a small elite section of Indian society could vote in elections under British rule.

  • Universal adult suffrage only came to India after independence in 1947. The Indian constitution established universal voting rights for all adult citizens regardless of gender, caste, religion etc.

  • India today is the world’s largest democracy with over 900 million eligible voters. Elections are held for national parliament (Lok Sabha) and state assemblies. High voter turnout demonstrates vibrancy of Indian democracy.

  • However, some issues remain around voting rights of poorer and lower caste citizens. Illiteracy can limit ability to vote. Vote buying and voter intimidation still occur in parts of India.

  • Overall, from very limited voting under British colonial rule to universal suffrage after independence, India has made great strides in expanding democratic participation through near universal voting rights, though challenges persist in fully realizing equal voting rights.

Here is a summary of the key points about Paine, Thomas and related topics:

  • Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary. He played a key role in the American Revolution and in promoting republicanism.

  • Paine’s writings, including Common Sense (1776) and The Rights of Man (1791), strongly influenced the American revolutionaries and the French revolutionaries. He advocated for republicanism, liberalism, and freedom from aristocratic and religious rule.

  • Paine argued for progressive taxation and policies aimed at reducing inequality. He believed that hereditary wealth bred corruption and proposed taxing inherited estates.

  • Paine’s ideas on progressive taxation and reducing inequality were quite radical for his time but influenced later thinkers and the development of progressive taxation policies in the 20th century.

  • The arguments around progressive taxation, inheritance taxes, and reducing inequality remain relevant today, as societies continue to grapple with high levels of inequality and concentration of wealth. Paine’s voice was an early and influential one in these debates.

Here is a summary of the key points from pages 677-679 on the Information Age:

  • The Information Age began in the 1970s with the rise of computers and information technology. This led to a shift from an industrial economy to an information/knowledge economy.

  • Key technologies driving the Information Age include the personal computer, the internet, email, mobile phones, and social media. These allowed for instant global communication and sharing of information.

  • The Information Age has transformed how business is conducted, enabled new business models and e-commerce, and led to the rise of companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook etc.

  • It has allowed for outsourcing and offshoring of many services and jobs to other countries. This has impacted employment and incomes in developed countries.

  • It has facilitated globalization and interconnectedness but also increased inequality between those with access to technology and skills to use it and those without.

  • Information technology continues to advance with areas like artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing shaping the future. The full implications of the Information Age are still unfolding.

In summary, the Information Age represents a profound shift enabled by computing and communications technology, with wide-ranging economic, political, and social consequences that are still playing out. It has made information and knowledge key drivers of the economy and accelerated globalization.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passages:

  • Ternary (“trifunctional”) societies were characterized by three main social groups or “orders” - the clergy, nobility, and commoners. These groups were seen as complementary parts of an organic whole. Ternary ideology justified social hierarchy and inequality.

  • Over time, ternary societies transformed into ownership societies as notions of absolute private property rights spread. The French Revolution represented a decisive break, abolishing feudal privileges.

  • Colonialism enabled accelerated capital accumulation in Europe. Trading companies and colonial states extracted resources and labor from colonies.

  • The rise of progressive taxation and fiscal social states in the 20th century enabled new social programs and redistribution. But capital owners have often resisted high taxes on wealth and inheritance.

  • High inequality persists today, though its justifications have evolved. Contemporary market-nativist ideologies combine free market economics with anti-immigrant nationalism. But social democratic and transnational approaches aim for more inclusive, egalitarian policies.

  • Data sources, including tax records, allow study of economic inequality across time. But comprehensive analyses must combine data with examination of changing social ideologies.

Here are the key points I extracted from the conversation:

  • Wealth and income inequality have risen dramatically in many countries in recent decades. This is partly due to globalization, technological change, and deregulation.

  • High inequality can undermine democracy, social cohesion, and economic growth. It leads to unequal access to political power and perpetuates privilege across generations.

  • Taxes and transfers can help reduce inequality and its impacts. More progressive income, inheritance, and wealth taxes are options, as are increased public spending on health, education and other services.

  • Cooperative and inclusive capitalism can also play a role. Examples include employee stock ownership plans, profit sharing, worker representation on company boards, and participatory budgeting by citizens.

  • Identity politics and ethnic divisions have made reducing inequality more challenging in some countries. Cross-cutting alliances and emphasizing shared economic interests may help overcome these divides.

  • Developing countries face high inequality too, often linked to race, caste, and gender hierarchies. Land reform, affirmative action, and universal social programs can help.

  • Better data transparency on income, wealth, and taxes is important for informed public debate on inequality and how to address it.

Does this help summarize the key points from our discussion? Let me know if you would like me to expand or clarify anything.

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