Piketty's Global State as Global Keynesianism

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Cadell Last:

"Piketty's now well-known ‘utopian solution’ would be to erect some idealized form of ‘Global State’ capable of regulating global markets with a progressive global tax (2014, p. 515):

- “To regulate the globalized patrimonial capitalism of the twenty- first century, rethinking the twentieth century fiscal and social model and adapting it to today's world will not be enough. To be sure, appropriate updating of the last century's social-democratic and fiscal-liberal program is essential, which focused on two fundamental institutions that were invented in the twentieth century and must continue to play a central role in the future: the social state and the progressive income tax. But if democracy is to regain control over the globalized financial capitalism of this century, it must also invent new tools, adapted to today's challenges. The ideal tool would be a progressive global tax on capital, coupled with a very high level of international financial transparency. Such a tax would provide a way to avoid an endless inegalitarian spiral and to control the worrisome dynamics of global capital concentration. Whatever tools and regulations are actually decided on need to be measured against this ideal.”

Consequently, Piketty's ultimate solution for ‘Capitalism in the 21st Century’ is essentially a form of ‘Global Keynesianism in the 21st Century’, where we re-invent the nature of the social state and the progressive in- come tax, but this time instead of just reinventing these dynamics at the multi-local nation-state level, we reinvent these same dynamics for the higher global whole. Although Piketty admits that such an approach is ‘utopian’ in the sense of being an ‘ideal’ projection and thus unrealistic in the ‘material’ domain, he also suggests that, as the end of the above quote suggests, all attempts to solve the problem of global capitalism should be ‘measured against this ideal’ of what essentially amounts to a ‘Global State’. The philosophical logic here is the relation between ‘materialism’ and ‘idealism’, where the ‘ideal’(for Piketty) functions as an attractor state or pole for grounding materialist political construction projects. The economic logic here is that, in the same way that the inhumane consequences of free market capitalism (labour instability, socioeconomic inequality, etc.) were reduced by nation-state interventionism in the second half of the 20th century (‘New Deal’), this same dynamic can be erected for global civilization in the 21st century, and ultimately save both capitalism and the state form itself, albeit at a new global level (‘New New Deal’).

From the perspective of the challenges posed by the emerging technological revolution (i.e. of an exponentially emerging self-organized global world founded on automated smart systems and distributed networks), these problems identified by Piketty (i.e. of global capital and its global control problem) simply accelerate the necessity of large-scale political action (~2020–2025) in order to prevent the eruption of fundamental antagonisms which are now clearly stressing the structural foundations of the world as it is."