Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2014


Thomas Piketty, capitalism, political economy, John Paul II, inequality, economic ethics, ethics, Marxism


Thomas Piketty has given economists a lot to argue about, but their arguments miss the point of the book’s success. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is not a bestseller based on its economic merits. It’s a bestseller because it speaks to a deep moral anxiety. Confidence in capitalism has been shaken. The crisis of 2008 exposed weaknesses in the financialization of our economy. Piketty makes a valiant contribution to economic theory and history, but his empiricism succumbs ultimately to the same flaw John Paul II diagnosed in Marxism—it leads to an incoherent statement of moral order.