Tuesday, April 22, 2014

According to Her Need

Jessa Crispin:

Everyone should be reading Capital in the 21st Century. Especially if you are broke and working hard just to stay afloat and your self-esteem gets caught up in it, you wonder, why can't I just afford to live in a city that I like, what is wrong with me, why am I failing at being a person? Explanation here.

That's weird — Crispin, who normally has nothing but scorn for the platitudinous advice genre, seems to be using a weighty book about economics to shield the self-help book she's apparently got tucked within its pages. Erotic intensity, indeed:

Piketty's terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence. It could also explain why the book has been greeted with such erotic intensity: It meets the need for a work of deep research and scholarly respectability which affirms that inequality, as Cassidy remarked, is "a defining issue of our era."

Maybe. But nobody should think it's the only issue. For Piketty, it is. Aside from its other flaws, "Capital in the 21st Century" invites readers to believe not just that inequality is important but that nothing else matters.

While we're on the topic, this related article in the Nation is also worth reading.