The Deep History of Human Inequality

Originally published at Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762 In his epic 18th-century treatise Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that inequality is an ill of civilization, created by private property. If you roll back the clock on civilization, he […]

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The ideology of economics

Originally published at pluralistic.net Cory Doctorow Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” advanced a simple, data-supported hypothesis: that markets left to their own will cause capital to grow faster than the economy as a whole, so over time, the rich always get richer. https://boingboing.net/2014/06/24/thomas-pikettys-capital-in-t.html He’s followed up Capital with the 1000-page “Capital and Ideology” […]

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Are We Measuring Inequality the Wrong Way?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix In a recent blog post called “How Not to Measure Inequality”, the anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that economists measure inequality the wrong way. Hickel thinks that standard measures of inequality (such as the Gini index), underestimate global disparities. The problem, according to Hickel, is that […]

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Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

Abstract Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? I propose an unusual window of evidence — modern societies. I hypothesize that evidence for the origin of inequality is encoded in the institutional structure of industrial societies. To test this idea, I use a model to project modern trends into the past. This […]

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