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New Left Review 113, September-October 2018


John Grahl

BEYOND REDISTRIBUTION?

Inequality has become one of the central political topics of our time, even if the debate prompted by such figures as Thomas Piketty has thus far had little impact on government policy, and the trend towards ever-higher concentrations of wealth continues its inexorable march. According to the French economist Philippe Askenazy, the ‘fascination with the 1 per cent’ that has characterized much work in the field has blunted its critical edge. [1] Philippe Askenazy, Tous rentiers! Pour une autre répartition des richesses, Odile Jacob: Paris 2016, €22.90, paperback, 221 pp, 978 2 7381 3372 4. Askenazy, who specializes in the study of work, and served on the French government’s Conseil d’Analyse Économique in the early years of the Hollande presidency, argues for a shift in focus towards the primary distribution of income and wealth. Much of the recent discussion has been limited to arguments for re-distribution after the fact, through taxes and social spending, thereby ‘naturalizing’ the sources of inequality in the primary distribution between capital and labour, ultimately leading to an impasse.

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