1. bookVolume 9 (2021): Issue 1 (June 2021)
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15 Dec 2015
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access type Open Access

Brahmin Left Vs. Merchant Right: The Miscellaneous Causes and Consequences

Published Online: 13 Aug 2021
Page range: 1 - 13
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
15 Dec 2015
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English
Abstract

In his recent book, Capital and Ideology, French economist Thomas Piketty devotes the final chapter to the changing dimensions of political conflict in Western democracies. The goal of this article is to confront some of his findings with mainstream political science. Piketty’s arguments are confronted with the findings of scholars within political science. To begin the article, we establish two research questions in the introduction. We then delineate the gradual reversal of the educational cleavage and subsequent emergence of the multi-elite system according to Piketty. He demonstrates how the classist conflict prevailing in the 1950s and 60s morphed into the Brahmin Left versus the Merchant Right system, with the “Left” being supported by the more educated electorate and the “Right” being supported by the relative well-offs. In the following two sections, we deal with his arguments regarding the causes and the outcomes of this gradual shift. Firstly, he proposes two hypotheses regarding the metamorphosis of the Left: the social and nativist hypotheses. We argue that neither of the two hypotheses is actually a comprehensive explanation and we propose alternative that takes into account the changing structure of social classes. Secondly, with regards to the outcomes of the reversal of the educational cleavage, Piketty considers one of the consequences of this shift to be a social-nativist trap, a combination of pro-redistribution policies and cultural nativism. We have concluded that the social-nativism is not a trap per se as much as an inevitability resulting from the less advantaged class feeling abandoned in the multi-elite political conflict.

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