Rosa María SánchezMadrid – Miércoles, 11/12/2019
The inequality expert presents his book ‘Capital and ideology’ in Spanish and Catalan.
After the worldwide success of ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ (2013), the famous French economist Thomas Piketty has published his new volume ‘Capital and Ideology’ (Deusto, 2019) in which the author proposes an economic, social history, intellectual and political inequality. In the two weeks of its publication in Spanish and Catalan, the book has already harvested some 4,000 copies sold and this Wednesday has gone to Madrid for the presentation of his new work.
In the book, Piketty associates “the identity and xenophobic withdrawal” in Europe to “the failure of the EU” when it comes to mitigating the inequality associated with the globalization process and in this context it also places the “separatist trap” in Catalonia as a result. of the illegal referendum of 2017.
“It is extremely shocking to see that Catalan nationalism is much more pronounced among the most favored social categories than among the most modest,” reflects the French economist. “It is noted that support is all the more pronounced the more it rises in the hierarchy of income and level of education, with support for the nationalist idea that reaches 80% among 10% of the people consulted with higher income and level of studies, “he says. “The support for independence comes dramatically from the most favored categories and, specifically, from the highest incomes.” Seen this way, the independence movement is observed by Piketty as a movement of the elites, “from top to bottom, and not vice versa”, as has been revealed during his press conference in Madrid.
Nationalism and inequality
The French author observes cultural and linguistic elements in the Catalan nationalist sentiment, but confirms that “support for self-determination has increased sharply in the wake of the economic crisis, which severely affected Spain.”
And it is at this point where the author makes the connection between nationalism and inequality, taking as a starting point a tax system such as the Spanish – “one of the most decentralized in the world” – in which the distribution at 50% of the tax on income between the central and regional administration “damages the very idea of solidarity within the country and ends up facing the regions between them”
“Perhaps Spain has gone too far (in the transfer of personal income tax) and is now in a situation in which a part of the Catalans would, independently, retain one hundred percent of their income,” he concludes.
The fault of the EU
“Europe also has a great responsibility in this crisis”, advances Piketty in the chapter ‘The separatist trap and the Catalan syndrome’, to which he dedicates six of the 1,247 pages of the book.
According to the economist, for decades the European Union has promoted a development model based on the idea that “it is possible to have everything” (integration into a large market), without true solidarity and financing obligations.
“Under these conditions, why not try to make Catalonia a tax haven in the style of Luxembourg?” Piketty asks rhetorically. As an independent state, while retaining all its income, Catalonia could allow itself to reduce taxes to attract capital. “There is no doubt that the politicization of the Catalan question would have been totally different if the European Union had a federal budget similar to that of the United States, financed by progressive income and inheritance taxes”
‘Everyone on their own’
And he adds: “The Catalan crisis is presented as the symptom of a Europe that rests on a generalized competitiveness between territories and on a total absence of fiscal solidarity, which always contributes to increasing the logic of ‘each one on his own.’ another case of the close relationship between the political system and inequalities, between borders and the property regime. “