In the final parts of Piketty’s Capital and Ideology, he presents his vision for a just and more equal society. This vision marks an alternative to contemporary societies, and differs radically both from the planned Soviet economies and from social democratic welfare states. In his sketch of this vision, Piketty provides a principled account of how such a society would look and how it would modify the current status of private property through co-managed enterprises and the creation of temporary ownership models. He also sets out two principles for when inequalities are just. The first principle permits inequalities that are beneficial to the worst-off, while the second permits inequalities that reflect differences in people’s choices and ambitions. This article identifies a tension between Piketty’s two inequality-permitting principles. It also argues that the procedural limits on how decisions are made within the enterprises of participatory socialism might create inequalities not permitted by the guiding distributive principles of participatory socialism. This tension points to the need for either further changes in firm structure and ownership, an even more progressive taxation scheme, or an egalitarian ethos reflected in citizens’ choices in their everyday lives under participatory socialism.
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