Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology has been written with the intention to offer lessons from the historical trajectory of economic redistribution in societies the world over. Thereby, the book suggests learning from the political-economic history of ‘social-democratic’ policies and societal arrangements. While the data presented speak to the plausibility of looking at social democracy, as understood by Piketty, as an archive for learning about the effects of redistribution mechanisms, I argue that the book, or future interventions might profit from integrating alternative archives. On the one hand, its current line of argumentation tends to underestimate the significance of power relations in the international political economy that continued after formal decolonization, and thus form the flip side of social democracy’s success in Europe and North America. On the other hand, the role of the polity might be imagined in a different and more empowering way, not just-as in Piketty-as an elite-liberal democratic governance institution; for instance, it would be interesting to explore the archive of the French solidaristes movement more deeply than Piketty does, as well as much more recent interventions in economic anthropology that deal with ‘economic citizenship’ in the Global South.
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