I mentioned it in a previous post… specifically, it’s his characterization of the US as not being a colonial power, when what do we call the wars of expansion in the 19th century, except a set of colonial conquests. The discrepancies or similarities or whatever he’s pointing to, described between the US and Europe can be attributed to that, some historians have argued. But to imagine an ever expanding American state as anything other than “colonial” is I think misleading.
So, how does the expansion across the continent compare, economically, with the overseas empires of France and Britain? Does it allow for the US to become an economic powerhouse that can indeed compete, because of the vast resources being consumed as more territory is added?
Also, as he discusses the various overseas empires and economic ramifications of that (or slavery) why is he not accounting for the human costs then. I like his building up of this picture of economic expansion over time, and the use of numbers to back that up, but what are the human consequences of this. Despite the characterization of Marx as being one who describes a series of inevitability that leads to the modern capitalist system, he was very clear on describing the real consequences (and in Communist Manifesto) what the ultimate outcome of that might be. So I wonder with Piketty is he going to do something similar after his descriptions of grow, expansion, and inequality? I get the sense that he is doing so, but we haven’t seen it yet.