Everyone loves sales. Whether it's the latest Xbox game, kitchen appliance or electronic gadget, people are always looking for bargains, especially during the run up to Christmas. But there's a stark difference between lining up for Boxing Day sales and the animalistic behaviour witnessed last week during the "Black Friday" sales...
If we want to stamp out homelessness, and poverty, and starvation, and all of the other problems we are currently facing, the answer doesn't lie in a donation once a year. If we really want to challenge these social ills, we have to bond together and stand in solidarity with the less fortunate - all year round.
Band Aid reinforces negative stereotypes of Africa and Africans. It reflects a colonial mindset that is so deeply entrenched in Western culture that we aren't even aware it exists. The sight of a bunch of rich pop stars parading themselves as paragons of virtue and heroes is crass and eminently offensive. While it may allow them to wallow in self congratulation and positive PR, it is paternalism of the most grievous kind.... Ultimately, it is not Africa that needs to be saved, it is us. Only when we are saved from the greed and paternalism that distorts our understanding will Africa and the rest of the developing world finally begin to emerge from under the iron heel of Western hegemony.
Capitalism is different from what came before. No previous society has accumulated and concentrated wealth on a comparable scale. The ecological crisis is a symptom, the most deadly symptom, of a social crisis in human beings' relationship to our environment. It makes more sense to talk of capitalist, rather than anthropogenic climate change.
If we are ever to have a hope of rebalancing the books, meeting the future costs of the NHS, and satisfying our pension liabilities we need to look beyond capitalism. It's served a fortunate few well, but it has failed the majority. It's time to bury it alongside socialism and look for a better successor to both.
It seems that studying Plato, master of the philosophical analogy has rubbed off on me. In a system in which the interlinking of government and capitalism has created a politically endorsed economy, the original foundations have been oft neglected and I wanted to get back to how, at least in theory, our public and private sectors interlink.
Now that the panic has subsided somewhat, I find myself asking whether Piketty's book, for an average-Joe like me, was worth reading. Hopefully, by explaining my personal experience reading Piketty, I will help other intellectually-curious, non-economist types decide whether it's worth all the effort.
Let's not create a society of the richest poor people. Let's not condescend people by saying that if you started life as poor, you'll always be that. The cards are not stacked against you in the 21st Century. Piketty's book provokes jealousy and insecurity in people rather than freeing them to create and aspire.