Cheerleaders for concentrated wealth have a new reason to cheer. They have chanced upon a fresh rationalization for inequality.
This new rationalization comes from an unlikely source, a sober and thoughtful just-published book from a distinguished historian and classicist, Stanford’s Walter Scheidel.
In The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Scheidel builds upon his considerable academic expertise on the ancient world and explores how and when societies have actually become less unequal. In the process, he has brought forth a book that could hardly be more profoundly depressing.
Scheidel’s basic thesis: Down through history, only “massive and violent disruptions of the established order” have generated “big equalizing moments.”
“It is almost universally true,” he advises, “that violence has been necessary to ensure the redistribution of wealth at any point in time.”More ...