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The past year has seen the surprising ascent of French economist Thomas Piketty to "rock star" status. The reading public's appetite for his economic treatise seems motivated by a growing unease about economic inequality and an anxiety that the "Great Recession," which followed the financial crisis of 2008, defines a new economic normal. The seemingly plutocratic response to the crisis has become the focus of angry attacks by protesters on both left and right, but their criticisms have had little practical effect, even while subsequent events have confirmed their fears. In 2010, the United States Supreme Court sealed the union of corporate money and politics in Citizens United v. FEC, which subsequent judgments have further entrenched. Meanwhile, the response to the crisis in Europe has suggested that Brussels now operates as an arm of finance capital and that monetary union is more likely to prove the undertaker of European social democracy than its savior.
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