In The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality, Katharina Pistoroffers an expansive analysis of the construction of capital, showing legal coding to be at the heart of this process. This is a welcome interdisciplinary contribution which attaches fresh dimensions to debates on the political economy of wealth and inequality and will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to grapple with the formidable nature of global capital.
The economic and legal reforms coincided with the demise of the Iron Curtain and socialist governments, and were implemented in developing as well as emerging markets, and promised eventual benefits for everyone. But instead, contemporary levels of inequality are comparable to those that prevailed before the French Revolution. A standard response to such disparity is simply to hold ‘capitalism’ accountable. But Pistor argues that even to do just this, it is necessary to be cognisant of how capital is made. To do so is to resist simplifications in which capital is a thing, or a core feature of social relations between a proletariat and a bourgeoisie: ‘Against this background, one might even question whether it makes sense to bundle historical epochs that differ so fundamentally from one another under a single rubric of “capitalism”’.