Thomas Piketty Refuses France’s Highest Award!

Dear Commons Community,

Economist Thomas Piketty whose 2014 best-selling book Capital in the 21st Century, is perhaps the most extensive examination of capitalism and income inequality ever written, has refused to accept France’s highest honor, the Legion d’honneur. Piketty said government shouldn’t decide who is honorable.

“I have just learned that I was nominated for the Legion of honneur. I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government’s role to decide who is honorable,” Piketty told AFP.

“They would do better to concentrate on reviving [economic] growth in France and Europe,” Piketty added.

According to Reuters, Piketty was nominated for the honor on Thursday along with Nobel Economics laureate Jean Tirole and Nobel Literature prize winner Patrick Modiano. The Legion d’honnneur is awarded by President Francois Hollande.

While it is rare to turn down the award created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, Piketty is not alone.

The list of those who refused the honour includes such French literary notables as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir as well as master artist Claude Monet and celebrated anti-poverty campaigner Abbe Pierre.  Even France’s pioneering radiologists Pierre and Marie Curie did not want the award.

Piketty is in good company.


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