One of the concerns that I have about Piketty is that his economic analysis seems (at least as far as I have read) to be divorced from an ecological history. We know that Reagan made a significant turn in energy policy for the world. An alliance with the Saudi's was made to increase oil production to keep oil prices low, and to prevent more radical oil producers from using it as a political weapon, as they had during Carter's administration. The US government very visibly turned away from a conservation orientation to a policy of increased energy production. The result was an acceleration of energy consumption and waste, intensifying the damage done to the planet, and placing the world's poor in grave danger.
What I have been talking about are policy choices that were global in effect. (I emphasize the words because I think it is important to see these as conscious decisions made by political actors, not so-called "cultural trends". )
Closer to home, here in UULand, we remember these same years as a time of growth and influence for Conservative Christianity. They were perfecting their organizational form (the large non-denominational suburban program-rich mega-church) which also served as the "ground-game" for the Republican party. 1980 also marked the identification of the "Reagan Democrat," the Rust Belt Roman Catholics who were organized into the political coalition supporting these global policy choices, often on the basis of racial resentment and a defense of patriarchy. We felt small and weak.
Unitarian Universalists, I think, saw all of these developments. I think we understood what was happening. But despite the fact that the Caesars were tightening their control over the world's future, we didn't see that as really relevant to our mission and theology. I wonder why...