Mathew Lawrence and Adrienne Buller

Aug 23, 2022

Owning the Future

Power and Property in an Age of Crisis

Verso Books 2022

Adrienne Buller (The Value of a Whale) and Mathew Lawrence (Planet on Fire) have penned a radical manifesto for the transformation of post-pandemic politics: Owning the Future: Power and Property in an Age of Crisis (Verso, 2022).

The question of ownership is the critical fault line of our times. During the pandemic this issue has only become more divisive. Since March 2020 we have witnessed the extraordinary growth of asset manager capitalism and the explosive concentration of wealth within the hands of the already super-rich. This new oligarchy controls every part of our social and economics lives. In the face of crisis, the authors warn that mere redistribution within current forms of ownership is not enough; our goal must be to go beyond the limits of the current system, dominated by private enclosure and unequal ownership. Only by reimagining how our economy is owned and by whom can we address the crises of our time - from the fallout of the pandemic to ecological collapse - at their roots. Building from this insight, the authors argue the systemic change we need hinges on a new era of democratic ownership: a reinvention of the firm as a vehicle for collective endeavour and meeting social needs. Against the new oligarchy of the platform giants, a digital commons that uses our data for collective good, not private profit. In place of environmental devastation, a new agenda of decommodification - of both nature and needs - with a Green New Deal and collective stewardship of the planet’s natural wealth. Together, these proposals offer a road map to owning the future, and building a better world.

Adrienne Buller is Director of Research at the UK-based think tank Common Wealth. 

Mathew Lawrence is Common Wealth's founder and director.

Brian Hamilton is Chair of the Department of History and Social Science at Deerfield Academy. Twitter. Website

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Brian Hamilton

Brian Hamilton is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he is researching African American environmental history. A Maine native, he lives in Western Massachusetts and chairs the History and Social Science Department at Deerfield Academy.

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