The question of ownership is the critical fault line of our times, and 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 super-rich. This new oligarchy controls every part of our social and economic 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 that 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 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.
“However queasily anxious it makes the political class, the question of who should own what in our economy still hangs in the air, unanswered. This pacy and accessible book unpacks the issues and offers solutions with a welcome dash of imagination and optimism.”
“Owning the Future offers a vision for a future beyond capitalism. It will require nothing less than a radical democratization of ownership. An ambitious book that should inspire many to help workout the details of a much needed transition.”
“Amid a growing divide between those who own assets and those who don't, Owning the Future offers an essential guide to the shifting landscape of property, politics, and power today, from the enclosure of knowledge in vaccine IP to the outsized power of massive asset managers. Seamlessly blending social theory and case studies, Adrienne Buller and Mathew Lawrence lucidly diagnose the pathologies of private ownership across a range of sectors - housing, data, ecosystems - and make a powerful case for the necessity of public and democratic alternatives.”
“A must-have guide for anyone interested in reimagining ownership in our age of compounding crises. Lawrence and Buller map out how we can escape from a world of escalating competition over dwindling assets towards a future where the inherent value of every person is recognised. Read this if you want to maintain any hope in a different vision of the twenty-first century.”
“Buller and Lawrence imagine a world where corporates are democratized, the stock market loses its power, and the state invests in a common fund for citizens and makes real and substantial investments in decarbonization. This is no fever dream. It is a well-reasoned plan of action and far more possible than we think.”
“You will finish this gripping book equipped with the tools to rethink what property means, ready to reimagine and transform ownership so that we can effectively redistribute power, decommodify the provision of essential goods and services, and expand the meaning of the commons. A powerful exposé of how, together, we can own the future on an habitable planet.”