Ownership Futures: Towards Democratic Public Ownership in the 21st Century
Our current political economic system is in crisis. Forty years of market fundamentalism, privatisation, and unchecked corporate power have led us to the point of ecological collapse, increasing economic and social inequality, and dangerous political instability and backlash. Driven by the system’s failings, and the real pain being felt by workers and communities across the world, the search is on for answers, and alternative approaches and institutions are becoming increasingly popular. After a long winter in which ideas about economic alternatives were largely banished from public consideration, the seeds of a new economic consensus might be beginning to sprout.
Just as the dying present centres a particular form of private ownership (the large, for-profit corporation), this new consensus understands that a more equitable, sustainable, and democratic system must be based on a pluralistic landscape of common and democratic ownership. Prominent in this landscape is public ownership — assets, services, and enterprises that are held collectively by all people in a specific geographic area, either directly or through representative structures.