We are losing the commons. Austerity and neoliberal policies have depleted our shared wealth; our national utilities have been sold off to foreign conglomerates, social housing is almost non-existent, our parks are cordoned off for private events and our national art galleries are sponsored by banks and oil companies. This plunder deprives us all of our common rights, recognized as far back as the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest of 1217, to share fairly and equitably in our public wealth.
Guy Standing leads us through a new appraisal of the commons, stemming from the medieval concept of common land reserved in ancient law from marauding barons, to his modern reappraisal of the resources we all hold in common – a brilliant new synthesis that crystallises quite how much public wealth has been redirected to the 1% in recent decades through the state-approved exploitation of everything from our land to our state housing, health and benefit systems, to our justice system, schools, newspapers and even the air we breathe. Plunder of the Commons proposes a charter for a new form of commoning, of remembering, guarding and sharing that which belongs to us all, to slash inequality and soothe our current political instability.
Guy Standing has held professorships at the University of Bath and at SOAS, was programme director at the International Labour Organisation and has advised the UN, World Bank and governments around the world on labour and social policy. He is the author of the bestselling The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011) and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen was published in Pelican in 2017.