COVID-19 and 21st century public ownership
Common Wealth and The Democracy Collaborative
In January 2020, Common Wealth and The Democracy Collaborative began a year-long project that explored how extending the models and approaches of democratic public ownership to the new frontiers of the 21st-century economy could help address the deep economic, social, and environmental challenges facing the US and UK. Over the course of the year-long project, the world was changed utterly. COVID-19, an epochal event, has made the case for reimagining the ownership and governance of our economies on both sides of the Atlantic more urgent than ever. Indeed, to meet the needs of the moment, address the inequalities the crisis has exposed and worsened, and prepare us to meet the systemic environmental and social crises ahead, an agenda to extend democratic public ownership is essential.
By almost any measure, we are at a critical juncture. The pandemic has underscored both the need and possibility of deep, transformative change; and the many compounding dangers ahead. Stemming in part from capitalism’s damaging entanglement with the Earth’s natural systems, the pandemic has hit societies across the world with devastating effect. With state capacity hollowed out after decades of austerity, outsourcing, and privatization, and labor markets shaped by insecurity and power imbalances, COVID-19 metastasized long-standing racial and economic inequalities and unequal outcomes, both within the UK and US, and globally. The virus may not discriminate, but our societies have been proven to, both structurally and systematically.
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