Skip to main content

How Can We Own Our Future and Build a Better World? Adrienne Buller

Festival of Ideas

Share this

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw an explosive concentration of wealth in the hands of the super-rich. With the rise of tech giants and new media, the power distribution in society has become vastly unequal, leaving many of us at the mercy of these new power structures. Our social and economic lives have become dictated by this new oligarchy.

Adrienne Buller unpacks the concepts of power and property – and how they have been transformed in our post-pandemic political landscape. She argues that their redistribution within our current forms of ownership aren’t enough. Our economy must be fully reimagined in order to address the issues that lie at the roots. In her two books – Owning the Future: Power and Property in an Age of Crisis and The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism – Buller explores the intersecting and systemic crises we are currently facing.

In her discussion with Andrew Kelly from Bristol Ideas, Buller explains the obstacles that stand in the way of us achieving the society we’d like to see. Is capitalism the solution? Buller unpacks potential green capitalist solutions, such as carbon pricing, carbon offsetting and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards.

Buller proposes that we need systemic change to dismantle the unadulterated power of the platform giants. As part of this process, we need to build a digital commons that uses data for the collective good, rather than for private profit. She also puts forward the argument for a Green New Deal, which prioritises collective stewardship of the planet’s natural wealth and examines the potential of a four-day week and a modern ‘Lucas Plan’. It is only through tackling these issues head on, she says, that will be able to reconfigure the wild inequality that has been allowed to run riot in our post-pandemic society.

Buller also examines whether we have the imagination and whether we can ensure the necessary shifts in power to make change happen. How do we turn these ideas into practical application?  

If you’ve enjoyed this, please consider subscribing to Bristol Ideas on YouTube. It’s the best way to receive instant updates and keep track of what we’re up to and the conversations we’re having. Plus, it helps Bristol Ideas monetize our content from YouTube and keep these conversations free for audiences to access. Subscribe here.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. The full version of the interview is in the recording.

Adrienne Buller’s Owning the Future: Power and Property in an Age of Crisis is published by Verso.

Adrienne Buller’s The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism is published by Manchester University Press.

Adrienne Buller is a Senior Research Fellow at Common Wealth. Adrienne’s writing and work has appeared in the GuardianJacobin, the New StatesmanNew Left Review, and Financial Times, among others.

Andrew Kelly

Andrew Kelly is Director, Bristol Ideas. He is a visiting professor at the University of the West of England and has written or edited 20 books on subjects ranging from film and cinema to aviation and Bristol’s rich cultural history.

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update