Private Sufficiency, Public Luxury

In his lecture at the Schumaker Center, George Monbiot explains how the myth of land ownership was proliferated in a way that is undermining the wellbeing of our society. According to Monbiot, common land use is the only way to save ourselves and our planet.

George Monbiot begins his Schumacher lecture with a single question: why is it even possible to own land? He sets out to answer this question by tracking the history of our modern conception of land ownership, starting with the British philosopher John Locke. By the end of his lecture, Monbiot is calling for a democratizing of land ownership and democratization of land use decisions through an incremental placing of land into a Commons.

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human life and Heat: how to stop the planet burning; his latest is Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis. George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan; and has made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40m times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, that he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 50m times. In 2019 George edited “Land for the Many,” a report to the Labour Party, calling for a broad platform of land reform in the UK.

He delivered his Schumacher Lecture at the 40th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures on October 25, 2020.

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