Book review

The Commonist Horizon: Futures Beyond Capitalist Urbanization (2023) edited by Mary N. Taylor and Noah Brehmer

Bernadett Sebály

Published in Issue 6.1 // Updates

Keywords: Commons, housing, East Europe, US, UK


Mary N. Taylor and Noah Brehmer’s latest edited book takes us on a journey to reflect on the political possibilities of commoning, a social practice that aims to take institutions and resources under direct community control. Taylor and Brehmer facilitate a dialogue about the reality of commoning across polities and cultures and pose hard questions relevant for those who strive to disentangle housing and home from market-based logics. The reflections in the five chapters of the book trace some of the crucial inflection points determining whether commoning remains a defensive tactic or becomes a transformative alternative to capital’s organization of our lived environment. The authors, who research and do some forms of commoning in Serbia, the U.K., Hungary, the U.S., and Lithuania, reflect on the questions of groundedness in local history, autonomy, scalability, and inclusiveness. Taylor and Brehmer do not undertake the task of assessing the social or political impact of commoning. They encourage us to look boldly into the horizon and embrace the vision that another world—with another housing economy—is possible.

Bernadett is pursuing a PhD in Public Policy at the CEU’s Doctoral School of Political Science. Prior to CEU, Bernadett worked for 10 years to build strong community organizations, drawn to a vision of participatory civil society. She is the co-editor of the book titled The Society of Power or the Power of Society? The Basics of Community Organizing and co-founded and organized in The City Is For All, a multi-class alliance of house poor and coordinated Civilizáció, a Hungarian network of CSOs during a period of repressive government measures. She worked with Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group International, and helped design and build a community organizing program in Hungary with the Civil College Foundation. Her goal is to link the worlds of social movements and academia in a way that is fruitful for all.

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