The Wind Commons

David McDermott Hughes


Private interests are currently grabbing an enormous energy resource: wind. The transition away from fossil fuels, therefore, runs the risk of enriching elites – chiefly land-owners, whose property rights extend upwards by Medieval principle. They are reaping royalties while frequently depriving their land-poor neighbors of all economic benefit from wind farms. In response, excluded rural communities are propelling anti-turbine movements powerful enough to slow installation across Europe.

So we need to address two problems at once: inequity and resistance to renewables. This paper proposes public, national ownership as the double solution. A commons of the wind will make the energy transition inclusive, universal, and, above all, more rapid than it is now.

About the author

David McDermott Hughes works as professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University in the United States. He has written two books on agrarian politics in Zimbabwe and one book on oil in the Caribbean, entitled Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity (2017). His ethnography of renewable energy in Spain appears in Boston Review. Hughes has also served as president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty labor union.

The Wind CommonsPDF file