“The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world”

— Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

“Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.”

— Ida Auken, a Young Global Leader and Member of the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization of the World Economic Forum

“I want to destroy ownership in order that possession and enjoyment may be raised to the highest point in every section of the community.”

— George Bernard Shaw

“When people lack jobs, opportunity, and ownership of property they have little or no stake in their communities.”

— Jack Kemp

“And I would argue the second greatest force in the universe is ownership.”

— Chris Chocola, American politician

“People who own property feel a sense of ownership in their future and their society. They study, save, work, strive and vote. And people trapped in a culture of tenancy do not.”

— Henry Louis Gates

“The day will come when the notion of car ownership becomes antiquated. If you live in a city, you don’t need to own a car.”

— William Clay Ford, Jr.

“Ownership is not a vice, not something to be ashamed of, but rather a commitment, and an instrument by which the general good can be served.”

— Vaclav Havel, last president of Czechoslovakia

“The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man’s nature.”

— William James

“Whenever conflict arises among living creatures the sense of ownership is the cause.”

— Shantideva

“Joy comes not through possession or ownership but through a wise and loving heart.”

— Gautama Buddha

Like it or not, we seem to be on the road to a New World Order of some kind. Most likely, the one envisioned and aggressively pursued on our behalf by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and accomplices. Is this mostly hype covering up world domination, or is it something serious? Is owning nothing and being happy even possible?

This post is not about being happy, although such a state is very good if ever blissfully achieved. It is about ownership. The importance and role of ownership in societies. The great efforts being made to eliminate ownership. And why.

Who really said: “You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy”?

Well, it seems kind of like nobody. Quotably, anyhow. Wikipedia offers this note on sourcing:

“You’ll own nothing and be happy (alternatively you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy) is a phrase originated by Danish Politician Ida Auken in a 2016 essay for the World Economic Forum. After appearing in a WEF video in 2016, the phrase began to be used by critics of the World Economic Forum (WEF) who accuse the WEF of desiring restrictions on ownership of private property.”

“In 2016, Auken published an essay originally titled ‘Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better’, later retitled ‘Here’s how life could change in my city by the year 2030’, on the WEF’s official web site.”

It seems that Ida and the WEF-usual-suspects are unsurprisingly linked, according to this Forbes article from 2016: “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better”:

“By Ida Auken, a Young Global Leader and Member of the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization of the World Economic Forum, World Economic Forum, Contributor. This blog was written ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils.”

“Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, ‘our city.’ I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.”

“It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.”

“All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth. We had all these terrible things happening: lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment.”

So, the WEF seems to be the underlying source, regardless of obfuscations.

The WEF as effective source is more than unsettling

As you probably know, the WEF and its founder Klaus Schwab are primary drivers toward a One World Everything of some flavor, aka the Great Reset, aka the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As is the United Nations. They are surprisingly open about these goals, as good old Klaus has written about in great (reset) detail (see links above).

Klaus Schwab and his WEF are very busy resetting our world. Are you happy yet?
Klaus Schwab and his WEF are very busy resetting our world. Are you happy yet?

The underlying goal is a form of world domination by the WEF-defined “good guys”. To this end, the WEF has gathered a huge collection of world domination enabling worthies. It is these well-meaning folks who are going to lead us happily toward owning nothing in the very near future. Us, not them, as always.

Such openness over the small matter of taking over the world, assuming that the Russia and Chinese inconveniences are overcome, is somewhat helpful. Helpful, but only in the sense of understanding what they are up to. Maybe.

Owning nothing, ignoring for the moment the “being happy” dictate, seems to be at the core of their efforts. This particular dictate, or prediction if you prefer, was explained in 2016 by Ceri Parker, Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum: “8 predictions for the world in 2030”:

“We asked experts from our Global Future Councils for their take on the world in 2030, and these are the results, from the death of shopping to the resurgence of the nation state.

“All products will have become services. ‘I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes,’ writes Danish MP Ida Auken. Shopping is a distant memory in the city of 2030, whose inhabitants have cracked clean energy and borrow what they need on demand. It sounds utopian, until she mentions that her every move is tracked and outside the city live swathes of discontents, the ultimate depiction of a society split in two.”

Isaiah McCall, writing in Medium.com in July 2022, focuses on subscription-based “ownership” in: “You Will Own Nothing And Be Happy Now (Great Reset). Are you ready to own nothing?”:

“You will own nothing and you will be happy. This may sound like a crazy idea, but it’s something that more and more people are starting to believe in.”

“In an article published in Forbes by the World Economic Forum, the authors talk about how we will eventually live in a system where your whole life is subscription-based and only the very rich will own any personal property.”

Subscription-based ownership is not ownership in fact

What you are buying is not the item itself, which you can mistreat as badly as you wish, but instead just the “use” aspect of the item. Microsoft still owns Office 365 but you can buy – subscribe for – a year’s worth of access and use for $$$.

Automakers are pushing hard for a similar use-subscription arrangement where you effectively lease a vehicle forever, or at least as long as you may need its use. A rental economy, which I had a brief look at quite a while ago.

Buying almost anything using debt does give you substantial ownership rights, but only so long as you keep current on loan payments. You lose ownership rights upon loan default.

Microsoft’s Windows operating system is usually bundled with computing devices, thus hiding the software price. Beginning inauspiciously in 1981, various generations of Windows sold in this manner became “owned” by computer purchasers. The copyrighted source code itself was not part of this deal, but you were free to mess with your copy if you were a super-tech and needed specific functionality extensions.

Today, you can still mess with your Windows OS if you dare. You kind of own it, subject to regular upgrades that are in effect subscription-based. Right now, Microsoft is trying mightily to persuade its customers to upgrade from Windows 10 and earlier versions to the latest Windows 11. This is a free upgrade unless you buy Win 11 on a new computer. See Related Reading for some Win 11 cautions.

Screenshot showing the new Start menu and centered taskbar, with the Search box.
Screenshot showing the new Start menu and centered taskbar, with the Search box.

Microsoft Windows is pretty much ubiquitous on personal computers, as Wikipedia notes:

“For desktop and laptop computers, according to Net Applications and StatCounter (which track the use of operating systems in devices that are active on the Web), Windows was the most used operating-system family in August 2021, with around 91% usage share according to Net Applications and around 76% usage share according to StatCounter”

What is “ownership” in reality?

We all have a pretty good sense of ownership in that it describes your rights to a particular item or property. If these rights allow you to do whatever-you-like with whatever-it-is, subject to legal constraints, then you truly own it. You possess it physically. You can paint it green, trash it, sell parts of it, and do a whole host of joyful owner activities.

The degree to which you are limited in what you can do with whatever-it-is defines your “ownership” along a spectrum from fully-owned to use-owned-only. These are your ownership “rights”, not really ownership as traditionally understood.

And just who gives you these rights? Well, in general you bought the rights along with the physical item from its manufacturer or builder. If the producer made the item (for simplicity) from raw materials, then the producer created the rights that he can sell along with the physical item. So, you have really bought two things: a physical whatever and the rights to use it as you see fit – and in accordance with the purchase rights that are typically buried in legalese fine print.

What about a house on a piece of land? Assume that you paid the seller, who did not make the house or land but somehow acquired ownership of both, in cash. Your rights allow you to change the house and land in any way that you want – subject of course to at least a zillion laws, regulations, and other constraints. Oh yes, and if you fail to pay taxes on these “owned” items, the local government can seize your property and sell it to obtain the taxes owed.

So, what exactly do you own here? You kind of own the house and land but you are greatly restricted in what you can do with these. And you also own various kinds of related property taxes and the like. Not like renting where what you can do is even more severely constrained, but you have quite a number of restrictions in common with renting.

What if anything do we fully own?

In our reality, not much. Most of our ownership is partial and contingent. We have certain rights to use and abuse certain things – rights granted by many players and meddlers – but in practice, these rights can change without warning. They are more a state of mind about things we “possess” rather than anything permanent and complete.

We do own something, to some extent, and for some unknown period of time. Things have always been pretty much this way, even for the (temporary) powers that be.

The good news: We don’t own nothing – not yet, at least.

Home ownership is freedom, however much it costs. Along with conditions, taxes, and regulations of course.
Home ownership is freedom, however much it costs. Along with conditions, taxes, and regulations of course.

Why is ownership so important?

Owning something gives you freedom to do with your “something” whatever you may feel like doing. This is freedom in a very basic sense.

Some folks like to define themselves in part by what they own. Lots of late model Mercedes and BMWs in quite modest postwar neighborhoods near where I live.

Many people buy things that can, if all goes well, be sold subsequently for a profit. Ownership here is investment. It can even include home ownership, if you can imagine such a thing. And of course, businesses.

You rent things for short-term use, such as expensive tools and major equipment (e.g., U-Haul). Having to buy and own such things would be a serious disadvantage.

Today, almost anything imaginable can be rented. Of course, quite a few such things should not be rented in lieu of outright purchase. New clothing, new computers, and new furniture are examples. Rental charges typically add up to multiples of the cash price.

You may have noticed that when people own things, they mostly look after them. Compare this with rental cars that become quite nasty within weeks of introduction. Rental apartments also, but somewhat constrained in recent years by atrocious security/damage deposits.

Home ownership in particular generally creates a sense of belonging, of community. These are probably rooted in our far distant tribal past when control over one’s locale and dwelling often meant life or death. Today, community has replaced tribal, and we no longer have to fight regularly for survival.

Community benefits and responsibilities tie people together in so many ways. Home ownership is the price we pay to become community members. Community governments and organizations protect and maintain their communities.

A bit of a stretch perhaps, but ownership of a dwelling place with tribal roots may well be the most important kind of ownership there is. A human nature fundamental, deeply held, and strongly sought.

So, with this conjecture in mind, just what is this WEF-supported (and subsequently disavowed) “own nothing” referring to?

Personal and family freedom and belonging.

These may be what the WEF and others do not want us to have

The rulers, ruler-wannabes, and assorted supporters could care less about our ownership of almost anything – except for the personal freedom and community ties available through home ownership.

Under their dictates, we will own nothing in terms of personal freedom and community relationships. We will instead be subservient to whatever it is that they demand while we are in nothing-ville.

These groups are cleverly targeting cars to make home ownership beyond the resources of the majority. The are trying very hard to pack us into more easily-controlled cities – the so-called “15-minute cities” of which we seem to be hearing more and more about lately.

You haven’t heard about our future as 15-minute city dwellers? Here is how Wikipedia explains this concept:

“The 15-minute city (FMC or 15mC) is an urban planning concept in which most daily necessities and services, such as work, shopping, education, healthcare, and leisure can be easily reached by a 15-minute walk or bike ride from any point in the city. This approach aims to reduce car dependency, promote healthy and sustainable living, and improve wellbeing and quality of life for city dwellers.”

The problems with this concept, apart from the enormous transition costs involved, are pretty obvious to anyone who lives in a climate with serious winters. Enforced city-dwelling such as exists today in places like China is hardly a recommendation either.

Enforcement weakens or destroys personal freedom and community relationships. This is just what rulers, tyrants, and assorted dictators do.

Now we can get to the “happy” part of “own nothing and be happy”

The 15-minute city concept or fantasy supposedly provides the necessary happiness. Assuming of course that the city fantasy can ever be achieved except in a few situations. This means that in general we will be happy because we are told to be happy – or else.

City living has become hugely expensive, and available through ownership mostly to the affluent and wealthy. For the majority, aka us, we will have rental apartments – probably subsidized in a variety of ways. We will in effect own nothing that fundamentally matters to us.

I read occasionally stories about happiness in cities in China. These for the most part seem quite sad, not happy in any respect. Residents appear to exist, not live. Again, apart from the usual few elites and rulers.

The sheer impracticality of such an own-nothing-be-happy vision can hardly be overstated. People will not give up ownership – home ownership in particular – without a fight. They are still in the majority and have great resources and ingenuity to apply. Being forced into this sort of fight, or more accurately resistance, may well be what makes the majority of owners happy.

How to happily resist own-nothing-be-happy

Well, we might start by consulting an expert in ownership:

“’Own nothing, control everything,’ is an oft-repeated phrase credited to John D. Rockefeller that people like to use in the offshore industry.” In other words, it is not ownership in a technical sense that counts. If you control it, you effectively own it. Or, alternatively, whoever controls it, owns it.

Following this dictum then, we might try to figure out how to control our need for freedom via home ownership and belonging via its community. Whether we own in a technical sense may not matter, according to good old J. D.

Umm …

I didn’t get much of anywhere thinking through the J.D. approach, but perhaps you can do better. All I see here is a type of control that applies mostly to major businesses, and probably to nations. What we – us normal folk – really need to ensure is our individual and family freedom and belonging.

The forces working against home ownership today, and against individual freedom in general, are enormously powerful. Elements of tyranny are appearing in a growing number of places. And if good buddy Mattias Desmet is correct, we masses – or mass formations – are being hypnotized, making us unable to resist whoever is operating the hypnosis machinery. You don’t recall Mattias? …

“The world is in the grips of mass formation―a dangerous, collective type of hypnosis―as we bear witness to loneliness, free-floating anxiety, and fear giving way to censorship, loss of privacy, and surrendered freedoms. It is all spurred by a singular, focused crisis narrative that forbids dissident views and relies on destructive groupthink.”

“Totalitarianism is not a coincidence and does not form in a vacuum. It arises from a collective psychosis that has followed a predictable script throughout history, its formation gaining strength and speed with each generation―from the Jacobins to the Nazis and Stalinists―as technology advances. Governments, mass media, and other mechanized forces use fear, loneliness, and isolation to demoralize populations and exert control, persuading large groups of people to act against their own interests, always with destructive results.”

“In The Psychology of Totalitarianism, world-renowned Professor of Clinical Psychology Mattias Desmet deconstructs the societal conditions that allow this collective psychosis to take hold. By looking at our current situation and identifying the phenomenon of ‘mass formation’―a type of collective hypnosis―he clearly illustrates how close we are to surrendering to totalitarian regimes.

Mattias Desmet, clinical psychologist in Belgium, inventor of mass formation hypnosis.
Mattias Desmet, clinical psychologist in Belgium, inventor of mass formation hypnosis.

So, resistance is useless? But maybe only for the mass-hypnotized.

We can own the two primary essentials and be even happier

My sense is that we can own the two essentials noted above – freedom via home ownership, and belonging via community – but not in ways that worked in past. The past is past, as they say. The forces trying to prevent this are global, powerful, and resourceful. They are big, and we are little – in terms of effective power.

Their principal weaknesses: they are big, and they are intelligent but not smart.

Our principal strengths: we are small and diverse, but we are smart.

These are of course highly general concepts, but they can be made operationally specific. Let’s look first at the big guys who need to be resisted.

The big guys (power-wise). Their focus is global and high-level. They have enlisted support from many huge businesses and many large governments. They are committed to a truly massive undertaking (if you will excuse the probably appropriate term) in trying to dominate, or at least largely control, around 8 billion normal people in around 190 countries.

As I argued a while back, leadership in large organizations – government and business – is widely, fundamentally, and almost irrevocably flawed:

“If one makes a great leap and considers ‘corruption’ as being characteristic of sociopathic or psychopathic personalities, then research indicates that 4% of the adult population are sociopaths and 1% are psychopaths. But, just to confuse things, some 5% to 15% are ‘almost psychopaths’. So, for purposes here, it seems that up to 10% of the population might fall into one of these categories. That is, they may be more likely than the main population to be corruptible or corrupted.”

Corruption far too often floats or drives for the top in large organizations. Corrupt leaders tend not to be smart in the sense of being wise, but they are often certifiably, credentialled, intelligent. Bad combination, yes. Anyhow, that’s the way the world seems to work. Fortunately this makes them vulnerable.

They are going to make serious mistakes, and will ultimately fail. This seems historically the case, at least. Our job is to assist and expedite them as much as possible in this downward path.

The little guys (power-wise). That’s actually just a small subset of the 8-billion non-big-guy people. But, as is so often the case, a few smart and dedicated folks can make huge things happen. You will recall that the patriots in the 1770’s – numbering only about 10% of the population – whacked all the king’s men and founded a great new nation.

The trick here, at least as I see it, is acting in carefully thought out ways – smart ways – and staying too small, invisible, and diverse for the big guys to bother with. We also need to be lucky. Failure in these efforts could well prove fatal or worse.

This is a battle where one side will pursue non-violent, peaceful means as much as possible, and where the other side will resort to violence as a primary tactic.

Working through community ties may be effective in a few tightly-knit communities, but it probably won’t for the majority. The followers of the big guys, willing and coerced, are deeply and widely dug in. And not just in cities, but in many small towns. Our working communities in this case will have to be largely virtual. Survival is job #1.

What exactly might we do? Well, as in all such situations, it depends …

Peaceful resistance works best

Probably the very worst kind of resistance is physical violence of any kind. This just creates a strong backlash by groups with great power and resources. And greatly reduces the chances of an individual’s survival. Not a good plan.

Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, organized citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Peaceful resistance takes many forms:

  • Creating and pursuing a common cause
  • Helping generate active public pressure
  • Developing and communicating clear goals
  • Acting with determination and persistence
  • Opportunistically conducting attention-grabbing acts and protests
  • Seeking support from influential people
  • Having as much as possible a sense of humor

Most of these are best kept small and hopeful in nature to avoid attracting major and painful responses from various powers-that-be. Such responses are almost always counterproductive.

Bottom line:

The WEF objective for the world, despite it being obscured, of “owning nothing and being happy” seems to me to be something more along the lines of eliminating both our freedom via home ownership and belonging via community. Not exactly a formula for being happy, unless being happy is also demanded and enforced, with an or-else option.

Today, most of us fully-own relatively little, and generally by choice. But home ownership, which provides basic human freedom, is different. This need seems to have been built into human nature. It will not go away whether WEF and its accomplices like it or not. It is something that people have fought for since people were invented. The WEF et al are making a big mistake here. Owning nothing won’t happen. Happy just might.

Related Reading

“The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigor of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.”

“After a diligent inquiry, I can discern four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and nature. II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.”

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”

“Microsoft has made an announcement stating that it will be incorporating robust built-in artificial intelligence (AI) integration across its Windows 11 operating system, and already privacy experts and advocates are concerned.”

“According to Microsoft, the inclusion of AI is intended to enhance the usability and speed of Windows 11. However, concerns have been raised by certain experts who fear potential privacy invasions resulting from AI integration within Windows 11. The extent to which ‘Windows Copilot’ will be integrated into various aspects of Windows 11 remains uncertain at this time, but since it’s Microsoft and Bill Gates, we’re not optimistic that things will be on the level.”

“At first glance, it seems that Microsoft’s newly integrated AI will have the capability to analyze all the content on your computer using its artificial intelligence engine, regardless of your preferences. The introduction of a feature called Windows Copilot, which utilizes AI to interact with Microsoft’s cloud-based systems, was announced for Windows 11”