Cover: Seven Ethics Against Capitalism by Oli Mould

Seven Ethics Against Capitalism sharply reveals the multiple crises being generated by the capitalist mode of production – from climate breakdown, to inequality, to the erosion of democracy – and how impossible it would be to fix any of these problems without a radical transformation in the way we organize society. Mould convincingly argues that values such as solidarity, stewardship and radical love must be at the heart of this new vision for the world, as well as the movements aiming to bring it into being.’

Grace Blakeley, author of Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation

‘In times when everything from nature to desire is being privatized, to shift our attention towards planetary commons is an essential ethical duty. Oli Mould’s timely Seven Ethics Against Capitalism is an urgent and passionate call not only to deeply rethink our dire present but to create the conditions for our common future beyond capitalism.’

Srećko Horvat, author of After the Apocalypse

‘A conceptual toolkit and survival guide for outliving capitalism. Through an original, compelling and readable account of the commons, Mould distils a set of ethical dispositions for building a more convivial and democratic future.’

David Madden, London School of Economics and Political Science

Seven Ethics Against Capitalism

Towards a Planetary Commons

Oli Mould



It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I attempt to ‘acknowledge’ all the people that have written this book with me. Indeed, if you are reading this afterwards, it is clear that having my name on the front cover sits rather uncomfortably with the goals of the book – for there are so many other people and things whose agency flows through and over the pages.

The first group of people I need to mention are my wonderful colleagues at Royal Holloway and beyond in the wider academic world. The university sector in the UK is under attack by capitalist forces, and it is only the camaraderie and solidarity between the staff that seem to be stopping these forces from destroying it completely. My corridor neighbour Innes Keighren has always been a sounding board and I have lost count of the number of times his office has become a group therapy gathering. Others from Royal Holloway Towers and beyond, including Alasdair Pinkerton, Sofie Narbed, Phil Brown, Mike Dolton, Katie Willis, Simon Springer, Katherine Brickell, Max Haiven, Mel Nowicki, Ella Harris, Cecilie Sachs Olsen, Thomas Dekeyser, Sasha Englemann, Phil Crang, Pete Adey and Rachael Squire, have all been there to bounce ideas off and listen to me rant. And my PhD cohort – Emily, Ed, Megan, Rhys, Jack, Angela and Will – you are all absolute saints to be supervised by me and having to listen to my incoherent yet constant ramblings. As it turns out, though, some of these have informed the thinking in these chapters after your sage advice. I must also acknowledge those on the picket line during the UCU strikes of 2019 and 2020, Dan Elphink in particular; his folk guitar and protest songs were so warming it was easy to forget the sub-zero temperatures in the air around us and in the corridors of power. And then there are my brilliant students, without whom many of the thoughts that contribute to this book would have remained unsaid.

I must also thank the editor of this book, Jonathan Skerrett, who has was bold enough to take a punt on the book, and has guided it through choppy waters and some even choppier reviews. He has been immense throughout and I wholeheartedly thank him for all his hard work. I am also extremely grateful to the anonymous reviewers who offered comradely and critically constructive advice on the theories of this book; indeed some of the ethics have changed in response to their soaring intellects and so whoever you are, you are co-authors.

I also want to acknowledge my dear friend and pastor Mark Woodward. His sermons on the radical love of our saviour Jesus Christ have been inspirational to me, and he has always been there to listen to my sometimes wacky but always passionately argued (!) theological contortions. His work is particularly evident in the Ethic of love, so thank you, Mark; keep on keeping on! Also Will Lowries, John Wills and Jonny Hopper, you have all been inspirations in my spiritual outlook on life, and will no doubt recognize many conversations we’ve had in the pages of this book. There is also the not-so-insignificant matter of thanking Nihal Arthanayake, Mark and Neil Pearce and Sam Fender – they’ll know why and just how much it meant at the time and what it still means now.

But it is to my all-female family that I owe my greatest debt. My mother is always there to support, pray and look out for me (and occasionally point out my grammatical errors on Twitter). My incandescent wife Sarah, a front-line general practitioner, is an inspiration to me. In her dedication and selfless loving compassion for everyone she meets, she is a personification of the kind of social world I want to see flourish. She is a beautiful healer of broken bodies, hearts, souls and minds; I owe her everything. And my children Penny and Jessica have radically shifted my worldview for the better and continue to be an inspiration in everything I do. I love you all with everything I am (even the latest addition, Ginger the hyperactive dog).

Finally, I want to dedicate this book to my late father, Graham, who died of mesothelioma while I was writing this book. He was a devoted father and brilliantly patient man, who supported me (and my two brothers) in whatever it was we wanted to do with love, compassion and an unshakable faith. Even though he had lived a full life, he was still taken from this world far too soon and has left a gaping wound in the lives of those who were lucky enough to call him a friend. He is the reason for me being me; I cannot thank or love him enough.