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End State

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781398702196

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 19th May 2022

Genre: Society & Social Sciences / Politics & Government

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‘Insightful and revealing: a brilliant exploration of how ideas currently on the edge of politics could move into the mainstream’ Danny Dorling, author of SLOWDOWN

An ambitious, thrilling manifesto, setting out a new relationship between the individual and the state and how we can get there

Can we reverse the mental health crisis by getting rid of Mondays?

Is it time to stop poor people being poor by… giving them money?

Can we quell the fires of populism by giving young people a say in the future?

As the shockwaves of Covid 19 continue to spread, and as the smoke clears from a year of anger and unrest, many people feel forlorn about the future.

In End State, James Plunkett argues that this can be a moment not of despair, but of historic opportunity – a chance to rethink, renew, and reform some of the most fundamental ways we organise society. In much the same way as societies emerged stronger from crises in the past – building the state as we know it today – we too can build a happier future.

James Plunkett has spent his career thinking laterally about the complicated relationships between individuals and the state. First as an advisor to Gordon Brown, then a leading economic researcher and writer, and then in the charity sector, helping people struggling at the front-line of economic change. James combines a deep understanding of social issues with an appreciation of how change is playing out not in the ivory tower, but in the reality of people’s lives.

Now, in his first book, he sets out an optimistic vision, exploring nine ways in which our social settlement can be upgraded to harness the power of the digital age. Covering a dizzying sweep of geography and history, from London’s 18th Century sewage systems to the uneasy inequality of Silicon Valley, it’s a thrilling and iconoclastic account of how society can not only survive, but thrive, in the digital age.

End State provides a much-needed map to help us navigate our way over the curious terrain of the twenty-first century.


As well as working in digital technology, James has a background in both economics and welfare rights. In this book, he brings these different disciplines into a stimulating and productive conversation. He is well aware of the dangers of the digital economy but also bracingly optimistic about how they might be tackled. A simple, well-crafted and useful contribution to a vital debate
Aditya Chakrabortty, Guardian columnist and Senior Economics commentator
A refreshingly optimistic book. Plunkett is a well-respected policy thinker who has spent the last decade and a half variously in Downing Street, studying at Harvard, in think tanks and at NGOs. He is well versed in his subject matter and on top of the detail...his style is engaging and personal. The reader experiences each chapter almost as a journey, exploring the topics alongside a knowledgeable and chatty tour guide
A deft - and rare - combination of vision and pragmatism, End States offers a compelling set of ideas for those who refuse to let our recent crises be wasted
James Ball, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
End State is absolutely superb. If you're looking for a book that is honest about the problems of the future but leaves you hopeful about solutions, then this is it
Jon Richardson
A book full of bold ideas for how to make life better. James Plunkett is a one man think tank and his ideas deserve a wide audience
Andrew Adonis, author of SAVING BRITAIN
End State is a must read for anyone who's interested in how we deliver fairness and prosperity in the digital age. The problems James describes are big, but so are the ideas to solve them. This is a compelling, thought-provoking and above all optimistic book
Anushka Asthana, Deputy political editor, ITV NEWS
His analysis of what needs to be re-thought and repaired is beautifully written, clear and ultimately optimistic. This book made me think. For me, there is no higher praise
Gavin Esler, author of HOW BRITAIN ENDS
An absolute tour de force. I read the first page and couldn't stop reading
Mark Stevenson, author of AN OPTIMIST'S TOUR OF THE FUTURE
From markets to jobs to government to life itself, James Plunkett offers a bold, compelling and above all optimistic vision of how to build a better world. Whether you end up agreeing with him or not, you really should read this book.
Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King's College London
Amid a drought of new ideas on the left, the former Gordon Brown aide turned thinktank wonk has produced a cheerful but realistic book arguing that an era of technological and political upheaval could still be harnessed for the public good. Things, as they say, can only get better
This is a valuable addition to the increasingly compelling literature on the broken social contract. End State differs from so many books of this type, in that it offers not just problems but fixes - including ideas that might actually get done. An informed, thought-provoking, and uplifting read
Professor Diane Coyle, author of COGS AND MONSTERS
Insightful and revealing: a brilliant exploration of how ideas currently on the edge of politics could move into the mainstream
Danny Dorling, author of SLOWDOWN
An antidote to pessimism. Plunkett shows how we can redesign government for the future - moving not left or right, but simply forward. It's a plan to harness the digital economy to create a better future for all. Truly worth reading and acting upon
Carlota Perez, Author of Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: the Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages