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A basic income guarantee – a dream or a future reality? August 18, 2010

The idea of a basic income guarantee is getting popular. In case you have not heard about it yet, a basic income guarantee (or basic income) is a proposed system of social security, that periodically provides each citizen with a sum of money that allows the receiver to participate in society with human dignity. In contrast to income redistribution between nations themselves, the phrase basic income defines payments to individuals rather than households, groups, or nations, in order to provide for individual basic human needs. Except for citizenship, a basic income is entirely unconditional.

In Germany they speak about 500 or even 1000 € monthly unconditional income for everyone.

 What are the arguments?

One of the arguments for a basic income was articulated by the French Economist and Philosopher André Gorz:

The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet-unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact…
From the point where it takes only 1,000 hours per year or 20,000 to 30,000 hours per lifetime to create an amount of wealth equal to or greater than the amount we create at the present time in 1,600 hours per year or 40,000 to 50,000 hours in a working life, we must all be able to obtain a real income equal to or higher than our current salaries in exchange for a greatly reduced quantity of work…
Neither is it true any longer that the more each individual works, the better off everyone will be. The present crisis has stimulated technological change of an unprecedented scale and speed: ‘the micro-chip revolution’. The object and indeed the effect of this revolution has been to make rapidly increasing savings in labour, in the industrial, administrative and service sectors. Increasing production is secured in these sectors by decreasing amounts of labour. As a result, the social process of production no longer needs everyone to work in it on a full-time basis. (more…)
 

Looking for alternatives: a symposium on the idea of communism March 17, 2009

(image by me)

An interesting article found in the GUARDIAN, let me quote some abstracts:

The speedy panic with which our governments agreed to throw billions of pounds away to restore “confidence” suggests that the dream is over and we are awakening to a strange new socialism, in which an increasingly authoritarian government has taken public control of financial capitalism in order to save it from itself. We read today that equal pay reviews no longer matter. Migrants are left to starve on the streets as the government heads off the far right by pandering to it. And so it’s precisely now that the question of an alternative must be re-opened.

Against this backdrop, Birkbeck College this weekend hosted a symposium on the idea of communism. Originally planned as a meeting of philosophers and those who enjoy hearing their debates, the unexpected material circumstances of history instead gave the event a genuine sense of urgency. Even the BBC came to hear Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere, Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, and others speaking on the possibilities and challenges of reinventing the communist ideal today.

The conference was happily free of dogmatism. No one on the stage was there to represent a particular party or doctrine. There were disagreements, but at heart was a simple proposition. Communism is an idea that has been with us in different forms for thousands of years, as Terry Eagleton pointed out. The task is now to think what the concepts of egalitarian voluntarism, self-organisation, common ownership of common means of production, abolition of class-structured society, and freedom from state power can mean today.

First, the question of the role of the state and the economy remains open. While Judith Balso, Toni Negri and Alain Badiou insist on creating new political movements at a distance from the state, Zizek and Bruno Bosteels point to the experiences of Bolivia and Venezuela as contemporary proof that by taking power, a progressive radical movement can survive even against overwhelming reactionary forces.

Perhaps the true question is: why communism? (more…)

 

The book that changed the world October 19, 2008

 

The booksellers all over the world report the recent increase of sellings of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital/Capital. Apparently it is the young people who are looking for that treatise on political economy – trying to understand the current economical crisis.

So what is there is that 2000 page work, which is being second widely spread book after the Bible?

Though Marx is very concerned with the social aspects of commerce, his book is not an ethical treatise, but an attempt to explain the objective “laws of motion” of the capitalist system as a whole, its origins and future. He aims to reveal the causes and dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, competition, the banking and credit system, the tendency of the rate of profit to decline, land-rents and many other things. (more…)

 

 
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