Basic Income In The Neoliberal Age




Deepest thanks to Socialist Project for working with us in OCAP to put out this pamphlet. It is a collection of articles and statements that OCAP members have written on the subject of basic income. It includes a resource guide pointing to other writings on the subject. Without meaning an offence to those on the left who place honest hopes in the possibility of a BI that could turn back the austerity agenda, I must say that, in my opinion, the idea is both a false trail and a dangerous trap. Posing as an expression of ‘enlightened capitalism,’ a subsidy to low wage employers, financed through cuts to other areas of social provision, is the form of BI that is being tested in Finland and Ontario. The hope that a universal, unconditional and adequate UBI can be conjured up in place of this neoliberal measure is profoundly mistaken. It is a demoralised and disoriented quest for a way around neoliberal reality by way of a social policy ruse that is thoroughly unrealistic. In all the many efforts to advance a progressive BI that I have seen, I have yet to encounter even a serious attempt to assess the societal balance of forces, examine the functions and limitations of income support systems in this society and offer an explanation of how a policy that would remove the element of economic coercion from the job market could be achieved and maintained under capitalism. For the left, basic income is both a non existent Holy Grail and the fatal mistake of laying down a welcome mat for a measure that, in reality, would serve the interests of intensifying neoliberal exploitation.

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