Is Basic Income a good step in a stage of revolutionary socialism?

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LovingCommie's picture
LovingCommie
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May 12 2014 03:34
Is Basic Income a good step in a stage of revolutionary socialism?

It's gaining a lot of traction across the world now, and I know most of you will look at it as another reformist, social democratic measure, but I think it's something that would be very important once a DOTP has been established. Any thoughts on this?

ajjohnstone
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May 12 2014 11:11

Left Unity voted to exclude it from their platform of demands, whereas the Green Party has accepted it as part of their policies.

Seems the reformists can't agree amongst themselves to its benefits.

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May 12 2014 11:12

I wouldn't complain about it! I don't think it's some stepping stone to socialism or whatever, but if we've got to have capitalism I'd rather have a capitalism with a guaranteed minimum income than one without it. I'm not hopeful about though, despite its chic in certain circles.

As for post DOTP (or whatever term anyone wants to use) I would think as much free access as possible with rationing dealing with scarcity would be the way to go, not guaranteed purchasing power, cos, like who are you going to be purchasing from? Capitalists? The state?

Spikymike
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May 12 2014 14:53

LC, Suggest you look up/search at least three other threads under the 'guaranteed universal basic minimum income' etc headings on two of which I have commented on previously alongside others.Tired of dealing with this idea/reform which has been around almost as long as I have!

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May 12 2014 16:32

A 'guaranteed universal basic minimum income' program is a reform within capitalism. Its not in any way a step towards socialism, any more or less than other reforms. What's important to recognize though is that these reforms should be seen as concessions to our class, won through mass struggle by the working class against capital and the state. So we should definitely welcome these reforms, as they can definitely alleviate our living conditions under capitalism in here and now. But supporting these reforms as ends, and the politicians who promise to provide them would be reformist.

The process towards socialism is the development of working class' self-activity, and nothing else.

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May 12 2014 18:36

THE DOTP WILL ONLY B SUBVERTED BY A PATERNALISTIC MEASURE (WHICH IS IMPPSSIBBLE UNDER THE LAWS OF CAPITAL WHICH SYSTEMATICALLY REDUCES THE PROLETARIAN TO BEASTHOOD) LIKE THIS, DEPENDENT ONCE AGAIN UPON THE STATE-FORM FOR SOCIAL
THE DOTP WILL NOT ALLOW THS TO HAPPEN . THE DOTP REFUSES TO ALLOW ANY COOPTATION BY THE BOURGEOIS STATE APPARATUS. THE DOTP DOES NOT TRANSMORPH FROM A CAPITALIST CACCOON, IT ANNIHILATES CAPITALISM

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May 12 2014 21:55

DOPT?

Agent of the International's picture
Agent of the In...
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May 13 2014 01:59
Khawaga wrote:
DOPT?

Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

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May 13 2014 14:45

Ah. Makes sense. But since when did ATR go out of fashion?

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May 13 2014 15:34
Spikymike wrote:
LC, Suggest you look up/search at least three other threads under the 'guaranteed universal basic minimum income' etc headings on two of which I have commented on previously alongside others.

Universal basic income movement, Jan 2013 + Apr 2014
Financial Times Predicts the End of Work (and a Guaranteed Income), Feb 2013
Guaranteed Minimum Income, July 2007

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May 13 2014 15:35
Khawaga wrote:
Ah. Makes sense. But since when did ATR go out of fashion?

ATR?

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May 13 2014 15:55

Perhaps one of the quickest routes to understanding the problematic aspects of basic income is to look at why the neo-liberal right are in favour of it. [Hint - it's to do with eliminating the principle of "to each according to their needs" (see also higher support costs for disability, etc).]

Secondly, the biggest attack on income* in Ireland at the moment (at least in the big cities) is the rise and rise of rent. Basic income would simply be swallowed by rent increases. Want to add rent controls? Ah, but then you have to find some way of controlling property prices, which means controlling the rise in value of rental assets generally, which means controlling the financial system, which means radical change in how capitalism works, which means... you get the idea.

Basic income is a Mencken solution: "there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong"

From a Marxian or value-critical perspective, all distributive "solutions" are Mencken solutions, in fact.

* well, of the non-mortgaged w/c, anyway. The mortgagees have slightly different, but not entirely unrelated problems

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May 13 2014 16:02
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Khawaga wrote:
Ah. Makes sense. But since when did ATR go out of fashion?

ATR?

Atari Teenage Riot?

bastarx
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May 14 2014 00:00

After the Revolution.

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May 14 2014 08:14
LovingCommie wrote:
It's gaining a lot of traction across the world now, and I know most of you will look at it as another reformist, social democratic measure, but I think it's something that would be very important once a DOTP has been established. Any thoughts on this?

yeah, as others have pointed out, within capitalism it is a reform which wouldn't really work (capitalism as a whole relies on us needing to work, wage. If we had a decent standard of living without working, hardly anyone would do any work!).

In terms of something to be implemented post revolution, it has absolutely no place. As the urgent priority would be replacing production for profit and money with production and distribution according to need.

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May 14 2014 08:41

I don't know all the details but some of the proposals (I think the Green Party in the UK though not sure) are talking about a Citizen's income which potentially means excluding non citizens. Our benefit system excludes many working class people because of their status but there are benefits available to some "non citizens" so the language of citizen in this context is worrying.

Also, as people have said, for many reasons it won't work under capitalism anyway and under communism we won't need it. Also when the safety net we do have is being ripped away, with benefit cuts and people are dying right now because of it, it worries me that people are talking so much about universal income, instead of talking about how we fight benefit cuts that are happening right now. Resistance to them is usually not winning and we need to urgently work out how we can make that resistance more effective, not talk about universal income.

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May 14 2014 09:07
Steven. wrote:
LovingCommie wrote:
It's gaining a lot of traction across the world now, and I know most of you will look at it as another reformist, social democratic measure, but I think it's something that would be very important once a DOTP has been established. Any thoughts on this?

yeah, as others have pointed out, within capitalism it is a reform which wouldn't really work (capitalism as a whole relies on us needing to work, wage. If we had a decent standard of living without working, hardly anyone would do any work!).

Agreed - but with the proviso that we distinguish between work in the capitalist sense - i.e. of labour power valorising capital, via commodity production - and productive activity. Graeber makes the reasonable argument that most people get bored and depressed by being completely inactive, therefore people find creative/productive things to do with their time. The problem is not that people won't do productive things with their time, the problem - from capital's perspective - is that this won't necessarily be creating commodities or valorising capital.

Imagine you're a musician on guaranteed minimum income (GMI). You write a few songs, you put them out on t'interwebz under creative commons licence. Amongst all the other millions of people doing likewise, you succeed in gaining an audience and a certain popularity for your stuff. A promotor contacts you asks you to do a gig in their area in return for travel and accommodation costs, plus a cut of the door takings. Gig attracts enough audience to cover costs with maybe a bit on top - takings are redistributed between artists, PA, venue hire, sound crew, door crew, promotor, etc. Grand. But that's all just revenue to them. Where's the valorisation of investors capital? If all the parties involved are on GMI and self-employed, without shareholders, major bank loans, or other interface to investment capital and profit-taking channels - where's the capital accumulation? The advocates of BI/GMI say that it will give people the chance to engage in the productive activities of their choice and produce the things they want for each other. Bur from a capital point of view - that's the whole problem. Even without a ruptural break with market relations, how could BI/GMI not lead to a partial de-commodification of social production and thereby a reduction in the overall profit rate?

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May 14 2014 09:19
Khawaga wrote:
But since when did ATR go out of fashion?

Also, what about the "Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism", with it's interesting proposals for the transitional period.

boomerang
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May 16 2014 14:43

If the basic income was actually high enough to provide a decent standard of living, wouldn't this cause inflation? Then after the inflation, the basic income would be devalued, and would no longer provide a decent standard of living.

ocelot wrote:
Perhaps one of the quickest routes to understanding the problematic aspects of basic income is to look at why the neo-liberal right are in favour of it. [Hint - it's to do with eliminating the principle of "to each according to their needs" (see also higher support costs for disability, etc).]

Wow, the neoliberal right in favor of basic income? Is this true? (Never heard of that)

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May 16 2014 14:52

Basic income would be sort of like credit with less bubbles, right? And cause inflation? It would aid in the turnover of capital through consumer consumption, much the same way that personal credit does, right?

Shut me up if I've raised this concern before, but wouldn't it coincide with a massive bureaucratic apparatus for determining and policing eligibility? Concretely speaking, the state is not going to just start shooting off money to workers like a lawn sprinkler. Does anyone else think the citizenship/immigrant divide might be exacerbated?

Also, it might be a slight boon to small-time capital. Graeber says that people would pool funds to buy roads (mutualist, market-socialist nightmare) but I'm not convinced. They will buy roads from the cheapest private capitalist firm that can offer.

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May 16 2014 14:55
boomerang wrote:
Wow, the neoliberal right in favor of basic income? Is this true? (Never heard of that)

Yup...

Angela Mitropoulos wrote:
When tracking the history of calls for a ‘new social contract’ for Contract & Contagion, the first instance of this I came across was in the mid-1940s, written by a Tory: Lady Rhys Williams in the UK. Her report, Something To Look Forward To, included a call for (her phrase) a basic income. It’s the earliest version of that I’ve seen.

http://s0metim3s.com/2013/08/16/basic-income/

boomerang
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May 16 2014 15:01
Pennoid wrote:
Basic income would be sort of like credit with less bubbles, right? And cause inflation? It would aid in the turnover of capital through consumer consumption, much the same way that personal credit does, right?

That's true... but the money for the basic income would have to come from taxes, right? So that leaves capital with less money to invest. That lowers supply at the same time demand from consumers is rising because of the basic income, which creates inflation.

Or I could be wrong, economics is confusing.

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May 16 2014 15:50
boomerang wrote:
Wow, the neoliberal right in favor of basic income? Is this true? (Never heard of that)

Totally, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income#Right-wing. Friedman, Hayek, and the rest. The aim is the elimination of the welfare state, basically. A number of right-wing advocates put it forward as a proposal for a negative income tax - which means they get to roll in the whole flat tax thing as well. Naturally, it's only for citizens of the state, not immigrant workers, in the right-wing version. (and, afaics in the centre-left version, albeit on an EU citizenship level, rather than individual member state - same bullshit on a slightly larger scale)

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May 16 2014 17:39
boomerang wrote:
That's true... but the money for the basic income would have to come from taxes, right?

I think the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) types would argue that state spending isn't constrained by taxes, taxes simply function to create demand for currency. Therefore if the state nationalised the money supply (as Martin Wolf has mooted in the FT), and instead created fiat money via direct payments to all citizens, a basic income could work. There's various problems with this (not least, one of the MMT caveats is that inflation is a constraint on the money supply - as you say).

Also, in its left wing versions, a basic income is meant to give people enough to get by on. Some rough calculations here: UK living wage £7.65 x 40 hrs x 52 weeks ~ £16,000/year. UK GDP per capita is $39,941, ~£24,000. So we're talking about (16/24) x 100, 67% - two thirds of GDP [assuming that everyone keeps working, which seems unlikely]. I just can't see it.

What is more likely is a much more modest payment as a replacement for complex means-tested benefits systems (as Universal Credit is meant to be), almost certainly linked to job-seeking, 'volunteering', or 'work-related activity' (as Universal Credit is meant to be). Which is why the right advocated it in the first place - slash the welfare bureaucracy and compel work. The latter being the opposite of the stated goal of the left wing versions to free people from the economic compulsion to do shit jobs.

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May 16 2014 20:04

an example of the liberal use of a basic income is van Parisj's book "Real Freedom for All." He argues that a universal basic income is necessary to beef up capitalism's failing legitimacy.

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May 17 2014 13:01

My mother earned less than the going minimum rate all her working life. I know if she heard people here explain that it would have been a bad thing to pay her more she would have been more sympathetic to the idea of being skint. But that's people on the bottom for you; always think they know better than the boffins.

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May 18 2014 13:44

Some of those proposing a basic income (Kathi Weeks, at least) are doing so precisely to show that such a demand is not acceptable to capital: it's a sort of lever with which to prise open 'capitalist realism' and open the way to 'post-capitalist economics' (I don't think Weeks uses this formula, but I don't think she uses 'communism' either - I may be wrong). She frames this in light of wages for /against housework, which she argues was made with the knowledge that it couldn't be fulfilled by capital. I'm not sure whether Plan C (who seem to be moving towards demanding a basic income) see it in this way or whether they're a little more reformist, though I suspect the latter.

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May 18 2014 13:49
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But that's people on the bottom for you; always think they know better than the boffins.

I've been instinctively in favour of UBI for a while - for the reasons you outline - but then I am prepared to listen to leftists who have better knowledge of the working of the economy than me. And if they warn that UBI could lead to massive inflation and/or increased profits for landlords then I don't give over my authority to them, but I respect their superior understanding and take it into account. There are plenty of things we might think are good for us from our individual positions but which wouldn't actually be.

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May 18 2014 14:25

Sorry but what is wrong with demanding a bottom line of pay, a rent cap, lower fuel/food prices? Just where does this communism thing kick in? Half way up?
No one is going to say it is a steppy stone to revolution, but it is a marked statement of our inability to address revolution if we can't even make realistic demands that improve the welfare of millions of people. FFS, surely most of us are on crummy wages or worse? Maybe not, but how far removed are people if they think the fight doesn't start at the bottom first?

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May 18 2014 19:17

It's liberal sentiments like those that THE DOTP WILL DROWN IN

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May 18 2014 19:50

cresspot #30

Sorry, you've lost me!