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

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Gulai Polye
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Joined: 24-05-16
Jun 2 2016 15:36
Misovlogos wrote:
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Those absent ownership of the means of production would no longer be objectively compelled to sell themselves into wage-labour.

Yes they would. Wage labour where the state pays the wage

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Instead, they would able to autonomously organise their life, family and labour outside of the logic of profitability.

No they would have to conform to the demands of the state. The state would become too powerful when both the power of violence and the power of supplier becomes unified and would easily be able to submit the working-class to slave labour.

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At the same time, the absolute worst-off would have a real escape from poverty.

The real escape from poverty lies in the workplace and in the organisational force of the working class. Not in the appeal to authority.

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This materially helps people, changes economic relations in a significant way, and creates a space for struggle.

The question is should all the power which isnt in the hands of the working class be divided between the state and the capitalist, or should it all be unified in the hands of the most oppressive state?
Only when the power is divided will there be space for a struggle.

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How is that counter-revolutionary, and how does it help the state more than it does the prospects of socialism?

There is power in being the supplier. If the state becomes a supplier while also having the power of violence, the working class will lose its ability to organise for socialism which is a stateless society. Thus it would be counter-revolutionary.

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Obviously it's not a panacea, but it's one, highly achievable step in the short- to medium-term. Do you think there is anything worth doing short of the immediate implementation of anarcho-communism (or whatever you hope for)?

Yes there is one aspect where the working class has the supreme upper hand. That is in philosophy. Philosophy is a battlefield where the working class should be able to win all day long over the capitalists and over the state. By spreading the idea of socialism, from worker to worker socialism will prevail. The other thing that can be done is to increase the power of the working class through organisation and solidarity. This gives the working class a fighting chance in the world of realism where the capitalists are strong.
A 3rd thing that is also possible in the here and now is to cleanse out the corrupted elements of the working class. The part of the working class that is working in favour of the state.

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You can only work within the limits of history.

It is actually with history in mind that i see the state as the enemy of the working class. I see the state as a dead end. It might leave in the right direction and so it might be tempting. But its a dead end, a deadly dead end.

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Misovlogos
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Joined: 31-05-16
Jun 2 2016 16:20
Joseph Kay wrote:
Fair enough, but once you go below an amount it's possible to live on, and completely remove child/sickness/disability support, you're surely condeming millions to poverty? Removing means-tests without providing enough to live on seems a backwards step (increasing the freedom of younger, healthier, childless people at the expense of the rest).

Now maybe you could raise top-rate income tax to provide a means-tested top-up for some, on top of the existing £250bn, or rent caps, or some similar policy package. But if the sums worked out, I'm sure the Greens (for example) would have a costed policy, rather than their embarassing retreat from UBI last election.

I agree that it's infinitely more complicated than my back of the envelope figures. You need to work-out the extent to which an unconditional sum would need to be topped-up and where, and figure out a tax structure to meet that demand on public expenditure. There are plenty of eminently plausible, modest proposals that could do that, however. The crux is exactly how big of a sum is feasible.

I'm not sure if you can infer all that much from the Green Party retreat, which seemed to me to be a result of their abject incompetence. The RSA released a fully-costed proposal for a UBI towards the end of last year. It's not especially ambitious or radical, but it's effectively the same as the Green's proposal. See: https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/public-services-...

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Serge Forward
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Jun 2 2016 16:42

Gulai Polye, I'm enjoying your graphs immensely. Please can we have some more of these? Especially if you have one to illustrate how 75.5% of statistics are made up, then I'd be really grateful.

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Misovlogos
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Joined: 31-05-16
Jun 2 2016 16:42

I have to disagree. An unconditional income which goes some way to meeting your basic needs is not just a transmuted form of wage labour. You are no longer compelled to sell your labour into the circuit of capital to secure your life. The bargaining terms between classes shift.

Do you have any evidence in support of your apocalyptic prognosis of a state under the UBI? Why would liberal democracies suddenly enslave and slaughter their own populations? This seems mightily far-fetched.

Why would people have to conform to the demands of the state any more than they do now? Surely economic security would increase the space for organised struggle?

When I talk of working within the limits of history, I mean that political strategy is inescapably a matter of differential evaluation: one has a finite set of choices among which one must choose. Obviously figuring out what is and is not possible is a complex issue, and one has to carefully winnow illusion from viable hope. If you think UBI a bad thing, you need to argue what possible collective strategy is preferable. The most elementary baseline of comparison is the present. And as far as I can see, a UBI would be - in weakening the link between wages and labour, in increasing the position of the worst-off, in creating a space for struggle - be far better than the neoliberal order that we endure in the present. I think it highly possible because it aligns with some of the major trends of the oncoming epoch in the global core: technological automation, high-skilled, decentralised, digital, and precarious labour, and general cultural attitudes. Your alternative is two things. First, the idea that a socialism is a self-realising project. This is the perennial failure of abstract utopianism: ideas are not independent of history itself, and cannot become a concrete reality without a far wider set of material, cultural and political conditions. Second, you argue that we ought to increase the power of the working class. In broad outline, I agree. But how is that possible? The traditional organisational strategies of the Left have failed. The male, industrial working-class of post-war Europe is over. Labour is highly precarious, highly atomised, and highly flexible. And we generally recognise the intersectional basis of oppression, not just its economic dimensions. UBI is one proposal for creating a space for struggle against exactly these neoliberal pressures; for re-balancing class forces.

Gulai Polye
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Joined: 24-05-16
Jun 2 2016 17:52
Serge Forward wrote:
Gulai Polye, I'm enjoying your graphs immensely. Please can we have some more of these? Especially if you have one to illustrate how 75.5% of statistics are made up, then I'd be really grateful.

Ok what about this map?
http://therealdeal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/turf_wars.jpg
Notice the the dead rabbits having no leaders grin

Gulai Polye
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Joined: 24-05-16
Jun 2 2016 19:02
Misovlogos wrote:
I have to disagree. An unconditional income which goes some way to meeting your basic needs is not just a transmuted form of wage labour. You are no longer compelled to sell your labour into the circuit of capital to secure your life. The bargaining terms between classes shift.

yes but without a revolution it will become class collaboration. Class collaboration is an important element of fascism.

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Do you have any evidence in support of your apocalyptic prognosis of a state under the UBI? Why would liberal democracies suddenly enslave and slaughter their own populations? This seems mightily far-fetched.

No, but there are examples where the power of supply was in the hands of the state, however the wages where unevenly distributed.

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Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

Of course once the state has all the power it needs there would no longer be any reason left for the state to adhere to liberal democracy.

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Why would people have to conform to the demands of the state any more than they do now? Surely economic security would increase the space for organised struggle?

Well people would have to obey the laws just as much as we have to today. Its just that these laws would encroach the liberties that we enjoy today. Because those liberties exists because capitalism is safeguarding them.
What economic security? The one guaranteed by the state? Well how are you gonna contest the state if the economic security is guaranteed by the state? You are going to make the possible impossible...

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When I talk of working within the limits of history, I mean that political strategy is inescapably a matter of differential evaluation: one has a finite set of choices among which one must choose. Obviously figuring out what is and is not possible is a complex issue, and one has to carefully winnow illusion from viable hope. If you think UBI a bad thing, you need to argue what possible collective strategy is preferable.

An old Soviet movie from 1925 about strike action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89xFy1H0UbA
The take (of factories) from Argentina:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOCsfEYqsYs

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Your alternative is two things. First, the idea that a socialism is a self-realising project. This is the perennial failure of abstract utopianism: ideas are not independent of history itself

Of course they are thats why they are called idea. Idealism. The ideal. And yeah socialism is a self-realising project. You get that or you dont get socialism but something else.

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, and cannot become a concrete reality without a far wider set of material, cultural and political conditions.

Well we are workers. The material conditions are not gonna hold us back.

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Second, you argue that we ought to increase the power of the working class. In broad outline, I agree. But how is that possible? The traditional organisational strategies of the Left have failed.

I think one reason, in the post USSR world, why the left has failed is because workers got scared of the ideological left. So they forget about the ideology and just tried to get the best out of it without contesting anything (which resulted in almost nothing).
But the good thing is that the old books are still here and easy accessible on the internet. So all we need to do is just rediscover the ideology and get it out, and make sure people understand that this time we are taking an anti statist approach from the get go.

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The male, industrial working-class of post-war Europe is over. Labour is highly precarious, highly atomised, and highly flexible. And we generally recognise the intersectional basis of oppression, not just its economic dimensions. UBI is one proposal for creating a space for struggle against exactly these neoliberal pressures; for re-balancing class forces.

Yes there are a lot of things to clean up due to our past generations ideological negligence...
Well i guess we can say that you wanna re-balancing class forces the material way while i wanna re-balancing class forces in the ideological way.

Spikymike
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Joined: 6-01-07
Jun 2 2016 19:40

Seems this discussion has gone backwards since it started.The 'Basic or Citizen Income' reform proposal can only be considered as a potentially practical one if it saves the state costs without undermining the wages system and capitalist profits ie essentially as a replacement for other welfare payments and set at that kind of level. The campaigners I listened to at the Dublin bookfair were honest enough to admit that this had to be the case initially so that the reform could get sufficient support across the left/right political spectrum to stand any chance of success. Of course the Leftist supporters hope to extend it further after that by yet more campaigning, so back to square one at that stage. It's main effect if implemented at that low level would of course be to act as a subsidy to employers through downward pressure on wages whilst the different capitalist sectors argued with each other as to who should cough up the bigger share of taxation to fund it. Any simplified basic citizens income would potentially save money for the state which is why it gets right-wing support - leftist supporters are obliged to admit that such would be unfair to so many people that it would have to be supplemented by retention of various other state benefit payments to the disabled, children, pensioners, carers etc etc making it a less practical reform though even that would be a long way from people getting what their individual needs would justify in any rational system.