Info and Contact
On August 31st 2017 BIEN Iceland hopes to see you in Reykjavik to participate in a meeting with good guests where we will discuss how the Basic Income ideology fits in with the Nordic Welfare Model.
The venue is the Nordic House in Reykjavik, which fits 100 persons, so only 100 participants will be accepted. The conference will be streamed and available online, so it will be possible to experience it in their own time from home.
The conference is organized by BIEN Iceland which is an affiliate of BIEN (The Basic Income Earth Network) and has the same general purpose and goals (www.basicincome.org).
Ph.D. Associate professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen.
Basic Income – Completion of Social Citizenship or Acceptance of Marginalization?
The presentation falls into two parts. The first one recalls my scholarly encounter with the ideas, discussions and practices surrounding the concepts of negative income tax, guaranteed minimum income and basic income from the 1970s into the 1990s with three focal points: The War on Poverty in the USA in the 1960s and early 1970s (Johnson & Nixon administrations); Danish debates following the Oil Crisis of the mid-1970 inspired by Revolt from the Center (1978), André Gorz (1981-83) and Erik Christensen (1990); European debates triggered by the fear of social dumping and social tourism following from the European Union project (Guaranteed minimum income recommendation network 1990-92; BIEN 1983). In all three cases Basic Income (or the functional equivalent) was viewed as the solution to a major societal crisis of social integration (welfare dependency, mass unemployment and jobless growth) . During this period I came to appreciate the idea, perhaps rather intuitively and motivated by great sympathies and admiration for the Left leaning colleagues that promoted it. During the period of prosperity and post-neoliberalism from 1997 and onwards I continued to work on marginalization and social exclusion in an environment where the discussion on basic income had suddenly become very silent.
The second part of the presentation outlines my reflections on Basic Income provoked by an overwhelming and encompassing resurfacing interest in the idea currently everywhere from Latin America to East Asia, and now Norden, in part provoked by a fear of lack of jobs because of technological development (robots, AI) and contemporary relative high rates of youth and new graduates’ unemployment. It focuses on three elements: the welfare regimes and the polities which in the main promote the idea – neoliberals and conservatives in liberal regimes; the seemingly inevitability of setting the basis very low – the ‘law’ of less eligibility; and, most importantly, the implicit acceptance of marginalization from the labor market and exclusion from consumer society. This sums up to viewing Basic Income as perhaps not such a good idea because it on the one hand does not address the problem of an increasingly inhumane work environment (the precariat [Guy Standing]) and on the other hand does not avoid the negative (exclusive) consequences of a life – temporarily or permanently – outside work society.
The presentation concludes, firstly and pragmatically that in societies with little inequality and relatively low levels of unemployment like the Nordic countries Basic Income can be an improvement as a substitution for means- needs- and work- tested social assistance, but not for sickness- and unemployment benefits and disability and early retirement pensions. Secondly, and more ideally, it is suggested to return to Gorz and the young Karl Marx with their emphasis on work as creation, fighting for humanizing the work environment and making it an inclusive one, where there is space for everyone, instead of adopting Basic Income as a way of administrating the poor outside of main stream society.
Margina is a social scientist and at the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Silicon Valley. Her current research focuses on how social production is changing the face of major industries, a topic explored in detail in her book, The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World.