Proposals for a Universal Basic Income

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Proposals for a Universal Basic Income enjoy sympathy from vastly different camps: from social democrats like Paul Krugman, from liberals like Martin Wolf, from conservatives like Richard Nixon; from people who consider themselves disciples of the free market to people who consider themselves Marxists.

In this workshop we want to discuss what those vastly different people respectively want to achieve with a Universal Basic Income and why. We also want to discuss how the proponents of a Universal Basic Income understand the society we live in and what they criticise about it.

Our claim is that, on the one hand, these proponents want to achieve opposing aims under the same name. On the other hand, despite these opposing aims they share more than just the name: they are not interested in why in this society productivity gains produce poverty and why the capitalist state attaches conditionality to its welfare regime. As a consequence, they put forward a wrong and idealised understanding of what it means to produce for the market and the role of the state.

If there is time, we then want to look at some other left-wing criticisms levelled against proposals for a universal basic income. We are not convinced by many of them such as the claim that a universal basic income must produce inflation or the criticism that it is a reformist demand not going far enough.