Basic Income’s Role in a Traditional Society

The idea of basic income is that work is not the centre of one’s life. While laziness is not meant to be encouraged, there is a tacit recognition that under an unconditional system it may well be, leading to a potential system where the productive are subsidising those who choose to be unproductive. While problematic under most understandings of political philosophy, this precedent is particularly problematic in the concept of a traditional society (that shaped by Burke’s little platoons of local and parochial institutions). Without a work obligation, one is receiving a right without reciprocating with duties. They’re receiving something for nothing. Continue reading

‘Pure’ Capitalism is Pure Fantasy

by Richard Wolff

As the global economic meltdown drags most of us through its sixth year, one kind of explanation is heard often and from several sides, including the libertarian right. The crisis since 2007, we are told, is not capitalism’s fault or flaw. That is because capitalism is not the system we now have; it is not the systemic problem the world now faces. If only we could ‘get back to’ something like ‘pure’ capitalism, our economic woes would disappear. Proponents envision ‘pure ‘or ‘real’ capitalism as a world of perfect competition among enterprises who are all market price takers (none has the power or size to shape markets), where no advertising enables producers to shape the desires of consumers, where all workers bargain individually for their wages, and so on. It is the capitalism of the introductory economics textbook, the one that seamlessly delivers efficiency, prosperity, and optimal growth. Continue reading

A Justice-Based Proposal for Basic Income

An unconditional basic income has become an increasingly relevant and important proposal in the past decade. There is an increasing automation of work in manufacturing and services, a limitation of trade union involvement in worker’s lives, and the development of an increasingly large precariat[1] of semi-employed workers. This has led to an increasing decoupling of productivity and wages (due both to technological developments which decrease skilled work[2] and the destruction of trade union influence[3]) as well as the development of a rentier economy, where income earned “does not compensate productive activities”[4]. Of the current tranches of wealth found in the global economy, 74% comes from economic rent[5]. Much of this rent derives from monopolistic tendencies, including intellectual property[6], network externalities[7] and the concentration of wealth through technological innovation[8]. The modern economy is extremely unequal, with the majority of people having little access to these tranches of rental income. This is the opposite of a truly free society, where one’s “opportunities are being leximinned subject to the protection of their formal freedom”[9]. Such a society is one that guarantees a level of security while allowing for self-ownership and the attainment of leximin opportunities i.e. “some can have more opportunities than others, but only if their having more does not reduce the opportunities of some of those with less”[10]. Continue reading

The Social Constitution of the Gold Standard

The gold standard regime in its international character existed from the late 19th century through to the First World War. As a system, the gold standard is generally conceived as a monetary system represented, directly or indirectly, by gold. While having elaborate systems of coinage and paper money surrounding it, the main element was that gold backed these forms of monetary media. This itself was subject more to belief than concrete reality though, as actual backing by gold was largely irrelevant. “For paper to represent gold, it must be regarded as equivalent to a given quantity and purity of gold. In general, this equivalence is achieved by “convertibility,” the commitment to exchange the notes for gold on demand”[1]. It was the belief in convertibility, rather than the reality of its being done. Such a system can be seen as integrated, with many flows and pathways, but with gold at its centre as the fulcrum of this regime. It was “a truly international system based on gold”[2]. Continue reading

The NAP is a Social Construct, and Nothing More

The libertarian conception of the non-aggression principle is lauded as the prize universalist idea. Above all else, and above all other philosophy, is said to sit the foundational NAP, which situates all individuals and collectivities. From it come the critiques of the state, governance and collectivism, and the support of unhindered individualism and natural rights. Continue reading

The Distinction Between Markets and Capitalism in Deleuze and Guattari’s “Capitalism and Schizophrenia”: Some Preliminary Thoughts

by Edmund Berger

A fruitful exchange via Twitter the other night has led me to type up some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for some time – namely, that the vision of capitalism presented by Deleuze and Guattari in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia must be rendered distinct from simple market exchanges and systems, and that this distinction is implicit in the texts. Capitalism is indeed a system that does rely on market mechanisms, but they are mechanisms that are almost exclusively dominated by monopolistic competition. While this state of affairs is often depicted by CNN financial gurus and even Reason magazine pundits as being the ‘free market in action’, scratching past this surface level read reveals a system wholly contingent on the state’s intervention in order to prop itself up and reproduce relations equitable to itself. It is my contention that approaching Deleuze and Guattari’s depiction of capitalism from this perspective, and not from the more common perspective of capitalism as complete and total deterritorialization, is essential to making sense of some of their woolier passages. Continue reading

Thoughts on Universal Basic Income

by Curt Doolittle

Thoughts on Universal Basic Income

1) The province (Prince Edward Island) will conduct an EXPERIMENT in a rebranded expansion of WELFARE: a subsidy for the poor. It is not a UBI – Universal Basic Income. UBI proposal is that every citizen obtains it, and that taxes offset it as income increases. In other words, it places a tax increase on the wealthier people in order to expand subsidies. However, the math remains the same – total tax revenue is 10k per person. 1/3 discretionary (everything the govt does), 1/3 obligatory (medicare, medicaid, social security), and 1/3 military. of which the vast majority goes to salaries and pensions. Continue reading

The Civil Society/State Dichotomy

Gramsci rightly identifies that in the modern political environment, simply recognising actors as either public or private, in the realm of states or markets respectively, is problematic. Unfortunately the crux of international political economy has accepted this modernist doctrine, tacitly deifying the rationalist discourses of action and modernity which underlie such conceptions. For a large bulk of IPE, as well as other social sciences such as economics and political science, this is the held belief. Rationalism guides human action, which inevitably means a continuous desire for capital accumulation, the expansion of capitalist cultural doctrines, and the belief that the individual is entirely the scope of investigation. Continue reading

Trump Barely Papers Over the Cracks

One of the most unexpected political results has now occured. Trump is the next US president. Against all the odds, all the polls, all the pundits and significant chunks of the world’s population, Trump has inched Clinton to become president. But while surprising, even in a year where we’ve seen many revolts against the general ‘establishment’, including Brexit, the rise of the Pirate Party in Iceland, the rise of national populism in many European countries and so on, it’s quite evident why Trump won. Continue reading