Christo Aivalis, “Basic income: libertarian wedge or a plank towards a socialist future?”
Christo Aivalis, Adjunct Professor of Canadian Political and Labour History at Queen’s University (in Kingston, Ontario), provides a socialist perspective on basic income in an article for Canadian Dimension.
Aivalis presents an overview of the reasons for which various Canadian political parties have supported a basic income, noting that, for those on the right, interest in the policy is largely driven by interest in bureaucratic efficiency. In contrast, the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) has historically differed from right-of-center parties in seeing basic income as a matter of providing an adequate standard of living as a universal human right.
Aivalis argues that contemporary progressive thought about basic income should follow the NDP in renewing the focus on human rights — as well as additionally addressing the “broader questions of who owns societal means of production and distribution.” He worries that, taken alone, basic income would “fail to engender economic democracy in Canada, and may even weaken it.” At the same time, he believes that, if conceived as part of a “general drive to democratize the economy,” a basic income could pave the way to a “post-capitalist Canadian future.”
Canadian Dimension is Canada’s longest-running periodical to specialize in left-wing political discussion. Notably, its summer 2016 edition was devoted to the topic of basic income.
Basic income has recently generated serious consideration throughout much of Canada. The provincial government of Ontario, currently governed by the Liberal Party, is currently preparing a pilot of a basic income guarantee, with an anticipated launch date of April 2017. Prince Edward Island has also decided to pursue a partnership with the federal government in running a pilot. Other provinces have also shown active interest. For example, the Liberal Party of Quebec (Parti libéral du Québec) has been actively promoting discussion of basic income, as has the Green Party of British Columbia, and the policy has seen interest among officials in Alberta.
Some provincial sections of the NDP have recently advocated for a basic income, such as those of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. Overall, though, most of interest throughout Canada is not driven by the NDP, as Aivalis would seem to prefer.
Christo Aivalis, “Basic income: libertarian wedge or a plank towards a socialist future?,” Canadian Dimension, November 7, 2016.
Photo (taken in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) CC BY-NC 2.0 Kat Northern Lights Man