Basic income should join forces with a ‘social network’ revolution
It’s the start of a new month. You wake up in the morning feeling a rush of energy. The air is thick with a positive warmth. You’re immediately motivated and inspired with a thought that is, as if, circulating around everybody’s mind:
“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”
You immediately do what you need to do: go to the bathroom, put your clothes on, get something to eat, and check your bank account. You see your monthly basic income allowance came in. You get through all these necessities as quickly as possible because you want to start connecting to the means where you draw this positive energy.
That means is a social network.
It is unlike the social networks we use today. Ad-free. Conflict-free.
It is a social network thriving with friendliness and enthusiasm. Everyone feels equally important and responsible for creating it. Everybody actively expresses their opinion in discussions with no fear of judgment, criticism or argument. Everybody listens to everybody and does not simply interject with their opinions.
In exchange for the basic income allowance that entered your bank account a little earlier, you need to answer a few questions in this network. As soon as you see the first question, you understand why you had that thought earlier. The question is:
“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”
You click “Agree” on the network’s conditions, which state a few guidelines that all participants need to follow in this network. They ultimately boil down to one main condition: Leave your ego outside.
You agree to everyone being equally important; everyone actively answering the questions (which are made with everyone’s ability to answer them in mind); no arguing with, criticizing or judging others; focusing on the topic at hand, i.e. not veering it into unrelated directions; and listening to others speak as if it is you who is speaking.
These conditions are founded on a synergic principle where humans and nature are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. They aim at guiding us so that we don’t fall victim to our involuntary, egoistic impulses when we participate in creating a well-connected social atmosphere.
You connect to a video conference with a few other people, and you each state your answers to the questions. In addition to the first question—“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”—there are a couple more:
“What is one positive example that inspired me yesterday of someone contributing to society?”
“How can we help each other not fall victim to our automatic egoistic impulses that make us want to criticize, judge and harm others, and support each other in the construction of a positively connected atmosphere above our self-centeredness?”
Halfway into the discussion, you feel a new wave of energy stream through you. It is an energy latent in nature, which becomes revealed when people come together, regardless of their differences, and act, think and desire in a way that is adapted to nature’s integrality. We do not feel this in our current world of relationships.
After finishing the discussion, some people go to work, others stay in the network to participate in other activities, whether they be discussions, lessons or courses either to deepen their knowledge of nature, human development, psychology, or to improve life skills, relationships, parenting, health, personal finance, time management, or participating in support groups for a wide range of interests and life situations. You choose to participate in this network online, but the same activities also take place at local community centers for anyone who wants to participate in a more physical way.
All the activities in the network aim at both supplying what people need, so that they do not have any problems supplying themselves with life’s necessities, and beyond that, improving people’s connections and social skills. You meet new people all the time, and the atmosphere is always enlivening, supportive and constructive.
The tendency to support, benefit and connect with other people above our egoistic drives, is continually encouraged in this network. Likewise, values we currently hold become viewed from a new, unified vantage point. For example, competition in this network is based not on money, but on how much we can help and serve others.
Success in this network is not seen as building a personal empire despite, and on account of, other people. Instead, success is seen as a social construct, that we succeed together as a society, by connecting above our egoistic, divisive drives. By doing so, we get positive feedback from nature, a new surge of energy and motivation, by aligning ourselves with nature’s constant unifying motion.
This is how I envision a correctly functioning universal basic income. That is, UBI cannot work on its own. Simply giving people allowances without any incentives to succeed would stagnate society. In order for UBI to work, it needs to be provided in exchange for prosocial, connection-enriching participation, learning and development. People need tools, education, and encouragement to build a positively-functioning society in exchange for basic income. The idea of the “prosocial network” above is one direction the connection-enriching educational programs could take.
A Much Deeper and Wider Source of Motivation
In today’s capitalistic economy, people contribute to society with money as a leading motivator. Other drives, like respect, honor, fame, control, and knowledge are interwoven with money. That is, there is a price tag attached to every kind of social contribution.
However, considering a future where automation and robots will be given much of the workload, and where people get basic income allowances regardless of any work, we’re left to ponder serious questions:
What would people want to contribute to that society?
Why would they want to contribute to that society?
This is where the concept of universal basic income enters to support and propel the value shift necessary not only for UBI to work in the long term, but also for the foundation of a prosperous, connected society of happy and confident individuals, each motivated to contribute to the creation of a new thriving culture.
A prosocial resurgence combined with UBI has the power to make a significant gear shift in society. In order for that to happen, human relations, usually viewed as a byproduct of people’s professions and education, now need to be placed at the center of our attention. The motivation to contribute to society would need to change, from a monetary motivation to a purely prosocial, pro-connective motivation: one where we would regularly vitalize each other with examples of how we rise above our egoistic tendencies, thinking about, connecting to and benefiting other members of society. This would serve as a source of constant motivation, encouragement and ultimately, pave the way to a society of united, happy and confident individuals.
Today, there are thousands of people worldwide from all walks of life who feel the importance of jumpstarting the connection-enriching process in society, pioneering it even before the widespread launch of basic income. They are already engaged in learning, implementing and experimenting with the principle of positive connection above differences as the most valuable means to improve human society.
Anyone who is attracted to this idea of bettering the world by bettering human relations, and who wishes to participate in the learning and creation of a new prosocial, pro-connective culture, is welcome to learn its fundamental principles and basic concepts.
Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, and was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (the RABASH). He has written over 40 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages.