Earlier this year we announced the publication of Adrienne Goehler’s new book on Basic Income. The article appears below. An English translation is now available, which can be downloaded here.
This new edition features additional material: an interview with Sarath Davala, and an essay by Julio Linares.
In 2010, Götz Werner and Adrienne Goehler wrote 1000€ für Jeden: Freiheit, Gleichheit, Grundeinkommen (1000€ for everyone: Freedom, Equality, Basic Income). Now Adrienne Goehler has written a new book, Nachhaltigkeit braucht Entschleunigung braucht Grundein/auskommen ermöglicht Entschleunigung ermöglicht Nachhaltigkeit (Sustainability needs Deceleration needs Basic Income | Livelihood allows Deceleration allows Sustainability).
To read an interview with Adrienne Goehler, click here.
Adrienne Goehler has provided the following translation of the website page about the book:
If we had unrestricted basis income for everyone, what would the consequences be? Would it increase freedom and equality and so dim down the ever faster accelerating times? Would it help to save the environment with its restricted resources?
Over the last two years, Adrienne Goehler has been addressing these and other burning questions of our time while working at the “Institut für transformative Nachhaltigkeitsforschung” in Potsdam. In this book that presents the results of her inquiries, she embarks on a journey from research to politics to art. She invited people from the most diverse parts of society to contribute essays, interviews, stories, images, and artistic interventions concerning the relationship of sustainability, deceleration, and basic income. She constellated insights into the financial world with suggestions contributed by experts in agriculture, development policy, climate change, and ecology. Artists address the most important questions of our time: What do we need for a good life and do we have enough of it for all of us? How will “work” look like in the future, and who will be employed? If we learn to think of unpaid and poorly paid social work as equally important as other kinds of work, will that lead to more gender equality? How do we identify meaningful tasks that would fulfill our lives? And last not least: Would implement an unconditional universal basic income as a basic human right be in tune with the seventeen goals of sustainability, as declared by the United Nations? The book offers insights into the possibilities and contradictions of our actions. It presents all the important aspects of contemporary debates concerning universal basic income. A passionate wake-up call: We need to break out of frozen patterns of thinking and acting, strive for knowledge, and move around more freely.
Complaints about acceleration were already associated with industrialization, but in its present extent, its intensification and radicalization, it no longer concerns only working conditions, but the whole of life. Acceleration has totalized itself. The philosopher Byung-Chul Han, author of the book “Fatigue Society”, describes the most important change from capitalism in Marx’s time, when factory owners and workers faced each other in a clearly defined relationship of exploitation, to today’s self-exploitation relationships, in which people became entrepreneurs of themselves, caught in the illusion of self-realization. Thus neo-liberalism formed the oppressed worker into a free entrepreneur who worked incessantly on his self-optimization. We are constantly saving time through faster transportation, fast food, faster information media and tools, and therefore we are packing more and more into the day. Hartmut Rosa calls it, “quantity increase per time unit”. We believe that we have to be available 24/7, as if we were all on call at all times. The present with its unreasonable demands makes us pant, our fantasy lies idle under states of exhaustion and multiple fears. We find ourselves in a hamster wheel whose speed we cannot determine and which many believe we cannot leave. The significantly high increase of depression and burnout are symptoms of this too much, which is at the same time a too little. The time researcher Barbara Adam therefore states: “We need not only an ecological ‘footprint’, but also a ‘timeprint’. I remember with longing “Momo”, the character in Michael Ende’s novel. Momo realized that anyone who has the time of mankind has unlimited power. She brought back time stolen by grey ‘time thieves’ to the people, when she realized that by saving time people had forgotten to live in the now and enjoy the beauty in life. And I am thinking of John Franklin, the polar explorer, whom Stan Nadolny memorialized in his novel “The Discovery of Slowness”, because his perception refused everything fast and superficial and transformed slowness into calm. Time and the feeling of permanent acceleration, breathlessness, is the subject of many interviews. I also feel connected to the idea of deceleration as a further prerequisite for the chance to lead a sustainable life. Hartmut Rosa, who imagines the process of the great transformation as successful only in connection with a different way of dealing with time, is also connected to this idea. And with a basic income.
In addition to the immense challenges outlined above, there is another Herculean task: the comprehensive redefinition of life and work as a result of ongoing digitalization, with which gainful employment will change qualitatively and quantitatively in a variety of ways, some of them very fundamentally. In conjunction with the increasing importance of the service sector, a working society is emerging in which a growing part of the population does not have continuous, let alone lifelong, gainful employment, but instead works independently or on a project-based basis, often accompanied by poorer pay and greater insecurity.
With the start of the digital age in 2002, people were able to store more information digitally than in analogue form for the first time. Another ten years later, the term ‘Work 4.0’ came into circulation to describe the fourth industrial revolution.
Since then, there have been a large number of studies that look at the impact on working life to date. Many of them assume a significant loss of traditional jobs, which will in future be done by machines, and predict radical changes. A frequently quoted – and now also widely criticized – study by the scientists Osborne and Frey from Oxford University assumes that 47 percent of gainful employment in the USA is at high risk of being automated in the coming years. The Davos World Economic Forum estimated in 2016 the number of jobs that will be lost in the next five years in the 15 most important industrial and emerging countries as a result of the “fourth industrial revolution”, 5 million. Women’s jobs were particularly affected. Companies such as Siemens, SAP, Telecom and the big ones in Silicon Valley agreed with these forecasts, which clearly boosted the discussion about an unconditional basic income, because it was strengthened by a rather unexpected side.
The Great Transition Initiative (GTI), which promotes the ‘exploration of concepts, strategies, and visions for a transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity, and a resilient biosphere’ has published a collection of essays from scholars and activists on basic income which are pro, anti and in-between. The essays are divided into two groups: ‘The Case is Strong’ and ‘Caveats and Alternatives’. Thirteen writers on the pro side include Guy Standing, BIEN Chair Sarath Davala, USBIG’s Michael Howard, Almaz Zelleke, and UBI Europe’s Ulrich Schactschneider. The fourteen writers on the more sceptical side include Halina Brown, professor emeritus at Clark University, Andreas Bummel, Anna Coote from the New Economics Foundation, Anke Hassel from the Herte School.
All the essays together cover a lot of ground. The contributions span ideas about basic income developing the caring economy, its potential to help alleviate the environmental crisis and economic insecurity, to monetary reform, basic services, and worries that basic income will promote commodification and privatisation.
GTI is funded by the Tellus Institute, a think-tank based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US.
Berlin: A petition supported by several basic income groups in Germany, and signed by over 176,000 people, was debated by the Petitions Committee in the Bundestag on Monday 26 October. The petition called for a basic income of €1000 a month to be paid to all Germans to mitigate the effects of the corona crisis. This would be paid for at least six months but ‘should last as long as necessary’.
The petition was initiated by Susanne Wiest from Mensch in Germany, and supported by the OMNIBUS für Direkte Demokratie, Mein Grundeinkommen, and Expedition Grundeinkommen after the crisis hit Germany in March. It declared, “We have to ensure that no one falls through bureaucratic cracks and into poverty that threatens their existence.” The petition was initiated at the start of the crisis, and quickly got the signatures needed to bring it to the Bundestag for consideration. Combined with similar petitions put forward on Change.org and openPetition, nearly a million people in Germany put their names to the idea of an Emergency Basic Income to support people through the corona crisis.
Economist Bernhard Neumärker from Freiburg University and Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS), presented a model calculation at the meeting that he said could be implemented immediately. It provided for a net basic income of €550 per person per month by combining existing social programmes. “You don’t have to change the social system, you just have to shift payments.” He proposed suspending all payments on mortgage principal and interest, lease and rent during the so-called ‘net basic income’. After the crisis these payments would be added to the net basic income and transform it into a permanent unconditional basic income of 1200 to 1500 Euros.
Politicians, even some who otherwise support basic income, were sceptical. There were the usual doubts about not targeting money ‘to those who really need it’ from the CDU and SPD. Timmon Grimmels from the SDP said that the party, while sceptical of basic income, doesn’t entirely dissapprove. Katja Kipling, leader of Die Linke (the Left Party) and a long-time supporter of basic income, was sympathetic but felt that the money for the Neumärker proposal took too much from middle class and poor people and not enough from top earners. Neumärker replied that it is the other way round, with his model capital incomes will share in the loss of labour incomes during lockdown and social benefits for needy people are not touched.’
A vote was not taken during this meeting but will happen in the next few weeks. Lisa Ecke, writing for Neues Deutschland, felt that the proposal was likely to be rejected.
Supporters of the petition say however that they will be increasing pressure on the government before the vote. “A basic income not only counteracts existential fear during the crisis, but also helps us progress in areas such as equality and trust in democracy,“ Susanne Wiest said in the hearing.
Michael Bohmeyer, founder of Mein Grundeinkommen, said in a statement after the debate, “[Basic Income is necessary] in order to adapt to the challenges of our time: master the digital economy, overcome the divisions in society and develop potential that is still lying idle today due to our culture of mistrust.”
Panel on the politics of Universal Basic Income. What role for activism(s)?
This Call for Papers (CFP) is interested in empirical studies that look at the social and political processes related to the growing interest in universal basic income (UBI), including recent pilot tests and experiments, their design and implementation, either at the local, national or supranational level, in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, it focuses on the role of the civil society, experts, public opinion and grassroot organizations, and their interaction with policy officers, government official and political parties. Examples of questions that are of interest for this panel:
To what extent UBI campaigns and activism have permeated mainstream political and policy discussions? What are the strategies pursued by UBI activists, and how these differ across different locations? When and how are civil society organizations (e.g. trade unions, women and feminist groups, migrants’ associations) willing to incorporate UBI to their demands?
What are the resistances and oppositions that UBI advocates face in their campaigns? How different UBI frames have shaped its reception among different social groups?
Do different welfare systems shape different forms of UBI activism, including aspects such as the frames and strategies these groups put forward? What is the precise role played by experts and public intellectuals in these processes? Does the social crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic open a window of opportunity for UBI ideas?
This CFP aims at gathering papers from scholars working on different aspects of the politics of UBI (or guaranteed incomes, negative income tax, cash transfers), to be presented in the context of the 27th International Conference of Europeanists, Council for European Studies (CES), to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, June 24-26, 2021. Please send your abstract (300 words maximum) before 11 November 2020 to César Guzmán-Concha, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Please note that all paper authors must also submit their abstracts proposals through the CES online platform before the official deadline: 16 November 2020
As no General Assembly could be held this year, as many of the General Assembly functions as possible were conducted by postal ballot.
Executive Committee and other elections
None of the Executive Committee or other posts due for election had more than one candidate standing, and all of the candidates were approved by confirmatory ballots. The Executive Committee and other posts for 2020-21 can be found here.
Resolutions were passed as follows:
Annual accounts and reports were received;
A new internal rule relating to the international Advisory Board was passed (the rule requires the Executive Committee to administer and convene a meeting of the Board if it calls the meeting, and requires the Chair to administer and convene the meeting if the Chair calls it);
The Executive Committee was asked to explore with the Charity Commission whether General Assemblies can be held online in the future if required;
Three options were proposed for the frequency of BIEN congresses: annually; once every two years; and once every two years with regional conference during the intervening years. The decision was for congresses to be held annually.
McKinsey, the consultancy company, has published an article about the Finland Basic Income experiment.
The final results from Finland’s experiment are now in, and the findings are intriguing: the basic income in Finland led to a small increase in employment, significantly boosted multiple measures of the recipients’ well-being, and reinforced positive individual and societal feedback loops. …
As with any policy analysis, the results of this experiment remain subject to debate and can’t necessarily be generalized. As a result, the experiment does offer an object lesson in the complexity of designing and implementing a randomized control trial of basic income. Nevertheless, more research on basic income is required. We can hope that Finland’s example will inform and inspire others as they set up their own experiments.