(Monbiot 2013) Communism, welfare state—what’s the next big idea?

Monbiot, George. Communism, welfare state—what’s the next big idea? [Internet]. Guardian (UK). 2013 Apr 1. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/01/alternative-to-war-on-britains-poor. Accessed 2013 Apr 2. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6Fae0pbVy.

Monbiot poses the question why the majority of people in the UK act against their own best interests in submitting to welfare benefit cuts. One reason is that they have been convinced that welfare recipients are undeserving, but Monbiot believes that the fear arising from a legacy of past oppression also plays a role: people will not resist wealth and power without the hope inspired by a “transformative idea” for radical change. Monbiot proposes two such ideas: land value taxation and an unconditional basic income (UBI or ULI). The basic income in particular would be a bulwark against fear: “Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.” A basic income could end the perception that the rich and powerful hold all the cards:

A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also breaking open what politicians call the welfare trap. Because taking work would not reduce your entitlement to social security, there would be no disincentive to find a job – all the money you earn is extra income. The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom.


UBI   Universal Basic Income or Unconditional Basic Income

ULI   Unconditional Livable Income


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Last revision: April 19, 2013