socialism & basic income

I'm hard at work alternately painting walls in our new apartment in Oslo and doing a pretty big translation job, but I do find some time to sneak in a little political work ("work") as well. This weekend I was at a seminar of the left wing of Oslos under-30 crowd, and I've got to say, I haven't felt this energised by politics in a long time. Not least by the fact that there seems to be a sort-of agreement that the thing to do is to try to build a broader left-wing alliance, to which I say: it's about time. On the left, we have been too fond of dividing ourselves into thinner and thinner fractions for a long time.

In my copious free time, I am attempting to find out why the socialist left (in Norway, at least - what's it like abroad?) is not interested in the idea of a guaranteed basic income.

(I like the Norwegian word better: borgerlønn, which means wage for being a citizen, or literally a 'citizen wage').

In Norway, only the centre-right liberal party Venstre is advocating this solution. I'm still just starting out researching the question, but everything I've been reading makes it more interesting as a potential, practical idea for a redistribution of wealth and power, and a radical restructuring of society. Not least because it increasingly seems to me to resonate wonderfully with socialist ideals. Why it has remained a centre-right-liberal idea in Norway is beyond me. I'm going to be looking into this for the next couple of months if and when I find the time.

But anyway, I just wanted to share this post at Crooked Timber with you: Should feminists support basic income?

Also check out the interesting discussion which follows. The post is a discussion of potential outcomes of a guaranteed basic income, as seen from a feminist viewpoint. What would happen to the role of women in a society with a basic income? It's possible that the gender gap in work/pay would widen, according to the author. Some interesting arguments, which would need to be taken into consideration if the basic income idea is going to work. The post is based on this 16-page paper (.pdf) which is much more thorough, but I haven't read the whole thing yet. Also more info and links in this post. I'm also going to have to read this article by Philippe Van Parijs, which I've seen several references to.

If anyone knows of any good books or websites discussing this, leave a comment. Also if you have any good arguments pro or contra to the idea. I need to find out more about this.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Anonymous Paul Nollen said...


the international websites for Basic Income are
BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) at www.basicincome.org and USBIG (US Basic Income Guarantee)at www.usbig.net
I have read the paper of Ingrid and the least I can say is that there are some incorrect statements. But, beeing a man ;-) I am leaving it to you to find out. But indeed, the gender issue is, also in the BI discussion, an important one.


July 30, 2007 6:57 pm  
Blogger suttonhoo said...

thanks for the links -- and the language -- the idea of being compensated for being a citizen? wow -- maybe that would have worked in America when Jefferson was still kicking around, but we are so over that whole "common good" routine.

around here we're all about defining ourselves through our work -- helping our fellow wo/man would just gives a leg up to the competition.

not saying I like it. just saying it's what I see all around me -- particularly strong in the way we view poverty as a disease of the spirit -- to be poor in America is to be judged as lazy and lacking in determination.

July 30, 2007 6:58 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

Thanks for the addresses!

I find that repeating the following sentence as often as possible, to as many people as possible helps: poverty is NOT a personal problem or a moral problem, it's a political problem.

The best trick the conservatives have pulled off is convincing everyone that society is an input/output machine, where the effort you put into it comes back as reward. It obviously doesn't, but the idea makes everyone feel guilty for not working hard enough.

July 31, 2007 10:39 am  
Blogger Mariann said...

I remember reading about "borgerlønn" for the first time in Gateavisa, back in the late 80's or early 90's. At least that's when I read it, but this particular issue might have been older, since I had borrowed some from a friend of mine who had loads of old issues. They (Gateavisa, the anarchists) were very pro-basic income, almost a bit naive in their utopian view of it. But who knows, maybe they were right in assuming that we would all be involved in social or artistic activities if we'd been garanteed income. Naive or not, sounds great to me.

August 04, 2007 12:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left my answer to Ingrid on the Vivant forum for those interested:



August 18, 2007 10:10 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home