The Modern Left is Out of Touch With Reality: Part 3 – Universal Basic Income

As argued in the first two parts of this series, the modern left has lost touch with reality.

In order to recap my definition of the modern left, it consists of those who agree with many left-wing economic policies and share the critique of imperialism with the traditional socialist left, but who have a heavy focus on identity politics. Examples would be outlets such as The Canary and Novara Media. For a more detailed explanation, see the first article in these series.

The first two parts of this article addressed two ways in which the modern left has lost touch with material reality. The first of these, the left-wing support for lockdowns, shows their detachment from the reality of working-class job losses, income losses, and mental well being. The second of these, their support for transgender ideology, shows their detachment from the material reality of biological sex.

The third part in this series will address the issue of Universal Basic Income, or UBI.

What is UBI?

First, we need a definition of Universal Basic Income. Investopedia defines the term as such:

Universal basic income (UBI) is a government program in which every adult citizen receives a set amount of money on a regular basis. The goals of a basic income system are to alleviate poverty and replace other need-based social programs that potentially require greater bureaucratic involvement.

UBI is a popular position among many people on the left, including many who could not be considered part of the modern left. In the US, the idea has gained more traction due to the Democratic primary challenger Andrew Yang running as a largely one-issue candidate focusing on UBI.

While there are right-wing cases for UBI, made by individuals such as Milton Friedman, I will not take these into consideration in this article. Nor will I attempt to use the fact that some right wingers support UBI as prima facie discrediting the idea.

The Left Case For UBI

An article published in Novara Media by Andrew Dolan brings up 7 reasons as to why he supports UBI. In short, his reasons are: 1) that wages are too low, 2) full employment is not possible, 3) that it is unconditional, 4) makes working less necessary, 5) It is becoming a mainstream idea, 6) it provides and opportunity to move beyond capitalism, 7) potential to create a unified movement.

At first glance, these seem to offer some good reasons to support UBI. The fact that UBI supplements wages, for example, seems like a good way to reduce poverty, as does the fact that it is paid to everybody, including the unemployed. The fact that it takes the emphasis from paid work could also appear as a positive benefit as it could reconfigure life to be more focused on other aspects of the human condition such as family.

So where is the snag in the argument?

The Biosecurity Context

There are many people who object to UBI on economic grounds, such as that the policy would lead to high levels of inflation, or that it would lead to large levels of government debt. Another objection is that the taxes used to pay for the policy would end up being taken from the poor, particularly if it is funded via VAT (which was a suggestion made by Andrew Yang). However, these kinds of arguments do not concern me, and are not the reason for my objections to UBI. Even if all of these arguments could convincingly be debunked, I would still oppose UBI.

This is because of the capitalist biosecurity state context in which the UBI policy would exist.

We cannot abstract UBI from this context, which is the major flaw in the left case for UBI. So what is a biosecurity state context and why is it problematic for the case for UBI?

We live in societies where the state already has a large amount of control over people’s lives. While the 1940s creation of a welfare state could be said to have had some benefits for working class people, such as improving access to healthcare, it also acted as a control mechanism over the working class, particularly in terms of unemployment benefits.

The working class under capitalism have had the choice of the ‘friendly societies’ that were common in the nineteenth century or state provision of unemployment benefits. Friendly societies were organisations set up by workers as a kind of insurance policy that they paid into and would receive stipends from if they were made unemployed or injured at work. This was a form of self-organisation, but often proved inadequate when capitalist crises happened. On the other hand, workers accessing state-based solutions have been subjected to the long-standing idea of the ‘deserving’ vs. the ‘undeserving’ poor.

The amount of state control over the lives of ordinary people has increased over time and is reaching the stage where alleged Western ‘democracies’ are teetering on full-blown authoritarianism. In the UK, this can be seen in the increase in mass surveillance, and the increasing control over free speech, including the persecution of Julian Assange and coordination between state and social media platforms to remove dissenting opinions. A significant step towards this was the 9/11 event, sold to the public as being caused by ‘terrorists that are trying to destroy our way of life’. This meant that the government was able to pass a range of ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation, aimed at the public. Similar trends exist in the US and some other ‘Western democracies’.

The measures imposed over the past year – allegedly in response to the virus Sars-Cov-2 – are the next stage in this growing authoritarianism. The first step was the ‘lockdowns’, forcing people to ‘stay at home’ and banning them from social interaction. Following on from this policy came the forced masks, used to maintain the image of fear while no-one was dying in July and August. Then came more lockdowns, and now the government is making their play for permanent tyranny – the vaccine passport.

The government is currently attempting to soft pedal the passport by suggesting the idea that it will be temporary, or that it will not be needed for certain businesses, such as ‘non-essential’ shops and pubs. However, once the passport is introduced, it will be impossible to get rid of it without a massive effort, and it will become slowly more draconian over time. Such a mechanism may begin only with international travel, theatres and sports, but will expand to shops and every other possible organisation.

This is the context we need to understand when looking at the reality of UBI as a policy. While fighting for UBI may seem like a good response to lockdowns due to the destruction of jobs caused by this policy, in reality UBI will strengthen this control matrix.

One of the desires of the elite is to create universal digital IDs for the entirety of humanity. There is a campaign group set up to advocate for this called ID2020. This group is associated with Microsoft and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and thus has ties to Bill Gates. While the ID2020 website tries to portray its strategy of giving every human being on earth a digital identity as empowering people through the promotion of more choice and control, in reality such a system would lead to more elite control over humanity. The ID2020 website links to another site called the Good Health Pass Collaborative, designed to promote the vaccine passport.

The aim of any UBI that is introduced – and the government could use the mechanism of furlough to do so – would be to tie it into this digital identity matrix. UBI would then be used as a control mechanism. It would be ‘universal’ in the sense that anyone could have access to it, but it would require compliance – for example, having all the latest vaccines that Big Pharma demand, or not resisting or opposing the government in any way.

Critics of this argument may object that what I am criticising is not UBI, since that would be without preconditions. However, this argument shows that what would happen in practise when this policy is implemented by a capitalist state. In order to combat this argument, it would need to be demonstrate that this would not be how such a stipend would work in practise.

Conclusion

Universal Basic Income is a distraction for the left, and if any similar policy was implemented by a capitalist state, it would merely enhance the control mechanisms of such a state. The left should forget about demanding this policy and instead focus upon organising to end the draconian ‘Covid measures’ and other signs of an emerging biosecurity state.

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