UBI and Solidary Hedonism against Authoritarian Nationalism

My contribution to Basic Income Conference 2018, in Freiburg, Germany

Here the PDF

1. One cause of the success of authoritarian and nationalist movements is the fear of falling. This fear, coming along with lack in solidarity and thus threatening to divide the European Union today, might be cured by a European UBI. Strengthening social security could contribute to international stabilization. The difficulties of implementing a UBI only at a national level with open borders at the same time could be reduced by international implementation.

2. However, there is a vicious circle. It is precisely the authoritarian attitude, that should be cured by means of a UBI, that prevents steps towards a universal and international UBI. “Authoritarian“ means the authoritarian personality as it was investigated in the 1940s in the United States. In particular, the following two manifestations of the authoritarian play a role:

3. The economic-liberal morality of merit, which makes it a quasi-religious imperative to stand on one’s own feet financially, motivates austerity policies, especially social cuts. With the intended consequence that economically weaker people are driven into a hopeless undercutting competition.

4. Increasing nationalism is making great efforts to exclude and disadvantage non-members. Social projects are nationalistically sealed off. Moreover, it cannot be seen that nationalist movements will take up the anti-authoritarianism of the UBI concept.

5. The more authoritarian societies become, the lower the chance of introducing a UBI. An appeasement policy would therefore not only be morally reprehensible but also politically unsuccessful. Concessions to the authoritarian would only lead further away from a libertarian UBI society. It would be better to question the authoritarian directly and confrontationally. In particular, noticeable and disturbing violations of norms and standards serve to raise awareness of authoritarian norms.

6. The UBI claim taking the gloves off individual freedom is excellently suited for this purpose. Refusing work individually and consciously (made possible by securing everybody’s livelihood unconditionally) would be the decisive norm violation. The possibility of saying No will become the new basis of contracts and transactions in our labour markets. The bargaining power of wage earners would then be strengthened. Therefore, it is crucial to support the unconditionality of basic income uncompromisingly against authoritarian intimidation and paternalism.

7. It is about a new and attractive moral attitude that is likely to strengthen good arguments. I propose solidary hedonism: happiness as the guiding principle, but also with the focus on the happiness of others. Securing everyone’s livelihood is the counter model to right-wing agitation. In a threatening trend that is tightening the noose more and more, it’s about releasing that constriction and demanding more real freedom for all. “For all” includes the requirement to consider national borders as a freedom-restricting problem. National borders must also be recognized and opened as borders of freedom.

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