Gian Piero de Bellis

Basic Income = Basic Subjugation




This text has been written some years ago as a reply to a group of people (geolibertarians) who were founding a Partito Libertario in Italy. In their Manifesto they declare that “everyone should be entitled to access basic income”. In this article I was presenting my belief that a basic income is the way to perpetuate the consumeristic-moronic mass society so dear to the current masters of state crony capitalism (consume and obey). Non-authoritarian individuals and communities are supposed to be in favour of mutual aid and not of a basic income provided by the state or by a state-like hierarchical and centralistic institution.



"A being only considers himself independent when he stands on his own feet; and he only stands on his own feet when he owes his existence to himself. A man who lives by the grace of another regards himself as a dependent being." (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844)


The topic

Recently there has been a lot of talk, especially in the newspapers and in the political parties, about the provision in Italy of a basic income called “Reddito di Cittadinanza” (Citizenship Income). The idea is supported by various political forces and intellectuals of various orientations. It is also presented under other names such as Dignity Income, Inclusion Income, Self-Determination Income or even Birth Income.

If we analyse the proposal a little deeper, we discover that it consists mainly in merging all the social benefits that people receive for various reasons (subsidies, unemployment benefits, social pensions, etc.) under a single heading. So, on closer inspection, it does not seem to be anything new as some would like to make it appear or imagine.


The antecedents

In the years 1883-1889, in Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduced several assistance and welfare measures that were categorised by liberal opponents as State Socialism. The measures concerned health insurance (1883), work accident insurance (1884), and old age pensions (1889). Similar measures were later introduced in other European countries. In England, it was the same liberals, supposed critics of state interventionism, who, under the leadership of Lloyd George, initiated what was to be known as the Welfare State, a set of state social interventions guaranteeing cradle-to-grave assistance to needy citizens.

There are essentially two reasons why the political and economic ruling elite introduced welfare measures:

- political motive: an attempt was made to lure the working masses under the wings of the state, detaching them from the socialist and workers' parties and nipping in the bud autonomous forms of social solidarity (e.g. mutual aid societies) that could have represented a competitive alternative to the state, threatening its supposed reason of existence (i.e. to provide security).

- economic motive: the growth of production, resulting from mechanisation and from the standardisation of work, allowed for a top-down distribution of resources; that is, it made possible for the state to provide everyone with additional income in addition to or instead of wages. By doing so, the state facilitates the absorption of the massive increase in production in the absence of a corresponding growth in wages.

The active protagonists of the introduction of State Socialism or Welfare State, whatever you want to call it, are, as already noted, conservatives and liberals, i.e. those who have been setting up and running an ever-expanding state apparatus for decades. So, nothing to do with socialists and trade unionists. On the contrary, when in 1911, Lloyd George's 'liberal' government introduced the then unpopular National Insurance Act that made insurance compulsory for 12 million people, there was strong opposition from workers who saw themselves dispossessed of their instrument of social organisation. As a matter of fact, at that time in England at least 9 million people were already covered by voluntary social assistance, which they themselves financed and managed.
The liberal Lloyd George thus did nothing more than intervene in an existing, progressively moving reality, transforming it from voluntary to compulsory and from personally set up and run to state initiated and controlled.


The Consequences

The result of this state intervention in social matters is briefly listed here::

- it has generated a cultural under-proletariat totally dependent on the state, incapable of taking any autonomous initiative as to the direction of its own life.
- it has erected the state as a superior entity whose presence is indispensable in people's lives, from cradle to grave.
- it has destroyed the bottom-up mutual support initiatives based on voluntary choices that favoured and stimulated self-management.
- it has given birth to the man-monad (isolated) and the man-mass (homogenised). These two figures appear in the form of subjects and wage-earners, both subservient to large employers' organisations (the central state, big business). In essence, the state-subjects and the wage-earners have been and still are the two puppets of the puppet master-state colluded with crony capitalism.

Without state socialism or state welfarism it is very likely that independent individuals and voluntary communities (of production, of services, of care) would have arisen and developed beyond and outside the state-patronal system.


The current reality

The technological development of recent decades, with the large-scale introduction of robotics and the advent of fully automated industries, is multiplying the quantity of goods produced. Due to this dynamic, the same problems of production absorption, that were present more than a hundred years ago following the introduction of mechanical devices in the industry, are resurfacing even more acutely. In fact, fewer or sometimes almost no workers are required to produce many consumer objects. And since robots do not purchase those goods, new consumers must be invented.

Even in the past, every increase in production has been matched by the introduction, by the state rulers and the patronal class, of completely artificial and demented instruments to facilitate the absorption of the goods produced. And this is necessary because the economic system is aimed at achieving two totally contradictory goals: low wages-maximum productivity. So it will never be possible, within the current economic system left to itself, to solve the economic problem of overproduction. That is why the industrial patrons have introduced their own measures and rely on the state to ensure, as far as possible, a continuous absorption of the goods produced. These remedies, besides the introduction of the Welfare State (income redistribution), appeared in the form of:

- planned obsolescence of the goods produced and stimulation of consumerism through ubiquitous (TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, internet) and relentless advertising.
- multiplication of completely useless bureaucratic and parasitic intermediation activities.
- wastefulness and outright destruction of resources also through continuous warfare on a delimited scale.

However, this no longer seems sufficient. What is needed now is a single, centralised instrument to control and stimulate consumption, so that the state-patronal system might continue to exist for a very long time. This is the function of the proposal, put forward by many intellectuals, of a universal basic income.

In fact, with the basic income, a falsely progressive and not at all revolutionary measure, all the developments towards autonomous production by voluntary communities, a reality made possible by the evolution of technology and by some cultural developments (e.g. homesteading) would be definitively crushed. By doing so, the patronal state would guarantee the perpetuation of the figures of the state subjects and wage earners. In essence, everyone would become a wage-earning subject, even those who produce nothing. We would find ourselves living the worst of imaginable dystopias: zombies, devoid of will and creativity, waiting for the pocket money granted to them by Big Brother, to spend it on products designed and made by or with the help of artificial intelligences, under the watchful eye of the masters. The scenarios depicted by Orwell (1984) and Huxley (The brave New World) would be fully realised, with even more disturbing and devastating implications.


The possible alternatives

The basic income is the response by the currently dominant system to possible alternatives that, if implemented, could represent the end of the system itself. Even now, it would be possible to introduce increasingly disruptive changes to the ruler’s reality. In fact, we could implement:

    - a radical and progressive reduction in the working time.
    - the transformation of employees into fully associates of their enterprise.
    - the progressive overcoming of the division between manual and intellectual work.
    - the spread of independent creative-productive activities.
    - the multiplication of voluntary communities of goods and services.

The large-scale introduction of affordable tools for communication and production (computers, open-source software, 3D printers, social networks, crowdfunding, etc.) would allow the development of independent businesses and production communities (of goods and services) on a scale never seen before.

Emergence from the current state-patronal system is entirely possible, in practice, if only we are willing to imagine the new and implement it in our lives.
Instead of a debilitating and manipulative basic income we should promote:

- an activity income, i.e. doing something we enjoy and deriving full moral and material benefit from it.
- a solidarity contribution, i.e. also operating for the well-being of others, in a permanent dynamic of giving as much as possible and receiving in times of need.

Everything done freely, as members of voluntary production and service communities. In this way we would truly be autonomous human beings and citizens of the world.



Post Scriptum (January 2023)

The introduction of a basic income by the central states and the central banks is gaining momentum. The current system of ever-increasing production cannot survive without that measure. Warfare and welfare are the two levers that the states have employed in the past and will continue to employ in the future for their survival. Wars, and so extensive destruction of resources, can offer a respite to the system because it means that the efforts are addressed to the task of reconstruction (this, amongst others, is the reason for the proxy war in Ukraine). In this way the production can find new channels of absorption. In absence of wars, it is quite likely that the state leaders will push for the introduction of a universal basic income because the system needs consumers on a massive scale.

Probably, in one of the future meetings of the World Economic Forum this theme will occupy central stage. Already, in April 2020, the web site of the WEF presented an article with the title: Universal Basic Income is the answer to the inequalities exposed by Covid-19.

The paramount objective of the rulers is:

Narcotise the Masses and make them Love Big Brother !


[Home] [Top] [Sussurri & Grida]