This recent article by Leonid Bershidsky got me thinking.
Even though the automation train has yet to really leave the station, publics throughout the Western world already display a remarkably high degree of support for Universal Basic Income.
This becomes all the more striking once you consider that UBI has never even been tested on either a sustained or national scale before. Despite a few pilot programs, it remains for all intents and purposes a leap into uncharted territory.
It strikes me that even well before the robots get to start replacing humans wholesale at their jobs, UBI would be serving another political economic function: Changing the current structure of resource redistribution.
And that, inevitably, touches on questions of ethnicity and identity.
Today, in Europe as in the US, the basis of the welfare state is the use of targetted programs to help low-income members of the population. It is also widely known that certain ethnic minorities are overrepresented, sometimes grossly overrepresented, as a share of the recipients. In net terms, one can also look at it as a transfer of resources from indigenous Whites towards Non-Asian Minorities. As the demographic sluicegates to the Third World get opened up, these trends can only accelerate.
Many Whites are resentful about this, even if it is not politically correct to talk too openly about it. There are formidable psychological barriers just to thinking about things in such explicit terms.
Then comes along the idea of Universal Basic Income, which is not only cool and progressive but also feeds on the majority’s repressed sense of Ethnic Genetic Interests.
No wonder that everybody is jumping aboard!
But some people seem to be jumping more enthusiastically than others:
Take Switzerland. Its basic income proposal would distribute 2,500 Swiss francs (about $2,600) to each resident per month, to be funded through cutting existing social services and increasing taxes on high-income residents and corporations. If the proposal were to succeed, the Swiss would actually be redistributing the profits from their banking system (which are derived from providing tax havens to the world’s richest people) to a small and already privileged society. This, by definition, excludes others. Switzerland is, after all, one of the more vocally racist countries in Europe, with leading parties pursuing actively discriminatory policies.
At the same time, basic income could also increase consumption by the population, driving up the costs unloaded on to society and the environment. Effectively, basic income in Switzerland would enclose the world’s riches for the benefit of a small community that just happened to be born lucky and Swiss.
The same holds for other existing proposals. In Finland, the party proposing basic income is center-right, with a soft spot for privatization and the free market. Another party supporting it is the Fins’ Party, which is conservative and against immigration. In Canada, Calgary and Edmonton – two contenders for a basic income package – make most of their money from the tar sands, one of the most environmentally catastrophic and socially unjust extraction projects in the world. In each case, it’s important to ask where the money funding basic income would come from, whom it would go to and whom it will exclude.
See the connection?
I expect to see more and more Right and Alt Right parties adopting UBI as part of their economic policies in the years to come. I see some very interesting potential for future interfacing between them, and the technocrats and transhumanists who have been the lead intellectual forces in rationalizing UBI up this point.
Meanwhile, Leftist parties – who are starting to more and more overtly become mere vehicles for ethnic minority interests – might be driven to oppose them on the grounds that UBI is elitist or even racist. However, this is a risky strategy, because once widescale automation DOES become a thing, UBI will become a necessity (short of the robot-owning oligarch overlords retreating to their mansions and zapping any peasant uprisings with drones). So the Left, too, may adopt UBI, but with modifications to make it more “socially just.” How? That I leave to the cyberpunk genre.