Are worker coops the way forward? Why not UBI?

Thank you for the enlightening videos you've been publishing, it's one of the most straightforward and accessible material on marxism I've found. That being said, I have to agree with Prof. Kristin Lawler who was on your show last month. No one's going to be won over to the left if we try to lure them with labour. For centuries technology has promised to replace human labour and we still work longer hours than the average medieval peasant or hunter-gatherer. I am a millenial and I feel trapped, not only because jobs don't exist, but also because I don't want to waste most of my waking life in a job. With hierarchy, impositions, wages and - most important of all - environmental destruction happening around me. We don't work for survival or for well-being anymore but only for economic growth and it's destroying the environment. So my question is whether coops are the way to replace humans with technology, get rid of useless labour, become free and so on. Sure, you may argue that coops would allow for a movement in that direction but it seems to me like gigantic political and economic obstacles would have to be overcome for worker coops to even come to be. How will we organize a significant number of people to accomplish that with the promise of work? And why not use that energy for something like a basic income? All I could find about your opinion on that subject was a short video on youtube where you say it would divide people. I disagree because everyone would receive it and those who choose to work would make money on top of the basic income. Not to mention those who do work wouldn't be able to argue that they're doing all the work while others benefit because they themselves can choose not to work if they don't want to. I could go on but essentially my question is: what are your objections to a basic income?

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  • Miguel Aranha
    commented 2017-01-30 07:26:26 -0500
    Thanks for your replies, guys. I’m not sure this place is meant to work as a forum but I thought I’d reply nayway.

    Zach – There are many ways to fund a basic income. My preferred method would be a carbon tax and a financial income tax. There are many other suggestions. A progressive income tax would not be a basic income but rather a negative income tax.
    As for the rich dividing the poor, that would still happen no matter how many worker coops existed. And when it comes to dividing the work, it sounds to me like a planned economy. I have no problem with that in principle but I also think it’s much more important to have the freedom to decide what kind of work you do and whether you want to work at all. Besides, a lot of people shouldn’t work namely the elderly, students, parents with young children and so on.

    Nicholas – I agree with everything you said except that UBI addresses the symptoms and not the cause. The ultimate cause of all these problems, the way I see it, is propaganda. A UBI would allow people to have free time, security (no fear of being fired) and trust (what view of human nature would people have if poverty was abolished?) which would allow them to organize and impose their will. People are atomized now more than ever because they spend all their time at work, because they have to compete with each other constantly, because they live in fear of losing everything. These are the root issues that a Basic Income would address.
  • Zach Campbell
    commented 2017-01-27 08:56:20 -0500
    The basic income has to come from somewhere though, probably tax dollars. So it would create social problems, the idea that somehow one group of workers is “carrying” the other, just or not. It doesn’t matter if they are actually carrying them or not, but there will probably be social tensions between those that work and those that don’t. If you say that we get the UBI from taxing the rich, then a rich class still exists and it will always try to divide the masses (like causing social tension between those that work and those that don’t). Besides, if there are still people working full time jobs and others not working at all, I think it would be more just to spread the responsibility throughout the population, and letting everyone work less and/or very little.
  • Miguel Aranha
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-27 00:01:19 -0500