“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
When American activist and social worker Jane Addams wrote these words in 1893, the world was in the heyday of its first run with free-market capitalism and liberalism. Ideas about the “common good” were not popular in the mainstream. The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries had paved the way for a cultural shift away from local economies and communal dependence. In Europe and North America, society’s focus was on mechanization, large-scale growth and a bootstraps-and-grit ethic that dictated an “every person for themselves” approach to life and work.
It was an ideology that would become deeply entrenched in western culture, and that we are still immersed in today, argue journalist Jamie Swift and academic Elaine Power.
In their new book, The Case for Basic Income, the duo presents an alternative vision for post-pandemic existence after a year that has exposed the fallacies of neoliberalism and the reality of our interconnectedness and interdependence. It’s a proposal that once seemed radical but is gaining increasingly widespread traction and appeal: a universal basic income.
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