A socialist case against Basic Income Guarantee

The concept of a basic income guarantee (BIG) has gained increasing traction on the left in recent years, for example being adopted as union policy by GMB and UNITE, being a manifesto commitment of the Green Party, and supported by John Mcdonnell, the shadow chancellor.

The concept is hardly new, with subsidized grain for plebian citizens being introduced by the populist Tribune, Gaius Gracchus in 123 BC. Indeed, as one of the currently touted arguments for a citizen income is founded on the idea that automation is creating a sub class of those permanently excluded from work, then the fate of the propertyless Roman plebians, impoverished and marginalized in an economy based upon military plunder, colonial tributes and slave labour, is an apt one.

Economist, Billy Mitchell has produced a number of detailed arguments about Basic Income, in a five part series of articles.

But his general point is well made that the concept is highly elusive and slippery, due to the wide range of political interests that advocate basic income, and the differing reasons that they support the policy:

Tracing the origins of the BIG proposal reveals that the motivations of the proponents at different periods of history have varied from those who desire to cut government spending overall and push the responsibility of maintaining ‘welfare’ onto individuals, to those who were believed that unemployment was a violation of justice but was outside of the capacity of governments to solve it, to, more recently, those who invoke trepidation about the so-called second machine age and claim that robots are going to wipe out jobs on a massive scale (the ‘robot’ justification).

Voices from the left and the right weave various aspects of these motivations, often in overlapping ways, to justify their demands for a basic income to be paid by the state to all individuals (although even then, the unit that would receive the benefit is also a topic of disagreement).

An example of the confusion is that basic income advocacy group, BIEN, has published a muddled history of the concept since Thomas More’s “Utopia” onwards which conflates two distinct and separate phenomena: the state guaranteeing income, and the state providing a finite capital endowment. The second concept, advocated by Thomas Paine, gained limited expression by Tony Blair’s government with the baby bond, based upon research that even a limited access to capital at the start of life, for example to pay for an interview suit and suitable work clothes, or for driving lessons, could have a disproportionate effect in improving life chances. Sadly the Baby Bond was abolished by the Coalition government in 2010.

If we look at the detailed proposal from the Green Party then simplifying the benefit system, removing tax allowances and abolishing tax relief on pension contributions would lead to sufficient savings to fund a basic income of £80 per week for working age people, an increase of child benefits to £50 per week, and an £80 pw supplement for single parents.

A number of immediate objections can be made. Our economy is based upon fiat money, that is currency which is inherently worthless, but which gains value from being underwritten by the government, and its social and commercial acceptability as legal tender. There is therefore no limit to the amount of money in circulation, and payment out by the government of the basic income will undoubtedly be effectively financed by printing money, which will be inflationary over the longer term. Sustained economic growth and prosperity is achieved by investment in the productive economy, not by subsidising consumption.

Furthermore, any taxation and benefit system will modify behaviours, and while the Green Party’s proposals for income levels are relatively modest, they are unconditional. It would be sufficient for a significant number of people to withdraw from the labour market altogether. Furthermore, there would be a substantial number of persons in work, who either would be, or would perceive that they were, subsidizing people who were not willing to work. This is a politically untenable position.

Indeed the Green Party’s own proposal is even more economically inept, and politically incoherent than that. As the Guardian reported:

The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party and been repeatedly cited by the Greens, has modelled its scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.

The trust’s research shows that for the two lowest disposable income deciles, more than one-fifth would suffer income losses of more than 10%.

Even if the policy flaws of the specific proposals by the Green Party could be ironed out, fundamental problems remain.

As Billy Mitchell describes it:

As more an more individuals opted for the basic income without work, output would drop dramatically and material prosperity would be violated.

And Mitchell argues elsewhere:

Payment of a BIG to all citizens would signify a further withdrawal by the State from its responsibility to manage economic affairs and care for its citizens. Young people must be encouraged to develop skills and engage in paid work, rather than be the passive recipients of social security benefit.

Indeed, Basic Income Guarantee marks a retreat by the left from the concept not only that the state should take responsibility for developing skills and full employment; but a retreat from the idea that collaborative productive work is the sound moral foundation of a just society. It is through the collaborative endeavour of building and rebuilding the material world around us, producing through shared human labour our food, shelter, clothing, transport, communication and cultural artifacts that we find expression as social beings conscious of our collectivity.

Well intentioned do-gooders might imagine that freed from the compulsion to work, individuals will flower to become a generation of Shakespeares, Goethes and Mozarts, they are more likely to sit in their underpants watching Netflix. This is not a facetious point, the Basic Income Guarantee sees individuals as consumers of a world that they do not shape, they are the objects of society, not its self-conscious subjects. Passive consumption is not a stimulus for creativity.

The socialist project is to advance the interest of the working classes, and to ultimately build a society where the state acts in the interests of the working classes. Trade unions exist to combine workers to increase their strength through collective bargaining for those in work.

A Basic Income Guarantee would withdraw a number of citizens from the workforce, particularly at the unskilled, low paid end of the job market, whose work would inevitably need to be filled by immigrants. These non-citizen workers would not be entitled to BIG, and therefore the working class would be divided down the middle in such a way as to irrevocably weaken the possibility of trade union organisation.

In contrast to the collective orientation of organized labour, the Basic Income Guarantee is predicated not upon creating communities of solidarity but upon citizens with individual entitlement. It is pessimistic about the possibility of successful political action to achieve a shift of wealth and power to working people, and the possibility of working people democratically shaping society; and instead is fatalistic in seeking to provide ballast against poverty for dis-empowered individuals at the mercy of the gig economy.

111 comments on “A socialist case against Basic Income Guarantee

  1. Karl Stewart on said:

    Thanks for the article Andy.

    I’ve heard various vague noises about this ‘Basic Income’ proposal and had reservations about it, but this is the first article I’ve read that goes into the proposal in detail.

    It is, on analysis, clearly a proposal that should be opposed.

      Quote text  Reply

  2. Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, but aren’t arguments such as saying BIG would ensure less people would be willing to work, and that it would increase inflation, the same arguments that are made against unemployment benefits generally?

    I agree that the left should argue for full employment, but can’t that go hand in hand with advocating BIG for those that, for whatever reason, aren’t employed?

      Quote text  Reply

  3. Andy Newman on said:

    Tim N: but can’t that go hand in hand with advocating BIG for those that, for whatever reason, aren’t employed?

    The issue here is “for whatever reason”, in my view the left should advocate an economy based on full employment, and a safety net for those who are unable to work.

    The Socialist left has never championed the interests of those who could work but are unprepared to do so

      Quote text  Reply

  4. Andy Newman: The Socialist left has never championed the interests of those who could work but are unprepared to do so

    How would BIG do that as opposed to benefits is my question.

    I actually would champion the interests of those unprepared to work, as I can completely understand people not wanting to, particularly given the kind of work currently available. Still, I would agree that the left should focus on arguing for full, productive and fulfilling employment, as opposed to accepting mass unemployment as a given and catering for it.

      Quote text  Reply

  5. Andy Newman on said:

    Tim N: How would BIG do that as opposed to benefits is my question.

    This is the problem that BIG is an elusive concept, with advocates as diverse as Richard Nixon and Sarah Palin (who actually presided over the Alaskan citizen income scheme) or Natalie Bennett and assorted tree huggers, through to major British trade unions.

    The concept of a basic income guarantee, or the related concept of negative income tax, as a more efficient way of delivering unemployment benefits seems to be associated with the political right, as both more cost effective, and renouncing state responsibility for the poor.

    Advocates from the “left” seem.to have a different argument that BIG is a progressive redistribution of wealth, and an alternative to work

      Quote text  Reply

  6. Tim N: How would BIG do that as opposed to benefits is my question.

    The problem here is the slippery nature of the BIG concept.

    From my reading, right wing advocates of BIG propose it as a simplified and more cost effective form of unemployment benefit. It is more effiecient from their point of view than a complex system of benefits calibrated according to need, and has the advantage of pushing responsibilty for their poverty onto the poor themselves, as the state can wash its hands of them, as the poor have the same state assistance of BIG as everyone else. BIG was Republican Party policy in the USA in the NIxon era for this reason, and it is Alaska, under republican rule where a citizen income has been paid out fr the last 45 years, including under Sarah Palin.

    In this sort of right wing vision of BIG it is perhaps analogous to unemployment benefit. And its advocates support it because it is cheaper to adminster, and promotes individualism.

    However, advocates from a more “left wing” perspective clearly feel that BIG is fundamanetally different from unemployment benefit, not least because it is paid to those in work as well, and as such provides an income floor for those in casual and poorly aid work, as well as those who choose not to work. This seems to me not even worthy of the description “reformism” as it seeks to preserve not reform the casualised gig economy, but institutionalise powerless individualism by offering a state subsidy as a substitute for dignity in employment and fair wages

      Quote text  Reply

  7. Personally I defend the right to a basic income guarantee in the absence of a basic employment guarantee.

    Once the latter is achieved (something I would see as a fundamental aspect of a socialist society) I don’t believe that anyone capable of work should be paid not to.

      Quote text  Reply

  8. Jellytot on said:

    I wonder what the poor would think of this? I mean, those who would actually be entitled to this? Shouldn’t their opinions carry weight too?

      Quote text  Reply

  9. Andy Newman on said:

    jack: I’m amazed that Billy Mitchell can produced detailed articles on economics

    I immediately thought of the USAF general who invented mass bombing of civilian population centers

      Quote text  Reply

  10. Evan P: Personally I defend the right to a basic income guarantee in the absence of a basic employment guarantee.

    When was the last time that the left in the UK pledged full employment? Back when Gene Hunt was a DCI?

    This is of course partly because of historic defeats, but also perhaps because a state strategy for full employment would be incompatible with EU membership. How can you have a state commitment to full employment, and free movement of people? How can you achieve full employment if you rule out import substitution and state subsidies?

    Full employment leads to wage push, and everyone’s boat rises.

    Back in the 1970s, most trade unions were opposed to a legal minimum wage, because they saw it as state interference in collective bargaining, and believed that industrial democracy and collective bargaining could achieve more. This was a position derived from strength not weakness.

    At the moment we have neither a basic income guarantee nor a job guarantee. The issue is what we should be campaigning for.

    It is not necessary for the left to support BIG, we should, instead support a benefit system without the current draconian sanctions; and push for job growth.

      Quote text  Reply

  11. Jellytot: I wonder what the poor would think of this? I mean, those who would actually be entitled to this? Shouldn’t their opinions carry weight too?

    My conception of socialism is perhaps old-school. It is to pursue the sectional interests of the organised working class in the belief that the interests of the working class express the best interests of the whole of our society.

    The poor, as “the poor”, are not organisable, nor capable of political self-organisation. As such it is difficult to gauge their collective views, and perhaps they don’t all share the same material interest.

    The key here is to separate the aspiration for a fair and humane benefit system, which we obviously support, from the macro-economic impacts of different ways of delivering benefits.

    It is my contention that at the macro-economic level, BIG is both misguided due to its inflationary nature, and potentially regressive as it entails the state relinquishing responsibility for economic policy, and encouraging people to develop the skills and aptitude for work. I also believe that BIG weakens the fight against casualisation and the gig economy, and potentially divides the working class on the basis of citizenship.

    Perhaps unfairly, I am assuming that many benefit claimants are more interested in how much they get, than whether or not the method that it is given to them has broader societal impacts.

      Quote text  Reply

  12. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: Perhaps unfairly, I am assuming that many benefit claimants are more interested in how much they get, than whether or not the method that it is given to them has broader societal impacts.

    I don’t think you’re being unfair. They care, understandably and ultimately, about the numbers as its about food of the table and a roof over your head. And who can blame then?

    You are right to point out the pitfalls from a socialist POV.

    BTW you reference Richard Nixon.

    He is remembered today for his bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia, crack down on The Panthers and of course his ignominious end but wasn’t he responsible for some fairly progressive domestic policy? Here is just some:

    Implemented the first significant federal affirmative action program.

    Dramatically increased spending on federal employee salaries.

    Oversaw first large-scale integration of public schools in the South

    Advocated comprehensive national health insurance for all Americans.

    Imposed wage and price controls in times of crisis.

    Indexed Social Security for inflation.

    Created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Office of Minority Business Enterprise. This latter one together with affirmative action noted above massively expanded the Black middle class.

    Appointed four Supreme Court Justices, three of which voted with the majority in Roe v. Wade.

      Quote text  Reply

  13. Andy Newman: When was the last time that the left in the UK pledged full employment? Back when Gene Hunt was a DCI?

    Worth considering the terminology as well. Both Barrack Obama and George Osborne have boasted of “full employment” as being achieved, with around 75% of the adult population in work, and about 5.5% unemployed.

    This is “full employment” only in the sense that it is defined as the lowest level of unemployment that does not lead to wage push.

    A full employment policy from the left should mean exactly that

      Quote text  Reply

  14. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: and detente with China

    Yes but wasn’t that to exacerbate the Sino Soviet split?

    Nixon’s approach to African Americans was interesting. Cracking down hard on working class black radicals while simultaneously building the Black middle class.

    I recommend the book “Nixonland” by Richard Perlstein. Even the Antony Hopkins’s Biopic I enjoyed.

    I’m no fan but he was no more corrupt than most other US presidents. His problem was that most of it was caught on tape.

      Quote text  Reply

  15. Evan Pritchard on said:

    #14 ‘When was the last time that the left in the UK pledged full employment? Back when Gene Hunt was a DCI?

    This is of course partly because of historic defeats, but also perhaps because a state strategy for full employment would be incompatible with EU membership. How can you have a state commitment to full employment, and free movement of people? How can you achieve full employment if you rule out import substitution and state subsidies?’

    In Gene Hunt’s day the left also generally supported withdrawal from the then EEC and for precisely the reasons you outline.

    A bit like quaint things like a planned economy and social ownership.

      Quote text  Reply

  16. Jellytot on said:

    Tim N:

    I actually would champion the interests of those unprepared to work, as I can completely understand people not wanting to, particularly given the kind of work currently available.

    I have a certain sympathy with this.

    Marx wrote about how workers were alienated from the production process through the exploitation of their labour for profit.

    In globalisation that alienation is compounded where profits are produced for faceless multinationals and anonymous shareholders frequently on the other side of the world.

    A small artisan 500 years ago could look upon the fruits of his or her labour with a certain degree of pride. A Starbucks barista or a Chinese worker making iPhones today less so.

    While I wouldn’t fully take the anarchist view, I have a sneaking regard for those who chose to opt out all together.

    I don’t think there is much dignity in labour anymore. The world economy is looking more and more like one big ponzi scheme.

      Quote text  Reply

  17. Andy newmanl on said:

    Evan Pritchard: In Gene Hunt’s day the left also generally supported withdrawal from the then EEC and for precisely the reasons you outline.

    Well we are now leaving the EU, and the left needs to reorient to that new reality

      Quote text  Reply

  18. Leaving the EU yes, but the Labour leadership has to take the fight to stop leaving the single market and defend living standards. On the basic income I agree with what you have written. Interesting article.

      Quote text  Reply

  19. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: jack: I’m amazed that Billy Mitchell can produced detailed articles on economics

    I immediately thought of the USAF general who invented mass bombing of civilian population centers

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me completely here. But well done for extracting something pithy from Bill Mitchell’s sprawling (often brilliant, but often impenetrable) thoughts.

      Quote text  Reply

  20. jock mctrousers on said:

    jack: I’m amazed that Billy Mitchell can produced detailed articles on economics

    I note that ‘BILL’ Mitchell is often called ‘BILLY’ here. His blog is called ‘ BILLY BLOG’, but he always goes as ‘BILL’, or William for more formal gigs like his boods.

      Quote text  Reply

  21. Andy Newman on said:

    jock mctrousers: I’m afraid you’ve lost me completely here.

    I was being facetious, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell of the USAF was the inventor of a military doctrine based on mass bombing to destroy population centers during the 1930s.

      Quote text  Reply

  22. Andy Newman on said:

    Gavin: the Labour leadership has to take the fight to stop leaving the single market and defend living standards

    Currently the Conservative government have refused to really show their hand, they are still pretending that everyone can get everything they want. This has maintained unity in.their party at the cost of hiding the fact that choices need to be made.

    They are hoping to wrong foot Labour into taking the blame for the frustrations of the hopes of Brexiteers.

    The caution of Labour is matched by caution of many trade unionists.

      Quote text  Reply

  23. brianthedog on said:

    Thanks Andy for putting this up.

    I recently heard Guy Standing, Professor at SOAS and the author of ‘The Precariat and Class Struggle’ give a lecture advocating Basic Income.

    Something just didn’t sit right and caused alarm bells to ring.

    Maybe it was his numerous Davos visits to speak to the leaders of the global neo liberal empire about Basic Income and that many of them were listening.

    Or that he believes that there is no longer a middle class or working class, just ‘salariats and precariats’ which to me just sounds like futuristic post apocalyptic Mad Maxesque name for er …. the middle class and the working class.

    But hey ho, I suppose it helps sells books and gets you on the circuit.

    It also ties in into the recent comments by Jon Cruddas MP that the liberal ruling elites are hoping that robots and AI will do away with the pesky problem of the working class.

    Its clear that the working class are of late becoming more unpredictable and are currently not so easy to manipulate and do what they are told. Basic Income is I fear one of the tools being touted to deal with this and tranquilise them.

    Although I have yet to fully make my mind up about basic income, given the nature of the British ‘left’ and labour movement I am concerned about the likes of Owen Jones and liberal Guardianista’s who are cheerleaders for this and then trade union activists falling for it hook, line and sinker without fully thinking through the consequences.

      Quote text  Reply

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    Gavin:
    Leaving the EU yes, but the Labour leadership has to take the fight to stop leaving the single market and defend living standards. On the basic income I agree with what you have written. Interesting article.

    But the ‘single market’ is the neo-liberal essence of the present-day EU. The EU single market was largely the creation of Thatcher back in the late 1980s. This is the source of all the privatisation/liberalisation regulations.

    Although I voted for the traditional left position opposing the EU, I do get that many on the left voted remain on genuine internationalist and co-operative grounds and various ideals along those lines.

    And although I didn’t agree that the EU could be reformed along socialist lines, I certainly appreciate that many on the left advocated this position for genuine reasons.

    But what I don’t get is how anyone on the left would specifically pick out the EU single market as the single best thing about the EU. Surely that’s the single most reactionary. neo-liberal and thoroughly capitalist aspect of the EU.

      Quote text  Reply

  25. Evan P:
    Personally I defend the right to a basic income guarantee in the absence of a basic employment guarantee.

    Once the latter is achieved(something I would see as a fundamental aspect of a socialist society) I don’t believe that anyone capable of work should be paid not to.

    On a train returning from somewhere in Socialist Europe in the 80s I fell in with a bunch of Geordie building workers return from the Leipzig trade fair where they had been building exhibition stands. Several of them had accepted invitations to return to the DDR on longer term contracts as work was hard to find in Britain. The were astounded to find that in the socialist economy of the DDR that to be without work was illegal and evidence of what the competent organs of law and order called ‘social parasitism’.
    The great utility of such a law is that, if it applies to both rich and poor and is connected to a progressive taxation system, it is a useful measure to accomplish social mobility – both up and down.

      Quote text  Reply

  26. non-partisan on said:

    34 While not as debilitating or as depressing as a lack of funds for everyday life. i have met many people who were employed in ‘non’ jobs or who had family members friends etc who were, during that period of ‘socialism’ and full employment who describe a situation of stultifying boredom, depression and life being based on ‘who’ in the party you knew to gain advantages and favor, while talent skill or motivation were always somewhere way down on the list of requirements for a position.

    I haven’t come to any conclusion on the basic income question, although not so far convinced by the arguements above, if it stopped the hunger , desperation and humiliation of people currently on benefits, it would take more than an abstract idea that socialism is about ‘work’, or that the unions may lose thier reason for being to make me oppose it.

      Quote text  Reply

  27. non-partisan on said:

    34 While not as debilitating or as depressing as a lack of funds for everyday life. i.e. unemployment in the UK. I have met many people who were employed in ‘non’ jobs or who had family members friends etc who were, during that period of ‘socialism’ and full employment who describe a situation of stultifying boredom, depression and life being based on ‘who’ in the party you knew to gain advantages and favor, while talent skill or motivation were always somewhere way down on the list of requirements for a position. So not everything in the garden of ‘previously existing’ socialism was rosy.

    I haven’t come to any conclusion on the basic income question, although not so far convinced by the arguements above, if it stopped the hunger , desperation and humiliation of people currently on benefits, it would take more than an abstract idea that socialism is about ‘work’, or that the unions may lose thier reason for being to make me oppose it.

      Quote text  Reply

  28. Evan Pritchard on said:

    Nick Wright: On a train returning from somewhere in Socialist Europe in the 80s I fell in with a bunch of Geordie building workers return from the Leipzig trade fair where they had been building exhibition stands. Several of them had accepted invitations to return to the DDR on longer term contracts as work was hard to find in Britain. The were astounded to find that in the socialist economy of the DDR that to be without work was illegal and evidence of what the competent organs of law and order called ‘social parasitism’.
    The great utility of such a law is that, if it applies to both rich and poor and is connected to a progressive taxation system, it is a useful measure to accomplish social mobility – both up and down.

    It’s there in the Communist Manifesto.

      Quote text  Reply

  29. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: I was being facetious, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell of the USAF was the inventor of a military doctrine based on mass bombing to destroy population centers during the 1930s.

    The USAF named a rather fine bomber aircraft after him; The B25.

    These took part in the first raid on Tokyo in April 1942 taking off from an aircraft carrier that they were packed onto then landing in China after the mission. An incredible feat at the time.

      Quote text  Reply

  30. Andy Newman on said:

    non-partisan: if it stopped the hunger , desperation and humiliation of people currently on benefits,

    Yes, but we have had more humane administration of benefits in the UK in the past.

    It seems an extraordinary reaction to the fact that the current benefit system under a cruel and callous Conservative government is degrading and failing people to conclude that we need to abolish the benefit system altogether and replace it with a basic income guarantee instead

      Quote text  Reply

  31. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: what I don’t get is how anyone on the left would specifically pick out the EU single market as the single best thing about the EU.

    Gavin can speak for himself, but membership of the EEA does allow access to a huge market for UK goods and services, and the impact on jobs of leaving is unquantified

      Quote text  Reply

  32. non-partisan on said:

    You are right that this particular government is cruel, but to honest the last Labour government opened the way on many of the systems the tories developed. Any benefit system is open to political manipulation by government.

    Isn’t basic income jus a different form a benefits system? OK the finances have to be looked at, same as any system, but less money is spent on administration allowing the money that is spent to be focussed where it is needed.

    It can allow people to accept part time work without worrying about benefit reductions.

    It could help people who have family members needing care.

    It could also allow a more ‘social’ or community ‘activism’ from people whose basic needs had been met and who wanted to vulunteer for social activities.

    It would also mean employers would need to make employment ‘attractive’ to entice people into shitty jobs, rater than people being forced by sanctions and empty bellies to accept low pay and below minimum wage jobs.

    Enough reasons for me to keep an open mind so far.

      Quote text  Reply

  33. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog:

    Its clear that the working class are of late becoming more unpredictable and are currently not so easy to manipulate and do what they are told. Basic Income is I fear one of the tools being touted to deal with this and tranquilise them.

    Like how a beekeeper uses smoke to keep the bees docile? You may be onto something there.

    How to keep the “Great Unwashed” in line (within a framework of a nominally liberal democracy) will become one of the key concerns of our leaders in the years and decades to come, given the power of the once mighty establishment mass media is starting to wane (since the emergence of alternative news sources in the Pandoras Box that is the internet).

    Simply “Buying them off” may be preferable from their POV than authoritarian repression. It’s not as if they can’t afford it.

    Let’s face it…they have families too and they have to live in the societies they have created. BIG may be a part of this.

      Quote text  Reply

  34. #35 Yes, surprise surprise, the initial period of building socialism will be (and was) very imperfect.

    When economic activity is organised politically rather than the other way round there will be all kinds of resultant problems. Particularly when people have the legal right to a job with minimum hours and conditions.

    And clearly there will be a price to pay for getting rid of all market mechanisms and replacing them with planning and full state ownership prematurely.

    But what I find very telling nowadays is the number of people who self define as socialists or on the left who, when I mention a planned economy or social ownership, suggest that either are not possible and /or desirable.

    Usually this conversation takes place after I’ve questioned the demand for “free movement of labour”, which in contrast is somehow a shiboleth/sacred cow.

    One thing I am absolutely certain about is that if I was given the alternative now for myself and so many people I know of living in a country that looks like modern Britain (where by the way all our social media and telephone conversations are subject to monitoring by the security services of our own country and that of the USA) and and one that looks like the old German Democratic Republic (allowing for British cultural differences) then I would find it very difficult to choose the Britain of benefit sanctions, bent work capability assessments, more people sleeping on the streets every time I go into town, zero hour contracts, public transport and increasingly education run by inefficient crooks and a health service needing support from the Red Cross .

    One built on the basis of Britain’s Road to Socialism is a very different matter comrades! 🙂

      Quote text  Reply

  35. brianthedog on said:

    Jellytot,

    You maybe on to something and the redistribution in wealth towards the rich during the current neo-liberal epoch certainly means they can afford it.

    There is of course an alternative to authoritarian repression which is currently manifesting itself in the growth of the right and that is of course of the left and socialists.

    Therefore if we are correct (with the caveat that I am still trying to develop an opinion on basic income)then why are John McDonnell , Owen Jones and Andy Stern (ex President of US union the SEIU) advocating basic income?

      Quote text  Reply

  36. Andy Newman on said:

    brianthedog: if we are correct (with the caveat that I am still trying to develop an opinion on basic income)then why are John McDonnell , Owen Jones and Andy Stern (ex President of US union the SEIU) advocating basic income?

    Paul Mason is instructive, his argument is that the era of work is over, because machines will be doing everything.

    I will be writing something on.the fallacies of his argument soon.

    I don’t think we need to look far to see why Owen Jones supports the idea. It is fashionable, and gives him another opportunity for facile self promotion.

      Quote text  Reply

  37. Andy Newman on said:

    Evan P: there will be a price to pay for getting rid of all market mechanisms and replacing them with planning and full state ownership prematurely.

    Who can question following the Nazi onslaught on the USSR that the emphasis on building heavy industry and military capacity was ultimately an issue of national survival.

    For a poor agrarian economy (or in the case of DDR – “auferstanden aus Ruinen”) to prioritize heavy industry which is capital intensive and slow to show returns, means overvaluing the currency, shortage of foreign currency reserves, subsidising the urban economy at the expense of the countryside, underdeveloped light industry, and shortages.

    This is not a function of socialism, it is due to manipulating price mechanisms to force development of heavy industry in an economy unready to do so.

    The role model of the USSR was one factor of why Eastern Europe, but also developing countries both in and outside the socialist block followed this path.

    But it is also worth commenting that the West imposed military pressure (and economic and diplomatic isolation) on the socialist states, and that post colonial states had their own reasons for fearing military intervention from the former Imperial powers.

    The arms race distorted not only socialism but also non socialist post colonial developing economies.

    Responsibility for using military and economic pressure lies with the Western powers. That may not be a fashionable view among liberals, but the historical record backs it up

      Quote text  Reply

  38. non-partisan on said:

    44 Not to get into a big debate about the nature of Eastern Europe ‘socialism’ again, and I guess in your time frame 40 50 years after the transformation is still early days.

    Sometimes it would be nice to hear defenders of those systems say ‘yeah, ok, you’re right, within the overal advance made by the planned economies, there certainly were some big fuck ups about participation, democracy and involvement.’

    You are right the choice between a sanctions regime and the DDR might leave you choosing the latter, the problem is that most people still have some work, a house, social life, hobbies and music etc etc, and given a choice between this and the old DDR its not so straightforward.

    On the basic income, Jellytot and brian maybe right, its another way of ‘buying off’ the w/c. but better to be bought than starved? Live to fight another day and all that….

      Quote text  Reply

  39. brianthedog on said:

    Andy Newman: Paul Mason is instructive, his argument is that the era of work is over, because machines will be doing everything.

    I will be writing something on.the fallacies of his argument soon.

    I don’t think we need to look far to see why Owen Jones supports the idea. It is fashionable, and gives him another opportunity for facile self promotion.

    Owen Jones a facile self promoter ???? ……… never!!!!!! 🙂

      Quote text  Reply

  40. brianthedog on said:

    non-partisan,

    “On the basic income, Jellytot and brian maybe right, its another way of ‘buying off’ the w/c. but better to be bought than starved? Live to fight another day and all that….”

    It could be argued that this shows the ideological weakness and cowardice of the left which has also abandoned and has little connection with the working class.

    Let’s hang on to the coattails of the liberals/neo liberals as they will throw us a few crumbs from their ever growing table.

    To me it is a similar position that much of the ‘left’ have taken over the EU and Brexit.

    The problem is it under estimates the working class who are rebelling without the left’s patronising ‘guidance’.

    We are then surprised when the right not only fills the vacuum but runs with it.

    If we on the left are going to be so pathetic, why don’t we just be honest, tell it as it is and that we have become liberals.

      Quote text  Reply

  41. #51 Social democracy/ labourism has always been infected with its fair dose of liberalism.

    Moreover, a huge element of Blair’s political project was to transform Labour into the old Liberal Party that it had in part emerged/broken from in the 1900s.

    When Scargill set up the SLP (a huge but understandable mistake, but that’s another story) in response to the ditching of Clause 4, he made frequent reference to an article that Blair had had published in the Independent on Sunday in which he bemoaned the “split in radical politics” at the turn of the Century (1th/ 20th)..

    And let’s not forget that there was a widespread assumption prior to his victory in 1997 that Labour would not get a majority and would need to go into coalition with the Lib Dems (in part themselves the product of an alliance between right wing labourite splitters and liberals). In fact there was collaboration after the election with the Lib Dems even though this was not necessitated by the result.

    And many Labour supporters who opposed Blair from the left turned to the Lib Dems in that period (which almost certainly played its own part in the growth of illusions in the EU).

    It would be naive to assume that the influence of Blairism could be eliminated substantially simply by getting Corbyn elected.

    And it certainly won’t be eliminated by surrender, ideological or otherwise 🙂 .

    As for the appeal of liberalism to liberals…

      Quote text  Reply

  42. non-partisan on said:

    #49 It’s in Chapter 3 under the heading “Socialism, The Lessons So Far”.

    It’s hard not to react badly when your comment is taken as an expresssion of surrender and class betrayal.

    Never mind Evan and his comrades can continue to ponder #49 “Socialism, The Lessons So Far”.

    Safe in thier knowledge that they and only they have real connections with the working class- everyone who raises points should be shut down as accursed ‘liberals’ .

    No wonder you are dying and diminishing force, as the old guard die off- luckily socialist politics and movement won’t rely on the apologists for the USSR #49 It’s in Chapter 3 under the heading “Socialism, The Lessons So Far”. Maybe learn how to debate without sounding like a twat.

    Greetings from class collaborationist liberal HQ

      Quote text  Reply

  43. #54

    “Sometimes it would be nice to hear defenders of those systems say ‘yeah, ok, you’re right, within the overal advance made by the planned economies, there certainly were some big fuck ups about participation, democracy and involvement.’”

    Your words.

    I was merely pointing out that some of us have done just that.

    I decided to post a reference rather than copying and pasting the whole thing.

    “…everyone who raises points should be shut down as accursed ‘liberals’ ” .

    Sorry, did I accuse you of being a liberal? Did I ask for anyone (including you) to be “shut down”?

    I can’t and don’t speak for anyone else on this blog.

    To quote you again, “try to debate without sounding like a twat”.

    If you want to do that I’ll respond, if you just want to engage in (unjustified) abuse I’ll ignore you.

      Quote text  Reply

  44. non-partisan on said:

    Ok apologies evan – i think i confused your and brian’s comments – and i agree the abuse was unnecessary. It’s just so tiresome, someone raises a point, and then thiere;s the hue and cry of ‘ crossing class lines’ ‘liberalism’ not enaged with the w/c etc etc without debating the points actually raised. Not blaming you, but i’m sure you recognise the point.

    Ineptly or not I genuinely raised some questions earlier about basic income, because it is a subject I think its worth engaging with.

      Quote text  Reply

  45. #55 Just found this in my initial response to you,

    “…But what I find very telling nowadays is the number of people who self define as socialists or on the left who, when I mention a planned economy or social ownership, suggest that either are not possible and /or desirable.

    “Usually this conversation takes place after I’ve questioned the demand for “free movement of labour”, which in contrast is somehow a shiboleth/sacred cow.”

    So I perhaps owe you an apology, not because this was aimed specifically at you (I don’t know if it reflects your position or not) but because I can understand why you may have thought it was.

    I was talking about a fair few people including even Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party and alleged revolutionary socialists outside who have expressed those exact views.

    Here by the way is a quote from Britain’s Road to Socialism:

    “But the struggle to survive and to build socialism in the face of powerful external as well as internal enemies also led to distortions in society that might otherwise have been avoided. In particular, a bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule became entrenched.

    “The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working class and popular democracy. Marxism-Leninism was used dogmatically to justify the status-quo rather than make objective assessments of it.

    “At times, and in the late 1930s in particular, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred. Large numbers of people innocent of subversion or sabotage were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the world-wide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism.”

      Quote text  Reply

  46. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog: Owen Jones a facile self promoter ???? ……… never!!!!!!

    Aaww….Stop being mean to Owen !

    He certainly knows how to sport a V-neck jumper and he is cute is a “twinkish” kinda way.

      Quote text  Reply

  47. #56 And ironically my initial response is not to be quite as anti the concept as others.

    I do think on it’s own it could represent a surrender of some basic socialist principles, and particularly a commitment to full employment for those able to work, and in many contexts could represent a huge increase in the de facto subsidies paid to low wage employers by the state in the form of in work benefits.

    But in the latter case it would at least remove conditionality, which is a huge attack on large sections of the working class at the moment.

      Quote text  Reply

  48. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog:
    non-partisan,

    If we on the left are going to be so pathetic, why don’t we just be honest, tell it as it is and that we have become liberals.

    In the absence of any meaningful class struggle, and even class consciousness, it is not surprising that liberalism has infected the Left.

    It is telling that the Ultra Left newspapers nowadays have to run articles on really basic ‘Socialism 101’ and educate their readers on what the working class is and that it even exists.

    Why?

    Because the 20 something liberal snowflakes they are recruiting now have zero class conciousness and have grown up in a period without it.

    Recruits in the 70’s and 80’s wouldn’t have needed it explained to them. It was all around them in society and usually the #1 item on the TV news.

      Quote text  Reply

  49. Andy Newman on said:

    non-partisan: Ineptly or not I genuinely raised some questions earlier about basic income, because it is a subject I think its worth engaging with.

    Indeed. But my question is why such a drastic change is needed if the objective is just to have a moral humane benefit system?

      Quote text  Reply

  50. non-partisan on said:

    Andy Newman,

    61. Ok fair point – but it does raise the question, ‘what is a moral humane benefits system’ and couldn’t the basic income be it?

    Because in a sense it does socialise the care of those unable to work, and those who care for others by including them in society. It breaks down the ‘us and them’ character of benefits as everyone would recieve it, the extent that earned more would based on opportunity but also willingness to work more.

    Depending on the level it was set at, it could either subsidise badly paying employers, or undermine them.

    There are questions as to why elements (not all) of neo liberals want them, but not everything is zero sum, because they want it it must be bad.

    The same goes for the combativity of workers, economic, social and political questions combine to affect this – not just income based- and couldn’t the arguement about ‘buying workers off’ be true for all social and political reforms?

    I don’t know, don’t think any of us do, how the AI ‘revolution’ will effect employment, but I think its safe to say, we know from the past 30/40 years, changes in technology, and integration have had huge effects on the social and political composition of the working class – if this is anything to go by – we do need engage with solutions that don’t as yet fit our own pre concieved formulas.

    I actually believe the objective trajectory of history, logically would be for the socialisation of the means of production and distribution, actually how we get from here to there, has always been the point, and the twists and turns in that trajectory have taken the most clear sighted and commited activists by suprise. Room for debate yet I think,

    Thanks Evan

      Quote text  Reply

  51. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog:
    Jellytot,

    Therefore if we are correct (with the caveat that I am still trying to develop an opinion on basic income)then why are John McDonnell , Owen Jones and Andy Stern (ex President of US union the SEIU) advocating basic income?

    Because they are well meaning but wrong?

    It’s hardly a crime.

    I’d doubt there’s anything Machiavellian in it.

      Quote text  Reply

  52. non-partisan: I actually believe the objective trajectory of history, logically would be for the socialisation of the means of production and distribution, actually how we get from here to there, has always been the point, and the twists and turns in that trajectory have taken the most clear sighted and commited activists by suprise. Room for debate yet I think,

    Well put. There are many variables.

    The constants however are the realities of class and state power.

      Quote text  Reply

  53. Andy Newman on said:

    non-partisan: Depending on the level it was set at, it could either subsidise badly paying employers, or undermine them.

    The issue is the politics of the situation, I actually find the position of right wing advocates of BIG/UIB, that it is a more efficient and cheaper way of administering benefits, rather more acceptable than the “left wing” case that we are moving to a “post-work” society, where the machines will do all the work, and the poor will be festering at home without any substantive role in society.

      Quote text  Reply

  54. #66 But if BIG was actually guaranteed, assuming the rate was high enough, it would be more humane as well as being being more efficient and cheaper, as my reading of guaranteed rules out conditionality and therefore sanctions.

    But then again, as I say, my ideal would not be people fit for work being paid to do nothing by everyone else once full employment with decent jobs was guaranteed.

      Quote text  Reply

  55. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: the poor will be festering at home without any substantive role in society.

    Those who don’t work still have a role in society.

    The severely disabled and retirees do not work too but have individual worth and are worthy of respect.

    People are more than their jobs.

      Quote text  Reply

  56. non-partisan on said:

    67,68,69 One of the possibilities is thatBIG if at the right level, frees up not just social resources, in family members helping with elderly relatives, grandparents with kids etc reducing the burden on the state, but political or community activism, turning wasteland into green areas, repairing broken community facilities, friendship schemes, etc etc In this is not an alternative to full employment but part of the road to it.

    The key, as in all things is in whose hands it rests, and in whose interests it operates.

    Whether it is introduced as part of a society (or left govt) fighting to overturn the nostrums of neo liberalism, or a clever way of sections of the capitalist class boosting the buying power of a rapidly diminising consumer base – if indeed the AI predictions turn out.

    Actually, it need not just be viewed in the context of the discussion of future employment, but as part of the discussion about how to move along the road to a more equitable society.

    Evan was right to say earlier that, class and the state are two constants, but the problem is the form they take at any one point is not, nor how thier interests are expressed be constant, but shift according to the situation.

      Quote text  Reply

  57. #69 My only problem with that is that transforming/ repairing land and facilities is something people should get paid a full wagexplanation for. I see the BIG if it were to be of any use as something people get unconditionally and then get a top up for working.

    Alternatively of course such work could be performed by offenders as part of their rehabilitation.

    Which does of course beg another question.

      Quote text  Reply

  58. non-partisan on said:

    70 The early volunteer movement in Cuba led among others by Che springs to mind, when people built nurserys, schools etc. this was after taking power, but nonetheless it can also be part of transforming, not just after. I know , strayed a long way from where we are….

      Quote text  Reply

  59. Andy Newman: The issue is the politics of the situation, I actually find the position of right wing advocates of BIG/UIB, that it is a more efficient and cheaper way of administering benefits, rather more acceptable than the “left wing” case that we are moving to a “post-work” society, where the machines will do all the work, and the poor will be festering at home without any substantive role in society.

    It is not at all left wing. Firstly, to contribute to the material and intellectual stock of a society ie to work is both a human need and a social obligation which arises from the moral bankruptcy of the alternatives which are, forced idleness in capitalist society or social parasitism in both capitalist and socialist societies.

    Secondly, even if machines can be devised to do much unpleasant or repititious work these still need designing, building and maintaining. In fact we should be moving to a recovery and repair model for much machinery without planned obsolescence and with interchangeable parts for vehicles , etc.

    Thirdly, many jobs should vanish. Many jobs in finance and insurance, marketing and advertising are valueless and these talents would be better employed in education, public administration and maintaining public tranquility.

    And most people will need repeated vocational, scientific and professional training as society becomes more highly organised and techniques improve.

    Fourthly, there is a limitless demand for services in the social care, welfare, child care and education spheres.

    Fifthly, life could be more harmoniously reorganised around around a better life work balance with, recreation, education and social exchange playing a more I portant part in our lives..

      Quote text  Reply

  60. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright: It is not at all left wing.

    Exactly, that is why I put “left wing” in scary rabbit ears.

    I am by trade a professional engineer working for a telecommunications multinational. I find much of the commentary from journalists and columnists very naive about the amount of highly organised, disciplined and technical work that lies underneath what they see as a “post work” world

      Quote text  Reply

  61. Andy Newman on said:

    Jellytot: The severely disabled and retirees do not work too but have individual worth and are worthy of respect.

    Deng’s China made great strides in requiring enterprises to employ disabled people to contribute according to their ability.

    Remploy, and its successor firms, have the right philosophy of looking for whatever work value people can contribute, and the law could require, for example, public sector to buy from supported work institutions.

    We should guarantee work, and the dignity it brings. And people should havea right to work, with a much more robust requirement on employers to make “reasonable adjustments”

      Quote text  Reply

  62. non-partisan: The early volunteer movement in Cuba led among others by Che springs to mind, when people built nurserys, schools etc. this was after taking power, but nonetheless it can also be part of transforming, not just after.

    As I understand it, this was mostly to do with development, i.e. building the infrastructure needed in order to move Cuba’s economy and society forward past their relatively “backward” level. Similar to Sankara’s projects in Burkino Faso. I don’t think such projects would necessarily be needed in more advanced economies moving towards socialism. It’s not like we need schools or nurseries built on a massive scale, we just need them socialised.

      Quote text  Reply

  63. John Grimshaw on said:

    Tim N: It’s not like we need schools or nurseries built on a massive scale, we just need them socialised.

    Well… I’m not going to disagree with the socialised bit but there is currently quite a severe maintenance crisis with regard to publicly owned schools. Some schools are literally falling down. There are various reasons for this. Obviously underfunding, but also the fact that the current and previous government has prioritised state maintained private schools. Much money has been spent on “Free schools” and academies at the expense of “normal” schools. A number of UCT’s (technical schools – in theory) have been constructed and then shut down because of lack of uptake – the one in Salford for example. There are “free schools” in East Anglia for example that either have closed or function at a limited level because they don’t have enough students. There is currently no way for obvious central planning for education provision to take place. Under Labour (deep breath) there was a project called Building Schools for the Future (BSF) which aimed to upgrade virtually all the school buildings in the country which was then cancelled by the Con-Dem government with the exception of the ones where the contracts were already done. My union currently has over 300,000 members including retired teachers, but there are now on average 40,000 supply teachers at any one time to put it into perspective, most of whom will not be unionised and most of whom have no work place rights whatsoever. This means that there are a whole load of teachers who have little real interest in the educational infrastructure.

      Quote text  Reply

  64. non-partisan: ‘maintaining public tranquility.

    An important aspect of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In a socialist society public tranquility is maintained by a variety of social mechanisms and institutions. The ring is held, of course, by the security bodies but there are lots of other structures that socialist societies develop in order to ensure conformity with socialist codes of morality and collective life and root out expressions of petty bourgeois individualism, consumerism, egoism and social parasitism.:-)

      Quote text  Reply

  65. Andy Newman: I am by trade a professional engineer working for a telecommunications multinational. I find much of the commentary from journalists and columnists very naive about the amount of highly organised, disciplined and technical work that lies underneath what they see as a “post work” world

    I am by trade a designer and journalist working in the communications business. I find much of the commentary from journalists and columnists very naive about the amount of highly organised, disciplined and technical work that is required to carry their efforts to audiences.

      Quote text  Reply

  66. Jellytot on said:

    Nick Wright:
    John Grimshaw,

    In capitalist society, the rich who do not work, produce or play any productive role in society are social parasites. In a socialist society, where anyone who does not contribute according to their ability are social parasites.

    So is opting not to work, as a poor working class person, in a capitalist society, social parasitism?

    * I’ll concede that it is not an option for most but some can make it operate….I have a close relation, now in their mid 50’s, who last did any meaningful employment in 1999.

    P.S. Congrats to all the Labour activists who saw off Ukip in Stoke yesterday. Fantastic effort. Shows Ukip are a one man Farage show.

      Quote text  Reply

  67. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot: Congrats to all the Labour activists who saw off Ukip in Stoke yesterday.

    Yes, well done to all the activists and volunteers for all their hard work. If can’t see Paul Nuttall and UKIP recovering from this.

    But…

    While society clearly benefits from the demise of UKIP, it’s not necessarily going to be to Labour’s electoral benefit. These are primarily Tory voters who are now going back to the Tories.

    And the Copeland result was a disaster for Labour. That result appears to have been down to a perception that Labour is against nuclear power and nuclear defence.

    What can Labour do about this?

      Quote text  Reply

  68. Karl Stewart: And the Copeland result was a disaster for Labour. That result appears to have been down to a perception that Labour is against nuclear power and nuclear defence.

    What can Labour do about this?

    Personally I think Labour should be against nuclear power. It may lose them votes, but there’s a principle involved. Unfortunately, Corbyn seems to have backtracked on this, and Labour has the worse of two worlds. No-one’s convinced he is actually in favour of nuclear power, but a good portion of his activist base is peeved at him for flip-flopping.

      Quote text  Reply

  69. Karl Stewart on said:

    Tim N,

    I think it’s ridiculous to be opposed to nuclear power. It’s an efficient, cheap, clean, safe and reliable means of generating electricity.

    It’s like being against electricity…why?

      Quote text  Reply

  70. Nick Wright on said:

    Jellytot,

    Opting not to work, when able, and when work is available raises the question of how one is to live. If it is by living off savings or assets that have resulted from productive labour is not parasitism but you have to look at the question in concrete terms.
    My grandfather, an old SDF syndicalist refused both to work overtime (somebody else’s job) and regarded private landlords as parasites living off other people’s labour

      Quote text  Reply

  71. Jellytot on said:

    Nick Wright:
    Jellytot,

    Opting not to work, when able, and when work is available raises the question of how one is to live. If it is by living off savings or assets that have resulted from productive labour is not parasitism but you have to look at the question in concrete terms.
    My grandfather, an old SDF syndicalist refused both to work overtime (somebody else’s job) and regarded private landlords as parasites living off other people’s labour

    If a working class person can eek out a living on benefits (especially if they are recipents of increased welfare due to dependent children), and have no savings and assets, are they, in your view, parasites?

      Quote text  Reply

  72. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Tim N,

    I think it’s ridiculous to be opposed to nuclear power. It’s an efficient, cheap, clean, safe and reliable means of generating electricity.

    It’s like being against electricity…why?

    Isn’t the nuclear power industry umbilically connected to the production of nuclear weapons? There is a relationship.

    When the nuclear power industry is subject to the profit motive safety can slip. I.E. the siting of the Fukushima plant in Japan..in a Tsunami zone.

    In a planned socialist economy I can see how nuclear power could be safe.

      Quote text  Reply

  73. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart: Yes, well done to all the activists and volunteers for all their hard work. If can’t see Paul Nuttall and UKIP recovering from this.

    But…

    While society clearly benefits from the demise of UKIP, it’s not necessarily going to be to Labour’s electoral benefit. These are primarily Tory voters who are now going back to the Tories.

    And the Copeland result was a disaster for Labour. That result appears to have been down to a perception that Labour is against nuclear power and nuclear defence.

    What can Labour do about this?

    Don’t write Ukip off completely.

    There is still an audience for rightwing populism be it Ukip or a successor movement.

    Had Farage stood in Stoke he could have won it. It was fortunate for Labour that they picked a deeply unattractive candidate like Nuttall.

      Quote text  Reply

  74. Karl Stewart: I think it’s ridiculous to be opposed to nuclear power. It’s an efficient, cheap, clean, safe and reliable means of generating electricity.

    It’s like being against electricity…why?

    Clean, safe and reliable? Are you sure? I think the people of Ukraine and Japan might beg to differ. There’s no good reason to use nuclear power apart from its usefulness in the development of nuclear weapons, and the obvious profit motive. If the matter was simply one of producing energy for productive work and leisure then wind, solar and tidal power would be more than enough.

      Quote text  Reply

  75. Karl Stewart on said:

    Tim N,
    Jellytot,

    The Japanese example is one in which there was a tsunami – a catastrophic natural disaster.

    But there were, as I understand it, zero deaths from the nuclear plant.

    Other energy industries have far higher records of deaths from accidents.

      Quote text  Reply

  76. Karl Stewart,

    Accidents aside there are obvious problems with the disposal of waste (although there are some technological advancements in that area). More importantly, and politically, is the issue with nuclear power being used in the development of nuclear weapons.

    Compared to fossil fuels nuclear power is obviously better, but the fact remains it is dangerous and environmentally damaging, and clean renewable energy is vastly superior in every way- unless you want to make money and threaten other countries with missiles that is.

      Quote text  Reply

  77. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Tim N,
    Jellytot,

    The Japanese example is one in which there was a tsunami – a catastrophic natural disaster.

    But there were, as I understand it, zero deaths from the nuclear plant.

    Other energy industries have far higher records of deaths from accidents.

    I know you’re not one for facts, prefering to go with feelings, instinct and emotion but the lack of countermeasures in regards to Fukushima in relation to its location in an earthquake zone and Tsunami warning area was profit related.

    This from World-nuclear.org:

    The tsunami countermeasures taken when Fukushima Daiichi was designed and sited in the 1960s were considered acceptable in relation to the scientific knowledge then, with low recorded run-up heights for that particular coastline. But some 18 years before the 2011 disaster, new scientific knowledge had emerged about the likelihood of a large earthquake and resulting major tsunami of some 15.7 metres at the Daiichi site. However, this had not yet led to any major action by either the plant operator, Tepco, or government regulators, notably the Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). Discussion was ongoing, but action minimal. The tsunami countermeasures could also have been reviewed in accordance with IAEA guidelines which required taking into account high tsunami levels, but NISA continued to allow the Fukushima plant to operate without sufficient countermeasures such as moving the backup generators up the hill, sealing the lower part of the buildings, and having some back-up for seawater pumps, despite clear warnings.

      Quote text  Reply

  78. Jellytot on said:

    Nick Wright:
    Jellytot,

    Don’t be daft. Raising children is just one way of creating value. From each according to their ability.

    I agree and to think that there are people who regard Working Class mothers, who are in receipt of benefits and who are not in the workforce, as parasites and scoungers. I cannot understand it either. They peform a vital social function.

      Quote text  Reply

  79. Karl Stewart on said:

    Tim N: clean renewable energy is vastly superior in every way

    Is it practicable (or even possible) to generate sufficient electricity from these sources Tim?

      Quote text  Reply

  80. Tim N,

    And the biggest absurdity in the quoted assertion is “cheap”! Also with regard to safety it is “ridiculous” to reduce a discussion on safety to on site accident reporting – what about uranium mining, genetic disorders, cancers … Not to mention nuclear weaponry with its potential to wipe us all out.

      Quote text  Reply

  81. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Jellytot,

    How can the relative safety of nuclear and coal be compared other than with reference to injuries and fatalities?

    Potential lethality.

    The failure of a nuclear power station would be far more catastrophic than a coal fired one.

    Anyway, the effects of a nuclear accident are frequently not immediate but through the onset of radiation linked cancers later.

      Quote text  Reply

  82. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot,

    Some of those links are disputed, while some others are at various degrees of separation. There are issues of illnesses occuring near high-voltage electrical plant, for example.

    But your making those links raises the questions as to how far one should link other illnesses, should we consider drownings when looking at hydro power, for example? Or storm-related injuries and fatalities when looking at wind power? Or deaths on the road when analysing the dangers of oil?

    Making those links sounds initially ridiculous. But all carry potential catastrophic consequences, one could argue.

    But it is solely when nuclear power is discussed that any degree of separation from the primary source tends to be considered – by nuclear power’s opponents – as legitimate criteria.

    My point is, if we are going to make meaningful safety comparisons, it’s not unreasonable to establish common comparitive criteria?

      Quote text  Reply

  83. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jim: And the biggest absurdity in the quoted assertion is “cheap”!

    France generates a higher proportion (80 per cent) of its electricity from nuclear energy than any other country in the world. It has the cheapest domestic electricity in the EU. It’s also a major exporter.

      Quote text  Reply

  84. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright: I am by trade a designer and journalist working in the communications business. I find much of the commentary from journalists and columnists very naive about the amount of highly organised, disciplined and technical work that is required to carry their efforts to audiences.

    Oh yes

      Quote text  Reply

  85. Andy Newman on said:

    Jellytot: If a working class person can eek out a living on benefits (especially if they are recipents of increased welfare due to dependent children), and have no savings and assets, are they, in your view, parasites?

    Within any social system people will make rational choices to maximise their personal best interests within the prevailing incentive regimes. It is rational to maximise your benefit entitlement just as it is rational to minimise your tax liability.

    Being a “parasite” would imply actually exploiting other people and benefiting at their expense.

    So people who live on benefits are not parasites. Indeed many people make hugely valuable contributions to their communities, and also raise children who also contribute.

    However, it is a political question whether the tax and benefit system at any time is fit for purpose, and reasonable to ask whether it may introduce perverse incentives.

    For example, high rate tax relief for land lords on buy to let mortgages was a perverse incentive, that the government is closing. But then again the growth of buy to let has been irrationally stoked by the low offerings of pension annuities.

    I think the argument from Maurice Glassman about reciprocity in the benefit system does make political sense, though I don’t agree where he goes with it.

    I think that being a socialist means that we should advocate promotion of behaviour where people contribute to society. And there are different ways of contributing

    People who choose not to contribute to society will rarely be parasites, but some of them may be anti social, and there should not be a financial incentive to anti social. That is my mind, why a universal basic income is a poor idea, as it promotes the idea that individuals are paid without contributing

      Quote text  Reply

  86. non-partisan on said:

    a bit late so maybe i shold’t try to be coherent-

    I appreciate andy’s last post 110 because i tink it genuinely tries to deal with the issue of non contribtors to societ for want of a better term, but does it in a way that is socailly conscious.

    But it still has the feel, like Nick W’s earlier comment, that society, even socialist society is something that happens to working people, who need to be controlled and organised by it, rather than engaged and a part of it, creating its values and philosophy.

    Simplistic I know, but if working people and communities, are the subject rather than the determniners,

    no thanks

      Quote text  Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *