Basic Income (”Borgerløn”) in Denmark – Status and Challenges in 2017

Read the article in Danish.

By Erik Christensen.

Disposition for the status report

  1. To understand the present, one must always know something about the past. Therefore, a short history about basic income in Denmark.
  2. Next, an orientation about the ”Borgerlønsbevægelsen”, BIEN Denmark and the current basic income debate.
  3. Why was basic income on the political agenda in Denmark in 2016? A window opened after the Danish welfare state had changed into a competitive state.
  4. If basic income is to gain support in the future in the trade union movement and among the left-wing parties, it must be connected with a new form of economic democracy.
  5. In this connection, a basic income narrative must be formulated in addition to the “Danish model and Utopia”.

 

The history of basic income in Denmark

”Borgerlønsbevægelsen” was formed in 2000 and internationally recognized as part of BIEN in 2004. But the idea of (borgerløn”) ​​basic income has a longer history in Denmark.

The concept and the idea of ​​(”borgerløn”) were launched with the book “Oprør fra Midten” (“Revolt from the Center”, 1982), written by Niels I. Meyer, Kristen Helveg Petersen, and Villy Sørensen, published in 1978. Basic income has since then been on the official political agenda in Denmark four times. The first time was in the early 1980s, the second time in the early 1990s, the third time in the election campaign in 2005 and again in 2016.

In “Revolt from the Center”, it was argued that no one should be forced to undertake a job as everyone has the right to decide for themselves, and that flexible working hours and equality of work inside and outside the home were central.

The book was so successful (sold over 100,000 copies in a few years) that the authors decided to form a new grassroots movement, ”Midteroprøret”, which initially arranged meetings and published a book on this question: “Borgerløn og beskæftigelse”, 1984.

Basic income was thus on the political agenda. Specifically, some prominent politicians in both The Social Liberal Party (Det radikale Venstre), Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) and Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet) expressed interest and sympathy for the idea. But by the end of the 1980s, ”Midteroprøret”” lost its breath, and the basic income issue slipped slowly from the political agenda.

In the early 1990s, Denmark moved on to a basic income track in the labour market policy by introducing a number of leave plans, especially a sabbatical leave, while, at the same time, several political parties had a relatively high interest in basic income. A window had opened for a paradigm shift towards basic income.

The idea came on the political agenda in the period 1992-94. The idea was now raised by new actors. These were the “excluded” from the labor market, outsiders in the labor market policy (both in the trade union and employers), the SALT magazine, and members of several political parties (The Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre), Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti), Christian People’s Party (Kristeligt Folkeparti), The Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten).

In the fall of 1993, the discussion of basic income issue was particularly profound. It started in September at the National Congress of The Social Liberal Party, where a majority of the annual general meeting was in favour of basic income against the party leadership’s warnings. It caused quite a stir that a new government party adopted such a motion, however, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Marianne Jelved, also quickly reassured the press that we could not afford a basic income and that the parliamentary group would not make such a proposal.

By the end of December, the debate peaked after the Ministry of Economic Affairs published their economic overview, in which calculations had been made for different basic income models, which showed that basic income was completely unrealistic because it would result in tax rates of about 100%. Immediately, all newspaper editorials declared the basic income idea to be totally unrealistic and dead.

However, the officials made a number of elementary analytical errors with their model calculations. It was a clear example of manipulation, prepared in such a way that the outcome was to fit into the minister’s critical basic income agenda.

After 1995, when unemployment (about 12%) began to decline, basic income disappeared from the political agenda. With the breakthrough of the neoliberal globalization in the Western world from the mid-1990s, all hopes and dreams of basic income experiments were killed.

 

”Borgerlønsbevægelsen, BIEN Danmark” and the basic income debate in Denmark

”Borgerlønsbevægelsen”, BIEN Denmark has always been a cross-political movement. The members of the first board of the movement had a very broad political orientation. There was a representative, who was declared left of center (member of Denmark’s Liberal Party (Venstre)), and representatives who were declared socialists (members of The Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti)), and members who leaned towards the Social Democrats (Socialdemokratiet) and The Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre). Today, members of the board are members of the Alternative, The New Green, Climate Democrats and The Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), as well as some without party affiliation.

The principle that ”Borgerlønsbevægelsen” has been cross-political has worked well and has meant that we have had constructive discussions at the board over the years with a broad contact network. A consequence of the cross-political basis has also been that the association has never recommended a specific economic model for basic income, but that members of the board have been responsible for the design of various models that have been regularly presented on our website.

In Sweden, there is no national association for basic income, but several strong local associations. In Denmark (which is a smaller country), we have a strong national association and only a few initiatives to form local associations.

BIEN Denmark is a small grassroots association with only approx. 150 members who pay 200 kr. (about 27 Euro) a year in quota. The board of BIEN Denmark works in the way that we hold an annual general meeting as well as two physical meetings, one of which is in connection with a lecture or debate on basic income. In addition to this, the board has a Google Hangouts meeting each month with ongoing discussion papers and initiatives being discussed. We also send out 4-5 newsletters to our members every year. In the last five years, the association has participated in the major political summit in Denmark, the People’s Political Festival on the island of Bornholm, where the association has organized debates on basic income with representatives from various social movements and political parties.

During the period 2000-2008, there was very little public debate on basic income except for the parliamentary elections in 2005, where a new party, the Minority Party, which in particular tried to address refugees and immigrants, had ”borgerløn” on their political agenda. Otherwise, when ”borgerløn” was mentioned, it was usually used as a derogatory term. It was labeled as a hippie idea from the 1970s or as an expression of communism.

In ”Borgerlønsbevægelsen”, we discussed for a long time how we would address this situation. In order to avoid this stigmatization, it was proposed that instead of using the word ”borgerløn”, we should rather use ”basisindkomst” (the direct Danish translation of basic income) in line with the international term basic income. After long discussions, we agreed to keep the word ”borgerløn”, even though it was used very negatively at the time, but in such a way that in the future we would use ”borgerløn” and ”basisindkomst” (basic income) synonymously and, despite the fact that in 2004 we officially became “BIEN Denmark”, we would also continue using the old name,”Borgerlønsbevægelsen”.

Basic income came again on the political agenda in 2016, but, in contrast to before, the term was now being used positively. It started shortly after New Year 2016 with a lengthy article in the newspaper Information entitled “Time is Ripe for Basic Income” – http://www.information.dk/556871. In a short period of time, it was shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook and with 100+ comments. It is quite rare that this happens to an article in Information. The direct outcome of this was that Information decided to host a public debate on February 9: “Basic Income – Utopia or Necessity?”, with the participation of, among others, the English labour market researcher and basic income theorist Guy Standing. Since then, the debate continued in various broadcasts in the national Danish Radio. From being largely rejected or ignored, “Borgerlønsbevægelsen”,  BIEN Denmark, now began to receive invitations from newspapers and other media to interviews and articles.

Also during this period, we found out that many did not know the word basic income, but often responded “do you mean borgerløn?”  A very large part of the Danish population has heard about this at some point. It clearly showed that the concept of ”borgerløn” is the rooted popular concept so that it is worth preserving and that the new concept of ”basisindkomst” (basic income) is only known by a few and especially younger people.

The biggest event for BIEN Denmark in 2016 was a Nordic basic income conference which, in cooperation with the new party Alternativet, took place in the Common Hall at Christiansborg (the Danish parliament) on 22-23 September. Representatives from all the Nordic countries, England, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and the United States, including a number of leading representatives from BIEN, Louise Haagh, Guy Standing, and Karl Widerquist, were attending. Discussions mostly centered on basic income pilot projects in various parts of the world.

In the election in June 2015, the new party the Alternative came, surprisingly to most people, to be represented in the parliament, winning 11 seats. On the party’s social agenda was something entirely new in Danish politics, “kontanthjælp uden modkrav” (“cash benefits without requirements”), as it was called in the party program, The implication of this was the abolition of so-called activation or workfare.

The Nordic  conference meant that the Nordic collaboration was intensified and that the Alternative started to work seriously towards the implementation of basic income. During the next six months, a group within the party prepared a draft of a basic income policy, which was adopted at the Alternative’s national congress in May 2017. In the next year, the party will then decide on how to further work on basic income and how to design an economic model.

In the spring of 2017, a prominent businessman and former banker at the investment bank Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen, in both press and television proclaimed that he considered basic income to be an economic necessity in a future highly automated society. This led to an extensive debate in business circles, where there were both opponents and supporters of basic income. Previously, a prominent business magazine, “Mandag Morgen”, had in several articles briefed on the subject of basic income and how the idea had started to spread internationally, while also expressing sympathy for the thought.

In a Danish context, it meant a significant advance. A basic income could now no longer be linked to any particular stance in politics, accused of being either socialism or communism, or even blamed for being a new form of neoliberal policy. There are many different types of basic income. Basic income can be thought of in many different ways. It can be both green, left-wing and neoliberal. In Denmark, we now seem to need a basic income model designed by, on the one hand, The Red-Green Alliance, The Socialist People’s Party and The Social Democrats, and, on the other, by The Social Liberal Party as well as other liberal parties.

 

Why did a window of basic income suddenly open?

How is it possible to explain that basic income for a long period, from the mid-1990s until 2016, was completely ignored, but suddenly became interesting and suggested as a solution to a number of problems?

Decision-making theorists (Cohen, Marsh, and Olsen) have tried to illustrate and explain this with the so-called “Garbage Can” model.

In general, most people believe that political problems and decisions are resolved by first identifying a problem. Then different solutions are set up, and then a decision is made. But often it is completely different because the political process can be seen as a steady stream of problems, solutions, decision-makers, and decision-making. It’s not always that problems come before solutions. Sometimes solutions seek problems. Therefore, problems and solutions can be found more or less randomly in a decision window, a so-called garbage can.

Basic income has for many years been a solution to many problems such as labour distribution and the unemployment problem, the problem of clients, the gender problem of labour. But the key political actors have not been able or willing to see this. They may have acknowledged that some problems existed but thought that they would need tools other than basic income to solve them, and they could not at all see that basic income would be a solution to several of these problems at the same time.

Basic income as a solution has therefore been found in the garbage can. ”Borgerlønsbevægelsen”, BIEN Denmark, has so far been a “sleeping”, invisible (for the public) movement, which has ensured that basic income remained in the garbage can and could be pulled up by a political actor if or when a new occasion were to arise.

From 2016, we found ourselves in a new situation. The growing international interest in basic income prompted the new party the Alternative to picking the old solution, basic income, up from the garbage can and begin to connect this solution with a number of problems, initially with the client and poverty problems, in accordance with the policy of “cash benefits without requirements”.

Why did this happen? It happened because there was a new player, who had a different view of the problems, which by the time had already worsened. In order for something new to happen in a political decision-making process, there must often have been  a prior crisis in which things are stuck or have come to a standstill, while at the same time new actors have been added who connect solutions and problems in a different way. A window then opens, a decision is reached and a new solution turns out to be possible.

After the Alternative in May 2017 endorsed the idea of a basic income, one would expect that they would not only link it to the problems of labour and social policy but also find that basic income is the best solution to many other problems. This applies to business policy (entrepreneurship and community development), cultural policy (artist support), the green change (ecological experiments), education policy (opportunity for lifelong learning), family policy (better opportunity for cohabitation and divorce) and unconditional cash grants.

When basic income has long been ruled out as a serious solution by many actors, it is undoubtedly linked to the fact that this solution in isolation within the individual sector has hardly been the best solution to the isolated problems. However, looking beyond the individual sector and across sectors, it is undoubtedly the best and cheapest solution to many problems, in other words, there is a synergy between the areas to which basic income may be a solution.

 

Movement from a welfare state to a competitive state

However, the new national and international interest in basic income must also be seen and understood in a longer historical perspective as a response to social development and to the transition from welfare states to competitive states that has taken place during the last 25 years.

When the question of basic income was on the political agenda last time, in the early 1990s, the goal of the struggle was to make the welfare state more universal. Today, where globalization and neoliberalism have dominated welfare state policies, the immediate goal is a major struggle, namely a showdown with the competitive state through the reintroduction of universalism in a new way.

In order to understand the changes from the welfare state to the competitive state, it is worth clarifying what principles existed in the universal welfare states.

Social services can either comprise all (universalism) or target the “weak”, “poor” (residualism). Universalism has four elements: 1. Everyone is covered by the same set of rights. 2. Everyone is entitled to receive the benefits. 3. Everyone receives the same benefit. 4. The allowance is sufficient or adequate. It is implemented for both transfer payments and social services.

A universal welfare model implies that social security is tax-funded and includes all citizens. The universal cash benefits are educational allowances and retirement pensions, where cash benefits and early retirement are targeted, residual benefits. The main universal institutions providing services are education and health care. This is in contrast to needs-based and performance-based schemes (linked to social contributions and employment).

How has the universal welfare state changed over the last 25 years? In the labour and social area, unemployed and transfer income recipients have had their rights reduced and have been subjects to several duties. At the same time, the benefits have been reduced, and more rights and benefits depend on employment. This applies to the unemployment insurance system, early retirement, and the entire occupational pension scheme. In addition, controls, surveillance and harsh sanctions against unemployed and cash benefit recipients have increased.

As a result, social citizenship has been rolled back and we have moved towards a more residual or dualistic welfare model. Denmark, which in the early 1990s had one of the most universal welfare models in Europe, has now developed into being one of the most restrictive workfare-oriented models. Today, welfare researchers say that it’s a little hard to maintain credibility when we insist on having the world’s best welfare model. In the long run, it may be difficult to keep that story alive, that “we are all in the same boat”.

The Danish labour market model, the flexicurity model, is figuratively speaking on three legs: 1. Flexibility. 2. Economic security and 3. An active labour market policy. But it is in crisis. Over the last few years, significantly less security has been created, and at the same time, the active labour market policy has been neglected. Moreover, it also reduces flexibility. This means that the model is failing if nothing happens.

Where the welfare state was a state of distribution in which an attempt was made to create a society through equality, the competitive state tries to create a society through work. In the welfare state, efforts were made to eliminate differences, whereas the new competitive state creates rights and duties in a hierarchy. The key is not citizenship, but being “employable”, being in work, being on the labour market. The crucial class division is between those who are in the labour market and those who are outside.

In the welfare state, the role of the citizen is the key, whereas in the competitive state it is to be in the labour market and to be useful in the social economy. In the welfare state, rights and duties were universal, and the goal was to create equality between the nation’s citizens, whereas in the competitive state it is to create the greatest possible efficiency and exploit the individual’s labour reserve.

The movement from the welfare state to the competitive state means a reduction of democracy, centralization and the creation of technocracy with a distinct class division between those in the labour market and those outside. In the competitive state, more attention is paid to the social service rather than to the transfer income.

 

Basic income and a new form of economic democracy

In recent years more people have become aware that our democracy lacks narratives that can develop democracy. The labour movement was based on two major narratives, first the narrative of socialism and after that the narrative of the welfare state. They had the potential to create dedication and support. The first narrative had to be reformulated and partially abandoned, whereas the latter was realized. Today, after the collapse of the ØD idea (”Økonomisk Demokrati”) in the 1980s, a new narrative is missing.

The interesting thing about the spirit of the early 1970s, discussing economic democracy, was that the debate on inequality, which in some respects reminds us of today’s debate, immediately led to the beginning of perceiving democracy in a new way. Democracy was not only a political concept, but was something that had to be extended to the whole of society. It was an attempt to develop an alternative to communist state socialism – to find a third path that was different from the dominant Keynesian liberal socialism.

The question is if time is not ripe for a new debate on economic democracy. The current debate and interest in economic inequality and the extreme capital concentration internationally today seem to be a promising backdrop for the creation of new ideas about propagation of property rights.

The proposal in the early 1970s contained three democracy dimensions: 1. The right to own and dispose of the means of production. 2. The right to the surplus of the use of these means of production and 3. The right to participate in decisions on the use of the means of production. Behind the whole mindset was the old Socialist-Marxist idea of ​​the right to work. It is work that creates the values, which is why property must also belong to the workers.

The goal was multidimensional. It was partly to ensure greater equality of income and wealth distribution by giving workers a share in capital growth, but also ensuring increased savings and increased capital access to businesses and finally democratizing decision-making processes.

The old ØD project had some problems. A key problem was that it was based solely on working class and trade unions and did not have as a project to create economic democracy for all citizens. Another problem was that it was very centralistic and technocratic. It was operated through a central fund, which was dominated by trade union representatives.This, of course, created a resistance from large circles outside the labour movement and the left, who believed it could threaten pluralism in society. Therefore, economic democracy never became a major popular success. The internal support in the labour movement was weak, and resistance from both the liberals and the left was massive. However, it is remarkable that the Social Democrats and the trade union movement managed to maintain the subject on the political agenda throughout the 1970s and even forced The Danish Economic Council to address the question. And while the liberal camp were opponents of the Social-Democratic proposal, they were forced to bring their own thoughts to reforms containing economic democracy.

Against that background, a contemporary ØD proposal must be designed differently, by having, among other things, a basic income element.

Normally, basic income is regarded as a tax-funded benefit as part of the annual state budget. Another way to design a basic income is to see it as a social dividend paid by some form of independent, democratic state investment fund.

It is a model that has been presented by a Norwegian economist, Karl Ove Moene and the Indian economist, Debraj Ray. They imagine that 9-12% of the annual national product (GDP) is allocated to a fund that all citizens in a society receive an individual share of (ownership). The state undertakes to pay a basic income to all citizens of this share. It will give all citizens the benefit of the technological revolution with robots.

How to morally argue for taking (taxing) about 10% of the annual GDP to a fund? It is based on an understanding that a substantial source of modern wealth is due to our shared-owned knowledge. Many economists believe that the majority of economic growth is not created by work and capital, but by previous generations’ technological heritage. Some estimate that, in fact, we only deserve one fifth of our income. The rest can be seen as a collective inheritance, which currently accrues a small minority, but should rightfully be shared equally by all citizens.

Such a fund could also be based on taxation of various rent income (capital and wealth tax, copyright taxes, natural resources and land tax and taxes on international currency transactions). One would thus avoid using the income tax for creating the basic income. This is the model the English labour market researcher and basic income theorist Guy Standing suggests.

What is the benefit of such a basic income model? It is a social dividend, which is a payment of a share of a collective product, a collective inheritance. Moreover, this has the advantage of bypassing  the reciprocity argument (“something for something” and the rights and obligations logic) which is traditionally associated with basic income as a form of transfer income. It can be introduced in all countries, rich and poor. It is possible to start with a small percentage and then slowly phase out the existing support systems. It does not have to be indexed as it is a fixed percentage of GDP. As Ray and Moene say, it does not change the existing tax system but will provide an incentive to create a better tax system.

The main advantage of a new ØD project, designed as a basic income project, would be that it could achieve much wider support than the old one that was characterized by the classroom thinking of the industrial capitalist community. But as something new to the minds and projects in the 1970s, there is a goal of creating a sustainable economy. When talking about the ØD in the early 1970s, nobody saw it as an element in the creation of sustainable development. The aspect of a basic income fund must be important. Therefore, one might think of the development of a number of green funds next to and perhaps in connection with a basic income fund.

 

A basic income narrative in continuation of the Danish model and utopia

Basic income can be seen as a technical change of the transfer income system and tax system. It is natural and necessary to see this when concrete legislation is to be made by officials and politicians. They formulate a technical basic income narrative, which must be understandable and economically realistic in the short term in order for it to be endorsed by politicians.

But basic income must also be seen in a broader perspective and formulated in a language other than the technical-economic. In order to win popular support, basic income idea must also be formulated in a political-moral language. It must be perceived as promoting liberty, equality, and solidarity.

This is done through a major political narrative. Narratives are central to people because they are identity-creating and assign different actors a role. They create a connection to the past, an identity in the present and a horizon of opportunities for the future.

The English journalist George Monbiot has said that the citizenship idea had the potential to become the next big story. The same thought has been conveyed more than 25 years ago by Belgian philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, who in 1992 said that basic income should not only be regarded as a structural improvement of the welfare state but as a more fundamental reform that is in line with the abolition of slavery and implementation of universal suffrage.

In addition, I believe that, in order to win popular affiliation, basic income must be formulated as a political narrative for a showdown with the competitive state and a further development of the welfare state, where basic income is an element of a ØD and a tax reform seen in a perspective of sustainable development.

Where are the possibilities of linking such a narrative with historical stories that have a widespread connection with the Danish population?

Twenty years ago, Danish historian Claus Bjørn argued that Danish history contains a great narrative of “the Danish model and utopia”. As one element, it had the narrative of the labor movement and the development of the Danish welfare society, but also the narrative of the peasant and union movement, starting with the abolition of serfdom in 1788. Bjørn talks about a utopia, a model and an identity, because what was created was a political culture, a special democratic institutional system and a special Danish identity and mentality related to this.

If the basic income idea and the idea of ​​sustainable development should have a chance, they must be formulated in continuation of this utopia and model. In my opinion, a narrative about basic income could be added to this narrative and utopia as a bid on how this narrative can be further developed.

In the Danish utopia, there are several seeds for a basic income story. It may be seen as a narrative of the development of the universalist Danish welfare state, as expressed by the old-age pension, educational allowances, children’s allowances, early retirement schemes and the sabbatical leave. A major green narrative with a basic income element would imply that the little technical basic income narrative got airborne, while also receiving a sound popular foundation.

But are there any politicians who are using the great Danish utopia and model as a narrative for their political work?

When Uffe Elbæk formed the new party, the Alternativet, two years ago, he referred to the same great historical narrative as the basis for the new political project. Here he spoke about the development of a new fourth community sector that combines the best of the private, public and voluntary sectors and he compared his visions with the development of the cooperative movement 150 years ago.

If the Alternative continues with their vision and incorporates a true basic income element together with a ØD vision, they would, as the only political party, have created a big green basic income narrative in continuation with the historical model and utopia.

 

Basic income as a new cross-political project

Somewhat simplistically, one might say that the welfare model we have realized contains some unfortunate features of the two ideological systems that our system consists of, liberalism and socialism. On the one hand, it contains too much government and bureaucracy (an unfortunate feature of socialism) and, on the other, too little social security (an unfortunate feature of liberalism).

It shows that the compromise between the liberal and socialist features of our welfare model contains some unfortunate attributes from both of the two ideological systems. Both parties (The Social Democratic Party and the trade union movement, on the one hand, and the Employers and The Danish Liberal Party on the other) live safely with the fact that the opposing party lives up to the scare images they give each other.

Is it possible to imagine a new compromise between liberals and socialists by removing the unfortunate features of socialism and the unfortunate features of liberalism, a system in which the liberals would have less government and bureaucracy (greater flexibility) and the socialists more social security?

It would require a new compromise. In order to have less government and bureaucracy, the liberals and employers must advocate greater social security, and the Social Democrats and the trade union movement must also contribute to less social bureaucracy in the labour and social systems.

The reason that we are in the current pending situation is possibly only due to the fact that liberals and employers prioritize social insecurity higher than the creation of flexibility, and that social democrats and trade unions prioritize bureaucracy in the labour and social systems higher than social security.

A new compromise that contained the good features of the two ideological systems would just be an unconditional basic income that could combine the creation of greater flexibility with increased social security. Ideally, it would satisfy both parties. At the moment, one sticks to the unfortunate features of the two ideological systems instead of trying to realize the ideal models.

 

Do the workers’ movement and the left know that this is their moment?

For the idea of a basic income to gain a broader foothold in the coming years, it is essential that more political parties as well s the trade union movement face the need for renewal of the universal welfare model towards universal base income.

Currently, the connection to the basic income idea is growing in parts of the business world, especially among many new IT entrepreneurs in the United States. At the same time, one can also track a growing interest in parts of some old left-wing parties. It can be seen, for example, with the left-winged part of Labour in England, in The Socialist Party in France and in The Democratic Party in the United States.

However, we still meet the biggest skepticism with the idea of basic income in ​​the trade union movement and the old workers’ parties. If basic income does not gain more support in this part of the political spectrum in the future, one may fear that the idea is largely embraced and linked to a left of center political project, which would endanger the dissemination of the idea.

Therefore, it is important that the labour movement and the trade union movement come up with other basic income proposals than those suggested by non-socialist parties and businesses. This could give impetus to a visionary political debate, which we have not had since the 1970s with its ØD and basic income debates. One of the crucial mistakes in the 1970s debate on ØD was that it centered too much on the role of the trade union movement and that the left wing except the Socialist People´s Party did not really take part in the ØD debate.

If the Left wanted to learn from the experiences of the 1970s, it would be possible to link the basic income debate with a new ØD debate, thus making basic income much more popular. Today, The Red-Green Alliance and the Socialist People´s Party are almost absent in a new broad debate on basic income. Both parties closed the debate in the mid-1990s when there were major discussions about basic income in both parties. Hopefully, in a slightly longer term, the totally different approach of the Alternative to basic income will trigger a process in both the trade union movement and the Left.

In the future, there will be a need for political parties that provide different basic income narratives, both those who see basic income as a rationalization project or as a solution to the poverty trap problem or the precariat and automation issues. But just as important is it that there are political parties which not only view basic income as an income but as a potential for participating actively in society, as a path to a different kind of society or as an element in the creation of a new sustainable society. This might stimulate an inspiring competition between different basic income narratives.

In view of the political priorities of various ideological conceptual frameworks, the basic income idea ought, in principle, to be supported broadly: by socialists (emphasizing, in particular, a more equal sharing of the socially needed work), by liberals (focusing in particular on reducing clientization), by feminists (focusing in particular on a fairer gender sharing) and by the green (emphasizing in particular the strengthening of civil society).

 

Literature

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Christensen, Erik (2008) The Heretical Political Discourse – a Discourse Analysis of the Danish Debate on Basic Income.  Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.

Christensen, Erik (2017 På vej til Borgerløn. Aktuel idédebat. Åhus: Hovedland.

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Moene Kalle (2016) En virkelig delingsøkonomi. Dagens Næringsliv. Lørdag den 3. September 2016. https://www.sv.uio.no/esop/forskning/aktuelt/i-media/2016/artikler/160903moene.pdf

Moene Kalle, Debray, Ray (2016) The universal basic share and social incentives. Ideas for India for more Evidence-based Policy. http://www.ideasforindia.in/article.aspx?article_id=1698

Monbiot, George, Hvad bliver den næste store fortælling? Information 5. april 2013. Se https://www.information.dk/debat/2013/04/naeste-store-fortaelling

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