Marx, Communism, and Basic Income

Social Theory and Practice 48 (4):647-664 (2022)
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Abstract

Should Marxists support universal basic income (UBI), i.e., a regular cash income paid to all without a means test or work requirement? This paper considers one important argument that they should, namely that UBI would be instrumentally effective in helping to bring about communism. It argues that previous answers to this question have paid insufficient attention to a logically prior question: what is Marx’s account of communism? In reply, it distinguishes two different accounts: a left-libertarian version that associates communism with the freedom to live and work how one wants, and a perfectionist version that associates communism with the overcoming of alienated labour and self-realisation in work. It argues that UBI would make steps towards the left-libertarian account but not the perfectionist account. Ultimately, then, the question “should Marxists support basic income?” is shown to partly depend on which account of communism Marxists want to bring about.

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Jan Kandiyali
Durham University

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References found in this work

The Communist Manifesto.Karl Marx - unknown - Yale University Press.
Lectures on the history of political philosophy.John Rawls - 2007 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Edited by Samuel Richard Freeman.
Contemporary Political Philosophy. An Introduction.Will Kymlicka - 1993 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 55 (1):180-181.

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