The Limits of a Basic Income: Means and Ends of Workplace Democracy

Gourevitch, Alex
June 2016
Basic Income Studies;Jun2016, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p17
Academic Journal
A democratic economy matters for different reasons, depending on why we are concerned about authoritarian workplaces. Authoritarian work conditions violate overlap but distinct values, related to democratic government, meaningful work, non-domination, exploitation, and the quality of leisure time. To the degree that democratizing work is supposed to advance these values, a basic income is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for eliminating authoritarian work conditions. It might, in some conditions, reduce some of the worst aspects of our current workplace relationships. But, by the same token, it might exacerbate them, especially if a basic income becomes a substitute for collective self-organization by workers. In nearly every case, the value that we seek to advance and the kind of democratized economy we might wish to have is better created and maintained by concerted class power than by welfarist social policies, like a basic income.


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