The idea of unconditional basic income occupies a peculiar place on the political and ideological landscape. Versions of UBI are being defended both by left-wing progressives like Guy Standing and by right-wing libertarians like Charles Murray. Both versions share a common idea: means-tested, targeted income transfer programs are replaced by an unconditional basic income given to all. Where they differ is in how generous is the proposed basic income, what range of programs would be eliminated when a UBI is introduced, and who precisely will be eligible for the UBI. This talk will make four interconnected arguments in defense of the expansive, progressive version of Unconditional Basic Income: (1) An expansive UBI fits into a broader, long-term project of emancipatory social transformation. (2) It is economically feasible within contemporary capitalist economies; the obstacles to a progressive UBI are primarily political, not economic. (3) Even though an expansive UBI can contribute to the long-run erosion of the dominance of capitalism, it also can help solve certain immediate problems internal to a capitalist economy. This is what makes it a potentially achievable reform. (4) It is therefore worthwhile putting the progressive UBI on the political agenda of the left and struggling to discredit the neoliberal version.

About the Presenter

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin. His academic work has been centrally concerned with reconstructing the Marxist tradition in ways that attempt to make it more relevant to contemporary concerns and more cogent as a scientific framework of analysis. He was president of the American Sociological Association in 2011–12. His most recent books include Envisioning Real Utopias (2010); American Society: how it really works (with Joel Rogers 2011 and 2015); Understanding Class (2015); and Alternatives to Capitalism (with Robin Hahnel, 2016).


RSVP via email to lcc@uq.edu.au by 22 March 2018.





Unconditional Basic Income: Progressive potentials and neoliberal traps

Mon 26 Mar 2018 2:00pm3:15pm


ViewPoint, Building 33, The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD

Seminar followed by refreshments


Mrs Carla McCarthy