We wrote the following as a contribution for discussion at a recent event on UBI in London…

Can’t buy me love – UBI ain’t working for workers’ liberation

Parts of the radical left see the Universal Basic Income (UBI) demand as a potential vehicle to a) ‘make people think’ about productive potentials and wealth distribution in capitalism; and b) unify a (fragmented and atomised) working class through a common demand. We think that the demand ain’t helpful for the following reasons:

There is no easy way out. We have to start from what workers are already doing and from the material divisions within the class. These cannot be overcome by some external policies, but only in and through struggle. It is not wrong to put forward demands, but the question of how to organise and expand our struggle under concrete conditions is the main one. We have to analyse the organic links between unemployment, reproductive work, casual jobs, collective power in the work place – as workers and co-militants! For that purpose we circulate our west London newspaper in front of job centres, warehouses, factories and housing estates and try to link solidarity networks with workplace groups.

A common revolutionary strategy can only be found in the ongoing struggles: what do prison hunger strikes, protests against benefit sanctions, riots against racist/anti-poor police violence, protests against migrant deportations or ‘women strikes’ against sexist/anti-poor state measures, strikes of Uber workers or in fast food chains for higher wages and discontent amongst industrial workers have in common? Where do different segments of the class meet each other – and what prevents them from doing so? Let’s look into the mirror…