A springboard for a Degrowth Project: the citizens’ initiative for a basic income.

act-nowThe co-authors of A Degrowth Project, Manifesto for an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance give their enthusiastic and vigilant support to the European citizens’ initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income validated by the European Commission.

Within a context of economic absurdities and the absence of a democratic debate at the European level, this initiative opens the discussion about another Europe outside the Troika, which, as demonstrated by the Cyprus issue, brings on the Europeans peoples ever closer from the abyss. It is time to leave the religion of the economics behind, which through its blind support for the oligarchy, can only conceive society through its sacrosanct strong currency, the respect of public deficits and austerity plans; thus triggering devastating human consequences.

The citizens’ initiative aims at: “Asking the Commission, to encourage cooperation between the Member States aiming to explore the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a tool to improve their respective social security systems.

In the long run the objective is to offer to each person in the EU the unconditional right as an individual, to having his/her material needs met to ensure a life of dignity as stated by the EU treaties, and to empower participation in society supported by the introduction of the UBI. In the short term, initiatives such as “pilot‐studies“ and examination of different models of UBI  should be promoted by the EU.

These debates: even the instauration of a UBI at the European level, could constitute a major step towards a degrowth in inequalities and a rupture from the dynamic that is plunging more and more people into misery. These debates could also initiate a re-politicisation of society and a move away from work as the central value.

However, we remain watchful that this initiative does not stop at simply providing a minimum income that would not allow people to lead a dignified life. Such a measure would elude the in-depth-debate whilst keeping a clean conscience. Right now, it is urgent to question the economic, ecological and energetic, as well as social, cultural and political impasses of Growth society.

So, within the logic of the Degrowth Project, and the instauration of a transition to do away with the toxic addictions of Growth, either culturally, economically or politically, and to build new sustainable and desirable models, we are hoping that the debates will also include:

  • The instauration of an Acceptable Maximum Income.
  • The extension of the spheres of gratuitousness and
  • incremental taxing of misuse.
  • A questioning of what we are producing? How? For what use?
  • A demonetisation of this income and the development of local, non-speculative and democratic economic systems such as local currencies and alternative exchange systems.
  • An open re-localisation.
  • The reduction of the working time and the sharing of arduous tasks.

Within our reflexions on the Unconditional Basic Income or Unconditional Autonomy Allowance, we support the idea of an UBI whilst acknowledging its limits. We have integrated the UBI in the three scenarios developed in our Manifesto; these scenarios are based on a transition that is already taking place and on the expansion of practical alternatives.

Let’s hope that this initiative leads to a citizens’ re-appropriation of the building of Europe by the peoples for the peoples but also to an in-depth reflexion on the impasse Growth society is leading us into and the anthropological crisis we are confronted with.

Vincent Liegey, StéphaneMadelaine, Christophe Ondet, Anne-Isabelle Veillot

Co-authors of Un projet de décroissance. Manifeste pour une Dotation Inconditionnelled’Autonomie, éditions Utopia.

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