CI: Overturning the Legacy of Slavery

From a stirring new article by George Monbiot (thanks to @justinlucent for sending it in):

most of the world’s people live with the legacy of slavery. Even in a nominal democracy like the United Kingdom, most people were more or less in bondage until little more than a century ago: on near-starvation wages, fired at will, threatened with extreme punishment if they dissented, forbidden to vote. They lived in great and justified fear of authority, and the fear has persisted, passed down across the five or six generations that separate us and reinforced now by renewed insecurity, snowballing inequality, partisan policing.

He goes on to discuss my favourite subject of the moment. Citizen’s Income:

[basic income and land value tax] are championed by the Green party. On this and other measures, its policies are by a long way more progressive than Labour’s.

A basic income (also known as a citizen’s income) gives everyone, rich and poor, without means-testing or conditions, a guaranteed sum every week. It replaces some but not all benefits (there would, for instance, be extra payments for pensioners and people with disabilities). It banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.

A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also breaking open what politicians call the welfare trap. Because taking work would not reduce your entitlement to social security, there would be no disincentive to find a job – all the money you earn is extra income. The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom. It would be financed by progressive taxation – in fact it meshes well with land value tax.

These ideas require courage: the courage to confront the government, the opposition, the plutocrats, the media, the suspicions of a wary electorate. But without proposals on this scale, progressive politics is dead. They strike that precious spark, so seldom kindled in this age of triangulation and timidity – the spark of hope.

Remember to sign the petition for CI if you approve of this courageous idea.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

4 Responses to “CI: Overturning the Legacy of Slavery”

  1. Not Mine says:

    Ummm I worked hard and saved and scrimped and sacrificed and went without. I don’t want to give up my “share” to those who did nothing to save, scrimp and sacrifice.

    There is a word for what you are proposing. The word is “communism”.

  2. It’s not Communism. We’d still be operating in a system of Capitalism, with money and markets and private property. Communism is also highly regulated by the State, while the proposed system of CI would remove a large chunk of inefficient government. This is a Libertarian proposal.

    Your ‘share’ would not be negatively effected. In fact, your share would be better off by some three hundred quid a month along with everyone else’s.

  3. Scibby says:


    Strikes me that CI would be administered by the state and, in funding it by “progressive taxation” it would require the usual strong arm state tactics to winkle money out out of the likes of Mr Not Mine.

    The real escape route is self-reliance and ignoring the state. Secede yourself. Help those you can including yourself but don’t rely on the state.

  4. I’m inclined to agree. But imagine being able to free everyone. It’s worth talking talking about.

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