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Translator: Michele Gianella Reviewer: Ellen Maloney
It's very difficult to follow a fantastic musician,
and then a beautiful woman with a baby robot.
Very difficult, especially as you're all looking forward to lunch.
(Laughter)
And I want to take up the theme of this wonderful [TEDxLakeComo]
by talking about bridges.
The first bridge I want to mention is that 800 years ago
a 10-year-old king, who didn't know what he was doing,
he agreed to a document
which guaranteed every man and woman in society
a right to subsistence.
A right, in effect, to a basic income.
A right to a home, a right to work and live in the Commons.
He spent the next 50 years of his reign trying to reform that.
But he was wisely told
that if he tried, there would be a revolution,
because the people wanted to keep the right to a basic income.
And I want to trace that history
as a bridge from 800 years ago to when I was a student,
and I came to believe that the only progressive policy to come
in response to the neoliberal economics that we were seeing develop
would be a basic income.
Let me first define it, and then talk about the second bridge.
A basic income would be
if everyone of us in this room, and the children,
would have the right to a modest, regular payment from the State,
that would be unconditional in behavioural terms,
paid in cash - you can do what you like with it -
and it would be individual.
That's what we mean by a basic income.
The rhetoric of the MoVimento 5 Stelle has started to change things,
but they don't quite mean the same thing as I might mean it -
but that, we can leave aside.
Because the second bridge is this:
today we are on the bridge, at the beginning,
but we're faced by eight giants
that are blocking our path to a good society.
But another metaphor that one could use
is that we are faced with a "tempesta perfetta" -
a Perfect Storm of factors
which are suddenly making the advocacy of a basic income
almost mainstream.
For many years, people like myself
were regarded as mad, bad and dangerous to know.
Communist, idealist, utopian - you name it.
A lot of rude words were thrown in our direction.
But in the last five years,
this perfect storm has changed the dialogue,
changed the atmosphere.
So suddenly we're becoming almost respectable.
It's a dangerous position to be.
So one gets invited to TEDxTalks,
when before one would've been regarded as too mad to invite.
Now, what are these giants that are standing before us?
The first giant
is that we are faced by incredible inequality.
Globalisation,
and the technological changes, and the political changes
have resulted in a terrible model of capitalism
in which a tiny plutocracy
is absorbing and taking billions out of it,
leaving the rest of us to squabble
over a diminishing amount of income.
This is a cause of migration,
this is a cause of all the other things I'm going to talk about.
So your plutocrats up here are making billions.
One of my favorites is Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos,
each week of this year,
each week,
he has increased his income by 400 million dollars.
I haven't made 400 million dollar in the past six months!
And I dare to say, most of you are like that.
Every week!
Now, these plutocrats, of course, are striding the Globe.
One of their people is in the White House,
and many others are in positions of power.
The real message of this
is that the income distribution system of the 20th century has broken down.
It used to be
that when you had a capitalist economy,
the share of income going to profits from capital and rents,
and the share going to labour,
were roughly constant.
But in the last 30 years all over the world,
the share going to capital is going up, the share going to labour has gone down.
I don't need to tell you
that our wages have been stagnating in real terms,
becoming more volatile.
This story of inequality is unsustainable,
because there is nothing out there which is reversing this trend.
The second giant goes along with it: it's about chronic insecurity.
Millions of people out there, and I dare say in here as well,
are suffering from chronic insecurity.
Their lives are defined by a feeling of uncertainty.
Unknown unknowns.
And this insecurity cannot be insured against.
The shocks and the hazards go on, and it leads to what I call the four As.
A sense of anxiety.
A sense of anomy, desperate feelings you can't do anything about it.
A sense of alienation: I feel alienated from what I'm doing.
And a sense of anger!
Anger out there is justifiable.
And this leads to the third giant.
We have a pandemic of stress.
People feel stressed,
they feel that they don't have any sense of control of their lives.
They feel they don't know
what's the best thing to do with their time,
they're part of the precariat
or could be part of the precariat tomorrow.
And this stress has led to morbidity, to more suicidal tendencies.
To an incredible phenomenon: life expectancy, in many countries,
has stopped going up, and started to come down!
So even middle-aged people, like many of you in this room,
have suddenly found that you're suffering from morbidity.
And it goes with the next giant:
a sense of precarity.
My books on the precariat have somehow changed my life as well
as led to me receiving thousands and thousands of emails
from people who say they are part of the precariat.
And they understand, and no one's listening.
And what does it really mean to be part of the precariat?
It really means, as the Old Latin for "precarious" said,
you have to obtain everything by prayer.
You are a supplicant.
You don't have a sense of agency.
You have a sense that you have to ask for favours.
You have to be nice to people,
not because you want to be nice
but because that is the way that you get some favours done.
It's an undignified type of existence
which many of our fellow citizens are experiencing right now.
Then it's something that leads to a feeling
that they're running on sinking sand.
Running on sinking sand.
And that leads to the next giant,
which goes with all the other things
but if you're in the precariat you face it every single day.
You are in debt.
You are living a life of indebtedness
where one accident, one illness, one mistake
could lead you to be out in the streets.
Sometimes I use the term "The bag lady syndrome".
People waking up in the middle of the night with a nightmare,
thinking that one error and they're out in the streets
with all their belongings in two paper bags.
If you haven't seen anybody like that, you're blind.
Everywhere we see it.
And that sense of debt
goes with the last two giants out there.
The first one
is the one that should worry every single one of us,
every single day.
It's the threat of extinction.
The threats that our species are disappearing,
the threat that global warming is rushing towards us,
the threat that the pollution is meaning toxic air
for our children to be breathing and shortening their life expectancy.
And it goes with many of the other things
because we have an agenda of economic growth,
at a time of depleted resources
and at a time when we shouldn't be trying to chase faster and faster growth.
But you have to chase fast growth,
if most of the returns to growth go to the plutocrats on the élite,
and the people down the bottom are not benefiting.
So you have to have faster growth
in order to raise living standards down here.
And therefore the politicians use the rhetoric of growth:
"We've got to accelerate growth!"
At a time when we should be listening and thinking ecologically,
to reorient and recalibrate
what we mean by growth.
Now, all of these things, these first giants,
can be addressed by giving people basic security.
If you have basic security, a modest basic income,
your life is less insecure.
You can reduce the inequalities.
You can encourage people to spend more time
in activities like care, like voluntary work.
Like doing the things that we all want to do,
instead of chasing the next Euro
and following a doctrine of jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
Many forms of work don't count as jobs!
The economists have misled us.
If I care for my elderly mother, that's not working.
If I care for your elderly mother, and you pay me a wage, it's working.
It's sexist and stupid.
But we need to face the reality
that we need to have a basic income for a good society.
It's not a panacea, but it's an essential attribute.
But what is the eighth giant?
The eighth giant is coming up at the other side of the bridge,
and it should be scaring us.
It's the giant of neo-fascism.
Of authoritarianism.
An alliance between the plutocrats and the atavistic part of the precariat,
who listen to the sirens of neofascists
who say, the enemy is the other!
The enemy is not you, it's not me, it's the other!
We are seeing something that I thought we would never see in my lifetime:
a revival of a rhetoric,
a revival of a set of images that go back to the 1930s.
We're seeing authoritarian, panopticon developments.
And it's this that I think [is] this giant,
that is now suddenly making a lot of corporate people -
a lot of people in the centre of politics
suddenly say, we must do something.
They don't know what,
but they are more open to this dialogue.
We need a gentle society, we need a convivial society.
We need to slow down!
We need to rescue control on our lives.
Recreate solidarity.
And I think the precariat, the progressive part of the precariat,
in Italy and everywhere else
understands the existential threats
of this model of global capitalism.
And I'm eking out, waiting, looking for,
trying to create a new politics of Paradise,
with apologies to Dante.
To escape from the politics of Inferno,
which is rushing towards us.
I believe there's a new generation
of politics, of politicians, of political movements.
Many of us in this room would think,
they're not such good people, not such good messages bla, bla, bla -
but they're creating the space.
They're creating a new energy.
They're asking the right questions.
That is why I welcome these new forms of politics.
And I think, all of us have a job.
Politicians, by their nature,
have spaghetti spines -
not very strong.
Spaghetti spines.
Our job is to stiffen their spines, and make them bold.
Make them feel that they are the leaders,
they are creating and establishing a new convivial good society.
And that is why I hope some of you in this room will join us
in fighting for a basic income as part of a new distribution system.
Thank you very much.
(Applause)
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Basic income: utopia or solution? | Guy Standing | TEDxLakeComo

139 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on April 5, 2019
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