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latest news

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

  Spain

US
A socialist strategy to defeat Trump

14/02/2017: Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

  US

Scotland
Greens back SNP government austerity budget

13/02/2017: TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

  Scotland

India
Upheaval in Tamil Nadu

09/02/2017: Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

  India

Britain
Universal basic income demand gains ground

08/02/2017: What approach should socialists take?

  Britain

Yemen
Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S

07/02/2017: Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

  Yemen

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification

06/02/2017: Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

  Spain

France
After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out

06/02/2017: Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

  France

Romania
Biggest street protests since 1989

04/02/2017: What position should the left take?

  Romania

Syria
Is an end to the war in sight?

03/02/2017: New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

  Syria

Quebec
Terrorist Attack in Québec City

01/02/2017: Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

  Quebec

 CWI
9th Latin American school a success

31/01/2017: Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

  CWI

Sri Lanka
The year 2017

31/01/2017: Between oppression and struggle

  Sri Lanka

Canada
Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?

31/01/2017: Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

  Canada

US
Airport protests help block Trump travel ban

30/01/2017: Defend immigrant communities

  US

Russian Revolution Centenary
January 1917 - On the eve of revolution

29/01/2017: War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

  Russian Revolution

China
CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee

28/01/2017: Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

  China

Afghanistan
The limits of US power

28/01/2017: Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

  Afghanistan

US
Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!

27/01/2017: Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

  US

Russia
Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence

26/01/2017: For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

  Russia

Tamil Nadu
Mass protests against state repression

26/01/2017: Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

  India

Millions on women's marches around the world

25/01/2017: Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

  US

Bangladesh
Hartal protest against power plant

25/01/2017: Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

  Bangladesh

Côte d’Ivoire
Social revolts shake Ouattara regime

24/01/2017: Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

  Ivory Coast

Taiwan
US foreign policy under Trump

24/01/2017: Island risks being pawn in his game

  Taiwan

US
CWI joins protests around the world against Trump

23/01/2017: Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

  US

US
Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech

23/01/2017: Socialist council member speaks

  US

China
New US President’s approach to China

21/01/2017: Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

  China

Russian Revolution Centenary
New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution

20/01/2017: 1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

  History

Kazakhstan
Regime increases repression

20/01/2017: Citizens forced to register with police at all times

  Kazakhstan

Britain

Universal basic income demand gains ground

www.socialistworld.net, 08/02/2017
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

What approach should socialists take?

Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales)

The idea of welfare benefits being replaced by a ‘universal basic income’ (UBI) has resurfaced in recent years - a welcome discussion because it raises the fundamental right of everyone to have an income that meets their basic needs. Exact proposals vary but they are all based on the idea of everyone in society receiving an unconditional, tax-free, regular payment, regardless of whether they are working or the composition of their household (see box).

Supporters of a ‘progressive’ UBI say it would:

  • Secure everyone’s right to a basic standard of living
  • Reward the huge amount of unpaid care and voluntary work
  • End means testing and benefits sanctions
  • Give women greater independence, as they would be paid as individuals rather than as part of a household
  • Mean no financial disincentive to work, as UBI would not be withdrawn
  • Be simpler than the present benefits system
  • Give workers a safety net allowing them to more easily risk switching jobs
  • Make it easier to make ends meet when taking strike action
  • Enable reduced working hours, creating more jobs for others and allowing more time for innovation, leisure, political activity, etc

Discussion on UBI is centuries old, but today campaigners point to a new urgency due to the growing precarious nature of employment and the threat to jobs from automation. More and more workers face the insecurity of having no set minimum hours of work or are being paid ‘by the task’. Many who do have full-time contracts are not paid enough for a decent standard of living.

The “possible effects on the labour market of robotics” is one of the motivations behind a report advocating UBI that is being presented to the European parliament in February by a Luxembourg MEP. The French Parti Socialiste (PS) presidential candidate, Benoit Hamon, chosen by the party’s membership for rejecting the anti-working class measures of present PS president Hollande, calls for an eventual UBI of €750 a month for every adult in France. He aims to partly finance it by a tax on the deployment of robots.

Limited UBI-type trials are being carried out - or are planned - in a number of countries and cities around the world, including in Finland, the Netherlands and Kenya. In Britain, the Scottish National Party and Green Party support the idea of a UBI, and Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will look into it.

Right-wing motivations too

Ominously, it is not only from the left that support for UBI comes. The UBI trial in Finland, involving unemployed workers, is under a right-wing coalition government. Among right-wing capitalist economists and commentators who have supported some form of UBI (including ‘negative income tax’) are Milton Friedman and Charles Murray in the US, who argue it would reduce government bureaucracy by axing welfare programmes and open up a bigger ‘free market’ for private service provision.

In addition, as academic Jathan Sadowski wrote in the Guardian last year: “UBI can, in some ways, be seen as welfare for capitalists. Now more people can drive for Uber and work for TaskRabbit - at even lower wages! - because UBI subsidises the meagre paychecks earned by hustling for the sharing economy. The tech companies take home the profit and face even less pressure to pay a living wage to their non-employee employees.”

The UBI proposals of some on the right are regressive rather than progressive, ie they would directly benefit the rich more than the poor. However, despite all these possible gains for the most wealthy, most capitalist representatives have opposed UBI.

Their reasons include its vast potential cost; the undermining of having a pool of unemployed workers who can be used to drive down wages and conditions; and the safety net a UBI would give workers who move to take strike action.

When a referendum took place on it in Switzerland in June 2016, none of the Swiss parliamentary parties supported the idea. A deluge of propaganda helped to defeat the proposal, including slamming it as a ‘something-for-nothing’ handout and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party raising the spectre of a flood of immigrants eager to cash in.

Could UBI be funded?

A June 2016 study of possible UBI schemes by pressure group Compass, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, concluded: “In the context of existing tax and benefit arrangements, it is not possible to design a scheme that is revenue neutral, pays a decent sum and withdraws most means-tested benefits without significant numbers of losers.”

This finding isn’t surprising when looking at the draconian cuts made over years to benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable layers of society, the mega tax cuts for the rich and corporations and the fact that UBI would provide for everyone in society.

Far from moving towards better-funded welfare, successive governments are pushing more and more people into destitution, one of the latest measures being backdoor cuts during the change to Universal Credit. Child Benefit, which once had an element of the UBI doctrine in that every household with children could have it, is now means-tested and its value is falling in real terms.

The Socialist Party calls for:

  • All welfare and other cuts to be reversed
  • Greatly increased provision of services 
  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards a real living minimum wage
  • An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension
  • A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay

Not just in Britain but across the globe capitalist-driven austerity is pushing down the protection provided by all types of benefits and subsidies. For decades Alaska’s government has used oil revenue to provide every resident - including children - with an annual, unconditional UBI payment, which in 2015 reached a peak of $2,072. But last year the state governor vetoed around half of the planned payment, reducing it to $1,022, on the grounds that the state budget deficit was too high.

Hybrid schemes

Searching for a UBI scheme that would be acceptable to big business, some left-leaning think tanks and political parties have proposed hybrid solutions. Any improvements in living standards for the poorest in society - and for the overwhelming majority - would be welcome, and every such scheme has to be judged on its merits.

But all their proposals go through contortions to be as ‘revenue neutral’ as possible - ie to avoid substantially hitting the wealth of the super-rich. So their best proposals would only benefit some sections of society to a modest extent, while leaving in place parts of the old benefits system to compensate the ‘losers’.

The Green Party’s proposal for a ‘citizen’s income’ more than doubles child benefit, but people presently living entirely on benefits would only do “a little better” say the Greens, with the rider that at least they wouldn’t face the misery of benefit sanctions.

Unwilling to propose raising enough money for UBI (or existing benefits) by strongly taxing the rich and big business and/or by nationalising the top companies, Compass and a number of other organisations propose creating a special ‘social wealth fund’.

Compass wrote: “Such funds have been widely used in other countries and would ensure that a higher proportion of the national wealth is held in common and used for public benefit and not for the interests of the few. They are a way of ensuring that at least part of the benefits of some economic activity are pooled and shared among all citizens and cross generations.”

Why just “part” of the benefits of “some” activity? Why not all of the benefits from the biggest - and decisive - companies in the country, through taking them into public ownership and deciding democratically how the wealth they produce is distributed?

Otherwise the funds created will be restricted in income and expenditure to the whims of philanthropists or subjected to the needs of the capitalist classes and their governments, as are the social and sovereign wealth funds that already exist across the globe - and as the Alaska example shows.

Compass also suggests that a “more radical” way of funding a UBI than a social wealth fund would be “a small annual charge on the owners of shares”.

This isn’t a new idea - many left reformists have raised it over decades. The problem they come up against is that a “small” charge wouldn’t be enough to fund a UBI that people could live on, and a large charge would be intolerable for the ruling class - whose interests the parliamentary pro-capitalist political parties will not readily defy.

Capitalism vs socialism

The present onslaught on welfare states and the gifts of reduced taxes for the richest in society have not just been for ideological reasons. They also reflect the endemic economic crisis the capitalists face - including their lack of profitable-enough ways to invest their capital.

Why then would capitalist governments agree to a sufficient UBI that would mean much greater taxation for big business and the rich? Clearly they wouldn’t out of choice.

Any such ‘generosity’ could only be achieved by a massive wave of working class struggle, one so great that workers would most likely want to push on beyond the gaining of a ‘survival level’ UBI, to challenge the capitalists’ role and right to own the means of creating wealth in society.

What, fundamentally, do working class and middle class people want and need? Not a future where capitalist-owned robots increasingly displace them from the workplace, the bosses become ever richer and many workers are left to exist on whatever level of benefits or UBI can be extracted through struggle.

A socialist scenario would be entirely different. With the main companies taken into public ownership, automation could be used to reduce working hours without loss of pay. The available work could be shared out so that everyone who is able to can be part of producing the wealth in society and then that wealth be used to provide a good standard of living for all - including those unable to work.

Under socialism it could be democratically debated and decided whether to have a system of good wage levels with a decent minimum, along with excellent benefits for those unable to work, or whether to achieve a similarly high standard of living across the board through a UBI based system, or to adopt elements of both.

Also, a socialist society would be able to provide vastly improved services - including for the elderly and the incapacitated - which would contribute towards a universally good standard of living, along with other measures like low cost housing and transport, and free education.

Capitalism has created enough productive capacity to enable the complete wiping out of poverty and poor living standards.

However, not only will the capitalist classes not do that, they are presiding over the opposite trend - ever-increasing inequality, the enrichment of the richest at the expense of the majority. Eight individuals now own as much wealth as half of all humanity.

It’s also the case that they are unable to use anywhere near all of the productive capacity they have brought into being.

A socialist system based on public ownership of the main industries and services and socialist planning could not only use the presently unused capacity but could hugely increase the production of socially useful goods, and in an environmentally friendly way. Automation could be used to phase out the most tedious and ‘dirty’ jobs and reduce working hours, rather than being the threat to workers’ livelihoods it is under capitalism.

 



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NEWS

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

Solidarity: French presidential candidate Mélenchon backs #JobstownNotGuilty campaign
17/02/2017, socialistworld.net :
Support the international solidarity campaign

Britain: Council cuts can be fought - and they must be
16/02/2017, Editorial comments from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

Spain: Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress
15/02/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spain:
Time to build the class struggle on the streets

US: A socialist strategy to defeat Trump
14/02/2017, Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council Woman and member of Socialist Alternative :
Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

Greece: Athens’ bus cleaners win bulk of wages owed
14/02/2017, Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
The struggle continues!

Scotland: Greens back SNP government austerity budget
13/02/2017, Matt Dobson, Socialist Paty Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

Yemen: Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S
07/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

Romania: Biggest street protests since 1989
04/02/2017, Mâna de Lucru (CWI supporters in Romania):
What position should the left take?

Quebec: Terrorist Attack in Québec City
01/02/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) :
Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

CWI: 9th Latin American school a success
31/01/2017, socialistworld.net:
Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

US: Airport protests help block Trump travel ban
30/01/2017, Socialist Alternative reporters, US :
Defend immigrant communities

China: CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee
28/01/2017, chinaworker.info reporters :
Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

Russia: Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence
26/01/2017, From Socialist Alternative (Russian CWI) website (socialist.news) :
For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

Tamil Nadu: Mass protests against state repression
26/01/2017, Isai Priya, from Tamil Solidarity website :
Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

Bangladesh: Hartal protest against power plant
25/01/2017, Pete Mason, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales) :
Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

Côte d’Ivoire: Social revolts shake Ouattara regime
24/01/2017, Militant Côte d’Ivoire (CWI group in Côte d’Ivoire) :
Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

Taiwan: US foreign policy under Trump
24/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Island risks being pawn in his game

US: CWI joins protests around the world against Trump
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

US: Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Socialist council member speaks

Russian Revolution Centenary: New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

Kazakhstan: Regime increases repression
20/01/2017, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan:
Citizens forced to register with police at all times

US: Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

Portugal: Purge in the Left Bloc
20/01/2017, Ysmail, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal):
6 CWI members expelled in undemocratic attack

India: Struggle against land grab in Pune
16/01/2017, Venkatesh Harale, New Socialist Alternative (CWI in India):
Socialists and villagers wage tireless battle

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
14/12/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
08/12/2016, CWI :
Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution

China: New stage in power struggle
24/11/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Xi Jinping becomes “core leader”