Having dismissed their poverty as a personality defect and their zero hour contracts as efficiency improvements, the Deep Establishment now looks on in despair as a Nationalist International triumphs. Two are its handmaidens:
- Involuntary under-employment – the bitter price of austerity
- And involuntary migration – the bitter fruit of concentrating decent jobs in small areas. People do not move to London for the theatre scene or to Britain for the climate; they move because they must!
Neither globalisation nor electrified border fences will fix this. It’s delusional to think that Britain or America can prosper sustainably when neighbouring nations are in crisis.
The cure is decent jobs, the right to a living wage, health care, education and social housing in people’s own communities.
This is why we need a New Deal on both sides of the Atlantic – a New Bretton Woods that conceives of investment into people’s communities like the Green movement conceives of climate change: a joint responsibility of a species whose fortunes are intertwined. Additionally, we need to establish a right to universal basic income.
Fear of machines that can liberate us from drudgery is a symptom of a timid and divided society.
The Luddites are among the most misunderstood historical actors. Their vandalism of machinery wasn’t a protest against automation. It was against social arrangements that deprived them of life prospects in the face of technological innovation.
Our societies must embrace the rise of the machines, but also ensure that they contribute to shared prosperity. Every citizen should enjoy property rights over part of the wealth the machines produce. We need to establish a universal basic income funded by the returns of capital, not tax. What I call a universal basic dividend. This will allow us to spread the returns from automation to the whole of society.
This article originally appeared on Yanis Varoufakis’ website.