Here’s a link to Ronald Blaschke’s “From the Basic Income to the Political Movement in Europe: Development and Questions,” August 2012, 52 pp from the Rosa Luxemburg foundation!
From the Idea of a basic income to the political movement in Europe
– development and questions
translated by Katharina Messinger
1. Short history of the idea of a basic income in Europe and the US
2. The idea of a basic income becomes the political call of a wide, but politically
differently coined movement in Germany
3. The European Basic Income Movement
4. Market liberal and emancipatory approaches to reasoning for and design of a
4.1 Occupation, welfare state and radical democratisation of society and economy
4.2 Public goods, infrastructure and services
4.4 Gender equality
4.5 Reduction in use of natural resources
4.6 Global Social Rights
5. The European Basic Income Movement – Questions
1. Short history of the idea of a basic income1 in Europe and the US
Since the 18th century the idea of a basic income has been discussed by many wellknown
personalities in Europe, first among them Thomas Paine and Thomas
Spence. Starting point of their ideas was the then existing poverty of members of
their society which would not have existed in what they considered the natural state
of man. This natural state would then provide sufficient natural means of living to
everybody to secure their existence. Therefore, privatising natural means owned by
everybody in combination with a division of labour would inevitably have made it
impossible to guarantee the securing of livelihood through natural means for the
individual. Consequently both Paine and Spence tried to restore the natural state of
man – regarding the securing of livelihood of every human being – on a higher
In 1796, Thomas Paine proposed in his “Agrarian Justice” to pay a one-off,
unconditionally granted amount of money to everybody turning 21 and to additionally
pay a basic pension to every male and female citizen, beginning at their 50th birthday.
Both should be financed by a tax on inherited and private property. Thomas Spence,
on the other hand, in the same year asked for the expropriation of property and
immoveable of the gentry in favour of municipal property in his essay “The Rights of
Infants”. This former private and now common property could then be leased to
members of the community. The lease itself should again be used in favour of all
members of the community, providing municipal infrastructure and an equal amount
of money paid to every individual member of the community. The idea of a regular
basic income, paid unconditionally to every member of a community was born.
Spence combined his idea with the democratisation of access to natural goods. In a
kind of participatory budgeting, all municipal expenditure was collectively decided on.
Women were supposed to be politically equal members of the community, as for
Spence they were of immanent importance to the economic, social and political revolution.