It's hard to say no to the prospect of free money. Imagine: Regardless of your activity (or lack thereof), you get your share of the "universal income," of the nation you call home. Several hundred dollars or more, paid every month into your bank account — not to compensate your labor or reward some accomplishment, but just because you exist. Around the world, implementing a universal basic income is an idea that has been gaining ground. And it's easy to understand its appeal as inequalities continue to grow in developed and developing countries alike, with more than 50% of the world's wealth currently in the hands of just 1% of the population.
But behind the latest policy panacea uniting progressives and globalists lurks a darker impulse, and perhaps it requires a special historical anniversary to face this hard truth head on. For it was 100 years ago that the Communist Revolution was launched in Russia; and now we must witness neo-liberals trying to use what is, "in the last analysis," a Marxist-inspired measure to save capitalism and its mass consumption model that's slowly destroying our societies and our planet.
The ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution and the prospect of the End Of Work, described by the economist Jeremy Rifkin more than 20 years ago, will continue to profoundly change our societies. For those at the top, the big question is how to perpetuate the mass consumption society that made them rich. The answer is simple: by making sure that the rest of the pyramid keeps on buying, in every sense of the word.
To keep the majority happy and under its thumb, the Roman Empire had the "bread and circuses," free food and great games for all to enjoy. Our own, 21st-century version of Roman circuses are what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the advisor to several past U.S. presidents, called "tittytainment." In this context, the universal basic income, by compensating for stagnating, lower or indeed no wages, would make for the perfect bread, while allowing the masses to freely and carelessly enjoy the perpetual circus. History should teach us not to go down that road.