Blog Post 5

The fifth prompt for blog post 5 lays out the dilemma the world faces under capitalism in the 21st century that Marcuse discusses in 1964. The system that inhibits technological advancement produces possibilities to solve non-technological problems. However, the conditions that are linked with technological advancement do not allow for these non-technological problems to be solved. Marcuse points out that the current system requires people to work to eat, which as modern technology advances and takes over certain areas of the economy, may not be possible for a lot of people. Universal basic income attempts to help solve this problem.

In chapter 5 of Parijs and Vanderborght’s book, Basic Income, they explain the ethical argument as to why an unconditional basic income would “distribute more fairly, real freedom, possibilities, and opportunities” (Parijs and Vanderborght, 107). As someone who supported Andrew Yang in the primary election, I strongly believe the unconditional basic income is something that will benefit the country as we move toward an economy that is more and more being taken over by software. In an interview, Yang points out something that relates to what Marcuse is talking about in One Dimensional Man. He says, that capitalism in the 21st century is doing what it is supposed to do and that is to make things cheaper and more efficient. This model, however, is not conducive to solving the social and environmental problems we face today. When capitalism was first forming, the assumptions that were made were that building a successful company meant it would hire and serve the needs of the people in the community, and because it was being supported by the people, the company would have to care about the well being of the community around it. Increasingly in the last hundred years this is simply not true. A successful company like Amazon can reach consumers all around the world while treating the lower paid workers poorly and not care how the community around them is doing. One of the ideas behind an unconditional basic income is that individuals will no longer need to work to simply feed themselves. This will already be taken care of, which will allow for people to take more time to participate and improve their communities. People can be less concerned with producing profit and more concerned with solving social issues.

Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. London: Routledge, 1964.

Parijs, Philippe van, and Yannick Vanderborght. Basic Income a Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019.

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