Edit: I'm not against UBI! I'm just saying we shouldn't implement it and say "We're all done here."
So I feel a lot of people are not quite grasping why UBI isn't a great idea, or at least why it should only be a means to an end, not the ends in and of itself.
Here's how basic income works, at least according to most of its proponents— Government replaces welfare with basic income, so all taxes meant for welfare go to this collective pool of money that's handed out by the State.
Meet Joshua. Joshie-boy is an anarchist who's been working at McDonalds. He fought for a $15 minimum wage way back in the prehistoric year of 2016 and got his wish. In the futuristic space year of 2026, he got the pink slip— the manager of his chain replaced all the workers with machines to save money. Luckily, the USA passed an ordinance that made UBI the law of the land back in 2025. Conservatives and liberals came to a compromise that, as long as all other welfare schemes were dropped and many regulations were ended, UBI would be granted. So even though Josh is now unemployed, he's still receiving a paycheck. That's nice. Good for him. He's still going to find another job though, right?
Well, not really. He's decided that he does not like the bourgeoisie at all, and will now use his basic income grant to keep him afloat while he protests the Man and the free market. That's all well and good. His gay roommate begs him to join a worker cooperative down the lane— in fact, a technate. However, Josh resists, figuring that it's still just a part of the capitalist system.
So, when he attends a protest, the government notes this and disimburses his basic income. Now, not only is he not receiving a basic income, but he's also indebted to the State. And guess what— since machines are starting to take over all the jobs, there's no way for him to pay off this debt. He could go to school, educate himself, learn how to repair the machines and whatnot... except the machines are learning how to do that too, and much faster than he can.
Game over. He's now property of the State. The Karma Police will be coming to collect him and seize his assets; he'll be relocated to a debtor's camp to work off what he owes.
This is a scene playing out across the nation. It seems proponents of UBI didn't realize they were being led on— the elite wanted UBI so badly precisely because they knew it would lead to this. They knew automation was coming and that artificial intelligence will be the final nail in that coffin, so all they needed to do was to get UBI passed and voila, they have total control over the masses.
Because think about it: you can't compete with the machines, so it's not like you're going to be working. If you do, it'll be for pennies, because being a slave is the only way to compete with techno-slaves. So you can only sit in front of your telescreen and accept your meager restitution for being alive, and if you dare speak out against the State or its Corporate Overlords, you're fck't. They'll take away your right to eat, you right to sleep, your right to live. You have no power— you surrendered it for a basic income. And if they decide that you have to pay back what they paid you, you're doubleplusfcked.
Compare this to if Josh had joined that technate, a bunch of people who owned their own droids and held shares in other technates. He receives a seed loan to introduce him to the technate, which his droids eventually pay off, ultimately welcoming him into the technate as a full fledged networker. Now his paycheck comes off of actual robotic labor. He can even purchase more droids for himself and increase his net worth. And it doesn't matter if the State takes away his basic income— that isn't even a hundredth of his total income.
It turns out this technate is part of a very large federation. Several networkers had used the basic income they received to buy droids or start businesses, which then joined the technate federation. Cooperatives also took advantage of this. 50 million Americans are part of the federation— they actually have power; they have control over their lives; they are living comfortably, if not better than ever. They don't have to answer to any central figure at the top. If they break a law, too bad, they still get their monies. The Worker Cooperative Federation succeeds in actually lifting millions out of poverty, while UBI succeeds in putting millions back in it.
It's the difference between wealth creation vs. wealth redistribution. Decentralization vs. centralization.
Here's the thing: we abolish all welfare and replace it with UBI— fine, all's well. I'm all for it. Then automation cleans up the rest. That means that your only source of income is UBI.
The State doles that out, so you always have to be cool with the State, lest they take away your UBI. The State has always been run by the bourgeoisie— those with wealth— so it's by their own grace that you're actually paid. "Unconditional" is the worst possible word to describe basic income. Your life is now reduced to whatever the State and those who own the State decide it's worth.
If you do anything they don't like, they'll take it away. That's why "unconditional" is the worst possible word to use— nothing is unconditional. It's a blatant lie to get people to sign onto it.
The only way UBI would "empower" people would be if the people used it to empower themselves, particularly by pooling capital to buy ownership of the machines. UBI by itself doesn't empower anyone. It actually makes you even less empowered because you're now dependent on a central body.
See how people can get fired over something they said on Facebook? Imagine a situation similar to that, except even worse. If you hold the wrong opinions, buy the wrong things, say the wrong things, who knows, there goes your "unconditional" basic income.
Think of it this way: What would you call it if I were a heavily automated nation's richest man and I gave out money to everyone in that nation every month? All goods and capital go through me first, and I pay out as I see fit. Everyone gets a certain amount of money.
You wouldn't call that "basic income". You'd call that an autocratic dictatorship. If I find you did something wrong, I could punish you by withholding your income.
If I tell you to do something, and you don't do it, I punish you by taking away your income.
If I tell you to support me, and you support the opposition, I punish you by taking away your income.
If I tell you that 2+2=5 and you tell me it equals 4, I punish you by taking away your income.
What can you do to resist? Nothing. That income was your last hope to survive, and you blew it.
"But what if we haven't automated everything yet and I can still work?"
Oh, joys! Because now I can turn you into a debt-slave.
I give you basic income, and you disobey my laws, social order, and will? I take away your basic income— then demand you pay me back, with interest. You now have even less money than you started with. You don't pay me on time, I raise the interest rates. You're now indebted to me.
Technostism is just the word that describes an automated society. A technostistic society is one that actively automates labor, and a technostist is a person who actively seeks automation.
I am a technostist— I want to automate away as many jobs as possible, and I will do whatever I can to make sure jobs are automated. I am also a Singularitarian and national-transhumanist, which means I want to keep humans as far away from any new jobs as well.
So it's obvious that Grade-IV Automation will unemploy a lot of people. That's why I'm a Vyrdist— I feel we should own that automation, have it do our drudgery and labor, profiting off the technotariat. I'd like to go further into what Vyrdism entails, but right now I'm just trying to point out the flaws in thinking UBI will save us— it won't. At best, it's a means to an end, and that end is, in fact, Vyrdism.
tl;dr: less basic income and more basic ownership. Basic income is a scheme to permanently defang the working class, and, most insidiously, it's promoted using language suggesting it'll actually be the best thing to ever happen to the working class.
So if I had a son, I would save up money and buy us both robots (or shares of robots). Those robots would work for me. Thus, my son would never have to work and gets comfort and happiness handed to him. And because our income comes from our robots rather than from taxes or wealth redistribution, you have no right to take that comfort and happiness away from him. This could be all of society if we decided to directly own technotarians.
In honor of my gilding, I'll tell you how Vyrdism works.
So let me work it into a pyramid.
There's the base— Vyrdism is not anti-free market, so if you believe the free markets are the cause of all our problems, you're not going to like what I have to say anyway. You also probably think "free markets" is synonymous with "capitalism", which might explain why you feel that way.
Then there's the next level— Vyrdism is radically pro-automation and pro-technostist. As I said earlier, technostism is the promotion of automation.
There's the next level— Vyrdists very strongly believe in the promise of worker cooperatives. The ideas of worker ownership and worker self-management is one of the fundamental aspects of the idea. We believe that the Modern American Democratic Left's insistence on promoting unions over cooperatives/collective bargaining and over collective enterprise is what's caused the utter collapse of the Left. I personally blame the Bolsheviks for ruining Leftism. Thanks to them, Leftist movements have decided that vanguard parties that treat a whole nation like an authoritarian-capitalist business is the only way forward, hence why we always get failed State-Socialist nations like Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, Venezuela, etc. Not one Marxist-Leninist government remains save North Korea and Cuba, and no one is flocking to these countries. Nevertheless, the fact that Leftism still so often equals "bureaucracy and State force" even in the minds of Leftists themselves is troubling.
The next level— Vyrdists strongly oppose centralization. This means a love of things like blockchains, P2P, open source, free source, wikis, and 3D printing. We recognize why there's been such lopsided growth in recent years, why 'income inequality' is a big issue— we decided to throw off authoritarian modes of government, but keep authoritarian modes of enterprise. Don't get me wrong, there's always a role for authority. However, the incomes of the poor and middle class have not risen anywhere near as much as the rich because the rich benefit from an authoritarian mode of power over economic matters. It's centralization in action. It's Statism by another name.
Vyrdists believe that political power comes from economic power. Attempts to alter economic power through political means have always failed and will always fail. After all— one does not establish dictatorship to safeguard the revolution; one throws revolution to establish the dictatorship. So if you want to create lasting change, start/join a co-op, hook that co-op up to a larger federation, and keep building up from there.
The next level— Vyrdists like how feel-good worker co-ops are, but there's a point to supporting them. The intention is what separates us from traditional syndicalists. Once automation has sufficiently spread throughout society, we will be prepared, as we will own the machines. There are further ways to get involved in this in the off-chance you missed the initial opportunity, including seed loans and helotism.
What did I mean up there by 'Grade-IV Automation?' I believe there are multiple grades of automation:
- Grade-I is tool usage in general, from hunter-gatherer/scavenger tech all the way up to the pre-industrial age.
- Grade-II is the usage of physical automation, such as looms, spinning jennies, and tractors. This is what the Luddites feared.
- Grade-III is the usage of digital automation, such as personal computers, calculators, robots, and basically anything we in the modern age take for granted. This age will last a bit longer into the future, though the latter ends of it have spooked quite a few people.
- Grade-IV is the usage of mental automation, and this is where things change. This is where we finally see artificial general intelligence, meaning that one of our tools has become capable of creating new tools on its own.
AI will become capable of learning new tasks much more quickly than humans and can instantly share its newfound knowledge with any number of other AI-capable machines connected to its network. It is with this advancement and Grade-IV automation that technostism, and thus Vyrdism, become possible (and indeed, naturally begin occurring).