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Global Social Rights versus Neoliberalism

Building community centers, limiting the power of corporations and reflecting on a basic citizen income could be steps to democratization and a positive public spirit. Comprehensive democratization and freedom from work coercion are possible when people understand themselves as social subjects.

By Rolf Kunnemann and Ronald Blaschke

[This manifesto on the basic income initiative from February 2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, ]

For several years, the term "global social rights" (GSR) was a new though vague perspective for the left. After the beginning of the enforcement of the neoliberal project in the 1980s, the breakdown of the state-centric planned economy and the worldwide takeover of the capitalist market economy, the term "socialism" was discredited for a broad public.

The left found itself in a defensive position from which it only sought to prevent the worst effects of neoliberal policy. Offensively the left lacked the power and strength to oppose an alternative to the neoliberal ideas.

Behind the term "Global Social Rights" are analyses of the current situation as well as hopes and demands for very different forms of life beyond the laws of capitalist logic. The idea that every person has a right to life and a living wage income simply by his existence should be a theme.

Strategically, focusing on an individual social security is not enough. If the basic income is discussed globally, it should be integrated in the goal of "global social rights." Social security depends on financial transfer payments and reliable social infrastructures.

A dignified life would be first secured when everyone can participate in social processes and form society. This requires both a comprehensive democratization of all areas including the social infrastructures and freedom from work coercion.

This is not a demand that can be directed to one addressant. It can be first realized when a large majority understand themselves as social subjects with the right to creatively appropriate social conditions.

Only in this way is free control over life attainable in a democratic community with economic independence and just distribution of aggregate social wealth. How can a socially and ecologically compatible living standard be negotiated and accepted? How can different regional standards co-exist? What should be the relation of state and society?

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