Simply stating how desirable basic income is, as we stated too many times, would not suffice if we seriously yearn for the realization of universal and unconditional basic income on a planetary scale. We should instead do our best to talk about “basic income in reality.”
Basic income has rapidly emerged as a promising, arguably even the only alternative to address problems faced by the Earth. Credit should be given to the global basic income movement that fearlessly promoted the desirability of basic income. An even more important background for the emergence would be a global crisis tantamount to a catastrophe. The disastrous development of the Covid-19 Pandemic exposed the bare face of neoliberal economic doctrine that imperiled the whole world and the limits of the traditional welfare state. Amid the extremity of the crisis, almost every country around the world was pushed to improvise and experiment with radical alternatives beyond the neoliberal economic doctrine. Basic income thereby arrived from the future in a flash.
Notwithstanding the imminent catastrophe, human is cunning and reality is absurd as ever. There is no exception for basic income, which was materialized in various experiments and pilots, partially implemented policy, and political progress thereof in the last decade. The actualities of basic income we recently witnessed certainly fall short of our imagination and anticipation. Whereas there do exist pertinent variations and modifications of the basic income idea, sometimes it suffers from significant drift. In unfortunate cases, high expectation set toward the ideal of basic income up in heaven fades away as it comes down to earth.
Against this backdrop, we are arguably now at a critical juncture to focus on the “basic income in reality”, a hitherto underdeveloped agenda of the basic income movement. Our immediate task is to scrutinize the institutional forms taken by, political dynamics generated by, and alternative outcomes achieved by basic income not as a utopian principle but realistic program. Equally impending is to carefully examine which version of basic income, among its many experimental forms, could pave way for a transition to the global realization of universal and unconditional basic income.
This is why we cast “Basic Income in Reality” as the theme of the 2023 BIEN Congress. A meticulous and thorough reflection on the previous episodes of the journey taken by basic income is indeed a warning horn to address various obstacles in reality faced by basic income as a utopian ideal, a clarion call to break through the impasse, and a resolution to clear a way through to our destination at all cost.
If not without its own vicissitudes, Korea is still teeming with aspirations of becoming the first country to implement universal basic income and a source of inspiration for global basic income. We invite you all with a passion for basic income to Korea, where you may find the same passion with others.
Following are the subthemes to be discussed under the overarching theme of the Congress, “Basic Income in Reality.”
1) Basic Income in Reality
2) Framing Basic Income in Reality
3) Basic Income, Commons, and Commoning
4) Basic Income and Climate Justice
5) Basic Income and Gender
6) Basic Income and Digital/Platform Capitalism
7) Basic Income, Poverty and Inequality
8) Basic Income and Health
9) Economics of Basic Income
10) Politics of Basic Income
11) Basic Income Movement
12) Basic Income and Art