Critical Evaluation of Left-Libertarian Theories of Communism and Basic Income: A Critique of their Pro-Capital and Anti-Labour Nature
This article critically reviews controversies surrounding Van Parijs and Van der Veen’s argument for a “capitalist road to communism” and criticizes Van Parijs’s proposal of introducing a basic income by taxing alleged employment rent. First, after reviewing the controversies it is confirmed that the argument that capitalism can transform into communism through a basic income without a transition to socialism is not valid. Second, a basic income that would pose a considerable cost for capitalist and wealthy classes, make it very difficult to be introduced in capitalism because of capital flight and investment strikes. Third, it cannot be ethically justified that an unconditional basic income should be granted to the voluntarily unemployed, such as surfers in Malibu. Faced with ethical criticisms in particular, Van Parijs attempts to economically justify an unconditional basic income mainly based on taxation of wages, uncritically accepting and relying on efficiency wage theory, and alleging that an efficiency wage over a market clearing wage is an employment rent. In this paper, it is asserted that efficiency wages over a market clearing level are not discrimination wages but may be just rewards for a worker’s effort and skill, and thus cannot be considered rent. Therefore, Van Parijs’s basic income based on primarily taxing wages cannot be justified economically or ethically. Rather, taxation of non-discrimination wages would only make the introduction and sustainability of basic income impossible. Lastly, the pro-capital and anti-labour nature of Van Parijs’s discussions of basic income is due to structural constraints that make introduction of a sufficient level of basic income difficult in capitalism.
Keywords: Basic Income, Communism, Efficiency Wage, Employment
Rent, Left-Libertarianism, Socialism