Martin B. Michaelsen
Martin Bruun Michaelsen just graduated from Aalborg University in applied philosophy. His interest in basic income sparked last year when he joined BIEN Denmark as an intern. He became a board member after the internship as part of his studies, and have travelled around Denmark promoting basic income in different institutions since. He aspires to work in a field where he can inspire people to rethink their life and dogmas (suggestions are always welcome!), which is also the reason he is so invested in the basic income movement. Generally, he is motivated by meeting and discussing new thoughts, and is therefore always ready for a friendly chat.
I will argue that basic income can be justified through a non-instrumental understanding of universalism. The problem of today is that we are used to this instrumentalism. I will argue that the focus on how to best achieve the values we want, undermines itself. Many a revolution to create a free society has ended more tyrannical like the French. Likewise, the defense of muslim women’s right to not be oppressed by the household through laws of criminalizing the veil, undermines the women’s freedom to choose her own clothing.
I won’t argue for nor against, if fighting fire with fire is justified or a solution. I will argue that basic income serves as a monumental standard, on how we can reinterpret universalism to transcend the struggles of the instrumental. The instrumental is to define one’s tools, theories and goals, and then choose the best combination of tool and theory to achieve these goals. However, when this becomes a matter of politics and other forms of social action, we reduce our peers to objects unable to have differing thoughts. Especially Benhabib, inspired by Habermas, has contributed heavily to a new understanding of a society structure, where we won’t enforce this “sameness” upon others. Likewise, reinterpretations of classical philosophers, like Kant, and poststructuralist thinking, like Laclau & Mouffe, all point to the same inherent problem of instrumental universalism. Basic Income, as I see it, circumvent this problem by not giving solutions to people, but enabling solutions by people. Thus, Basic Income can be justified by a rethinking of the universal.