A Guaranteed Livable Income for Fostering Social-Ecological Justice

Marv Wheale

Climate upheaval, environmental devastation, poverty, male preeminence, white primacy, normative gender identity dominance, abled superiority and human supremacy all coexist with the prevailing mode of production and life – capitalism.  This system, invented by rich white men, categorically undermines animals’ and human animals’ lives through class divisions and interactions with the other stated hierarchies.  A revolutionary societal remaking is thereby required to end these oppressions and abolish the current top-down market economy.  

Economic inequality has denied people – particularly black, brown, queer and disabled  – a healthy ecosphere and an equitable share of global wealth.  These people live mainly in the global south (many in the northern countries too). They along with resource extraction have made enormous profits for foreign capital while receiving meager financial returns. The poor have contributed little on a per-capita and lower-class basis to climate disruption yet suffer most of the consequences.  

The upper classes consume and invest in the economy, the most, causing high carbon emissions. The cost of justice therefore should be borne by them, the primary polluters and beneficiaries, who lead the profit and growth-oriented hierarchical system.

Social-ecological restitution must also be directed at nonhuman animals used as commodified goods in the structure of production and consumption.  Their rights have been systemically violated and the crimes have added to biosphereic degradation.  

To realistically accomplish the purpose of system change we have to first take non-reform reform steps that don’t re-legitimize these overbearing institutions, like bland reforms do.

A Guaranteed Livable Income, regardless of employment or unemployment status, (also known as Universal Basic Income) is rapidly gaining social approval in dozens of countries. It could be a way of allocating the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, through taxation.  And it has the potential to reduce harm to nature.  There is already enough wealth in the world economy to meet everyone’s needs without more earth-damaging growth in economic output. 

A GLI would afford employees to work less, translating into lower emissions and pollution from decreased production.  Moreover, let’s not forget that numerous workers are being dislodged by capital’s use of robotic technology, especially artificial intelligence, making GLI adoption extra urgent.

To ensure the globalization of a GLI there would have to be a transference of wealth within and from affluent nations to poorer ones by way of tax justice and tax havens to advance the sustainability and equity goals of the impoverished.

Initially, to achieve major social-ecological improvement a GLI has to secure the basic needs of every person to fully participate in society.  Only then will people have the choice to reduce or withdraw from working in the disastrous compulsory capitalist model of production and its animal reproductive/slaughtering industries.  Our fear of financial insecurity and radical social change would be minimized, opening up time and creative energy for pursuing socially and ecologically sound production and lifestyles.  

If other than human animal liberation, grounded in veganism, is not included in the transformation then the democratic process is an exclusionary facade and environmental goals will be thwarted.

All the above is an impetus for the GLI movement, the animal rights movement, the ecology movement, the feminist movement, the LGBTQI+ movement, the antiracist/colonialist/capitalist movement and the disability movement to join forces to construct a world of equality for life’s beings.