Revolutionary Speech for the Unconditional Basic Income at the Goetheanum
from book: What we learned from the practice of Basic Income — A compendium of Writings and Data (Translation by Monica Puntel, Leonardo Puntel, Carolina Fisher and Revison by Tracy Halls. Art by Júlia Cristofi.)
Organization For The United Peoples
My name is Marcus Brancaglione. For those who don’t know me, the only reason I’m speaking here today is because I accompanied Bruna Pereira, responsible for performing the pilot-project of basic income in the city of Quatinga Velho (2008–2014). A successful experience in every way but one: it was not meant to end.
Without modesty, it was a project as minuscule as it was revolutionary.
However, as important as the project itself was, were the chances like this of not only talking about the project, but also being heard, which is much more difficult. And this was, if not one of the first, one of the most remarkable ones, even for us. Thank you.
And here we are again. Not only to thank or to discuss the project further. But also to bring back, right here and right now, proposals based on our independent experience for what we understand as (being, in all senses) the right moment of the basic income in Europe.
Therefore, this time we aim to bring something beyond the transformation testimony of the basic income — because it forms part of our life history and we will never refrain from sharing it. We came with a proposal that represents our new vision of the world, most of which was learned during this experience. I came with a speech which I’m not ashamed to say is a pretentiously revolutionary one. Not least because the shame of what is supposedly normal is not suitable for those who want to change anything. The world may not need the most revolutionary ideas, but it is the most sincere, brave and revolutionary speech I can give. I know I couldn’t do anything less.
For this reason I want to ask you, before anything else, the question I asked myself one day when I abandoned the University of Philosophy to dedicate my time to little social actions. A question which I now ask myself again while I write these words:
To what extent can the ideas and ideals which are put into words change the world?
It’s clear that word never ceases to be an act, but the question is: how far can this act be as revolutionary as an experience?
I believe that, these days, the releasing and revolutionary power of the act, whether in the form of a word or a social movement or an action, is in the ability not only to provoke the senses or to promote the ability of the intelligent beings to promote self-signification and co-signification, but also to awake their sensibility, something that is not restricted to moral or emotional appeals, to sheer psychological or behavioral phenomena, but which involves the creative and transcendental phenomena that form what we generally call spirit, which I prefer to identify as the driving force of every life and its particular form, which I recognize as pure will power, materialized. When I say materialized, I’m not only speaking of the part which is cognoscible to our senses, but of the whole that forms the being in its freedom and autonomy, not apart but in a network.
Personal experience is always revealing, empowering, but only when in relation with others. The word and the sign don’t fail to make part of that experience. For that reason, I believe that the speeches are a part of the world’s revolutions and words can be much more inspiring and revolutionary than many ordinary actions of everyday life, as long as, as an act, they are full of meaning.
So I believe that the word as a revolutionary act can do a lot, especially when it establishes the harmonic communication between the intellects with the will of a being, these strengths filled with willingness to change the world, especially where they need to be changed the most. And I wonder who, knowing the place where he lives, doesn’t believe or didn’t believe one day that it needed to be changed? Or who in their right mind believes, nowadays, that he doesn’t need to change something about him for the benefit of our world?
But why don’t we simply evolve as humanity, why do we have this need to constantly reinvent and revolutionize ourselves?
Because where there are things which especially need changing and should be changed, we can’t be naive: there are people who want to profit from the immobility and misfortune of others. There are people who literally invest in ignorance to obtain both material and spiritual poverty, restraining the natural development.
If there’s something I’ve learned from the experience of the basic income, it’s that it’s deeply ecological, we need to put a great deal of effort for it to happen because we must endeavor to repair everything that we systematically do wrong to human and natural development. If we could manage to simply stop destroying our nature, not only environmental but humanity, the understanding of the vital minimum needs would be recognized in the same light as the fact that people need air, light, water or land to live on — consider that we are becoming, in every sense, as time goes on, more and more deprived from even these most basic of things.
So where there are deprived people, there are people who deprive. And who will do everything for things not to change. They will do anything to not talking openly about the nature of their evil, because these evils of power that depend on poverty and ignorance to perpetuate need to control the communication medias, they need to control the environmental and vital resources.
These days, I no longer dream about basic income, the preservation of nature or the recovery of humanity’s cosmopolitan development, this movement is more than evolutionary, it’s quantum, it’s made of historical leaps, it’s revolutionary. The revolutionary speech is not a self-help lecture, it’s neither politically correct nor traditional, it’s libertarian. The speech that doesn’t cause any bother to anybody, the speech that preaches love of freedom and knowledge and doesn’t incite rage in those who are ignorant and choose to remain as such, but above all wish to share the few things they have learned, is neither libertarian nor really revolutionary.
To talk about the revolution of freedom is to talk necessarily about things that even the willing kind of people don’t want to hear, the contradictory is even capable of using violence to silence and censor. We can’t be naive; there are people willing to intentionally cause harm. Who don’t care about life, the suffering or the death of others, whether it be somebody close and well known or somebody more distant and different. But we’re not all like that, there are not so many like that at all, and generally speaking, without all the many deprivations and traumas, without so many social programs which condition and institutionalize behaviors, there wouldn’t be so many well-conditioned people, in the Pavlovian sense of the word.
Nobody is born with a plan to harm others; neither does anybody want to lose their life fighting strategically against those who do. Even the most selfless activists are not masochists, we only want to live our lives freely and in peace, but we can’t feel that peace and freedom in the midst of so much suffering, at least not without a lobotomy. We’re not different, we’re all like that.
What impresses me most about the human being is the ability, not only to adapt to the worst, most outrageous life conditions, but also to maintain his human dignity up until his limit, even at the expense of his sensibility and solidarity. The wisdom of common people cannot be overcome. It allows them to stand even the worse of injustices: to pay what they know they don’t owe to whom they don’t owe or even to obey somebody who doesn’t have the right to boss them around only to avoid unnecessary confrontation, after all, as the saying goes, it’s not advisable to go up against violent people, especially when they are armed. People only rise when the weight and the cost of oppression are unbearable.
Consequently, if the basic income was not yet guaranteed, I can assure that the reasons were:
Firstly because it really doesn’t make any difference whatsoever to some people. Unfortunately a lot of people will only discover the “need of what’s necessary” when it is lacking, which is a serious issue of moral values because, if the vital and the environmental minimum have to become scarce to be properly considered as fundamental, there will be deaths, conflicts and mass extermination.
Secondly, it appears that those who need or understand the necessity of both concepts either don’t have enough strength in numbers or don’t have the means to rise against the monopolies, including the monopoly of violence, of those who think otherwise.
Thirdly and most importantly, I believe that peaceful people wisely led by common sense don’t have the slightest idea of how many individuals in need of a basic income there are and how vulnerable they are to the same necessity, because we live in a telecommunication and information technology society, which does promote knowledge but not wisdom in its entirety, more akin to consciousness and science which are only acquired by personal experience or experimental observation, respectively.
These are three things that are obviously changing in the current world as a result of the rearrangement of the productive methods, with the globalized drop of the labor wage and the ascension of the global information networks, which are on the internet but are not the internet (note: don’t mistake the network for the media).
We live in a society of the spectacle; we literally live inside platonic caves, chained to a fictitious and extraneous world. Once that has been said, we’re not leaving the cave based on histories of those who saw the light and came back to enlighten us. The revolution of the basic income consists on not waiting for governments or for saviors. The great advantage of the basic income is that we all actually need it and all we need to do is not only to promote or even to finance the basic income as an experience in distant localities, even the extremely needy. We need to begin immediately living and practicing the philosophy of the supply of the basic income as a mutual independent system, independently of how rich the community is. On the contrary, wealth doesn’t imply that a basic income is not needed; it only shows that there are more conditions to do it without depending on others. Given that, to use the surplus to invest in other communities, or even to open up to the idea of investment from communities that profit from investing in this growth, is the consequence of healthy capitalism, based on the supply of the needs of environmental and vital means and not on its deprivation any longer.
The proposal I bring is that we build, from this day on, a network of free communities with no boundaries for the basic income, self-sustained.
An Organization of the United Nations formed not by geopolitical states, but by cosmopolitan people, willing to guarantee the natural and universal rights, not only on paper but effectively, as a voluntary and social responsibility. This is the proposal I make and in which I would like to take part with you as one of the founders of this new initiative.
Maybe you will say that it is over presumptuous of me to propose such a thing, but something like this cannot be proposed by anybody but completely normal people. Besides, in my opinion, like I said, I didn’t choose this place by accident, it wasn’t by chance that our experience won the world from here and here it comes back. Chance is a designation for what we don’t understand. Here at Goetheanum, for all it represents, I feel I couldn’t propose anything any less revolutionary than that which its willingness of freedom inspires of me .