In Germany, the idea of a basic income first gained some traction in the late 1970s, followed by a first wave of debate within civil society organisations of unemployed and social security recipients as well as academic circles throughout the 1980s. Media attention was high at the time. Nevertheless, the topic disappeared almost entirely in the following decade, with only a few groups and individuals continuing to cherish the idea and the occasional newspaper article preventing complete oblivion.
The research on “critical turning points” in the history of the basic income in Germany focuses on the time since the much stronger re-emergence of the idea among aforementioned circles in tandem with the introduction of new legislation on unemployment and social security benefits in the early 2000s. Since then several initiatives promoting the basic income, also within political parties, have sprung up and a number of individuals have given the debate new impetus.
The media landscape has, of course, radically changed compared to the first wave of activity in the 1970s-80s, and the currently engaged actors ardently use modern ICT for communication, collaboration and information. However, traditional print media continue to play an important role. A great number of books has been published and newspapers, especially those attuned to the political left, regularly report and reflect on relevant developments both at home and abroad.
The Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, the German branch of the BIEN network, is committed to stimulating the debate on local, federal state and national levels by reaching out and connecting to policy makers, other movements and initiatives, and civil society in general.
People involved in the basic income movement, whether affiliated with the Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, another initiative or acting independetly, focus their efforts on challenging the current social security system and on re-framing the value of work and individual income entitlements. Given current unemployment rates and the growing number of people who live in precarious conditions and are (at least periodically) dependent on financial or other support provided by the state or the comunity, one may well speak of a societal crisis. Moreover, economic hardship and armed conflicts in other world regions and the mass migration they trigger are also topics of concern when it comes to re-thinking social responsibilities and a good life for all. The basic income movement in Germany taps into and connects with these issues and corresponding debates of national and international relevance, proposing a universal basic income as the best replacement of policy arrangement in the face of current challenges.
Stay informed. Subscribe for project updates by e-mail.