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Why Switzerland? Basic Income and the Development Potential of Swiss Republicanism

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abstract Paper presented at B.I.E.N.'s 11th Congress: Universalism Strengthens Development, 2-4 November, Cape Town, South Africa

The aim of this paper is to establish a relationship between the idea of an unconditional basic income and republican thought in general and the Swiss republican tradition in particular. I argue that Swiss republicanism bears a development potential that may provide a normative foundation for the introduction of an unconditional basic income.
Basic income can be justified on grounds of the conception of modern republicanism and its underlying ideal of freedom as non-domination. The Swiss republican tradition shows considerable affinity to this ideal of non-domination; its history can be read as a struggle against domination. In this sense, Swiss republicanism can be linked to the idea of an unconditional basic income. In contrast to other republican traditions in Europe, Swiss republicanism was able to develop and incorporate individualist values in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Swiss republicanism still plays an important role in Swiss politics. The thesis that there still exists a relationship between Swiss republicanism and basic income will be corroborated by virtue of two examples: an old Swiss republican communal tradition that is still practised consists of disbursing an income that shows remarkable similarities to an unconditional basic income grant. Further, in contemporary Swiss social policy, the first pillar of the Swiss pension system bears considerable resemblance to the basic income idea. On the level of welfare regime research, one can even speak of a “soft guarantism” that prevails in Swiss social policy.
In Switzerland, a public discourse about the idea of an unconditional basic income has not yet developed. However, in order to inspire discourse, the link to Swiss republicanism could be emphasised. The pathway to the introduction of an unconditional basic income has begun in Swiss traditions already centuries ago. The prospect of further “good” development in the sense of freedom as nondomination in Switzerland should tie in with Switzerland's own past and tradition.
   
type working paper (Deutsch)
   
keywords Grundeinkommen, Basic Income, Schweiz, Switzerland, Republikanismus, Republicanism, Bürgergesellschaft, Wirtschaftsethik
   
date of appearance 2006
publisher Eric Patry, Institut für Wirtschaftsethik, Universität St. Gallen (St. Gallen)
review external review
   
citation Patry, E. (2006). Why Switzerland? Basic Income and the Development Potential of Swiss Republicanism. St. Gallen: Eric Patry, Institut für Wirtschaftsethik, Universität St. Gallen.