Benoit Hamon, who prevailed by a wide margin in the French Socialist Party primaries and who’s looking for a possible red-red-green alliance, has placed a basic income program among his central goals.
Although he has moved away from his original plan of a universal and unconditional implementation toward a more gradual and limited solution, Hamon’s promises remain a strong signal that, together with his rejection of the labor bill known as Loi Travail, he has mobilized a large section of the left, particularly youths.
Basic income has gone through countless variations and interpretations in the course of a long history spanning various movements and antagonistic political projects, all antithetical to the liberal tradition whose proponents have sought to banish the idea. To recall that Milton Friedman suggested, in his own way, forms of income outside the employment relationship is just as insignificant as underlining the affection of fascism for full employment.
The fact remains that the left has faced much resistance, ideological chief among them. Which makes Hamon’s victory so much more meaningful and probably due, in addition to the declining popularity of neoliberalism, to having brought together the demands of so many kinds of people excluded from the social safety net that the left has traditionally defended and jealously administers.