So much of the old, we hope, is dying in our times, and the new yet to be born is being fought for fiercely. Published earlier this year in Volume 52, Issue 2, Mary Lawhon and Tyler McCreary’s “Beyond Jobs vs Environment: On the Potential of Universal Basic Income to Reconfigure Environmental Politics” offers some resources of hope for those striving for more socio-ecologically just and radically democratic futures. Their paper explores:
The tension between creating jobs and protecting the environment remains central to contemporary environmental politics. Critical scholars have reworked the “jobs vs the environment” problematique, but how people will secure livelihoods in various imagined futures remains unclear. We demonstrate how a Universal Basic Income (UBI) that enacts a revitalised politics of redistribution, in conjunction with an active state, has the potential to rupture the link between employment and income. We suggest that such a UBI is complementary to various postcapitalist politics that fundamentally reorganise relationships between people, ecology, and labour. Further, such a UBI can enable the cultivation of new economic subjectivities, as well as the time needed for greater democratic engagement. Where radical environmental politics often configure a fearful agent of change, motivated by a dystopian imaginaries, we propose new radical visions for socioecological futures in which people have time for leisure, community, and democratic participation.
Mary Lawhon is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Oklahoma (and will soon be a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh), and Tyler McCreary is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Florida State University.
As well as “Beyond Jobs vs Environment”, they’ve published papers in Antipode on Flows, Friction, and the Sociomaterial Metabolization of Alcohol (Lawhon), Provincializing Urban Political Ecology: Towards a Situated UPE Through African Urbanism (Lawhon with Henrik Ernstson and Jonathan Silver), Racial Capitalism, Settler Colonialism, and Environmental Governance in Vancouver and Atlanta (McCreary with Richard Milligan) and Aboriginal People, Educational Restructuring, and Academic Labour in the North of British Columbia, Canada (McCreary with Suzanne Mills).