Right upstairs in the Neufert Box it was all about Platform Cooperativism and Political Campaigns in the Age of the Internet. Trebor Scholz is a scholar-activist and Associate Professor for Culture & Media at The New School in New York, Johannes Ponader has been dealing with basic income for the last 15 years and has set up the platform „Mein Grundeinkommen“.
In his talk, Trebor Scholz delivers a short critique of platform capitalism. Nowadays, Scholz sees little resemblance of the Silicon Valley’s original idea that a different future is possible. According to Scholz, Uber drivers for example are no micro-entrepreneurs as the company claims. More likely, they are working for labor companies with no labor rights at all.
Scholz poses the question „why not own the platforms we use?“ and delivers some examples of Platform Cooperativism. And behold, there are some bright ideas: VTC Cab, quite similar to Uber but owned by the drivers or Fairmondo, a fair marketplace which is decentralized and owned by its users.
Johannes Ponader’s campaign „Mein Grundeinkommen“ serves as an example for, as he calls it, „Meta Platform Cooperativism“. The basic income campaign is a prototype and works quite simple: People donate money via crowdfunding. 12.000 Euros are reached and then raffled out to people who signed up for it. One winner takes the money and has a basic income for one year. Here’s a short Q&A with Johannes Ponader:
What is the motivation of people who donate money to an individual that they can have that basic income?
Most people are interested in our experiment. They want to find out what happens when your basic needs are taken care of. With their donation they make the experiment happen. Also, most of them believe in the idea of basic income. Still, some critical person donate because they are interested in the outcome.
Is there a success story of someone who won it?
There are many success stories among the 32 winners we have. There was one guy who worked in a call center. When he was asked what he’d do with the money, he said he wanted to become a child educator. When he won the money, he actually started studying and got a job when he finished. There are some entrepreneurs among the winners. The money gave them safety to start their business.
What do people gain beyond money?
Absolutely. People who depend on welfare get more dignity. They don’t have to go through all the bureaucracy and prove all the time that they really need help. For those who were not depending on benefits, the money meant freedom.
What is the most important thing that has to be done to raise acceptance for the basic income, in Germany for example?
Some serious studies and research has to be done in economics, sociology and psychology. We need a more scientific and profound perspective on the issue.
Do you see any connection to the Bauhaus in your project?
The Bauhaus approach was to design for the people. We try to do that since our welfare system is not social at all. The basic income is the Bauhaus way of social security.