BIEN Denmark (abbreviation of the Basic Income Earth Network) – the citizenship movement in Denmark is a grassroots movement that aims to introduce unconditional basic income (UBI) in Denmark. The grassroots movement originated in 1978 with the Danish book ” Oprør fra Midten”, which describes a vision of a humanist society in equilibrium. The authors were then Minister of Culture from the party Radikale Venstre K. Helveg Petersen, Professor of Physics Niels I. Meyer and the author Villy Sørensen. Politically, the party Radikale Venstre and the party Socialistisk Folkeparti worked in the 90’s with serious proposals, unfortunately not adopted. When the question at the end of the nineties was discussed in the party Enhedslisten, a proposal for a basic income was rejected by a narrow majority. Later, a proposal for a “guaranteed minimum income” (which was like a kind of basic income) was given a place in their program.
Internationally, BIEN was formed in 1986. In 2000 a bunch of enthusiasts founded BIEN Denmark. The association is cross-political, as basic income can be introduced by all parties, which, as a goal, ensure that all citizens have a dignified life in peace and security. Today there is a waking interest in basic income internationally.
The movement has gained more followers. It has been a great help that we have got the social media. The association’s work would not be the same without websites, virtual forums and Facebook. Daily updates from around the world come with articles, talks, movies, posters and accompanying debates.
Interest in welfare countries is especially concerned with tightening in social services, while bureaucracy has grown to insignificant heights. Automation and robot development are another driving force in the debate. In the developing countries it is the general poverty that is the focal point.
The board of the association meets once a month on the web followed by physical meetings twice a year. We are invited to meetings, e.g. in colleges. We publish a newsletter about 10 times a year and participates in debate-making lectures in the press and online. Just as we participate at the folk meeting ”Det fælles bedste” and The People’s Political Festival at Bornholm.
Everyone works voluntarily and unpaid. Most of us are unemployed (read: retired), but try to attract young people and bring them on to specific tasks. It is difficult to engage young people. Not because they are not interested, but because it takes a lot of time. This year we had the pleasure of getting a philosophy student in practice. He has done a great job and has established a local group in North Jutland, which is a collaboration between the parties the Alternativet and the Radikale Venstre.
In Copenhagen it is also the Alternativet that has established groups working on a concrete proposal for a basic income.
As a volunteer, you live by the successes your work gives you. It is nice to see and feel how the debate about basic income again is on the agenda. Although there is still a long way to the goal, there is every day of a serious initiative or opinion, about basic income.
Therefore, I would like to invite you to consider to be a membership of BIEN Denmark to support our work and / or to sign up for work as a board member or as an activist. Both parts can be done by contacting us via the website, where you will find much more material about basic income.
Dorte Kolding, BIEN