Podcast: Could Universal Basic Income Spell the End of Capitalism?

It has been said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. That might have been true a decade ago, but today, the end of capitalism is becoming more and more plausible — at times it feels inevitable. In fact, at least half of Americans think that capitalism is a fundamentally unfair system, and over a third have a positive view of socialism. These numbers are rather strange for a society where just uttering the word “socialist” in public a generation ago could cost you your job or get you onto some government list. And when you look at younger generations, it gets even more interesting. A Harvard University survey showed that the majority of millennials do not support capitalism. And in the United Kingdom, similar surveys have found that people are more likely to have an unfavorable view of capitalism than of socialism.

More and more people are falling out of love with capitalism. And is it really all that surprising? Capitalism has failed to achieve most of its promises and many are now beginning to dream about what a different, better world might look like. Well, in this second episode of our 2-part series on Universal Basic Income (UBI), we’ll explore what role UBI might have in transitioning to that different world.

There is an exciting and lively debate taking place among the left right now exploring whether Universal Basic Income would do more to dismantle capitalism or, rather, to prop it up and help to keep it going. For this episode, we’ve assembled another all-star cast of economists, journalists, and authors — we asked them to share their perspectives and to envision what the long-term societal effects of giving everyone a Universal Basic Income might look like.

Would a progressive UBI act as simply another form of welfare, temporarily propping up a fundamentally flawed system, and just serving as another concession to eventually be eroded and gutted by the capitalist class? Or could it be more than that — could it actually fundamentally challenge the current capitalist system and help to dismantle it?

We’ll explore these questions — and many more — in this final episode of our 2-part exploration of Universal Basic Income. Don’t miss it!


  • Erik Olin Wright – Marxist scholar and sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Kathi Weeks – Marxist-feminist scholar, associate professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of ‘The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries’
  • Matt Bruenig – Writer, researcher, and founder of the People’s Policy Project
  • Richard Wolff – Marxist economist, economics professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Founder of Democracy at Work, and host of the weekly radio show Economic Update
  • Doug Henwood – Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation
  • Martin Kirk – Co-founder and Director of Strategy at The Rules
  • Rutger Bregman – Journalist and author of ‘Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek’
  • Manda Scott- Novelist, columnist, and broadcaster
  • Juliana Bidadanure – Assistant professor in political philosophy at Stanford University
  • Sofa Gradin – Political Organizer and Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London


  • American Football
  • J. T. Harechmak
  • Pele

This is the second in a 2-part series on Universal Basic Income. Listen to Episode 1 here.

This blog post was originally published by Shareable.

Upstream is an interview and documentary series that invites you to unlearn everything you thought you knew about economics. Weaving together interviews, field-recordings, rich sound-design, and great music, each episode of Upstream will take you on a journey exploring a theme or story within the broad world of economics. So tune in, because the revolution will be podcasted. 

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Many thanks to Benjamin Henderson for the cover art/header image.

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