You certainly won’t hear it in pop music. Because in order to become popular you have to have a rich background to support you, or a record label. And the label tells you, ‘You have to be active on Instagram’. How can you cultivate angriness if what you have to do is post hip pictures? That’s why I call the current music business rotten, not because there aren’t good musicians out there.
I feel that the next really big band is going to have no Instagram account, no Facebook account, and no Twitter. Put a band out there and try to keep them a secret. Say, ‘Sorry, there are no publicity photographs on that one. If you want them, you have to go and find them yourself’. People would love that. We’re so tired of stuff being pushed on to us all the time.
True, but it would need a good music business to support that, which doesn’t exist, as far as I’m concerned. They know they won’t make money out of you, so they don’t invest money in you. Is this why you support the universal basic income?
Yes, that’s right. I think the only thing the human race is really good at is generating and developing knowledge. Everything we can do as a species comes from that. The reason we can live at all is not because we’re fast or strong, but because we’re clever. We know how to look at the world and find things out about it and control it in different ways. Intelligence is our medium, our nourishment. Therefore, I want to make a society that produces a lot of knowledge. And to do that I think we have to use everybody in it. Not just a few people who go to posh schools, but all kinds of intelligence. The intelligence that kids who do graffiti have, or kids walking on a trapeze. So, what does it take to be creative? A certain cast of mind, but more importantly, it takes the right situation. You can’t be creative if you’re tired from doing a horrible job and all you want to do is get home and get drunk.
Yes, but I’ve realised the following: if I have a free day and I want to dedicate it to working on something, it’s always the least productive day. I have the feeling that time pressure actually stimulates your creativity. If it’s not urgent to be creative, then you shouldn’t be.
I think that on those days off, you’re not actually wasting your time. You’re digesting. I love deadlines. If I didn’t have deadlines, I wouldn’t finish anything. And the deadline for me is the moment when you pull your stuff together, but the stuff needs to be there in the first place. That stuff is always growing up in you, and occasionally you have to sew some of it together and make a package out of it. All that development takes time and company. Company is what people always forget. It’s through conversation and collaboration with other people that you really develop your own ideas. Until you put them in front of other people and see how they work when they’re no longer under your control, you don’t know what the value of those ideas is.
I certainly think the UBI would be a wonderful thing. But Dostoyevsky said, ‘Give man bread and he will bow down to you, for there is nothing more indisputable than bread’. Maybe if you give people enough, they will just play video games.
I think there will be a percentage of people who won’t get off their video games. And it might be as much as 15 percent; I don’t know. But what percentage of people are right now doing equally meaningless things? It could be 60 or 70 percent. It’s not as if you’re exchanging wonderful, meaningful lives for people playing video games. There have been experiments.
How did they try the experiments?
They took a small city in Canada. I think it was about 4,000 people. And for two or three years they were on a universal basic income. They could still have jobs if they wanted to, but they were provided with enough money to keep them alive. Three results kept coming up. One was a dramatic increase in community engagement; people started getting together to do things, like fix up that little park that was a mess, or stop cars going down those streets, little things like that where people started caring about their shared experience. That to me is absolutely the most important thing. The second thing is that the prescription of psychoactive drugs, tranquilisers and so on, went down. People were reporting much less mental anxiety, psychosis, and loneliness. And the third thing is that educational achievement improved. The last one is a bit mysterious. It’s thought it’s because the parents were more at home and helped kids with homework. There haven’t been many UBI experiments, but those three results keep coming up. I agree, it’s not without problems. The question is whether it’s better than what we’re doing now. And to that I can answer with absolute certainty: yes.