THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'Listen out for Rutger Bregman. He has a big future shaping the future' Observer
'The Dutch wunderkind of new ideas' Guardian
In Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman shows that we can construct a society with visionary ideas that are, in fact, wholly implementable. Every milestone of civilisation – from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy – was once considered a utopian fantasy. New utopian ideas such as universal basic income and a fifteen-hour work week can become reality in our lifetime.
From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon's near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he introduces ideas whose time has come.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If the idea of 15-hour work weeks, free money for everyone and open borders is hugely appealing, it probably seems equally fanciful. However, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman argues that such utopian ideals are very achievable and would significantly improve the world’s future. Bregman’s persuasiveness lies in his clarity and infectious enthusiasm. He cites fascinating social experiments and historical anecdotes, serving his bold ideas and counter-intuitive thinking in digestible chunks. Whether or not his ideas can actually lead us to a promised land, this is an enlightening, thought-provoking read.
A universal basic income, a shrunken work week, and global open borders get endorsements from Bregman, a Dutch journalist and historian. He engagingly examines basic income schemes in 18th- and 19th- century England, in Manitoba in the early 1970s, and among the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. His summary of how close the United States came to passing a basic income law under President Nixon is entertaining and intriguing. "For the first time in history we are rich enough to finance a sizable basic income," Bregman proclaims. The other legs of his triangle are explored with a little less focus and heft, with references to futurists' estimates that the typical work week will be 15 hours by 2030 and that increased movement in the global labor market would have dramatic effects on world economic output. For readers on the left, these are appealing notions, presented here in a breezy, TED talk like style. Bregman isn't being glib when he says those who want to change the world need to be as "unrealistic, unreasonable, and impossible" as abolitionists, suffragists, and marriage equality activists once seemed to be. A more practical handbook, however, is required to make these far-reaching proposals seem achievable.