Review: Utopia for Realists – Rutger Bregman

by @edent | #

A bright orange book cover.

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.

A curious book this. It recounts all the actions which could have worked – but never quite comes to a conclusion about what should be done.

It is almost identical to Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness” in its rosy assessment of human progress in the last few hundred years.

We get the stats on meaningful interventions to improve the world – where they’ve been successful and how they’ve been frustrated.

I agree with the conclusion. Pay more, tax more, target more, expect more. I want it to come true – but it would take an act of unimaginable bravery for any country to do it unilaterally.

Frustratingly, the central conclusion – pay Universal Basic Income – doesn’t come with any hard suggestions. No thoughts on how high it should be, or how to practically support it.

Yes, we need to be Utopians – but we need to be realistic about how we get there.

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