Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

by Rutger Bregman


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A history of utopian thinking and a pragmatic manifesto for today, suffused with facts, success stories, and lively anecdotes, and advocating for a universal basic income, a 15-hour workweek, and open borders

Two-thirds of Americans report that they would take two extra weeks of vacation above two extra weeks of salary, and half of all business professionals report that their jobs offer no "meaning or significance." And after working all day at jobs we hate, we buy things we don't need. In UTOPIA FOR REALISTS, Dutch historian and journalist Rutger Bregman reminds us it needn't be this way. A manifesto full of intentionality and pragmatism, Bregman's book centers on three central utopic ideas: a 15-hour workweek, a "universal basic income", no strings attached, and open borders throughout the globe. Though the claims might seem fanciful at first, UTOPIA FOR REALISTS provides numerous examples of successful experiments with "free money", such as Mincome in 1970s Canada, and experiments in giving homeless people a financial foundation. The theory among detractors is that free money will make people be lazy and work less. But in fact, employment is necessary for virtually everyone's happiness.

As for the workweek, global studies show again and again that a shorter workweek contributes to lower stress, lower environmental impact, fewer work mistakes or accidents, lower gender inequality, and lower wealth inequality. Although the ideas here may sound impossible to some, Bregman argues that change begins with an idea--and we must be at the ready when we can no longer sustain our hyperproduction and consumption. In UTOPIA FOR REALISTS, Bregman shows us the most unrealistic economic system is the one we're already living in.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316471893
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 03/14/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 494,088
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Rutger Bregman is a journalist at The Correspondent, and one of Europe's most prominent young thinkers. He has published four books on history, philosophy, and economics. His History of Progress was awarded the Belgian Liberales prize for best nonfiction book of 2013, and Bregman has twice been nominated for the European Press Prize.

Table of Contents

1 The Return of Utopia 1

2 Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone 25

3 The End of Poverty 51

4 The Bizarre Tale of President Nixon and His Basic Income Bill 77

5 New Figures for a New Era 101

6 A Fifteen-Hour Workweek 127

7 Why It Doesn't Pay to Be a Banker 153

8 Race Against the Machine 177

9 Beyond the Gates of the Land of Plenty 203

10 How Ideas Change the World 233

Epilogue 253

Notes 265

Index 307

Acknowledgements 315

What People are Saying About This

Brian Eno

"Rutger Bregman is part of a new generation of thinkers who are suggesting exciting alternatives to the orthodoxies of the last forty years. In this surprising, accessible, and often counterintuitive book, Bregman explores some brilliant but simple ideas for making a better world."

author of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger - Richard Wilkinson

"This book is brilliant. Everyone should read it. Bregman shows us we've been looking at the world inside out. Turned right way out, we suddenly see fundamentally new ways forward. If we can get enough people to read this book, the world will start to become a better place."

co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network - Philippe van Parijs

"Learning from history and from up-to-date social science can shatter crippling illusions. It can turn allegedly utopian proposals into plain common sense. It can enable us to face the future with unprecedented enthusiasm. To see how, read this superbly written, upbeat, insightful book."

author of The Vertigo Years and A Wicked Company - Philipp Blom

"Utopia for Realists is an important book, a wonderfully readable breath of fresh air, a window thrown open to a better future. As politicians and economists are asking how to increase productivity, ensure full employment, and downsize government, Bregman asks: What actually makes life worth living and how can we get here? He combines deep research with wit, challenging us to think anew about how we want to live and who we want to be. Required reading."

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Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written. I found myself wanting to read it everyday during my commute to work. The ideas presented are mostly new to me so I will be reading it again to properly digest it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth a read. Great writing.