Utopia for Realists

Rutger Bregman

Utopia for Realists



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In 2014, Rutger Bregman's TED Talk on Universal Basic Income sounded incredibly radical. Today, the subject of that video is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders around the world. Every milestone of civilisation - from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy - was at first considered a utopian fantasy. Utopia for Realists demonstrates that new utopian ideas, such as the elimination of poverty, the creation of the fifteen-hour work week or the abolition of borders, can become reality. Being “unrealistic” and “unreasonable” is the only way to make the impossible inevitable, and to build an ideal world.

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Analysis and key concepts


We live in an era of abundance, yet we are unsatisfied: there is an urgent need for new utopias


Why universal basic income is an effective way to improve people’s lives


The 15-hour working week and its benefits on society: less stress, less pollution, less unemployment and a more even distribution of work


Open borders could increase people’s income worldwide




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Understand why we are still not satisfied even though we live in the era of abundance.
  • Recognise the need for Utopias for the good of society.
  • Consider the reasons for a basic wage for everyone.
  • Recognise that a 15-hour work week could solve many social problems.
  • Understand why the world’s borders should be open to people and not just trade.

Rutger Bregman (1988) is a Dutch writer and historian. Listed in the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 for Europe,  he is one of the youngest, most promising thinkers on the continent. He has published several books on history, philosophy, and economics. His History of Progress won the Belgian Liberales Prize for best non-fiction book in 2013, and Bregman has been nominated twice for the prestigious European Press Prize for his journalistic work at The Correspondent. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists sparked a basic income movement that made international headlines, and has been reviewed by The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the BBC.

Publishing house:

Little Brown & Co