Reading Project 2018 – Utopia for Realists #2

I ordered this book by Rutger Bregman from my library months ago and when I got back from my summer holidays, it was sitting on my kitchen bench ready to be read! My other half has already started reading it and seems to be enjoying its contents. Now it was my turn to read it quickly before I accrue any more library fines!

Ok as the title suggests this book is an essay on how we as a global community could achieve and reach a utopian society.

A couple of the author’s suggestions are:

A universal or basic income – this is the idea that every citizen will receive and is entitled to a basic income – whether they’re working or not. Whoa! I’m all for that! For someone who could easily live on basics – this is definitely for me.  According to Bregman, there have been social experiments in this area (in Alaska, Canada and the UK) to some success.  This isn’t a bad idea and Elon Musk concurs as he predicts most citizens will lose their jobs due to automation within the next 30 years.

Open borders – the idea of letting people (knowledge workers, refugees and ordinary folks in search of greener pastures) in to rich countries. This discussion resonates with the current debate and conversations in Australia about migration. Bregman effectively argues that this will solve the global fight against poverty. Although this idea according to Bregman keeps getting beaten down due to the following arguments:

  • They’re all terrorists
  • They’re all criminals
  • They will undermine social cohesion
  • They’re too lazy to work
  • They won’t go back

And there’s also the idea of a 15 hour work which is of course self-explanatory which also leads back to the basic income! Oh and I found out that computers used to be people about 100 years ago.  The word “computer” was a job title – “computers were workers – mostly women – who did simple sums all day” ~ (p. 188). Amazing!

So what’s my verdict? Well I enjoyed this book – easy to read and I couldn’t put it down. It’s well researched and it made me think about the many ways our society could be “better”.


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