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Publisher's Summary

Universal basic income. A 15-hour workweek. Open borders. Does it sound too good to be true? One of Europe's leading young thinkers shows how we can build an ideal world today.

After working all day at jobs we often dislike, we buy things we don't need. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, reminds us it needn't be this way - and in some places it isn't.

Rutger Bregman's TED Talk about universal basic income seemed impossibly radical when he delivered it in 2014. A quarter of a million views later, the subject of that video is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders all over the world. It's just one of the many utopian ideas that Bregman proves is possible today.

Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think can happen. 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 and beyond the traditional left-right divides as he champions ideas whose time has come.

Every progressive milestone of civilization - from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy - was once considered a utopian fantasy. Bregman's book, both challenging and bracing, demonstrates that new utopian ideas, like the elimination of poverty and the creation of the 15-hour workweek, can become reality in our lifetime. Being unrealistic and unreasonable can, in fact, make the impossible inevitable, and it is the only way to build the ideal world.

©2017 Rutger Bregman (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Rutger Bregman is part of a new generation of thinkers who are suggesting exciting alternatives to the orthodoxies of the last 40 years. In this surprising, accessible, and often counterintuitive book, Bregman explores some brilliant but simple ideas for making a better world." (Brian Eno)
''It's a wonderful, well-written book, easily the crispest and least dry explanation of the research and history behind basic income as an idea I've seen in print." (Dylan Matthews)

What listeners say about Utopia for Realists

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It takes a global village

Academically sound, and multidisciplinary in scope, Utopia for Realists reveals the tectonic boundaries between what has always worked (more or less, especially the former) and the increasingly obvious challenges to the accepted status quo. A must-read/listen.

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A real plan for Utopia, a real hope in this time

A real plan for Utopia, a real hope in this time of crisis. Time to turn off the TV and organize

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great read

concise explaination of UBI and other related topics, highly relevant right now. a b c

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I'm Ready - Are You?

February 2022 | 4/5
This was a pallet cleanser for the hopeless despair we have all experienced with the covid pandemic and associated lockdowns. Interestingly, one of the ways to push the utopian ideas in this book forward is through global catastrophe.

We live in a great time - we have money, and health, and
education, but we've forgotten that things could be better.

Not so long ago, things like passports were deemed uncivilized, governments piloted programs with a UBI, and some of the greatest thinkers of our time worried humanity would be bored with all the leisure time they'd enjoy.

Sadly, we work more than ever so we can buy more stuff. We struggle to make a living wage, and vacations to enjoy our things are reserved for the ultra wealthy.

Rutger Bregam shows us how we were trending towards a UBI, a 15 hour work week, and open borders. We learn how things went off the rails and several ways to get back on track.

Read this book - restore a little faith in humanity, and make these utopian ideals a reality.

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Food for thought

Excellent, I found that this book offered some innovative thoughts on how to handle some of today's most pressing issues. I personally think it's time to look at initiating new ways to deal with current issues that plague our society. Those that it is proven that the same old methods are not improving the situation but in fact just the opposite. I appreciate that the author used thorough information sources and different opinions and points of view to support his writings. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is willing to listen with an open mind.
Governments need to review and improve upon services and their funding models. It's a darn good possibility that these changes could save taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars. Maybe, this book should be listened to by some government officials and employees throughout all nations.

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this book is amazing

this book is amazing.
it should be required reading for everyone around the world but especially in western and the G7 nations

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Building a foundation for a World where we all win

I've listened to this book three times now, and each time through I pick up a new thing. it does a marvelous job of explaining how we got to the broken world we live in and how we can make it better.

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Nice read

Narrator had a good tone to his voice. I enjoyed it as my very first audible.

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Outstanding

A book that will expand your mind if you let it. Bregman challenges you to look at the problems we all face and consider new (or not-so-new) options to solve them. His “guide” to a future free from poverty makes for a wonderful listen/read. Highly recommended!

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A User Manual For A Liveable, Evolving Society

This book addresses the massive imbalance in today's society, and how everyone can benefit from a soceity that capitalizes on freed creativity, ingenuity and energy.

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  • Jen
  • 2019-07-06

Doesn't address the real question

This book spends almost all of it's time addressing the case for providing universal income or 'money with no strings attached' to people who are struggling and/or have been struggling for a long time. It goes into great detail about all of the wonderful, inventive, amazing things that those people did with the money to better themselves and their communities. But it never answers the real question - what happens next? If we introduce universal income, what happens to the next generation, the ones who never had to struggle, who don't have the perspective of having nothing in order to appreciate having something? If we give that generation the same 'no strings attached' money, can we really expect them to be so inventive, so appreciative? Or is it more likely they will simply be expectant, entitled, squanderous? That's the question I kept asking throughout, and never got an answer so this entire "study" is very biased, one-sided and incomplete. If you are actually a realist I do not recommend this book.

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  • Dotails
  • 2020-02-01

Utopia is good but this is liberal propaganda

Although I support and promote the idea of ideal, paradise is the purpose we were created for afterall, this author is just leaning so far left off his soapbox that he cant be taken seriously, he spent most of the time on what to do with money, socialisim, redistribution, taxes, stealing from the rich, when in utopia there in fact, is no money due to AI.

The first chapter was good if the many statistics were accurate, but the rest was embarising and gives paradise builders a bad name. He, like many in the media, focus on the symptoms and like any symptom only doctor, he might make you feel good but kill you with his "miracle money solutions" Rather one should address the roots. Money is a way to move scarce resources. Have you looked up and seen how big stellar objects are and how many? The universe is abundant with resources, focus on moving those instead of money and money will become obsolete through and abundant economy.

Finally even taking his rant seriously for a moment, there are some advancements that are only possible with large concentrations of resources. Take operating systems, screen streaming services, and other tech that takes years to develop and large amounts of awareness marketing to make sustainable. This author doesn't consider the effect stealing will have on progress.

Of course there are radical changes in store when comparing paradise with today's systems. Just one of many examples of radical change; Life will become more precious as life becomes long, the ripple effects of immortality in our reach, will make death unacceptable; cars, abortion, assisted suicide, war, deadly weapons, death penalty, and more will be obsoleted by demand and technology. People today on all sides of politics will be considered savage relative to the maturity to come.

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  • Sam Thompson
  • 2019-06-04

Brilliant Book

Bregman puts forth, what at first blush, seem like radical, unapproachable objectives. However after careful listening to the material, his proposals are merely pragmatic, steeped in verifiable data obtained through real world testing. His idea for universal income makes complete sense economically, socially, and certainly morally, but politics and prejudice raise their ugly heads and stand in the way of humane progress. I highly recommend this book, common sense in what is very much a senseless time in our history.
Regards,
Sam Thompson

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  • Tim
  • 2019-04-01

eye opening

this book really made me think about how the world functions and how it could function without being dogmatic. I think real change will be inspired by this books messages.

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  • johnnydog
  • 2018-05-08

clearly states difficult topics. With passion.

Provides clear explanations and facts enabling us to communicate the beliefs so many of us hold dear. We appreciate capitalism for where it has brought us but we are ready to move on to the next stage a post-capitalist phase that utilizes the Innovations it has helped create to allow all humans to benefit and lead wonderful lives!

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  • Steve
  • 2020-11-14

Worthless

This book isn't even worth the memory it occupies on my phone, much less the time I wasted listening to the whole thing. Some Yang Gang radical told me to read it and I'm extremely open minded so I wanted to see what it was about.

here's the gist,

Robots will take your job, think the terminator movies
Massive redistribution of wealth.
Your individual ideas and dreams are worthless.
Look to government to solve your problems.
starting to sound familiar ?

I do tend to agree with open borders. the author says that we need open borders and UBI. those two don't co-exist in a world where 1+1 =2. You cant have open borders in a welfare state. At one point The U.S.A had open borders but no welfare state. Then the greatest period of economic growth in the History of Mandkind happen. The one thing the Author forgets is that happened with out government assistance or some controlling body.

The Author cherry picks quotes from Milton Freedman (the grandfather of free market economics) and makes the reader think Milton agreed with this crazy concept.

The data of many of his claims need to be corrected and foot notes for fact checking.

I agree with the spirit of the book, although this is not the way we get there. I hope anyone that reads this book also reads "Free to Choose" so you can actually get perspective on what Milton actually meant.

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  • Fanni Daniella Koszeg
  • 2019-04-14

Motivating

So maybe the author hasn't yet figured it all out and given a solution on how to disrupt the current balance of power in the western part of the world, but he will definitely convince you of becoming bolder and more forceful in speaking against neo-liberal capitalism. He does a good job at describing how neo-liberalism (of the Clinton, Tony Blair ilk) became *indisputable* on the left thanks to the right's aggressive and bold actions. It is definitely time to point out the corruption of democracy by a thousand cuts across the globe -- and here in the US, land of the free, in particular. Corporate consumerism's chokehold on democracy is no joke; it is what keeps us all down while the 1% flourishes. Along with Anand Giridharadas' WINNER TAKE ALL, Bregman posits a bold theory on how to break free from the *well-meaning* plutocrats who just WILL.NOT.PAY.TAXES.

We, on the so-called left, all need to act with conviction and stop fearing that we will seem "silly" or "unreasonable." Alexandria Ocasio Cortes, Bernie and Liz Warren are showing the way.

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  • Kerrie M James
  • 2017-10-12

Brilliant

Intelligent, inspiring and surprising, Bregman has captured the history of ideas and current social and economic dilemmas superbly. His is a radical view and one that needs to be taken seriously if the world and it's populations are to survive.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth Flanagan
  • 2019-02-12

let's do it!!

I am so excited that these ideas can make us more human and live our full potential!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-12-19

FINALLY!!!

...Someone else who GETS it!!! The TRUTH & REALITY of the poverty and it's affects. A mandatory listen/read for EVERY single human on the planet.

6 people found this helpful