Utopia for Realists and How we Can Get There
by Rutger Bergman (Bloomsbury, £8.99; can be ordered online for around €10.00)
At Easter, Pope Francis delivered a message endorsing the concept of the universal basic wage.
This idea, whereby every individual receives a basic income from their government whether they are in employment or not, has been around for some decades (going back to the small but influential “social credit” movement of the interwar years) . It has been put into practice in some communities – and with remarkable success. The world-wide concentration of minds that has resulted from Covid-19 may give a new impetus to the principle.
The author supports his utopian outlook with solid statistics”
Meanwhile, those who wish to know more about it have the opportunity to read a very remarkable book, first published in Holland six years ago.
The author, Rutger Bregman, gave it the title Utopia for Realists: and how we can get there and its translation into 23 languages within four years testifies to its brilliance.
The book is also a particularly comforting read at a time like this. On his very first page Bregman outlines the astounding progress that has taken place in the last 200 years: “Billions of us are suddenly rich, well nourished, clean, safe, smart, healthy and occasionally even beautiful.”
The author supports his utopian outlook with solid statistics, and this is the essence of the book. It is very easy reading and very enjoyable with its examples of the good effects of the worldwide reduction of poverty and forecasts for the even greater benefits which could be conferred by the application of the universal wage.
The beauty of this rosy view of the future is that the text is laced throughout with an impressive array of the basic statistics – so skilfully interwoven that they don’t overwhelm the reader. This book is a remarkable combination of visionary fervour with solid fact.