Rutger Bregman

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Rutger C. Bregman
Rutger Bregman
Bregman in 2015
Born (1988-04-26) 26 April 1988 (age 31)
EducationMaster of Arts in History (2010–2012) at Utrecht University and the University of California[1]
OccupationJournalist and author
Known forBasic income, working hours and open borders
Notable work
Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

Rutger C. Bregman (born 1988) is a Dutch popular historian and author. He has published four books on history, philosophy and economics, including Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World, which has been translated into thirty-two languages. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC. He has been described by The Guardian as the "Dutch wunderkind of new ideas"[2] and by TED Talks as "one of Europe's most prominent young thinkers".[3] His TED Talk, "Poverty Isn't a Lack of Character; It's a Lack of Cash", was chosen by TED curator Chris Anderson as one of the top ten of 2017.[4]


Bregman earned his Bachelor of Arts in history at Utrecht University in 2009.[1] He earned his Master of Arts in history in 2012, partly at Utrecht and partly at the University of California, Los Angeles.[1][5] His graduate studies were concentrated on cities, states and citizenship.[citation needed] Bregman has also claimed to have taught history at Utrecht University from 2009 to 2011.[6]


Bregman thought of becoming an academic historian, but instead he began working as a journalist.[7] He is the author of Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a Fifteen-Hour Workweek. He writes regularly for the online journal De Correspondent,[8] and was twice nominated for the European Press Prize for his work there.[9] In 2013 he received the annual book award from the think tank Liberales for the most remarkable Dutch-language non-fiction book, The History of Progress.[10][11][12] In 2015 he wrote the essay for the Month of Philosophy together with Jesse Frederik. In his student days he was a member of Christian student association SSR-NU.[13]

Utopia for Realists[edit]

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World[14] promotes a more productive and equitable life based on three core ideas which include a universal and unconditional basic income paid to everybody, a short workweek of fifteen hours, and open borders worldwide with the free exchange of citizens between all nations.[15] It was originally written as articles in Dutch for the online journal De Correspondent.[16]

In an interview with the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir in September 2017, Bregman said that "[t]o move forward, a society needs dreams, not nightmares. Yet people are caught in the logic of fear. Whether it is Trump, Brexit or the last elections in Germany, they vote against the future and instead for solutions to replace it, believing the past was better based on a thoroughly mistaken view of the world: the world was worse before … Humanity is improving, conditions of life, work and health too. And it's time to open the windows of our minds to see it."[17]

Other publications[edit]

By 2017, Bregman had published four books, including History of Progress, for which he was awarded the Belgian Liberales prize for best nonfiction book of 2013.[10][11][12]

His articles have been published in The Guardian,[8][18] The Washington Post, the BBC, Evonomics,[19][20] and in The Conversation.[21]

TED Talks[edit]

A TED Talk by Rutger Bregman in 2017

In his TED Talks presentation, "Poverty Isn't a Lack of Character; It's a Lack of Cash", Bregman argues for a universal basic income as the solution to end poverty.[22][23]

Other activities[edit]

In January 2019, Bregman took part in a panel debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he criticised the event for its focus on philanthropy rather than tax avoidance and the need for fair taxation. His intervention was widely reported and followed on social media.[24]

According to a February 20, 2019 The Guardian article, during a February 2019 interview in Amsterdam Fox News anchor and journalist, Tucker Carlson after Davos, Bregman told Carlson that the United States "could easily crack down on tax paradises"[25] if they wanted to and that Fox News would not cover stories about tax evasion by the wealthy.[26] He said that Carlson himself, had been taking "dirty money" for years from the CATO Institute where he was senior fellow and which is "funded by Koch billionaires"—Charles Koch and David Koch.[25] He said that Carlson and other Fox News anchors are "millionaires paid by billionaires"—referring to the Murdochs and, in Carlson's case, the Koch brothers.[26] Bregman told Carlson that "what the Murdochs want you to do [on Fox News] is scapegoat immigrants instead of talking about tax avoidance".[25][27] Carlson was angered by Bregman's comments.[26] Bregman posted a video of his unaired interview with Carlson on NowThis News on YouTube on February 20, 2019. By July the video had received 2,349,846 views.[25]

Major themes[edit]

The major themes of Bregman's works include basic income, the workweek and open borders.

Basic income[edit]

Bregman approvingly cites a 1968 US proposal for a guaranteed minimum income, put forward by President Richard Nixon, among others.[28] He also cites a 1974–1979 Canadian federal government project in Dauphin, Manitoba, that temporarily eradicated poverty.[29] "The most popular study on the effects of basic income took place in Manitoba between 1974 and 1979 where everyone received a “Mincome” (minimum income) of $9,000 a year (by today's standards) from the government, no strings attached. Evelyn Forget, an economist and professor at the University of Manitoba, who looked over the data from the study says there was a 9 percent reduction in working hours among two main groups of citizens. But the reasons why give insight into how basic income can dramatically change the course of someone's life."[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Rutger Bregman: 'Soms dreigt het een grote egoshow te worden' (in Dutch). de Volkskrant.
  2. ^ "Inside the 17 March edition". The Guardian. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018. Books casts an eye over a theory of modern utopia by the Dutch wunderkind of new ideas, Rutger Bregman
  3. ^ "Biography: Rutger Bregman, author of Utopia for Realists". TED Talks. 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018. He has published four books on history, philosophy and economics. His book Utopia for Realists -- on universal basic income and other radical ideas -- has been translated in more than 20 languages. His work has been featured in The Washington Post and The Guardian and on the BBC.
  4. ^ "Curator's Picks: Top 10 TED Talks of 2017". TED Talks. nd. Retrieved 7 January 2018. The most notable talks of 2017, chosen by TED Curator Chris Anderson
  5. ^ "I Want the State to Think like an Anarchist: Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman on Why the Left Must Reclaim Utopianism". The New Statesman. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  6. ^ 'Ik heb een rotsvast vooruitgangsgeloof' (in Dutch). de Volkskrant.
  7. ^ "Rutger Bregman: 'We could cut the working week by a third'". 26 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b Bregman, Rutger C. (17 March 2018). "Look at the phone in your hand – you can thank the state for that". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Utopia for Realists: This book originated on De Correspondent". De Correspondent. nd. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  10. ^ a b Bregman, Rutger C. (2013). The History of Progress. de Bezige Bij. ISBN 978-90-2347754-9.
  11. ^ a b Rutger C. Bregman. With the knowledge of then, Current problems in the light of history , ed. de Bezige Bij, 2012, ISBN 978-90-2347212-4
  12. ^ a b Rutger C. Bregman. Free money for everyone, and five big ideas that can change the world . de Correspondent, Amsterdam, 2014, ISBN 978 90 822 5630 7
  13. ^ "Profile". TED2017. July 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  14. ^ Rutger Bregman (14 March 2017). Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World. Translated by Elizabeth Manton. Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-0316471893.
  15. ^ Rutger Bregman (14 March 2017). Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World. Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-0316471893.
  16. ^ "Utopia for Realists - The case for a universal basic income, open borders and a 15-hour workweek". The Correspondent. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  17. ^ Deglise, Fabien (27 September 2017). "Rutger Bregman et son rêve de faire de l'utopie un pays". Le Devoir. Translated by Google Translate. Pour avancer, une société a besoin de rêves, pas de cauchemars, lance Rutger Bregman, joint cette semaine aux Pays-Bas par Le Devoir. Or, quand on regarde autour de nous, on constate que ces rêves n’arrivent pas à émerger. Les gens sont pris dans la logique du pire, de la peur, de la crainte. Qu’il s’agisse de Trump, du Brexit ou des dernières élections en Allemagne, ils votent contre une perspective d’avenir plutôt que pour des solutions de remplacement, en pensant que le passé était meilleur, ce qui repose sur une vision du monde totalement erronée. Le monde était pire avant. L’humanité ne va qu’en s’améliorant, les conditions de vie, de travail, de santé aussi. Et il est temps d’ouvrir les fenêtres de nos esprits pour le voir.
  18. ^ Bregman, Rutger C. "Rutger Bregman: 'We could cut the working week by a third'". The Guardian. "Could this young Dutchman, hailed as a visionary, galvanise the left with his radical plan for a borderless future in which we are all paid for working less?
  19. ^ "Why Society's Biggest Freeloaders Are at the Top: No, wealth isn't created at the top. It is merely devoured there". 15 April 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  20. ^ Bregman, Rutger C.; Frederik, Jesse (21 April 2016). "Why garbage men earn more than bankers". Essay of the Month of Philosophy 2015. Translated by Elizabeth Manton. Lemniscate. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  21. ^ Heinze, Aleksej (4 September 2015). "Business will suffer if border crossings between European neighbours are shut". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash". TED2017. April 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash". TED2017. nd. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  24. ^ "'It's like the 'T' word is forbidden'". BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  25. ^ a b c d Tucker Carlson Blows Up at Rutger Bregman in Unaired Fox News Interview on YouTube |date=20 February 2019 NowThis News
  26. ^ a b c Wolfson, Sam (20 February 2019), Historian who confronted Davos billionaires leaks Tucker Carlson rant, The Guardian, retrieved 22 July 2019
  27. ^ "Cato Institute: Immigration". Cato Institute. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  28. ^ Jacobin:Nixon’s Basic Income Plan.
  29. ^ "A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It". HuffPost Canada. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  30. ^ Shoemaker, Natalie. "Rutger Bregman's 'Utopia for Realists' Shows Us Why We Deserve Universal Basic Income". Big Think.

Further reading[edit]