Rutger Bregman

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Rutger C. Bregman
Rutger Bregman
Bregman in 2015
Born (1988-04-26) 26 April 1988 (age 30)
Renesse, Netherlands
EducationUtrecht University
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 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 twenty languages. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists "became a national bestseller and sparked a basic income movement that soon made international headlines." 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"[1] and by TED Talks as "one of Europe's most prominent young thinkers."[2] 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.[3]


Bregman earned his BA in history at Utrecht University. His MA in history, also at Utrecht, concentrated on cities, states and citizenship.


Bregman 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,[4] and was twice nominated for the European Press Prize for his work there.[5] In 2013 he received the annual book award from the think tank Liberales for most remarkable Dutch-language non-fiction book, The History of Progress.[6][7][8] 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.[9]

Utopia for Realists[edit]

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World[10] promotes a more productive and equitable life based an 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.[11] It was originally written as articles in Dutch for the online journal De Correspondent.[12]

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."[13]

The Dutch realist painter Wim Heldens, whose style is similar to that of the Dutch interior painters such as Pieter de Hoogh, Johannes Vermeer, and Gerard ter Borch, depicts a hooded, saintly figure holding a hard-cover copy of Utopia for Realists in his oil painting Saint Hoody.[14]

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.[6][7][8]

His articles have been published in The Guardian,[4][15] The Washington Post, the BBC, Evonomics,[16][17] and in The Conversation.[18]

TED Talks[edit]

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 a solution to end poverty.[19][20]

World Economic Forum[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.[21]

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.[22] He also cites a 1974–1979 Canadian federal government project in Dauphin, Manitoba, that temporarily eradicated poverty.[23] "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."[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "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
  4. ^ a b Bregman, Rutger C. (17 March 2018). "Look at the phone in your hand – you can thank the state for that". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Utopia for Realists: This book originated on De Correspondent". De Correspondent. nd. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b Bregman, Rutger C. (2013). The History of Progress. de Bezige Bij. ISBN 978-90-2347754-9.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "Profile". TED2017. July 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  10. ^ Rutger Bregman (2017-03-14). 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.
  11. ^ Rutger Bregman (2017-03-14). Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World. Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-0316471893.
  12. ^ "Utopia for Realists - The case for a universal basic income, open borders and a 15-hour workweek". The Correspondent. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Wim Heldens. 2017 Retrieved 7 January 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ 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?
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Heinze, Aleksej (4 September 2015). "Business will suffer if border crossings between European neighbours are shut". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash". TED2017. April 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash". TED2017. nd. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  21. ^ "'It's like the 'T' word is forbidden'". BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  22. ^ Jacobin:Nixon’s Basic Income Plan.
  23. ^ "A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It". HuffPost Canada. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  24. ^ Shoemaker, Natalie. "Rutger Bregman's 'Utopia for Realists' Shows Us Why We Deserve Universal Basic Income". Big Think.