(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
What would happen if a poor man suddenly put a million in his hands? Do you think he or she would soon be back in the same financial situation as before? That's not it – and Ruther Bregman's Utopia for Realists can convince you of the fact. This is a book that has garnered considerable international attention. Two of today's most important thinkers, Steven Pinker and Zygmunt Bauman, have pressed it to their chest, not only because it is well-written, but also because it is so important with its themes. For how do we end poverty? What happens when machines take over working life? Why should one introduce citizen pay? What is the reason why it is not socially profitable for banks? How can good ideas change society? That this book has excited both future optimist Pinker and dystopist Bauman, says his. It may be the stomachs of future pessimists, but it is not a book for scavenger optimists who need something enjoyable to read on their way to their overpaid job in the oil industry.
"We are living in an amazing time," Bregman writes in the book's opening chapter, framing the misery of the past. Then I get skeptical. But then he writes, "We live in 'The Pale Paradise'." Francis Fukuyama, a thinker Bregman draws bills has said of the time that "Life is reduced to economic calculations, endless reflections on the solution to technical problems and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer needs. »Ruther Bregman, on the other hand, admires both liberalists and socialists. "The only thing we lack in the land of abundance," he writes, "is a reason for getting up in the morning." And then we lack the most important thing.
Citizen salary now! Utopia for Realists is anything but abstract and inaccessible. Unlike many academic dissertations on social problems, this author avoids blurring his case; on the contrary, he is very clear-talking. Bregman gives clear answers to what we should do to bring an end to poverty: "We should give free money to the poor."
The only thing we need in the land of abundance is a reason to get up in the morning.
In London in 2009, 13 homeless men are awarded a gift of 3000 pounds each, without committing to anything. According to the book, most of them actually did well. One got out of his heroin addiction. One and a half years after the experiment began, 8 of the 13 had gotten over their heads. Everyone had made progress in terms of personal development, and all had learned something new and looked optimistic about the future. The conclusion of many who followed the experiment was positive. For example, The Ecconomist wrote: "The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them."
With this book, the idea of a citizen's salary has been given an intelligent and well-formulated defender. The author calls this type of wage "capitalism's encounter with communism." So welcome to the capitalist communist society!
Education on the scrap heap? Many social theorists have argued that poverty is first and foremost a moral problem, and has its roots in laziness and indifference. Among other things, sociologist Charles Murray, author of the book Losing Ground, argued that state support for poor people would undermine the foundations of society and destroy the sexual morality of the poor. This book, and several others like it, put an end to all poverty reforms during Ronald Reagan's presidency.
"What will happen when no one works anymore?" asks the author. Will we waste our time on even more TV watching and pointless activities? Bregman argues that many jobs in today's society are not very meaningful. An activity does not automatically become meaningful just because you put the label "job" on it.
But when no one has to work anymore, what is the point of getting an education? Will people stop acquiring knowledge when they no longer need it to make money? It is a shortcoming of the book that it does not problematize the position of education in a society without work. If so, what happens to the part of the population that stops educating itself? I also miss a larger discussion about how class differences will develop in a virtually jobless society. Will new lower and upper classes be formed, or will all class differences disappear? Will the existing workers form a new underclass? Although Utopia for Realists describes well the many benefits of living in a society where everyone receives a citizen's salary, it underlines these important questions.
An activity does not automatically become meaningful just because you put the label "job" on it.
Light of hope. The book is at times a really enjoyable read, as when it tells of how Dublin overcame the banking crisis of the 80s, or of how President Nixon planned to end poverty in the United States before the Watergate scandal. Read the beautiful and very timely tribute to the teachers and the teaching profession, or about the concept of GDP and the man who invented it. Learn about the luddites in England in the late 1700th century, who attacked the machines with picks and shovels.
In sum: This is a good book, suitable for exciting and fruitful discussions for many years to come. And it ignites a light of hope in a world that may seem dark and impenetrable. That alone makes the book worth reading.