Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Utopia for Realists, and How We Can Get There, by Rutger Bregman

Second paragraph of third chapter:
The widespread interest was hardly surprising. After all, it wasn't just some shifty mafia-run gambling den opening its doors that day. Harrah's Cherokee was and still is a massive luxury casino owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and its opening marked the end of a ten-year-long political tug of war. One tribal leader had even predicted that "gambling would be the Cherokee 's damnation,' and North Carolina's governor had tried to block the project at every turn.
Originally published in Dutch with the title Gratis geld voor iedereen (Free Money for Everyone), this is a provocative and polemical book on how to fix the problems of the world today, pre-COVID. I found it a bit of a mixed bag. I am undecided tending negative on a universal basic income, which is the biggest single idea in the book; it is interesting that, on Bregman's account, all the academic studies showing that it doesn't work have been faked and all those showing that it does have not. I did find the story of how Nixon almost got it passed by the US Congress pretty fascinating (and it also demonstrates the hurdles faced by UBI supporters in even framing the argument).

I was actually a bit disappointed by the chapter on migration, where Bregman like me is fundamentally libertarian, because I wished he had argued the point harder and with more direct reference to the misreadings of the recent migration crisis. On the other hand, I was very sympathetic to the chapter on ideas and changing the world, and in particular his scorn for what he calls "underdog socialists" who are more interested in winning the argument than winning actual votes. The same could and should be said for internet slacktivists.

A breezy and sparky read, and I'll be interested to see where he goes. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired this year. Next in that pile is Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves.
Tags: bookblog 2020, writer: rutger bregman
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