It’s surely obvious that the current economic system is not working, what with increasing inequality, increasingly low wages at the bottom, squeezed public finances, financial crashes, resulting populism, ever-increasing automation, ineffectively-addressed global warming and so on. And it seems equally clear that the global elite haven’t a clue what to do about it and plan to just let it run while they continue their comfortable lives.
Rutger Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There brings up the heretical suggestion that we can do something about it, all we need are the visionary ideas and the determination to follow them through.
There is no reason why we cannot end poverty, give free money to everyone (basic income), move towards a shorter working week, pay important workers like nurses and bin men a commensurate salary, and open borders once the imperative to move anywhere but home is removed.
That sounds like a Utopia, you say. Yes it is. But we need a stretching vision of where we want to get to and then maybe we’ll start moving there.
Bregman cites the fascinating story of how neoliberal free market ideas moved from being the interest of just a few economists in the years after WW2, when Keynes dominated economic thought, to becoming the dominant force behind world economics from the 1970s to the present. These ideas have now run their course and are actually the cause of the predicaments we increasingly find ourselves in.
We desperately need these new Utopian ideas to gain momentum. So go read Utopia for Realists.
What human energies could be freed up for a New Renaissance!