Rutger Bregman Quotes

Who is Rutger Bregman?

Rutger Bregman is a Dutch historian known for his books 'Humankind: A Hopeful History' and 'Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World' in which he supports the proposal for a Universal Basic Income.

Born April 26, 1988

Books by Rutger Bregman


Best 49 Quotes by Rutger Bregman

“I don’t want to live in a society where we are dependent on the charity of one guy and his wife.”

Rutger Bregman

“I think the state should think like an anarchist.”

Rutger Bregman

“I’m advocating open borders for everyone, which is obviously the most utopian idea of my book.”

Rutger Bregman

“It feels like I’m at a firefighters conference and no one’s allowed to speak about water.”

Rutger Bregman

“New ideas start on the fringes and they move toward the center.”

Rutger Bregman

“Philanthropy is not a substitute for democracy or proper taxation or a good welfare state.”

Rutger Bregman

“You’ve got all these people who earned their money through exploitation, rent-seeking, you name it, and then they do a little bit of philanthropy to distract from all of that.”

Rutger Bregman

Humankind Quotes

“A major study among 230,000 people across 142 countries revealed that a mere 13 per cent actually feel ‘engaged’ at work. Thirteen per cent. When you wrap your brain around these kinds of figures, you realise how much ambition and energy are going to waste.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Also taboo among hunter-gatherers was stockpiling and hoarding. For most of our history we didn’t collect things, but friendships. This never failed to amaze European explorers, who expressed incredulity at the generosity of the peoples they encountered. ‘When you ask for something they have, they never say no,’ Columbus wrote in his log. ‘To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.'”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Any time we crossed paths with a stranger we could stop to chat and that person was a stranger no more.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Boredom may be the wellspring of creativity.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Civilisation has become synonymous with peace and progress, and wilderness with war and decline. In reality, for most of human existence, it was the other way around.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Cynicism is a theory of everything. The cynic is always right.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Dictators and despots, governors and generals – they all to often resort to brute force to prevent scenarios that exist only in their own heads, on the assumption that the average Joe is ruled by self-interest, just like them.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

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“Do you think capitalism’s ascent in the eighteenth century was a natural development? Hardly. It wasn’t the invisible hand of the market that gently shepherded peasants from their farms into factories, but the ruthless hand of the state, bayonet at the ready.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Historians point out that if the Enlightenment gave us equality, it also invented racism.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“If you’re an avid follower of the news, it’s easy to get trapped by hopelessness. What’s the point of recycling, paying taxes and donating to charities when others shirk their duty? If you’re tempted by such thoughts, remember that cynicism is just another word for laziness. It’s an excuse not to take responsibility. Because if you believe most people are rotten, you don’t need to get worked up about injustice. The world is going to hell either way.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Imagine for a moment that a new drug comes on the market. It’s super-addictive, and in no time everyone’s hooked. Scientists investigate and soon conclude that the drug causes, I quote, ‘a misperception of risk, anxiety, lower mood levels, learned helplessness, contempt and hostility towards others, and desensitization'.

That drug is the news.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“In practice the people are not in power at all. Instead we’re allowed to decide who holds power over us.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“It is easy to make things hard, but hard to make them easy.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“It's when crisis hits – when the bombs fall or the floodwaters rise – that we humans become our best selves.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

Products by Rutger Bregman

“It’s hard not to ask: why? Why did we ever think it would be a good idea to settle in one place?”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“It’s no coincidence that Norway boasts the lowest recidivism rate in the world. By contrast, the American prison system has among the highest. In the US, 60 per cent of inmates are back in the slammer after two years, compared to 20 per cent in Norway.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Last and best of all, we’ve entered the most peaceful age ever.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“News is to the mind what sugar is to the body.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Newspapers like the Daily Mail once spread stories about bloodthirsty Huns, now they report invasions of thieving foreigners, murderous immigrants and raping refugees who are – remarkably – both stealing jobs and too lazy to work, while managing to run roughshod over time-honoured traditions and values in their spare time.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“On average, we spend one hour a day getting our news fix. Added up over a lifetime, that’s three years.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“One of the biggest sources of distance these days is the news. Watching the evening news may leave you feeling more attuned to reality, but the truth is that it skews your view of the world. The news tends to generalise people into groups like politicians, elites, racists and refugees. Worse, the news zooms in on the bad apples.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“One thing is certain: a better world doesn’t start with more empathy. If anything, empathy makes us less forgiving, because the more we identify with victims, the more we generalise about our enemies.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“People are social animals, but we have a fatal flaw: we feel more affinity for those who are most like us.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“People in power literally act like someone with brain damage. Not only are they more impulsive, self-centred, reckless, arrogant and rude than average, they are more likely to cheat on their spouses, are less attentive to other people and less interested in others’ perspectives. They’re also more shameless.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Play is not subject to fixed rules and regulations, but is open-ended and unfettered. It’s not an Astroturfed field with parents shouting at the sidelines; it’s kids frolicking outside without parental supervision, making up their own games as they go along.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Reading through the 1300 pages of interviews it's patently obvious that Eichman was no brainless bureaucrat, He was a fanatic. He acted not out of indifference, but out of conviction. Like Stanley Milgram's experimental subjects, he did evil because he believed he was doing good.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“So what is this radical idea?
That most people, deep down, are pretty decent.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“The better the story you spin about yourself, the bigger your piece of the pie.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“The mechanism that makes us the kindest species also makes us the cruelest species on the planet.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“The people behind Facebook, Twitter and Google know you well. They know what shocks and horrifies you, they know what makes you click. They know how to grab your attention and hold it so they can serve you the most lucrative helping of personalised ads.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Think about the earliest written texts: these weren’t books of romantic poetry, but long lists of outstanding debts.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“Toddlers don't need tests or grades to learn to walk or talk.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“We can choose to organise our cities and states in new ways that benefit everyone. The curse of civilisation can be lifted.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“What seems unreasonable, unrealistic and impossible today can turn out to be inevitable tomorrow. It’s time for a new realism. It’s time for a new view of humankind.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

“You only get more of the most beautiful things in life when you give them away: trust, friendship, peace.”

Rutger Bregman
Humankind

Products by Rutger Bregman

On the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos Quotes

“Some people believe that the global elite go to Davos and plan for world domination, but it’s much scarier than that.”

Rutger Bregman
On the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos

“They’d rather listen to a Buddhist monk talk about meditation or hear about power poses, but they don’t like to talk about the source of tax evasion. They want to hear about how individuals can change their lives, rather than how structural reform can affect inequality or climate change.”

Rutger Bregman
On the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos

“You go there and you find out that all those people are pretty nice. But friendliness can stand in the way of justice.”

Rutger Bregman
On the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos

Utopia for Realists Quotes

“In the twenty-first century, the real elite are those born not in the right family or the right class but in the right country.”

Rutger Bregman
Utopia for Realists

“Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of cash. It’s not about stupidity.”

Rutger Bregman
Utopia for Realists

“Productive women, seniors, or immigrants won’t displace men, young adults, or hardworking citizens from their jobs. In fact, they create more employment opportunities. A bigger workforce means more consumption, more demand, more jobs.”

Rutger Bregman
Utopia for Realists

“The great milestones of civilization always have the whiff of utopia about them at first. According to renowned sociologist Albert Hirschman, utopias are initially attacked on three grounds: futility (it’s not possible), danger (the risks are too great), and perversity (it will degenerate into dystopia). But Hirschman also wrote that almost as soon as a utopia becomes a reality, it often comes to be seen as utterly commonplace.”

Rutger Bregman
Utopia for Realists