The publisher describes this book as ‘an incisive, comprehensive history’ that ‘tells the story of how a fringe idea conceived in economics seminars went global’. First of all, Basic Income was not ‘conceived in economics seminars’: it was conceived by such revolutionary thinkers as Thomas Spence at the end of the eighteenth century; and secondly, the history that we are offered is one of debate about cash transfers of various kinds, mainly in the context of a history of United States political economy. The publisher goes on to suggest that the story being told ‘reveals the most significant shift in political culture since the end of the Cold War’. It is true that the story that we are told reveals the global shift towards a neoliberal hegemonic discourse: but only because the history is written in such a way as to do that. There are other ways of writing the history of Basic Income. For a history that really is comprehensive, the reader should refer to Basic Income: A history, published by Edward Elgar Publishing—a history that started life at the same Cambridge conference that gave birth to the book under review; and two short histories can be found in the first edition of the Palgrave International Handbook of Basic Income and in the forthcoming second edition. There are many ways of writing Basic Income’s history, of which Jäger’s and Vargas’s is just one.

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