Episode 32: The century-long project to build a global nation, with Hassan Damluji

Episode 32: The century-long project to build a global nation, with Hassan Damluji

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

What would it take to create on a planetary level the same fuzzy feelings people have for their country? Let’s start with taxes…

If globalists want to build a more united world, they need to look at how nation-states did it – at a smaller scale – in the last couple centuries, says Hassan Damluji, author of The Responsible Globalist. It’s a 100-year project, but one we can start now with concrete steps, he adds.

Note: this episode is a rerun of a June 2020 interview, in a new edit.

Show notes

00:00 Introduction
01:42 How the nation brought people together
04:48 Nationalism vs. patriotism vs. globalism
08:45 How to create a global sense of belonging
15:32 Why we might want to stop talking about immigration
18:40 The rise of a global culture
24:11 Let's start with fixing the global tax system…
28:34... and then the United Nations
33:57 Outro

🐦 Follow Hassan on Twitter
📚 The Responsible Globalist: What Citizens of the World Can Learn from Nationalism. Hassan Damluji. Penguin. 2019.

Music by Ofshane via Youtube’s audio library


Transcript

Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuse typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

[00:00:00] No doubt there are people under the flag of nationalism who have killed or abused others. No doubt there are smoky rooms where people are being cynical about how they can make money,Hassan Damluji: [00:00:11] but there's nothing inherent about the nationalist project that means you have to be mean, and there's nothing inherent about the globalist project that means you have to be a reckless capitalist.

[00:00:21] Introduction

[00:00:21] Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:30] Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.

[00:00:34] I'm doing a bit of a cheeky rerun this week, while I finalize the new site, which is mere days from release. This is a conversation I had last year. It was only the third episode on the podcast actually so many of you, newer listeners, may have missed it. And it is one of those nerdy political chats that I just absolutely loved.

[00:00:51] Hassan Damluji is Middle East director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He's also the author of The Responsible Globalist: What Citizens of the World Can Learn from Nationalism, a book in which I have left many margin notes and post-its. We talked about globalism and nationalism, why we may need to stop talking about immigration a bit and battles that global citizens should actually be putting all their energy into.

[00:01:15] The conversation remains incredibly current. And if you've already listened, it's actually a new edit. I cut out the June 2020 pandemic talk that was a bit outdated and put back in some of the things that I had to cut for length. So it is worth a new listen.

[00:01:31] You say that globalists should learn from nationalists, that the nation was in fact a very successful idea. Can you tell me a bit about that and why you start there?

[00:01:42] How the nation brought people together

Hassan Damluji: [00:01:42] You know I think there's two parts of it. One is a question of is this true or not? And the other is a question of how can we build narratives that do actually bring people back together? And what you want is a narrative that is both true, has some basis in fact and history and also is actually helpful because narratives need to serve a purpose and not just descriptions of the past.

[00:02:05] It's paradoxical in this world where it's nationalists against globalists to actually make the case that the nation is a step towards globalism or that the nation is actually the model we should adopt for a global cooperation. But when you really step back, I think it's kind of obvious.

[00:02:24] I mean, what would a united world look like other than Yeah. people feeling, on a global level, something like what they do about their countrymen? That feeling that I am French, you're French and therefore. although we may be very different and have different accents and support different football teams and we may not like each other, at the end of the day, because I'm French and you're French, my taxes should go towards paying for your health care. And we should both have a vote. And if there's more of you than me, then you should choose the government rather than me. That is the basic premise of the nation.

[00:02:59] And if you believe in a more united world, then that kind of feeling, of being all in it together, is surely what we want.

[00:03:08] Some people have felt that nationalism means by definition hating foreigners. Whereas actually we've always disliked people that we'd never met before or from the other tribe or somewhere over there. So that's not what nationalism brought along. That's just the inherent um, fear of the other that humans have. What nationalism did is to say, we are all a nation together. This isn't just the land of Louis the 14th or the emperor or the English King or whatever. But actually this is a land, this is a state that belongs to us all. And that somehow although it's not perfectly true, somehow we should be equal.

[00:03:49] So actually the nation was a very beautiful thing. which never in its earliest creation or in the different iterations of thinking about what it might be, it never was limited to, it has to be a language group, where it has to be people of the same religion, or it has to be people this side of, of that mountain range, Switzerland is a nation with many languages. India is a nation with many languages and many. religions. The Arab nation was spread across seas and mountain ranges... So people have always dreamed big about what a nation could be and it's human frailty and the fear of the other that we've always had that has held us back. The problem isn't the nation. So I think that very, very truthfully the nation was a concept that brought us further towards better collaboration as a world rather than took us away from it.

[00:04:43] But also there's that element of how actually are we going to bring people together?

[00:04:48] Nationalism vs. patriotism vs. globalism

David Miliband, when I discussed my book with him, said to me, "yeah, I can't endorse this because I think that nationalism is bad and patriotism is good." And that's become a very common thing where people would say, "yeah, yeah. Nationalism is the word we use for everything bad. And we use the word patriotism for something that's good."

[00:05:07] Isabelle Roughol: [00:05:07] There was a famous Macron speech that said exactly that.

[00:05:11] Hassan Damluji: [00:05:11] Yeah, it's become very common but they both ultimately come down to similar things.

[00:05:16] What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism in its root? 'Patria' is just the homeland. It has no link in its origin to the political system you have, or your belief about belonging. Nationalism is not loyalty to the land, it's loyalty to the nation. And the nation is that group of people to whom you belong. So actually there's something interesting and positive about nationalism as a word in its origin. It's come to mean everything bad. I would propose that if you want to win over people who do feel that nationalism is something they believe in, telling them they have to reject that word and adopt a new word, it's unnecessary and unhelpful. We don't need to tell everyone to adopt a new word called patriotism. We can just convince them that there's nothing about nationalism that needs to be evil, or that needs to be wrong.

[00:06:10] Isabelle Roughol: [00:06:11] And speaking of words, there's actually a couple of words that strike me in the book. One is "globalist", which you use, even though it's kind of become poison to debate, and I'm curious why you're using it. And then the other one is "Western," which you seem to dislike profoundly.

[00:06:29] Hassan Damluji: [00:06:29] Yeah. I'm intentionally taking on the poisoning of terminology. I'm taking on the idea that the nation -- this beautiful concept of us all being in it together -- is actually inherently evil because it inherently pits us against each other. And I'm also taking on the idea that globalism should be a word that means evil people in a smoky room plotting to increase inequality or undermine democracy.

[00:06:58] No doubt there are people under the flag of nationalism who have killed or abused others. No doubt there are smoky rooms where people are being cynical about how they can make money and not being very thoughtful about the poor, but there's nothing inherent about the nationalist project that means you have to be mean, and there's nothing inherent about the globalist project that means you have to be a reckless capitalist.

[00:07:23] What is globalism? It's just the "ism" of the world. It's just the idea that the lens through which you look at belonging, the lens through which you look at success in a particular project, is a global one. And anyone at a time of coronavirus who says that there is no important global sort of plane on which we have to think or lens through which we have to view the world is wrong.

[00:07:48] So why, why do we need to reject the word globalism and invent a new one? Why don't we just resurrect this word from the frankly unreasonable charge to which it's been described.

[00:08:01] Isabelle Roughol: [00:08:01] Yeah, that's fair. For the anecdote, I wrote a column that then became this podcast, and it was originally titled "The last globalist". It was very much the spirit of it, but it was just like waving a red cape in front of a bull in terms of the comments that you might get. You're brave to have held onto that word.

[00:08:18] Hassan Damluji: [00:08:18] You can say brave, you can say cynical. I mean, it's good to have a debate, right? You want to say something that's interesting. I think it's not just the terminology, but also the arguments I would say are more interesting, but actually let's wave that red flag in front of the bull because we need to discuss these things . So I think there's some value in, calling out some of the implications of this even if that means, upsetting people, because they have certain assumptions which are untrue.

[00:08:45] How to create a global sense of belonging

[00:08:45] Isabelle Roughol: [00:08:45] So how do we dream bigger and make that sentiment of nation be something that encompasses the whole of humanity? Like how do we get people to feel a sense of belonging to a global nation?

[00:08:59] Hassan Damluji: [00:08:59] Yeah, it's a great question and I think part of what my book is trying to say is that that is the question. If you believe that the world should come together, if you're worried about coronavirus and you're thinking " I want the world to collaborate," the answer is not just about which international meeting does this president needs to make that speech, or what is the technical framework for cooperation? The question we need to be asking is exactly the one that you just raised: How can we inculpate right. more of a feeling of belonging at a global level amongst people? Because unless we have that, you won't get political leaders doing the right thing and you won't have international coordination mechanisms be successful.

[00:09:45] The reason why the UN is strained is not because it was designed badly, it's because countries are at loggerheads. And the reason they're at loggerheads is because there are people, at a basic level, don't have the kind of trust that would say to their presidents. "don't be at loggerheads this is crazy." They're not getting that message. So what we need to do is create that feeling that then translates into politicians having an incentive to collaborate. Then everything else will come next.

[00:10:14] So how do you do it? I think, I think there's three types of things you have to do.

[00:10:19] One is how we talk about ourselves. And you mentioned my dislike of the word West or Western. If you believe that we should collaborate as a world, if you believe that at the end all people are equal, then it's very unhelpful to divide the world into an us and a them. Especially when that us is incredibly poorly defined and has no real meaning.

[00:10:45] It's fine to talk about French people because that's meaningful. It's people with a certain citizenship, the right to vote in a particular country. There is a legal and a meaningful definition of a French, which I hope people will not be ethnic about and I hope they'll be broad about. But there is a meaning of the word French.

[00:11:02] There is no meaning of the word Western, when you really dig it down other than my kind of people. Or if you're not Western those kinds of people. It's just an us and them word.

[00:11:14] It's " Oh, but the West is really Christendom," I've heard people say. So well what about Mexicans? Oh well... and then people try and tell me that they're not really Christian because they've got half Aztec beliefs. Or actually there's something about, Christianity is new in Mexico. Come on, Christianity has been in Mexico longer than it's been in the United States of America. And really when you come down to it, it's just something about the Mexicans that aren't us enough that makes it they're a bit more them than us. And so they're not quite Western. Or maybe they're half Western because they're a little bit like us but they're not quite like us.

[00:11:47] When it comes down to it, this West versus not West is just a way of dividing the world into people like me and people not like me. And that is not how you bring people together. So that's one important part of it.

[00:12:00] But I think there's all sorts of ways that we need to talk about ourselves and talk about what we're about that can bring us together as a world.

[00:12:10] The entire world, every country and state that's a member of the United Nations, 193 countries signed on, what's called the global goals, otherwise known as the sustainable development goals, in 2015. And that's the first time in history that every single country has come together and agreed on a single plan, a single set of goals for the world. So that is where the consensus lies. And that includes amazing things like gender equality.

[00:12:38] You may not think that every country would sign up to gender equality or climate change, but they did. And so there's an enormous amount that we do agree on that we can focus on. And if individual people are against gender equality, I guarantee you, their government signed up to it. And so that's the place to start and getting consensus. So the way we talk about ourselves is incredibly important.

[00:13:03] The second set of things you need to do is be clear to people who may be threatened by a united world or by globalization, that really important things aren't going to change.

[00:13:19] People see globalization as a revolution or almost a war that is going to sweep away everything they hold dear. If you are a less wealthy, less skilled person in a richer country, the most valuable thing you possess is your passport and your vote. And the idea that we're going to have completely open borders and equal treatment by my government of all people, whether they're a citizen or not, is a great threat to a lot of people.

[00:13:48] So we need to be clear that the nation state is here to stay. You keep your passport. You can actually continue to vote and have a government that can choose to reduce immigration if you feel the pace of change is too fast. So explaining to people and being clear that certain things are staying the same, that's number two.

[00:14:07] And then the third thing is the things we really do need to work on to change right now. And there's something around tax. The tax system in the world is one that engenders inequality, lack of faith in the global system and anger at the global system that we have.

[00:14:25] And the other is the global political system. The UN is a great step forward but we do not have any kind of consultation beyond the members of the Security Council before war is legitimized. We do not have mechanisms for ensuring that refugee settlement is fair. do need to make progress as well on the global political system not to end the nation state and dissolve or borders, but just to strengthen the decisions that we do make as a world, like is a war allowed or not allowed, and how do we deal with some of these problems like climate change or refugee settlement that do cross borders.

[00:15:04] So it was a big question and a long answer, but those are the three things that we need to get right: how we talk about ourselves, what we keep the same, but also what we do work now to change.

[00:15:15] Isabelle Roughol: [00:15:15] And you touched on that and you talk about it at length in the book, I think probably the biggest failing so far of the globalist movement has been in dismissing the people that are hurt at home and, and the way we talk about people that might've voted for Brexit or Trump.

[00:15:32] Why we might want to stop talking about immigration

You talk about the thing that probably would be the hardest for people like me to swallow, which is "let go of immigration, for now at least, as an issue." Can you talk to me a bit about that and why that is?

[00:15:45] Hassan Damluji: [00:15:45] No one is a bigger fan of immigration than me. Both of my parents, one of them was the child of immigrants. The other was an immigrant himself. Most of my close friends are from diaspora background and I wouldn't begrudge anybody the right to move country in order to seek a better life. I think immigration is good for the immigrant and it's good for the society in most cases.

[00:16:14] But what I acknowledge, that I think many people who are of a similar persuasion to me seem to be very forgetful of, is that I am one person with one vote. And I have the right to try and convince others to vote the same way as me. But what I do not have the right to do is to look at a democratic process and say, "well, sure, but most of my countrymen are just racist and therefore I ignore that democratic process."

[00:16:44] All I want to get across is something really basic, which is that as we try and build a better world, we do not forget the importance of the democracies that we live in now.

[00:16:59] And if like me, you disagree with people who vote for reductions in immigration, you just have to live with it in the same way that they live with it when we win elections.

[00:17:11] There are all sorts of ways that the elites can gang up and ignore democratic votes and I think it's really important that when people feel so strongly as they do about issues of immigration, that we bear in mind the consequences, and actually avoid undermining them in that way. And Brexit is the consequence of a long period where those concerns weren't listened to. I think there was a time when you could have kept Britain in the EU by doing more to listen to people's complaints. And there was the idea that actually what we do is we just find ways to ignore them and eventually it becomes an unstoppable force.

[00:17:49] So I'm not saying that immigration should be forgotten about as an issue that we care about. I'm saying that we should be more optimistic that we will win the arguments in the longterm. The reason we'll win the arguments in the long term is that over time, people do become less racist when they're exposed to other countries. Over time, there is an opportunity to build a case that we are as a human race in it together.

[00:18:17] And once we won that battle, people won't worry about immigration, but forcing immigration down their throats now because you're okay with it, even if the majority isn't, is not the way to build a global community. It's the way to lead to a showdown, And which we may not win. And if we do win, we don't want to show down. We want to win the argument, not the war.

[00:18:40] The rise of a global culture

Isabelle Roughol: [00:18:40] So speaking of, of global community and of these ideas advancing, I was struck in the past few weeks that the Black Lives Matter movement um, has spread across the globe in a way that, that we hadn't seen before. And and before that it was me too. And I wonder, are those the seedlings of a global conscience or is it just American culture spreading further? How do you think about that?

[00:19:08] Hassan Damluji: [00:19:08] It's a great point. Despite all of the challenges to global cooperation and all of the hate and mistrust and the wars, there is amazing evidence that the world is starting to become more like a community of trust, more like a nation, more like a group of people that sees itself as a single evolving story. And the Me Too movement was an amazing example of that. My friends and colleagues in China told me it was the first ever time that our social movements had crossed the great firewall of China as they call it to become really embedded in Chinese social media, but also politics and and dialogue and society, even though it started in America. The Me Too movement is truly a global, social movement -- is, remains a global social movement.

[00:20:03] And, again coming from America -- and it's no accident because they have a powerful voice -- the Black Lives Matter is another one where you've got simultaneous demonstrations around the world. all stemming from a single African-American being killed by the police. People are seeing the relevance, even though it wasn't their police force necessarily who killed someone in that incident, they see the relevance of this issue in that community and it's become a global issue.

[00:20:34] And the other, of course, is climate change where some of the great global action is not coming out of America, especially because the American government is not very good on climate change, but it's Greta Thunberg and it's the Europeans... Now will we increasingly see a world where some of these global movements don't come from North America or Europe? Probably we will. And hopefully we will.

[00:20:56] You asked whether this is just an extension of American culture. No, I don't think it's just an American culture taking over the world, but the truth is that in this nation-in-waiting that the world is, as in all nations, some voices are louder than others. As any nation comes together, there are power dynamics. Some people have a louder voice than others and that's inevitable.

[00:21:22] But what is good is if we can try and counteract that, we try as much as possible to bring in diverse voices. And that's also happening because America's proportion of the global GDP is falling over time although it's still the richest country in the world. It's already happening that it's not only European and North American voices that are shaping global discourse.

[00:21:43] So yes, we should worry about the dominance of certain parts of the world. But what we shouldn't do is see this as inherently a bad thing. It's a good thing that we're starting to talk about the same things, because then we can start to solve the same problems. And just to give you a silly example. We all, communicate these days and emojis, some of us even more than we communicate in English or, or our own language and emojis come from Japan.

[00:22:09] And that's just one of many, many examples you can give, but it's not entirely an American culture that is started to spread.

[00:22:16] Isabelle Roughol: [00:22:16] And there's K-pop fans as well which are an interesting global community these days.

[00:22:22] Hassan Damluji: [00:22:22] Of course, and more and more you're seeing that: pieces of culture from all over the world that are contributing to this mainstream global culture. We should encourage that and and not tell everybody that their culture has to get back in its box and that no white person should wear a kimono or or, or eat hummus or, whatever it is, problematic as, as those things are. Because all cultural exchange is inescapably part of power dynamics and those power dynamics are problematic. But putting everyone back in their boxes isn't the solution. The solution is undercutting those power dynamics themselves, but in a context where we are culturally sharing, not one in which we all stick to some pure version of our ethnicity.

[00:23:09] Isabelle Roughol: [00:23:09] Yes. You have a couple of pages on cultural appropriation, which um, I think are just brilliant. And if I, if I can offer a suggestion, they should be a pullout essay that you publish somewhere. I think it's, it's really interesting.

[00:23:22] Hassan Damluji: [00:23:22] That's kind of you to say. I mean, it's a difficult issue because people are very passionate about this issue. And of course there's a lot of truth behind the concerns that people have about cultural appropriation in the sense that it is unfair that Elvis Presley made, and his white music managers made vastly more money than all of the black musicians who had paved the way for his music to become popular. It is unfair that so much of the profits of culture go to people who weren't necessarily the originators of it. But we can undo that without taking away this idea that in this global culture that's emerging, it shouldn't all be English. It shouldn't all be American. It should actually be a project of sharing.

[00:24:11] Let's start with fixing the global tax system...

Isabelle Roughol: [00:24:11] Hmm. I want to talk about, before we finish about some of the concrete solutions that you offer, which you mentioned before, which is the tax system and the reformed, global governance. Maybe start, start with the tax system. You have a very concrete proposal.

[00:24:27] Hassan Damluji: [00:24:27] That's right. Globalists are accused of wanting to create an unrestrained free market, and that would be a bad idea for globalists to espouse. globalist that what they want to make most progress on is unlimited immigration. That also for reasons we discussed would be not the most helpful. What I try and do in the book is point globalists in the direction of the things that we should work hardest at because these are the things that will allow us to make the most progress across the board. One of them is about tax.

[00:25:01] Taxes can sound boring or inconsequential or a side issue, but actually, it's fundamental to the way that communities and states and economic systems function. Because it's the only way that we have to at scale gather money In order to do joint projects of value to us all, and also look at how we redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. And Any community needs to think about how it tackles inequality and how it does joint projects together. You can't do any of that without tax.

[00:25:35] The world -- if it's a nation in waiting, which is, I suppose, the grand thesis -- then from a tax point of view, it's like pre-revolution France. One of the causes of the French revolution was the fact that the nobles didn't pay tax. And it was one of the reasons that Britain didn't have a revolution at that time and France did, despite the same ideas bubbling up in both countries. There was such a feeling of unfairness about the system in France, that it tipped over into destruction of the Ancien Regime. That's the system we have now globally. The global nobility, the people who are accused of being globalists in the kind of negative phrase, they aren't paying as much tax as you and I. And that is a problem that we've got to change.

[00:26:24] The way we have to tackle this problem is through global cooperation, because if you are very wealthy, your assets -- and equally, if you're a multinational company, your profits -- are a global resource. They are earned globally and they can be parked anywhere in the world. And so individual states saying "I'm going to put my taxes up, I'm going to put my taxes down," can frankly just be ignored unless we collaborate together to say, "no, there's going to be no way. you can hide this money and completely evade the taxation There's going to be nowhere that you can park these profits"

[00:27:01] It was very famous in France that Macron removed the wealth tax and may be, he had an argument in the current environment, which is to say if only France has a wealth tax, is pointless because all the wealth will just leave, but it was a great tragedy. Because what you really want, rather than France feeling bullied into removing its wealth tax, is that we have a coordinated global wealth tax that says all countries must have at least some tax on wealth, because if they don't, it will flee.

[00:27:32] And the the other element is that all countries must coordinate to ensure that multinational companies' profits are fairly distributed across the countries in which they're earned. So that then any country, Britain, France, Japan, any country, the wealthy from my country are going to pay tax to me because there's no point putting it somewhere else, they would just pay taxes somewhere else. And the companies are gonna pay me tax based on the profits they're making in my jurisdiction.

[00:28:00] We've got to close that loophole otherwise. the unfairness that people experience and accuse globalism of being that unfairness, when really it's just a tax issue, will build and build. And we saw through the Panama papers how these ideas of anger about the elite and what they do with their wealth is another -- it's like Me Too, it's like the climate change -- it's a global issue that people are coming together around. And that's a good thing. But if it's not then taken into action, like any of these things, it will bubble over into anger.

[00:28:34] ... and then the United Nations

Isabelle Roughol: [00:28:34] And then you mentioned global governance, reforming the United nations, which seems like a thing that we've talked about for as long as the United Nations has existed. Perhaps even harder to accomplish than a globalized tax system.

[00:28:49] Hassan Damluji: [00:28:49] Yeah. The great thing about taxation and reforming global taxation is that nobody should disagree with it except really people who are trying to escape paying taxes. If you are a Trump voter, if you are a Le Pen voter, if you're a Brexit voter, if you are trying to unwind international cooperation on many fronts, you still want your government to be able to tax the wealthy so that they can build a hospital in your town. Equally if you're a global citizen you also want taxation to be fair. And because there's no dispute on that, we've made amazing progress already in recent years on tax reform. I think we can go a lot further and there's there's really hope that if we put even more pressure on our governments, they'll make even more progress very soon.

[00:29:39] On the other hand improving the global political system is very, very difficult The reason that I take it on in the book is that we cannot stand here as global citizens and say, it's fine that there are five permanent members of the Security Council who hold essentially all of the power over decisions on war and peace. We cannot stand here and say that it's okay that there's so much opportunity for unfairness in how countries deal with each other. We have to continue to make the case that the feral world we're pushing for has to be one with a fairer system.

[00:30:19] Now, although it's difficult, the changes you need to make in the international political system are remarkably little. When I talk in my book about building a global nation, people get very scared because they think I'm talking about building a global state like France or like Britain at a global level, and of course that's not true. A nation is simply a group of people that believe they belong together and should be governed in that own interest by people who represent them.

[00:30:43] A global nation does not have to have a single municipality that governs everything in your life, but it does need to have, at the global level, a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. That is the one criteria that defines a state. And we have already a UN security council that in theory has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

[00:31:09] The problem is it doesn't have a monopoly because wars go ahead without it. And it's not legitimate because no one thinks that five countries should be able to choose the face of the world. So all we have to do is reform the way that the United Nations votes on legitimate violence and when violence is illegitimate. And if we can do that by allowing every country to vote so that it's fair, but also with a population, but also a GDP weighting to recognize real politics so that America would have an outsized votes as it needs to in recognition of its extra power -- then what you would have is a system of really debating, which was, should be allowed, which are violations, that people could Oh, the time buy into. It would take a long, long time to get this done, but if we don't call for it, then it'll take forever and it still won't.

[00:32:02] A century-long project we must start now

Isabelle Roughol: [00:32:02] What is the timeline on all this? I think we're about the same generation mid thirties. Do we see this in our lifetime?

[00:32:09] Hassan Damluji: [00:32:09] One of the reasons that I think it's really important to think about the way of creating a unified world or a more united world like a nation, the project to build a global nation, is that when you think about it like a nation, you suddenly have all of these examples of how nations have succeeded and failed, which you can use to think about how we might succeed and fail and what it might take. We can look at how long it takes time a nation as a kind of guide.

[00:32:38] And the answer is it takes about a hundred years. It takes about a hundred years from the first campaigners to say, "We want Italy to be unified as a single nation and not divided into eight separate states" to create the Italy that we know today. It's a hundred years to go from Germans completely divided, but some of them starting to have this idea that they should be united, in the late 18th century, to creating the Germany that we know today.

[00:33:04] And it's taken a hundred years to create the India that we know today, still imperfect because it's such a vast project and yet um, a nation all the same. So I think we can expect it to be a hundred year project. Maybe you and I will live long enough to see it, but even if we don't... If it hadn't been for the people in the late 1700s trying to unify Italy, it wouldn't have happened a hundred years later.

[00:33:29] So it's important enough as a project and it's important enough that we start now that we shouldn't be put off by the long timeline. And along the journey, we'll make many victories that will be in and of themselves valuable. So if we can just do this tax reform in the next five to 10 years, that will be a huge contribution whether or not we make it all the way to the century-long project to create a more united world.

[00:33:57] Outro

Isabelle Roughol: [00:33:57] Progress is indeed being made on that centennial project since Hassan and I talked last year. Last month, US president Joe Biden put forward a tax plan that would seek to curb unfair tax practices. He recommended a minimcorporate tax rate of 21% across the OECD as well as establishing a formula for apportioning profits to tax jurisdictions based on where customers are, which would prevent profit-shifting to low tax countries like Ireland. In the US he wants to make American corporations paid the delta between the taxes they're paying on those profits that have been shifted abroad and the taxes they would have paid in the United States, making profit shifting pretty much pointless. Of course, this kind of project requires years of negotiations. And in the end countries may agree to half of that, if even that, but that is, as Hassan said, a centennial project after all.

[00:34:49] A big thank you again to Hassan Damluji. The book is The Responsible Globalist. I'm off back to building the new site and writing new essays. It's all going to be in your inbox very shortly. Thank you for listening and for your patience.

[00:35:03] I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Music is by Ofshane. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production.

Podcast

Isabelle Roughol

Journalist. Founder & host of Borderline. Former international editor of LinkedIn, foreign editor at Le Figaro, reporter at The Cambodia Daily. Global soul, messy accent.


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