July is the month in Denmark where the majority of the country goes on holiday… for the majority of the month.
I thought this was just one of those urban myths about Scandinavian long summers, but sure enough, the out-of-office response I have been getting has averaged out at 3 weeks.
One person I’ve been speaking to at a bank has been on holiday for 5 weeks. When I was in London, this would qualify as a sabbatical…
It is nice seeing people properly switch off for a decent stretch of time, and for the people’s expectations to get adjusted to the fact that not much gets done anyway, and so you may as well take the time off. A combination of poor planning, naiveté, and covid restrictions have meant this year will be a few long weekends/ a week off, but next year it will hopefully be possible to engage in a “proper break”.
Outside of hosting visitors from England and a brief sojourn to southern Munich I’ve been gearing up for the next phase of reaching out to new customers who might want a podcast with Cofruition, along with a few other bits of life admin.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the month and have a good August lined up..!
Things I’ve been thinking about last month
How long will countries be around for?
The past few weeks I’ve found myself talking with friends about the concept of nations.
From a human history perspective, they’re a fairly recent phenomenon (the blueprint for countries (borders. sovereignty, ambassadors) was established in 1648) and since then it’s more or less remained the same.
The world has changed quite a lot since then, and yet the basic principles of countries has held up quite well. National governments have been able to organise their citizens in a way that has raised living standards, as well as collaborate with each other on issues beyond their national borders.
Going forward though, perhaps we might reach a point where it just becomes too difficult to fit the square peg of what the world is becoming into the round hole of nations.
An example of this is travel visas.
In the past 100 years there has been a drastic reduction in the levels of overt discrimination in many societies. Even if implicit bias remains in various systems, it would be almost unheard of today to say that you can’t apply for job/ get a credit card/ visit another country because of the colour of your skin, your gender or your religion.
It is an accepted norm, however, to state in plain writing that you cannot travel to another country because of your nationality.
As far as I’m aware, even the most liberal countries have at least some restrictions on who can enter their country based on where people were born. Even President Trump’s “Muslim travel ban” was in fact a ban on entering the USA for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen rather than explicitly discriminating on the basis of religion.
Will this explicit discrimination on nationality one day become unacceptable/ incompatible with the views of the citizens of the world?
Change is gradual then sudden
I read an article that spoke about how long it takes for society to change its mind on certain topics (in the context of “culture wars”). The short version is that big societal change is generational.
The theory states there is a formative period in people’s youth when their world view is shaped. After that, this becomes the dominant narrative for how they see the world, based on what they see around them.
One example is that for “left-leaning” people in the US-born in the 1940s, they saw the Soviet communism experiment as an example of what can go wrong with “socialism”. For people born after the 1980s, it’s not such a memory, and instead “socialism” seems like a sensible response to global inequality, especially after the global financial crisis in the late 2000s.
Change is gradual because people rarely change their beliefs, but change is sudden because when a cohort of people die (e.g. who believe it will be ultimately deleterious to tax the wealthy) this opens the door for the next generation to apply their world view to the current events.
Death of nations?
There are probably a few more pressing matters on people’s minds than whether people (typically from developing countries) can have the right to freely travel to different countries, and as such, it might take a few generations to take up the mantle of whether it is an acceptable form of discrimination.
Personally, it feels like an issue that has been a bit forgotten compared with all of the other anti-discriminatory efforts that have been taking place in recent years.
Maybe there is a way that free movement of all people can be compatible with nations, but along with efforts to reduce climate change, cryptocurrencies, tax havens, etc., it might be that some future generation will come up with a different way to arrange the citizens of the world which ultimately gets adopted.
If you happen to know of any theories about a way to organise the world without nations, then I’d be interested to read them!
A selection of podcasts etc. I’ve enjoyed recently
- Should Borders Matter? | The Global Philosopher: unsurprisingly, I listened to a podcast on this. I like Michael Sandel’s balanced approach to contentious topics – this episode included many voices from different parts of the world on the matter
- How To Deal With FOMO | Nobody Panic: fun and light hearted show from 2/3rds of a comedy group I really like (see their vids on Youtube)
- Day X | The Daily: fascinating/ shocking story of far right extremism in present day Germany. It starts with the discovery that a Germany army officer dressed up and registered himself as a Syrian refugee, lived a double for nearly two years, and was found with stolen guns and a copy of Mein Kampf. The prosecutors in his case claim he (as “the refugee”) intended to kill prominent politicians to cause a backlash against multiculturalism in Germany. The show then peels back several layers of far right extremism throughout the German army/ police force and leaves questions as to whether enough is being done…
- Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire | Tom Zoellner: a book about slavery in Jamaica. It made me realise how little I know about it, nor the story/ struggle of how it become abolished in England
- The 100 Year Life | Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott: interesting, if slightly high level, read on how individuals + society should think about the fact the kids born today have a 50% chance of living to be a 100 years old.
- Ted Lasso | Apple TV: comedy series about an American Football coach who gets brought in as manager of an English football team. Even if you don’t care at all for football, it’s a joy. In a word: wholesome
- Flee: story of a refugee’s multi year journey to Denmark from Afghanistan. The audio is a conversation between Amin and the director who are friends from school. The visuals are animated which bring an extra dimension to the story
- Gunda: documentary(ish) about a farm. No words, just an hour and half following animals on a farm. It took some time to get used to, but I can honestly say I’ve not watched anything like it before
- England vs. Italy | Euro 2020: the less said the better…
- The Olympics: they sort of passed me by a bit, but it’s always impressive to see people at the pinnacle of what their bodies can do. Watching the rock climbing was surprisingly… gripping (*sigh*)