Sam Floy Newsletter (August 2021)

samfloy~7 August 2021 /Personal

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..!

🤔 Thinking

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!

🎧 Listening

A selection of podcasts etc. I’ve enjoyed recently

📖 Reading

📼 Watching