Just like companies compete for customers.
When I read “Opening our borders will solve just about everything,” I was 100% on board on a theoretical level. I haven’t commented yet, because I need to think and research some more to have something valuable to add. But now that I read this article, I see how little would change if countries competed for citizens.
As you point out, the green countries could “purchase” the red countries, but that’s not too different from what we have now. It even seems like a type of colonization.
In many cases, colonization brought improvements in healthcare, education, and agricultural practices, but also exploitative labor practices, the brutal suppression of uprisings, the systemic racial discrimination, and the displacement of indigenous populations. In a world where countries have to compete for citizens, what would stop a green country from exploiting red countries, so that they can gain more wealth and remain attractive?
China isn’t a green country in this article, but obviously, the country is attractive for businesses and, as a result, people. Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Republic of Congo, and Sudan have all borrowed money from China. I don’t see this scenario changing under countries competing for citizens.
Another example would be with the United States. You mention “We export our government and police force, eliminating corruption, eradicating crime.” I’m sure some people thought the same thing when: 1. The U.S. provided support to Pinochet’s regime, including economic aid and military assistance .2. The military junta led by General Jorge Rafael Videla took power in Argentina after a coup in 1976. The U.S. provided the junta with military training, intelligence cooperation, and economic assistance. 3: The U.S. supported the authoritarian regime of the Somoza family in Nicaragua for several decades, until the Sandinista revolution overthrew the regime in 1979. The U.S. provided military aid and economic support to the Somoza government. We could list some more examples when the USA funded atrocious regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Also, when we look at Nordic countries, yes, they have some of the best social democracies in the world. But their cultures are rather homogenous, especially for Western ones. Will they behave the same way if they get a greater influx of immigration? Here in Europe, I’ve noticed an increase in populist ideologies and parties everywhere—Norway and Denmark are definitely no expection.
I’d love a world with open borders, and understand all the humanitarian and economic benefits, but if it results in countries purchasing others, I see it going full circle.
Is there something we can do to create more “green countries” without exploiting “orange countries?” Something that doesn’t involve cultural imperialism, but still spreads equilateral values?
I like your thinking. You're thinking.
If countries are now incentivized to treat their citizens well, does that go hand-in-hand with countries no longer being able to interfere and cause each other misery?
For a lot of countries, making life better for their citizens would also entail kicking U.S./Canada/France out of their economic and political affairs. No more U.S. military bases scattered everywhere, no more Nestle water plants sucking up local resources.
Which is why I think those green places wouldn’t stay green for very long - they are green because they, currently, have power. After maybe a while of this experiment, that power would be gone. What does migration look like then? When people are no longer running from political and economic upheaval, will they stop moving? Or will they go back to their “original” homes (assuming this all takes place over a single generation), to enjoy a peace they didn’t think was possible?
It’s an interesting thought experiment, for sure!
I get all these great book recommendations from you, Elle! Just bought and downloaded 'The Nordic View of Everything' -- looks like a fantastic read.
There's a story Warren Buffett tells that your post reminds me of. I heard him say it when I went to his Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting once, years ago.
He says, imagine what you would design the world you were about to be born into to look like if you could, in any way you wanted. But there's a catch. You *don't* get to decide whether you'll be born male or female, Black or white, in the United States or in a country like Bangladesh, neurotypical or neurodivergent, healthy or with a serious illness, etc.
He calls it the "ovarian lottery," the most important decision that will ever be made about your life and you get *no* say in it. It's purely luck. So, if you don't know where, how or to whom you'll be born, what kind of world would you design then? Gets you thinking, doesn't it?
I love all these thoughts. The Nordic View of Everything is one of my favorite books - it inspired my move to Europe, and I even got Anu Partanen to come on my podcast, which you might enjoy: https://www.secretlibrarypodcast.com/episodes/anu-partanen
In addition, having to compete for citizens is such a brilliant idea. A while back, I read Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, a book I think you would so love if I haven't yet recommended it- in this novel we are several thousand years in the future and self-driving pods mean you can travel anywhere on earth in half a day or less. So people can live wherever they want as they can work somewhere else without too much difficulty. As a result, nationality is no longer geographic, rather it's a membership you choose based on values and you pay taxes accordingly. You may not have the same citizenship as your neighbor, and you're allowed to change. So clever! Ada Palmer is a real visionary - I sound like a broken record, my apologies, but she was also a genius podcast guest should you be interested: https://www.secretlibrarypodcast.com/episodes/ada-palmer
Have an excellent holiday!