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tv   Book Discussion on The Cosmopolites  CSPAN  December 6, 2015 10:00pm-10:46pm EST

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and if you look at it what's been written about opinion clearly it doesn't -- the idea that you would be better if you just bet $5 to make a million dollars is absurd. it's not going to work. and the really serious ones are the ones making all the money. .. think you, i really appreciate being on the show and i appreciate your questions.
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>> thank you. >> watch past "after words" program online up tv.org. >> next up, atossa abrahamian talks about global citizenship. her book is the cosmopolites [applause]. >> thanks and hello everyone, not every book tv author has standing room only crowd so think you all and thank you to book court for making it such a great event. we have started a new publishing venture at columbia university. all of the books, we published
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six books a a year and they look like this. each one is like a quarterly and there is only one story in every issue. each book is about one aspect of globalization. in the aggregate, we will publish a whole shelf and more into globalization. you can go to columbia global reports and see what we are up to. we are learning about the publishing business. one of the things we have learned is that each book, even though they are all about globalization, that means many different things to many different people. the first book was about the secondary mortgage market. there were a lot of people in suits and ties and this is more appropriate to this book.
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[laughter] to tell you a little more, has anyone ever heard of william ackman? it significant that only a few people have. he is the hero to america's youth, evidently. look look them up when you get home. he's a bad boy wall street investor and we had people literally camped out on the steps for half a day just to be in the same room with him because he was one of the panelists at the event. as i say, this is is a different niche from that niche. atossa abrahamian is an opinion editor but she is a prolific and ubiquitous young journalists involved with the butt of magazines including new inquiry
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dissent, new york times london review of books, she has two columbia degrees and she is one of our first authors and are publishing project and are only debut author in our first season. the way we are going to operate this event as she is going to read from the book briefly and then i will ask her questions for a while and will take audience questions for a while. i'm in a sit on that stool while you read [applause]. >> hi everyone, thank you for coming. i think nick called you all hipsters. [laughter] >> you all know a little book
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called mark reed called what is a a hipster? i teach a course about using epistemological techniques rigorously as a journalist. one of the questions is what if there is a category that everyone in the category must deny they are in the category in order for them to be in the category. [laughter] and what do you do with that? i've actually spent a lot of time on that question. i also have two sons in their 20s so i know never to call anyone a a hipster to their face, only behind their back. >> thanks again everyone for
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coming. there is a whole bunch of you and i don't know what to do with myself. this is so great. people from all over the world, all over the city, thank you so much. i'm going to keep the reading very short but i'll set it up a little bit before i read so you know what is going on. the book is about how a small island nation called the camorra island was in the emirates. the government bought it for them and it was super weird. there were some businessmen based in kuwait and started to lobby their small and dysfunctional government to allow for the sale of citizenship. the first time they tried to do it, it didn't work and it was voted against. this is a travesty, why would we do such a a thing. so they needed something to sweeten the deal. i'm going to tell you a little bit about how they sweeten the deal. on october 10, 2008, 11 officials from the camara island made their way to the airport
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not far from the capital. on the runway overlooking the indian ocean, a private plane awaited. there was a 20-kilometer stretch along the side of the ocean lined with fruit trees and piles of trash and potholes. lung the airport road the country flora along with its dysfunctional waste system. it creates an interesting dynamic. industrial average suffered it's worst week ever. they had money on their mind but not the abstract time that shows up on tickers and balance sheet. their country was broke and had
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been that way as long as they can remember. their gross gdp was $740 that year. that is per capita. 45% 45% of the population was below the poverty line. still today infrastructure in the camara islands is dismal. running water is a rarity. when politicians complain they have no power, they mean it literally. electricity in the rooms that are equipped with it only runs for several hours at a time and that's on a good day. overall only 60% of residents have access to electricity. in the middle island it's closer to 50%. in the smallest island, only 20%
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of people can turn on the lights at night. the reason behind the trip to kuwait was economic. earlier that year the government had received a proposal from some business men. what if they sell citizenship to raise funds. there was a demand for passports in the middle east to make traveling and working abroad easier. some countries in the region were willing to pay good money for citizenship. all they would have to do is pass a law allowing for this type of transaction and print some passports. the president at the time and his wife were intrigued. this was money they could use to fix the roads, take out the trash, by fuel and improve infrastructure. they couldn't afford to be high-minded about a few pieces
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of paper. the parliamentary parliamentarians didn't see it that way. wasn't selling citizenship to complete strangers similar to selling their soul? they proposed a a citizenship bill in july. two months later the arab businessman offered to put together a fact-finding mission, all-expenses-paid. conveniently the trip was scheduled to take place before the next presidential election. the vice president of the parliament at the time let the delegation. he teaches at the university. he was a committed member of the opposition. humans in a rundown house with a tin roof at the center of the capital with his wife and baby,
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his car parked outside his home was broken when i went there. there was another delegate that agreed to take the trip. he saw the trip as a civic duty and he was ready to absorb all the information he could and report back. the president of the parliamentary finance commission when around long because he believed in opening it up to the rest of the world. here in our country we have a ticking time bomb he told me. we have a university that turns out unemployed young people. over the years if they don't find work, the university will close. there was a translator that was employed by the ministry of justice and he is an nervous man
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who is easily intimidated. he wanted to publicize the trip but was told no. also present was a dignified older gentleman who would go on to take several trips and establish friendship between the quakes. [inaudible] they didn't have to go through security or passport control.
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they boarded the plane, make themselves comfortable and took off. it was amazing amazing what money could do. as the plane climbed higher they caught an aerial view of their country. there were hilly slopes with red and green fruit and ash black rock. at the center is the world's largest active volcano. it's every bit as pretty as the sea shells that attract hundreds of thousands of tourism each year. most people haven't heard of it. the country's most distinguishing feature. [inaudible]
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were they doing wrong? [applause]. >> we will take questions from you. when we signed up to write this book, we have a very short turnaround time. it's about a year, maybe a little more. we we had been poking at this subject for a little while what was the magnetic attraction of all of this to you?
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[inaudible] the people i grew up with, some of them are in this room. for many of of us there was a disconnect where your passport said you were from and where you were born. there didn't seem to be that much coherence between the documents. in the back of my mind, there were some little scuffles of immigration in the country and it all worked out well. i've been thinking about this and i was excited and went to a
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conference. i clicked on it and it was for people who wanted to buy passports. i found it intriguing that countries would sell it. really cinched it for me was this notion of global citizenship and being a citizen of the world and buying passports. he didn't say i don't want to pay french taxes he said i'm a citizen of the world. [laughter] >> before we get to the larger implications of this, if you could talk about the sites that
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you went to and how you picked them and why. part of it is implied and what you just read but just quick on where you went and what you found. >> one year ago i was in kuwait which speaks of the quick turnaround of this book. i traveled to go to these conferences for citizenship buying. took me to toronto and london but for this book in particular, i learned of this place from one of these conferences. then i went to kuwait because i heard a rumor that kuwait was going to buy more in citizenship. why do they want to do this instead of confirming kuwait citizenship? >> that's a good question.
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kuwait citizenship means getting lots of benefits. it's expensive and politically a little iffy to give new people citizenship because you don't know how they're going to vote and what they're going to do. the kuwaitis in general in the golf country, i think bahrain is a exception, but i don't think many of them like to extend their citizenship. the price of oil just fell so it might change, but i had heard a a rumor about this in a couple days after i arrived i heard about plans to actually go ahead. i was in kuwait learning what to do and then i went to the tomorrow islands. they were the private writer provider of these passports. then in february, i tragically spent two weeks in the caribbean. it was terrible.
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the caribbean, the countries in the caribbean were pioneers in this market because they were among the first to openly sell their citizenship. >> if you imagine there is two versions, there may be more than two versions. we will get to that in a minute. one is global citizenship for poor folks and one is for rich folks. you talked a little bit about the former are ready. if you could just expand on that because it's not the same for everybody. >> think rich people, if you have enough money you can be a global citizen if you want to. you can accumulate passports, you can have houses in different countries, you can educate your children abroad, you can hide your money. you name it. it's easier to do. if you are a poor person, i
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think the global aspect to your life might be a little less voluntary. you might be what they call an economic migrant. you might be forced to leave your home or where you grew up and spent most of your life just to make a living. you may be pressured to take a more in passport. you never know what kind of passport you're going to have to take if you live in the gulf states. that's just part of the economy of that country. >> come orient there is two ways to talk about this. one of these is normative and descriptive. descriptively, how big big a phenomenon is this? are there more global citizen
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poor folk variety or rich folk friday? >> i don't know the answer to that. i can tell you that i think rich people spent $2 billion buying passports in 2014, which is really a lot of money. that's not even counting the amount of money they invested in the u.s. residents. it's a lot of money. as for the poor folks, it's probably more because if you look at it in economic terms, remittance count for a huge part of it. i can't give you a number but that's my guess best guess. people are probably affected by this and ways they don't want to be. one is always hearing on the conference circuit and so on that we live in a globally interconnected world and the financial system and information system, the internet and the human migration system have
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obliterated borders. there is global problems that don't sit inside borders. is this the beginning of a process where nations will become relatively unimportant? >> i think people were saying that nations will become less important after the world wars and when the un and happened but that didn't happen. i'm hopeful, i think it would be nice if there was less nations in the world. i think this borderless thing is overblown. i think it's only borderless if you are wealthy enough. >> or for enough to be forced into it. >> let's make our way over to the normative side.
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is it good to feel like you are a citizen of a nation or is it provincial and limiting? >> i can't speak to the latter because i don't know what it's like to be provincial and limited. [laughter] >> as a fifth generation louisiana and, i know what it is like to be provincially limited. you mentioned in the book, many, many years ago there was an essay that people had to read in school. i think it was well before anybody here or their parents was in school and it was called a man without a country. you can tell what it is a little bit. >> a man without a country is him moral stable or cautionary tale who tells a story of a man who gets very angry at the united states.
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his punishment is to be stuck on a vote sailing the world for the rest of his days. he comes to regret his decision very deeply. this is framed in 1864 as an ultimate moral failing and a a terrible form of retribution for not being patriotic enough. i don't think there is that kind of moralizing that takes place today. a lot of people choose to live on boats or choose to have a life like that. >> the point of that essay, it's a fable in the worst thing that can happen to you is not to have a strong sense of national identification. it's a sort of do. is it fair to say that is still true or have we gotten beyond that? >> i think we are getting beyond
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that. i think people are finding new ways to identify themselves. the problem remains that people don't identify strongly with the police or a system that has a government. how do you redistribute or help people who are less fortunate? you can't really do that on a global scale just yet. you can't rely entirely on charities to do that. then you end up with people who opt out entirely. >> so what's really happening is you're leaving the structure of the welfare stage and going into a libertarian paradise or hell. it's a way of stripping away all the things that go with citizenship.
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>> at the level of consciousness , i gather from conversations we've had, but it sounds like you don't think i ao understand what that feels like. i am colorblind. people asked me what color does this look like to you. i just have to say i can't tell you because what i see in what you see are different. you may not be able to answer the question, but i'll try anyway. what does it feel like not to feel this is my country or whatever. >> does anyone else want to answer that question for me?
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no one can know what it feels like to be a bat. >> you ever sit around and dream about what it would be like to feel like there is a a country that is my country? >> the best i can do is when people watch competitive sports and they're very invested in the state of one of the team, i don't know what that that is like but it seems pretty awesome. [laughter] >> finally, before we go in take audience questions, can we talk about benedict anderson? >> he is still alive. he is a scholar and talks about
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the idea of nationalism and how it is form and how it is affected by education and literature. his main thesis is that it is imagined by people. it's the idea that we are all part of the nation. [inaudible] >> the implication is that if nations are constructed, they could be deconstructed. so as i read, you could imagine a time.
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[inaudible] >> let's take your questions. should i give everyone a microphone? okay. i'm just pointing -- >> so my question has to do with my process of getting a green card and applying for u.s. citizenship. that law that was passed. [inaudible] made me think also of a lot of former canadians giving the government the ability to strip citizenship. i'm just wondering three or
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research to think we are going to see more of this sort of elimination of dual citizenship? >> i think we are going to see it more for security reasons. the u.k. passed a law that allows them to strip dual citizenship if they are dual nationals if they are suspected of terrorism. that is really fascinating because the islamic state does not consider itself a national movement. it's beyond borders.$qlv
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the caliphate is nothing new. >> it seems compelling, this assumption that the global citizen is for the privileged or underprivileged. truly it's that kind of boundary
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that is upheld. i've been a little confused that your findings. [inaudible] >> it's a theoretical undoing or an intellectual wanted. it challenges the concept but in practice is not going anywhere. [inaudible] >> i'm just curious, are there any consequences for the kuwaitis taking these citizenship and can they deport them? >> that's the one downside cap if you are stateless you can't be deported. when you are a camorra in
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citizens, the book tells a story of one who was pressured to take citizenship and was deported to thailand. you should read it. [laughter] >> other free trade zones and -- >> free trade zones are popping up and i don't think they have any bearing on the citizenship of the people in that state but certainly the assumption is that they are business havens. it's not a surprise that it's popping up at the same time that citizenship is also for sale. it's a new form of sovereignty. >> you spoke about the two types of people who are getting these
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global citizenship, the wealthy people and the libertarians who are buying passports of convenience for their own individual purposes and then the poor people. how does that work?? in the golf you have all these workers are imported from thailand and the philippines and bangladesh. they are treated ms. liberally and underpaid, but they do come from a place, they do have these origins, how do these people, how can can they be told -- >> they are separate groups. they're not what we call migrant workers. their people were native to that part of the world and families were there for generations. for whatever reason they didn't
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sign up when the nation was formed. there are also people who are stateless for other reasons but essentially they didn't sign up when they should have. it's separate from the migrant workers. >> let's go to the next question. >> that brings up a question, i wonder if in your research you covered indigenous people? >> i didn't really dig into that. >> that's fine. >> like thailand?? why not back to the islands? >> there was an odd situation in their agreement, there's a lot
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of odd situations. that was that they didn't actually want them in their country so the citizenship is paperthin. it comes with very few rights. it's just a document and it's a way for them to clean their hands of problems. >> i'm told we have time for one more question. i'm going to cheat and ask you one pre-question and i will go to our last question which is, do you have a take on what's going on in europe with the refugee crisis in light of the book? >> yes, i do. we hear so many ugly stories of people risking their lives to get on these crappy little boats. were not really thinking about
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how very wealthy people from the same countries can, within a year be a full citizen just because of the size of his or her wallet and no one is really talking about that. i think that's really important to keep in mind because there is a real inequality in these nations. also in the system and in our whole way of organizing how people can move around. >> i was just wondering what the advantage is for a wealthy person in a golf nation to take up citizenship in a small caribbean nation. i understand why the kuwaitis did it and why a wealthy person might take up residence in the u.s. or europe but why a small caribbean country.
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>> ease of travel. it's much easier to travel on a st. kitts island. it's much easier to travel. there are tax advantages to being a citizen of these countries. although you don't even really need to be a citizen to take it vantage of the taxing. i think the tax angle is a little overdone. >> nice beaches, i beaches. i can't complain. or just have another option if your country is in trouble you have that haven. >> there's a line where they say in this world the more passports you can have the better. you can't be too rich or too thin. you can have too many national passports. thank you so much.
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you're going to hang out for a while and sign books. [applause]. thanks so much for coming out. this book is available at the front register. if you'd like to have her sign a a copy of your book you can line up on this wall to your right or my left. just a little note about the after party. it's going to be at 710 smith street. let's give her one big round of applause [applause]. [inaudible conversation] >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week. editor-in-chief of forbes magazine outlined the policy they argue will resurrect the country in reviving america. in we have the technology, they
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report on the latest development in the science of sensory perception. the invention of science, examines the scientific revolution and how it transformed our understanding of the world. science writer explores the relationship between science fiction and real fiction. watch for the authors in the near future on book tv. give us a snapshot of what america was like in 1932. >> it was a mess. it. it was the great depression. people were being stopped from foreclosing on mortgages threats
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of violence in the midwest. there was rioting in some of the cities. philadelphia, new york city, a bonus march in washington. things were failing. it was a great panic and it was an ink credibly uninspiring figure named hoover in the white house. there were questions about roosevelt and whether or not he was the man for the job. is he a lightweight, is he capable, is he the right man. it wasn't just republicans asking those questions. is he a lightweight? does he have the ideas? that is what a campaign is about, to see if he can do it. he is giving off conflicting messages. the democratic platform of 1932 might be a good republican
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platform in 2016. it talks about cutting taxes and spending and bureaucracy. roosevelt gives a speech in pittsburgh which was not only for the right of herbert hoover but also calvin coolidge. where was the country going to go. it might even, had head toward dictatorship. there was an army officer named eisenhower. people call me dictator ike. i think that is what is needed to fix this country and he's not alone. >> germany 1932. >> worse. a lot worse. not only do you have the depression, and germany starts off with 3 million people in the goodyear of 1929 and goes up to six or 7 million that are unemployed in 1933. you have the effects of a war and reparation and a resentment against the allies.
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germany is a nation of sore losers. these sore losers are blaming the communists the republic and jews. that leads us to adolf hitler. >> you're pulling a year out of history. many historians do this. >> this is the fourth time i have done it. 1920, 1960, 1948, but keeping it just to america. here we switched just to america. here we switched it between europe and america. what you do as you see what's going on and you find out how different things are not only from today but from what you think about what things were. where you see things is a very straight line, ideologically, going on from the horizon all the way back to the creation, no it doesn't.
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so there's people you think are going to have a certain position on isolationism or the league of nations or prohibition on the left or the right and you're quite often wrong. you see in germany how things go, we complain about the two-party system in america. we have a lot to complain about, but when you have 51 parties getting votes in germany in 13 parties getting elected to the right shot and nobody cooperating with anybody, well, your blessing and america. >> to these two end up colliding in your book 1932? >> not so much in our book 1932. there are some connections of people who know both. they're going to. they're going to come to collision in 1941. their careers parallel each other of course with the election of 32 taking power and 33. there was some crucial elections proceeding that for both of them. i found out afterward at hyde
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park after writing the book that they had found a copy of franklin roosevelt's addition on readers in 1933. did he read it or not? yes he did any put notes he put notes in the margin. he said you know, they've left out some stuff here. this is not the real stuff they are peddling which is interesting because it indicates that roosevelt is not the lightweight that some people think he is at the time but also he has probably read the copy before that. how else would he know? he probably read it in the original german. he spent his summers in germany. he spent more time in germany as a child and adults hitler. >> this is his most recent book the rise of hitler and fdr. this is book tvn

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