Originally from Portugal, Bruno Maçães earned a PhD in Political Science at Harvard under Harvey Mansfield, and served as Portugal’s Secretary of State for European Affairs from 2013-2015. He is regarded as a leading geopolitical thinker with deep insights concerning the future of Eurasia and relations between the West and China. He is the author of two widely acclaimed books published in 2018: The Dawn of Eurasia and Belt and Road.
Topics discussed include: China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Middle Income Trap, A Chinese World Order, Techno-Optimism in East and West, China-Russia alliance and geopolitics, the future of Eurasia and the EU.
- Russia to China: Together we can rule the World (Politico.eu)
- Equilibrium Americanum (Berlin Policy Journal)
- The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order
- Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order
- History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America
Steve: Thanks for joining us, I’m Steve Hsu.
Corey: And I’m Corey Washington, and we’re your hosts for Manifold.
Steve: Well, Corey, we’ve been at podcasting for about a year now, and I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed it.
Corey: Me too, Steve.
Steve: And we’ve been enjoying it so much and we’ve had enough … we’ve had quite a bit of success in getting guests to come on the show that we have a backlog, a queue of unreleased episodes. I think we have actually, at the one every two weeks rate that we’ve been going at, we’ve got four months of unreleased audio. So I think our goal is to bring the backlog down a little bit by releasing at faster than once every two weeks, maybe going to a one a week schedule for a while. Now we can’t promise to our listeners that we’re going to be able to keep it on a one per week schedule because I guess you and I both have day jobs.
Corey: We’ll backslide periodically. But-
Steve: Yes, but let’s give it a try and let us know. Let us know in Twitter, or by email what you guys think, and suggest episodes, give us feedback.
Corey: Yeah, if you want us to do one a week, we’re going to need some help.
Corey: In identifying guests.
Steve: Maybe Patreon. All right, so that’s the announcement. We’ll start releasing some episodes at a faster rate as long as we can. Thanks very much.
Corey: Thank you guys.
Steve: Corey, our guest today is Bruno Maçães. He is originally from Portugal. Bruno earned a PhD in Political Science at Harvard under Harvey Mansfield. He served as Portugal’s Secretary of State for European Affairs from 2013 to 2015, and is now widely regarded as a leading geopolitical thinker, with deep insights concerning the future of Eurasia, America, and the relations between the West and China. He’s the author of two books published in 2018 to wide acclaim, the first being, The Dawn of Eurasia, and the second being Belt and Road. He has a new book coming out in five months, which I hope to talk about at the end of the podcast, which is about America, and hopefully we’ll get to that near the end.
Steve: Bruno and I met in Beijing just briefly over the summer, where he spent the last year, I think, or more than a year, as a Senior Fellow at Renmin University. Bruno, I’d like to start by talking about where you were at in your own life around 2015, I believe the socialists had defeated your party, and you were leaving politics or government, and you decided to undertake a long trip East. Am I correct?
Bruno: Right. So, politics can be very interesting, but it can also be boring. There’s a lot of routine, there’s no free time, and also there’s no freedom in the sense of … to give you a concrete example, as a serving politician in the Portuguese Government, I couldn’t go to Russia. I didn’t accept invitations from there because it was the time of the Ukraine crisis, and you always have to understand that you’re representing your country, not yourself. So your freedom is very much curtailed in that obvious sense.
Bruno: Once outside of government I could do a number of things, I could go visit Iran, visit Russia, countries I was very interested in, and just travel without schedule, without any constraint. It was also the case, more practical notes, I was concerned when I was in government of not looking for a job, while I was in government. I don’t know how other politicians do this, but then suddenly, you’re out of office overnight, and so I wanted to do something while I looked for professional opportunities later on. It was different reasons, but I guess pretty unusual just to leave, and travel for six months and not be concerned about your job, or your career for a pretty long period of time, not when you’re 18, but when already in your 40s.
Corey: Which political party did you belong to in the Portuguese Government, Bruno?
Bruno: It’s called a Social Democratic Party, but it’s the center-right party, one of those peculiarities of Portuguese politics, that the center-right party is a Social Democratic Party, and going back to our transition to democracy, and very much tilted to the left.
Corey: I understand the title that you had, but could you say a little bit briefly about your role in that government in the years you were there?
Bruno: Right. It’s an interesting role. It’s common to every government in the EU. It’s the person in the government that is in charge of connecting Euro government to Brussels. There’s … Many people would not know this necessarily, there’s a lot of daily friction. EU Institutions in Brussels want the country to go in a certain direction or a particular sector, or policy, or law, and the government has other ideas because it’s following its own constituency. So there is a lot of communication that is needed to reduce the friction. Over time people have discussed this particular role in national governments, there’s this idea that the Europe Minister could be in Brussels, living in Brussels. There’s been this idea in the past, but gives you the sense that in fact, you ended spending more time in Brussels than in your capital. And your job has the peculiarity of being completely cross cutting. One week, I would be dealing with fisheries, the next week with Ukraine crisis, then digital policy, then infrastructure, railways, roads. It could be really anything.
Steve: When we talk a little bit later about how you view the future of the EU, I think you can draw on that experience in telling us how you view it. But I want to go back to your travels, post-government. As you traveled Eastward across Eurasia, did you already have a theoretical framework, were you’re thinking you were going to write a book or was it just that you felt some wanderlust and wanted to travel and perhaps the book emerged from that travel?
Bruno: Yeah, it was less planned then it may look like. I started writing some pieces for magazines and they were well received, I see I could do it. I had this idea of traveling over the borderlines of Europe and Asia and seeing whether a book could be made out of it. Those years, 2014/15 were very suggestive of this idea of Eurasia if you had your eyes open. And especially if you’re involved, actually involved in politics. It was the year of the Belt and Road, had been launching in 2013. The years of course of the Ukraine crisis and the refugee crisis. It gave a sense, which I described in the preface of the book, that the action was all in those borderlines between Europe and Asia. Ukraine, the refugee crisis, Syria, Turkey. The new connections that were being built in Central Asia and so on and so forth. That’s where interesting things were happening so that’s actually, I say that in the preface and it’s true in this case, it is true, that’s how I got interested in the idea in the first place.
Steve: So when I first heard about the Belt and Road Initiative, my initial reaction was, “My God, these poor Chinese are going to waste so much money building infrastructure in a possibly uninteresting, underdeveloped part of the world. This can’t be such a great idea.” Now, in your book on the Belt and Road, you make the point that infrastructure’s just a small piece of this plan and that the plan is really, in a sense, visualizing a new Chinese world order. Could you elaborate on that?
Bruno: Right. So in the first book, where I talk about Eurasia, write a little bit, not more than 20 pages about a particular aspect of the Belt and Road, which is these borderlines in the middle. But then I decided and needed a full book on the Belt and Road because the core of the Belt and Road is not that. Still today, there’s this misunderstanding that the Belt and Road is about Central Asia and the steppes and reviving the Silk Road and so on. But it’s not, that’s not where the future of the Belt and Road is going to be decided and as you say, the Belt and Road is not about transport infrastructure. If anything, if you want a simple label, it’s a global transnational industrial policy. But the focus is on industry and trade and not on transport infrastructure or not on connectivity unless your concept of connectivity is much broader and includes value chains, supply chains, industrial policy and so on.
Steve: Now, a lot of people, going back to MacKinder, as you know, theorized about Eurasia as a giant world island that controls the globe. So one might think of BRI as an effort for the Chinese to avoid being isolated by the US Navy and maintain contact with the West end of Eurasia. But you make another argument which is that is actually part of a plan, a conscious plan to avoid the middle income development trap. So could you describe why you think BRI and actually also comment on whether this is explicit in the way the Chinese talk about it. How will it help them avoid the middle income development trap?
Bruno: In different ways. China needs to become technologically more developed and how do you do that if you don’t have access to markets, if you don’t have access to suppliers, if you don’t have access to global regulatory standards. I think the Chinese concluded, and I believe they are right about this, that those would be the obstacles. And if you look at a case like Huawei, I think you see that, that the obstacles in the path, development of Huawei and similar companies and Chinese tech sector as a whole, are very much connected to the attempt, which they saw coming, that the American, perhaps some European countries, would make to run Huawei and the Chinese tech sector out of markets, out of suppliers. In a way, there’s no better example of why the Belt and Road is necessary, then the troubles that Huawei’s been facing. The attempt to project power outside your borders so that you can guarantee stable markets, stable suppliers, is at the core of the Belt and Road and the Huawei story tells you how important that is.
Corey: Can you describe or explain what the middle income development trap is?
Bruno: In a non-technical way, it is the problem faced by many countries in initial stages of development. They rely on sources of growth that will soon dry up. A cheap labor force, foreign investments, urbanization, rapid education and the growth of skills among your population. Also, a rapidly growing population. All of these are obvious ways to grow at first but they are not sustainable over the long run. So over time, you need to rely on other sources of growth, in particular, innovation and technology, that requires a change or a transformation of your economic model. Which many people think can be done purely inside your country, through domestic policy, through structural reforms. But, I don’t think China believes in that. China thinks that you need a truly global approach to your development strategy, and the Belt and Road is the global approach.
Corey: So it’s going to solve the problem by facilitating, basically improving supply chains for Chinese companies or it’s going to facilitate it by improving access to technology. It looks like on the surface an infrastructure project so how are having these new roads going to … I see how it helps supply chains, but aside from that, how are having these roads going to help solve these other issues?
Bruno: Right. But don’t get too focused or too fixated on the roads and railways. In a way, they came first, chronologically, but not first logically or in terms of importance. Already happening, perhaps less visible in the Western media, is the development of growth, the construction of industrial parks on a massive scale. The relocation of industry from China to other countries. This is, I think, much more significant than, of course you need the roads to connect these new industries, then connect these industrial parks, connect markets and industry. But what’s happening on the other side, on the side of trade, on the side reducing trade barriers, and on the side of industrial policy. In particular, the way China’s been able to actually influence and shape industrial policy in other countries. Pakistan is a very good example of this. That’s much more significant, even if sometimes, it’s not so present in the Western media.
Bruno: But I read a piece the other day, for example, about how the European Union is becoming very concerned about imports of Chinese steel from Malaysia or Indonesia, where Chinese steel makers have opened new factories and new steel plants. I mean, that’s precisely the Belt and Road at work. For several reasons, it’s a good idea to relocate some of your heavy industry to Indonesia. You can solve the pollution problem, or start to address it at the very least. You can work around tariffs because imports from Indonesia are tariff free in the European Union. You can reduce costs, you can still take advantage of cheap labor force in Indonesia that no longer exists in China.
Bruno: And more important than all of these factors, you can actually move your capital and your labor force to areas that are technologically more advanced, rather than let them stagnate in sectors like a heavy steel industry that have very little growth potential in China. So, when you see a piece like this, you could say, “Well, this is actually much more important than the Belt and Road,” which I think some people would say. My response would be, “No, this is the Belt and Road at work,” and in a way, already at full speed in some of these cases.
Steve: I think there are five pillars in the original Xi Jinping speech about BRI, I think there are five pillars and infrastructure is only one of them. And maybe the others are covering these other aspects.
Bruno: Yeah, the other four are, very quickly, you have trade, you have industry, you have people-to-people context, and you have policy. Clearly, infrastructure has a certain role and in a way, comes first as I said. But I wouldn’t even call it the most important pillar.
Steve: So Bruno, I don’t recall whether it was in your book or in talk of yours that I heard, where you talk about a non-public plan for Pakistan, which was I think drawn up by the Chinese and the Pakistani government, but is not made public, although I think you had access to it. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Bruno: Right. There’s the public plan, it’s 50 pages long and it’s really been sanitized, and it relies on a non-public or confidential plan that was developed and it’s signed by two bodies. The Ministry of Industry in Pakistan and the National Development and Reform Commission in China. It’s not public for several reasons but the main one is that it would obviously make things more difficult for the Belt and Road in Pakistan. There’s a number of things that appear in that plan that Pakistani public opinion would not necessarily be happy with. And the main one, I think, is there would be a certain disappointment to see that the economic future of Pakistan, under the Belt and Road, is to become a supplier of agricultural products and low value textile products to Chinese industry. Precisely as a way to make it easy or possible for China to move away from agriculture, to still squeeze a bit of growth out of that process, and to build supply chains that can rely on suppliers outside China for your high value industry inside China.
Corey: What are Pakistanis being told? The eventual endgame is for their relationship to China?
Bruno: There’s always the expectation and the hope, which is quite powerful in Pakistan. That Pakistan will be able to industrialize, will be able to develop advanced technology and that the Belt and Road will do that. There’s not being told lies, but they are not being educated in the full context of the initiative. So far, the Belt and Road has had a positive [inaudible 00:17:04] on Pakistan, I think, in particular in the energy sector. But if Pakistani public opinion could read this full version and see how important agriculture is for the future of Pakistan, I think there would be an element of disappointment, of course.
Steve: It’s interesting that, it’s the Ministry of Industry, I think you said, of Pakistan which signed the document on their side and there’s sort of agreeing to not reach the highest levels of industrialization under this plan. What do you think went on in the background to get agreement in this document?
Bruno: There’s some elements that are perhaps easier to accept. As I said, the energy sector, a bit of infrastructure in important ports in Gwadar. But really, agriculture is essential to it. Now, you could say, as with almost everything on the Belt and Road, I make an effort to see things from both sides in the book and I think you can always look at things from both sides, you could say, “Well, Pakistan is traditionally having trouble in industrialize anyway.” It’s actually probably not the case that the Belt and Road will contribute to the de-industrialization in Pakistan, because they never really had an industrialization stage in the first place. And that highly effective and productive agricultural sector will employ a lot of people and will have a short market just across the border in China.
Bruno: On the other hand, more ambitious plans have, of course, been drafted and other countries will perhaps be able to industrialize. The future that is being defended here for Pakistan is not South Korea or Taiwan. And of course, this is still for many people the dream, the Asian dream, of being the next South Korea, the next Taiwan. That’s not what the Belt and Road promises for Pakistan.
Corey: Yeah, when you mention energy and agriculture, my first thought was, I assume it’s going to be energy made perhaps nuclear, given their advanced nuclear program and solar. Is that what they have in mind as far as the energy sector?
Bruno: No. So far, there’s new coal plants opening and hydro plants opening as well. China, and I think this is actually a merit of Chinese approach, starts from the basics, from the fundamentals. I think, we in the West have in some respects become to indoctrinated in a certain academic ideology of development that doesn’t always fit to the local reality. Start from the basics, start from the ground up, don’t aim too high at first, understand that you will pay a price in terms of pollution and the environment. But that’s necessary. That was the path that China had to take and, so in a way, they reserve it for other countries as well, and this is openly advocated. There are other countries that will try the same path that China had to try, and at the beginning, it’s a tough one, and there’s no illusions about that.
Corey: It seems very realistic, you could understand why the Pakistani population might be little unhappy to see that their next three decades are planned out as being basically in support of coal fire power plants.
Bruno: And this takes this to another problem that, I think, really impacts the Belt and Road and almost always negatively. Belt and Road has difficulty and China has difficulty dealing with countries that are democracies, in particular Pakistan has a conflictual, highly politicized, highly mediatized democracy. In some respects, it’s a more intense democratic framework then we have here in Western Europe where everything is cast with great intensity and polarized. And, of course, once issues, like the ones we’ve been talking about for the past 10 minutes, get taken up by democratic debate in Pakistan, they sometimes get out of control. And we saw that in the last election, and it could get potentially worse in future elections.
Steve: So we’ve talked about broadening the idea of Belt and Road beyond infrastructure to perhaps a more complex strategy to avoid middle income development trap. But I believe you also claim that one can see hints in BRI of how the Chinese would conceptualize a new world order that they might come to dominate. Could you comment on that?
Bruno: The basic idea, I think, it’s relatively easy to accept that if China is able to create new world order, which I don’t think even China has any illusions that it will be universal. But, in a sort of game of percentages, it will be very influential in some areas, where China will have 90% of influence over policy decisions and only marginally present in other areas where China will only be able to influence decisions that are particularly important for Beijing. But an order of this kind, which is not a homogeneous and it’s not universal, I think it’s plausible and could very well take place and happen in our lifetimes. Now that my premise is that, if this happens, we shouldn’t expect it to be a neutral technocratic order. And we shouldn’t expect either that it would be resemble Western political order. It’ll have it’s own values, it’s on constellation of values. It won’t be a mutilated version of the West.
Bruno: I see a lot of this in discussions in the West that China is exactly like us, but regrettably, it lacks some things that we have. It lacks democracy, it lacks freedom of speech. It is a sort of a amputated, mutilated version of the West. Now I don’t really buy this, I don’t agree with this. China is its own universe. Its own constellation of values. It lacks some of our values but it has some values that we lack. And so the exercise, which I do only in a very preliminary way in this book, hopefully I can come back to it, but it’s not an easy exercise. The exercise is to try to chart this geography, this landscape of values, as it exists in contemporary China.
Steve: Yeah, I would say, even for myself, someone who’s been around a lot of Chinese people, but grew up in the West, it’s a little bit hard to articulate the set of things that might be naturally acceptable in the form of government or government control in a Chinese culture, Chinese civilization. But which would be very difficult to accept for Westerners. But it’s hard for me to articulate what those things, I just feel like I have a sense of it.
Corey: Isn’t it clearly a certain level of … obviously a certain level of control and surveillance, right? A limitation on certain civil liberties as long as you have economic development and comfortable standards of living. It seems like partly it’s the promise that Russia has sort of made, but not actually held out to its population.
Steve: I think you’re describing it more functionally than culturally. So there’re cultural underpinnings for that functional outcome, which is that, for example, the kid may have heard, through his entire life, many historical anecdotes about a wise king who rules over a not so wise crowd of people. And if you accept those cultural stories as, not just normative, but descriptive of human life and human civilization, then you’re more willing to accept that, “Oh yeah, well she knows better than I do, what we should do about this so let’s just wait and see.” And it’s kind of thing, which I think, is hard to articulate. It’s almost like, even for Europeans, you could have a hard time explaining why Americans naturally accept the idea that I could have an AR-15 in my bedroom, whereas they would regard that as the craziest thing on the planet, right.
Corey: A lot of East Coasters regard that, many people in America do regard that as equally crazy. Yeah.
Steve: Well, maybe not the heart of America.
Bruno: I think that’s an exercise that everyone can make and it’s an interesting one that, if I was still a teacher or professor, I would have my students watch two movies, a Hollywood movie and let us say, Wandering Earth, the science fiction Chinese movie that came out one or two years ago. And try to compare the approach to life, the approach ethical and aesthetic values and try to see the difference. I think, as you were saying Steven, it’s easy to sense immediately that there’s a fundamental difference there and then it’s very difficult to articulate. And I think the reason it’s difficult to articulate is that, we also in the West have a hard time stepping outside our own way of looking at things, our own way of looking at the world. And usually we make the mistake, let me stress this again, of only seeing that China lacks when compared to us and being completely unable to see what China has compared to us. It’s a very difficult exercise where literature, movies, the arts are at least as important, probably more important than politics or economics.
Corey: I think it’s … I was just in Nigeria this summer and they’re very open and articulate about the ways in which their society differs from the West, as far as the importance of community of vis-à-vis individuals. And they’re really, really explicit, “Americans, you’re very individualistic, whereas as we, for example, care about supporting everyone.” And I went around the table with a couple friends at dinner and just asked them straight up, “How many people in your extended family are your supporting with your income?” They gave me numbers but one guy said basically, “Half my income goes to my extended family.” So I think, people are … Americans may not be aware of this, but I think the rest of the world is often forced, or at least is very much aware of which ways they differ from the United States, in particular. And I think the idea of being more community-oriented is probably one of the … I expect that’s probably true of China?
Steve: Definitely more collectivist, I think.
Bruno: Absolutely. I mean, that’s one traditional way to start, the role of the individual and community, I think it’s true of the collective. But that’s true, not only of China, that’s true of Turkey, that’s true of Central Asia, as you said, it’s true of Africa. In a way, I think it’s the West here that is exceptional and different in the way that it’s taken individualism to almost a logical extreme. But not the case in other societies. But I think there’s many other differences. One difference that I’m interested in the book and even beyond, is the relationship with technology. I think we now are seeing completely ways to look at technology being developed in Europe, in the United States and in China. And here, I’d like to give this example because we may end up concluding that China, at least for me someone who’s in love with technology, who thinks that the best we can hope for mankind is going to come from technology, as it has come in the past few centuries.
Bruno: I think China has a more active and more optimistic approach to technology than we now have in the West. I’m very concerned about this enormous reluctance, resistance, fear that is developing, particularly in Europe. But not only in Europe, it’s also the case in the US, against technology. A book that came out two years ago, was The People Vs Tech, and all these things are now accepted as normal. In a way, very different from the centuries where the West became dominant in the world. And in China, you see these banners in Beijing, on Beijing [inaudible 00:28:27] saying, embrace change, embrace the new. They are directly related to reconstruction plans in Beijing, but in a way, also a symbol of a different approach to the future, where you’re committed to it, you embrace it, you know that it contains dangers but also promises, and that the question is how to balance the dangers with the promises. But there’s really not a question of stepping back waiting.
Bruno: Whereas in the West, we have now put business that we can discuss this approach of waiting, stepping back and putting, in some cases, really stringent limits on technological development one way or another. So that’s also a different way to relate to time. This discussion can become very philosophical, very quickly, but different ways to relate to nature, to relate to other people, to relate to time, to relate to pleasure, to relate to death. I think these differences are present as you move beyond cultures and between cultures. It’s just something that fascinates me of course, but it’s one of those issues where you realize you would need 10 or 20 lifetimes to even start to understand them because the understanding here is so slow and it comes too slow.
Corey: This is one of the areas where I think, actually, the differences between the United States and Europe emerged quite awhile ago. The sort of techno-skepticism. And definitely, I think the US is not homogenous by any stretch of the imagination and there’re certain segments that are very resistant to technology. I, in fact, came from a region of the country that was very left-wing and also in many ways fairly, at least parts of were fairly anti-technological, unlike similar left-wing areas on the West Coast, which were pro-technology. But in Europe, Europe is in many ways, much more skeptical than many parts of the US. And the parts of the US that are also incredibly forward-thinking open about it, so it’s a lot of homogeneity. I guess I see is, there’s [inaudible 00:30:25] a gradient perhaps maybe from Europe across the United States.
Steve: And then across the Pacific.
Corey: Across the Pacific exactly yeah, with the peak … perhaps maybe the peak in Silicon Valley and maybe a little bit of [crosstalk 00:30:35].
Steve: No, I think the peak is in Beijing and Shenzhen.
Corey: You think it’s more than Silicon Valley?
Steve: Yes. I think so, yeah. Over the summer I kept getting invited to speak at these various AI meetings, which happened actually all across the globe, and it was very strange because the Europeans took great pride in their power to regulate technology. They would boast of GDPR and the ability to impose all kinds of laws on the entire planet related to technology. The Chinese were, by far, the most optimistic generally about AI and the Americans were kind of in the middle. So …
Corey: But if you segment America into say, the West Coast, kind of California. Separating from the rest, you honestly think that overall, the mean in China is higher than the mean in Silicon Valley?
Steve: Yeah. I think that … Maybe not overall … I mean, I don’t know what a rural peasant knows about these things, but for urbanized members of the technological elite, compared to the technological elite in Silicon Valley, I would say, yeah, there is possibly even more techno-optimism in China than in Silicon Valley.
Bruno: And there’s a fundamental difference in the way Chinese and even Silicon Valley look at technology, that I think lots of people have commented on. Silicon Valley is rather idealistic about technology, even its fixation on software and the idea that hardware is not interesting enough, nothing’s really is happening there, is revealing of this. That it’s pure ideas, pure creativity but very much divorced from the real world to the point where interesting things, exciting things are happening in Silicon Valley, never crossed the boundary to the real daily life people.
Bruno: In China, this [inaudible 00:32:16] does not exist in the good Marxist tradition, the real world and ideas are merged together. And so once you have idea for a specific product, you’re already working to put it on the street. And the culture of tech in China is much more led by sort of engineers and entrepreneurs wanting to make a quick buck, than by software artists. I think in some cases Silicon Valley has become a place of software artists, very much divorced from the real world. There are different ways to phrase this, but I think it’s an obvious difference. The velocity with which technological development is diffused to the whole society in China is just staggering.
Bruno: I think that’s where the real difference is, because clearly in terms of pure innovation, America’s still ahead. But then those things are kept in the lab for too long, perhaps indefinitely in some cases.
Steve: It’s definitely true that in Silicon Valley there’s a lot if utopian ideation. So when someone thinks about a new technology they immediately start thinking about the utopian world that it’s going to lead to. And the Chinese are much more practical, they’re looking at markings on the margin that you’re going to get from this technology right away and they’re more focused on the implementation.
Corey: Your brief soliloquy on the intersection of Marxism and technology strikes me as a great book topic, because the idea that you really want to bring technology down to concrete applications is something I think is not fully discussed. We don’t need so many more delivery apps, we probably need something that’s going to change peoples lives in more concrete ways.
Bruno: You see, I think this is a kind of a bargain that we have in our societies, particularly in America, because you have many groups that are resistant to technology and have other groups that are infatuated with technology, the futurists of different kinds, there’s a kind of unconscious and implicit bargain where the futurists are allowed to develop their ideas provided they don’t affect the rest of us too much, or too quickly. And so they live in their own separate world. So I think the, kind of the … it’s not a coincidence that we have this. I think it reflects the way different social forces have been led to a sort of a grand bargain and the differences between them have been negotiated implicitly or explicitly.
Steve: You feel confident enough make any predictions about how a Chinese led world order might differ in terms of the utilization or development of technology from a US led order?
Bruno: Yeah, I think it would be fast, it would be breaking things all the time with lots of unintended consequences. I describe in the last pages of the book, on the Belt and Road, a little bit of this vision. Infrastructure projects that will blow us away in some respects. I give a couple examples, a bridge over the Caspian, then the conquest of space where I think China is very interested in and I think will move rather quickly. Things of this sort where I think we’ll see a lot of action, and where China will not be as worried as we are about the consequences. Or at least will be confident that they can manage that. And probably this will be a focus and a source of conflict between the US and China. Space in particular seems an obvious area where conflict could very quickly get out of hand.
Corey: Bruno, you don’t mention the kind of spread of … I think often American generated but Chinese disseminated surveillance technology. There’s been a fair amount of discussion of China exporting these technologies to some of the countries in the Belt Road initiative. Do you see that as an integral element that at least come along with maybe Chinese technological world order?
Bruno: Yeah. Although you know, I would like to make number of distinctions here if possible. Clearly, some stories, and I think I mentioned them in passing in the book, but some stories about how these technologies being sold to African governments as a way to control the political opposition is something that should concern us all. On the other hand, I’m perhaps not as concerned as most people about other uses of visual recognition in particular. It seems to me that in a way we already have this body of control, these technologies of control, particularly if you live in Europe, you see them everywhere. You know, there are IDs, people have a lot of accumulated information about you, the authorities. And some of these technology may help actually prevent judiciary errors or police errors, so I’m not as negative as most people. I’m a bit surprised, perplexed, buy this reaction, which is now common in Europe and parts of the US, that if something is high-tech it’s by definition suspicious.
Bruno: And that I don’t get. It’s about the use that is made of it, but obviously visual recognition has enormous potential to make our lives better and to make our societies, in a away, freer. You know, isn’t this case? That if one can prevent judiciary errors of all kinds, provided we have rule of law and we have independent courts. Don’t I prefer that there are cameras everywhere in London so that I’m not wrongly accused of having been involved in a crime because there will obvious be a camera that filmed me somewhere else, and it will be everything easy to prove that I was not involved in that.
Corey: This discussion-
Bruno: I mean, this is … I’m not saying here anything I think particularly outlandish, it seems obvious to me.
Corey: This is actually a theory that I had years ago. I got very interested in the issue of wrongful convictions, and my hypothesis was that wrongful convictions would eventually disappear, maybe that’s overly optimistic, but it would drastically reduce in prevalence simply because not just would you know where people were because of cameras, but one of the main problems of wrongful convictions is people don’t have alibis, they can’t account for their whereabouts. But with wearable technology, you’re likely to know not just where someone is but what they’re doing at that point in time.
Steve: Mobile phone and DNA.
Corey: And like shirts, right. You kind of know if someone is moving aggressively perhaps, at a particular time, and that would make it very hard to convict someone of carrying out an assault or murder or rape perhaps.
Steve: So I think that if you condition on having trust in your institutions, then this kind of potential law enforcement technology is a good thing, right? It reduces the crime rate, makes you safer, makes you less likely to be wrongfully convicted. But the moment you lose faith in those institutions, then they can lock you down immediately, right? So if the bad people get in charge, so it is definitely a double-edged sword.
Corey: I grew up in an area where people were convinced … my mother’s convinced that the government was tapping her phone. In fact she let me that she could hear the ping on the phone … this was … she wasn’t just crazy, this was a … they [inaudible 00:39:21] kind of crazy but it was quite pervasive in this community at the time. I think it still is in large parts of the US. Often uneducated populations.
Bruno: Well, I think that’s where we see a difference between Chinese perceptions and Western perceptions. My impression living in Beijing last year is that in general people are happy with the effect that this technology have had so far. Chinese cities now, even the main cities are among the safest major cities in the world. Beijing is the safest major city that I know, and a lot of the reason for that is the new surveillance technology.
Bruno: So when you ask people, they will be concerned about some of the uses and the consequences and they are, you see that in discussions on internet boards and so on. But they see also the positive consequences which are already present.
Corey: How do they feel …
Bruno: And it seems to me this is the best approach, a critical cautious approach, but not necessarily excluding this technology simply because they are tech.
Corey: How do people feel about this current social [crosstalk 00:40:22].
Steve: Credit rating system which is really plays off of the current technological build. So you … Anyway, you know a lot more about this than I do, Bruno, but can you explain what this system is?
Bruno: Well, the system isn’t in place yet, right. There’s some pilot projects in limited cities and there are some plans that have been published and they probably will never be implemented according to the initial schedule. So it’s something China is moving towards, but again, another error of perception in the West, the system doesn’t exist yet. Of course, every month or every year, that’s why it’s interesting to live there rather than see it from afar, there’s a new development. I believe, no longer in China, but I believe last month in some cities, we saw the introduction of some image recognition technology for jaywalkers in some major Chinese cities and all the pieces are being put in pace, but so far we don’t have the general infrastructure or the general framework for such a system to work.
Bruno: And authorities, as far as I know, are still looking at its pluses and minuses, pros and cons, and trying to tweak the system in certain directions. So time and place, yeah.
Corey: But there’s a vision right? There’s a vision that you would lose social credit for basically violating-
Bruno: That’s … yeah. And some elements of it are in place, but I believe elements of it are also existing the worst. So if you commit an offense on a train, you will have difficulty traveling in the future, but we have that for airlines certainly. And the scale is different, and the ambition is different, and as you say, the vision is already there. It’s public [inaudible 00:42:02] that’s public.
Steve: Corey, would you like to live in a universe within an omnipotent, omniscient god who punishes wrongdoers? Would that be a good thing?
Corey: I guess it would really depend upon the threshold and whether there’s any sort of … The answer is probably no. I’m a little more anarchistic in my outlook. But in reality it would depend on what’s being punished and what the rules are, and whether there’s any kind of democratic response. I’m a believer in-
Bruno: But let me raise another issue on this. It might be the case, that the next wave of technological development is simply not very sympathetic to our political and moral intuitions in the West. Previously waves of technological development were very congenial to us, because they fit with our individualism and our liberalism. The automobile is a perfect example of that, it’s almost a liberal project in itself. Gives the individuals autonomy, privacy and so on and so forth.
Bruno: Now it does seem that, unfortunately perhaps, the next wave of technological development big data, Ai, is actually rather antithetical to liberal political intuitions. But what this means is that we’ll be at a permanent disadvantage in the West and in liberal societies because all this seems very strange to us and all this seems very scary to us. Whereas in China, perhaps they will now be swimming not against the current as they did in previous centuries, but actually swimming alongside the current, because this new technologies Big Data, AI in particular are much more … they seem to suit a certain political and ethical worldview that exists in China better than it suit our own political worldview.
Corey: Yeah I would agree with that, that’s true I think from the automobile to the personal computer to the internet. A friend of mine whose a federal prosecutor and now a novelist made the same argument at least as far as the trends go about DNA testing, his view was for the first few decades, this technology was going to allow people wrongfully convicted to get out of prison. But some point in time we’re going to get most of those people out of prison and then it’s largely going to be used to convict people. And so probably rightly so of crimes that they should be convicted for, but is going to be something that the civil libertarians and the anti-wrongful conviction people would then be find turned against them as defense lawyers.
Bruno: Well, maybe we’re in a moment where we recognizing for the first time in our history that technology and liberty, or technology and liberalism at the very least, don’t go together. But that’s a very dramatic moment because it really raises the prospects of the West falling behind, China in particular.
Corey: But didn’t Orwell see this? I mean Orwell saw this back in early … middle part of 20th century.
Steve: Well, I think Orwell envisioned a victory for totalitarian control, even without super high technology, right? I mean, it was pretty low-tech Stalinist type stuff that was in …
Corey: It was but it was …
Steve: Rats in cages.
Corey: But it was controlled by pervasive surveillance right. It was controlled, the propaganda was effectively television which was new technology at the time.
Steve: Right. The vacuum tube TV set was watching you while you watched it.
Corey: Exactly, that’s right [inaudible 00:45:22].
Steve: I want to switch topics slightly and talk about the relationship between Russia and China which Bruno has written quite a bit about. And I think when I first became aware of Bruno it was through an essay that he had written which described some conversations at a policy meeting called Valdai, and I think you were talking about the changing attitude of Russia towards China and perhaps this was at a moment when US pressure, US sanctions on Russia were at a peak. And maybe you could just comment on that.
Bruno: Well, there are different ways to look at this, the relation between China and Russia, and depending on who I’m talking to, you’ll sometimes hear that the potential for an alliance is there and it will developed. And other times, that there’s historical rivalries between the two countries and they both true, often happens in politics, particularly in geopolitics, you can look at things from both sides and you can make a plausible argument either way.
Bruno: But I think you have to look at the main trend of the development, and the main trend of the development is clearly that both China and Russia see an opportunity to overturn the existing order, which to, us may look like neutral, impartial order where everyone has equal chance. But to them seems like a Western American dominated order. So the plan over the next two decades is to overturn this order. Now once you create new order, a multipolar one where there will be five, six different centers of political power in the world, at that point it’s obvious that those centers will be competing between themselves.
Bruno: And so China and Russia will have their spheres of influence and will have their processes of rivalry and competition, but that’s question for 2050. Until then, there’s a process which both China and Russia regard as unpredictable and slow of overturning the existing order. That’s what I think we should focus on rather than getting distracted by questions which are honestly I’m getting a bit tired of discussing whether they will be competition in central Asia or in the Arctic or whether the Russians are afraid of Chinese waves immigration in Siberia, or whether they had a war in the ’60s or so on. You can always bring these points up but focus on the main thing and the main trend of development, and that’s clearly one where China and Russia are moving together and alongside.
Steve: Right, so I find it persuasive that to the extent that those two stay aligned over the next 20 years, they can make life very tough for the US.
Corey: I guess, I don’t quite see China … Russia as one of these poles of influence, I just don’t see [inaudible 00:48:08] projecting their GDP growth doesn’t allow them to become one of the main influencers in the world. Maybe something will change, but the future for their economy, which is basically, is largely based on oil and gas is not bright.
Bruno: Look at it this way, sometimes I hear Russia is in a deep economic crisis, doesn’t have anywhere to go and so on, because it doesn’t innovate, it doesn’t have human capital, it’s too reliant on commodities …
Corey: Well, it’s not human capital, I don’t think.
Bruno: That’s not the crisis.
Bruno: But that’s not a crisis, that’s the Russian model for past three or four centuries. It was always like that. It was like that under the Tzars and it was like that under the Soviet Union. And still, with all those problems whether persistent and historical, Russia has been a superpower for centuries. So I don’t think we should be complacent about that.
Corey: I don’t think it’s superpower now.
Bruno: Well, look at Syria where effectively beat United States in the Syria game.
Corey: Well because the US …
Bruno: Now we can discuss whether the US was using all its resources and all its powers and is fully committed or not, but that’s the outcome. And that’s the perception pretty much everywhere.
Corey: Well but look, the US simply pulled out of Syria, right, and left it to Russia. And you have a fairly weak power that controls an area where they’re strongest right, but all the other powers, the West, France pulled out and Britain was not involved. Nobody wanted to get involved there.
Steve: I don’t think we’re claiming that the Russians are a superpower the way, for example, the Soviets were. I think the claim is more that if Russia and China have a high trust relationship so that China becomes, for example, one of the primary buyers for their natural resources, specifically energy, that that will stabilize them and it will actually protect the Chinese from the most dangerous thing from them, which is US interdiction of their energy supplies coming from the Middle East.
Steve: So at that point, that alliance, if it’s stable, becomes unassailable. And it’s also true that the Russians are actually in some weapons systems ahead of the United States now because we’ve stopped working on a lot of stuff that’s important. So hypersonic weapons, anti-missile defenses, all kinds of things that service their missiles, all kinds of things actually they’ve built really high quality weapons systems which the Chinese can benefit from.
Bruno: Right. I think that’s all true, that’s all important. And particularly, if you look at things from the perspective of Europe, this is really a critical issue, because if Russia and China operate together, then it becomes very difficult for Europe to preserve its autonomy in Eurasia. So I get the process that US decision makers should be worried about is one where China is able to bring Russia into it’s orbit, and they work together and then working together they are essentially able to transform Europe into a political and economic dependency. And then having power over this enormous regions, all these resources. Sources of technology, commodities, energy and so on. The United States will be marginalized. It will perhaps not be under a threat but it will be marginalized in the world.
Corey: And that assumes that Europe and the USA are not going to form a competing alliance when pressed by Russian-Chinese alliance. I expect … that’s at least my expectations, if they really see a serious threat you’re going to find them being pushed together. US and Europe.
Bruno: That a scenario that, you know, I’m very interested in this of course, even personally, but that’s a scenario. Another scenario would be one where Europe would [inaudible 00:51:36] in half. And half would [inaudible 00:51:40] come under different forms of control or even would voluntarily accept a Chinese and Russian influence, and another port would become more strongly aligned with US than it is now. That another scenario. But it’s an important question, I think.
Steve: This brings us to the topic I wanted to cover which is the future of the EU, and one of the questions I wanted you speculate about is what is a plausible scenario where Europe actually does build up its hard power? It’s obviously a gigantic economy, but they seem to have more or less, with the exception of maybe the UK, more or less completely forsaken hard power as a capability.
Bruno: Right, in a way it’s even worse than that because when you say hard power, I think you mean military power, but the problem with the EU is that it doesn’t even use the power that it has in other areas. The economy, technology, market access, capital, currency and so on. So it doesn’t use power at all, not just hard power. It still believes that it lives in a world of global integration and cooperation.
Bruno: And that could very quickly become an untenable position. If you live in Europe you already see Chinese influence everywhere, and slowly it’s progressing and at the very least it’s making it more and more difficult for Europe to take decisions. It’s dividing Europe and impairing the decision making prices or that what could happens Europe could be on a trajectory of decline and China’s contribution in this sense would be to make it more difficult to reverse that decline.
Steve: Coming back to our favorite test case of Huawei, last time I checked the Germans and the UK are still maintaining their independent capability to make a decision as to whether to use Huawei in their 5G networks, and I think …
Steve: Arm, which actually … Arm, which is a chip design firm based in the UK, has declared that despite US wishes, they are free to sell, to license their designs to China and those form the process … those reduced instructions that patents any intellectual property or used in the current Huawei handsets.
Corey: And Arm is not concerned about the ultimate threat of having their IP taken over by Huawei?
Steve: It’s an interesting question, yeah, I mean apparently so. The company declared that they reexamined their whole patent portfolio and realized it was all British IP and it was not American IP and they were free to license it to the Chinese, to Huawei in particular.
Steve: So, you can imagine that it won’t be that easy to form a hard US-EU alliance.
Bruno: Oh yeah, it looks to me very difficult because on the many issues on the table rather than the very abstract nothing of values, which sometimes disguises the real issues, EU and US are on different tracks. You see differences on 5G and Huawei, you see differences on the ways to react to the change and the issue is the differences on whether the coupling is an option or not, there’s issues on whether Chinese government can be placed on an entity list, on stock in Chinese investment, on stopping cultural interchanges or educational interchanges.
Bruno: I mean, if you go through the issues the US and EU are on different columns every single time.
Corey: I think my … [inaudible 00:55:08] at least once in there I think is possible in the future is that I think you talked about this is one of your foreign policy articles. The [inaudible 00:55:14] between countries becomes to resemble accomplish between large companies in the tech sector. They’re competing but they also have to collaborate enormous range of technologies. They have strengths, right, in their core products, but they have to license an enormous range of technologies from each other.
Steve: So Bruno, you’re circulating among policy expert, not just in the West but also in Russia and in China, I’m curious, what are some of your strongly held geopolitical predictions about the next 20 years that just completely diverge from conventional wisdom amongst these groups that you circulate within?
Bruno: I’m not sure I have strongly held and detailed predictions and I would say not the [inaudible 00:56:02] one insufficiency of my own because I really believe some of these processes are still undecided. They still depend on decision that’s have not been made, when we talk about 20 years. So, will Europe break apart or not, I think it’s still clearly undefined process and we’ll have to wait. We can track it, I’ll be tracking for the next 20 years, but we can the clearly have a solution yet to what’s going to happen.
Bruno: But I’m very confident about other things, I’m very confident that we’re going to continue to see a decline of American power, that China will not collapse, will not have a devastating financial crisis in China and we won’t have a scenario where the Chinese economy will go back to what it used to be 10 or 20 years in terms of global influence. I’m pretty confident that African Latin America will not be significant global players within the next 20 or 30 years. And perhaps we can find a number of other predictions I’m confident about. But if we go down to detail it becomes more and more difficult.
Corey: So we’re coming close to the end of our time, but I’d like to get into your newest book, which I believe will be released in about five months.
Steve: History Has Begun.
Corey: So it’s a dig at, I think, The End of History by Fukuyama, which came out I think almost a little over 20 years ago. Maybe 25 years ago. Can you give us a sense of-
Bruno: Basically the idea is this, so in Fukuyama you have this sense that Europe and America have already reached the end of history and now it’s up for everyone else to cath up. We’re here waiting. We are not going anywhere and everyone else should join us. Then I think of in the past five, 10 or 15 years, people started to have doubts whether the rest of the world would join us. But my book takes the further step of arguing that actually, we in the West are not standing still, and in particular the US is moving towards new historical stage in creating a different society that for lack for a better term has to be called post-liberal.
Bruno: The many of the liberal assumptions that we take for granted are being transformed, but not as a liberal would argue, because there’s a process of institutional decay or decline, but because in fact something new is being created. It’s not that liberalism in the US is collapsing, it’s that there’s a process of creative destruction, and if you look from the point of view of the past, you only see the destruction. But if we try to place ourselves 50 years from now I think we’ll regard this period, the Trump age, as a period where in Trumpitarian fashion something is being destroyed but something new is being created.
Steve: I want to share a perspective from … I was in this meeting in Riyadh that the sovereign wealth fund holds every year, and it’s quite a cast of characters that show up for this thing because it’s one of the biggest pools of money, of capital in the world. So you have people from all over the place. And a money manager, a guy who runs a 10 billion dollar hedge fund from Hog Kong, I was chatting with him and he said, “This Trump thing is amazing because America had these tensions about immigrations maybe the middle and working class falling behind, and it’s actually in the process of at least addressing or, maybe not resolving, but addressing these conflicts whereas in China or Russia or some of these more traditional countries things can just remain static and unresolved for decades and decades and decades at a time.”
Steve: So he was … he’s not a Trump supporter but he was just, he marveled at the flexibility of our political system for actually surfacing these issues, Corey how do you feel about that? You’re making face at me.
Corey: No, I guess it’s sort of obvious the political system is flexible given you had Obama first.
Steve: Yeah exactly.
Corey: It just, Bush, Obama …
Corey: You know, and then Trump, right.
Steve: Obama to Trump in one flash.
Corey: Or Bush to Obama which for many people was the …
Corey: The gravitational shockwave.
Corey: It’s interesting, it seems to suggest that in some ways these countries are flexible, the US is more flexible than China. But other ways less so, it’s simply semination of technology, the response to public sentiment that China seems to have engineered, they built it to survey the population and try to give them what they want in certain areas. Whereas in the US that doesn’t really happen because they’re not a command government. So again it just shows that there’re different ways in which these countries seems to be flexible.
Bruno: Let me finish with this thought because I think we’re approaching the end. I [inaudible 01:00:31] an incredible contradiction that I discuss in the book in our societies, between what you could call the political sphere and the entertainment sphere. So in the entertainment sphere, everything exciting, unusual, different we’re regard as a great virtue. Attracts our interests. Something is happening, a movie or TV show, or it has to has those elements. But then remarkably, when we turn to politics, we still believe that the best kind of party is the ones where nothing is happening.
Bruno: Now in a way we should be able to solve this conflict. Either it’s good to have exciting things happen or it isn’t. But it can’t be, we can’t have a completely different approaching these two spheres in our lives. So obviously the whole world is looking to Trump and to American and following all these stories on a daily basis, but then we’re supposed to believe that this is a horrible thing. I think if the whole world is following, it’s probably because something important, of some historical significance, is happening in America. And isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that a virtue? In and of itself, right? It could be contraposed by dysfunctions, instability and so on. We have to be aware of that, but in itself, I think it is virtue that things attract our interest are happening in America, whereas I don’t see anyone interested in following politics in Berlin. That’s something discuss at some length in my book.
Steve: There’s a little bit of a bias because we are the global superpower and in some ways culturally dominant as well, so everybody is kind of following what’s … I mean, I’m always astonished when I go to foreign countries and people are familiar with the most crazy celebrity figures in the Unites States like Kim Kardashian. So there’s little bit of that, but I agree with you that we are addressing issues that are relevant for example to the Eu. So this whole question of immigration, what to do with industrial hollowing out, perhaps due to China, perhaps due to technology, those are all problems that they face as well.
Bruno: I think Trump, let me just say very quick. I think Trump is important from an historical point of view, not because of the substance of his policies, there’s actually very little of that. But because of this form of entertainment or reality television, unreality in … the idea of unreality of fantasy of turning everything into a story, into a movie. I think he’s bringing this into politics ina dramatic way, that no one expected and no one was prepared for. And when we look back to the Trump years I think we’ll see it as the beginning of this way of looking at the world. Where there’s really no longer any distinction between reality and unreality, between life and fiction.
Corey: Are you familiar with Baudrillard?
Corey: Yeah, french philosopher from the ’80s. He had this idea of the simulacrum of course, everything is surface, everything imaging … it’s something that started with Clinton, right? There was the big, you know, people were very, very concerned about the rise of spin culture under Clinton. Clinton introduced the idea of the permanent campaigns so, it was on a much smaller scale, right.
Bruno: Right, in my book I argue that it kind of started with Kennedy and then it accelerates with Reagan and Clinton and then of course with Trump it reaches its maximum splendor.
Steve: Yeah, with Trump-
Bruno: Put it that way.
Steve: … you finally have a reality TV star running the country. And that was the natural thing, because if you’re a little bit negative about democracy you can say, “Wait, you’re letting the masses decided what’s going to happen? We’ll aren’t … isn’t there an instability that the kind of people the masses really love will actually then eventually be in charge?” And it was a little bit anticipating by for example Berlusconi, right. So there you had a guy who was like living large with the ladies all the time and owned the media, the largest media conglomerate in Italy and also was running the country. So Trump, you know. But it definitely is a new era.
Corey: Remember Infinite Jest? Ever read it?
Steve: I haven’t read the whole thing, no.
Corey: But remember the companies could basically buy years, and you get to advertise in years. There was like a year of the depends adult undergarment. But again, it’s just the pressure to commercialize more and more aspects of a culture.
Bruno: Well, if you think this is where American politics is now about then this strongest democratic candidate I think would be Buttigieg. He’s the one who most resembles a character in a movie, in a political movie. This small town mayor who went to Harvard and went to Iraq and who is gay. So we’ll see, I think he has a lot of potential, we’ll see in two or three months.
Corey: So this … interesting intersection between Buttigieg and your book actually, because his history working for McKinsey, as do I, have to confess. One of the controversies related to the Belt and Road initiative has been McKinsey’s role in this. Have you been following that discussion?
Bruno: Well, from a distance, yes. But it’s sort of more attracted to this idea of the unusual candidate. I think it’s more the case in American politics that the candidate that could win, is the candidate about whom you could make a movie. Because people want to follow the story, and they want to follow it to the end. And if they follow it to the end, they follow it until November 5th. That explained a lot I think of the Obama story and a lot of the Trump story and from this point of view Elizabeth Warren would not stand a chance, but we’ll see. We’ll soon …
Corey: You know, it’s interesting is if Buttigieg actually succeeds, he’d have to do something Obama did which was overcome a deficit basically due to his category. Looking for its studies, comparing Kerry voters to Obama voters, Obama probably lost three or 4% from the electorate due to his race. And Buttigieg would also be at a similar disadvantage because he’s gay. And so even if he has this great narrative, he’d have to overcome that deficit to win the election. Which he very might, you know the views on gay marriage and gay people have changed radically across the country over the past couple of decades, but he has to win [crosstalk 01:06:38].
Bruno: In a great story that attracts media attention and popular attention, you need to sell a [inaudible 01:06:43] of conflict of the unresolved problem. Could be race, could be sexual orientation, but that adds something important to the narrative.
Corey: But there’s … this as far as retail politics and as concrete politics, he’s got to win over a certain segment of the population that may be resistant to him. He’s got to win over older black voters to get to the democratic primaries, and that’s a group that’s actually a fairly conservative. I think recently black voters have come to support gay marriage at a majority level, but I can speak honestly, talking to my relatives and my friends that many black people were behind people of the corresponding class who are white on gay issues. And so he’s got a little bit of an uphill battle to win that segment of the electorate.
Steve: Okay, I think we’re out of time, so I want to thank Bruno for being our guest. Bruno, it’s been a fascinating conversation. I want people to be on the lookout for your new book in five months, History Has Begun. Take care, and hope to have you back on the show again.
Corey: Thanks Bruno.
Bruno: Thank you. It’s a pleasure. ‘Til next time.