What’s a Good Country?

Most of the world’s problems are really just symptoms of a bigger, underlying problem: that we haven’t yet worked out how to organise ourselves as a single species inhabiting a single planet. This can change.
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Problems like climate change, pandemics, migration, human trafficking, terrorism and economic chaos are multiplying because of globalisation.

Technologies like the internet and aeroplanes connect everyone and everything, so all the good stuff spreads, but so does the bad stuff:

  • one person with a cold can cause a pandemic
  • one geek with a laptop can shut down the power grid
  • one bad bank can bring the global financial system to its knees.

These problems are too big and connected for any one country to fix them. America can’t fix climate change. Italy can’t fix migration. Mexico can’t fix drug trafficking. We need to co-operate and collaborate much more closely if we’re going to make the world work.

But, most of the time, we don’t. Why not?

Because the seven billion people who created all these problems are still organised in two hundred tribes called nations. Each one is run by a government that’s totally focused on the national interest: what will make us richer, happier, safer, stronger? They don’t worry too much if that makes others poorer, unhappier, more vulnerable, weaker because, well, they’re foreigners. And foreigners can’t vote.

Can this ever change? Yes it can. It will start to change when countries learn to be gooder, and harmonise their domestic and international responsibilities more effectively. When they discover that you can co-operate and collaborate without losing competitive advantage. When they start to co-operate and collaborate in new and innovative ways that nobody has dreamed of before. When they find out that thinking internationally isn't about altruism or self-sacrifice: when done well, it produces better thinking, and that means better policies, with better outcomes both at home and abroad.