What should I ask Bruno Maçães?

I will be doing a Conversation with him.  Bruno is the author of Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order, published earlier in the United Kingdom but just now in the United States.  It is one of the essential reads of the last few years and was last year a tied favorite for my “Book of the Year.”

On the book:

Well, it turns out there is a book explaining all the recent, strange events in China, Russia, Turkey and the European Union

Here is his excellent recent piece on what the West is becoming, and why.  I also have read he is currently writing a book on China’s “One Belt, One Road.”

On Bruno, here is one bit from Wikipedia:

Bruno Maçães is a Portuguese politician, political scientist, business strategist, and author. He studied at the University of Lisbon and Harvard University, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation under Harvey Mansfield. He is currently a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington.

My Conversation with Bruno is in fact one reason why I took my August trip to Kiev and Baku — what better and indeed necessary way to prepare for a discussion of Eurasia?

So what should I ask him?


Since it doesn't make any sense to talk about Europe and Asia as analytical units, why should we pay attention to his book?
Since his excellent recent piece states as facts a lot of nonsense ideas, why should we pay attention to what he says?
Since there is no evidence that he has any special knowledge about China (I bet he knows nothing about the transformation of the Chinese economy --for example why China's financial system has been so large in comparison with the financial systems of all other countries at the same level of income), why should we pay attention to what he will say in his new book?

Tyler from 5 years ago was right. Motivational coaches are the future. Customers are literally asking "why?".

Please tell me how you coach when you lack the knowledge and skills to motivate others.

EB, you may be right about what you accuse Maçães of but citing sources for your observations would be better? And if you are really more knowledgeable than Bruno Maçães about the topics he writes about how come you don't disclose your real name and hide behind initials?

The primary insight I take from reading Macaes is that the political unity between Western Europe and America is coming apart and that we should look at Western Europe as a political entity that has projects and goals significantly different from that of the US. If so, then why does it make sense to lump Europe with Asia and call it Eurasia. If anything, it seems that differentiating Europe and Asia should be more helpful, since you view the political architecture of the world in a more fine-grained way?

What evidence would lead him to conclude that his thesis is incorrect and that we are not returning to a Eurasian dominated world order?

How can a young, Western, entrepreneur-minded, individual of modest means capitalise on this prediction?

Btw, the book is excellent.

Given the enormous amount of debt that China has binged on since 2008 and the large debt commitments involved both for itself and the countries on the OBOR route, is this not likely to be a stillborn project if there is a serious Chinese economic slowdown?

What is more likely to happen in the next 20 years: (I) Mainland China marching towards democracy or (ii) Hong Kong political system becoming more like the China of today?

Dawn of Eurasia begins with the assumption that you can sort of 'keep America fixed' in your analysis, just look at Europe and Asia to see what will happen in the future, and then declare that America will 'reflect' whatever this new set-up happens to be. I found this to be a very strange assumption, and I read the remainder as a travelogue rather than paying much attention to his predictions. So if I was talking to him, that's what I'd ask about.


His knowledge of North America seems limited.

He still vastly underestimates the power and importance of the US.

What does he think is the long term fate of the settler-countries in Oceania and the Pacific? I'm thinking mostly of Australia (my home) and New Zealand, and from a slightly different direction also Singapore and Malaysia.

We both have large, rapidly growing resident Chinese populations. The older generation of immigrants came mostly from pre-1997 Hong Kong, while the majority of new immigrants are from the PRC. Almost exclusively, they have been outstanding immigrants and contributed a great deal to our countries.

The Chinese Communist Party now seems to be taking a much more active interest in using overseas Chinese populations as a tool of state influence. So we see influence operations in schools, universities and business, inappropriate influence over politicians and occasionally intimidation of resident dissidents. Embassy-organised nationalist protests are a fairly common sight in Canberra.

Is it our destiny to become a kind of tribute state, like Cambodia or Laos? We have small populations and a political/business class which seems completely paralysed by the issue (and in thrall to Chinese investment). In the long run what should we be doing?

Probably by default the tribute state scenario, given the indifference or ignorance to the political and geopolitical implications of China's rise among Australian politician. Bob Carr is a good example. In his published diaries of his 18 months as Australia's foreign minister he hardly mentions China. The electorate seems similarly unconcerned, somehow there is a complete blind spot on this matter. Too busy enjoying the economic sunshine. The New Zealand example is also alarming in the muted reaction of their political class.

Sorry, but the NR essay misses the mark. "Factories are being closed because of competition from China and elsewhere . . ." No, factories were closed because American firms elected to shift production to China where labor was much cheaper; nobody forced Apple to shift production to China. And this move to exploit cheap labor in China promoted foreign policy strategic goals, namely, bringing China inside the tent rather than leaving China outside the tent to agitate for social disruption elsewhere. And it promoted tax avoidance schemes: absent foreign operations, Apple would have a far more difficult time deflecting income to tax havens.

"Why would Republicans refrain from lobbing the same accusations of foreign meddling against Democrats in the future? And why would foreign powers not attempt the same tactics again, now that they have seen how easy it is to sow chaos and discord? Trump did not bring this situation with him. He is in fact the product of a new world where voters in the U.S. feel increasingly vulnerable to influences from the outside — influences which can no longer be managed or controlled as they were in the past." No, not everyone is willing to betray America for political advantage, and everything is not beyond our control: the both sides do it refrain and the powerless refrain promote an inevitability argument that is self-fulfilling.

The reality is that American firms shifted shafted American labor and shifted production to China and, no longer deeding modern infrastructure to compete, bought politicians who would cut taxes and all but abandon public goods. It wasn't inevitable and it does not have to continue: it continues only with politicians who do their bidding while fomenting social chaos.

You seem like just the kind of sleazeball who would buy his gas from a different gas station if they charged less.

Why would you shaft your usual gas station, and exploit the workers at the new one?

Nobody is forcing you to do it. And I bet you don't care at all about the social chaos you are fomenting, either. Dick.

The novel is the great virtuouso of exceptionalism: it always wriggles out of the rules thrown around it. We of, of course, live in a postmodern world, a word that gets thrown around so much it symbolizes only America's, and so too, the novel's, bankruptcy. Look, Sartre wrote in praise Passos' use of a bird's eye point of view, but one was a communist and the other an anti-communist. It's deafening , defeaning, a result of the "ideal" newspaper article, in this world, that confronts us today with deep mysteries is not the "best" or ideal or only way to create character .

Isn't the concept of a ''United Countries of Eurasia'' essentially advocating for a project that gets 80% of the way there instead of 100%? Why not just include the Americas and Africa as well?

What is the ideal structure for a more effective European Union that can hold its own in Eurasia? Do you see a federal Europe happening, a shared fiscal policy or military? Would these be good or bad things?

Here is something that came as a surprise to me: Trump's connections to the Russians and his ambition to become president, and the connection between the two, date back to 1986: Craig Unger, House of Trump, House of Putin (to be published this month by Dutton).

please explain why so many women agree to be interviewed by Howard Stern, who continues to mock women every day (when Barbara Bush died, Stern did a piece on all the weird demeaning misogynistic sexual practices he - Stern - liked to imagine that she submitted to in her last few days).

Every single woman who Stern interviews is a liberal. He does not interview women who support Trump.

He did interview Trump himself, however

What is the equilibrium in Eurasia, if its countries that have a non-American definition of nationhood, will try to use their diaspora in each other Eurasian country as influencing force, possibly even a de-stabilizing one?

(e.g. see Chinese in Australia, Turkey and Turks in Germany/Netherlands... Russians in Ukraine)

I would ask him,"Maçães? How do you pronounce that? What even do those symbols on the letters mean?"

"ç" instead of "c" means that is pronouced as in "once" instead of as in "cat" (only used if the following letter is "a", "o" ou "u"); "ã" instead of "a" means that is pronouced as in "candy" instead of as in "rain".

Why not "Maçãs"? That is a real word!

I actually was curious about this too. Americans often have ambiguous names but we don't resort to various accent marks to clear up any confusion. Why is that? Maybe we should, or is it just affectation by certain parts of the world?

And what about those ominous-looking umlauts so beloved by Motorhead and other metal groups?

I think btw that Cesar Cedeno was the ground-breaking baseball player who first got a tilde added to the name on his uniform

Is Fukuyama still going to be right, eventually?

Thanks for the OBOR book recommendation, will look forward to that.

Yes, he is.

Which edition of Fukuyama? He's been consistent?

- Is live fado just for tourists?
- What classic work of Portuguese literature should every American read?
- On balance, has European unification affected Portuguese cuisine positively or negatively?

What are some of the Straussian messages in The Dawn of Eurasia?

How has Harvey Mansfield impacted your thinking on politics ?

How soon will the high-speed railway connecting Beijing > Astana > Moscow > Berlin come online?


Why would he bother to study under a blow-hard like Harvey Mansfield? If he made that mistake, why trust his judgment here?

I am inclined to see secession movements in western democracies as an alternative to rebellion/civil war as a way to express extreme political dissatisfaction. What does he think extreme political dissatisfaction will look like in the coming years, especially in states with powerful security forces?

His views on prospects for UK and US revivals of Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great, Pts. I and II?

In his National Review piece he writes "among the intellectual and the financial elites, beliefs and practices acquired over generations look as solid as ever." Complacency? I mean just a couple years ago we were being treated to "the great stagnation" as an excuse for the elite's failures. In what possible sense could the US's financial practices be considered solid? Does he believe that national elite classes grow sclerotic from time to time and does elite featherbedding harm national progress and reduce the efficacy of legislative and policy change? Which countries have successfully addressed the challenges posed by an entrenched class of ineffectual and corrupt elites? Is the Brazilian judicial system perhaps provide a model for the US to emulate in reforming its corrupt legal system?

"Is the Brazilian judicial system perhaps provide a model for the US to emulate in reforming its corrupt legal system?"

If you van import Brazilian judges, yes, it is.

At what point in Africa is the area no longer Eurasian?

I would ask him what role the pursuit of dynamism has played in this new "colonization" of the West--and in particular what role those elites who advocate dynamism have played.

Or, to put it another way, if economic growth is your core guiding principle, is the eventual Trumping of your civilization inevitable?

How will Russia's declining economic power and rising political resentment shape the future of Eurasia? Is it inevitable that Russia will become more "Asian"?

How soon will the EU disintegrate? How soon the USA?

If it was me I think I would ask a bit more regarding the potential parallel with the free trade world order pre-WWI that was tied up with the political alliances and what we have been seeing in the late 20th Century/early 21st Century free trade world order, and the corresponding political alliances.

Maybe add one other questions. If the source of the response to the existing status quo is from the core -- what is the ramification for China in 10, 20 and 50 years.

What's his take on Mark Blythe's explanation for our current pickle?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xmmx9tekWo&t=3s for a video
here: for slides to quickly figure out what he's talking about:

In a nutshell we are seeing the "cartel parties" who have externalized legislative policy in order to get to a more frictionless global network become unable to respond to the electorate resulting in populism. 1980s neoliberalism worked too well prices are very stable too stable there's no inflation, wages are too low and debts too high. The result is debtor vs creditor stand offs played out in party politics.

You can ask him what he thinks if William Overholt and his latest book China's Crisis of Success. You can also ask him what he thinks of Russia under the Putin regime and it's role in Eurasia.

"of" And you could ask where and when Europe dropped the ball in technology, so now there are only two power blocks US and China. And ask whether Europe 2018 is comparable to authoritarian Europe of 1933, see Poland and Hungary.

Haven't read the book but: What does he think about Harold Mackinders Heartland-Theory (aka "World-Island"-Theory which was the basis of the American containment strategy)?

Reading the (unfortunately notorious) Jason Richwine's Harvard PhD thesis lately, I noticed M.Maçães was mentioned there. Without wishing to get into undue depth here –– is he concerned by the prospect of intra-EU rupture on external immigration, with the Atlantic nations (generally) favourable and Mitteleuropa (generally) hostile?

And he has written of EU's tech-phobia incisively in the past –– does he see any way of EU converting its excellent potential here into commercial and military advantage anytime soon?

I'd like to hear his thoughts about Portuguese colonialism. What are its distinctive features? When you compare it with Spanish former colonies in Latin America, both are somehow strinkingly similar. They have established more or less functioning middle-income democracies. So why the resemblance, and what are the differences to British and French colonialism?

More a comment than a question, but I feel like Bruno's Trump takes don't deal enough with the reality that Trump is a historically unpopular president.

His linked article that starts out with the claim that the EU is a free trade block doesn’t exactly raise my view that he had any deep insights to share. The absolute raison d’etre of the EU is as a protectionist block with the rest of the world trading only by treaty and the internal market disorted by CAP and other monstrosities. If it were really a free trade block then Brexit would be trivial, people could carry on buying and selling to each other without hindrance. He has completely misdiagnosed the problem, people don’t like being told what to do by incompetent elites who actually have only magazine article understanding of what they are trying to do.

If the European Union's core flaw is that it is a technical body without the necessary political foundation, would it be desirable/possible for it to transition into a fully political body? (say a united states of Europe).
Does this core flaw justify Brexit and make it look wise?

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