After yesterday’s evil, stupid and frightening Executive Order, and its chaotic, confused and terrifying so-called “implementation,” the question has to be asked whether currently US institutions like those listed above (Harvard, Google, New York City) will be allowed to operate according to their internationalist, intellectual, and truth-respecting values. Because, if the answer is no, then they are going to start thinking about moving first certain operations, and then their leadership, to other countries.
For modern institutions, free flow of ideas, scholarship, thinkers, and contributors is critical, and a rational fair border flow policy is critical. If a country can not offer that any more, then those organizations that make the country home will suffer massive competitive disadvantages. And so will the countries from which those institutions then start to move. Low tax rates only make a difference if you have income.
I am struck by the analogy to the state travel boycotts, and threats of boycott, that played such a role in the recent dis-empowering of homophobia. Many states were forced to back down by those boycotts and threats of boycotts. As time goes by, maybe countries will start to face the same dynamics. It is no good pressuring a corporation to reduce job losses at an in-US plant if there is no intellectual property creating a product that will be wanted enough to keep the previously “saved” jobs producing anything.
Judicial intervention tonight makes this less immediately likely, but unless long term sanity is returned to government, leaders of such institutions will be forced to start to make contingency plans, or cease to be seen as international leaders.
Maybe the current spasms are the death throes of a long dying nationalistic international order, rather than an existential threat to the still emerging international one that has been developing ever since the end of World War II.
I hope that internationalist institutions will find a way to underline the stakes.
p.s. In a model statement, Harvard indeed has. See here.