We asked Nicholas Shaxson to comment on his current work and ideas that have influenced him.
Nicholas Shaxson speaks on 31 January in a special festival event looking at tax havens and their implications for us all.
Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
The thorny problem of how to interest non-experts in the complex issues around tax havens. How to join up disparate groups focused on apparently disparate themes, in a range of different countries, and to persuade them that they are all ultimately looking at the same thing.
What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
Perhaps Maurice Glasman and William Taylor’s work on the City of London Corporation – how it has carved out the most remarkable political role for itself as, quite literally, an offshore island within the United Kingdom – without anyone really noticing.
What is the most important book/article/website of ideas that everyone should read and why?
I know I would mention my own book Treasure Islands – but I believe that it really is something entirely, utterly new. And the Tax Justice Network has done as much as any group in pushing forward understanding of this vast and almost unexplored set of issues: their website is an enormous trove of knowledge and analysis. It’s aimed more at high-level experts than at the ordinary person on the street, but work is now being done to start making its work far more palatable to non-experts and to build a growing community to get engaged on these issues.
In 1910 Charles Masterman asked ‘What will the future make of the present?’ What do you think people in the future will make of the present?
The age when we realised that we knew almost nothing about economics.
What are you most pessimistic about?
Climate change, I suppose. An economic and political sea change on tax havenry. In the very short term, I’m most concerned about a concerted counter-attack against my book. It hasn’t really materialised yet, but it will. I suppose that’s more a question of trepidation than pessimism.
What are you most optimistic about?
An economic and political sea change on tax havenry. I know that contradicts the last point, but to be honest I swing between optimism at the vast potential for change, and pessimism at the sheer scale of what is required and the vested interests that will fight to preserve the status quo.
Who are your heroes?
Whistleblowers – however complex their personalities and histories may be. Private Eye. UKuncut. Single parents. My parents.