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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Interview With Sam Harris; The Fight Against ISIS; Rise of Airbnb, Uber, Lyft a Problem for Regulators; American Democracy Not Answering Needs of American Majority; Traveling to Iran with Anthony Bourdain
Aired November 2, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE.
Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
On today's show, my first guest says over 300 million Muslims are either jihadists or want to foist Islam on the world. Really? Sam Harris' recent appearance on Bill Maher's show got me to offer my thoughts on Islam in the past weeks.
Today Sam and I will hash it out directly.
Also, the fight against ISIS. Should America and the West even be involved? Or is it a local sectarian conflict best left alone by the world? We'll have a great debate.
And what do the protesters in Hong Kong and the people of America have in common? A lot says my guest, Lawrence Lessig. Indeed, the Americans, he said, should be even more upset than the umbrella protesters. I'll let him explain.
Then Anthony Bourdain on his trip to Iran. The food, the people, the culture behind the politics in the Islamic republic.
But first here's my take. Can Arab countries be real democracies? Well, one of them, Tunisia, just did well on a big test. More than 20 years ago the scholar Samuel Huntington established his famous two- turnover test for fledgling democracies. He argued that a country can only be said to be a consolidated democracy when there have been two peaceful transitions of power.
Tunisia passed Huntington's test after last weekend's election when for the second time a ruling establishment agreed to hand over power. Tunisia's relative success is in marked contrast to the abysmal failure of Egypt. The Arab world's largest and once most influential country.
As in Tunisia Egyptians also overthrew a dictator three years ago, but after Egypt's brief experiment with democracy in which the Muslim Brotherhood was elected and then abused its authority, today the country is ruled by a repressive dictatorship. I recently asked a secular liberal Egyptian from Cairo who was
involved in the uprising against Hosni Mubarak whether the current regime feels like a return of the old order. Oh, no, he said. This one is far more brutal, repressive, and cynical than Mubarak's.
Why did Tunisia succeed where Egypt failed? Analysts of the two countries have offered lots of answers, but the most common one is that Tunisia's Islamists were just better than Egypt's. In both countries Islamist parties won the first election, but as many have pointed out, Tunisia's Ennahda Party, which is a rough equivalent of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, sought to share power while their Egyptian brethren did not.
Now Tarek Masoud, the author of a fascinating new book on Islamists and elections entitled "Counting Islam," suggests that Tunisia's success and Egypt's failure had less to do with the quality of its Islamists than with deep differences in those countries' political environments. Tunisia is more developed, more urban, more literate, and more globalized than Egypt.
It has a more diverse civil society than Egypt, stronger labor unions, civic associations, professional groups, and so there was relative parity between Islamists and their opponents. Tunisia's Islamic party shared power, in other words, not because it was nicer than the Muslim Brotherhood, but because it had to. Tunisia had more of the preconditions that have historically helped strengthen democracy than did Egypt.
Of course, Tunisia faces many economic challenges. Its youth unemployment rate is around 30 percent. The government is battling Islamist militants at home and recent reports have suggested that the Arab world's only democracy is also its biggest exporter of fighters to join ISIS. Though this may be because Tunisia is relatively open and not a closed police state like Egypt.
But Tunisia's relative success does suggest there is nothing inherent in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root there. You need favorable economic and political conditions for sure in the Arab world as elsewhere. You need good leadership, and you probably need some luck.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
One month ago the celebrated atheist, author, and neuroscientist Sam Harris appeared on "Real Time," Bill Maher's HBO show. The conversation about Islam that ensued created quite a bit of controversy. Harris said, among other things, that, quote, "Islam at this moment is the mother lode of bad ideas." Unquote. He went on to say that more than 20 percent of Muslims are either jihadists or Islamist who want to foist their religion on the rest of humanity. That comes out to about 300 million people.
I beg to differ and said as much when I responded with my own thoughts on the show. But I wanted to talk to Mr. Harris in person so here he is. He's the author of a new book "Waking Up," and we might get to it.
SAM HARRIS, AUTHOR, "WAKING UP": Yes.
ZAKARIA: But first I want to ask you about that number.
ZAKARIA: Which struck me as sort of pulled out of a hat. If you do have, you know, something in the range of 20 percent of all Muslims who are either jihadists or Islamists and, you know, which implies condoning violence and such, I'm just doing the math, that comes to about 300 million.
ZAKARIA: So there's -- there were 10,000 terrorist events last year. Let's assume that 100 people -- let's assume all of those were Muslim. Let's assume each event was planned by 100 people, neither of those assumptions is right but I'm being generous.
ZAKARIA: That comes to about a million people who are jihadists. So that still leaves us with 299 million missing Muslim terrorists.
HARRIS: Yes. Right. Well, there are a few distinctions, I think, we have to make. One is there's a difference between a jihadist and an Islamist. And there I was talking about Islamists and jihadists together. And so Islamists are people who want to foist their interpretation of Islam on the rest of society and sometimes they have a revolutionary bent, sometimes they have more of a normal political bent, but they do want --
ZAKARIA: But the fact that somebody may believe that, for example, Sharia should obtain and women's testimony should be worth half a man's in court.
ZAKARIA: Doesn't mean that they want to kill people.
HARRIS: Well, no --
ZAKARIA: Being conservative and religious, which by the way is not my orientation at all, but it's different from wanting to kill people.
HARRIS: Yes, yes. Well, we should -- again, you have to this on specific points like, do you favor killing apostates? Do you think adulterers should be killed? And even among Islamists you'd find more subscribing to one versus the other depending on the poll you trust. But I didn't just pull the number out of a hat. There's a group at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill that looked at 40 years of parliament tear elections in the Muslim world. Literally every election that has occurred and found Islamists got 15 percent of the votes.
So I would say that -- if you take that number 15 percent who will vote for Islamist parties and then you look at the poll results on specific implementation of Sharia law, so do you want adulterers and thieves given the traditional punishments or should apostates be killed, you find -- you never find the number with very few exceptions. You never find the number as low as 15 percent voting in favor of those punishments. It's often 60 percent depending on the society.
ZAKARIA: Right. And --
HARRIS: So I was -- I believe nudging that up to something around 20 percent is still a conservative estimate of the percentage of Muslims worldwide who have values relating to human rights and free speech that are really in zero sum contest with our own. And I just think we have to speak honestly about that.
ZAKARIA: Clearly Islam has a problem today but there have been periods when Islam was at the vanguard of modernity. You know, it was the place that preserved Aristotle and preserved science. So if it was Islam that was the problem, how come it was OK then? In other words that would suggest that it is the social and political conditions within Muslim societies or -- you know, the people -- in other words clearly Islam has been compatible with peace and progress and it is compatible with violence I would argue just like all religions.
HARRIS: Yes. Well, up to a point. I would say that specific ideas have specific consequences, and the idea of jihad is not a new one. It's not an invention of the 20th century. Many people are now spreading a very PC and sanitized history of religious conflict.
Islam has been spread by the sword for over 1,000 years, and, yes, there are -- there's been an intensification for obvious political reasons of intolerance in the 20th century, but the idea that life for Christians and Jews as dimmy under Muslim rulers for 1,000 years was good doesn't make any sense and certainly life for Jews when you --
ZAKARIA: Wait a second --
HARRIS: When you compare it to medieval Christendom then OK it might --
ZAKARIA: But that was the main alternative.
ZAKARIA: I mean, that's why when the Jews left Spain and were expelled they went to the place that they thought was most hospitable to them which was the Ottoman Empire. HARRIS: Yes. OK. But so --
ZAKARIA: Which is the caliphate, right?
HARRIS: You know, I criticize Christianity as much as anyone. I wrote a book "Letter to a Christian Nation".
HARRIS: Which just say a vilification of the history of Christianity, the influence of the beliefs in the modern world --
ZAKARIA: I would have thought having written that book you would recognize that there are elements of Christianity that, as you point out in that book are --
HARRIS: There are. There are.
ZAKARIA: -- compatible and celebrate slavery and violence.
HARRIS: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely.
ZAKARIA: And, you know, all these very, very backward attitudes, and yet there are times when Christianity represented that and at times when it represented peace and modernity.
HARRIS: OK. But there's a few things we have to distinguish here. One is, specific ideas have specific consequences. So when you ask why Jews aren't living out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy anymore and not -- they're not sanctioning genocide, they're sanctioning killing people for working on the Sabbath, there are several answers to that question. One is that there is no Sanhedrin. But the fact that they don't have a Sanhedrin makes --
ZAKARIA: Explain what a Sanhedrin means.
HARRIS: It's a consecrated body of elders in the community that can judge whether or not somebody should be killed for working on the Sabbath. So the details matter. And one of the details here is that a belief that in Islam that the one true faith has to conquer the world through jihad essentially and that free speech --
ZAKARIA: But jihad means different things to different people.
HARRIS: I agree with you that we have to convince the Muslim world or get the Muslim world to convince itself that jihad really just means an inner spiritual struggle. But that is the end game for civilization but the reality is an honest reading of the text and an honest reading of Muslim history makes jihad look very much like holy wars.
ZAKARIA: So in that sense, the problem is you and Osama bin Laden agree.
HARRIS: Well --
ZAKARIA: Because after all you're saying this is -- his interpretation of Islam is correct.
HARRIS: Well, his -- this is the problem. His interpretation of Islam is very straightforward and honest, and you really have to split hairs and do some interpretative acrobatics in order to get it look -- get it to look non-canonical.
ZAKARIA: But do you really think that the path to reforming Islam is to tell Muslims that their religion is the mother lode of bad ideas, that they should become atheists or symbolic followers or nominal I think was the word you used. These nominal followers.
ZAKARIA: I mean, do you really think that 1.6 billion devout Muslims are going to go, oh, damn, of course, Sam Harris is right, my religion is crap and I should just abandon it?
HARRIS: No. No. Well, and I slightly misspoke there. I didn't mean nominal followers in the sense that only Muslim atheists could reform the faith. What I meant is followers who don't take these specific dangerous beliefs very seriously and want to interpret jihad as an inner spiritual struggle as opposed to holy war.
ZAKARIA: But do you think you're helping them or you're making it harder for them by, as I said, adopting the Osama bin Laden interpretation?
HARRIS: I'll tell you who's making it harder for them. Liberals who deny the problem. I get e-mails every day from atheists and secularists living in the Muslim world who say I can't --
ZAKARIA: Forget about others.
HARRIS: No. I'm telling --
ZAKARIA: I do help --
HARRIS: I'm telling you the only metric I have for that is I hear from people living in Pakistan, for instance, who say if a liberal like you can't even speak honestly about the link between ideology and violence, what hope is there for me?
I can't even tell my mother what I believe about God because I would be afraid of my own family or village killing me.
ZAKARIA: Sam Harris, thank you very much. Stimulating conversation.
When we come back, we will stick with the theme of Islam and have another debate. This one about ISIS.
Should the U.S. and the West even be fighting the Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria or is this a local sectarian battle that we are better off staying out of? When we come back.
ZAKARIA: Let's take a step back from the machinations and the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and ask some very important questions.
Why is the West involved at all in this sectarian Islamic struggle? And how can we fight jihadis who are moved by religious passions?
I want to bring in two people who have very strong feelings and knowledge on these matters, Bernard-Henri Levy is an author and activist, perhaps France's most important philosopher. He famously pushed his own government and the broader West to intervene in Libya back in 2011.
Rashid Khalidi is a professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. The author of many books.
Bernard, what is the answer to that question? Why should the West be involved in a dispute between the Sunnis and the Shias in Iraq and Syria about who should rule?
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, PHILOSOPHER: Because it is not a dispute between Sunni and Shia. It is a dispute between democrats and non-democrats. It is a dispute between enlightenment and obscurantism and this battle concerns, of course, the world of Islam first, the moderate Muslims are on the front line, but it concerns also all of us.
We are on the second line. It is the real, remember, Huntington Clash of Civilization which was a stupid idea. The real clash of civilization is inside the Islam, the battle between moderates and Islamic state, jihadism and so on, and this battle is a world battle, ideological battle and in Syria and in Iraq, alas, not only ideological but military, too.
ZAKARIA: Do you see it the same way?
RASHID KHALIDI, PROFESSOR OF MODERN ARAB STUDIES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I don't actually, Fareed. There is a battle going on, and it is a battle that the United States and other countries are going to be involved in. But it's a battle I think we have to understand the roots of if we're going to deal with it correctly.
One of the roots of this is Western intervention. You did not have al Qaeda in Iraq which is the root of the Islamic state before you had an American invasion of Iraq. You do not have the kind of rage and anger at the United States except as a result in the west, as a result of western intervention.
So if the problem is partly a Muslim problem or a Middle Eastern problem, part of the problem is also Western intervention. The American invasion of Iraq created this situation. This was the seed bed for the situation. Yes, you had differences in the Islamic world but there was no such thing as this movement in Iraq before 2003.
ZAKARIA: When I went to Iraq during the American occupation I would try to see things in terms of democrats and dictators just as you were saying, but on the ground what I found is that all the Sunnis said, well, you put in place a Shia government and the Shia would say now it's our turn, in other words --
Which the United States did. I mean that's accurate.
ZAKARIA: But they read what we were trying to look at in ideological terms they read entirely in sectarian terms.
LEVY: The Arab world and the Muslim world cannot continue until the end of the times to say that everything is a fault of America. One has to face also his own responsibility. So let's stop with this primary anti-Americanism. America is not guilty of all the sins of the world.
KHALIDI The first thing to say is, of course, the United States isn't responsible for all these problems, but whereas many people in the Muslim world, in the Arab world blame everything on everybody else. In this country we never examine ourselves. We Americans fail to look at the things we ourselves have done and the kind of impact those things have. I mean, when we use drones to kill people we want to kill for whatever reason, we also kill other people.
What is the collateral effect of that? Nobody talks about that. When we intervene and destroy a state as we did in Iraq, we destroyed the entire Iraqi state. We took out the Baathists. We did more in Iraq than was done in Nazi Germany. In Nazi Germany you took the top of the pyramid out. They took everybody who had anything to do with governance. Who came in on the back of American tanks? A bunch of Shiite exiles from Tehran.
LEVY: Are you comparing what America did with what Nazis did?
KHALIDI: I'm comparing the failure of the occupation in --
LEVY: Thank you. Thank you.
KHALIDI: -- Iraq with the success of the occupation in Germany.
LEVY: Thank you.
KHALIDI: Where the entire structure of government was not uprooted.
LEVY: OK. OK.
KHALIDI: The entire structure of government in Iraq was uprooted. We have to look at those things ourselves.
ZAKARIA: So what do we do now?
KHALIDI: What do we do now? The first thing you do is you solve a political problem with political means. The problem in Iraq is a political problem. It's the nature of the regime installed after 2003. That has alienated the Sunnis. You cannot go on that way. The first step was removing Maliki. There are many, many more steps that have to be taken.
The second is to talk about Syria realistically. The horrific regime in Syria is one of the problems. Another one of the problems is that that regime has powerful external backers. The United States has to figure out how to deal with that, has to deal with Russia and it has deal to Iran and it has to deal with those countries in a rate politic, non ideological fashion.
The Iraqis are Islamofascist fashion, can't talk to them. Putin is reestablishing the Soviet Empire. Can't talk to him, they're bad people. Fine. You deal with it.
LEVY: In Syria there is really two forces which are sort of twins and which bred each other, which is the dirty state of Bashar al-Assad guilty of 200,000 dead --
KHALIDI: And actually -- sorry. You keep feeding --
LEVY: And the growing -- and the beheaders of the Islamic state.
KHALIDI: Both of them are awful but you keep throwing around 200,000, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group, over 100,000 of those dead are a regime forces. So the regime has killed maybe 50,000 of its soldiers.
KHALIDI: Butchers, butchers. They've have done it before. But --
KHALIDI: Let's not throw around those numbers.
LEVY: I don't do this sort of -- in Syria, which is a great country with a great civilization, a great people, 200 people -- 200,000 people died before of the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. Today in Syria bred by Bashar al-Assad who took out of his jail all the work --
KHALIDI: And his father.
LEVY: No, no. And his father, but at the beginning in 2011 Bashar al-Assad opened the gates of his jails, put out the worst Islamists. Built the Islamist state which we are facing today who behead --
KHALIDI: You know what he was doing --
ZAKARIA: We've got to --
LEVY: Who behead David Haines and --
ZAKARIA: OK. We're going to have to continue this conversation another time. Maybe off camera.
When we come back, in today's world you can get a cab or a car in minutes using your smartphone. You can find a place to sleep almost anywhere in the world. You can even book somebody for emergency hairstyling. But what happens when all these new apps meet old laws?
We'll take a look.
ZAKARIA: Now for "What in the World" segment.
Several weeks ago the CEO of Uber Travis Kalanick was a guest on the show. He told me that the biggest development in technology today is that the world of bits is bumping up against the world of atoms to which you might say what is he talking about?
He was highlighting a crucial trend. For years the technology revolution was operating within the digital world changing the way we got words, music, movies, or products that can be produced and consumed in digital form. In other words, in bits. But now software and the big data revolution have moved into every aspect of life. Getting a taxi or hotel room, groceries, and other kinds of physical products.
And that's causing friction where the bits and bites of the digital world meet the atoms of the real world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAVIS KALANICK, UBER CEO: It's weaving its way in the physical world. And once you get into the physical world, you are now in the realm of the mayor, and so there's a lot of regulations that go way back that didn't contemplate what the future was going to look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Kalanick's company is taking on the world's taxi cartels and commissions. Airbnb is battling the world's hotel industry and zoning laws and the new global currency Bitcoin is puzzling financial regulators. They all raise fundamental and fascinating questions about whether some of the functions governments have taken on over the past decades or centuries are necessary, but new technology should not become simply a mask to avoid paying taxes or abiding by standard rules. Look at Airbnb, a service which allows people to rent anything from an apartment to a castle to a treehouse for a night, a week, or even a month in 190 countries. Just a few weeks ago New York State's attorney general said that 72 percent of Airbnb's rentals in New York City "appear to violate New York law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Public safety issues involved in having an apartment treated like the hotel rooms.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: What's more, the attorney general contends that a small percentage of Airbnb users between 2010 and 2014 accounted for a disproportionate share of the revenue. From the private rentals overall, the A.G. said, New York City may be owed some $33 million in unpaid hotel taxes.
Car services like Uber and Lyft have also been met with resistance in several cities. Germany recently issued the first nationwide ban of Uber. To help navigate this regulatory minefield the techies even turned to a Politico. Uber hired David Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager. Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School said that while some aspects of this technology are troubling, these companies are forcing society to confront its regulations and to ask whether they make sense.
We will probably all agree that people who we hire to drive us around ought to undergo background checks, but should the local taxi union really be able to limit the number of drivers and cars on the road in a city like New York, asks Strauss? That is about restricting competition. Indeed, many of the regulations in place today have created many monopolies that allow cartels to limit competition and raise prices. That's, of course, bad for the consumer.
I think we do need regulations, but we need smart regulations that allow for innovation, new enterprises, and growth. The greatest problem with government regulations is not that they're good or bad, but that they are eternal. Once in place, lobbies form to sustain them and they're rarely modified or eliminated.
But governments will have to come to terms with the wave of technology that is creeping into every aspect of life. Even in Germany, which takes pride in its highly regulated system, officials recently overturned the nationwide Uber ban and have created a compromise that is complex, but workable. Advanced economies like Germany and the United States always face the danger of getting sclerotic, jammed up over time with an accumulation of regulations and rules. The interests of the past and the present are well represented in politics by special interests formed to protect them. But the future has few lobbies for its cause.
Perhaps technology will change that representing the future, injecting some dynamism into the economy and shaking up the old way of doing things. When we come back, my next guest will tell you why he thinks the American electorate should take a cue from the protesters in Hong Kong.
ZAKARIA: Over a month ago protests began in Hong Kong. The so-called umbrella movement was started because the citizens wanted to be able to pick their own candidates for the city's leader or chief executive rather than have the candidates preselected for them. My next guest, Larry Lessig says that voters in the United States who go to the polls on Tuesday should take a page from these Hong Kong protesters. He's a professor at Harvard Law School and the director of Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics. So, why do you make this comparison to Hong Kong?
LAWRENCE LESSIG, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, look at what's going on in Hong Kong. They want to have a two-stage election and in the first stage a small committee of 1200 people get to pick the candidate. So 1,200 out of 5 million is about 0.24 percent of Hong Kong picks the candidates who get to run in the general election.
Well, compare that to the American system. Any candidate who wants to run for Congress in America knows he has to raise an incredible amount of money to be able to run for Congress. Who were the funders of that campaign? It's a tiny, tiny fraction of America. Maybe about 0.05 percent are the relevant funders of campaigns. So, in America like in Hong Kong, we have a two-stage process and at the first stage a tiny fraction of our democracy chooses the candidates who get to run effectively in the second stage. And so it's just like that two-stage process in Hong Kong.
ZAKARIA: And why is that in your view so corrupting? Why is it that having to raise all this money from a small sliver of the public is corrupting?
LESSIG: Well, just imagine you spend 30 to 70 percent of your time calling these funders, this tiny fraction of the one percent, to raise the money you need to fund your campaigns. As any of us would, it would develop in you a sixth sense, a constant awareness about how what you do will affect your ability to raise money. Your focus is on the funders and not on the people, and the point is if the funders are not the people, which they are not when they are this tiny fraction of the one percent, it can't help but corrupt the way our government functions.
ZAKARIA: And leave aside presidential elections where people may have grand, lofty motives. When you're funding a congressman, often you have a very specific quid pro quo. There's something you want in return, some change in the tax code, some regulation.
LESSIG: Absolutely. I mean we've seen, for example, Wall Street take the number one lead now in funding candidates for Congress. We've seen many people who want special tax breaks or renewals of special tax breaks take the lead because they understand this is how you get the attention of members of Congress. You step up with your check, and that check is what gets you entree into the policy making process in Washington.
ZAKARIA: You come to this unusually. I mean you're a Reagan Republican. You clerked for Justice Scalia. So what got you to the place you are now?
LESSIG: This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an American issue. Every American has got to recognize the way the system has corrupted our democracy and makes it impossible for Republicans and Democrats alike to get what they want out of their government. Look, if you're a Republican and you want to simplify the tax code, there is no way to simplify the tax code as long as this is the way we fund campaigns. If you're a Democrat and you want climate change legislation or real health care reform, there is no way to get those reforms until you change the way you fund elections. So we're pushing the idea that we've got to get beyond the left/right, Democrat/Republican division and recognize there's a fundamental problem with our democracy, and it will not be fixed until we change the way we fund elections.
ZAKARIA: This election we will spend $4 billion. As I think I saw the last British general election the entire election cost something like $100 million. I may be wrong, but some tiny fraction of what we're spending.
LESSIG: So, that's right, and if you look at the ads and the way campaigns are run, it's a terrible, terrible system. But, look, in my view the problem is not the spending. The problem is the fundraising. And if we could spend that amount of money, but raise the money from small dollar contributions of everybody so that candidates were not beholden to this tiny, tiny fraction of the one percent that would be infinitely better than the system we have.
ZAKARIA: So how would you do it?
LESSIG: Well, there are two proposals out there, one a Democratic proposal, one a Republican. The Democratic proposal John Sarbanes Government by the People Act would make it so small contributions are matched up to nine to one. A lot of like the way New York City runs its elections. So small contributions become effectively big contributions. The Republican idea is to basically give out vouchers, vouchers to all voters for small contributions so that if you get a voucher, you can give it to a candidate who agrees to fund his or her campaign with small contributions only.
Both of those ideas are basically the same, because what they do is radically increase the number of funders of a campaign so that we don't, like Hong Kong, outsource the funding of campaign to this tiny, tiny committee of funders who are unrelated to the way, in which most Americans care about their democracy.
ZAKARIA: How likely is this to happen?
LESSIG: Well, I think that we actually are seeing incredible progress, especially among Republicans recognizing that they need this change before we get back to a government that can actually work. So I think we are at a moment where we can get progress with both Democrats and Republicans and I think we can actually see 2016 as ultimately an election about this issue so that we find a way to get a government that could work again.
ZAKARIA: Larry Lessig, pleasure to have you on. Best of luck.
LESSIG: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Next, on "GPS" inside Iran with Anthony Bourdain. The politics, the food, the people. The American muscle cars. What? Life inside the Islamic republic when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: Three years ago I set food in Tehran for the first time. I was there to interview then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the time, Iran's relations with America and its allies were at one of their many low points. Ahmadinejad seemed to get great pleasure from spouting his anti-Western rhetoric. Today things are very different. While many tensions remain, it is possible that in less than a month's time Iran will sign a nuclear deal with the West. But what does Iran look like beneath all this high politics? That is what Anthony Bourdain went to find out when he visited the country for an episode of "Parts Unknown" that airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. We sat down recently to compare notes.
So you did the thing most American negotiators haven't yet done, which is actually go to Iran?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: Yeah, and an incredible experience. What we saw inside Iran was extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring, and very, very different than the Iran I expected from always - you know, from looking at it from afar, from a geopolitical sense, what we read on the news, what we know from that long and very contentious relationship we've had as nations.
ZAKARIA: What do you think was the most surprising thing to you?
BOURDAIN: To walk down the street as an American and have total strangers constantly saying where are you from? America? You know, have you tried our food? Thank you for coming. I'm so -- just outgoing, friendly, welcoming to strangers to a degree that we really experience very, very few places and I'm talking Western Europe and allied nations. We were really - we'd been told to expect that, but you're thrown by it when you face it everywhere. Our producer was -- it was his birthday and we all went out with our local crew to a very crowded restaurant, traditional Persian music and Iranian families eating and someone found out that my producer -- it was his birthday, the entire restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to him and they presented him with a cake. It was a very different Iran than I had been led to expect or could have imagined.
ZAKARIA: The thing that struck me was how well run Tehran was. It's clean. Everything works. It's bustling. You think of it as this sanctioned, you know, outpost of the evil empire, and it was - were you struck by that? It's very - a bustling city.
BOURDAIN: It's there, and you see how careful people are, of course, and they are very cognizant that the -- what's OK right now might not be OK in five minutes as far as behavior. But it feels a lot like Barcelona for a few minutes at a time, and we went at one point -- hung out in a parking lot in Tehran late at night with all these young Iranian kids who collect American muscle cars and basically hang out and order up pizza and rev their engines and collect, you know, mustangs and challengers, and for a minute you can be forgiven for thinking it's southern California. The kids like any other - It's a very young country, of course. So the disconnect between the hard- liners and the people who run and control the country and the Iran you see and feel on the street is very jarring and I think people are - it's just going to blow people's minds when they see it. ZAKARIA: You obviously draw some conclusions or inferences from the cuisine of a place and how people eat and the broader culture. So when you looked at Iran and you tasted the cuisine in the country, what inferences did you draw?
BOURDAIN: It's a big cuisine. It's, you know, Persian Empire was big, and it incorporated influences from all over the region and as far away as a part of the trade -- international trade going back to ancient times. They had Chinese, Indian, Arab, every type of influence, but what's particularly interesting since it's an eat at home culture as many cultures in the region culinarily, what is interesting is that they intermarry in Iran ethnic groups and tribal groups from different former regions of the Persian Empire intermarry, so every house you go to has a cuisine and a repertoire passed from generation to generation that is unique to that family, so that it's quite extraordinary when you eat in people's homes how different and how that mix of influences creates, because it's constantly evolving.
ZAKARIA: Why would you rank it? You know, when people think about great cuisine, they always say, well, French, Chinese, maybe Japanese kind of the top.
BOURDAIN: It's right there with the Turkish and -- China is sort of a grandmother cuisine but it's right up there, and I wish I knew enough about the cuisine at this point to give you an intelligent answer. I only got a few bites of it, and I - enough to say I want more.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much, Anthony Bourdain.
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," why the Republicans and Democrats will never, ever, ever get back together, but curiously they do agree on the musical styling of a certain blond pop princess. I will explain.
ZAKARIA: More than 40 percent of Internet users use social media according to Google's consumer barometer which surveyed close to 50 countries around the world. It brings me to my question, which of the following countries' online populations has the highest percentage of social media users? Is it, a, Turkey. B, the United States, C, China, or D, Russia? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week Walter Isaacson's "The Innovators." Everything Isaacson writes is compulsively readable and this book does not disappoint. It's a sweeping history of the information revolution, with chapters on the rise of the computer, the microchip, the transistor, the Internet. Each one populated by fascinating characters. This is the one history to read about our age of technology.
And now for the last look. Despite the ugly discord of the recent midterm campaigning it's heartening to hear that Democrats and Republicans share some surprising common ground. According to some new analytics from Facebook. Facebook looked at everyone who liked campaign pages of Democrats and Republicans running for governor, the Senate or the House and examined their other page likes. Take a look at these graphics.
The more an artist or author or place is disproportionately liked by supporters of one side or the other the farther it appears to the left or right. Republicans' taste in music skewed not surprisingly toward country artists while Democrats, also not surprisingly, love the Beatles and Bob Marley. Members of both parties like Taylor Swift. As does my six-year-old daughter, who as far as I know has no party affiliation. I'm scratching my head over this one. The Empire State Building was disproportionately liked more by Democrats. The destination both Dems and Republicans could agree on was the Jersey shore. Perhaps it was all that Christie/Obama bonding on the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question was A. Turkey. When 92 percent of the country's Internet users are on social media, according to Google. As foreign policy.com points out, President Tayyip Erdogan's government has reportedly created what has been called a social media army of sorts to take on online activists as part of a broader social media crackdown. Turkey's people need an army to protect them from many threats, including ISIS right next door, but freedom of speech is surely not one of those threats.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.