by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ April 15, 2021
Our problems recognize no borders. Refugees, storms, air pollution, climate warming, satellite media, and airborne microplastics ignore our arbitrary borders. We moved away from borders as irrelevant and archaic, but the regressive lurch to older authoritarianism forms has brought them back.
The fixation on borders is a symptom of social psychosis. They are the product of insecurity and weakness, representing either the prevention of change from other people or an attempt to block a threatened population's departure.
Borders are an invention of the modern world with the nation-state's rise and its immediate predecessor, the absolute monarchy. This is tied to the concept of strong sovereignty developed in France in the late 16th century.
Before that, borders existed as shaded areas of influence by regional centers of power. This was usually evolving from or devolving to a feudal system of personal authoritarians in alliance with others. This was inherently vague unless a large geographic feature was used, such as a river or mountain range that provided a natural barrier.
Historically, the hardest border was the Great Wall of China that attempted to prevent the Mongol and Manchurian feudal alliances from invading imperial China. While the walls worked for control of small raiding bands, imperial China fell to the Mongols in the 13th century, as did much of the Eurasian landmass and, finally, to the Manchus in 1644.
The Manchus, as imperial China, didn’t accept the Amur river as a modern style border with Russia until the Treaty of Nerchinsk concluded in 1689. Russia and China still fight skirmishes over changes in the rivers flow and islands' appearance needing to be claimed. The number of chronic disputes tied to the imposition of European-style borders is a constant drain of resources in remote areas.
The modern nation-state requires borders as the concept of total sovereignty in a state or kingdom must specify ownership. This has been tremendously escalated with the evolution of capitalism into its late form in the 21st century. This has become a threat to us and many related lifeforms.
As we can see in the tragedies inflicted on people on the US's southern border for decades, a level of crimes against humanity as people flee political collapse and, increasingly, climate change disasters. We have no right to block population movements in reaction to the life-threatening problems we have been instrumental in creating. We have no right to block refugees in any case, but it is morally worse as a contributor to the problems plaguing large parts of our population.
The constant threat of war in areas where weak nation-states attempt to assert control over borders is constantly in our media. Russian sanctions just imposed for Russia being a rogue state are specifically tied to military build-up and incitement of trouble in Ukrainian regions with significant Russian-speaking populations.
India and Pakistan, at war since the creation of the ‘border’ between the two in 1947. They are now rumored to be in talks over that border in Kashmir, the site of many battles over the last twenty or more years. Remove hard borders and eliminate these problems.
Our societies are primarily now virtual, existing as communication and social networks. Our problems, as stated above, make borders irrelevant. Even the United States' maintenance of 18th-century internal borders creates disasters in our climate-challenged and pandemic-ridden world.
The problems we face are planetary and local. They must be solved from the planetary perspective but at the local level. Increasingly local government is metropolitan and does not need redundant regional, provincial, prefectural, or national governments.
These redundant relics become points of corruption and arenas for irrational authoritarians who use them as springboards of oppression. Again, the US is a clear example of unnecessary governmental units that are deadly to the people in areas where they manage to assert some control. Unlike the true local metropolitan governments, they are dedicated purely to power and not service.
As the climate crisis worsens and planetary resources a lost in areas uninhabitable by humans, populations will become mobile and move to where there is the hope of survival. We need to set the standards for dealing with this now while it is possible and recognizing the end of borders as anything, but an anachronism must happen.
We have enough disaster befalling us without creating artificial ones at arbitrary borders.