It feels appropriate today, as we cross the man-made, artificial border from one year to the next, to look at borders in more detail.
The purpose of borders is to artificially separate or unite people outside or inside an arbitrary division. While we normally mention *borders* within a context of nations or other political-geographic separation, it also happens within myriad other aspects of life: gender, race, religion, class, etc. I create a border when I password-protect my email or use a PIN to protect my bank account. Borders are built around home values and SAT scores and bank balances and what cars you drive. It is very convenient for those who benefit from the current global social structure that nationalism is so strong. It allows the masses to be kept obedient and resigned to their exploitation by the system.
In other words, divide and conquer; the oldest trick in the book. We must come to see that our interests as free human beings transcend borders. Can we overcome our fear of scarcity and thus any need to protect or hoard or identify with any restrictive, exclusive, identity? Borders necessarily bring into being the notion of policing; society’s greatest role in maintaining the current state of affairs is to instill in each child a self-policing mechanism, instructions on what is acceptable, what is not, and a fear of being exiled or killed if behavior strays too far outside the *border* of normal.
If we are on the right side of the borders, we feel entitled; maybe we say we just worked harder and deserve more, or that we are naturally gifted and talented and should be respected. If we are on the wrong side, we may feel shame or anger, but usually have no way to address or remedy our exclusion. We see no reasonable or viable alternative, in either case, to the status quo. But because these borders are artificial, they can be reconstituted, or even abolished completely, by members of society. Perhaps a few at first, but as word spreads, as success is proven within the new paradigm, more will join the new worldview. Borders exist to maintain power and control over others, so the first step to dismantling them effectively is to identify whose interests are served by each division.
Nationalism relies upon directing the conversation to the *natural* characteristics of social or racial groups rather than the system the results from the establishment of borders. This is classic misdirection. Because you are *American*, you are inherently superior to any other national identity because America is *the best*, right? Thus immigrants can be cursed as taking something away from us, some of our inherent goodness that they are unable to get if they remain in their home country. How are they entitled to this, we are asked. They are different, not like us, so how can they just come here and claim to be special like us? If we can’t blame immigrants for *stealing* from us our power or our strengths, we actually have to look at capitalism or fascism to find the root of our problems; and that is unacceptable to the system itself because the system is fascist and capitalist. Thus our rage against the inequalities and poverty of this system get channeled into anger aimed at those who have no say, no control, and no ability to make the changes needed to address the core dysfunctions.
Migration, which often can be within a political border (rural to urban, shore to inland) rather than just into another country, is at all-time highs. What is the cause? It could be economic, a lack of employment or programs that allow all to have the basic human needs for survival. It could be due to war, as people flee its death and destruction. It could be due to climate change, as once fertile lands become desiccated or flooded, unable to produce food any longer. In each of these instances, note that there is no effective mechanism for people to change the course of the system that brings about these problems. Our only recourse is run or die; or bring about a different way of organizing community that feeds us spiritually and physically, mentally and emotionally, and allows us to be fully human.
Understand also; pollution does not recognize borders. As the capitalist imperative for profit at any cost fouls water, land, and air, migration will only increase. Borders are a way for the capitalists to regulate or control the movement of workers; in some cases, like Germany in 2015, workers who are educated are welcomed as refugees from the Middle East/North Africa region. Germany proudly declares they will accept one million refugees, then winnows out the poorly educated and augments its workforce with labor that can be paid less than the wages its citizens receive. This is the opposite of outsourcing, sending work to cheap labor locales, and instead it brings the cheap labor into the manufacturing country so it can be better controlled and yet still be paid less than a living wage. What is spun in media as a humanitarian response is actually cold, calculating, and driven ultimately by greed for profit at society’s expense.
To achieve a world without borders, one that is inclusive of humans and all of life, we need to radically re-imagine what it means to belong. As human beings we need connection and tribe and relationship; this makes it odd that we have succumbed to a system that is so efficient at keeping us separate and alone, or providing a false sense of belonging to some group that is meaningless in terms of providing us with what we need to thrive. Can we begin to *belong* to a world that has no borders; a world where we thrive in our connection to a greater whole?