Dissolving Borders

March 16 marks an important date for those who cherish peace and harmony between human beings: Open Borders Day. The website openborders.info, founded by Vipul Naik, is in its third year of existence (it began March 16, 2012). It aims at opening up the conversation around immigration and freedom of movement across political borders. Its goal is “a world where migration is unremarkable and largely unfettered” and the site provides a wealth of information supporting the objective goodness of that goal.

The site’s popularity and site traffic have grown considerably each year as people worldwide increasingly realize that state administered borders and corresponding immigration restrictions are broken, and ultimately counterproductive. While truly open borders are a lofty and idealistic goal in our unfortunately statist and territorial human reality, incremental movement toward that ideal is something peace-loving people must aspire to.

Today’s biggest and deadliest conflicts result largely from governmentally imposed borders. Not to say that human beings don’t have real, underlying disputes with one another: Disputes over land, money, power, religion and other ideological differences. But the separation of people created by state borders intensely magnifies those disputes.

When feuding parties are unnaturally forced apart by walls, be they real or metaphorical, you can count on their disputes escalating into outright aggression against one another. And the states who govern such borders would have it no other way. The personal conflicts states fuel by setting political boundaries are the lifeblood of their existence. Bitter enemies are created where they wouldn’t otherwise exist, thanks to the literal human disconnect created by these arbitrarily drawn borders. The result is “our” need to be protected from “them”: A convenient excuse for politicians with preexisting imperial ambitions.

In a world with no political borders, disputes would likely be handled nonviolently, by and large — through compromise, cooperation and communication. Parties with a sense of connectedness, whether they choose to be connected or not, must manage their disagreements peacefully. In today’s authoritarian, state-run world, diplomacy is usually a last resort. There is simply nothing for politicians to gain from peaceful dispute resolution. War and bloodshed between states is a profitable enterprise, and a power-building exercise for the states involved.

A day prior to Open Borders Day, Travel Channel debuted a program called Breaking Borders. Whether acknowledged or not, Breaking Borders makes the case for open borders. The show brings together people from opposite sides of a deadly world conflict to break bread and talk. American chef Michael Voltaggio cooks for the clashing parties, as they exchange ideas and culture over a meal. If Travel Channel is able to attempt to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, as happened in Breaking Borders’ first episode, surely governments could reproduce such a meeting of the minds. But again, governments have a vested interest in keeping their populations isolated from the rest of the world, and in keeping cross-border conflict alive.

Where political borders dissolve, multiculturalism proliferates, increased toleration of differences results, and often, ideologies and dogmas soften and dissipate. As philosopher and open border proponent Robert Anton Wilson said, “we’re just learning to get outside our own skins. That’s what life is all about, you know — making windows, breaking out of every box.” Without borders, we’re free to pursue this healthy human process together, rather than apart.

Translations for this article:

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory