Reading the Economist this week, came across an article reviewing a new book by Philippe Legrain entitled Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. Legrain advocates for the free movement of labor. This is an interesting idea... what would happen if our borders were opened up tomorrow? I'll let the economists debate the economics of it all, but socially it does pose an interesting question. After all, what are the point of borders?
Obviously part of the point/purpose of borders is to protect people in the nation state, but other than that, what do borders really do? Ethnically pretty much every border between countries is blurred; just look at a map of Europe, you have people of Polish decent living in Germany and Germans in the Czech Republic. The US/Mexico border features just as many Mexicans, or people of 'Mexican' decent as it does Americans. If you're of Mexican decent and born in Laredo, you've got a leg up on the person of Mexican decent born inNueva Laredo because you'll be the American citizen. The person that might be less than a mile away, but if you're on the wrong side of the river, you're, for lack of a better word, some what screwed.
And then there are cases like in Canada and the US... what's the point of even having a border? Seriously? What's the difference between a Canadian and an American... if you look a someone born and raised in Ottawa, you're going going to be able to tell that they were born and raised in Ottawa. I'm just as much Canadian as a friend of mine born in Ottawa is American.
I realize as an American I should 'protect' my Americaness. By encouraging the masses that aren't Americans to come to America I can, some how, lose part of my Americaness... but what I don't get is that they guy crossing the Rio Grande today... in eight years when he's got his American citizenship, is he less of an American because he was born in Mexico originally?
Borders are silly, or better yet, nation states are silly. History has proven that the nation state is a fantastic killer. People like to blame religion, and sure at times religion has been a brutal murder and war creating organization. But nation states have done a fantastic job at this also. 18th to mid 20th century Europe was pretty much a near constant conflict between warring nation states attempting to increase their power. Africa appears to be going through those same 'growing' pains right now. America did a wonderful job at beating the shit out of Mexico 150 years ago in the name of the nation state. And nation states create borders. I'm fairly sure that the idea of drawing a border around the map of Alexander theGreat's Empire or Genghis Khan's Empire was silly back in their eras. That might be because it was pretty difficult to actually do that, but even still, to my knowledge theRoman's didn't draw borders around their territory. Maybe they did, but I can't find a map doing a google search and I can't think of coming across anachient map with clearly defined borders in the past. Please, correct me if I'm wrong.
What's sort of funny about this border talk is that it's yet another issues that the 'right' and the 'left' agree upon. Free market lovers like Beckeret all, would probably argue for the opening of borders (I assume) since it's less regulation and allows skilled workers to find better jobs. Lefters take the position I'm purposing... that borders are bad since they lead to so much harm and serve very little in the process. They're totally objective... the entire idea that I'm an American is somewhat bizarre since maybe 1/128th of my blood actually comes from American (Native American). That's not to say I'm not American, I am... but ethnically I'm only 1/128th American... I guess. 200 years ago, most of my ethnicity came from Europe. I chalk my American Passport up to luck, not some sort of Red, White, and Blue. Count your blessings that your ancestors went to the US and not Canada or Argentina... but then again if they went there, you'd be oh so proud of being Canadian or Argentina and would be able to think of life as a non-Canadian or non-Argentinian.
Hey, if people can choose a new God in life, why not let them choose a new country?
All this said... I ain't trading my American citizenship for anything. It'd just be cool if I could go to Sweden without having to stand in line or get a job in London without having to fill out a bunch of papers. After all, I do live closer to London than I do the 50th State of the Union; yet I could go to Hawaii and have little trouble getting a job. Just the way the world works right now.
Of course, collecting taxes, if there were no borders, would be a pain in the ass. Whatever... a world without borders, or at least with free movement, would be a better place.
(I'm sure this is some what fragmented and disjointed... whatever, this ain't no academic paper; just some thoughts).