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A borderless world

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What I'm Learning from Globalization and Why I Believe in a World Without Borders

A borderless world is what can lie in the aftermath of a global pandemic.

Noureen Farnawany

Lately, I have been actively fighting for the Palestinian liberation movement while resisting rising antisemitism. It may sound like a juxtaposition but fighting for the justice of all and not the injustices of some makes this challenge unquestionably standard. Thinking of Israel and Palestine, as well as COVID-19 and globalization, I begin to imagine a world without borders; rid of imaginary lines that maintain nationalism and disguised inequality, rather than one with free movement and global governance supporting global citizenship.  

Borders have not always existed; they are a rather modern phenomenon as discussed by Bridget Anderson and Reece Jones. Anderson in a TedTalk discusses the function of borders historically and their function today as a dystopian structure sustaining inequality. Anderson traces the first forms of identification papers used to control poor laborers in England to later forms of border control among migrants, expanding the context of how modern-day border control acts within a discriminatory framework, belittling individuals of shared and equal humanity. Jones in an interview with Stephen Lurie defines the system of borders similarly, and as “primarily a system for controlling resources, a system for controlling people, and particularly a system for excluding other people from access to those resources. It [borders] protects some sort of privileges that have accrued in a particular place—whether that's control of the resources, wealth, or a set of cultural or political practices in that place—and it excludes other people from the ability to have access to it.” These imaginary lines seem to only reinforce a hierarchy that keeps certain people in (as defined by the nation-states) and others out, yet while still allowing the movement or expansion of corporations under the promotion of neoliberal free trade. Not to mention the inequality and privilege certain national identities attain in terms of freedom of movement.   

Not only does the concept of a borderless world lie in the foreground of a new view of immigration but a world without definitive nation-states would require an overarching global effort and formal body. One with balanced power, far from the likes of the UN. A borderless world is what can lie in the aftermath of a global pandemic if we take the time to properly analyze the current structures defining our normal or the pre-existing conditions of neo-liberal and capitalist development. COVID-19 has not exposed anything new, it has rather exacerbated the exploitative pre-existing conditions existing among a neo-liberal, capitalist, and globalized economy.  

Why is it easier for some to spend two weeks at home away from work than others? Why is that healthcare unaffordable? Why is it that governments still seem not to understand the importance of childcare, maternity leave, and equal pay in terms of the female workforce? Why is it that there are more than enough homes in the world for people to live in, yet we still have unhoused individuals? Why is it that some of the biggest corporations are benefiting off of the pandemic, still putting people out of jobs, and are still given bailout stimulus relief? Why is that Big Pharma is preventing the global production of vaccines? Why is it that we’ve witnessed the positive effect lockdown had on our emissions yet somehow, we still insist that the unregulated and exponential growth required of capitalism will not ultimately doom our planet? There are so many structures that COVID has caused some people to question, but obviously not enough. Understandably, we are focused on the urgent and direct protections required of the pandemic. By no means should we act quickly, but an encompassing, global response requires us to analyze the many questions raised above. Imaging a borderless world during COVID may provide for a unified and global response. For those that can, thinking about COVID in terms of not only keeping people safe in the present but how we can ensure the safety of all to live a dignified life in the future, can usher this moment as a turning point for the course of history. “We cannot be isolated from the idea of sociality—that our lives must be in touch, that our sense of responsibility must involve solidarity, reciprocity, and mutuality.” 

In terms of our increasingly globalized economy and culture, it is not hard to draw the need for a global political framework or global governance. How can we address the labor and environmental consequences of free trade and fast fashion, without collectively addressing those responsible at both the local and global level? Chowdhury quotes Daisaku Ikeda’s three key principles to form global citizenship. Listed is “first, a realization that all life and living beings are interconnected; second, the embracing of difference rather than denying or fearing encounters with the other; and finally, cultivating compassion and “imaginative empathy” for others.  These three principles will be important to consider or draw upon in a focus for global citizenship and a borderless world.  

There is one argument I always find an immediate wake-up call. There is no doubt that if we share, there is more than enough to go around. We have to get imaginative and think of a world that is drastically different than the one we currently live in today. Vince Raison mentions that John Lennon’s famous song Imagine was not the first hope for a world without divisive nation-states “but that his dream of a world without conflict and division was one of the world’s most popular songs because it reflected the natural human desire for peace.” I believe there are few who truly wish for social injustice, exploitation, violence, and war. Maybe my opinion for no borders and global governance stems from my experience of a transitional upbringing, inhibiting strong nationalistic ties or belonging. Nonetheless, expanding our imagination of what the world could look like to encompass our global/collective and local/individual struggles will be important to fight against a pervading culture of conquest as defined by Dunbar-Ortiz—violence, expropriation, destruction, and dehumanization.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Noureen Farnawany

Noureen Farnawany

Noureen Farnawany is an undergraduate at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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