A Nation Without Borders Is Not a Nation

Image via telegraph.co.uk

First and foremost, borders are not arbitrary. A vast majority of states formed based on rough breakdowns of culture, creating a cultural identity in each nation.

History reminds us of how starvation and mass poverty are the direct results of governmental centralization. Look no further than the difference in life expectancy between East and West Germany.

The experiments we have had in global government have not been the most successful. The League of Nations failed to prevent World War II, and the United Nations has, time and again, been unable to stop human rights violations such as the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

In the midst of his presidential campaign in the summer of 2015, Donald Trump quoted Ronald Reagan: “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation at all.” Although the modern Republican Party may have abandoned many of President Reagan’s core principles, the GOP remains largely committed to controlling the nation’s borders. This is not only the conservative position but also the sensible one. Borders delineate the jurisdiction of a nation-state. Although critics of the nation-state raise valid points, its two alternatives of either a world government or a dissolution of national government altogether are both much worse than our albeit imperfect nation-centered world.

A commonly cited argument against the nation state and its right to controlling its borders is the arbitrariness of these borders. Who put them there, one may ask? Why do we need them? Why do some foreign ruling class get to restrict my freedom movement?

First and foremost, borders are not arbitrary. A vast majority of states formed based on rough breakdowns of culture, creating a cultural identity in each nation. These values became synonymous with the nations themselves.

What do we do once we eliminate all borders? One of two things: either we establish a one world government, or we eliminate all governments altogether. The former is a dangerous proposition, as it can lead to a government easily susceptible to tyranny. Our Founding Fathers knew the horrors of centralized government and how easily it could escalate into totalitarianism, so they instituted the Tenth Amendment. If we were to establish one global government, the lack of decentralization could lead to dictatorship and a the erosion of liberty.

President Reagan once said “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.” If we submit to a global government, there is nowhere to escape if we are wrong. Freedom would, in all likelihood, suffer. Furthermore, the inefficiencies of central planning have been well-documented. History reminds us of how starvation and mass poverty are the direct results of governmental centralization. Look no further than the difference in life expectancy between East and West Germany.

And besides, the experiments we have had in global government have not been the most successful. The League of Nations failed to prevent World War II, and the United Nations has, time and again, been unable to stop human rights violations such as the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The latter scheme of anarchy is equally troubling. As political theorists from Thomas Hobbes on remind us, a world without a central authority to police us is nothing short of nightmarish. Not only is there violence itself, but the threat of violence prevents the existence of trust and leads to a constant state of war. Anarcho-capitalists such as Murray Rothbard claim that eliminating the State would cause all protection and judicial services to be taken over by private corporations. Abolishing the State would create a political vacuum that would cause factions to rush to fill the void. This phenomenon would almost inevitably lead to violence, such as in Somalia. There can be no growth without stability, and, without a State to maintain a monopoly on force, stability cannot exist.

This is not to say that those who propose eliminating borders are completely wrong. Many of these critics are correct in observing that the State does far too much in preventing the flow of goods, information and services across borders. There are imperfections in the system, but that does not mean that we should completely abandon the current nation-state paradigm and enter into the completely uncharted territory of global government. Although there is room for improvement, the current nation-state system is much preferable to any conceivable alternative.

Nikhil Sridhar is an undergraduate at Duke University. 

Nikhil Sridhar seeks out writers who bring important new perspectives to Merion West. He studies biology and political science at Duke University and is interested in American politics.

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