Brexit and borders

Apparently it’s not just American politics that has gone insane. The British vote to leave the EU is another howl against something, a populist party with a hell of a hangover. We did what last night?

Isn’t that last link crazy? There’s your margin of defeat. There’s your direct democracy. There’s your anti-elite, anti-expert, anti-representation…

I hate borders. It’s personal—too many lines at customs, too many visas, too many immigration papers, too much waiting. But it’s not just personal, of course.

What happened? Take a patch of land with power and force. Keep it with power and force. Insulate the people inside from the people outside. Generations pass. Here we are. Privilege!

Pity those who are born in the wrong place. The power of the border applies on both sides of the fence. You can’t stay and you can’t leave.

The ultimate trade off of freedom for… security, I guess?

Borders are anti-democratic. A person cannot vote with their feet. There is no Tiebout sorting.

Which, incidentally, is a real neat feature of the free movement in the federal United States. And for a minute was a real neat feature of the Schengen Area. So it goes.

Then again, “if you don’t like it, leave” isn’t exactly the noblest ideal. Paradox!

If by some magic we woke up tomorrow in a world of free borders, what unholy chaos there would be. It can’t be. I get it. There’s the pent-up path dependence of nation states for you. Human history as one endless turf war.

What if there had never been borders?

If the Schengen Area can’t survive, what can? Is freedom of movement a doomed ideal?

The prospect of Scottish independence made me uneasy because I was worried about drawing new borders. Oops!

An irony of contemporary nativism is that the lever of immigration is being dismantled just at the moment when aging, powerful, rich countries need it the most. There are not a finite number of jobs to go around!

Please don’t let multiculturalism die. Please don’t let cooperation die.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s