Violent Borders
Refugees and the right to move
Reece Jones
Verso books

I am amazed at how it is so much easier to love capital and goods than people. We seem to worry that people born outside our lands somehow want to uproot and move in. Of course the opposite can happen. It’s ok for irelands diaspora to reach out all over the world and for Irish bars to exist in an corner open a Syrian bar in Ireland however and it’s a different story.

Reece makes a case for borders to be open. This would save thousands of lives each year. He notes “by allowing each country to put the well being of the people inside its borders before the well bring if the world as a whole, borders…prevent meaningful action to combat climate change”.

Of course we wouldn’t have a book like this if over 23,700 humans hadn’t due trying to enter the EU in the past 14 years. A death rate that is on an upward trajectory. It’s not just eu borders. The line between Mexico and the US is receiving a lot of extra attention due to the election of Donald Trump as his manifesto included building that infamous wall between the 2 countries. It’s not just a border with a potential wall to add to the fence in place on part of the crossing, it is the increasing militarization of this border. The cartels are still operating, drugs still flowing but people are facing armies at border crossing. A blurred line between police and military.

Israel is infamous for building a wall through the West Bank in defiance of its official UN border. It is becoming a fortress with militarized borders on all sides, keeping any neighboring countries at bay. It’s treatment of Palestine has been highlighted in this country with the recent passage of the occupied territories bill in Irish upper parliament. Regardless of what other states think it continues to build a wall through people’s gardens to inhibit free movement. Of course it’s not just eu, Israel and the us that has these fortified borders. The largest one is between India and Bangladesh which has the notorious honor of highest number of border killings. Bangladesh has a two way issue, it is estimated 14 million Bangladesh citizens have found solace in India and meanwhile rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are fleeing persecution into Bangladesh and further afield. The rohingya Muslims gave the unimaginable prospect of being stateless as their homeland (Myanmar, formerly Burma) won’t recognise them as citizens and they face persecution. Without citizenship they are facing huge difficulties even gaining refugee status as the come from nowhere, which Australia are won’t to say. It’s a position of hopelessness. And then there’s the work situation. Workers crammed into factories in jobs paying €60 per month are making clothes for huge global corporations. Walmart’s revenues in 2012 were larger than some European countries like Belgium and Norway. None of their clothes are made in America. Where once industry was local providing a share of the soils for unionized workers it is now global, the spoils stay largely in the corporation and the untold environmental damage which goes with shipping everything from one corner of the globe to the other. The conditions for those lucky to find work are atrocious, and they are classed as the lucky ones in the population

I’m sure most people reading this have had some sort of social interaction throughout their existence. Be that in school, sporting teams, gigs or with friends. Think about this. 1 in every 6 people in the world live in slums. 1 in 6, think of your classmates. How many was in the class? How many would be in slums? 1 billion people TODAY are living in a slum.

The irony of the situation is that much of the worlds poorest countries are those that have been colonized in the recent past and left to pick up the pieces once the likes of Britain, France, Germany and Belgium moved out. Many of the borders are artificial lines that were drawn up to begin with. These countries expanded and sought to take over others land (while these countries were being ‘discovered’ there was already people living in them). It must have been some surprise to all the indigenous populations that their country was “discovered”

Jones comes up with a line I had never thought of before “the division of the earth into separate political jurisdictions means that the scale of decision making does not match the scale of the system”. Take earth as a literal meaning. The ground. We have split the ground into separate political jurisdictions. We have done this and subsequently build walls, fences and barriers with no regard to the environment we are living in.

The book boils down to four proposals
1) Allow free movement of people between states
2) set a global living wage, this may change from country to country but would be set against the cost of living
3) set global conditions for working conditions.
4) set global rules for environmental protection

In today’s changing world this would seem almost impossible but then so would freeing slaves, allowing women to vote or freeing Nelson Mandela.


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