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To end the refugee crisis, end borders


At Public Seminar, Chiara Bottici proposes a novel and provocative solution to the so-called refugee crisis in Europe: end borders and the nation-states that they constitute. As she observes, migration is as old as humanity. For centuries, masses of people have moved from places that were less favorable to survival to places that were more favorable. This form of movement only became a problem with the modern creation of nation-states, which was largely a European invention that was exported to the rest of the world through colonialism. Here’s an excerpt from Bottici’s piece:

The idea of a world fully divided into sovereign states is not only an historical phenomenon, but also a very recent one, and one that is proving not to work particularly well. Its incapacity to handle the refugee crisis and migration in general is just one among the failed promises of the sovereign state system (I will leave those other failed promises for another occasion).

Yet, we are so caught up in the model of the sovereign state that we keep debating within its logic without being able to radically question it: “this is our land,” ”we were here before you,” “you have just arrived.” In doing so, we forget that the only thing that we can actually claim to communally possess (because we literally cannot go elsewhere) is the whole earth: nothing more, but also nothing less.

Let us try to imagine what would happen by abolishing border control or at least the crime of undocumented immigration. There would be no need for detention centers, no clashes between migrants and police, no human smugglers, and possibly also less racism. It is the amassing of huge numbers of human bodies into prison-like detention centers that creates most of the problems associated with the so-called “refugee crisis.” No border control would mean no border problems. People could simply go where they wanted to go, and generally they tend to go where they stand a chance of a decent life.