Sep 21, 2009

"[This] is not a borderless world"

I stopped short at this phrase in Hanson's book, page 158: "Although cross-border exchanges have reached historic proportions, and the globalizing technologies that facilitate them know no boundaries, it is not a borderless world."

So many globalization papers, seminars, discussions take for granted that mass communications have made borders immaterial or at least soon to be obsolete. The ease by which to cross them has been equated with the negation of the very idea of borders. After all, what caused borders are an artifical concept. They are an organizational tool, an abstraction and the imposition of borders on territories outside of Europe (even internal) have led to turmoil that persists to this day.

Borders were constructed through the Peace of Westphalia, to indicate physically the idea of the national sphere, where the nation is sovereign. (For instance, the idea of 'spheres of influence' in China, where European countries staked out actual territory where their law was applied.) Places such as Southeast Asia and Africa had territories or realms of control, but there existed no man's lands, undefined areas. These areas, in terms of control (absolute vs. local), still exist to an extent.

Therefore, the argument runs, when border-crossing comes so easy, nations falter in their soveriegnty in the face of supranational, multinational and micronational organizations; don't borders become immaterial?

No. Because it's only the physical sense of borders that is being trespassed. As our other readings have discussed, nations, despite the threats/impediment to their sovereignty, they still exist and even more so, continue to exist in people's minds.

It was national leaders that aided this process - globalization did not occur despite it. Therefore, Hanson says on page 158, "There remains a broad area for national legislation to shape the impact of the globalizing economy....Economic globalization is not necessarily diminishing state power," but it is rather transforming its conditions.

As long as the system that uses borders exists and the ideological understanding/acceptance of it continues, borders will still be significant. And disregarding them is nonsense.

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