Who really benefits from borders?

This is a monument for those who have died attempting to cross the US-Mexican border. Each coffin represents a year and the number of dead. It is a protest against the effects of Operation Guardian. Taken at the Tijuana-San Diego border. Tomas Castelazo

Agora tem uma versão em Português aqui.

First of all, I’d like to thank the Brazilian Polícia Federal for requiring my family and I to pass through three consecutive international customs with our entire luggage on our way to São Paulo (because of a flyover in Rio), and the same thing on our way back home. The many waiting lines seeded the beginnings of this text in my brain. I hope you’ll enjoy it, although I know a lot of people who will judge my start as quite naïve:

Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do”… well, actually, it is hard to do, John. Especially after they convinced me that the borders are the best protection from millions and millions of Indians, Latin-Americans, and Africans breaking in my apartment, eating my children, raping my wife and messing up my DVDs.

But I think I know what you meant, John. It’s not only about removing the policemen from the borders and letting everybody freely pass through them. It’s also about making Coca-Cola stop murdering union leaders in Latin America, and other huge companies escaping their taxes because the location of the office is in a different territory. It’s about ceasing the destruction of Africa by European subsidies. And, obviously, it’s about decreasing our expenses on feeding soldiers, because we wouldn’t need them to die in our place. “Nothing to kill or die for”…

A nice scenario, indeed, but only for those of us who have not been convinced that each of us is in competition against everyone else. The convinced would rather keep taking cover under the numerous kinds of lines that they can trace in order to separate their groups from the rest of the world: their nationality, the skin color, their religious differences, their gender, and even their favourite football team…. I will develop how so many people were convinced in another text. This post focuses on who convinced them, and why.

One clue comes from the fact that all geographical borders seem to be a real limit for ordinary people, but not for rich people nor for large, private companies. Ordinary people need to spend a lot of time on finding out which documents they need to provide and how to obtain visas. They also spend a large part of their budget on tickets. Rich people and large private companies will hire someone who already knows how to take care of all the bureaucracy and easily finish the job. Just notice that large companies don’t ignore, but rather make a good use of borders, and of the different legal and administrative systems that they encircle. It is a question of profit maximization. You can’t pay Chinese salaries and expect to sell smartphones to your employees. You’ll have to sell them to Europeans, or Japanese, or North Americans.

The second clue comes from History: “divide et impera” (divide and conquer) is a very old strategy, and it becomes obligatory when it’s about a few people dominating many. The most important tool for creating divisions between people is communication. If you want to separate people, first make sure that they will listen to you as much as possible, and talk to each other as little as possible. Who has the power to do that nowadays?

CNN why Arabs don't like the U.S.

An article from CNN: “Why Arabs don’t like the U.S.”

In general, the media stimulate division, either intentionally or not – as I said, to be discussed in a future text – as they very often outline groups instead of intentions, and problems instead of solutions. Until quite recently they were trying to convince everybody that we are born good or evil, but that seems to have gone out-of-fashion, at least in developed countries…

Schwarzenegger in good shape

Unless you’ve spent your whole life without reading magazines and watching TV, you’ve been systematically stimulated to join a group. It can be almost anything: emos, rappers, clubbers, Muslims, Catholics, skateboarders, surfers, yogi… and when you joined any of them you realized that the group is not only about practicing Yoga. You feel obliged to start eating like a yogi, wearing yogi clothes, using yogi words, and fusing with the group. Nothing wrong with that on its own. The problems come once the group convinces you that you have enemies. So if you joined the rapper group, you won’t have emo friends. But don’t worry; the media will never stimulate you to join a group of ordinary people who fight against the ideological domination of the rich ones. Got it? Good, that was the third and last clue.

You might be thinking that these aren’t new clues. True. You might think that, no matter what you believe, borders of all kinds will always exist. Also, true. But I’ll keep writing about this because I believe we are naïve when we forget about being humans and we dedicate our lives to enriching a few people, just because they convinced us that happiness is to possess things that most people don’t have. I just want you to see that we can also profit from the system, instead of only being exploited by it. And how does it feel, to review your concept of naivety?


2 comentários

  1. […] There is an English version here. […]

  2. Minor changes on the text were introduced after my friend Scott Jeffers’ kind suggestions. They did not modify my initial ideas. Check his blog if you’re interested in science from a scientist’s point of view: http://amsciparis.blogspot.fr


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