1980s >> 1988 >> no-1002-february-1988

World without frontiers

For the Socialist Party socialism will be a world without frontiers; a world in which there will be no such thing as nations or national boundaries, in which every person on the earth will be completely free to travel anywhere they like at any time. If the reader wonders what socialists have got against existing national boundaries and divisions, perhaps the following will explain our view.

From the Russian citizen’s earliest childhood. the regime in the USSR does its utmost to inculcate the belief that the “enemies of communism” (sic) are awaiting a favourable opportunity to attack from every side. But in reality, the Russian border guards are constantly watching out, not only for any saboteurs or spies trying to get in. but also for Russian citizens trying to get out. As s/he grows up. the Russian citizen no longer believes the official fairy tale and realizes the true purpose of the “frontier system”.

The frontier system does not have the automatic firing-devices found on the East German border, but it is still well-equipped. Briefly, the security arrangements of a typical stretch of Soviet frontier are divided, as one approaches from the interior, into three distinct zones:

  1. The frontier zone. i.e. the adjacent area. Every resident must have a special permit with a special ID stamp; permission to enter the zone must be obtained from the militia even if only in transit; special troop units enforce security. Any unauthorised person found in this area is arrested and investigated — thoroughly.
  2. The fortified zone: this, an area about 100 yards wide, contains various “systems” including (a) barbed-wire entanglements supported by concrete posts covered with protective metal layers. This zone is interrupted by numerous “corridors” which can be electronically operated, opened from observation posts. A guard phones the post commander to request opening a corridor using a password that is changed every day. Posts at which guards can plug in the receiver worn on their belts are scattered around the “neutral zone” following the line of the frontier (low-voltage current causes the slightest contact with the wire to set off an alarm signal in the control box), (b) Immediately beyond the wire is a five- or six-yard-wide strip in which the soil is regularly turned over so that any footprints would stand out distinctly, (c) Then there’s a system of “concertina” barbed-wire entanglements supported on short stakes, (d) Another system is hidden in the long grass and brush — a spider’s web of steel loops. One border guard reported: “Whoever catches his foot in a loop falls down; when he tries to rise he gets caught in another loop. The harder you struggle, the more entangled you get” (from Posev no. 4. 1977. p. 37). And finally:
  3. The “neutral zone” (no-man’s land) belonging to no-one. but Russian border guards with submachine-guns and dogs patrol it in pairs day and night.

Any border guard who shoots a fugitive is awarded a government medal “for valour”, although shooting an unarmed civilian in the back with a burp-gun doesn’t require any exceptional courage. Fugitives are sometimes hunted down illegally outside of Russian territory if they somehow manage to pull off a Houdini-like escape.

Perhaps now it is easier to see why we socialists prefer a world without any national boundaries; a world without frontiers.