Editorial: A Borderless, Stateless World
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We have been hearing a lot about borders lately. As part of the negotiations to leave the EU, the UK government has had to provide proposals to ensure that there is no ‘hard” border’ between the North of Ireland and the Irish Republic. A key argument for leaving the European Union was that the UK would be able to reclaim its borders. Donald Trump, the US President, has pledged to build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. Millions of workers have fought and died in wars to defend national borders. It is assumed that they are as natural to humans as dams are to beavers, and are, therefore, a permanent feature of human society. This view is mistaken.
Borders with their customs and passport controls are part and parcel of the modern nation-state. We are expected to feel a belonging and loyalty to the nation, in which we happen to be born and raised. After all, do not most of us share the same culture and language ? Maybe, but it does not follow, therefore, that we all have the same interests, for within each nation there are the capitalists, who own the means of production and live off the surplus created by the workers and therefore have an interest in minimising their labour costs; workers, on the other hand, have an interest in achieving the highest price they can for their labour power. This sets the stage for class conflict.
The nation-state is not a natural entity, but a product of history. Its origins lay in the struggle by the aspiring capitalist class for political power from the 15th Century onwards. Once they succeeded in toppling the old feudal order, new states emerged which replaced the old feudal monarchies and empires and better served the needs of the new capitalist ruling class. The latter were able to enact laws which protected their private property rights, legitimised their ownership of the productive resources and their control over their workforce, and removed any institutional barriers to capitalist trade and commerce. Police forces were established to enforce these laws. As the state governed over a given area, a border was required to control the movement of people and commodities between the home nation and other nation-states, and, at times, It needed to be defended by a standing army against hostile foreign powers. Its purpose was and is to protect the property of the capitalist minority. The foregoing also applies to the so-called ‘communist’ states that existed in the former Soviet bloc countries and still survive in North Korea and Cuba. These were state capitalist regimes, where the state took on the role of the capitalists.
Capitalism is also a product of history and is not a natural system. As feudalism was swept away by the revolutionary capitalist class, it is about time that the working class do the same with capitalism. Once capitalism is abolished, there will be no need for the nation-state, with its armed forces and borders. We will have a world society without any nation-states or borders.