Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

Why we need borders?


There is often the question why we need borders? Why do we need customs? How come we can’t be free?

Well, you can be free, but the domain of freedom is not unlimited. Sometimes this domain is very small, like in a prison cell, at other times you can go from one place to another almost without any confines. Also, the limitations are not just in location, as in prison or worldwide travel, they are of all sorts such as energy, time, money, political, administrative, language, communication, food, social, and so on. Without a valid passport, you can’t really travel far. Without food you also won’t go for long. Nor can you walk into people’s homes. Nor can you cheat on laws of physics.

But why, why can’t we just be free, as in FREE?

If I knew the answer, I’d be god, which I’m not, but I do know that there are certain limits that are really cool.

For example the wall of a cell. Without the wall, this living membrane, cells could not exist. The inside of a cell is radically different from the surrounding environment. Within the cell there’s the nucleus with its DNA, the mitochondria – the internal powerplants, ribosomes – the protein factories, etc. None of these, nor life would exist if these structures weren’t protected from the outside.

Another example is a football match. Would the game be half as attractive if there were no outs, no goal (a very clearly limited space itself), no rules, and to top it off, no time constraint. I guess we could just as well deflate the ball, another object defined by its border.

Another case is cooking. How much soup could you cook without a cooking pot?

But let us take another perspective still. What is free? I guess in its pure idea it is not unrestrictedness in anything and everything, but freedom in just a few very precisely chosen criteria. Let’s say, a great sports car inspires freedom through its unusual fast acceleration. An invention lets you do things you couldn’t do before, like mobile phones in nineties, they really inspired freedom. Or great artists, they stir our emotions in such ways that we feel elevated, and freed.

See. All such cases show that freedom is only a comparative phenomenon, not an absolute category. Free works fine when compared to non-free, but in the larger scope of things the free and the non-free are just the same.

Finally, let’s go back to national borders. Why can’t people travel everywhere, same with imports? Well, this is the key to globalisation. Now, do we want it or not?

To those who say yes to globalisation and open borders, how come we’re in a crisis right now resulting in thousands and thousands without the basic dignity of having enough income to buy even food and shelter? Are open borders really the best for the unprotected citizens? Don’t open borders actually mean that the biggest and strongest global players quench out most of local competition? Is that ok if you’re not a part of the elite, or even the elite nations? Does Spain with its 20% unemployment rate still support globalisation?

To those who oppose globalisation and are for closed borders, tell me, how come you use a computer, this ultimate machine of globalisation? Ain’t that hipocrisy? And tell me, how come you use internet at all? Futhermore, undress. Seriously undress now and check the label on you shirt. Where was it made? Not your country, right? What about music, do you only listen to your own national music?

My opinion is that we need borders, we need the boundaries. But we also need to break the boundaries, any boundaries at times, so that we can reset them. This let’s us grow. Or shrink. Or whatever.

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