It is said that the “control of borders” is a basic and necessary function of government — even if, as millions of “illegal” immigrants already working in various countries around the world could testify, it does it very badly. Consideration should be given to what would happen to that function in a free–market society as well as the determination of the nature of borders.
Take a flight
Do this for real, if possible, when travelling by air on a clear day; or if that is not imminent, do it now in imagination or from memory. Get a window seat, and take a map.
Once airborne, start trying to identify over where the aircraft is flying. Coastlines, lakes, and rivers will help, for they reflect the bright light of sun and sky; major highways are also often visible even from nine kilometres up. Now, as soon as the map shows the current location is near a border — between states, for example — see if it can be spotted on the ground.
Sometimes borders are chosen to coincide with rivers — the Connecticut River separates Vermont from New Hampshire, for example — but usually not. The map will show that borders are often straight lines drawn clean across forest and field.
Parts of the border between the United States and Mexico are reinforced with a physical fence, such as the one separating East from West Germany from the 1960s through 1990, and although thin, such a straight&mnash;line artifact can be visible from the air. That one was punctuated by control towers and machine guns; perhaps one day soon, so will be the United States border with Mexico. The East German Government wanted to keep people in, the United States Government wants to keep people out — but it is the same idea. Control of people, and where they choose to live and work. Open, deliberate violation of their absolute right of self–ownership.
Apart from such exceptions, borders are not visible. They cannot be seen from the air, and — even more surprising — usually they cannot be seen from the ground. One might actually step across the border between the United States and Canada in many places without knowing it, unless they had an accurate GPS locator! The border looks clear on the map; but in reality it is not there. It is fiction; just a government line on a government map.
The same lack of visibility applies to most property lines, between one farm or house and the next. So can one not see borders as proper delineations of property, providing bases for good fences and thereby good neighbours?
Alas, one can not; for government does not truly own any property; that “public property” is a gross and absolute oxymoron — it cannot exist. All property must by definition have a real, actual owner, and when it does, a property line is valid.
Borders are not real or visible, and they are not property lines, they are delimiters for government claims of jurisdiction. The claims are entirely unfounded, but a town, state, or nation marks the physical limits of where it will attempt to enforce its laws.
Rival sets of laws
The absurdity of borders gets worse; in Wonderland, Alice said things got “curiouser and curiouser” and here, the more one thinks about it, they just get madder and madder.
In government theory, laws are written to provide the best possible structure for a peaceful and harmonious society. It has been shown that this is nonsense, but it is their theory. Now apply it to two areas on the surface of the Earth, separated by a border. One State and the next, maybe.
Now, each side of that border, the nature of human beings is the same. Ethics — right and wrong — are the same. Logic and reason are the same. The nature of physical reality is the same. Those principles, which humans must use to survive and achieve happiness, are identical on each side of the border.
Therefore, the rules for human action should always be the same everywhere, so that people can in fact live in harmony with reality and at peace with one another. Therefore, all areas and societies should have the same rules and therefore there is no need at all for borders!
Yet rules, laws, and constitutions are different, all over the world, across thousands of borders; and so it can be concluded that there is an insuperable contradiction at work. A reminder: Contradictions exist not in reality, but only in the minds of those who do not think clearly. Borders are “needed” to separate jurisdictions, yet the alleged purpose of those jurisdictions — the ordering of harmony and happiness — must be uniform across them all. Accordingly, borders do not exist in order to facilitate human harmony!
Worse: Since the sets of rules across a border are different when no more than one of the sets can be correctly fitted to human needs, the existence of the border is itself a source of conflict!
This contradiction is fatal for the government theory above, and confirms that borders have nothing to do with keeping the peace in human societies, and everything to do with enabling governments to carve up the Earth into areas where different groups of thugs can enjoy the exercise of power.
But what about . . . ?
People have been taught all their lives to think “inside the box” that they belong to a tribe, in a particular place or area, and generally should be proud of it, as if that were an achievement worthy of praise or congratulations. Exactly the same, utterly absurd sense of pride is found in everyone all over the world, from Britain to Bangladesh and from Chile to China. It is therefore little wonder that when logic like the foregoing leads to the conclusion that borders are not only useless but potentially harmful, their minds go into a degree of cognitive dissonance; that is, they mentally branch off at a tangent and raise all sorts of objections, for this new concept seems too hard to grasp. Some such objections are:
But what about terrorists? If borders were scrapped, the country could be invaded by enemies toting nuclear bombs in suitcases! And then where would we be?!
It is hard to count the number of false premises embedded in that quite common reaction. First, what is meant exactly by the first–person plural “we”? Is it the United States Government, which for two thirds of a century has been systematically infuriating the world’s Muslims, provoking them to desperate acts of retaliation? If so, the answer is perfectly obvious: Terminate the acts of aggression — or rather, terminate the government that did the aggressing, to make sure it never repeats — and so remove the motive for terrorists to act. Second, by what feat of imagination is it supposed that a determined malefactor cannot walk across the United States border today, nuclear suitcase in hand? Are there not millions of illegal immigrants there already, who did precisely that — though happily, minus the nukes? And a third, the most important: In a free–market, zero–government society there would be no useful target for the terrorist to bomb, nor any entity from whom they might force concessions or make a treaty.
But what about immigrants, swamping our culture and stealing our jobs?
This is too riddled with false premises. Various countries around the world have a long history of immigration. Everybody is an immigrant or descended from one; and “our culture” is the result, and it is uniquely rich; an eclectic mix of English, Spanish, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Polish, Chinese, Japanese . . . the list hardly ends. Future waves will enrich it still further; people have nothing whatever to fear. People come because they like it. Then second, note that fatal plural “our”; it does not exist. There is no collective “us” — only millions of self–owning individuals. And third, a job is not an item of property, it is a contract. Read it, if one is available; it says that an employee will perform certain tasks for the employer, and the employer will pay the employee a certain wage, and the agreement can terminate at any time upon X weeks notice by either party. The “right to a job” is yet another work of fiction; it never existed. Individuals each have the right to offer their services in exchange for pay. Why? Because they are their services, since they own their own lives. But nobody has any right to force an employer to hire — they own their’s too. And if a new immigrant can do the same work — not probable — for less pay, good luck to them. Oh, and fourth: New members of a society are in no sense a burden — except in the fairy–tale world of government welfare “entitlements” — but always an asset! Why? Because, as shown previously, in every voluntary exchange, such as work for pay, both parties win for each has a different set of values and priorities.
Borders in a free society
It has been shown that in reality borders do not actually exist, and that the marks made on maps under that name serve only to delimit the jurisdictional claims of various governments. So in a market society, without any government, would these useless, ghostly marks remain at all?
Short answer: No! But it is worth examining some implications.
Suppose — as may well be the case — that when everyone in one country — the United States, for example — walks away from the age–old curse of government and gets on with real life in the resulting market society, it happens that those in neighbouring countries — Mexico and Canada — do not, or not at first. Will there be borders, or not?
The answer is that along the line of the former border there will be a series of property lines to mark the limits of ownership of the individuals who own the land in question. As noted earlier, since those owners will be real and the property will actually be owned, the lines will also have actual meaning and the owners could set conditions for entry by those outside them.
Some may simply prohibit entry; notices would announce “PRIVATE, no entry. Trespassers may be shot.” Others may say “VISITORS WELCOME; one gold gram per day, lunch included. Please pay at the house.” Others yet might redirect the visitor “PLEASE USE TOLL ROAD one mile to the East. Gold debit cards accepted.” Entrepreneurs might offer: “FREEDOM AVAILABLE! Please call at the office and sign up for our course. Only 10 gold grams!”
The point is that entry to and use of the property would be determined by contract, whose terms would be offered by the owner. With thousands of owners lining the former border, the visitor would have a rich choice of options available and for sure, since many of those owners would be eager to do business, those options would include travel along properly–owned toll roads to an endless variety of business centres.
However, the concepts of “entering the country” and of “nationality” would no longer exist; such control–ridden phrases will be toast and individuals will be respected for what they are, not for the tribe to which they are forced to say they belong to.