The Dangerous Myth of a World Without Borders

Do you believe in a world without borders?

I don’t. Here is why.

Every time I hear someone say nations and communities are evil constructs and what we should all try to belong to is ‘humanity’, I begin to wonder what that particular person means by ‘humanity’. Would she, for example, be comfortable being in the same house with people who believe girls do not deserve education? Would she be okay with being in the same club as people who believe gay people should not be allowed to get married? Do these subsets of ‘humanity’ feature in her Universalist Utopia?

They don’t. She is deluding herself with vain dreams. And she is doing it out of intellectual lethargy. The task of dealing with differences is obviously much harder than dismissing it all as evil (nationalism, communalism etc). So instead of engaging constructively with those she disagrees with, she takes refuge in the imaginary ideal of a world without borders. It is classic escapism.

The diversity of humanity is mind-boggling. It is kind, cruel, pitiful, glorious, inspiring, and oppressive — all at the same time. When someone talks of ‘belonging’ to humanity, they are usually talking about an imaginary, universalist version of their own world view. The peacenik thinks everyone should sit together and sing songs of happiness. The religious extremist thinks everyone should worship One God. These may look like vastly different things, but the issue at the core of them is the same — the desire to have everyone correspond to One way.

Such universalism does not exist. It also cannot exist. And the reason for this is that the universe (and all its subsets) rebel against uniformity. Diversity is the thread that runs through everything. The world that we live in is biased towards growth. It explodes with creativity, expanding in all directions with all its strength, creating groups, ideologies, communities all the time. It is defined by differences. The last thing it wants to be is ‘one’.

The universalist ideal is a dangerous myth that people attach themselves to without considering its practicality or consequences. When you start believing that it is possible to put everything in one box, you also (unconsciously, and perhaps gently at first) start imposing this universalism on everything. People, communities, ideologies which do not fit, will therefore be forced to fit. Before long, this force-fitting will become the cause of even more conflict and someone, somewhere will get fed up of it and call upon everyone to belong to One World.

Universalism is the most violent and culturally destructive phenomenon ever conceived. The idea that everyone can belong to One Way of life and believe in the same ideas runs counter to the diverse reality of the world.

I for one, think the world is a most wholesome thing. I also think that most of our world’s problems stem from the belief that we can somehow make it better by practising one ‘ism’ or another. Belief in a golden tomorrow drives us towards doing terrible things to each other (Firefly anyone?). A much better way of living, it would seem, is to see the world as it is (as opposed to what we would like it to be) and choose from among the options we have while letting others make their own choices.