Via my friend John Ryan Brubaker.
I have this deformation, from this Czech period when I was growing up, in many different ways. It goes even to the language. I don’t believe what people say. What was written or what you heard — the contrary was true.
The writer Bruce Chatwin, in a book about aborigines in Australia, called “The Songlines,” says there are a few rules so that aboriginals can survive in a hostile country. The first was to stay in one place means suicide. Second, your country is the place where you don’t put questions to yourself anymore. Your home is the place where you leave from and in a period of crisis you must formulate a way to escape. Also, you should keep good relationships with your neighbors.
I want to show you this little book I bought 20 years ago in Czechoslovakia. It is the speech of Chief Seattle to the president of the United States in 1854. It is so beautiful. It applies to Israel.
He says the land doesn’t belong to the people — it is the people who belong to the land. The land is the mother and what is happening to the mother is going to happen to the son too. This is the question about selling the land. He said how can you sell your mother — how can you sell the air — and he said if you are spitting on your land you are spitting on your mother.
Q. What did you learn from visiting all these places and spending all this time thinking about the archaeology sites and the history of man?
A. That nothing is permanent.
Nothing is permanent — that’s also what I learned from the Gypsies. Bresson used to tell me that your problem is that you don’t think about the future, and that’s exactly what I learned from the Gypsies. Not to worry much about the future. And I learned that to be alive I don’t need much. So I never worried about money because I knew in the past if I needed the money I borrowed it so I didn’t lose the time.
And time is the only thing you have in your life, and if you are getting older you feel it a little more. But I felt that all my life.
Not sure if I have time or want to restart this blog, but this is as good a link as any to do it with.
Using satellite imagery, users’ pictures, video and first-hand testimony, Guardian reporters across the world chart the new walls being built to divide people from their neighbours.
Almost a quarter of a century after the Iron Curtain came down, the walls are going up again. In steel and concrete, with watchtowers and barbed wire, mankind is building separation barriers at a rate perhaps unequalled in history – at least 6,000 miles in the last decade alone, according to a Guardian analysis.
Now, in a unique project, Guardian journalists have visited 10 of the most controversial, striking, contested and extraordinary walls, from the US-Mexican border to the West Bank, and from Europe’s eastern and southern frontiers to the divided cities of Homs and Belfast. We have tried to establish why these new divisions are going up now, in an age when globalisation was supposed to tear the barriers down – particularly when, as history shows, walls rarely did what they set out to do.
In the short term, walls may appear worthwhile investments. But they never address the underlying causes of the conflicts they seek to mitigate. At best, walls create an illusion of security – because those on the “wrong” side will always be working out how to get around them.
At worst, they are counter-productive: a people that believes it has solved its problems by isolating itself physically from whatever threatens it – broadly, inequality – can put off asking itself the bigger questions.
They might, just possibly, do better to recall Frost’s words.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.
See also: Walls: an illusion of security from Berlin to the West Bank by Jon Henley.
Boundaries and the Europeanisation of Space: The EU, Integration and Evolving Theoretical Perspectives on Borders
Rather, I would welcome very much a more lively and engaged discussion on the justification of our borderings per se. I believe, the present debate and field of border studies would be enriched if it would embark on the discussion of the morality and immorality of borders. (State) borders are too much taken for granted. In political philosophy some interesting new insights are being given with regard to this matter. Walzer (1983), for instance, provocatively states that communities should not be allowed to make a claim of territorial jurisdiction and rule over the people with whom they share a territory. He argues that, although admission and exclusion are at the core of communal independence, the rule of citizens over non-citizens and members over strangers is ‘an act of tyranny’. Seyla Benhabib, following Kant’s essay on eternal peace and Derrida’s essay on hospitality, also critically looks at the justification of borders (Benhabib, 1996). She ponders the question what is the ethical difference between the right to leave a democratic country, since in democratic societies citizens are not prisoners, and the right for others to enter? In a similar critical vein, philosopher Will Kymlicka (2001) argues that borders are “a source of embarrassment for liberals of all stripes”. For liberals, he argues, it is not clear how the existence of territorial boundaries can be justified at all, “at least if these boundaries prevent individuals from moving freely, and living, working and voting in whatever part of the globe they see fit” (p. 249, 2001). “Any political theory”, he goes on to say, “which has nothing to say about these questions is seriously flawed. Moreover, the result, intentional or unintentional, is to tacitly support the conservative view that existing boundaries and restrictive membership are sacrosanct” (p. 253, 2001). In the present debate, it is tacitly assumed that (state) borders are here and here to stay and the only thing that can be critically engaged with is the way borders are being produced and reproduced. Although I would agree that the focus on the how is a crucial and meaningful focus in border studies that needs continuation, I believe that this lens could be widened to open up for a debate on alternative ways to produce territories and spatialise our social lives. If indeed we accept the view that borders are human-made, it would be needed to not only ask the question why humans are producing and reproducing borders, but also what moral consequences do the (re)produced borders, are they justified and are there socio-spatial alternatives that could be produced?