Wednesday, August 07, 2013

On borders

I was watching this spy movie where a general was talking about "turning" all kinds of nationalities to their cause. And it got me thinking: what is the real difference between them? Nationalities, I mean. When guys like Snowden or Manning spill out secrets to the press, what are they betraying, and to whom? When a spy sells the secrets of his country to other spies, from another country, what is really at stake?

The problem, as I see it, are borders. I've seen borders in my life. I may leave my city block and move towards the poorer ones. There is a border there, not physical, but social. Same applies to when I leave town and go into the country. You never know exactly when the city ends and the country begins, but the border exists. I've also passed between country borders. Spent a lot more time and money, of course, in order to do that - one has to have the proper papers and documents and IDs - but I've never seen a smaller difference between the people from one side and the other as I have seen with national borders. Of course, one country may be a lot richer overall than the other. See Mexico and the US, for example, as a brutal example, but everywhere I went I saw people from one side infiltrated, working or visiting, the other side. When you take those people into account, the border blurs.

Is Snowden more of an American than he is a conscientious member of the human race? He says no. Is a British spy selling secrets to the Russians more of a British than he is a spy? I would bet no. At least he doesn't feel that way, for sure. Who is the owner of secrets spilled? The country, one says... What does that mean? The land? The buildings? The people? Are the people really so different as to need those secrets? Are the borders between nations really necessary?

I really didn't mean to make this a long post. My point, as always rather unclear, is that I am more alike to software developers in Russia and the US than I am with a lot of my countrymen. The nationality of a person doesn't really matter except to the people that manage that nationality. They are the one that put those borders there in the first place and they are the ones that consider they have ownership of a country's secrets. Normal people usually don't give a damn. Am I very different from a Muslim terrorist? Yes I am, but that difference has been nurtured and created by these border managers. I do have to wonder, if those borders weren't there, would the terrorist still exist?

What is the modern purpose of borders anymore? I have no idea, frankly. Why can't I just move around wherever I want, speak the language I like, settle where I have space and work and, maybe, protect the secret of the people that employ me, rather than of those that are employed by me - like a government. What would happen if borders would suddenly be abolished, everywhere? I just don't know. It seems to me a lot of noise, about nothing.