My Case For Open Borders
Free the babies
Let me start with my kids. I have two kids, and right now one has a British passport, and one has Sri Lankan. This is temporary, but I would like you to just look at this glitch in the Matrix because it is revealing. For one thing, there is a Matrix. We are not free. I can see this in my children right now.
My daughter can travel to over 90% of the world without a visa. She can work, she can live, she can love and she has privileges all over the world. She is four years old. She doesn’t really understand what the world is, but it belongs to her.
My son, however, can only travel to maybe 24% of the world. He cannot work, he cannot live where he wants, he may be separated from those he loves. His passport is very much a liability. He is almost three. He has even less idea what’s going on. If his mother goes to the bathroom he screams like she’s gone into exile.
If you look at my children, they are very much the same. My son screams more, but that’s hardly a justification for making his world nearly 75% smaller than my daughter’s. And yet this is what we do to billions of babies across the Earth. Every child today is born into a global system of apartheid. There is a cruel line running through humanity. I can see it because it runs through my family.
For my family, this is just a glitch in the Matrix, we just need to file the paperwork for my son. But this experience has made me see the Matrix that we live in, and it is super fucked up. That is what I want to show to you.
Stop Fucking With Babies
There are a lot of detailed arguments for open borders, I’d recommend Joseph Carens on the ethics, Dimitry Kochenov on the sheer absurdity of it, and the comic Open Borders on economics. Freedom of movement is such a basic human right that there is no ethical, philosophical, or economic argument that supports denying it to random babies. There just isn’t. No possible benefit allows doing this to a baby.
What I am discussing sounds radical but I invite you to read even an inch deep and there’s simply no debate. It’s just human freedom.
In these opening remarks, I will not discuss these details. I will not argue that human freedom is economically or socially good, though it is. My point here is, I hope, very simple.
Passport apartheid is a very fucked up thing to do to babies.
Ayelet Shachar calls this this Birthright Lottery. It’s just luck. If you fall out of a Norwegian your world is this big. If you fall out of a Rwandan, your world is this small. If you fall out of a stateless person your world doesn’t really exist, though you stubbornly do.
This is a stupid game, dealing fortunes out the womb. It is crazy that we assign this amount of rights at birth. So much of your future income and freedom and opportunities is out of your control. This is patently wrong.
But what about you, you’ll say, you’re a dual citizen. The system lets people move. This is the power of capitalism over feudalism, it lets a few people move to give the illusion of freedom to everyone else. It’s not a fact. Less than 2% of the world naturalizes or changes their citizenship. I, for example, was just born with both.
All of the brown and ‘foreign’ faces you see are the exception that helps keep a brutal system of violence and coercion in place. And we have more responsibility to speak out. One because we can see, and two because we are used to justify the monstrous.
Again, it is very simple.
Be nice to babies. All babies, wherever they are born, whomever they are born to. We are all born free.
The World Is Yours
I would also like to clarify that I am not here to tell rich or white people why immigration is good for them. The comic Open Borders is very good for that. Frankly I don’t care, because our rights are not something for them to give. We are born free. Our freedom is God-given, whatever that means to you. Basically it’s not yours to give, and I’m not asking anyone, I’m telling you.
I am here for all the brown and black and poor children of the world and I am just here to say to them that the world is yours. You do not need the permission of rich people or rich countries, you do not need them to feel comfortable with you, you do not need to be good enough, or rich enough, or educated enough, or meet some points system that ranks you as a human being. You are born free. They can deny it and they can make that denial look very real, but it’s just paper and you are flesh and blood, and you’re as good as anyone else in the world. Your own people can deny it but it is nonetheless true. As the poet Nas said, the world is yours.
What does freedom mean? Like love, I think it could accurately be described as ‘baby don’t hurt me’. Freedom of movement is freedom. In many ways, it is the foundation of all other freedoms.
We we arrest someone, what do we take? Their freedom to move. Then all of their other freedoms follow them into the cell (abolish prisons). Most rights are like this, they are centered on your body and your body needs to be able to move to enjoy them. Free speech very much depends on where you live, and who you’re able to talk to. Freedom to love depends on being with your beloved, and being somewhere where you are allowed to love. Freedom to work depends on being able to go to work.
All of these freedoms depend on freedom of movement, and this is what we take away from babies. Can you see the problem?
The argument for borders is that everyone can move within their own countries, but this isn’t freedom. First off, a lot of people don’t have countries, they’re stateless. A lot of people are born in countries like Iran or Cuba that America has decided to persecute for generations. A lot of people are born, like my children, in post-colonial countries where the passports just suck. This isn’t freedom. Like I said, it’s a lottery?
We are bonded to the land as much as any feudal serf, and in many ways our experience is exactly the same. A serf was stuck within a few days journey by foot, we’re stuck within a few days journey by plane. We have to sew underwear and pour drinks for white people, while our own nobles send their kids and money abroad.
We’re fucking peasants, and passport feudalism needs to go in the bin along with pastoral feudalism.
Once you see it, it’s just galling that we live like this. Why can a white person come here, be a travel blogger or even buy property and start a hotel, while we can’t do the same in their country? Why can’t a Ugandan be an expat, or a Nepali a digital nomad? Why are rich people and white people so much more free than everybody else?
Why do we we have to sit here and make their phones and rub their feet, while they drown us in the ocean if we try to go over there? And again, why is a baby born into this? And I will bring this back to babies. Europeans especially — though they like to act so much better than the Americans — are drowning babies at sea for no reason other than passport feudalism and apartheid. Every pejorative you can throw at this thing I’ll throw.
My question is simply what makes a white baby better than a black baby, and it’s a rhetorical question. The answer is nothing. Your babies are no better than mine, and mine are no better than my neighbors. They are all born free. That is their birthright, not this oppression.
So that is my case for open borders. I demand freedom for my youngest son, and not just for him, for all the snivelling, screaming, adorable and entirely innocent babies like him. This is the right thing and it will lead to greater happiness, prosperity, and better food for all, but that’s not why we must do it. My case is not that this will benefit the comfortable, so please let us in. My case is that these are our rights and fuck you if you trample them. And fuck us for holding up these borders with what Kochenov calls active complacency.
I am not complacent because I have seen the border running through my family and I have seen how it cuts other families into shreds. I hope that you will see this in your own life, or through empathy, and join me as well. Burn your passport (metaphorically). Free the babies (for real).
For further reading try Dimitry Kochenov’s CITIZENSHIP, it’s a scorcher. Or just open your passport and read it. It doesn’t even belong to you, it belongs to your sovereign. You belong to your sovereign. Think about that.