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Border walls… September 18, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This from the Guardian a while back, which I missed, is good. Kevin O’Rourke, professor of economic history at Oxford notes that:

…there seems to be a common assumption that the absence of checks on goods crossing frontiers is the default state of the world and that the existence of border controls is a weird aberration.
The assumption is false. As even a cursory glance at border arrangements across the globe reveals, border controls are entirely normal: it is their absence that is the aberration. Physical borders are to be found even along those frontiers that have been pointed out by Brexiters as examples to follow, most notably those between Norway and Sweden, Canada and the United States, and Switzerland and France.

And, a key point:

The only region of the world where you will find sovereign states coexisting without border checks on the trade between them is the EU. There is nothing accidental about this, since eliminating borders was the great project of the EU. It did so by eliminating the reasons why modern states find it necessary to inspect goods crossing international frontiers: in particular, different tariffs on imports from the rest of the world, implying an incentive for criminals to smuggle goods from countries where tariffs are low to countries where they are high; and different rules on what can be legally bought and sold, implying an incentive for criminals to smuggle goods from countries where they can be legally sold to countries where they are prohibited.

Everything else is fluff. All this is the reason why there are delays on the Turkish/Bulgarian border amounting to many hours sometimes for trucks despite the fact that the former state has access to (though not full membership of) of EU customs union.

And O’Rourke notes a particularly ironic aspect of all this – how that assumption has been internalised by Brexit proponents.

Those taking it for granted include, it would appear, many Brexiters. And so they argue that the UK should be able to do whatever it wants on trade and regulation without this having implications for borders; that the UK will never introduce a border with Ireland; that if UK decisions lead to borders, this will be because the EU “chooses” to “reintroduce” them; that the EU, not the UK, will be to blame.

Granted some of those making that case do so for reasons of expedience, but not all. In some respects this is one more example of wanting to have ones cake and eating it, but there’s little question that a rude awakening awaits those in that frame of mind.

Comments»

1. CL - September 18, 2019

” The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or he could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality, could despatch his servant to the neighboring office of a bank for such supply of the precious metals as might seem convenient, and could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters, without knowledge of their religion, language, or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person, and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference. But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice.”-
Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

This free movement of goods, services, capital, and members of the upper class was made possible by imperial power and violence.
An imperial mind-set may still persist and be influencing the approach to Brexit.

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EWI - September 19, 2019

The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice.”

Sounds like a very good summation of modern Israel (and latter-day South Africa, India, Ireland etc.).

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2. Tim - September 18, 2019

Europe is indeed an anomaly in this regard but really only since the 90s when neo liberalism became ascendant.
The brexiteers seem incoherent

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3. Bartholomew - September 18, 2019

‘Kevin O’Rourke, professor of economic history at Oxford’

Not any more – https://nyuad.nyu.edu/en/academics/divisions/social-science/faculty/kevin-o-rourke.html

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WorldbyStorm - September 18, 2019

Ah, interesting to know!

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