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15 June, 2024
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Acknowledging borders' critical functions

Borders as essential components of differentiation, identity, and self-determination



By Vasso Kinti

Migration is a complex issue with various causes that differ across seasons and regions. However, simplistic solutions, such as advocating for open borders, are often proposed. The reality is that millions of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America live in extreme poverty, facing persecution, dictatorships, wars, and civil massacres. They seek a better life but encounter barriers like fences, walls, and closed borders.

The easy answer to this challenging question is to tear down the fences and open the gates. Advocates of open borders focus on the positive connotations of "open" and view borders as arbitrary constructs. While open societies and minds are seen as desirable, closed societies and minds are deemed problematic. However, I argue that borders, despite implying closure, serve critical functions.

Borders provide differentiation and identity. They establish boundaries between individuals and groups, defining their private spheres and protecting their sanctuaries. They also shape social environments such as families, communities, cities, and countries, each with its own boundaries. Boundaries can be clear and rigid, as in the case of national borders, or fluid and flexible.

Borders have existed throughout history, fostering development, trade, competition, and cultural growth. In modern times, national borders enable self-determination and democratic accountability. Critics of open borders emphasize the importance of maintaining democratic control and avoiding the diffusion of power too far from citizens. Boundaries also exist in education, allowing us to surpass them and explore new possibilities.

Acknowledging the significance of borders does not mean ignoring refugees or migrants, pushing them away, or being hostile toward them. It means taking responsibility for addressing the complex issue in a realistic manner, rather than relying on naive ideologies. We must approach the problem with the values and principles that borders have enabled us to develop.

Vasso Kinti, a Philosophy Professor at the University of Athens, emphasizes the necessity and importance of borders while advocating for a responsible and conscientious approach to migration challenges.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  borders  |  migration

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