Border Farce

Violent BordersReview by NICK MATTISKE


IN 2015, 3700 people died trying to enter Europe. In the decade previous, 40,000 people, possibly one-in-four who stepped on a boat, lost their lives.
How do we stop this?

Much hysterical press focuses on deterrence, which assumes refugees have a choice. In Violent Borders Reece Jones focuses on a more ideological root issue, and what most of us just take as a given – international borders and their policing. As well as advocating for refugees, Violent Borders amounts to a short history of the border.

Jones argues that international borders, which are a relatively recent invention and which often cut arbitrarily across geography and ethnic groups, are set up to protect privileges.

‘Border protection’ then naturally invites Trump-like rhetoric and violent defensive action. Jones outlines the international escalation of the criminalisation of ‘illegal’ migration and the increasingly un-empathetic attitude towards refugees.

This attitude towards the poorest in the world stands in contrast to the freedom afforded to international corporations to roam the globe to secure the cheapest labour. Jones suggests the benefits corporations bring to the head honchos of poorer nations entice those leaders to reduce regulations, including those that deal with environmental care, and to restrict the movement of labourers within their countries. Such is the hypocritical nature of globalisation.

Jones describes this situation as ‘broken’.

Why, he asks, if we consider people to be equal, do we not allow the poor equal access to employment? The freedom to travel and to offer your labour for a fair price should be a basic human right. He advocates for more open borders, which to many will seem like an invitation for global chaos. But, he says, this is no more radical an idea than giving women the vote seemed in the nineteenth century.

Then again, it might simply seem as radical as the early church, whose members ‘held all things in common’.

Published by Verso. Available at:
RRP: $29.99

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