argument top image

Should people be able to choose what country to live in? Show more Show less
Back to question

What if freedom of movement worked on a global scale? While it is technically possible to become a resident of almost anywhere you choose, some nations impose pretty stringent citizenship requirements- and often that residence is conditional. The question intersects with issues of immigration, cultural history and identity.

Yes, unconditionally- choice of citizenship should be a universal right Show more Show less

Freedom of movement is regarded as an essential right in most countries. We should apply to thinking on a global scale: state citizenship is arbitrary.
(1 of 3) Next position >

Borders are unjust- a form of apartheid on a global scale

The ‘us and them’ mentality promoted by tight border enthusiasts is not only morally irresponsible but hypocritical. Residents of conflict-ridden or economically depraved territories deserve the right which any of us would (and do) employ- to build a better life somewhere else.

The Argument

Passport holders of prosperous nations enjoy privileges and a freedom of movement that those from ‘less desirable’ countries sorely lack. Take Europeans, who have long been granted ease of travel and the ability to reside within the large and culturally diverse EU zone, or to America, which they have migrated to consistently for since the nation’s birth. Or compare the power of a passport from Japan, Singapore or South Korea to North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. [1]The discrepancy has clear implications: some nationalities are worth more than others. This is precisely the rhetoric peddled by nationalists- and all too present in nations such as the UK, with their harsh and dehumanising Home Office policy, or militant ICE patrol on the US/Mexico border. Those with weaker passports are subjected to condescension, treated as inferior and forced to prove their motives constantly when travelling, applying for a visa or permanent residency.[2] It is not clear how this benefits national security, only proving that a state has the power to enact human rights violations on their own soil, as long as they are not doing it to citizens. Not only is where you’re born a lottery, but it places an unfair burden on the individual, who is completely at the mercy of their government and external political complications. Why is it right that many struggle out of an undemocratic country only to be rejected by a democratic one? Perhaps because the freedoms of 1st world countries are more illusory- and exclusive- than they appear. Also note how capital has no issues flowing between borders.[3] Where foreigners struggle to move, foreign money does so with ease, whether its in offshore accounts, investment in hot property or cheap hiring of foreign workers in depraved conditions. Of course those with money also have an easier time going where they please, circumventing the rules that restrict billions the basic right of social mobility. Here lies the ultimate hypocrisy.

Counter arguments

Robert Frost’s memorable line from his poem Mending Wall ‘good fences make good neighbours’ may well be a platitude at this point, but it’s still a relevant idea in a time of extreme social-consciousness of borders and their implications.[4] To paraphrase Michael Walzer’s viewpoint, national borders exist because it is neither desirable or appropriate for neighbourhoods to reject new arrivals, on the basis that their values do not sufficiently align with the community. This is why it’s the responsibility of the state to examine who does and does not enter; to relieve its citizens of this decision.[5] In this way, borders are not only necessary but humane. Nations are political entities in which each citizen is a member; only by maintaining a policy of exclusivity and choosing who’s allowed in is the entity (or club, as Walzer alludes) able to deliver its freedoms, or establish its values. Borders also have a historical precedent, and a historical function: to define one culture from another.[6] This is still desirable today, even to anti-border advocates: would they argue against the right to feel a sense of belonging? Cultures are not defined on arbitrary geopolitical lines, rather, it is culture than establishes geopolitical lines- for the purpose of keeping its identity and political autonomy. Even within a small island nation such as the UK there is clear fragmentation; whether its Scotland’s contended desire to become a fully independent country, or even Yorkshire county’s push for devolution there is a resistance to cultural homogeneity.[7][8] Borders do so much more than keep people out; they provide security, keep population and workforce balance and enrich the culture within. Only in western nations is there even a question of abandoning borders- perhaps this stems from taking their fundamental freedoms for granted.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/henley-index-world-best-passport-2020/index.html
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/passport-privilege-african-artists-reveal-hurdles-humiliation/charity-atukunda-illustration5/
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/16/end-immigration-controls-money-people-barriers
  4. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall
  5. https://shelleywilcox.weebly.com/uploads/4/9/7/2/49728411/wilcox,_the_open_borders_debate_on_immigration.pdf
  6. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hanson-borders-20160731-snap-story.html
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Scottish_independence_referendum
  8. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/yorkshire-independence-devolution-devolved-parliament-mayor-northern-powerhouse-george-osborne-lancaster-a8015556.html
This page was last edited on Thursday, 19 Nov 2020 at 17:40 UTC

Explore related arguments