The ideology of “post-borderism” might be the latest trend among our fustian elites, but its essential premise—the rejection of reason—is as old as time.

These elites are obsessed with the idea of a mystical, anti-history utopia where wars, famines, and disease magically conjure up perfection. In short, they’re “border alchemists.” Alchemy was the pseudoscientific idea that experts could turn base materials (e.g. iron) into precious commodities like gold. At its heart, alchemy was an attempt to bypass the hard reality of mineral scarcity of gold that makes it so valuable.

That same kind of wishful thinking exists in the open border camp, where the “base materials” in question are national boundaries and the “gold” is a border-free world. Their thinking goes something like this: the developed world is rapidly reaching a point in time where scientific reason, technology, and shared ideals will transcend petty borders, ushering in a new super-civilization desperately in need of enlightened rule.

The problem with this vision, of course, is its central flaw: the end of history. Like all utopians, post-borderists see a progressive “arc of history” that bends inexorably towards a perfect apex—as if human history is a constant upward trend. It’s also illogical, treating the past as if it’s disassociated with humanity. Our history is violent, chaotic, and irrational because those are human characteristics. How can those same people suddenly produce the pacific, rational serenity envisioned by post-borderists?

It’s true that control of land has been the object of many if not most wars. But it’s equally true that national sovereignty is responsible for creating more peace and prosperity than our ancestors ever enjoyed.

Respect for peoples and property is the core of sovereignty—or what the Founding Fathers more accurately called “Independence.” It’s a recognition that, while we are all endowed with certain inalienable rights by our common Creator, we are nevertheless distinct peoples. A love of Independence fosters a reasonable respect between nations: “that’s their land, with its peculiar culture and government, and this is ours.” A national border, be it a wall or line on a map, is a physical realization of that respect, not a mark of hostility.

Republics are the best defenders of national borders. Without boundaries, how can anyone determine who owns what property? How can property—a key element of citizenship—be defined at all without boundaries? Borders are essential to representative government—how would we otherwise determine who gets representation in the national legislature, or even define that legislature’s jurisdiction?
Despite what our border alchemists say, these are not concepts which translate to the global level. History shows that nations either govern themselves, or are governed by others—and they never give up their Independence freely. Any global government would be the product of conquest, not consent, and it would be necessarily authoritarian.

Perhaps the most convincing argument for borders, however, comes from the individuals most opposed to them: warlords. From Alexander to Adolf Hitler, you’d be hard-pressed to find individuals more opposed to national boundaries than dictators at the head of an army—or more prepared to destroy them.