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The World Is Still Becoming One

The biggest political challenge of the 21st century will not be terrorism. It will be borders.

Credit: design36


  • The biggest political challenge of the 21st century will not be terrorism. It will be borders.
  • We must prepare our societies to integrate with each other. Preparing sooner would be better.
  • Border walls and terrorist bombs are not really a culture clash, but more a last gasp against unity.
  • This is much more than a clash of cultures: The world is finally becoming one.

The West – which is many things, good and bad – is still dominant, but it feels that its dominance is deteriorating. This is not an illusion.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Kamel Daoud addresses the cultural differences the West is currently grappling with, with the arrival of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Until recently, the West succeeded in accommodating these, but now it is confronting difference on a scale it cannot subsume:

What long seemed like the foreign spectacles of faraway places now feels like a clash of cultures playing out on the West’s very soil. Differences once defused by distance and a sense of superiority have become an imminent threat.

But this is much more than a clash of cultures: The world is finally becoming one.

Walls and bombs

And the world’s many factions are resisting. Donald Trump’s wall – which is as impractical as it would be counterproductive – is analogous to the bombs in Brussels. Both represent the choice we face: to come together or to sever ourselves from our humanity.

The West, which prides itself on its freedom, its equality and its humanism, is finally confronting its contradictions. And it is realizing that it is no longer able to justify itself.

The values that the West would appeal to in its defense cannot be used to justify the inequality of those it excludes – just as unfreedom cannot secure freedom without undermining it. And so, we must make our choice.

We can choose humanity — or we can continue to pretend that some people are inferior.

We are told that we are Belgian, European, American, any number of things, but these are half-truths, which misrepresent our humanity to us, as culturally circumscribed, and conceal from us the humanity of those who are “different” – as if it were they, rather than our cultures, that are different.

The exclusion of nationalism

Nationalism and its 21st century equivalents (Europeanism, whiteness, etc.) do not merely grant inclusion. They also necessitate exclusion which is integral to their functioning. Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a related point in his article, “The Enduring Solidarity of Whiteness”:

Social exclusion works for solidarity, as often as it works against it. Sexism is not merely, or even primarily, a means of conferring benefits to the investor class. It is also a means of forging solidarity among “men,” much as xenophobia forges solidarity among “citizens,” and homophobia makes for solidarity among “heterosexuals.” What one is is often as important as what one is not , and so strong is the negative act of defining community that one wonders if all of these definitions – man, heterosexual, white – would evaporate in absence of negative definition.

In Cape Town and Oxford, the Rhodes Must Fall movement, with its focus on decolonizing education, has highlighted the exclusionary legacy of the past. In doing so, it has (perhaps inadvertently) revealed the inherent shortcomings of a politics that concerns itself only with community.

Our politics should involve all of us – because communities invariably change, and because there are no legitimate grounds for discriminating between people.

And while politics will always begin with us, as people, it should also, like our ethics, look beyond us, beyond community, and concern itself with the wider world – including animals and the natural environment.

Do some lives matter more?

To choose “all of us” we must have as aspirational ideals freedom and equality that are tantamount to open borders.

Any insistence to the contrary is, when we unveil it, little more than racism, as it cannot avoid supporting itself with the premise that some lives are more important than others, and that “race” can be used to distinguish these.

Our political arrangements, then, must tend toward open borders.

We will not – we cannot – open our borders overnight. We are not prepared to. We can, however, take steps now to ensure that, when the time is right, we will be prepared, by using our civic privileges to shape more open societies, by educating each other – by practicing openness.

We cannot leave the task too long

We will always be capable of this work; it is important to affirm this. The longer we leave it, though, the less goodwill there is likely to be, and the less confidence we will have in humanistic values. If we value human life and human lives, we will begin the challenging task of opening borders now.

As we work within our communities to prepare them for this, we might remember the words of James Baldwin, who, in dealing with social exclusion in his time, wrote:

A country is only as good – I don’t care now about the Constitution and the laws, at the moment let us leave these things aside – a country is only as strong as the people who make it up and the country turns into what the people want it to become.

As Baldwin writes, “We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.”

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About Philip McKibbin

Philip McKibbin is an independent writer from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Responses to “The World Is Still Becoming One”

Archived Comments.

  1. On April 14, 2016 at 5:29 pm smukster responded with... #

    Nice article.
    We’re at a difficult crossroads indeed. The west is rapidly losing its global hegemony (or has it already lost it?), and many in our countries feel like something they are entitled to is taken from them. Unfortunately, one of the possible reactions to this is to adopt a stance of “aggressive denial” a la Trump, of trying to defend a bygone status first with legal, then with violent means. Of course, this tactics only serves to hasten the downfall of those who employ it and turn them into ‘parias’, but somebody always tries…

    The world (and especially the west) is so rich, we sure have much more than we need. We just have to find a new way of distributing stuff, so that human needs become more important than individual greed.

  2. On April 15, 2016 at 9:44 am CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    Redistribution? Those in need are in need because of their own culture and their own governments as a result of their culture. We are rich because we produce, we earned it. Ii is the assumption that we are the cause of other peoples problems that is the cause of our losing of global hegemony. I am not saying we don’t have problems or that we are perfect but we are not the major cause of world poverty or violence.
    Redistribution is another word for Socialism, Communism, systems that have never worked anywhere it has been tried. It not only does not work but is counter to human nature , they way we trade, take care of friends and family etc.

  3. On April 15, 2016 at 10:30 pm Snoopy responded with... #

    Responsibility, an almost forgotten word these days, except when a group ask money from a “rich” country by extorting them with threats of irresponsibility, lack of humanity. You know what I would like to see more often in Africa? Men coming back with a diploma from the west (or Africa) and giving support to their brothers (it is happening but not enough). Less African men playing cards all day long (it does exist) while the wife do the dirty work. More creativity, innovation, less sorcery. And finally, finally, taking their own dreams into reality. Without outside help this is an incredible trigger, which result in pride, honor, confidence, satisfaction, self-respect, dignity. It already started but your article is sand in the gears. You are NOT helping. You cannot help others that much by just giving them money or free stuff. And Trump totally understand that. You need to give them self-confidence. This is a process.

  4. On April 17, 2016 at 7:11 pm smukster responded with... #

    Try to read a bit about economics and history, then come back. Maybe start with (neo)colonialism, slavery…or just start anywhere, but try to educate yourself.
    Btw., “taking care of friends” is an extremely communist/ anti-capitalist ideal;-)

  5. On April 18, 2016 at 9:11 am CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    Hey shmuk,
    Taking care of friends and family is a personal matter not a function of the state. All Religions are about mans relationship with man on a personal level as well as mans relationship with God. The bible tells us that charity and compassion comes from the individual not the state. Religion is about morality. I am amazed that I have to explain that.

    Communism and socialism is an out growth of “Humanism” which states that “man is the measure of all things”. This idea is false and dangerous. These isms are state run and have caused untolled misery, political imprisonment, starvation, wars and death.
    You are the one that needs an education, Read “The Black Book of Communism” and “The Naked Communist” to start with. Look up the modern history of Cuba, Venezuela, China, the Soviet Union, Stalin, Mau tsa Dung, Castro and others.

  6. On April 19, 2016 at 6:49 pm smukster responded with... #

    Er, no. Communism is run by the community/ the people, that’s where its name is derived from. But it’s interesting that you call humanism “dangerous”, if I understand you correctly. Kind of frightening.
    Modern history yeah, let’s not mention certain other countries right…?

  7. On April 19, 2016 at 8:01 pm CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    You obviously are ignorant of modern history. Sure communism in small groups work as shown with the Amish or in Kibbutzes but for governments? No. It has been a miserable failure where ever it has been tried and one must give up their freedom to act alone.
    If you read those two books and others plus educate your self about China, Russia etc you would not be defending Communism. These countries have nothing to be proud of in terms of natural rights. As far a socialism is concerned be mindful of the fact that Stalin called socialists “useful idiots”.

    Humanism ties in nicely with Communism because it puts man (the state) in charge of what is moral. To be simple about it, this can change on a daily bases at the whim of those in power.(Ever read Animal Farm?) Why? because “the end justifies the means”

    I believe that moral principles (truth) exists beyond ourselves. We have been given a way to discover what those truths are. Epistemology is too much to go into here.

    In Kibbutzes and with the Amish one can leave the group without fear of reprisals to ones life. This is not so with Communist countries.

    BTW, what other countries are you not mentioning?

  8. On April 21, 2016 at 8:24 pm none of your business responded with... #

    The obvious argument against a one world government is that while the NWO groupies imagine a one world government with a benevolent Santa Clause in charge, the reality is that power will attract the very sort of people who should not have it, who will do anything to get it, and therefore once they have it, will do anything with it.

    Human history proves that as soon as we are all slaves to a one world government, it is inevitable that this government will fall into the hands of another Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Torquemada. No purported safeguards can prevent that from happening. Hitler was elected by the German people, and our own recent history proves that elections can be rigged by powerful individuals or agencies. That danger alone, of the creation of a one world dictatorship waiting to be plucked as a prize by the most ruthless cutthroat the species can breed, is alone reason to abandon the suggestion of a one world government. A one world government has no opposing force to unseat tyrants without massive expenditure of human life fought during a resistance!

  9. On April 23, 2016 at 7:09 pm smukster responded with... #

    Where has it been tried? Are you referring to Sparta, the Cathares…?

    No, ‘man’ is not ‘the state’. If the state defines what’s moral, we tend to get into trouble (e.g. prohibition, apartheid…). The definition by humans is far from perfect (and obviously changes over time), but we don’t have any better option.

    Not mentioning countries where capitalist atrocities took or take place. There’s no point in singling out certain countries and ignoring others.

  10. On April 23, 2016 at 11:55 pm CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    There is no moral equivalence between free societies and communist countries. The atrocities by communists far outweigh free countries. What counties? Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, Germany (socialist) and a host of others in Africa. Millions have died, been imprisoned, tortured etc.The capitalist societies produce more per capita and supply you with materials, means, products etc to live a better life. Communism promises only one thing, equal poverty for all. Don’t kid yourself, anyone who supports communism is either ignorant or evil, there is no in between.
    I suggest you read up on the positive side of capitalism and why it works, Read the books I suggested earlier then tell me there is a moral equivalence. The idea is nonsense.
    We do have a better option other than make our own definitions in morality. Ever heard of the Ten Commandments?

  11. On April 24, 2016 at 1:49 pm smukster responded with... #

    Sure. Written by whom – martians? Klingons? Intelligent computers?

    Those countries you mention were not communist, but socialist/ stalinist. So no, communism has never been tried in modern times. Do you even know what the term means?

    Yes, capitalism is incredibly productive, that’s its bright side and historical mission. But firstly it utterly fails at justly distributing its benefits, and secondly production and resource consumption are far too high today, we actually have to reduce them in order to limit climate change.

    “The atrocities by communists far outweigh free countries.” – that’s plain wrong, cf. (not only) British colonialism, slavery, couple of genocides, WW1&2, … How was that quote about the “splinter in the eye of the brother”?

  12. On April 25, 2016 at 1:01 am CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    It is not the function of capitalism to redistribute wealth only socialism and communism claim that. Capitalism is nothing more then providing a service or product for a profit.
    Who are you to decide how much consumption is too much? Are you a member or the Politburo
    Millions were starved, imprisoned, executed in the Soviet Union, Same for China, Millions died at the hands of Nazi’s (National Socialist Party)
    What about PolPot?
    Go read some history. Don’t try to hoodwink people with “socialist/Stalinist” nonsense, of course they were socialist communists.
    .You have no idea what you are talking about.
    I highly suggest you read “The Naked Communist” so you learn something about the history and idiocy of Socialism (Communism light) and Outright Communist thought.
    I have found in past that true liberals are woefully willfully ignorant. I hope you arn’t one of them.

  13. On April 25, 2016 at 1:04 am CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    Read these statements carefully and ponder them. I really do hope you can gains something from them.

    1. “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy
    out of freedom.

    2. What one person receives without working for, another
    person must work for without receiving.

    3. The government cannot give to
    anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody

    4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work
    because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the
    other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody
    else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about
    the end of any nation.

    5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

  14. On April 25, 2016 at 11:07 am smukster responded with... #

    Yes, that’s the key problem with capitalism: Too many people want to live (comfortably) off other people’s work. But with capital no longer a “scarce good”, there is no more basis for this, so things are rapidly changing.

  15. On April 25, 2016 at 11:13 am smukster responded with... #

    Er, no. “Redistribution of wealth” by means of “return on investment” is pretty much the definition of capitalism.
    “Millions were starved, imprisoned, executed in the Soviet Union, Same for China, Millions died at the hands of Nazi’s” –
    Exactly. Thanks for confirming my point that both socialists and capitalists committed atrocities.

    Again, do you know what “communism” means?

  16. On April 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    There is a major difference between Capitalism and Communism. In their pure form Capitalism is an individual endeavor where as Communism is not. Communism,the state, assumes the sole right to the supply of goods and services. History has shown that it does a poor job of it. Communism and socialism rob the individual from their natural right to better their lives.Our Constitution is designed for the protection of our natural rights to property and pursuit of happiness. The real issue is when Capitalism is corrupted by cronyism. If our government would stick to its intended objective there would be very little corruption in our house and senate as a function of government. Communism states the “ends justifies the means” a moral corruption. That makes you a thing that the government do whatever wants to with no consequences for its actions. in fact, it can erase your existence. Do you really want to live in a state like that? I think not. You would not like it.

    There are a few points that Liberals don’t think about in terms of their over concern for wealth distribution
    1. Wealth is not distributed. It is created and earned
    2. It is much easier to lose wealth than to gain it.
    3.Wealth is not finite. It can grow. Everyone has a chance to create it under legal means of knowledge, entrepreneurship, and perseverance. There is no limit to wealth nor should there be everyone should achieve wealth.
    4. Life is not always fair. Roll with the punches. There are no guarantees.

    Read that book I suggested earlier and you will understand the evils of socialist and communist thought.

  17. On April 25, 2016 at 6:22 pm smukster responded with... #

    Communism is not the state, but the community, hence the name. Once you understand that, you realize that the rest of the things you wrote don’t make much sense. Yes, over-powerful governments are a very dangerous thing, but they are just as common in capitalist as in socialist societies. This is commonly illustrated with a two-dimensional matrix, with x the social justice/ distribution and y the state power/ centralization.

    Wealth is both created and distributed. The key question is who gets what share: Do those who actually work get most, or those who make them work? A shareholder doesn’t work for his dividend, he just receives it by definition.

  18. On April 25, 2016 at 11:31 pm CaptainofthGuard responded with... #

    Sigh, your half baked, a flake, you have no idea what you are talking about. Read the book and some history and don’t bother me. I tried to teach you something but you remain willfully ignorant. I have no more time for this.

  19. On April 26, 2016 at 8:46 am smukster responded with... #

    Funny, I’ve been thinking the same:-)

    I’ll leave your with your ideology, but you could at least try to understand what those terms you keep using actually mean.