Art; what is it good for? Well, in this case the advancement of the end of civilisation as we have known it for millennia. But, hey, everything has its day, right? American ‘artist’ Tom Sachs presents his art installation (and that word alone alerts you to the sheer fuckwittery of the enterprise) the Swiss Passport Office. Here, for a mere twenty Euros – no pounds allowed – you can procure an elaborately fake Swiss Passport. What’s not to like? Well, the hypocrisy of the thing, for a start. Sachs believes there should be no borders but somehow argues that possession of the entry ticket to what he believes to be the most elite nationality in the world is a step in granting that status to all.
Wait, what? Back up a little. Switzerland, he says, is a nation defined by borders, within which its citizens enjoy a privileged and protected existence, which he thinks should be accessible to all. But his primary thesis is that despite acknowledging that it is those very borders which defend their exclusivity, the world can achieve a superior equality for all without them. Sachs is a champion for a borderless world, an enemy of the nation state (except Switzerland, it seems) and a great advocate for projects such as the EU. He may require strong medication to keep the cognitive dissonance at bay
It is a part of the human condition to want to belong. Without this sense of belonging we are hollow voices, bleating into the void. But once we get together as cohesive and recognisable communities we can achieve remarkable things. The whole of civilisation is built on the concept of belonging and the nation state is its apotheoses. With nationality comes a whole host of benefits which accrue to those who have participated, to those who have contributed. Under the western nation state model, in particular, we have built health, welfare, education law and order and security into the very fabric of our society. This is undeniably better than other models.
So why should YOU get to share in what WE have created? Why should a rich country open its borders to one and all? We are not one human tribe, equal in our suffering and equal in our entitlements. Even the concept of human rights is a purely theoretical construct. But the products of our labours – our homes, our roads, our hospitals, our internet – these are not theoretical, nebulous ideals, these are real things in finite quantities. Without state you have no identity, without identity how do you prove you are entitled to any share of what that identity provides?
In Tom Sach’s borderless world – and we are seeing this internally as the state loses its confidence to maintain order – we would be atomised into identities based not on shared endeavour, but on shared perceived injustices; grievance tribes, vying with each other to plunder the resources of those who more readily identify as patriots and non-victims. The irony of the open-borders campaigners is that those they allow in would have even less regard for their weaknesses as those of us who currently pay to indulge them.
LGBT Pride 1923
Nationhood is our strength and imposed diversity erodes that strength. Without nations, cleaving tightly to territory, defending national ways of life, the world would be an infinitesimally atomised place with tribal groups in constant states of tension against other groups having only marginal differences. The current LGBT movement might well become separated into never-cooperating L, G, B & T entities. The miracle of the nation state is that under a shared national identity with common greater interests we can tolerate so much diversity because we share at least this one, huge allegiance. The only thing that the massed ‘difference’ movements have achieved is misery, division and grievance. The nation state is far from dead, it is the last refuge of civilisation
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