The existence of borders is a prerequisite of a world in which cultural and communicational barriers tend to blur.
Broadly speaking, a border is the demarcation between what is ours from what is foreign. More specifically, a border typically refers to a political or geographical limit whose purpose is to separate two or more physical territories. Its persistence and application depend on the acceptance and trust of the parties involved, therefore becoming subject to change and disputes. As human societies reach an evermore complex state, their existence becomes almost inevitable as a tool for understanding and organizing the world.
The borders between different countries may be the clearest example of the importance of frontiers throughout history. Its acceptance is based on international consensus and determines over which territory the rules ratified by their authorities will govern. Of course, this has tangible impacts on the lives of its inhabitants. However, as supranational agreements are made and multilateral organizations are created, states sacrifice independence for integration or development, for example.
Since the end of the Cold War, the trend has (almost) always shifted towards integration. International trade facilitated the erosion of borders to promote a unified global market in which the exchange of goods and services is as simple as possible. Integration tends to promote peace between different agents: the more interdependent they are, the more they have to lose in the event of a conflict or crisis among the involved parties. The European Union may be the model of organization that transcended borders thanks to its unified currency, the European Parliament, and the Schengen area. However, at certain times this total unification has been challenged. Take for instance the recent case of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many countries became warier about the control of their borders. How do external threats tend to strengthen borders? Would it be possible for these processes to take another form if we could better utilize the technologies we have available today?
The internet is probably the instrument behind the state of globalization we are currently experiencing. It is responsible for making the promise of total interconnectivity a reality. However, what at first seemed like the pathway to a utopia of total hyperconnection ended with a very different result. Strangely, with the massification of the internet and social networks, we see the emergence of new borders. These do not delimit the territory of the states, but rather mark in drastic fashion the content we want to see from what we don't. Even when the internet presents a never-before-seen amount of information, in general, we are very impermeable to what comes in conflict with our previous beliefs and convictions.
Getting out of the virtual sphere of the matter, another aspect that arises is the migration situation. Both the internet and trade give the impression that globalization is a great success, creating cosmopolitan megacities in its wake that reinforce the notion of the so-called global village. However, as the exchange of goods and information is facilitated, the same does not happen when human beings are the ones trying to cross those borders. In multiple places in the first world, migration policies have hardened. What is behind this rejection of immigration? Beyond the debate over whether it is desirable, doesn't it seem paradoxical that ideologies centered around the superiority of certain cultures in a globalized world?
This phenomenon of border hardening is even more impactful if we consider the particular case of those that are invisible. Mega-cities bring with them the marginalization of the lower social classes, who precisely because they are born on the wrong side of a city are unable to access basic services. Although these borders do not have the appearance that we associate with the word, it is undoubtedly true that in certain cases they are even more imposing than those built of bricks and concrete.
It is also important to ask ourselves: which shape will borders take in the future? Our current vision of them is generally rigid, but it should be taken into account that the way in which borders act has varied widely over time. For example, we can analyze the case of Tuvalu. Due to climatic issues and the level of the oceans, Tuvalu is sadly on the way to disappearing underwater in a matter of decades. As a result, they are fighting to become a digital nation, that is, a nation without its own territory. Extrapolating this idea: how will states and their borders work in a world where virtual communities are inhabited as naturally as real ones? What forms of political organization will be adopted on this path? How will we be represented in these societies?
In conclusion, it is necessary to remember that a large part of the problems we face have a global character. Borders have undoubtedly been fundamental parts of history and necessary for the progress we have achieved. Their future of them remains uncertain, with possibilities ranging from the hardening of borders to the creation of digital nations. How will it impact on political organization and representation?