Critique of Borders – Canada no longer visible from Derby Line, Vermont

Since this site is called ‘No Borders and Binaries,’ lets revisit the philosophy behind that term. The creation of a bordered world is a deliberate attempt to divide, contain and isolate communities, to forget about arbitrary and ‘disorderly’ origins, in order to create a ‘more ordered, more secure world’–an impossible goal. See the case of Derby Line in Vermont below.

One library, two countries by Soul of Beer.

The border fence between Canada and America in Derby Line, Vermont is spreading hatred and discontent among residents. The United Press International reports:

Derby Line, which has a shared library with the neighboring Canadian community of Stanstead, has had lettering painted on three side streets: “Canada” on one side, “U.S.A.” on the other. Then came an influx of U.S. Border Patrol agents who chased motorists who ignored signs telling drivers to use official entry points.

The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported Sunday that there was a proposal last year to erect fences on the town’s small streets to officially barricade the United States from Canada.

“They’re stirring up a little hate and discontent with that deal,” said Claire Currier, who grew up in the border area. “It’s like putting up a barrier. We’ve all intermingled for years.”

See NPR for more coverage of this issue.

The residents are told that it is a matter of national security, that our borders are porous, that terrorists could enter the border through these unsecured places. It doesn’t seem to matter that the people living in harmony across the border, intermingling often, don’t like the idea of a fence that would create barriers amongst them, deny them access to golf clubs, libraries, shopping malls and other activities they share together. And then there are those that think that Vermont should belong to Canada.

Building a nation-state with an ‘identity’ and ‘purpose’ in containment to the Other outside the border while ripping apart communities is a paradoxical goal especially since Others exist within borders, across fences and even in our minds. Yet, we have seen an eruption to the contrary of this philosophy as the United States has found ‘reason’ since 9-11 to build a more ‘bordered’ world. The mobility of people is limited even while capital is still free to come and leave as it pleases.

The borders are not just built across communities, not just drawn on maps, but also in our minds. We have been disciplined to view the world through the binary lenses of borders–an inside/outside, us/them, black/white, male/female, legal/illegal dichotomy. Unless we stop thinking in terms of binaries and start considering transversal politics (flows, networks, webs…), the borders will continue to thrive and multiply as we helplessly catalog and categorize into ‘orderly’ states.

“Whatever starts in chaos, ends in chaos”

-Alice Pieszecki

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