Stefan Mau is a professor of macrosociology at the Institute of Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin. His new book was published in September: “Sorting Machines – Re-establishing the Limit in the 21st Century”.,,
Mr. Mau, NATO A fence made of barbed wire is currently being built between Belarus and Poland for 350 million euros to protect the EU’s outer border. Last week we saw migrants pierce the fence and reach the other side. What did you think when you saw these pictures?
This was a very symbolic image for the new wall construction craze. Poland and Belarus are not isolated. There are more and more firm boundaries and walls around the world. It is no longer a question of defending the region against external enemies, but of stopping certain migrant movements.
Is the border conflict in Eastern Europe just one example for many others?
In fact, the border between Mexico and the United States is a well-known example. But there are many examples on the Asian continent as well. African states such as Botswana or South Africa are also sealing themselves against migration today.
Don’t the pictures also show that such a limit basically only has a symbolic function, since it can be reduced?
Such is the opinion. Nevertheless, I would say that most of these borders still have a highly restrictive effect on the movement of people, even though they may not completely seal off an area. Therefore, they block movements, you can already see from the fact that many refugee camps have been set up in front of the borders. The counterfactual thesis should be: what exactly if this border fortification doesn’t even exist? Then one will be able to overcome it independently. The number of people crossing the border will be much higher.
But if you don’t see your future in your country, you won’t be afraid of the wall.
No, hardship, oppression and despair are powerful drivers. Because of this, the social and political costs of rigid boundaries are becoming greater. If such a strong secure border is thought to the end, it would be the border between 1961 and 1989, like Germany’s – that is, a border with orders to shoot. A threshold that could only be crossed by accepting a high life risk.
Does this mean that the greater the urge to overcome it, the thicker the wall?
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