A world without borders is an idea which captures the imagination of many but only encourages action from a few. The unfortunate success of right-wing isolationist politicians in recent years has dampened the likelihood of greater integration in Europe, while US President Donald Trump and his neoconservative hawks continue to put peace at risk by picking fights around the world. Despite reactionary forces challenging the push for globalisation, there is still hope for a united, borderless world.
As countries, borders, and governments have arguably been created artificially by law, it is apt to start the inquiry from a legal perspective (which is also where all the problems lie). While modern attempts at erasing borders, such as by the European Union, have instituted superior legal entities which sit above nation states, making national governments bound to the decisions of the united “world people” rather than just their citizens, these legal structures have also caused major issues.
As German philosopher Immanuel Kant predicted in 1795, the erasure of legal plurality (only partial in the case of the EU) is bound to be a source of discontent as laws suitable for one country are not necessarily appropriate for another; the balance between labour rights and business efficiency, for example, is different in every country as culture and history affect the way people think.
Yet, on the other hand, a model without a supreme, global legal entity would not be able to motivate change efficiently as there is nothing requiring states to act more harmoniously with its neighbours other than its own goodwill. In the absence of great social change, a world state will not succeed.
While an equilibrium of force between two states might stop conflict from occurring in the short run, the lack of a “moral agreement” or an abandonment of all reasons, according to Kant, make war an inevitable consequence in the long run. States have incentive to improve this state of affairs by entering into unions because the cost inherent in preserving armed forces and the risk of war is simply too high for them to bear.
While our current world might seem hostile to a global union, we should recognise that the dream of international unity is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Though such a world is likely to retain its diversity of peoples, cultures, and languages (for good reason), we will see people working together much more closely in the future. Trump is merely a blip in the trend towards internationalism.