It’s now become fashionable to point out derisively that the border wall is “symbolic.” As if there were anything but symbolism propping up nation-states. What are the flag or the anthem, for instance? Why do we support “our team” in the Olympics or the World Cup? It’s all symbolic, duh!
What’s next? Triumphantly pointing out that nations are “invented communities” and national borders were drawn arbitrarily? You don’t say! Have any equally stale news for us? How about the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun? It’s not exactly a revelation but since we are pointing out the painfully obvious these days, then why skip this glaringly obvious reality?
It doesn’t matter if nations are completely artificial. Yes, they are, but so what? So is central heating, but we are in no hurry to give it up. New Year’s is completely artificial and symbolic but I’m planning to celebrate my heart out. The point is whether this artificial construction brings important benefits we don’t want to be without.
What is missing from all of the criticisms of the wall is the only issue that really matters: do we want to keep the nation-state model? Are we consciously walking away from it? Have we considered what the consequences of doing that would be? Welfare, feminism, gay rights – are we sure we want to toss them out of the window? If not, what is our proposal for shoring up the crumbling nation-state model? If it’s not the wall, then what?