Big news for expatriated Americans, Netflix’s announcement that they will not allow VPN access to their U.S. content has me thinking about how profoundly the artificiality of borders impoverishes us all. Few people realize how recent a development national borders are, or what purpose they actually serve. In sparsely-populated areas, the borders are ill-defined or defined by rivers and mountains, and freely crossed. Over the centuries, warlords morphed into governments, and people began to resist governments as surely as Newton’s third law: the force of domination was met with an equal and opposite force of resistance; the pendulum might swing, but the resistance is inevitable.
To keep the borders secure, those who dominate must nurture a mythology which demonizes outsiders and denies their essential humanity. We must never, never, never stop to reflect that people everywhere make choices as individuals, and that individuals are mostly only interested in ensuring their own well-being and that of their families. The more people exchange, the wealthier they are. The more they exchange, the less likely they are to fight.
There was a shining moment when the internet not only allowed the rebels of the Arab Spring to coordinate with one another, but showed us in the West the power and spontaneity of the widespread resistance to totalitarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. Briefly, we all sensed that those in strange countries with dark skin and harsh consonants were, like us, human. How those who occultly run things in the halls behind the halls of power must have trembled! Yet, even as they trembled, they were preparing to use fear to harness the rampaging bull and use it as an instrument of control.
The fact is, governments are all too happy to enforce the copyright laws drafted by the corporations which only exist at the governments’ behest. It serves the interests of the governments to divide and conquer by making sure the art we make and see is not seen by the “others,” and we, in turn, do not see or hear the cries of their hearts or the visions of their wildest dreams. We are living still and again in the age of Mercantilism, where the corporations and the governments do the work for one another which they cannot or will not do themselves.