Walls, barriers, border fences – Marcello Di Cintio had the good idea to write book (Walls: Travels Along the Barricades) describing his travels to several of them around the world.
Are these dividing lines a good thing or not?
To the conventional mind, of course they are evil! Diversity is good, separation is bad.
Note this assumption in Will Ferguson’s review of Walls:
the most divided, disputed regions on earth, where violent religious, cultural, political and economic divides are made of steel and concrete, in razor wire and desert berms … provide a testament to the psychological, social and environmental damage they create.
Wait a minute. Violent divides are never made of steel, concrete, razor wire, or desert berm. Violent divides are only ever made of rival groups, fighting. Damage is created by conflicts, not by walls.
In fact, walls generally lessen conflict. In the West Bank, the barrier has lowered attacks; it is the settlements that are the problem. The walls in Belfast helped to end the violence there. The division of Cyprus ended the fighting. Border fences too (India’s with Bangladesh for instance) are there for a reason.
Walls, barriers, border fences – often they have a useful purpose.