Are Borders and Territory a Good Thing? Lessons from Libya

Liberal and critical intellectuals in the West tend to hold that borders and territoriality are oppressive. They have a point. Borders are almost by definition oppressive inasmuch as their whole point is to exclude and marginalize outsiders.
But borders and territoriality also have some saving graces.
Libya is currently a testing-ground in this debate. Libya is beset by two big problems:
One is immigration and smuggling across its desert borders. In a rather desperate move, Libya’s parliament has declared its southern borders closed. (All the borders except those with Tunisia and Egypt). But it has little means to enforce this.
The other is a lack of central control. Cities and localities are largely self-governing. There are many militias.
Looking at Libya currently, borders and territoriality certainly seem to be needed for civil order. Oppressive they may be, but a bulwark of social order and civilization they almost certainly are.
So, while borders and territoriality may be oppressive, they also have useful functions.


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