The No-State Solution & The Case For Open Borders

Featuring Mohammed Bamyeh and John Washington

by Kate Horgan
The Project Censored Show
The Official Project Censored Show
The No-State Solution & The Case For Open Borders

In the first half of the show, Eleanor Goldfield speaks with professor and author Mohammed Bamyeh about the no-state solution, an idea rooted in Palestinian and regional history that speaks of legitimate liberation in the face of continued state-imposed oppression and colonialist violence. Mohammed also explains the origins and outgrowth of fundamentalism, and the need to go beyond realism when reality has failed and continues to fail the people. In the second half of the program, Eleanor speaks with journalist and author John Washington about his book, The Case For Open Borders and the historic, economic, political and environmental reasons why and how open borders would not only be possible but beneficial to all. John also highlights the contradictions and hypocrisies of borders, the inefficacy of militarized borders, and the very real effects of the recent Biden administration move to essentially close the border.


Video of the Interview with Mohammed Bamyeh

Video of the Interview with John Washington

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Mohammed Bamyeh

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Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks, everyone, for joining us at the Project Censored Radio show. We’re very glad right now to be joined by Professor Mohammed Bamyeh, who’s from the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of Anarchy is Order, the History and Future of Civil Humanity.

Professor, thank you so much for joining us.

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: Thank you.

Eleanor Goldfield: So I’d like to start with some history to contextualize the idea of a no-state solution as something that’s not at all alien, particularly for the region in which Palestine is.

And what struck me when you were talking about it was actually the West African idea of Sankofa, which is the bringing forward of an idea from a people’s own history.

And I was wondering if you could just start by talking a little bit about how the no-state solution is already woven in to the cultural and historical fabric of Palestinians, and also the larger region.

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: The Palestinians, as you know, do not have a state of their own. And for a long time, of course, the emancipation of the Palestinians had been conceived or imagined in the form of a state that is independent.

And that is fine, actually, I have no problem with that. And in fact, I have always supported the kind of Palestinian sovereignty, especially if it involves freedom of occupation and ability to determine the future on their own. The fundamental problem is that for most of their histories, Palestinians actually have accommodated themselves to living without a state.

And they have rebuilt their society in the diaspora after 1948, both in the refugee camps, as well as through organizations that they formed, as well as in civil society that they built across the world, in the diaspora, all of that without a state. Now, Palestinians actually are not alone here because if you look at the entire region of what they call the Middle East, you also see that for most of the history of the region, people have actually also lived without a state, even though when they were governed formally by states, but most social life was actually kind of organized according to traditions that were voluntarily accepted, that were mutually understandable by the people.

And that was also the case in the time of empires. The only exception was in the modern states when they were kind of imposed in the region. And after World War One in particular, and those states were for the most part imposed by colonial powers, they did not emerge out of organic process of state building from below, nor as an outcome of actually people’s desire.

And, those states basically continue to exist until today. They were tolerated for a while in the post independence period because there was a hope that these states were of a modern nature. They would undertake developmental projects that would help people become prosperous, and free and sovereign.

And for a while, for a few decades, that kind of a promise was sort of believed in by many people in the region until we hit the neoliberal era, beginning with the 1990s in some places earlier, where, in fact, states went back to what they had always done historically, which is to do little or nothing for most people.

And, so essentially, social life continued, basically, to evolve in the Middle East, for the most part, outside of the realm of the state, and independent of the state, and people take care of each other basically through again, traditions of mutual help, conflict management, et cetera, that are known to them at the local level.

So basically from my point of view, and if you link up to the war that’s going on in Gaza, as well as the war in Syria, the war in Libya, et cetera, all these wars that are raging in the region, it becomes clear that the modern state, Israel included, are simply murder machines. They are there to serve themselves as states and their elites and no one else.

And, they go to war against people that they control, or against each other, as a matter of course, because of the way they are designed. They are designed essentially as competitors, ultimately. And, they see each other as such, right? And they see their population also as a threat.

But I don’t mean the population that is only the citizens of those states, but also the population that they control as a whole, basically, right? So in the case of Israel, that would be including the Palestinians, basically, as part of the population that lives also under the control of the state of Israel, and that is considered to be part of the state of Israel, to be an enemy of the state, the whole population.

 So, when you look at this history, you realize that first, the state and society in the Middle East are two distinct things. They’re often at odds with each other. Genocide, ethnic cleansing is part of the history we’re talking about. And essentially, states are superfluous. I mean, we can live without them. We actually have done that without them. So it’s not as though the idea of the no-state solution is something that is strange and far fetched idea. It actually does represent the historical and the ongoing kind of reality of social organization in the region.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. Thank you so much for that historical context. And I’m curious then, with the idea of a Palestinian state, do you feel that it’s possible to create a Palestinian state that doesn’t fall prey to the same issues that you just mentioned? Or is it impossible because a state as a colonialist and violent construct will always have those problems even if it is created in order to push for the liberation of a Palestinian people?

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: If a state, if a Palestinian state comes into existence, I think that would be an improvement over the occupation. So it’s not as though the no state solution is the only solution that would improve the conditions that we have right now. A two state solution would be an improvement over the occupation. A one state solution in Israel Palestine would also be an improvement over the two state solution, because it would not require population movements, it would not require all kinds of unrealistic adjustments to the way people live, and it would be democratic and humane, ultimately.

But neither the two state solution nor the one state solution seem to be practical from today’s point of view or acceptable because of the, not just because of the way the Israeli state itself has been constructed, but also because the international community is not willing actually to exert the kind of political capital and the kind of pressure that will be required to force either of those solutions.

So, I am actually not opposed to an independent Palestinian state, and I would be happy if that were to happen. I just don’t see this to be a realistic thing. Ultimately it is the Palestinians who have to decide, or who have to be given an opportunity to decide about their future in a sovereign kind of way.

So that’s where I would leave it, and I’m basically putting the no-state solution ultimately as another solution to think about, which is actually in the long run, this is not something that would happen tomorrow, of course, but in the long run would be actually adjustment to the continuous failures of the states as we have experienced them.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. And I’m also curious because you mentioned, of course, the myriad issues with statehood. But you also mentioned the strengthening of the diaspora and the building of identity and Palestinian identity and collective selfhood all done without a state. And very ironically, I have also felt that Jewish identity is similar, that we have a strong identity and a sense of self, not in spite of not having a state prior to 1948, but indeed because we do not.

And now that there is one, in fact, I feel that the Jewish identity is ripping because of it. And you mentioned in a recent presentation that when we emancipate ourselves from this commitment to a national identity, that due to oppression and resistance to it has become our primary defining feature, this is what liberation looks like.

And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how statehood actually deflates and kind of denies a collective selfhood, and a rich culture of multiple identities, and in many ways becomes kind of like a set of collective shackles.

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: I think the state especially the state that is based on collective national identity as a stand-in for that national identity rigidifies that identity that makes it a lot more rigid than otherwise it would be.

So if I say that I am a Palestinian or an Arab or a Jew or whatever it is, but I don’t have a state to actually represent, and stand in for that identity, I have a lot more freedom, basically, with that, with where to deposit that identity, hopefully. Of course, the formula is very different when you have a state that says, I represent you as a nation and you owe loyalty to me primarily, and all other potential loyalties, you have to actually get rid of.

And national conflicts emerged out of that kind of that we have constructed ourselves. So in the historical Middle East, you have large Jewish communities throughout the history of the Middle East. In Iraq, in Syria, in Egypt, throughout North Africa, especially Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, all that, all of those places were full of Jewish communities that lived well with the Muslim majority, right, and had their own rights and they could live according to their own laws, right? None of those people went to Palestine, basically, or to the Holy Land, all these times before 1948, right? Even though there was nothing to prevent them from doing so, ultimately.

So if you look at the history of coexistence, of various types of communities throughout the region, you notice that actually, the thing that made these relationships kind of war like, basically, was, in fact, the idea that each nation had to create its own exclusive community.

Which meant ethnic cleansing. You have to move people out of the territory, you conclude, or you have to take rights away from them. Of course, that causes unhappiness, problems of security that come out of that, and war. All of that has happened. So I think actually, I don’t have actually a problem with people having any specific identity and be attached to it in particular, so long as there is no power structure that actually deposits that identity into a violent system and puts it in contrast and against other types of identities in the same region.

 This is what we have right now. And this is, in fact, the fundamental factor behind the genocide that is happening in Gaza right now.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, while you were talking, I was thinking a little bit about the Umayyad caliphate in Al Andalus in Southern Spain, which was technically under the yoke of the Abbasids who were then governing from Baghdad.

But in reality, they had their own form of governance, their own laws. And Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together without a problem basically until Ferdinand and Isabella came to power. And then, what we know as the inquisition and everything kicked off. So, when it was under Muslim control, technically, these people were able to live together without issues. And then as you said it, that you had to create the ‘other’ and you had to create those distinctions.

I want to dig into something that you’ve also discussed and I really liked the way that you framed this, what you call ‘organic anarchism,’ an anarchist method of rebellion that seems to be ingrained in familiar social traditions.

Could you talk a little bit about that? This organic anarchism, because anarchy is something that you’ve also discussed and how this moves itself towards a no-state solution and how this has shown itself to work within Palestinian communities.

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: When I began to think about what became my book, Anarchy as Order, actually, I sketched, there are two types of anarchy.

The one was the self conscious anarchism, the anarchist movement that begins with the Enlightenment, in fact, Enlightenment thought, and becomes an organized movement in Europe as of the mid 19th century, and continues to be with us until today, ultimately, self conscious anarchism.

But I thought actually there is a larger global history of anarchism, that has little to do with the self conscious anarchism, and namely that is the large cluster of autonomous, self-organized societies that live underneath the state, but they have their own systems.

And this is something that my book actually tried to document historically that I talk about, not only in terms of social organizations, historically, before colonialism in particular, but also in terms of social philosophies that you see in the Muslim world. I mean, political philosophies that you see in the Muslim world, in the Hindu world, also in medieval Europe.

You even see it in Machiavelli as well, by the way, where the fundamental point is that state and society have nothing to do with each other. That the state has its own logic, its own kind of way of thinking, its own systems of management and rule. And society has its own kind of ways of organizing itself.

That is something that you see across all these political philosophies across the world as well. That reflect, in fact, the awareness of historical political philosophers across various civilizations of the fact that society has its own kind of organization model and the state has its own mind, so to speak, right.

And that is where the idea of organic anarchism kind of comes in. The anarchism that is done by millions of people who actually have not read any books about anarchism, they may not even know what the term means, right? But practically, their life is organized around mutual help, basically, solidarity, known conflict management solutions.

Typically, they have very little in the way of prisons, for example, of coercive apparatuses. These are used by the state, but not really by society. And you see it in 2011 and 2019 in the Arab world, in the Arab uprising movements, where, in fact, you have revolutions of a new kind that had no leadership, that had no organization behind them and that seemed to nonetheless, be able to mobilize millions of people.

And that, in my analysis, of course, of that style of the revolution comes out of already known way of mobilizing and spontaneous action and so on, and that was, relatively speaking, a new way that was reawakened, familiar social traditions and mobilized them in a revolutionary direction.

So we haven’t had that actually before, where this organic anarchism that I’m talking about actually becoming an incendiary material for revolution, that is relatively new. And that is the era I think we are going because if you look at other kind of protest movements around the world since 2011, you also see similar features.

They may be smaller in other parts of the world, but they have the same features like the loose network of activists, not centrally organized, being an art of movement. They speak in the name of the people as a whole or the 99% or something like that. But not in the name of something like the working class or any specific group, so to speak, right?

So organic anarchism is part of social traditions everywhere, historically speaking, right? And right now, it’s being reawakened, I think, right? That is, it is not called anarchism, right, by the people who actually do it, but it does have clearly a lot of similarity to what the philosophical kind of self conscious anarchist tradition does say.

And one more point about this is that when we talk about organic anarchism, I think it is in the minds of most people who may describe as such, it is mixed in with other elements, so it’s not as though this is actually pure ideology, so to speak, right? And that is, for example, you have lots of people in Egypt, for example, or Tunisia, who actually do rely on each other, live a pattern of everyday life that may be organically anarchist.

But also, at other points, they may have no problem with something that we call enlightened despotism, for example, of someone who comes in and promises to help solve problems is perhaps given a chance to do so. So when talking about organic archism, we’re also talking about social ideology that is also mixed with other ideology in the same mind, so to speak. Over time of course, the difference between these different types of thinking about governing a social life become more and more distinct from each other with experience.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. Thank you for that. And I’m curious how you would see, for instance, the Intifadas. Would you see those as an example of organic anarchism?

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: Exactly. Yeah. I talk about especially the first Intifada as a good example of that. And it is actually the first, and especially in the larger Middle Eastern history of an event like that.

You had, of course, Palestinian resistance movement that was organized and happened before 1987 when the intifada broke, but the first intifada was, had the same characteristic that you see in 2011, namely it has a spontaneous character, it was collective, it did not have, at the beginning at least, did not really have leadership behind it. It happened at a time when the PLO was very weak at that time, was sitting in exile in Tunisia that had very little effect on anything that was happening in Palestine.

The Arab world had forgotten about Palestine, but at that point as well, it was busy with the Iran-Iraq war. That was the main concern for all our governments at that point. So the Palestinians felt abandoned completely at that point, and weak.

And precisely at that point you have this organic anarchist social capital, right, exploding in the form of a revolution, that we call the intifada. And so the advantage, I think, right, of this organic anarchist culture is that it provides a way for people to mobilize with each other using social traditions, and at times when their social, or when their organizations are weak, when their leadership is absent or irrelevant, but their grievances are still there. So actually, they have to do something. And they do it with the help of whatever cultural resources that happen to be available to them. And that has happened earlier, of course, in Palestinian history, not in the form of intifada, but in forms of actually maintaining Palestinian alive and well connected.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. And I want to dig into something also that you had spoken about in a previous presentation, which is the idea of religiosity. And you’d spoken before about what we call here fundamentalist Islam being an outgrowth of colonialist violence, basically, that it’s not something that comes from these organic, shared social and communal traditions.

And in that sense, to me it felt a bit like how we talk about how the US is responsible basically for the creation of ISIS, or the US’ strong ties to Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, not least of all having Osama Bin Laden on the CIA’s payroll.

Could you talk a little bit more about how these fundamentalist movements are actually outgrowths of that colonialist violence?

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: There are different origins of fundamentalisms. So it’s not actually all the same thing. So part of it has to do with, with the kind of fundamentalism that you see first established in a place like Saudi Arabia. And that fundamentalism was part of the state building project in a place like Saudi Arabia, where it had to be imposed by force. That is fundamentalism, the Wahhabism and the Wahhabi version of it always relied on state force to impose it on the population. It was not something that people believed voluntarily.

Of course, every time you see a phenomenon like that, a type, a variety of religion that requires force to be imposed, you know that it is weakly rooted in society. Otherwise, force would not be necessary.

Later on, you have another variety of fundamentalism that comes from the ground up. That is not necessarily related to a state, but actually often is an opposition to the state. And that is something that you see when you have social problems or political problems that persist and no one is resolving them. For example, Hamas. In 1948, there was no Hamas. In 1967, there was no Hamas either.

It took 40 years, right? Of basically constant repression of the Palestinians for something like Hamas to emerge and say, Okay, well, these secular forces have not resolved your problem, right? So here is one force within your tradition that could help you. So fundamentalism or what we call fundamentalism actually is not a natural outgrowth of any, especially when it comes from below, it is not really something that simply bursts out without lots of social problems that no one else have been able to actually deal with.

And elsewhere in the region, you see that as well. So basically, the post independence period in most a countries, there was actually no fundamentalism anywhere.

The post-colonial elite, both political and cultural elite were entirely secular up until the late seventies, right. Then of course in 1979, you have the Iran Revolution which is impressive to a lot of people because that is the first time where Islam actually is mobilized in a revolutionary direction.

 And a lot of people who were before that were secular and had no connection to religion begin to think that maybe religion actually is our way out of this mess. For example, the founder of the Islamic jihad in Gaza, in 1979, actually was a Nasserite Pan Arabist nationalist.

He had no connection to Islam at all, but then he saw many being successful in Iran and said, well, this could work. So fundamentalism often emerges out of this pragmatic kind of search for solutions, an experimental way, basically, right? Until, of course, the fundamentalist solution itself fails, in which case it to another type of ideology. So long as the problem is there and requires to be solved by someone who can promise to have an effective way of doing that.

There’s an older kind of version of everything that I just described, that is, in the early phases of colonialism in the Middle East, there was a debate in Arab intellectual circles about what caused our say, as they call it, backwardness. So the secular nationalist would say it was colonialism. Colonialism is the problem, and we had to fight colonialism. Those who are more religious argued, no, the problem is Colonialism came to us because we were weak, and we became weak because we had abandoned our tradition, and therefore we have to go back and strengthen ourselves through our traditions, and that is how you get rid of fundamentalism, by reawakening your culture.

And that debate continues until today, practically. So in a way, it is not as though fundamentalism, in either case, was the only kind of answer there, but it is one of the range of possible kind of answers to persisting problems, right?

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. And I mean, what you’re describing sounds a lot like what we see here in the US, the Christian fundamentalists who say, we have to go back to this past where, you know, we have these problems because we’ve strayed from the path. It seems like it’s the same script.

So, wrapping up here, Mohammed, I’d really like to talk to you about your perspectives on reality and realism, because I found that to be a really fascinating and important argument that you made that when realism as a perspective is useless and when reality is unacceptable, you have to go beyond.

And I’m curious here also about the conversation about utopia because utopia literally translates to no place. And I’ve often felt that aiming for a utopia is largely a pointless endeavor, but rather to imagine worlds that not only can exist, but perhaps already do and have existed. So could you talk a little bit about that? That argument that you’ve made about realism and reality and going beyond.

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: Yeah, sure. I think that’s an important point because the problem that we have in Israel Palestine is because the realist solutions are not working and they cannot work. There’s a lot of history behind why they cannot work.

Now that means actually this reality that’s producing genocide today is unacceptable. And that the realists, meaning that the diplomats, those who think within the parameters of the states actually have become useless people. Now, so that means that we have to actually look beyond reality, and we have to look at historical examples where we have all kinds of revolutions, the Bolsheviks, Khomeini, etc, the Palestinian resistance movement itself, all of which were kind of undertaken by unrealistic people.

Why do the weak attack the strong? That happens, of course, but it is also unrealistic from the point of view of those who highlight realism, but that is how revolutions happen, by people who actually do not know whether they have a chance of success or not, but they have to act.

And, much of grand historical change has happened that way, not by realistic people, but by people who had no connection to realism at all and rejected it. That does not mean that the result is always great. In fact, a lot of damage, of course, could result from actually ignoring realism. But from a sociological point of view, I think what matters more is not the result, but analyzing the situation to answer, say, actually in our history, and the global revolutionary history in particular, lack of realism has been an important kind of motivating factor. More so were will and vitality, rejecting reality altogether because it is not working, that simply be a lot more important than having actually a clear plan and realistic mindset.

And so that’s, and that’s where we are now. Because ultimately, if you look at the fact, at what is happening in Gaza right now, we see a reality that is completely unacceptable.

And we see actually that people who are trying to think of a realistic way to solve that problem are themselves unable to do anything about it. So that is an opportunity, I think, to think beyond the limits of what exists because what exists is unhelpful, basically, and not only unhelpful, but it’s also genocidal and criminal, right.

And so that is where and part, of course, of the way of thinking beyond reality and realism is the no-state solution, in my mind. Because that is really the kind of a time when one has to think about something beyond what is possible.

Now, I don’t actually, I do not want to present any of this as utopia. Because I don’t think actually utopia is something that we can arrive at, but we actually need to understand, I think, the captivating power of the utopian imagination. People go to revolutions en masse in 2011, 2019, which are events that I have observed firsthand, because they have a utopian imagination.

And that is, they don’t have a plan, they don’t know if the revolution is going to work, but they go into the revolution, and within that revolution, they have a utopian experience, that it is actually the kind of camaraderie and solidarity and friendliness that they experience the revolution, perhaps, is the way future society is going to be after the revolution.

That is what moves people. So, it’s not as though what I’m describing here is going to lead to utopia. I think it would lead to a much better reality than we have right now, but it is not utopia. On the other hand, people who actually do reject reality and realism do often actually have this utopian impulse that keep them going, and that is important enough for the Revolutionary Act.

Eleanor Goldfield: So it’s kind of like a utopian hope that’s the fuel, if not the goal.

Well, Mohammed Bamyeh, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us and lay out all of this important context and all of these ideas. Again, Mohammed Bamyeh is from the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of Anarchy as Order: the History and Future of Civil Humanity.

Mohammed, thank you again so much for joining us on the show.““

Prof. Mohammed Bamyeh: Thank you.

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Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with John Washington

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Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks, everyone, for joining us at the Project Censored Radio show. We’re very glad to welcome to the show John Washington, who is a staff writer at Arizona Luminaria, a community focused media outlet where he writes about the border, climate change, democracy and more.

He’s written for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Nation, and others. And his most recent book is called The Case for Open Borders, and you can find his other writings at substack at johnwashington. substack. com.

John, thanks so much for joining us.

John Washington: Thanks for having me.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. So, I must congratulate you on, not just a really powerful book in terms of the research, but a really beautifully written book. I feel like sometimes, so often, books that are so stacked with information can feel like you’re reading Encyclopedia Britannica, but that was not the case at all.

And, I mean, there are so many threads that I could pull on, but I want to start with the framing here and the conversation of borders being synonymous not only with violence, which we’ll talk about in a bit, but also a violent history and present of colonialism and of nation state building. And therefore with the inherent hypocrisy and arbitrariness in aid of that colonial nation state.

For instance, many tend to think of borders as these stagnant things that never move. And yet, as you write in the book, “the border can be moved to ensure its immovability. It can be violated to prove its inviolability. It can be crossed to prove its uncrossability.” And I think that that’s just such a beautiful way of succinctly highlighting the contradictions of the border. Could you talk a little bit more about what you mean by what you wrote there?

John Washington: I mean, I think there’s a number of inherent paradoxes in bordering.

We could list a bunch of them. You know, one is that the very idea of closing down a border or criminalizing border crossing, what it does is creates a crime. That crime would not exist if we didn’t look at human mobility the way that we do, which is as if it’s a problem, when we know that it’s not only inherent to our species, but it is a necessary means of survival.

A couple other paradoxes include the fact that people know that we need migrants. Just stick with the United States right now. There are really serious shortages in various sectors of the economy. Corporations, CEOs, politicians who are in the pocket of a lot of those corporations, they too know that our country, our economy, heavily relies and increasingly relies on relatively cheap labor, on new shots, new influxes of labor. And we know that if we actually do what now more and more politicians are saying, deport all of the undocumented people, close down the border, limit the both legal and quote unquote illegal migration, we can talk about why I’m putting scare quotes there, that it would tank the economy. It would be terrible. We know that.

And yet, we play this bizarre game where, especially politicians, where anti immigrant or immigrant restrictionists are speaking out of both sides of their mouth and say, We need to shut down the border, but we need people to get across the border.

It’s like, wait, what? You actually can’t have it both ways. And yet the border is having it both ways because what the border actually does is, you know, speaking in real terms, it kills people along the line who are trying to cross it or makes their lives much more difficult, makes the crossings much more dangerous, makes them suffer more as they try to cross it, and it immiserates people on both sides of the line.

So the people who have crossed, are not granted work papers or work authorization, they are subject to exploitation, lower wages, less worker protections. The people on the other side are stuck, again, sticking with U.S. Mexico. They’re stuck in very precarious labor situations, very precarious just existential situations. And they also are making less money, they’re being paid less for the same work that they would be doing on this side of the line. And they have less worker protections, less worker safety rights, all these things, they’re unionized at less rates. So the border doesn’t protect, just talk to an economist, the border doesn’t protect one side from the other.

What it does is it creates the gaps that then push people from one side to the other. You know, the paradoxes just accelerate from here. So when I was writing that specific line, I think I was referencing, if I remember right, I was referencing that the border is malleable. We decide to enforce the border in different ways at different times.

We actually position the border in different places at different times. For the last number of years, number of decades, we have all grown accustomed to the United States, the border following the logo map of the United States. But you start peeling back decades before that, and the border line was changing dramatically.

And now, too, not in strictly juridical terms, but the border is still very much moving. We are co opting Mexico, other countries in Central America, to enforce what is essentially our border further and further south. This is happening in the EU too. No longer is it just the Mediterranean coastline or, you know, the Greek Turkish border or the Eastern European borders.

But you see that Frontex is, and even individual European countries, are pushing the border down by co opting Libyan Coast Guard, then Nigerian and Nigerian Border Patrol agents. And so you see that the border does actually move.

And one more really concrete example here that is just, I think, so illuminating is I spoke or wrote at relative length at in the book about Australia, they actually decided to cut off a island that was part of the national territory of Australia, because asylum seekers were able to access it more easily.

It was a thousand miles off the coast of Australia. You know, through the logic of colonialism, they somehow claimed it was their own and migrants started showing up there and they’re like, well, what do we do? We have to legally process these people. Now, what do we do? How do we deal with it?

Like, oh, maybe we should just pretend that that’s no longer Australian territory. How convenient. And so, what they were doing by changing the actual borderline is trying to protect the border. So, yeah, paradoxes abound about bordering.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, that example about Australia in the book is just so like, wow, you’re really proving the point here.

And I want to get to the psychology of this, because you go into this as well, that what borders, especially militarized borders speak of with regards to what’s on the inside of them, and you write, “a border wall or a border gate reveals a nationalist fiction based on a mythologically constructed present and an often apocryphal past more than any geographic, cultural or political truth.”

So really, it seems that the borders, while a very physical aspect, it’s really a psychological aspect. And so when we’re talking about the case for open borders, it seems that you first have to break down a mythology, which is certainly not an easy task, I would say.

Could you talk a little bit more about this, like the psychology and the mythology of borders that we really latch on to?

John Washington: Yeah. I think an easy way of understanding the problem here is a quip that often gets used to defend borders. People say something like, well, you lock your doors at night, so wouldn’t you want to close your border to protect people from coming in? Because this is our little private sacred space, whatever, this is our home, and if people come in, it could be a problem for you. So we should lock our doors.

Okay, that analogy breaks down for a lot of reasons. One, I actually addressed this in the book, like, comparing a nation state to a individual private home doesn’t make any sense. But there’s one other, I think, really crucial way that this analogy falls apart, and it is that, okay, probably if you’re a homeowner, you paid for your home, or are still paying for your home. You took out, you know, a mortgage, you’re paying the bank, or maybe you were able to buy it straight up. That was a legal process involving two consenting parties. That is not the way that borders are drawn. That is not the way that nation states, modern nation states have been created.

So if we were to actually analogize how nation states were created into a home, it would be like, these people burst into this house, evicted the people who were living there, tore it to pieces, completely remodeled it, and then put new locks on the door.

So is it just ethically, or from a moral perspective, or from a legal perspective, do you have the right to live in that home and block people from coming in? I don’t think you do. I mean, I don’t think anyone would really think you do. And that is the way that borders actually work.

And you need to break down the mythology. There’s obviously a pretty simplistic analogy there, but think about how borders were created, and when we hark back to, oh, you know, it didn’t used to be like this. Well, that also, I think is fault tripping into some sort of historical amnesia, but also just trying to understand how these borders were created.

Like, the United States Mexico border, people came in and there was genocide that took place and was how now the United States is able to claim these territories for their own. They literally slaughtered and tried to put an end to multiple cultures. Then they, at gunpoint, stole land from another nation state, Mexico, and, now erected these borders. So, like, harking back to this idea of this pristine recent past is just blinding yourselves to a really bloody history.

I try not to only focus on the United States in the book because a lot of other borders are really telling and I think really important to understand, and I think maybe in fact, the Fortress of Europe is maybe one of the most important borders of the world right now.

There, too, is the same thing. It’s like, how were these borders drawn? How were these territories claimed by the people who now supposedly have control over them? It’s a very similar history. And then you look into different parts of the world and you notice that, well, in Africa, I think, I can’t remember the number right now, it’s like 80 percent of the African countries have straight lines as borders.

And it’s like, do you think that actually complied or represented the divisions of cultures? No, it didn’t. And like I said, because those cultures and many indigenous cultures throughout the world did not have exclusive lines of control. I’m not saying that it was a heyday. I mean, it’s not like there was no war and no incursions and no attempts at territorial conquest.

But there was something very different along the edges of control, and it wasn’t exclusive militarized bordering, which cements some of those problematic pasts. Like, I think that actually some versions of tribalism that was prevalent throughout the globe are not the way forward and we shouldn’t be returning to that past before borders either but bordering actually exacerbates that tribalist mindset.

And so we need to be advancing beyond this idea of supposed ethnic exclusionary communities which are not realistic and never really have been, and thinking about actually a way that people can move about the globe or the world or whatever part of it in a safe, orderly, humane way.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely.

And I’m glad that you mentioned the Europe border because it highlights another aspect, which is that Africa has been for quite some time, the colonialist playground of Europe, just as South and Central America is, thanks to the Monroe Doctrine, is the colonialist playground of the United States.

And where do you see that migration coming from? Places that have been destroyed by these colonialist and imperialist policies. Well, maybe if you were less of the colonialist imperialist superpower, you wouldn’t have this problem.

John Washington: Yeah, I mean, and it’s ongoing too, of course. And neocolonialism or the shades of colonialism today are still uprooting people.

This isn’t something from the past either. And, even the proffered solutions, a lot of times…there was a much ridiculed proposal, I think it was an early Biden administration that they would inject all this money into Central America. There was like a number of different proposals. Actually, Biden was involved with it under the Obama administration as well. It was going to be a billion dollars of development aid. Then it was gonna be half a billion and not very much of it actually went through.

But that too, the way that it is designed or where that money is going to land, I mean, the legacy of Corporate extractivism in Central America has been a huge driver of immigration, so this is not going to stabilize the region and keep people at home in supposedly the way that it’s intended.

And in fact, actually, even more intentioned development aid, let’s say it wasn’t given to corrupt government officials or corporate CEOs who were just going to basically institute more peonage in like the banana orchards or whatever. Actually, that too is probably going to spark migration.

There’s some really interesting studies showing that there is sort of a sweet spot for migration, and people from the most poor countries, the most undeveloped countries, they aren’t the ones who normally migrate. It’s more once people start achieving a certain level of economic stability they can actually afford to migrate and more people start leaving the country.

Should we not help these countries because we have laid waste to them in many regards economically and culturally so maybe we should be giving some form of like reparations, I think, is the better way of framing it instead of development aid.

But you have to also realize the consequences there, like true reparations and truly helping some of these countries grow their economies a little bit, or helping them cull their way out of just absolute abject poverty might actually spur migration, more migration.

So we have to be ready for that and blocking them off, like letting them achieve a level of economic stability and so they can move and then block them off is actually, like again, another paradox that we see. It’s like, this is why, as we do all of the reparations necessary, as we try to tackle climate change and all these other factors that are making people move, we actually have to open borders, otherwise people are just going to be moving and they’re not going to have anywhere to land.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And while you were talking, I was thinking about the intentionality here. And I recently read, following Biden’s not very shocking, but disgusting announcement about essentially closing the border to asylum seekers. There was an article in the Intercept that covered how this is a very Democrat thing to do.

And in 1994, at the very same time that then President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, the Army Corps of Engineers began to fence the US Mexico border. And so it’s like, there’s this understanding that like, hey, we’re going to do this thing that is going to be very, very bad for the people that are involved in it. And they’re going to try to move because of it. And we have to make sure that they can’t. And so there’s this very clear understanding of how those borders work from the people who write these policies at times.

And I wanted to get into a little bit about migrants specifically because what you also highlight in the book is how much of a toss up this is in terms of who’s deemed unworthy or worthy, and at times how that’s often based on the need for labor or the fear that jobs will be, you know, swept up by the invading hordes.

And something that I think is such a perfect example of this hypocrisy and the arbitrariness, is what you write about in the book, about the policy change with regards to Chinese migration.

Could you talk a little bit more about that 180, and how this selective othering also speaks to that nonsensical nature of these borders?

John Washington: Yeah, thanks for bringing up the Intercept article. That’s by Natasha Leonard, a friend of mine and a great writer, and people should go check it out. I can’t remember the title of it now, but it’s a good recent article. Just came out after Biden’s executive order, which is a moral disaster and will result in two really clear things, if it continues in effect. I mean, there’s a good chance that it’s going to be enjoined by the courts. We’ll see.

But it’s going to result in more people taking more dangerous journeys because they do not have access to safe or legal migration, and it’s going to result in family separations. And this is a thing that I think has gotten a little bit less attention, but it’s something I’ve been concentrating on the past year, ongoing reporting about family separations, and there is an exception in the new executive order that unaccompanied minors may still cross, but only them.

And there are, of course, still migrants who are young or under 18 who are migrating all the way from their home countries to the United States alone. But most young kids are traveling with their parents or their family members. And I have seen this firsthand where because of these policies, because of the extremely long waits to do it in a supposedly what is deemed like the right way, which still takes months and still these people and leaves people in incredibly precarious places in northern Mexico, family members or parents decide to send their kids on alone.

 This is a coerced family separation. I witnessed late last year, a mom say goodbye to her two teenage children in northern Mexico. They had been waiting for months. They hadn’t gone to school in over a year. She was scared because of the security situation there. She saw no hope in actually being able to do it legally. Her home was impossible to live in. And she said goodbye to her two children and they crossed the border alone. We’re going to see more of this under this new executive order. That was a distraction from your question, but –

Eleanor Goldfield: Not at all. I’m so glad that you brought that up.

Even though, especially as a mother, I have a hard time with that. But I think it’s so important that you highlight that because I think that sometimes gets lost in people talking about, like, well, it can’t pass 1500. It’s like, we get lost in the kind of numbers game and forget that, like, this is somebody being torn apart from their children, which is absolutely…

John Washington: Yeah. You know, Biden put out a tweet a day or so after the executive order last week, and he said, he was sort of trying to stand on principle, saying like, you know, I’m doing this supposedly to make the border more secure, or it’s not inhumane. And he said, here’s what I won’t do. I will not separate children. Again, we are dealing with one of these just, paradox isn’t the right word, just hypocrisies of the way that bordering happens, is, you can say that, but you’re also not stupid. I mean, whatever, people can argue otherwise, but you have teams, legions of policy makers who understand how this works.

They know. They know that people are going to be separated from their children. They absolutely know. You can say otherwise, but you have to look at the effects. You have to understand that this will result in death, and we know it because of ongoing and recent and now decades of evidence. So, they’re not stupid.

They know what is going to happen. They know that children are going to be removed, maybe permanently, from their family members, from their parents. And they know, psychologically, that that is going to have a devastating, lifelong effect.

You told me not to drop F bombs, so I, I swallowed one there.

Eleanor Goldfield: This is, this is so much of my life on this show. It’s trying not to yell the F word very loudly. But I think that that also, that inhumanity there shows that part of this bordering project is to dictate who is a human, who is not. Necropolitics basically, like who deserves to live and who do we not care about?

And as you pointed out in your book, this has been kind of just like a whack a mole policy since the advent of the United States, like, who’s allowed: Jews, Irish, Italians, people from Central and South America, Chinese, it’s just so arbitrary and indeed fluid, a bit like borders.

John Washington: Yeah, so to go back to your question about the head-spinning, neck-snapping 180, multiple 180s about Chinese migration in the 19th century. So there was the Burlingame Treaty, which I think was 1868. Interesting era, a lot was happening in the United States at the time. If people forget, go look it up. 1860s Ameriaca.

And there was also amidst the fallout from a brutal civil war and manumission, there was a huge building boom and construction boom and the railroad, construction of the transcontinental railroad. And, Chinese laborers were able to get to the west coast of the United States in many regards more easily than people migrating slowly across land from the east coast.

And they were welcomed because they were ready workers. The Burlingame Treaty, looking at the actual language is amazing. It’s like the mutual benefit, I don’t have it in exactly my head, but it’s like the mutual and beneficial exchange of labor, the friendship between our two nations and the celebration of open migration.

It was like, wow. This was like an open borders celebratIon. And a few years later, early 1880s, there was the Page Act, which was like the 1st federal immigration policy that was implemented and it was specifically targeting Chinese women. Following very quickly on the heels of that, there was a number of other, like a slate of anti Chinese, specifically anti Chinese legislation, which are collectively known as the Chinese Exclusion Acts.

And this was the first time that the federal government was taking from the states the power to enforce immigration. Before that it was the state’s rights. Again, thinking of the era, what did that imply? And this comes out of a brutal history. So it’s not just the language that sort of was overlapping here about the contention between states and federal rights.

But the reason that the federal government before that had allowed the states to enforce immigration, and they did. It was not complete open borders world that we were living in or open borders country that we’re living in was because in large part the same reason that states wanted to have their own rights. Because when an enslaved person was leaving a slave state, they wanted to be able to go and get that person.

And so, we saw the rise of basically proto immigration laws with the Fugitive Slave Acts. But the states were worried that if the federal government had full control over immigration authority, they would not enforce some of those laws, or they would not comply with, because the northern states and whatever, their very wishy washy stance towards abolitionism.

They were worried that the states would not comply with returning their property there, which is an enslaved person. Also, some of the northern states, New York and Massachusetts, they were enacting deportation policies and even immigration policies in the early years of the Republic, early decades of the Republic.

But finally, when we had finished the transcontinental railroad, put in the golden spike or whatever, and they’re like, you know what, actually, we don’t need so many Chinese laborers. There’s also a number of, again, with the fallout of the war, there’s a number of economic depressions at the time so like, you know what, maybe we need to stop letting in more Chinese folks.

So first Chinese women and then Chinese people. And they were excluded until the 1940s. So Chinese exclusion laws were officially on the books until the 1940s. And then a number of really, really just, abysmal Supreme Court decisions cemented this authority of the federal government to enforce immigration law.

This is pertinent right now. So let’s fast forward into the 2020s when supposedly Texas Governor Greg Abbott is having these standoffs with the feds in Eagle Pass, in some parks along the border in Texas, saying like, I’m going to block off Immigration agents, federal immigration agents from accessing the water.

Some people actually drowned and died because they weren’t given access to federal immigration agents. The Biden administration, meanwhile, is pushing back and saying, Oh, Abbott’s the bad guy. He’s not treating migrants right. It’s our authority to enforce immigration policy.

These are not two sides to the issue. This is really important to understand. The government, the federal government is not on one side, and Texas, and now probably Arizona, are not on the other side. They are on the same side. They are vying for control to enforce and expel and block migrants. There is not one party who is in favor of migrants here.

They’re both trying to keep them out and push them out. And the federal government is claiming the authority to do so based on those Supreme Court decisions allowing explicitly racist anti Chinese policies to go into effect. That is where the Biden administration is citing those cases right now.

 They’re not our saviors in Texas to come in and push back at it. They’re trying to do it themselves. But yeah, so just to put the final point on your original question, it’s so transparent. I mean, it’s clearly transparent. How can you go from celebrating the mutual exchange of labor and this policy of friendship between two nations to a decade later a complete ban on folks from trying to come in? Oh, it’s just about labor. Just stop.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. I mean, capitalism. And with that, I want to shift to one of the arguments that you make because in the book, there are powerful arguments for opening borders based on history and economics, which you touched on a bit, but I really appreciate that you bring into the spotlight the environmental argument and make a powerful case that rather than a militarized border saving us from the fallout of climate catastrophe, it actually blinds us to it and worsens it.

Could you talk a little bit more about that aspect?

John Washington: Yeah, so this is my favorite stat, as in my least favorite, that in a very recent five year period, the United States spent 11 times more on border enforcement than it did on climate change mitigation. Enforcing the border doesn’t affect climate change, actually has nothing to do with climate change. So knowing that vast swaths of the globe are being rendered uninhabitable, you aren’t going to fix that by erecting a higher wall.

And here’s one other point that is not exactly relevant to the environmental argument, is that one of the things I looked at in the book too is that we have decades upon decades of evidence showing that walls don’t work, that people get through that immigration enforcement, the most draconian immigration enforcement, doesn’t work.

Doesn’t work in the United States, doesn’t work in Europe, doesn’t work anywhere. It changes the way people migrate a little bit, it makes it harder, it makes it more deadly, but it doesn’t stop people. So, your wall isn’t going to stop the people who are fleeing climate change from coming. So, you can either address the underlying cause, or you can not stop them from coming, but spend billions of dollars trying.

Like, again, people know this. This isn’t a revelation that I am exposing. People who study this, people who enact these policies know this. So I think it is a real problem. We don’t know the numbers of what it will look like, but all forecasts point to doubling, tripling, quadrupling of the current population who are forcibly uprooted, and you know, those numbers reach a quarter billion, a half a billion in the next decade or so. We’re looking at orders of magnitude more people who can’t live where they’re living. And they’re going to move, absolutely. And so we need to think about how to respond to them.

And as I just said, like trying to wall them off doesn’t work. And let’s say it did, like, let’s just play this out for a second. What is your end game? Okay. Let’s say walls did work. So let’s look at the country of Honduras or Guatemala, which they have faced devastating hurricanes. There’s two that hit in just recent years, back to back, basically. Decade long drought. Let’s say you could wall them off. Is this what we’re agreeing to? That we’re just going to wall off a population of people in an unlivable territory and just let them slowly die there? How is this a legitimate policy that people are agreeing to?

I think that you have to understand that people are going to move and you have to understand that much of the world is going to be different than it is right now in coming decades because of climate change. Let’s come to terms with that. And let’s think about a mutually beneficial way of dealing with it because it benefits us none either. And we’re not immune to the effects of climate change.

People in the Western world, people in the United States are paying out trillions of dollars in climate related disasters. They are themselves uprooted in the millions, you know, mostly temporarily, but not only.

There’s one other, I think, important point here that goes to the way that we think about borders and the way that we think about the environment. And it’s something that’s sort of increasingly dear to my heart. I’ve been doing a lot of reporting on jaguars in Arizona, where I am now, and in Northern Mexico. I’m working on a long piece right now. I spent some time in a jaguar reserve in Southern Sonora. And jaguars, they evolved in the area exactly where I am right now, in Southern Arizona and Southern New Mexico.

This is the original place where the species developed and then migrated south they found that they had abundant prey and they proliferated there. We have been, a number of environmental organizations have been trying to reintroduce or think about reintroducing jaguars or letting them roam north from Mexico. We have currently in arizona, one maybe two jaguars, wild male jaguars that are roaming here. This is a beautiful apex species, predator species that is incredibly important for our ecosystems.

We know now that if you do not have an apex predator in an ecosystem, the entire ecosystem falters. We see this in Yellowstone with the wolves. We see this in Arizona with the jaguars. If we could finish the wall, most of Arizona is now walled. There are lots of gaps. So there’s 40 some gaps in the wall and species, especially the ones who can’t fly are able to walk through those.

If we wall off Arizona from Sonora, jaguars will not be able to survive. They need the room to roam. They need the genetic diversity that would happen if they had that extra space. So what we’re doing is we are accepting the fact that we will never have a Jaguar population again and in the United States. And that has effects on, as I’m just saying, not only on the ecosystem, but on humans. To think that we are removed from our natural environment is why we got into this problem in the first place with climate change.

No, we are going to see the effects of this. Maybe they’re not going to be as, I don’t know, cataclysmic as what’s going right now with climate change. But it does affect us. And to think that we can just like, oh, we’ll just take that as a loss and just like carry on. No, we have to think about what walling off our country is going to do to the environment.

It’s going to have enormous effect. It is already having enormous effects.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. And I appreciate that because as you said, we are not separate from nature, we’re a part of it. And if these animals have a right and an ecological, like evolutionary need to move, so do we. And as you write in the book to try to stop humans from moving is to try to stop humans from being humans.

And I think, kind of wrapping up here, I want to, I know that we’ve talked about some history and we’ve talked about some present, but I think it’s important to highlight how recent some of this is.

As you point out in the book before the 1990s, there was almost no physical infrastructure along the U S Mexico borderline. ICE was founded in 2003. And you also write that there are more closed borders today than at any other time in human history.

And so wrapping up here, John, I know that it looks bleak, I have to say. Things have gotten worse very quickly, domestically and globally. And there’s that case for open borders, which is to me, it’s kind of like earlier in the same show this week, I spoke with Mohammed Bamyeh about the no-state solution in Palestine, and one of the things he says is that when reality and realism are unacceptable, you have to go beyond.

And it feels to me like the case for open borders is that. The reality of this situation is so unacceptable, we must think of something beyond what we have. And so that is that beyond.

And also, in the here and now, what kind of ways can we act, should we act, to make things better in the face of these literal and figurative walls and blockades that we face?

John Washington: Yeah, good, daunting question.

You know, I think the history is important, and I think actually the history is one of the necessary ingredients for moving forward towards a more just future. You pointed out some really key moments that somehow we forget. We are a society of amnesiacs, especially around border immigration enforcement.

Yeah, ICE is 21 years old. The Border Patrol is 100 years old. Like, we have had a country before both of those institutions. Absolutely. In the year 2000, there were about 12 enforced closed borders throughout the world. Now there’s about 80. It’s a very short time. That is a fast proliferation of walling.

You know, I think I’m interested in this idea that we need to imagine a better future. We need to really sort of stretch our minds a little bit. One way as a reporter here, as like a local reporter, one way that I think, a necessary first step is actually something like the opposite of imagination.

We have so much disinformation, misinformation, and refusal to hear information right now that before we can just come to terms together, before we can get back on the same plane of reality with each other, we’re not going to be able to move forward. You know, there are so many people, especially on the right, who are claiming right now that we have open borders.

And it’s like, what are you talking about? Have words lost their meaning? People talk about an invasion. Like, actually that’s just patently, factually untrue. They talk about numbers, like there are people who throw out numbers that are wildly off base by the millions.

And, you know, I have been talking, giving a lot of book presentations here, and then I just, as a reporter, I talk to people on both right and left, pro and anti immigrant, and there is such a huge disparity in the basic understanding of the reality right now that I think we need to close that gap before we’re able to even start talking about solutions.

And I think that one of the key ingredients is just understanding our basic reality right now. That would be a good step. And then, yeah, we need to shake out of this status quo bias. Like, we think that, oh, without the way that things are now, we wouldn’t be able to exist.

And there’s a lot of other factors at play here. We are being told that the extraordinary income gaps or inequality gaps in the world are just how the world is, we take it as a given. Oh, unfortunate, I guess. Or that, yeah, millions of people are unsheltered and living in our communities in alleys and washes in the Southwest, and that’s just the way things are.

Or that there’s this crazy and deadly opioid epidemic killing a hundred plus thousand people. And it’s like, if we think that this is just the way that it is, and that this is what we have to deal with, it kind of makes sense when people come in and scapegoat somebody. And say oh, if we close the borders, things will get better when actually they have nothing to do with each other.

But if we can think, like, if we realize or remember that it doesn’t have to be this way, that we can provide housing, that we actually can deal with medical and mental health crises, that we can fund our schools to a degree that people are literate or media literate again, you know, all of these basic things, like we can break out of this really atrocious or ugly status quo, then we don’t have to scapegoat and start just thinking about like, Oh, these problems are impossible to address internally, so we’re going to have to try to address them externally.

So I think just kind of opening up our minds to knowing that a lot of this stuff is relatively recent history or relatively recent phenomena based on very bad decisions that we’ve been making. We can make other decisions.

You know, a solution to the border, a solution to the misery enacted by borders is actually not that hard. We just have to stop doing something. You know, it is really hard to run a marathon. Like, can I do it? I don’t know. But you know what I can definitely do? I can stop running a marathon. That’s easy. I could stop it in like five minutes. That’s the same, it’s the same thing. We could just stop doing this.

It’s not hard. We don’t have to create, it’s not this incredibly complex system that we need to either erect or dismantle. It’s just like, nope, we can just stop it. And that, that is not the ultimate solution to a lot of the underlying causes, but that would alleviate all of these other problems in an enormous way.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And as you said, when you create the border and make it a crime to cross it, well then you’ve created the problem. So you could just not.

John Washington: Yeah, you could just not. And I’ve actually talked to some people who are policy wonks. And I ask: what would it actually take to enact legislation that was open to borders?

Oh, it’d be simple. You just write a law to undo the Immigration Naturalization Act, the INA. You could do that. You can pass a law. I actually mentioned this in the book. You can pass a law, like, the fastest ever done is like a day or two. It was some of the post 9 11 legislation.

So yeah, we could have open borders tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow.

Eleanor Goldfield: Oh, would that would be the case.

John, thank you so much for giving so much context and indeed, giving people some things to imagine beyond the reality. Again, folks can check out the book, which is called The Case for Open Borders. And John’s other writings are at

John, thank you again so much for taking the time to sit down.

John Washington: Thank you. Really enjoyed the conversation.

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