A Totalitarian Border
I keep trying to think of things to write about the southern border, but I can't really think of any. I just keep thinking about the role that "statelessness" played in Hannah Arendt's theory of "totalitarianism." There isn't much to add to these:
All from the chapter "Decline of Nation-State; End of Rights of Man" ...
“Once they had left their homeland, they became stateless; once they had been deprived of their human rights they were rightless, the scum of the earth.” (267)
On the danger posed by the right of states to expulsion and denaturalization:
“Theoretically, in the sphere of international law, it had always been true that sovereignty is nowhere more absolute than in matters of ‘emigration, naturalization, nationality, and expulsion’; the point, however, is that practical consideration and the silent acknowledgement of common interests restrained national sovereignty until the rise of totalitarian regimes. One is almost tempted to measure the degree of totalitarian infection by the extent to which the concerned governments use their sovereign right of denationalization.” (278)
She does go on to say that she does not measure totalitarian regimes that way because almost every country in Europe passed laws stripping people of citizenship or forcing them over the border. It's not a good thing. It's simply the first step on a dark road. Many countries took it, plenty of them took subsequent steps, a few followed it to its conclusion.
On isolation as a solution for stateless people:
“Their situation has deteriorated just as stubbornly until the internment camp – prior to the second world war the exception rather than the rule for the stateless – has become the routine solution for the problem of domicile of the ‘displaced persons.’” (279)
On the damage done by states' desperate attempts to deal with statelessness:
“Prior to the last war, only totalitarian or half-totalitarian dictatorships resorted to the weapon of denaturalization with regard to those who were citizens by birth; now we have reached the point where even free democracies, as, for instance, the United States, were seriously considering depriving native Americans who are Communists of their citizenship. The sinister aspect of these measures is that they are being considered in all innocence. Yet, one need only remember the extreme care of the Nazis, who insisted that all Jews of non-German nationality ‘should be deprived of their citizenship either prior to, or, at the latest, on the day of deportation’ in order to realize the true implications of statelessness.
The first great damage done to the nation-states as a result of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of stateless people was that the right of asylum, the only right that had ever figured as a symbol of the Rights of Man in the sphere of international relationships, was being abolished. Its long and sacred history dates back to the very beginnings of regulated political life. Since ancient times it has protected both the refugee and the land of refuge from situations in which people were forced to become outlaws through circumstances beyond their control.” (279-280)
On the lawlessness of the authorities:
“It would seem that the very undeportability of the stateless person should have prevented a government’s expelling him; but since the man without a state was ‘an anomaly for whom there is no appropriate niche in the framework of the general law’ he was completely at the mercy of the police, which itself did not worry too much about committing a few illegal acts in order to diminish the country’s burden of indésirables. In other words, the state, insisting on its sovereign right of expulsion, was forced by the illegal nature of statelessness into admittedly illegal acts.” (283)
I keep trying to think of reasons why these words shouldn't sound like a warning. I can't think of any.