Monday 27 May 2024

Boundaries versus Borders

The issue of border control is somewhat contentious currently. Presidencies will be decided, elections lost, friends and families divided over this one issue.

A border is defined as “a line separating two countries,”. A boundary is defined as a line which marks the limits of an area. A border is specifically a concept attached to the nation-state. A boundary is much more flexible, but attached to the concept of property rights.

Should states restrict movement across their borders? Are individuals entitled to defend their property boundaries?


Borders are often arbitrary lines on a map, best demonstrated by many of the borders in Africa. They often cut through and divide societies, nationalities, even families. They need to be maintained, defended and enforced by the states enclosed within them, usually at great cost to the individuals in that state.

The justifications for well enforced borders seem so obvious to their advocates that they cannot conceive or tolerate an alternative. We can’t just let anyone in. We will be overwhelmed. They are not like us. They have different standards, religions, customs. They are poor so who will pay for them?

Lets deal with each of these issues:

We can’t just let anyone in

Turns out you can. The concept of a worldwide passport standard is relatively new, created in the aftermath of the First World War. Prior to that there was no consistent standard of border enforcement. A mediaeval peasant had more rights to travel freely than a modern citizen. America let millions of impoverished Europeans and others into the country in  the 1900’s with only token restrictions. Huge refugee populations moved around Europe in the aftermath of world war 2. Millions of East Germans became citizens of West Germany after the collapse of the Berlin wall. The needs of desperate individuals trumps the protection of borders.

They are not like us

This is the rallying cry of fascists and racists through the ages. Ignoring the fact that everyone in the west is descended from just 22 wandering individuals in the stone age, nature itself values diversity of origin above uniformity. The reason we don’t marry our siblings and cousins is that they are TOO much like us. The whole point of travel is to meet people with different behaviours and customs, and to share ours. Uniformity is not just boring, it is genetically dangerous.

We will be overwhelmed

This has become a real fear for existing populations in the United States and Europe. Demagogues pound this drum constantly. Unscrupulous politicians and power brokers use emigration to bolster electoral support. At least 5% of any population consists of violent criminals and psychopaths, including emigrant populations. 

How do we deal with the psychopaths in our existing population. We deploy about 15% of the population to police the dangerous 5%. In a civilised society, we identify them, try them and incarcerate the guilty. Why should we stop doing that just because they are emigrants?

 Who will pay for them?

Most refugees start poor, but subsequent generations pay for themselves many times over. US statistics prove this true of many immigrant populations such as Jews, Italians, Greeks, Germans. However, if target destinations insist on giving free stuff to all and sundry, then many will take advantage of this misplaced compassion.  If target destinations give a special pass to immigrants, or suspend the rule of law, they have only themselves to blame.

The morality of movement, the ethics of emigration

I believe in freedom and justice for ALL individuals, not just the ones who think and look like me. Except for Africans, we are all emigrants. All of our ancestors constantly moved into a new territory hoping to improve their circumstances, sometimes at a cost to the current occupants. Trying to pull up the drawbridge behind you is unjust hypocrisy. It is generally futile too. Resources you could have shared with the new arrivals are now spent fighting them, to the detriment of all. 

Of course there is a profound difference between peaceful emigrants and hostile invaders. Invaders must be resisted, preferably long before they cross your borders. Throughout history nations have employed immigrant populations to help them defend their borders.

Nations that accept and incorporate migrants commonly survive and prosper. Nations that drive their populations to emigrate commonly fail. I am on the side of the individuals who are the meat in this sandwich, often through no fault of their own. Perhaps because I fear becoming an emigrant from a failing state soon…


A boundary marks the limits of physical property you legally acquire and own. It is your responsibility to define and defend your boundaries. Property defined by boundaries is the basis of the free market system, and by implication, individual freedom. It does not require state intervention, but it may be forced upon the owner, like so many other injustices. 

Disputes over property boundaries will be resolved by the systems native to that society, from negotiation to outright lawfare. The state may become involved because of its mandate for violence, but is not intrinsically necessary, as can be seen in many state-free jurisdictions.

In a truly free society, property rights will be protected by boundaries enforced by owners. Currently. borders are simply imaginary lines enclosing land claimed by a state entity.

The Cure for Crime in South Africa

The months slide into weeks and the weeks slide into days, and suddenly the reality of our election eats at the dark coast of our future. Are we facing Armageddon, or just getting poorer? Will we stumble on or descend into civil war? Will we be ruled by gangsters or by law?

The omens are not auspicious. The litany of faults and failures grows ever longer. The solutions suggested by our leaders are ever more fanciful.

Amidst this gloomy prospect I see one bright hope for the future. The Western Cape may sever itself from the rotting national corpse and embark on a new path. If successful, and if full scale civil war can be avoided or won, this southern jewel may yet serve as an example to the rest of the country, exporting practical policies to the poor politicians to their north.

This raises the key issue of what these practical policies should look like. As the DA often demonstrates, the only thing worse than incompetent government is competent government, interfering where it does not belong.

South Africa’s biggest problem is rampant crime. We are at the bottom of the world statistics in almost every category - murders, rapes, thefts, child abuse.  A new and independent Western Cape government would inherit this dreadful legacy. Would it deal with it differently? 

 A fundamental change in policing, in law enforcement, in prosecutions and imprisonment will be required. The Free Market Foundation and its Rule of Law Project have the Section 12 Initiative, which seeks to propose deep reform to criminal justice in South Africa with the aim of reducing violent crime. Ordinary South Africans can read about the initiative on

It will not be enough to appoint a man in a fancy hat and then throw untold millions his way. Tried that, didn’t work. Who will be our Javier Milei, our Nayib Bukele? Who will sweep away the cobwebs of old policies, bad practices, past mistakes. 

Following are the essential steps required to be implemented by a new independent Western Cape government on assuming power:

First, cut the number of criminals in half in a single stroke - stop prosecuting victimless crimes, because it's easy and lucrative. Your citizens deserve much more respect. Your police  have much more important things to do.

Second, recruit a brand new police force. You will no longer be bound by racialised legislation and special interests. Make appointments only on merit. Pay only on results. Leave the deadwood to fade away.

Third, deal with the gangs, the syndicates, the special interests.  Nayib Bukele of El Salvador provides the template for how this can be done, quickly and successfully.  Make being a gangster the most dangerous job in the Cape. Plan for resistance.  Recruit and pay for mercenaries and security professionals. Show as much pity to the gangs as they show to the populace.

Fourth, recruit  a brand new judiciary. Just as with the police, make appointments only on merit. Review the work history of every incumbent, and lose the incompetent. Link pay to successful prosecutions. Leave the deadwood to fade away.

Fifth, take a new approach to imprisonment. Release all those accused of victimless crimes, thus making space for real criminals. Turn prisons into profit centres. Privatise their management, subject to oversight.   Make prisoners literally repay their debt to society. Make prison conditions dependent on behaviour. 

Finally, make citizens your partners in the fight against crime. Encourage and support local policing initiatives, such as blockwatches, security companies, neighbourhood online security groups. Extend the power of arrest to suitably qualified private citizens.  Lessen the privileges of the legal profession to charge exorbitant fees and impose endless delays. Allow citizens to choose their own manner of dispute resolution, thorough private arbitrators, lekgotlas, juries. Trust your people.

Our problem in South Africa is that we are too law-abiding. We bend over backwards to obey the insane maze of laws, rules, regulations and directives that flow from the open sewer that is our government. We slavishly obey rules made by crooks to favour crooks, that make criminals of us all.

Let's do it differently in the independent Western Cape!


An analysis of the GNU statement of intent

  STATEMENT OF INTENT OF THE 2024 GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY Colour code Meaningless fluff Outright lies Wishful thinking Unlikely Preambl...