Geert Lovink on Wed, 30 Apr 1997 18:23:56 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Ivo Skoric/Drawing a Line

Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 14:54:26 +0000
Subject: Drawing a Line

Thomas Pynchon, "the one-time enfant terrible of American literature" as
described by the Time magazine, published a new book: Mason & Dixon..  It is
a rather thick historic volume about the deeds and whereabouts of British
astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon.  Sometimes in 18th
century they were commissioned by the British Royal Society to draw a line
between the British New World colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland.  That
boundary, known as the Mason-Dixon line, a century later became the bloodiest
battlefield in the U.S. Civil War.

In other parts of the world the British internal colonial borders were carried
on as the international borders between newly established countries
creating similarly catastrophic events (India and Pakistan, Iraq and
Kuwait, etc.). The same is valid for the other colonial powers and their
colonies (Ethiopia, Zaire, Rwanda, ...), including the Balkan states,
which were not exactly colonies, but rather provinces of imperial powers
of Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire.  Their borders as set by their
former imperial masters were carried on to their later Yugoslav union and
their contemporary independent state.  Those boundaries are contested by
all parties and the wars are waged over them.

Vance-Owen sounds like Mason-Dixon. There is always some British stiff
lipped lord involved in drawing lines on maps of "lesser" nations.  Borders,
essentially, are BAD.  There are always wars about borders. They are like
ugly scars on the maps of our planet, sometimes bleeding, sometimes being
temporarily healed leaving ordinary folks unhappy on all sides.  As if we
didn't have anything smarter to do with our globe but to draw lines on it.

There is a guy in Mostar, for example, that wrote me a message that he is a
Bosnian and Croat citizen, and his father is a Croat and Slovenian citizen,
while his step-mother is a Slovenian and Bosnian citizen, and the
grandmother is Bosnian and Yugoslav citizen.  Essentially this makes a
family reunion virtually impossible: wherever they go at least one of them
would have to be an alien. Yet, judging from his message, he could live
in the same building where I live. But to come physically to the U.S.
he'd need a passport, a visa, which a young man of military age like him
is unlikely to get.

Essentially, we are prisoners of our nations. Territorial nation-states,
although technologically already rendered obsolete by ex-territoriality of
Internet, still keep our "Earthly vehicles" (the term for physical body
used by Heaven's Gate sect members who committed mass suicide) hostage to
their special interests. Like they need young women to bear children to
the nation and they need young men to carry guns against the young men of
another nation.  

Only, the U.S. is now the one who draws the lines, not British nobility any
more (Dayton Accord).  It is like - let us draw some more lines so we can
watch the savages have a war over them.  Then, we shall draw a nice thick
line around that crisis spot, so that nobody can escape and disturb our
peace (the new immigration law...).


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