Lecture by Andre Gerrits “Building Boundaries, Emphasizing Differences: How Russia and the West cope with an ever more connected world”
On March 30, Andre Gerrits presented the lecture, “Building Boundaries, Emphasizing Differences: How Russia and the West cope with an ever more connected world,” which was part of the plenary session of “The path of Russia” symposium.
Andre Gerrits discussed one the greatest paradox of our times: we live in an increasingly interconnected world, which seems more and more divided. Why are we building ever more boundaries, real and imaginary ones? Why do we hide behind inevitably porous borders? What are we afraid of, and how will it influence the future of international cooperation, in Europe and beyond?
The lecture was devoted to the increased tendency across the world to build more borders and boundaries. The main paradox of the modern world is that it is increasingly interconnected and interdependent under the force of globalization. Professor Gerrits cited the most well-known examples of physical borders: the wall India built in Bangladesh, the wall between Serbia and Hungary, Austria and Slovenia, and the one between Pakistan and Iran.
He argued that globalization, borders and boundaries are linked. Globalization itself creates its own fragmentation. For example, it has diminished the level of inequality between countries but it may have generated a deeper level of inequality within countries (as it is in China)
Professor Gerrits focused on two main characteristics of borders:
Borders do not actually create division; they result from divides
Borders are an integral part of the modern world (neither good nor bad) For example borders can serve social purposes, and a European-style welfare state cannot survive without borders, which preserve financial capacity and social solidarity.
There are three main reasons why people build borders today: to keep people in (mostly in communist regimes), to keep people out (the case of India and Palestine) and to keep ideas out (the Berlin Wall prevented ideas from penetrating into the GDR).
At the conclusion of his presentation, Professor Gerrits noted that relations between Russia and the West are now at their lowest level; many mistakes have been made on both sides, but there is no alternative to improvement of these relations now.
The current crisis does not benefit the West and even less so Russia.