Some borders have been fought over inch by inch, while others were drawn on maps by people who never set foot in the countries they divide. Some borders are heavily guarded and others marked by no more than a sign on the highway and a slight change in pavement quality. And some of them even have giant walls.

Author Bryan Caplan wants to tear them all down.

The George Mason University economics professor is a best-selling author whose “Myth of the Rational Voter” was named the New York Times political book of the year back in 2007. His newest work is more controversial, to say the least, and its presentation is unusual. With the help of illustrator Zach Wienersmith, Caplan presents his proposition to eliminate all borders in the form of a graphic novel. Snippets of history and imaginative thought experiments explain his argument that the world would be a better place if we all were allowed to move wherever we want.

While borders have existed almost as long as human settlements, Caplan says, they have become more rigid and impenetrable since the 1800s, when advances in transportation led to more people leaving home for foreign shores. 

The idea Caplan suggests of opening all borders for free passage is, surprisingly perhaps, a bipartisan issue. Just about every political candidate is against it — from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. But Caplan makes his case that free movement for everyone could lead to prosperous societies, better quality of life and an efficient, poverty-free world.

For now, it’s likely to remain an idea seen only in the world of illustrations.

(Some video imagery courtesy of Zach Wienersmith.)

Published on Nov 22, 2019