Ann Pettifor

Borderless money and the matter of passports

The nation state is dead, we are told. Boundaries no longer matter. Globalisation is triumphant, and we should all rejoice in a borderless world. Money, trade and information can flow, uninterrupted, from Japan’s capital markets via the ‘carry trade’ to South Africa’s capital markets, where quick and big bucks can be made on the interest rate differential. Toothpicks can flow from New Zealand to Norway, with no barriers to trade. Information can flow, uninterrupted by journalistic tinkering, across the globe in the twinkling of an eye. Rejoice in such freedom!

But what of the freedom of statelessness? Imagine freedom from of the burden of citizenship, from taxation, from the obligation to live in community with fellow-citizens. Why do the rich and powerful not demand such freedom? Why do they send their secretaries to queue for passports? Why do governments not grant those that play in the global capital markets the gift of statelessness? After all cruel and heartless governments bestow the ‘freedom’ of statelessness on millions of people around the world…why should it not also be bestowed on the rich and powerful?

What is it about passports that persuades the rich and powerful that the borders for money be eliminated, but borders for citizenship be retained?


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