Why No Borders?

No Borders is a transnational network of groups struggling for the freedom of movement for all and an end to all migration controls. It is also an anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian position shared by many who are not necessarily part of a No Borders group. This booklet is a tool; a tool for thinking, discussing and taking action under the No Borders banner. Borders, migration and refugee issues are a complex world of organisations, companies, government agencies and acronyms. This is no accident but the result of a political and economic system based on exploitation and the relentless desire to control and to make profit. This A-Z provides some definitions which we hope will be a starting point to understanding a position against borders and taking action to achieve this goal. As well as explaining some of these organisations and terms in simple language it also gives a taste of the huge range of resistance and campaigns that exist to get involved with. This action is increasingly urgent as the repressive state immigration policies wreak havoc on thousands of lives around the world.


From the land enclosures and Highland clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the ‘migration management’ policies and surveillance of today, those in power have sought to control the movement of people. Fear of the ‘other’ is encouraged, and ordinary people are pitted against each other for apparently scarce resources, whilst certain sections of society consolidate their wealth and control. Categorisations such as 'alien,' ‘immigrant,’ ‘illegal’ and ‘foreigner’ create divisions that divert attention away from the real causes of poverty, environmental destruction and inequalities both in the UK and worldwide, i.e. Capitalism and unequal power relations. The No Borders network adopts an explicit anti-capitalist position, seeing capitalism as at the root of social injustice and inequality. As an anti-authoritarian network, No Borders rejects all forms of domination and social control.


No Borders, No Nations, No Deportations! While this is clearly an ambitious goal, when we look at the historical context of nation states and immigration controls and their function the relevance of the position becomes clear. The nation state only became the foundation on which our political, economic and social lives are organised in the eighteenth century. Immigration controls were then introduced as a way of managing who entered these countries and for what purpose. The first immigration controls in the UK were set up in 1905 to prevent the inward migration of Jewish refugees, as a direct result of fascist agitation.


Through efforts to increase power and amass wealth, capitalism and imperialism have created a huge gulf between the comparatively rich nations of the West and developing countries, and this parasitic relationship continues. Rich countries exploit the land, resources and people in the majority world in order to fuel profit driven economies and consumer societies. Borders are necessary to defend the wealthy and to maintain this inequality. Nation states and protectionism are economically and politically desirable in this system, promoting the economy, managing the labour market and enforcing the borders, whilst others flee the very wars and poverty caused by this violent cycle or live exploited and precarious lives as 'illegals' or asylum seekers.

Despite their economic and political foundations, the idea that nations are somehow natural continues to shape how we think about ourselves and others. “The ‘imagined community' of a country is created, the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (Benedict Anderson, 1983). This illusion of harmonious common interests within the ‘nation’ disguises the huge inequalities of power and resources that exist in a system based on the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few. It also denies similarities of experience between people across the globe who feel the negative effects of this system.

In stark comparison to these imagined communities the impacts of borders and the nation state system are very real. War and genocide, immigration controls, detention centres, dawn raids, surveillance and monitoring, racism and xenophobia, thousands of deaths as people attempt to cross borders. Many profit from this system of control. This happens both directly through the running of immigration prisons as well as by managed migration of the global labour market. Whilst capital flows freely, the movement of people is controlled and restricted.

Since the movement of people generally follows the movement of wealth, it is no surprise that whilst the British ruling class conquered and exploited much of the world, people living in the areas that become impoverished and plundered follow the wealth to the UK. In this way border controls can be seen as a clumsy attempt to avoid the payback of imperialist conquest and exploitation. Those who have been dispossessed by imperialist domination during the age of empire and more recent capitalist neo-colonialism are well within their rights to demand a share of the wealth that is created off their backs. The No Borders network aims to support the interests of the people who have decided to take this hard and dangerous path.

Borders, and the immigration controls that mark them, create a social hierarchy of legal/illegal, documented/undocumented, and citizens/non citizens, whilst protecting a system that puts the needs of capitalism before the needs of people. Through No Borders, we are struggling for freedom of movement for everyone, not just those that are deemed worthy by the system. At its core then, No Borders is a position that rejects this categorisation, which defies racist distinctions and believes that where people are born and their ‘nationality’ should not dictate their lives. Rather, we call for Freedom of Movement for All and for collective, autonomous forms of organisation.

Since 1999 people acting under the No Borders banner have been directly targeting the structures and organisations that uphold the system of migration management. They have set up many No Border camps round the world to take action, learn together and bring attention to the reality of border controls. In the UK the No Borders network is a platform for exchange of information and experience among groups and individuals involved in different political struggles with an anti-capitalist perspective. We also work together with self-organised groups of migrants and act in solidarity with detainees, workers struggles and those threatened with deportation. Alongside migrant groups, we are involved in campaigns against a range of corporate and state targets including detention centres, airlines that deport people, corporations and security firms profiting from the system of migration management, the International Organisation for Migration, and against ID cards.

We call for a radical movement against the system of control, dividing us into citizens and non-citizens. We demand the end of the border regime for everyone, including ourselves, to enable us to live another way, without fear, racism and nationalism.

Posted byManchester No Borders at 9:25 AM