Digital technology promised us the dissolution of space. We would no longer need to venture out into the street to see and be seen, nor hie over to the supermarket for a loaf of bread, nor march to the battlefront to confront the enemy: submerged in the uncontainable digital plasma, a click would suffice for us to transcend the physical medium. Nevertheless, reality remains stubbornly physical, as is evident, among other things, in the fast-growing – and also contradictory – importance of borders in what is really supposed to be a globalized world.
Borders were the principal instrument of 20th-century geopolitics: it was to fight for boundaries that the world wars broke out, and through them that the marquetry of the postwar European jigsaw puzzle took shape. The continental dream of Europe and the 1992 Fall of the Iron Curtain have proven to be little more than a utopian impasse before an epoch, ours, where boundaries are once again hot lines with the power to ignite conflicts and produce deep faults that are bound to fragment territories. So the map of Europe – as our cartoonist Focho illustrates in the drawing on the left – has become as complex and unstable as it was in the past: a constellation of old and new states, either consolidated or on the verge of disappearing altogether, either neutral or aligned within large geopolitical blocs; nations or micronations besieged by waves of those who in the quest for a better future choose to penetrate the lines that, with or without razor wires, endeavor to determine who is and who isn’t a ‘barbarian.’