Proof of origin

Somali refugees

A continuing theme on this blog is the way in which politics has to adapt to the real world. Theoretical concepts such as democracy, sovereignty and free trade need to be looked at through the prism of biology and geography. Political life has to bend to the facts, and not the other way round.

A scheme floated recently by the British government to use genetic evidence to determine nationality is a good example of a political notion that does not fit the facts.

The UK is concerned that there are so many people seeking asylum from Somalia and, worse, there are people from countries other than Somalia that are pretending to be Somali in order to be allowed into Britain, too. The government proposes to use DNA testing to determine whether or not a claimant is really from Somalia or from some other country. (Read about the proposal here.)

The problem is that DNA testing can reveal no such thing. The national borders we know today are the result of political events – wars, plebiscites, marriages – and not of natural or biological ones. Even where geography has taken a hand, such as England and France being separated by the Channel, plenty of people have crossed from one side to the other, taking their DNA with them. To imagine that the people of the world can be biologically divided into national groups is simply bad science.

A conclusion that flows from this fact is that national borders themselves need to be looked at differently. They play an administrative purpose in politics, but not a moral one. This is a powerful argument for federalism: it fits the world in which we live in a way that nationalism does not.

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