Age Of Walls: How Barriers Between Nations Are Changing Our World, by Tim Marshall
This book, if his previous works had not done so, would have solidified the author’s reputation as a globalist jorno who wrote to other sympathetic people about the popularity of populist movements who want to build walls rather than bridges in a world that is finding itself to be deeply divided. This ought not to surprise us. For decades now, at least since World War II and even since World War I, there has been a clueless but arrogant internationalist elite who condescended and look down on and insulted the common people and their own hopes and aspirations and sought to create a world where they and their kind could feel comfortable in corrupt global institutions that they controlled that sought to escape from popular rule, and found that they had upset a sufficiently numerous population around the world to lead to dramatic rebellion against their globalist efforts, only to further insult the people who had finally demonstrated that they had the power to reverse what had been done before. And if the author is certainly not in agreement with this, he seems to accept this as the voice of the people in many areas, even if he tries to work against it and urge others to adopt a course of action that might lead to these walls being torn down in the future.
This book is about 250 pages and consists of the author’s thoughts about walls in several areas of the world. The author begins with China and discuses the cyberwalls that the Chinese have built in an attempt to shield their people from the free discourse that occurs in the world as a whole as a means of preserving a vulnerable government system from the sort of criticism that might lead to mass dissatisfaction (1). After that the author talks about the US, making the usual snarky and negative comments about Trump that one would expect from people of the author’s ilk, and also commenting on the growing sense of disconnect that many Americans have from those who think and feel differently (2). After this comes a look at very literal walls between Israel and Palestine and the author’s inability to accept that these walls are very necessary and useful given the bad behavior of the Palestinians themselves (3). This is then followed by a discussion of the walls going up in the rest of the Middle East, largely thanks to the conflicts between various ethnoreligious groups in the region (4). After this comes a discussion of the walls of the Indian subcontinent, including especially the walls between India and Pakistan and Bangladesh that seek to provide border security from terrorism and economic refugees (5). The walls of Africa–especially in Western Sahara–are then explored (6), after which the author talks about walls in Europe, of which there are many, as well as the UK in particular (7), after which comes a conclusion, acknowledgements, a bibliography, and an index.
Much of this book consists of walls and barriers of a literal and figurative, but mostly literal kind, that are being built up around the world. The author seems not to really understand why these walls are being built and does not seem to understand the sort of changes that would be required in behavior for the walls to come down. After all, the walls work at making life safer for ordinary people, and as long as walls work, walls will continue to be built. The sort of open and liberal society that the author obviously wishes is only possible under certain circumstances, namely elites who serve the interests of the ordinary people and are recognized as doing so, and under conditions of basic trust and safety and confidence on the part of people regarding their neighbors and others around. Where these conditions are not present–and they are certainly not present at the current time–the walls go up predictably if lamentably. If this book is not really good at figuring out the solutions to the mistrust that exists, the advice on the part of the author to encourage people to cease the contempt and disrespect on the part of cosmopolitan elites for the common person who sees things differently is a necessary start, if hard to see happening in the current climate.