This question assumes that as the world gets more and more globalized, there is greater freedom of movement of ideas, trades and people, so much so that our lives are intertwined. The increasing globalization of the world is also made more astute with the pervasiveness of social media. As such, it makes little sense for us to have physical or economic boundaries anymore. To do well for this question, students need to compare to the past to assess whether recent trends render national boundaries/territories irrelevant.
Why they make little sense nowadays?
- Globalization is a phenomenon that we cannot avoid, to remain economically isolated would be to the peril of the economic health of the nation. Most countries today are open economies that engage in free trade to boost their exports. Being plugged into the world economy also means greater markets to sell their goods to, enabling them to earn more money and attain economic growth to improve the citizens’ standard of living. It is unrealistic and impractical to expect countries to be self sufficient in the manufacturing of most goods and services in the modern age. Examples of closed economies include North Korea and Brazil which point towards low growth and bleak standard of living for their citizens. Comparatively, countries that engage in trade like Singapore and Hong Kong have relatively higher standard of living and growth for their citizens. However, one should note that being engaged in the world economy comes at its costs too. Income inequality is definitely one problem that the government has to tackle. But I guess it is a lesser of the two evils (income inequality and poverty) that governments would rather deal with.
The rise of regional and international organizations to foster international cooperation to resolve cross border problems such as environmental and territorial issues, render national boundaries to have little relevance. Many of the world issues plaguing us today are cross-borders such as terrorism, trade in weapons, haze etc. Examples of regional organizations include ASEAN to resolve cross border issues such as the South China Sea and even the Indonesia haze problem. These issues are brought up to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) where member countries can debate about them and see how best to resolve them. Also, the UN has been pretty proactive in trying to resolve cross border smuggling and trading of weapons, especially in tacking state sponsored terrorism. These issues have wide-scale impact that could not be resolved just by nations, rather it requires the involvement of many parties.
Why they still have relevance?
National boundaries are important to prevent cross borders problems such as illegal immigrants, smuggling of arms and drugs. It allows governments to monitor these illegal activities in their states properly and to act on them to remove these threats. Thailand and Malaysia have been in conflict for illegal migrants crossing each other territories and affecting the safety and security of the place. Also, Malaysia has been accused of sponsoring insurgencies movements in Thailand for the Thai Muslims and selling arms. With proper boundaries, Thailand would be able to demarcate the zones and nip the problem quickly and deport these illegal migrants and insurgents.
Economic boundaries make sense as a way of insulating the country from too much uncertainties from the outside economic environment. An example could be UK voting out of Brexit recently, due to migrants issue and funding of the EU especially for the less productive countries. In such cases, boundaries do make some sense, especially if countries want to make a clear stand about safeguarding their economy and their citizens and not providing for the economically less productive countries.