If there were no borders between nations, that kept them from bleeding into each other, they would tend to assimilate. In the limit, and except for variations arising from climate and geology, they’d all be just the same. At that point, they’d have nothing of value to exchange with each other. Nor then would they, any of them, do anything better than any of the others. There would be then no such thing as comparative advantage. There would be no trade, properly speaking. Nor would there be tourism. There would be only transportation.
It would be cheap, perhaps, and perhaps efficient. But it would not be valuable. It would not, that is, be much good.
There would then still be competition between firms. But there would be no competition between nations with respect to political order. Indeed, eliminating national differences in law and regulation, tax and spending, between its member nations is one of the main long-term objectives of the EU. The idea seems to have been to replace competition between nations with competition among firms; the fantasy was that this would eliminate war – a silly notion. All it does is change the nature of the warring factions, from states to something else.
Thanks to Brexit, that project of the EU seems now doomed. Had it succeeded, there would have been eventually no difference between Scandinavia and Germany, at one end of the spectrum, and Greece on the other. No nation would have done much better than any other, or worse. But this would not have driven all Europe up to the standard of German prosperity. On the contrary, it would have driven the whole continent down to the standard of poor ruined Greece, corrupted by 400 years of Turkish rule.
Excellence being difficult and so rare, the only way to eliminate differences is to cut quality down to the lowest common denominator. But if the stuff I can get from Turkey is no different in any way than the stuff I can get from next door, I have no reason to prefer one or the other. No place then has anything to offer any other. Then every good is commoditized. And commoditization is famously the death of economic profit; of, that is to say, the reward to the production of novel sorts or configurations of value. It is the death of innovation, creativity, invention.
The engine of human social genius is difference. The human race is always an arms race. History cannot therefore ever end, so long as there are still humans alive and kicking.
Nor would the perfect economic and political homogeneity of the borderless globalist utopia be stable even if per impossibile it could be achieved. Like a population of perfect cooperators in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, it would establish immense opportunities for profit by defection. So there would be defection. The order would break down, catastrophically.
Nations prevent that breakdown. As within any polis political order supervenes upon authoritative hierarchy, so international order supervenes upon nations.
No borders, no nations; no nations, no possibility of peace – or, therefore, trade. There’s nothing traders hate more than war. Sure, it multiplies opportunities for profit from arbitrage to an amazing degree, but mostly by destroying regular trade and all the businesses that engage in it. Within the zones of battle and their near environs, all markets are black. No sovereign exercises exclusive control – because sovereigns are fighting with each other for that control. So tolls and tonlieux go through the roof, and multiply, and their collectors are corrupted, and they buy almost no security.
Secure borders secure peace and prosperity.
In order to perform this wonderful function, borders must be both permeable and costly to permeate. They must erect onerous barriers to entry. The sovereign must exert control over who and what gets through them, and at what price.
Post Scriptum: Peace and justice are not the elimination of differences, but their clarification and recognition in the minds of men.