Let’s build a permeable wall of biodiversity on the US-Mexican “border” and let Trump pay for it!
Can a wall have a different function than separating the people and the different territories? Can the symbol of the wall be changed into something connecting? It is easy to oppose the Trump wall, but maybe we should also create another kind of wall.
The symbol of a wall
The border between the USA and Mexico is more than 3000km long and reaches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. When Trump proposed in 2016 to “build a wall on the border to Mexico” it was clear that the main aspect of this border was not (even from his point of view) to increase security or the control of the state but to create a symbol. This symbol should be a symbol of the dominance of the US over the rest of the continent, the dominance of the “white” population within the US and to explicitly draw a line in the sand to enshrine this border into the geographic reality of the continent.
Trump is not the first person to come to the idea to build “a big beautiful wall” not just for technical but also for ideological purposes, to separate civilization from barbarism. The Romans built the limes to separate themselves from the Germanic, Celtic and Cimmerian tribes of Europe, and the Chinese Ming dynasty built the “Great Wall” to separate 中国 (the Middle Kingdom, Central State, oar Imperial Court) from the nomadic peoples of Northern- and Central Asia. These walls had an important strategic aspect for the militaries which used them, but their ideological role to consolidate the civilization behind the central state was equally important.
Trumps’ Wall harms both humans and the ecosystems.
As soon as Trump proposed to build the wall activists on both sides of the border opposed it and when the policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border was imposed and de-facto concentration camps where erected, great actions of solidarity were directed against the American Gestapo (ICE) and the symbol of the wall. All this activism against the militarization of the US-Mexican border and the abuse of migrants (including the torture and murder of many of them in the hands of the US-state) needs to be supported and intensified.
There have been several alternative architectonic proposals for the “Wall”, including a wall which could irrigate the landscape and one out of inflatable bubbles. Any wall that is being built which is not an intensification of dehumanizing “border control” but follows different motives will not have to care for exhausted migrants crossing the desert, because such a society will allow them to travel by train (what a crazy idea!). It is also important to note that this border is completely artificial and was non-existent 200 years ago with the creation of this abomination numerous indigenous peoples were forced into reservations and their land both stolen and cut into pieces. The United States of America is neither of the things they claim to be, they are neither united states since their birth is inseparably connected to the internal division concerning democracy and slavery nor are they „of America“, their very birth brought the annihilation of the embryo of a real USA: the Iroquois confederacy. The USA show quiet clearly the horror of the modernist project, to impose a foreign, artificial, “efficient” system (also with some good intentions) on a whole continent, erasing the roots (literally) of America. So I think it is crucial to differentiate between America as a concept and the USA, between Americanism rooted in the Earth of the continent, its rivers, woods and deserts, and whatever came out of the USA.
The proposed border wall, but also the fences built by the Obama and Bush administration have a huge impact on the migration of animals in the American continent. Pumas, Bison, Jaguars, Rattlesnakes, Peccary, Wolves, Coyotes, Chachalacas, Tortoises, and numerous other animals cannot migrate through a closed-off border, harming their genetic diversity and possibility of expanding their territories (watch a short video from the Center for Biological Diversity here).
But let’s build another kind of wall!
“A Wall doesn’t have to be a border” imagines a wall which allows animals and humans not just to pass through it, but actually enriches biodiversity. The wall would be created out of bowl-shaped terracotta and clay parts creating a huge surface with many holes and niches in which animals find shelter and breeding places. Through this huge surface, the wind is slowed down and organic sediments can be caught allowing various plants to grow on, in, and through the wall. Different exposures to the sun and various sediments allow for a rich diversity of the flora and fauna. The sparse rainfalls are collected in various openings, slowly dripping downwards allowing for much longer use by animals and plants.
We can imagine that such a wall would not only attract wildlife but also humans trying to reconnect with nature and the spirit of the land. Teenage-couples sneaking off to the wall to watch the stars and kiss, grandparents, taking hikes with their grandchildren telling them about the time when this wall was separating the land and not connecting it.
Such a kind of wall breaks completely with the logic of capitalism. Why should people invest time, material, and energy to build a wall which is most beneficial to non-human subjects? Human beings have always built great monuments for symbolic purposes. Today billions of dollars are being invested into the phallic drive for the tallest skyscraper of the world while at the same time sand for the building industry becomes rare and billions lack decent housing. It is not sufficient to simply protest against these obscenities, but we need to propose an alternative future as well. A future of permeable walls that support biodiversity and allow for migration. A future where we use Trumps’ money and infrastructure to heal the scars he inflicted. A future of walls that do not cut up the Earth and the people but which allow both to be connected.
This wall should be a wall for America, not to “Make it Great Again” (that’s the US they are talking about) but to help its birth.