Reorientalism: How White Passports Became Worthless

Health is the only passport now, and the west has lost it

WTF are you doing England and Belarus. Map made on May 10th, data from Kayak and Trip

Global borders are undergoing a dramatic change. They have shut down, and when they restart, things will be completely different. Functioning Asian countries will reconnect. The failed states of the west will be left behind.

Not for months, not for years, but for decades. These geopolitical changes will turn the usual east/west polarity of the world on its head.

Brown Passports Have Always Been Worthless

Global borders being shut isn’t new for most of the world. Trying traveling with a Nigerian or Sri Lankan passport. We’re treated like an infectious disease on a good day. Just look:

A Canadian passport gives you visa-free access to 95% of the world. A Sri Lankan passport only gives access to 22%. For anywhere else we have to beg, grovel, show bank statements, and pay for the privilege of rejection.

I have written about the unfairness of this before — a discriminatory system based on colonialism and race, with exceptions for class and wealth.

COVID-19, however, has suddenly made everything terribly fair. Now no one can move. You’re all Sri Lankans now.

The old passport apartheid is gone, replaced by apartheid for everyone. It’s like an episode of Oprah where everyone reaches under their seats and gets punched in the face. The old border regime has been shut down. Every passport is worthless now. Including yours.

Reorientalism: East Asia

The travel bubbles emerging in Asia

The world, however, won’t stay closed forever. In fact, it’s already reopening. Korea is tentatively opening business connections with Vietnam and China. New Zealand and Australia are exchanging rugby players. The world is reorienting around, well, the orient.

The East Asian countries that acted fast are able to reopen fast. They’re able to vouch for their citizens and get other countries to take them seriously. Korea is practicing this travel diplomacy every day, sending 3,000 tested business travelers abroad, and pushing for thousands more.

Health is wealth now. It doesn’t matter how much colonial wealth you hoarded, or the land and resources your ancestors stole by genocide. All that matters is whether you had a functioning state that could stand up to COVID-19.

Open your passport and look. A passport is just a state or sovereign saying let this person pass. A passport only works if the state is functioning, and the only functioning states right now are in Asia (including Aus/NZ) and Africa, with a few exceptions. Everyone else is sick.

These are the passports that will function.

How White Passports Became Worthless

White passports are worthless now. These countries have been looting their states and electing idiots for decades now. The pandemic has just exposed the rot. There’s nothing there. The empire has no clothes.

Western civilization was running on fumes, the accumulated wealth of colonialism and genocide, but it’s running out now. Their elites have been stripping public health and services for tax cuts and there was nothing left to fight COVID-19.

So now they find themselves with lakhs of entirely preventable deaths, each a tragedy. Deaths that simply didn’t happen in functioning states. They also find themselves with millions of cases — a number far too high to ever suppress, with a cost that only gets higher as they protest about haircuts, or complain about missing the pub.

It is this caseload and continued incompetence that makes their passports worthless. Who’s going to accept an American traveler now? It’s a failed state, with hundreds of thousands of infected people, many of whom won’t follow social distancing rules or practice modern hygiene, like wearing a mask.

These western states cannot manage their public health, therefore they cannot vouch for any traveler. Who’s going to take the word of Boris Johnson or Donald Trump to let a person through? These guys shake hands with infected people and recommend drinking bleach. Whatever these countries do now, the damage is done. Until there’s a vaccine, their citizens will be banned. I feel bad for my friends over there because I know how it feels.

Your passports are worthless now.

The Eastern Century

The only stamp that makes a western passport usable is one that says VACCINE. But that’s years away, if we’re lucky. In 1984, they said an HIV vaccine would be ready in two. It’s been over three decades now.

In the meantime, the rest of the world will move on.

Like HIV, COVID-19 can be suppressed even without a vaccine. HIV is suppressed through drugs, but COVID-19 can only be suppressed through public health. Hence only countries with functioning public health systems will be able to reopen, and only countries that can sustain a low viral load.

Right now, almost all of those countries are in Asia. These are places which believe in government, which have manufacturing and scientific capability, and a public that doesn’t bring rocket launchers to social distancing protests.

Therefore the near future is an Asian world, and I’m including Australia and New Zealand in Asia because look at a map. Then it makes more sense to admit Africa next, rather than Europe, because Africans seem to have their shit more together. It’s an eastern world, for an eastern century. Reorientalism.

This is not anything new. If anything, it’s a regression to the mean. The world was Eastern for centuries before Europeans went on an epic theft and murder spree. Just look:

2000 years of economic history in one chart

Britain stole $45 trillion from India through colonialism. China was also robbed, but also pretty systematically fucked itself. The west profited from this theft and America from slave labor but, as mentioned, that blood money has run out. The East has the population and has now industrialized.

Power was always going to come back, the pandemic just rushed it along.

You can’t see it yet, because nobody is moving, but look around. Taiwan has suppressed the virus, and China, Vietnam, Korea, and many more. Kerala, India has done it, Sri Lanka is trying. It’s a constant battle, but our countries are fighting. We have a fighting chance. The west has just given up. We can see.

We were under the impression that our colonizers were successful because they were competent, but that illusion has passed. Their descendants are the equivalent of Instagram influencers with no real jobs or skills, just flashing pictures of fancy watches and cars bought from a dwindling trust fund. White passports are worthless now, their full faith and credit is gone.

Health is the only passport now, and the west has lost it. This century belongs to the east.

Reorient yourself.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication and podcast: anchor.fm/indication. patreon.com/indication

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