The border is the governing metaphor of the book. Angus argues that English Canadian identity revolves around maintaining a border between Canada and the United States, and suggests that the border between countries can also be seen as a border between self and Other, between humanity and nature. Multiculturalism and the ecology movement's rethinking of the relation between humanity and nature suggest that English Canadian social and political philosophy is oriented toward sustaining a border between self and Other, in order to preserve what is one's own while maintaining and respecting the Other.
Angus argues that contemporary public discourse is hampered both by the tribalizing devolution of the politics of identity and the globalizing forces of corporate political economy. Addressing this impasse requires a new understanding of the politics of identity in English Canada and the creation of a theory of Canadian social identity as postcolonial, particularist, and pluralist.
"An important and timely intervention into the public realm, A Border Within offers serious solutions to current questions of national identity, social movements, and the 'homelessness' of late modernity, both in the current Canadian context as well as elsewhere. It is a most ambitious affirmation of the belief in philosophy's ability to address issues central to ordinary human concerns." Michael Dorland, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University