Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

What is wrong with tourism?

0 votes
Isn't travel important to getting a better sense of possibility in the world? If people can't afford to stay in different places, then isn't it privilege to reject trips that are composed of brief stops at different places?

related to
http://anarchy101.org/7345/what-about-anarchist-vacation-trip-avoid-anarcho-tourism
asked May 18, 2014 by dot (51,530 points)
k - tongue in cheek!
anyone else want to go first?
You steal the first role of my question, dot. YOU are a debate tourist. (hm... no. just kidding).
why, did y'all get a postcard?
I think that's why I really hate tourism. Nobody ever sent me a postcard. ;-)
Anarchists Who Just Wanted Postcards... awjwp doesn't really roll off the tongue, maybe it's better in french?

4 Answers

+2 votes
It appears that this question uses the words "tourism", "travel", and "trip" interchangeably, and they don't all imply the same thing to me, although in some circumstances they could be. I don't consider tourism and travel to be the same thing. I've travelled hundreds of miles by foot (in one "trip"), and I didn't feel like a tourist at all. In the earlier years of my life, there were times when a 20 mile trip felt like tourism.

I think travel is somewhat important for a sense of possibility, but mostly to widen and deepen my perspectives and to engage with different people and places.

If by "can't afford", you mean "don't have the money", I believe money is not a pre-requisite for trips, in fact the less I use the more desirable - although it takes much more effort to travel without money (or much money), especially if you have the money to do so. Did that make sense? :)

edited: to clarify
answered May 18, 2014 by bornagainanarchist (8,410 points)
edited May 18, 2014 by bornagainanarchist
+3 votes
I'm not much of a fan of travel in the first place, novelty has a limited appeal for me, and I've never acquired the perception that I would find the goings on more exciting, or relationships more satisfying, than those to be found wherever I happen to live. While I'm not opposed to changing where someone makes their home, the idea of visiting other places with the intention of moving on from them strikes me as gainless.

However, these things are as likely to be consequences of the thing I am as something inherent to travel, but here are some thoughts from "The Society of the Spectacle."

"165 - Capitalist production has unified space, which is no longer bounded by external societies. This unification is at the same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization. The accumulation of commodities produced in mass for the abstract space of the market, which had to break down all regional and legal barriers and all the corporative restrictions of the Middle Ages that preserved the quality of craft production, also had to destroy the autonomy and quality of places. This power of homogenization is the heavy artillery which brought down all Chinese walls.

166 - In order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as close as possible to motionless monotony, the free space of the commodity is henceforth constantly modified and reconstructed.

167 - This society which eliminates geographical distance reproduces distance internally as spectacular separation.

168 - Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities, is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal. The economic organization of visits to different places is already in itself the guarantee of their equivalence. The same modernization that removed time from the voyage also removed from it the reality of space."
answered May 18, 2014 by StrawDog (1,370 points)
OMG. Someone asks a simple question about tourism. Quotes 4 thesis of guy debord. ;-) +1 . Can't say much.
+1 vote
I think that the other answers gave maybe the main points of answer. So not sure I can add anything very essential. But I can add something more.

About the money thing, I think I really do agree with the principle of what bornagainanarchist said, but then it depends on where you are going. I mean, if you try to pass some time in expensive and policed city like London, for example, without spending money : it's very hard. Especially if you are precisely not identified as a tourist. Like everything is so fucking expensive and you can't have anything for free, and there are many cops, and stuff. In paris, if you don't know people, a place to stay, like a squat, and good tips you would be very lonely and eating the tourists trashes by dumbsterdiving. Which mean you can survive without money, but this is hard.

And what I wanted to add is that I feel pretty uncomfortable with the hipster-like attitude of some "freegans" among radicals, who sometimes acts like horrible bourgeois tourists. Like they come to you city, in your district, in your squat. They are like very comfortable with everything, they tell you it's "easy living for free" cause you can "pick up fruits at the end of the market" and "food in the trashes" in front of people who actually got troubles to manage to survive in their own city, their own life, etc.

And the fact is that all these things are sometimes easier when you are a tourist or act like one, than when you are a permanent resident. Because the police can arrest you or harass you for searching in trashes, or the market employes won't let you take the rest at the end of the market, etc...
Including the fact that many people, even among comrads, find it degrading to live by dumbsterdiving for example. I don't fully agree as I often dumbsterdive myself, but I can understand what it's like. The social pressure, and conditioning. And the fact that you don't always find good food in it when you don't live in a place where they throw away organic food. ;-)

It's not directly related to the question of tourism, but I think it's a big issue about the fact of traveling.
answered May 19, 2014 by okapy (2,120 points)
Thank you for the added thoughts, okapy. I'd like to expand some of yours to my experiences.

I primarily began travelling with less money by staying with people I knew - close friends and family. That circle grew during future trips as I stayed with friends and family of family and friends. Eventually, that has expanded to people I've only met through the internet (in a similarly rippling way) and to relationships that were even more loosely connected. It has come to the point where I never use money for lodging. A lot of stays are in rural areas, but many are also in the city, and sometimes even in the burbs (although I mostly try to avoid this, but hey, I have friends and family in the burbs - hope that doesn't disqualify me for anarchy!).

Obviously, shelter is only one aspect of travel, and I'm simultaneously working on demonetizing every area I can (food, water, some "stuff", etc), but music and art has also come freely - given and received - in this way. No "touristing" to find music.

Anyway, I hope my story is of some value to you. Yours is to me. If you will, please visit my question about creation and destruction, I think there are some connections there.

edited to add: My wife and I travel together in this way, and we are not youngsters. We were, by most accounts of people we knew, "normal" in an earlier life.

Another important thing I forgot is that it is always part of our awareness to give what we have to offer as we ask to receive during our travels. We cook, clean, harvest food if people have gardens, help with whatever projects they're doing that we connect with, play/sing music, whatever the situation and people calls for. Sometimes we may give more than we receive, sometimes the reverse is true, and we try really consciously not to keep score - not always easy in the imposed reality of society.
I think we have the same approach of traveling, so of course what you say is valuable to me. Also, you should have been a yougster, and it would have been as much valuable ! What ever, I wasn't trying to point you, or to suggest that you were concerned by what I say about freegan-hipsters.

I was only emphasizing the fact that it's not possible everywhere to demonetize any aspects of your life, especially when you don't know friends or comrads that could eventually help you, host you and/or give you some tips. Or often it's not possible without going against the law (which is not a problem to me, but it's not only in individual question).

That why I'm showing myself much critic towards the "individualist" interpretation of such concept as "simple living" lifestyle, or other forms of ascetism and anti-consummerist regards.

I think that these kinds of things can make sense when they are considered on a social level, and put in practice collectively (even by little groups of communities), but that it's not enough.

Again, I'm not saying this against you, but on a more general concern, I don't think that if the majority of people acts like this, capitalism would collapse for example. As you can't stop the nuclear industry only with hapenings in the street, or prevent the stoning of someone simply by not throwing stones.

To sum it up quickly, I would say that I'm a volontarist who feel the urge of a critic of the limits of volontarism. :-)
I'm pretty sure I wasn't concerned that you were pointing at me...more so that I wanted to include some of my experiences to illustrate what I was opining about.

I also don't take any offense to critique of individualist or simple living anarchy. In fact, despite that I might come across as optimistic, which I generally am in terms of my own outlook, I might well be more pessimistic than you (or at least, than I appear to) in regards to all of humanity and any possible bigger social outcomes of individual choices.

I used to be more of the mindset that there is "time" to "change" things. But I mostly think now that the polar ice caps, the trash, the rising and sinking waters, the debt/interest based money system, and so on and on, are past the point of know return (to borrow a Kansas line), and my primary reason for moving in a way antithetical to the norm, is one of feeling a sense of balance in a world of turbulence (even though no doubt there is much turbulence as a result of living this way).

I don't know that how long I live is of any importance, but I know that how I live is of the utmost. Be well, okapy.
I'm not as catastrophist as you, but I admit It would be funny (something like a cynical tragedy) if a scenario like the one of "the day after tomorrow" just come to happen with the polar wind all over the western world. Then we may all move to the south. Destroy borders. Mix people all together, and live a very kind of unexpected anarchy under the sun. ;-)
+3 votes
This is actually an important question for me and has been for some time. A little background information as to why.

The town which I've called home for most of 30 years has gone from a small place full of rednecks, hippies, American Indians and outlaws to a globalized playground of industrial capitalism. 'Extreme sports' (mountain-biking, river-rafting, rock-climbing) as well as thousands of RVs, tour-buses, family vacationers, etc., now make 'the economy' primarily due to the natural beauty...and, of course, its marketing. Like other places in the region, colonization has historically been based upon mineral/petroleum extraction, which is also now making a comeback. So, there's a ugly fight a-brewing politically. More on that in a moment.

Some previous posters above  made what I think is a basically correct distinction between travel and tourism. It is the case that tourism has no real connection to the places it brings hordes of people. In the popular lingo, most people come here to 'do' somewhere. You may think I made a typo just now. But, no, really people 'do' a 'where,' as in "We did _______ National Park today, and we're doing ______ Falls tomorrow."  Been there, done that. Let's move on. Here's some selfies to prove it.

Aside from this, there are the various power relationships, as well as the relationship to power in general, which is somewhat different than anywhere else I've lived. Here, one basically has work in the 'service' economy or they work for the government on some level. That's just about it. You sell food, trinkets, rent hotels/condos, bikes, jeeps, climbing gear, etc., or you have some colonial 'civil servant' job. The cost of living is ridiculous, and rent is extremely high, so if you are a low-wage cook, wait-staff, or retail clerk, you better not get frustrated at the snobs, the products of their shitty parenting, or the upper-middle class 'bro,' because they will tell the BAWSS and you'll be hunting a new shitty job where the business-owners can be incestuous. This is just on the 'lowest' level. I won't even get into land-ownership, rent, 'affordable housing' projects, or the disgusting globalized labor market being foisted upon people from all over the global South and Eastern Europe, all for shit wages and shit living situations. Other than these folks, it's spoiled middle-class kids who want so much time-off it's nearly impossible to fill a schedule on a consistent basis. They have nothing to lose, so anyone local either has to work a shit-ton during the most pleasant weather, or they may not be able to afford the off-season...what little is left.

Another trend I've noticed is the constantly expanding array of high-tech fuck-offs in order to lure return tourists along with new ones. New gear, new machines, new clothing, new places exploited, new 'services,' new power-trips. All brought to you by junk mined in Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, drilled from the floors of various oceans or from deserts of the US Empire, then manufactured in shitty factories in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, then shipped to the US and then across country to where I live in the name of corporate profits. Name brands like Patagonia and Prana pretend to be 'fair' but who's really buying that. Apparently, plenty of rich white kids.

 (I got hold of a Prana catalog recently which told us of their progressive 'fair' practices, but the only dark-skinned people in the fucking thing were literally picking cotton!!!)

Now for a snapshot of the politics. Oil and mineral extraction are making a comeback here and threatening the last remaining wild habitats in the region as well as the landscape of which so much of this global capitalist playground depends. It's an alluring landscape. It's what I've called home for so long. I have a deep attachment to it. However, I have no truck with the main thrust of environmental finger-waggers, since they are mainly concerned with 'sustainability.' Sustaining what, exactly? That's the question. And the answer most given runs like 'the economy at the same time as ecology.' In other words, things like they are now, but with 'clean energy' instead of 'filthy energy.' No questions regarding capitalism, civilization, corporate-power-meet-State-theft, the US Empire and (further) foreign wars, etc.,

Basically the 'solutions' our priggish -progressives offer is a disgusting combination of more of the same: of NIMB-erialism, our-colonialization-is-better-than-yours, and aren't-we-diverse-for-bringing-low-wage-workers-from-the-global-South. The chickens have simply come home to roost and as usual the political left has no real interest in stopping the headlong drive to global destruction, but to only manage it, regulate it...always with the irony of using facets, or pet-projects, of 'the right' to do its dirty work ( cops, military, prisons, corporate protection on their fave corps, and populist rhetoric about 'jobs'). Progressives, as we all know, are non-violent, right?

Pardon the illustrative rant, but the front-lines in the battle to save what little is left is perforated with the heavy hand of Statism and reverence for it through self-policing/management, a soul-less psychology of quantification, and Christian moralism thinly disguised in Gaia drag. It's difficult to see a way out of it honestly. To point any of this out publicly would be disastrous. The social sanctions would be hard to bear, given that so many who own land/housing and businesses here would silence dissent through refusal to hire and rent...all while invoking Ghandian non-violence and 'social justice' for those half a globe removed (ex: Tibet).
answered Sep 14, 2014 by AmorFati (7,440 points)
@mor - this is fucking awesome.
There is so much more in there - i will not try and parse it out.

I find the rants here more enlightening in some ways than the distant academic pieces.  It is useful, at some level, to understand _why_ i'm pissed off; but knowing the 'why' doesn't piss me off, i already was.  As others have stated, abstracting the shitty experiences of someone to some generalized critique depersonalizes their individual fucked-up horror show (no matter how useful that general critique may be); i think the flush of the rant is that it _personalises_ the abstract, it puts me beside the author in place and in emotion, the indignities they suffer are not academic exercises but an attack on my kith ('a harm against one is a harm against us all' was not some catchy radical propaganda, it was simply an expression of a very much older concept of mutual defense.)

Thank you.

(as a post-script, many years ago, i knew people who worked in Banff - the tale you tell is sullenly familiar; do you have the 'illegal' workers' tent communities yet?)
clodbuster- Glad you got something out of it. It's quite a mess here and I think it's about to get messier. I'm looking for ways to change my situation with the aid of others, some who are recent arrivals. Perhaps we will be able to do something which allows for a more joyful living for us. We'll see how it all goes.
...