Against solidarity tourism in Greece [en, it]

Source: Classe

Per la traduzione in italiano dell’articolo vai qui: Contro il turismo solidale in Grecia

After the OXI referendum I have noticed that more and more people are becoming interested in the faith of the greek country.

I’ve also noticed some ridiculous arguments that invite middle class people (especially from northern European countries) to travel there in order to help Greece to get out of the crisis.

Anyway since I hate tourism as much as I hate capitalism itself I need to write something about both the idea of solidarity tourism, and the reality of tourism itself.

Why is solidarity tourism in Greece useless and wrong complete bullshit?

The very idea that tourism can work as an act of solidarity towards the poor* of a country is not only ridiculous**, but also wrong, because it is based on the ideological fallacy known as “trickle-down economics” (TDE).

TDE means that if the bosses, the employers, (e.g. a shop or hotel’s owner) get more profit, this will automatically produce a trickle-down effect that will make everyone in the economic system better off, including the poor.

This picture shows how we’re told it works

This is one of the main concepts upon which neoliberalism is based, and it has been proven historically wrong if not even false in its premises.

Basically because when the rich get richer, the rich get richer. That’s it.

This picture shows what actually happens

Only the organised struggle of the poor produces a real improvement in their material conditions of life by means of re-appropriation of direct and indirect income from the rich.

This means that the best way to help the poor in Greece is by understanding how you can help people organising struggles there. And I’m sorry to tell you that your option is a bit less easy than you thought. In fact to concretely help their struggle you may have to organise with other people around you, to achieve the noble objective of fucking the bosses where you live.

For example organising a struggle so strong that will induce other people to refuse austerity measures imposed by your government. The more people reject austerity globally, the weaker the institutions (banks, IMF, hedge funds) that use it as a tool of expropriation and transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich become.

Sending money directly to the workers and their organisations in Greece is nothing but it is still better than going to Greece as a tourist.

Which brings me to the second point.

Why do we fucking hate tourism?

I explained why tourism is ineffective, but why is tourism also bad for the poor in a country?

I tried to produce an explanation for this some time ago. Tourism only produces bad effects in the medium/long term for a country. Because tourism means consumption: of land, environment, services, relationships and affections.

Tourism is one of the biggest vectors of gentrification in many countries, cities, villages and neighborhoods.

I will quote what I already wrote because I believe it is still valid.

because, being in a position of power in respect to the visited countries (tourism brings the cash!), tourists also own an unimaginable power to modify (or better, have modified for them) the urban and rural assets to cater for their own needs and desires. Not only what the tourists consciously want, but also what is necessary for them in term of facilities, logistics, transportation etc.

Moreover, the people living in mass tourism destinations are also shaped by this duality of Desires and Needs. You may have heard this sentence before “they are so friendly, [because they are] accustomed to tourists!” in regard to people living in mass-tourism destinations.

That’s not “friendly”, that’s just a skill people develop to sell richer people an “experience” which consists in pure consumption, of land, cities and relationships.

A mass of consumerist tourists is no more than a swarm of unconscious architects and designers; the “attractions” – whether they are urban, natural environments or even subjectivities – their theme park, their actors; to be constantly shaped by the capital flows to maximise the value they can generate.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel to a place(!) but this means you must reconsider completely how you used to travel before: by what means, to do what, how and where you will stay, what connections you will make and if you will be just a consumer or a comrade with the people there. And no, transferring money from your wallet to their bosses’ by buying services will not make you their comrades.

*I will write “the poor” meaning generally the working class, the unemployed people, the proletarians;

**and extremely ignorant of how economics work. Tourism never solved the economic problems of the poor anywhere. There are highly visited countries where the poor lives in slums and, consequently, the rich in golden palaces. All the same, going to Greece will not solve the financial and productive crisis that caused the country to be in this mess.