Just downriver from New Orleans is a large (though much-reduced) population descended from Canary Islanders. These “Isleños” came to South Louisiana in the late 1700s and have their own rich conflictual history, including a 1926 insurrection. More on that later, perhaps.
What follows, though relatable to many places, concerns the Canary Islands. It’s a (clumsy) translation of a twitter thread about the behavior of “revolutionary tourists” from the Gran Canaria Anarchist Federation, “Combative and neighborhood anarchism from North Africa.”
Now that we have survived August, we are going to talk a little about a type of tourism that a large part of the left does not question: “revolutionary tourism”. In Gran Canaria we have suffered a lot, to the point of becoming “disagreeable”.
Many people from the (Spanish) peninsula, from England, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Greece arrive every summer on the island to “get acquainted.” Is this to see how we work, to share ideas, to attend an assembly, to chat for a couple of hours? Only for a minority. The rest come for something else.
Many appear without warning. They send us an email or a message via networks and announce, without having learned anything first, “We are here.” The first thing many of them want to know is “In which Community/Commune are you going to accommodate us?” It is hard to explain that we are not a real estate agent.
If we explain that here our model of “squatting” is different, that socialized housing is for people without resources, they respond: “You have nothing for travelers?” Sometimes we’ve given in, but no more.
We have been asked “You have nothing more central, or near the beach?” And “Don’t you have any houses with a terrace?” 🙄 (100% real). The attitude inside communities has not been much better.
The communities that the Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria and now @InquilinasGC have helped build are not communities “by anarchists for anarchists.” They are communities of neighbors, each with their own ideas, who make a living as they can and who practice self-management because it works, not for doctrine.
Many “tourists” visit these communities with the spirit of “safari”. They are shocked if they see the neighbors leading everyday lives, yelling in an assembly, watching football with a beer, and not living in an idyllic Arcadia. And the worst is when the “tourists” lecture…
Humility– shedding prejudices, withholding judgement– often does not fit into the luggage. “Eurocentrism,” “moralism,” “class privileges,” remain intact. The tourists question people about what they eat, how they live or how they speak, and leave a poor “libertarian” impression.
“You’re organizing wrong.” “This is chaos.” “Why are there children in the assemblies?” “Why are there such young mothers?” “Why do you have so many children?” “Gas engines instead of solar panels, when solar is so cheap?” “Why do you buy goods in shopping centers?” “What do your children eat?”
If there was ever an opportunity for neighbors to be interested in anarchism beyond the FAGC, it was lost with the “third degree,” ethical judgments, invasiveness and censorship applied to the diverse reality of a poor, precarious survivor still in progress.
This is not sharing, learning, reviewing, offering tools or knowing how to receive them. It is a type of ideological colonialism, very aggressive, which does not change whether it bears the Circle A, hammer and sickle or the flag of the British Empire.
And then, sometimes, they look at a place and say, “How nice! We should move here.” And we tell them: “Do you know why the price of this area is increasingly expensive? Because people like you moved here.” Ideology does not free you from gentrifying…
We do not want to offend anyone. We have also had good experiences and have learned a lot. But the reality we discussed cannot be ignored. “Tourism” is also you when you abuse resources, spaces and come with the mindset of the settler.