Philosophies of Travel

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"You don't have to worry about burning bridges, if you're building your own” ― Kerry E. Wagner

The vast majority of people who travel do so without thinking much about it. The vast majority of people who don't travel do so without thinking much about it. Many of those that do travel, do it through habit. They take a two-week holiday, and book (or have their travel agent do it) their tickets and accommodation in a destination that looks interesting. What is your philosophy of Travel.

Nomadism as a Political Project

One of the principal cultural expressions of travel as a political act is the explicit announcement of the occupation of a space/place. From wild camping, busking to hitchhiking, the disobedient action is made (semi)public. If so, should nomads become more socially, culturally and politically active. Through this site, gatherings etc, we have made a start, but can nomad travel and actions be made into a movement?


Nomadism and Psycheography

Psychogeographers use walking/nomadism to explore and critically engage with the (urban) landscape to uncover new opportunities, to uncover hidden voices, and power structures. Like Psychogeographers, nomads do not take the simple route from A to B. Accoring to Rose (2017), they wander, drift and derive. They may use playful techniques to choose the direction, for example throwing dice or following a line drawn on a map.

Nomadism and Anarchism

Nomadic practices are often linked various anarchist strategies and tactics; for example, intentional communities, peer-to-peer sharing, DIY activities, housing squats, childcare co-ops and even wikis like this. Does this mean all nomads are anarchists? While the ansewer is no, many nomads have begun identifying with anarchism, will see many of their practices as putting anarchism into practice within their own daily lives. Anarchism like nomadism, is a strategy of breaking the bonds of coercion by encompassing an infinite number of everyday acts of resistance and cooperation (Springer, 2017). Street parties, learning networks, freecycling activities, dumpster diving and squatting are all anarchism in action.

For example, does moving from protest, to hitchhiking gatherings to camp create, what anarchist theory belives to be “temporary autonomous zones,” that eludes formal structures of hierarchical control? For more reading, visit the The Anarchist Library. Put nomad in the search box, and read books and articles like Connecting to Place In the Land of the Lost: Questions for the Nomadic Wanderers in All of Us.

There was a famous missive, entitled All Traveler Kids Purged From CrimethInc Membership, that attempted to address how lifestyle nomadism or freelaoders would not consider themselves anarchists. They are many counter arguments.

Nomadism and Communalism

A prominent libertarian socialist, Murray Bookchin defines the Communalism (capital C) he developed as "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation", as well as "the principles and practice of communal ownership". It can be imagined that nomads in a communalist world, who create and travel between small scale, self-organized communities working together. In many ways, this future is already a reality for some nomads, who travel between communes/self-organised communities.

Nomad and Tourist

For Zygmunt Bauman, the philosopher, the difference between the tourist and the vagabond is the difference between choosing and not choosing. For some nomads, they have no choice, but to be on the road. Broken homes, too old to get a job, marriage breakdown, financial stress etc. can force a person to be a nomad. The 2017 book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, touched on this. She profiled people who were nomads, but were also a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. These invisible casualties of the 2007 Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads. In Europe, many nomads travel for the summer, and have a dorm or home to rerun to. Are they both nomads yes! However, this latter group are not vagabonds.

Nomads and Consumerism

There are those who suggest that nomads change nothing, because travel is consumerism. Basically, travel, even if minimalist, is not an radical transition towards de-growth economic systems Does nomadism attack the capitalist growth economy or are nomads complicit with it. However, people like Kate Soper argue that alternative ways of living can be more enjoyable than consumerism, and can act as an opportunity for moving to a fairer and more life-enhancing use of resource. She calls new modes of thinking about human pleasure and self-realisation like nomadism as alternative hedonism. We need to think about the political, economic and ecological implications of our lifestyles.

Nomads and Too Much Freedom

Does nomadism equal freedom. How much is too much freedom. Janis Joplin in the song "Me and Bobby McG" - Kris Kristofferson wrote the song. The lyric "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" can be interpreted in many ways, but for me (Subaculture), it means too much freedom is dangereous, and it can bring you down some wrong paths (e.g hard drugs). Being a nomad doesnt mean radical, unresrtrained freedom or does it :)

Nomads and Utopian Thinking

Travel has always been a canvas for Utopian musings, and has been an important vehicle for the imagining of possible futures. The Utopian impulse involves the invocation of hope, and an ambitious re-articulation of the social imaginary. It is also inevitably constructed and constrained by the present, and therefore offers both an encounter with experience and an escape from it. Undoubtedly, the Utopian impulse is a kind of ‘what if’ thinking – but of a particular kind. It is often best described though distinctions and contrasts: in Karl Manhiem, ‘Utopian’ thinking belongs to the oppressed, that impels transformational action while disguising certain aspects of social reality. For Terry Eagleton, the best utopias are ‘devices for embarrassing the world we actually have’ contrasted both with the ideal of perfection and with the idealization of the present.

Utopian thinking could be defined as picturing an alternative future that is meant to fundamentally challenge the status quo – in other words, a ‘what if’ that intends to disrupt ‘what is.’

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