Almost European

I’m one of the 1% of men in Terminal One, Pearson International Airport, wearing a hat. I’m the only person wearing a fedora. It got me an invitation to fill out a Toronto Tourist Board survey, because the surveyor thought I was German. Having not spoken German to him, I can only assume it was the hat.

Travelling engages talents you didn’t know you had. Since I got here two hours ago, I’ve tried to check in at the wrong airline (the airline logo and flight number differed on my e-ticket), I’ve left my passport and boarding cards on a table while i wandered away to look at art, and I managed to queue-jump dozens of people at a restaurant by ordering at the bar connected to it next door. Beer makes travelling so much better. All the uncertainty fades away and you’re left with a pleasant, sanguine view of the terminal and the world – not easy surrounded by thousands of people, supplemented by a few dozen screaming children.

ImageI learned this morning that, although I can apply for a Korean work visa from Japan, I may have to apply from my home country if it’s my first Korean work visa. I have no idea why that distinction exists, nor do I expect to find out. However, I may be back to Toronto sooner than expected. For those at my going-away party, I did warn you about this.

It’s hard to muster enthusiasm for a trip that doesn’t feel real yet – based on the evidence, I’ve travelled to Mississauga to sit in a warehouse and drink overpriced beer. While that does sound cool, it’s not the Hermitage. But I hope that, when I spend five hours in the Frankfurt airport, the fun will begin.


For those expecting devastating political commentary, I’m a little understimulated here and will have to post more later, when the contradictions of capitalism reveal themselves like so many circuits of consumption. But something that’s been bugging me: why is Alex Tsipiras, the head of Syriza, always described as a populist? A populist is someone that claims to unite all classes into one big, national cause. Huey Long, Upton Sinclair, Eva Peron. Tsipiras is an anti-capitalist who claims that the Greek crisis is the fault of market speculators. He explicitly states he’s defending the working classes of Europe, who will all be blamed for the crisis if Greece accepts austerity. 

It’s easy to criticize lazy journalism, which means I’ll do more of it. But the ignorant journalists reflect a broader reality: since the advent of neoliberalism there have been no mainstream politicians defending anticapitalism, When someone like Tsipiras gets an audience by blaming financiers, rather than workers, the only word journalists have to reach for is populist because speaking against international bankers was one aspect of populism. Speaking for international working class solidarity was not, which is what makes Tsipiras a socialist rather than a fascist. But save populism for Britain’s Got Talent.


Or Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge


One thought on “Almost European

  1. Great to see you’re blogging again! What a pain about the Korean work visa.

    Yes, “populist” in corporatemediaspeak is the term of abuse for people who don’t bow down before the dictates of “the market.” BTW, while I hope SYRIZA wins the upcoming election in Greece and that Greek workers respond by taking to the streets and occupying to push for the demands SYRIZA campaigns on, I think Tsipiras is an anti-neoliberal reformist (whatever anti-capitalist language he may use).

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