Graffiti in Santanyi

The graffiti in Santanyi.

31-07-2020M. NADAL

What had Santanyi done to deserve an outbreak of anti-tourism graffiti? It’s not as if the municipality is exactly awash with tourists. Like everywhere else, the “massification” narrative has been silenced by Covid and by post-Covid, otherwise known as quarantines. Should have been silenced anyway. For the junior rebels of Arran, silence is not a golden summer. Silence cannot be tolerated. Noise pollution of protest must threaten the peace and serenity of the “territory”, while graffiti blights the landscape, even if it is just an electricity transformer station.

But why choose Santanyi for the painted notices advising that the worst pandemic is capitalism and that it is not “tourismphobia”, it is the class struggle (whatever “it” is exactly)? This is hardly a part of Majorca associated with excesses of tourism. Yes, they may have had to cope with some beaches in coves being “saturated”, but this saturation has always been caused more by the locals rather than tourists. One can only assume that there are a couple of Arran-ites who are from the area and have nothing better to do with their time.

Nothing better to do? Indeed. This summer of anti-massification has produced rebels without a cause. Some graffiti in Santanyi is merely a reminder that the rebels are still there and are spending their summer in idle contemplation of idleness - now and in the future. One can actually begin to have some sympathy for them. This summer has offered a vision of a future potentially stripped of the wealth that can sustain them. Are Arran-ites looking forward to a life of furlough?

There is youth and there is youth. A week or so ago, there was a gathering to launch what was described as “a new meeting place”, a literal translation of a coming-together of youth groups who wish to “generate a new idea of what the island can be”. The gathering was by the Cathedral for what was, again literally, a youth gathering - Aplec Jove.

The agenda sounded somewhat familiar - defence of the language (presumably Catalan), feminism, social rights, defence of the “territory”, consideration of the tourism monoculture. However, this wasn’t a gathering of rebels. “Now, more than ever, the youth needs to give an example of unity and of good practices. With empathy, care and cooperation, we want to put aside the practices of previous generations, full of testosterone and with nothing constructive.” I think they had in mind the previous generations of rebels, or indeed current generations.

Five days before Aplec Jove gathered, there was a different gathering. This one was in front of the town hall in Palma. It wasn’t exclusively youth but it was predominantly so. Arran were there. So were Endavant. The two are more or less indistinguishable, and they have their links to the far-left republican CUP in Catalonia. It was a gathering of the pro-independence left; a pro-independence left, as Més and Podemos, they said, had shown they are not alternatives to the “Spanish right”. In light of Covid, “we are more vulnerable because the tourism monoculture makes us extremely dependent; thousands of jobs are being lost”. As indeed they are.

It isn’t just the “we” of the pro-independence left who understand the vulnerability caused by this monoculture. Everyone understands it, whether they are from the right or the left, whether they are young or they are old. But unfortunately, no one can wave a magic wand and suddenly conjure up a multiculture of diverse sectors. One might have hoped that Covid and the consequent de-massification would have resulted in a summer of silence, of peace, of walls not adorned with predictable slogans, of more genuine contemplation of a society which is over-dependent on tourism. It was too much of a hope because the likes of Arran need to find something to do. They haven’t got anything else, except to harp on about misguided alternatives, such as some idyllic return to an agricultural paradise. Has it not occurred to them that all industries are vulnerable in some shape or form? Disease can attack the land and livestock as easily as it can humans.

The perils of capitalism, in an Arran world, one guesses, can be exposed through the vulnerability of markets, which can in turn undermine the desires proposed by the left - economies with new technology, green and blue technology biases. But applying ideologies to these alternatives is nonsensical, as they are everyone’s alternatives, and they include agriculture. The youth approach needs more subtlety, more nuance and appreciation. Perhaps Aplec Jove are this approach, for they will recognise, as surely as Arran must do, that they are firmly part of a Covid generation, which is absolutely right in wishing to contribute to and carve out a future. And perhaps it might be a vision that is not blurred by an over-abundance of testosterone.

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