The Editors at The Point:
There may be a sense in which the Greek crisis is indeed our era’s Bolshevik Revolution or Spanish Civil War, namely that it has become the destination of choice for what we might call “political travel.” Political travel involves immersing yourself in the domestic concerns of another country on the basis of their putative significance for the world at large. This can involve the desire to be there when it all happens, but it doesn’t have to—what is crucial is the desire to throw your heart and soul into mastering the internal complexities of a far-off land, in hopes of being there intellectually when it all happens. Political travel is easy to mock, but at root it reflects a perfectly respectable desire to understand your world and to change it. The problem is that like any travel it runs the risk of turning into tourism: the consumption of an “other” neatly packaged to fit into our existing mental landscape without disturbing or unsettling it.
There was a lot of (mostly leftist) political tourism over the last century, from extreme cases like Foucault on the Iranian Revolution to more forgivable ones like Chomsky on Chávez or Zizek on the Arab Spring. But the archetypal political tourist was probably Lord Byron, who joined the Greek struggle for independence in 1823.