It is impossible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honourably and justly, and it is impossible to live prudently and honourably and justly without living pleasantly 

Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

unfortunately (?) there is no such button!unfortunately (?) there is no such button!Ecoclub, the progressive tourism network™ was established in 1999 with the aim of uniting all those who share our vision for a Tourism for All and a World for All! We cover all forms of tourism and hospitality that are concerned with social, ecological and political progressive causes (eco, sustainable, responsible, green, ethical, creative, slow, community, volunteer, pro-poor) supported by over a thousand active Members worldwide, including leading tourism & hospitality practitioners and academics. 22 years later we still believe that a Tourism for All, can contribute to a World where "All is for All", with genuine liberty, equality and sustainability, without borders, social, gender and race divides, exploitation, oppression and violence. Examples and good practices of this better Tourism pop-up every day, so we try to promote and propagate them.

ecosunThe ongoing quintuple crisis (environmental/climate, social, economic/systemic, humanitarian/refugee, pandemic/public health) is of no recent historical precedent in terms of endangering our presence, let alone our well-being, on this planet. While technological and medical progress has allowed the human population to grow, despite hundreds of treaties and fanfare, progress is agonisingly slow, as it has generally been in human history, in terms of reducing poverty and improving conservation, social justice and human rights. According to the World Health Organization, one in three people still do not have access to safe drinking water! This, big picture, may seem obvious to the chattering classes, but less so to those at the receiving end, the poor-disenfranchised-exploited-oppressed, who do not usually have the luxury to connect the dots that form the global socioeconomic system (actually-existing-Capitalism) and to determine cause and effect. As they say, some worry about the end of the world, others about the end of the month! And some, the super-rich, do not really worry about anything. This state of affairs, along with divisions caused by the cultivated illusion of social mobility, precarious employment masquerading as "self-employment", consumption-based individualism, along with racism and nationalism, but also the sectarianism of the Left, prevents the rise of a united, worldwide, mass progressive movement. We are thus left divided (divide & rule) with docile intermediaries in each country, pretending to care about our problems: "philanthropists", corporate-socially-responsible-corporations and hypocritical leaders, all "saving the planet" in endless series of meetings, summits, declarations and agreements all for "sustainability", in effect sustaining and saving themselves while the rest of us play a giant "squid game" for their entertainment. With so many agreements "saving the planet" in the past 20 years, isn't it amazing that it has not yet been saved.... perhaps they should try "saving" the Moon or Mars instead? Enter the mega-rich galactic tourism entrepreneurs! 

Back to earth, our problems and our solutions go all the way back to the dawn of the Anthropocene, to the first agricultural societies where accumulation, surplus, debt, money, markets and human-made pollution first emerged and have since been inextricably linked to the basis of human civilization. We, however, cannot go back to an agrarian civilization (ecoprimitivism). It is not realistic for 8 billion people to retreat back to the countryside, the forests and to a nomadic-mode of survival - nor should they, in the first place, as cities can be the most eco-friendly environments, saving space and resources. Environmentalist doom and gloom and guilt, collective or individual, about the current state of Tourism, the Climate, the Environment and the World does not by itself lead anywhere. The key culprits and beneficiaries of this global mess have names and addresses as well as weak points we need to exploit, and strong points and loopholes (e.g. tax havens) that we need to shut once and for all. The current Human technological achievements if properly managed can already guarantee the well-being of everyone and every living thing on the planet. This has been proven beyond doubt during the pandemic, along with the fact that "there is an alternative" to the barbaric, financialized-neoliberal-capitalism-gone-crazy way of doing things. Chomsky has observed "Countries should not be judged by the words written in their constitutions but by their annual budgets", and these budgets favour militarism and ecocide. This is no accident of course, as the military-industrial complex has a chokehold on governments. We need to somehow break this chokehold and divert these trillions to peaceful, environmental and healthy activities and social services for all. Perhaps, by identifying and collectively agreeing on implementing, on a global and local scale, a number of key changes, the chokehold may go! Such changes could include how money, energy and food are produced, distributed and stored, and, in the light of the Coronavirus crisis, how quality health, education and housing can be accessible for all. In a way, we have to reverse-engineer the pillars of the current system. Work must be redefined, re-organised and fairly remunerated. Even if not always visible, there are already huge cracks in the status quo - the great transition to a low-carbon, fairer and happier world, is already underway. According to Yanis Varoufakis, we need not worry about 'fixing' Capitalism as it is already on its way out, as Feudalism once was, we rather need to focus on creating the new system. But even if actually-existing-but-decaying-Capitalism somehow manages to hang on to the edge of the cliff, given that it has solid military backing, we would still need a truly progressive leadership at all levels, short, medium and long-term proposals in all spheres but, above all, active citizens that help each other, to give it that final push to oblivion. Mutual Aid, as explained by the philosopher, human geographer and zoologist, Peter Kropotkin, has been and remains a key driver of evolution and progress, even if all else fails, during turbulent and chaotic times such as the ones we are experiencing and far worse ones in the million years of human history. It is also under the radar of oppressive mechanisms.

The mutual-aid tendency in man has so remote an origin, and is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution of the human race, that is has been maintained by mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all vicissitudes of history.”
Pyotr KropotkinMutual Aid, A Factor of Evolution

In the 21st century we need synthesis and practical, progressive, innovative solutions rather than quarreling about what exactly takes place "after". Let's agree on the basics (essentially the demands of every failed/semi-successful revolution - Liberté, égalité, fraternité) and we can quarrel "after"! Taking power is of course the best option, yet, at the same time we can effect some meaningful changes in a peaceful manner even without directly taking power if each one of us becomes the change we want to see in the world, as Gandhi famously said, a daily, personal, peaceful, revolution. With economic democracy in the workplace, more worker-controlled businesses and cooperatives but also quality, accessible, public institutions and infrastructure. Ultimately, a free-er, fairer and happier society for all would imply that there is less private concentration of power or wealth, there are checks and balances at all levels, there is a free speech culture and as less censorship as possible, a genuinely free and independent (of big business and government) press that monitors & checks authority, genuinely free markets, democratically-run businesses and political parties, a social welfare system, equal, quality work and leisure opportunities for all, free and vibrant workers unions and professional associations, a genuine respect for all types of minorities, and, particularly relevant for Tourism & Hospitality, a genuinely welcoming culture towards foreigners, known in ancient Greece as Xenia. Among destinations, Kerala and Costa Rica are promising models, but generally, the Hospitality industry, by becoming a huge global industry, has moved far away from the meaningful, genuine, peer-to-peer, home-based hospitality of ancient times. An increasingly corporate-dominated hospitality and tourism sector gives the impression that there is something inherently imperialist, hierarchical and socially conservative about this industry. The Hospitality sector in particular is unfortunately permeated by racism and social racism, with the hardest, low-paid jobs given to immigrants, sometimes without papers, and ethnic minorities while exclusive "all-inclusive" resorts (Orwell would love this), well, exclude those they think they must. Couch-surfing, and to an extent, host-owned and run short-term-rentals, and community or cooperatively-owned/worker-run hotels and guesthouses, are attempts, sometimes romantic and impractical, other times quickly co-opted, to revive the ancient spirit. For some reason, which needs to be investigated, there are very few worker-owned (and recuperated) hotels like Argentina's famous Hotel Bauen, a recent victim of the pandemic. Is something preventing similar experiments? We need to find practical ways, such as a great expansion of social tourism programmes (their usefulness was highlighted by the pandemic), within the current socio-economic constraints and tourism infrastructure, to offer genuine, quality, affordable hospitality to as many people as possible, not just to an enlightened, affluent elite, and at the same time offer quality, well-paid jobs to all tourism workers. This contradiction - a tourism affordable for all with well-paid tourism workers - would probably be solved if middlemen, monopolies, big bosses and exploiters of all sorts that dominate the tourism ecosystem, and who preven tourism workers from enjoying the full product of their labour are gradually taken out of the equation. How difficult is to book directly and visit a community-owned Ecolodge these days? It is far easier than 30 years ago.

I could become very rich in Guatemala but by the low method of ratifying my title, opening a clinic, and specialising in allergies. To do that would be the most horrible betrayal of the two 'I's' struggling inside me: the socialist and the traveller.
Che Guevara,Letter to his Mother, 10 May 1954

To paraphrase Marx's famous quote on philosophers, many academic and other experts have interpreted Tourism and how it has evolved "....the point, however, is to change it". Can it be changed? Yes. Can it be changed independently of other sectors, within the context of (and before the general replacement of) the dominant socio-economic system and particularly its more virulent strain, financialised-neoliberal Capitalism? Certainly! On the one hand, there are indications and credible studies that Capitalism is finally waving bye bye (granted, it will be a very long and tortuous process), on the other Tourism constantly keeps evolving, and the point is to steer this evolution to a direction that is beneficial to all. This steering should primarily be the responsibility of tourism employee unions/councils and of host communities with the support of progressive political organizations. Learning from the mistakes of the 20th century, once the old system is abolished/replaced, power must be democratically and transparently exercised and devolved to the grassroots, rather than endlessly held by an opaque, hierarchical and autocratic nomenclature. After all, we want to create a happier world for all, a utopia not a dystopia.

It is also clear that a new system cannot be comprehensively built in just one country, however large, as that country, faced by fierce opposition by the global status quo will turn defensive, oppressive and militaristic and the experiment will once more end in defeat. Globalisation implies that the progressive movement has to be built slowly and carefully with deep foundations both at the local and global levels in all sectors of life, not just in "politics" per se. We also need to be inspired by and fuse all progressive movements without forgetting the just demands of the Indigenous, Women's rights, LGBT+, Animal rights and other movements, if we are to create something really new, civilised, potent, coherent, practical during the 21st century. We should welcome civilized discussion and always try to back our proposals with the latest scientific facts and to be ready to modify our proposals if proven wrong or dated, without ever forgetting the key principles laid out by the progressive giants of the past. It is always useful to be aware of how the world engine works, every nook and cranny, and how it worked in the past (History) so as to be able to pinpoint the needed changes, improvements and replacements. We have to fully understand why the progressive movement is currently fragmented to succeed in reuniting it.

We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.
- Mikhail Bakunin "Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism", 1867

Were we to update Bakunin's famous quote (above) for the 21st century, we could say that only a globalised Socialism with Liberty, Democracy and Ecological scientific grounding will be able to meet the multi-faceted challenges presented by the quintuple crisis! Scientific knowledge and Technology are our allies. We, tourism workers, employees and self-employed, should not be afraid of green technology and the new green means of production but at the same time we need to ensure that they will not be controlled by powerful oligopolies, but by the people/workers/society, as well as to reduce their environmental impacts (yes, they do have such). For example, we should effectively encourage public and worker-owned electric aviation, trains and buses, rather than just protesting about air transport emissions, or, undemocratically, advocate less travel and staycations for the masses, or exclude them through pricing. We should improve and expand tourism planning, management and marketing so that Tourism benefits the many, rather than simply blasting ghosts such as "Overtourism" - we do not deny that it exists, but it is not the cause but the effect of the current system. We need, on the one hand, to constantly identify and oppose fake (green capitalist) solutions and ecocidal and anti-social aspects and actors of the global system, and on the other hand, to recognise and encourage progressive trends and best practices. We eventually aspire for a genuine, direct democracy with vibrant democratic workers unions and genuine freedom for all. We welcome genuinely free markets, where the self-employed, small family companies, voluntary associations and cooperatives may prosper, but oppose "free" markets monopolised by hierarchical, opaque, tax-evading, mega-corporations and one-sided, neoliberal international agreements. A Tourism for All means a tourism that is affordable for all and is controlled by its workers and host communities, not by insatiable, powerful corporations perpetually looking for new destinations and communities to exploit for profit! We are also against the endless privatisation and commodification of all essential public goods/basic needs such as water and electricity, health, education and housing.

Ecology without class struggle is gardening!
-Chico Mendes

During a quintuple crisis we do not have the luxury of lurking in the margins for the perfect conditions or for the stars to align, compromises are inevitable and also useful - they are the essence of any real Democracy. Even a relatively equitable, democratic Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure, can quickly create more quality, meaningful & pleasant jobs where no other options exist and, as importantly, open hearts and minds, increase mobility between nations and within societies, re-distribute wealth peacefully, effectively and equitably between and within countries without further harming the planet. This is why we do not advocate less travel or more expensive travel for the privileged few! At the same time we also have to see through and expose the massive corporate greenwash that is currently taking place in the Tourism sector on the occasion of the Climate Crisis, some hollow post-pandemic 'building-back-better' pronouncements and various toothless 'Tourism Declares'-style pledges undersigned by tourism corporations. Tourism Multinationals are hiding between these token, innocuous acts of 'voluntary' - 'self-regulating' environmental compliance while carrying on exploiting people and destinations as usual. If there were serious laws, full transparency, fair taxation and a level-playing field and then we would see how many of these giants would survive.

We consider Mobility, Leisure, Travel and Tourism as basic Human Rights and thus advocate a better, Tourism for All, as an indispensable tool and element of the transition to a better World where "All belongs to All"! It's a dynamic process with an uncertain outcome. There is a clear need to form and support progressive and powerful tourism worker/employee unions and networks at the local, national and international level that can resist mega-tourism corporations and decision-makers on their payroll. This is the "We" that we need to build and maintain, in an era where fake individualism (in effect consumerism) is deified. Tourism can play a unique role in all of the above processes as it is a truly globalised industry. In many ways, along with the broader Leisure sector, it is Capitalism's weak spot. Let us create millions of progressive tourism oases in the capitalist desert, and join them together! 

In the light of the above, the key attributes/elements of this Progressive Tourism/Tourism for All could be:

  • Locally-Owned & Worker-Owned: Owned by employees/workers, cooperatives, municipality, local community-based NGOs, public sector, recuperated entreprises, refugees. Not owned by multinational corporations and high-ranking employees thereof, religion-affiliated groups. Self-employed and Family-owned businesses without employees, welcome.
     
  • Independent: Not dependent on handouts from the status quo.
     
  • Rights-based: Respect Human Rights, Labour Rights and Animal Rights. Avoid all forms of discrimination, including gender, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, race, ethnic group.
     
  • Equitable: Ηelp Eliminate Poverty, Inequality & Injustice. 

  • Inclusive: Accessible, affordable, inclusive, no forms of discrimination, with the consent of the local community, meeting real, local needs and aspirations.
     
  • Educational: Increase Knowledge & Intercultural Understanding. Support and participate in scientific research and cultural activities. 
     
  • Ecological: Minimise Environmental Impact through renewable energy, recycling, upcycling, reusing, reducing, conservation. Νot operate, feature or promote captive wild animal displays/enclosures or nature-consumptive leisure activities including "game hunting" or "sport fishing".
     
  • Politically Progressive: Compatible with and supporting or participating in progressive, secular, political causes and initiatives, progressive meaning those that help us progress towards a world where "All is for All".
     

This is a working document (in perpetuity!) and is not meant to be a blueprint - we do not really believe in blueprints and absolutes. Change is best determined and decided at the grassroots so that it has appropriate, different characteristics in each destination/community/region country. This document is meant to be an open call to all who think along these lines to join us and help us co-create the progressive path forward! In turn, Ecoclub is also open to cooperation with other genuinely progressive networks and initiatives in Tourism and other sectors.

The broader picture: the world has no time to waste, yet this will probably be an Ultramarathon. The transition to a fully-civilised, peaceful, global socio-economic system - where Hospitality will once more be genuine, will not involve a monetary transaction will be gradual and will take time. The full humanization of Humanity (if it is ever to arrive - it could be that some cosmic accident or human-induced blunder puts an abrupt end) could take another 10,000 years (since the first agrarian societies emerged) or even another 4 million years (since Australopithecus afarensis walked upright!). However, we should remember (Lao-Tzu) that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" and (Cavafis) that "when you set out for Ithaca ask that your way be long...". The simple truth is that, apart from inertia, nothing really prevents us from taking the important first step by helping each other today and every day, from "living prudently and honourably and justly" and thus "living pleasantly", every single day. As there is no evidence of supernatural beings, deities and extraterrestrials that could come to our 'rescue', the survival and future progress of our species is up to each one of us. Ecoclub, as a latter-day, virtual Garden of Epicurus, aims to unite the progressive, open-minded citizens of the world who broadly share the above ideas and work or would like to work in Hospitality/Tourism or related sectors.

ecosunOur Logo: The colour (teal) is one of a few colours named after an animal (a duck, the common teal, whose eyes are surrounded by this colour). The smiling sun symbolizes a pragmatic, positive, non-violent, non-sectarian, non-dogmatic, philosophical attitude to life which combines the Epicurean "LATHE VIOSAS" ("ΛΑΘΕ ΒΙΩΣΑΣ" = get through life without drawing unwarranted attention), "ATARAXIA" (ΑΤΑΡΑΞΙΑ = tranquillity) with MUTUAL AID, the will to assist each other, solve real problems, "to get up again and start over", rise up every day, in a peaceful, daily revolution in all our individual and collective dealings; it also symbolizes solar power - renewable energy in literal and figurative terms and light - the light of science, enlightenment. 

arrowJoin Today!

ecosunAncient Greek Writing Tablet, Red figure Kylix by Eucharides, 480 BCE (U. of Pennsylvania Museum)Ancient Greek Writing Tablet, Red figure Kylix by Eucharides, 480 BCE (U. of Pennsylvania Museum)Recommended Reading, Influences, Food for Thought:

 

Under pain of death, human societies are forced to return to first principles: the means of production being the collective work of humanity, the product should be the collective property of the race. Individual appropriation is neither just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth.

All things are for all. Here is an immense stock of tools and implements; here are all those iron slaves which we call machines, which saw and plane, spin and weave for us, unmaking and remaking, working up raw matter to produce the marvels of our time. But nobody has the right to seize a single one of these machines and say, "This is mine; if you want to use it you must pay me a tax on each of your products," any more than the feudal lord of medieval times had the right to say to the peasant, "This hill, this meadow belong to me, and you must pay me a tax on every sheaf of corn you reap, on every rick you build."

All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work, they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all, and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such vague formulas as "The Right to work," or "To each the whole result of his labour." What we proclaim is THE RIGHT TO WELL-BEING: WELL-BEING FOR ALL! - Pyotr Kropotkin - The Conquest of Bread, 1892