ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club is a global, mutual aid network established in 1999 with the aim of promoting the philosophy and practice of an Ecological Tourism (genuine Ecotourism), a Tourism which meets the following criteria:
ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club is a global network comprised of individuals - tourism practitioners, academics, students and travellers, coordinated by a small team based in Athens, arguably the world's oldest continuously inhabited capital city, the city of Direct Democracy, Epicurus, Aristophanes and Diogenes the Cynic and indeed one of the first international tourism destinations! Grounded in Ecology (both the science and the political theory), inspired by the theories and applications of Mutual Aid, Economic Democracy and Direct Democracy, and avoiding the 'narcissism of small differences', the ECOCLUB.com Team tries to support, promote and propagate genuine Ecotourism, i.e. Ecological Tourism.
The current global environmental and socioeconomic crisis (aka Climate Change), although unprecedented in its magnitude, is only the latest in a long series. It is inextricably linked to the historic evolution of humans and their competition for control and concentration of natural resources. For humanity to progress further we need both freedom (all types thereof) and solidarity; we need on the one hand to constantly identify and oppose ecocidal, undemocratic and oppressive aspects and actors of the dominant international socioeconomic model and geopolitical system and on the other hand we need to recognise and encourage emerging peaceful, progressive aspects, currents and movements wherever they may occur. Our gaze needs to be scientific and humanistic at the same time, paying attention to detail without missing the forest for the tree but also avoiding sweeping condemnations and dogmatisms.
Nowadays nearly all governments claim to be proponents or even defenders of Freedom, Equality, Justice and Social Solidarity, but for some strange reason, these are still rarely present in the daily lives of the peoples of the world... In fact, in the early 21st century many basic human rights and freedoms are increasingly under threat in nearly every country and in many cases they are non-existent. In the context of Travel from the global south, freedom of movement is currently largely limited to the movement of capital and of wealthy tourists, while immigrants (war, economic and climate refugees) perish while trying to cross deserts and choppy seas in search of a better future; a future that for most of them will sadly involve a menial job and constant harassment in the global north. Freedom of expression is constantly being curtailed or threatened by increasingly intrusive and authoritarian states and violent fanatics of all hues. The principle of the 'free market' itself is violated even by those who otherwise claim to be its proponents: small businesses are allowed to be crushed by multinationals, chains, malls and outlets selling low-cost and low-quality products (by abusing their workers and the environment) with permanent unemployment growing in an era of automation, concentration and of international and national oligopolies. Equality also suffers: there is rising long-term unemployment, job insecurity and widening income disparities within and between countries. Universal access to quality, free or at least affordable health care and education is retreating worldwide. In the global north itself the middle class is being slowly crushed and many of its members suddenly become members of a precariat, while in the global south extreme poverty and lack of sanitation and education remain key generators (as well as key forms) of violence leading people to death and/or the dead end of extremism. It need not be this way, the world can get better;
Appropriate forms of Tourism can and already offer solutions even when all other resources are locally lacking. Tourism directly and effectively redistributes wealth where a sizeable constituency of small, locally-owned businesses exists and especially where cooperatives and worker-managed companies emerge. On the other hand, the global tourism industry despite its seemingly (due to geographical and cultural reasons) fragmented character, can be described as a pyramid dominated by a few large corporations at the top (hiding behind numerous brands and/or exploiting small local companies). Despite their theoretical interest in preserving, or at least not totally destroying, the environment, large tourism developers are often key players in the ongoing and accelerating global land-grab, creating affluent enclaves, mega-resorts and holiday home developments, often funded through tax evasion and money-laundering, sometimes in cooperation with local mafias, oligarchs and dictators. The world's last remaining natural (and socioeconomically independent) areas are of course even more threatened by the unsustainable expansion of highly exploitative and polluting extractive industries such as Oil, Mining, Forestry and large-scale livestock and farming.
Resistance to the forces of ecological destruction and social oppression and the implementation of progressive reforms at the top are necessary but not sufficient conditions to bring about real progress: they must be supported and refined on a daily basis through the creation of viable and practical (rather than romantic, dysfunctional or bureaucratic) alternatives, including (particularly in areas that have no other resources) ecological and equitable tourism alternatives, organised at and by the grassroots. The emergence and proliferation of such alternatives to corporate monopolies (in the form of small businesses, cooperatives, worker-managed entreprises and the self-employed) can contribute to genuinely free, classless communities where mutual aid prevails and individuals thrive, as no one is exploiting or oppressing anyone else, while at the same time all the real needs of all people are covered. The proliferation of and voluntary cooperation between such equitable & free communities, and between their respective individual members could create a better and more peaceful world where the well-being and the individual & collective rights of all people and other animals are respected, or at least respected considerably more than they are today; a world where the French Revolution's "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" does not sound as hollow as it sounds today.
As the possibility of a major global refugee crisis due to conflict, climate change, another financial or economic meltdown and of major peripheral wars is rather high (already a tragic reality in parts of the world such as the Middle East and the Mediterranean), it is clear, even to the most ardent proponents of the status quo, that Humanity should not continue on the same path. To progress towards a more equitable diffusion of civilisation's current and future achievements to all, rather than a retreat to nationalism, racism and fascism, we must all work for change. To find alternative, practical solutions by ourselves, today and every day rather than wait for self-styled saviours!. In the past century, so-called "actually-existing-socialism" experiments proved beyond reasonable doubt that classes and social divisions can only be superficially abolished from the top through diktats, fear and force (creating a nomenclature and stratocracy along the way) and when this force hesitates they come back with a vengeance. In the few countries that are still nominally "Communist", the stratocracy and authoritarianism oversaw a smooth transition to authoritarian forms of Capitalism. Therefore, in the 21st century let us forget top-down, authoritarian and one-size-fits-all solutions on the left and the heartlessness of neoliberalism, racism and fascism on the right, and opt for grassroots, intelligent, peaceful, rational and diverse paths to human progress combining ecology, freedom, democracy, pluralism, cultural diversity, sustainability, justice, transparency. Tourism, and in particular Ecological Tourism, has a pivotal and multifaceted role to play in a fair, or at least fairer, global distribution and re-distribution of wealth between and within countries.
All that said, the full humanization of humanity - if it is ever to arrive - it could be that this is as good as it gets or that some cosmic or human-induced 'accident' may happen in the mean time - will probably take another 10,000 years (since the first settlements based on agrarian surpluses emerged) but 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...". But in the end, nothing and no one, apart from inertia and the fear of the unknown other, is keeping all of us who believe that "another world is possible" from helping each other, today and every day to prove that "another world already exists". This is exactly what our ecological, progressive, mutual aid network, ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club, is trying to do, to match and encourage all those who care about Ecology and Democracy through Tourism - join us today!
Our Logo: The colour (teal) combines green and blue, key colours of the earth (the word 'teal' is actually derived from a duck, the common teal whose eyes are surrounded by this colour). The smiling sun symbolizes an optimistic, non-violent, non-sectarian, non-dogmatic, philosophical attitude to life which combines the Epicurean "LATHE VIOSAS" ("ΛΑΘΕ ΒΙΩΣΑΣ" - get through life without drawing attention) and "ATARAXIA" (ΑΤΑΡΑΞΙΑ - tranquility) with the will to assist others, solve real problems, 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. The ".com" stands for Community.
Getting involved: ECOCLUB.com welcomes as Members everyone who broadly shares our philosophy and aims as stated above and who is prepared to cooperate with other Members in order to realise these aims.
Recommended Reading, Influences, Food for Thought:
What I discovered, much to my astonishment, was a story that had something of the character of a literary detective story, in which various disparate clues led inexorably to a single, surprising, source. In this case, the materialism of Bacon and Marx, and even that of Darwin (although less directly), could be traced back to a common point of origin: the ancient materialist philosophy of Epicurus. Epicurus’ role as the great Enlightener of antiquity—a view of his work that was shared by thinkers as distinct as Bacon, Kant, Hegel, and Marx—provided me for the first time with a coherent picture of the emergence of materialist ecology, in the context of a dialectical struggle over the definition of the world.
John Bellamy Foster, Marx's Ecology, 2000
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), Kyriai Doxai V
From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, and, like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.
Karl Marx - Friedrick Engels, Capital - Vol. 3, 1894
To decide means to decide for oneself. To decide who is to decide is already not quite deciding for oneself. The only total form of democracy is therefore direct democracy. To achieve the widest and most meaningful direct democracy will require that all the economic and political structures of society be based on local groups that are real, organic social units. Direct democracy certainly requires the physical presence of citizens in a given place, when decisions have to be taken. But this is not enough. It also requires that these citizens form an organic community, that they live if possible in the same milieu, that they be familiar through their daily experience with the subjects to be discussed and with the problems to be tackled. It is only in such units that the political participation of individuals can become total, that people can know and feel that their involvement is meaningful and that the real life of the community is being determined by its own members and not by some external agency, acting "on behalf of" the community. There must therefore be the maximum autonomy and self-management for the local units.
Cornelios Castoriades, Workers' Councils and the Economics of a Self-Managed Society, 1972
Utopias aren't chimeras, they are the most noble dreams that people have. The dream of equality; the dream that housing should belong to everyone, because you are a person, and not a piece of merchandise to be speculated with; the dream that natural resources – for instance energy – shouldn't be in the service of multinationals, but in the service of the people. All those dreams are the dreams we'd like to turn into realities. First, in the place where we live, with the knowledge that we're surrounded by capitalism everywhere; and later, in Andalusia, and the world.
Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo - Mayor of Marinaleda
What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves.
Friedrich Hayek - The Road to Serfdom - 1944
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.
Howard Zinn - You can't be neutral on a Moving Train, 1994
In the world today, the main form of enterprise is based on renting human beings (privately or publicly). Our task is to construct the alternative. In the alternative type of firm, employment by the firm is replaced with membership in the firm. Economic democracy requires the abolition of the employment relation, not the abolition of private property. Democracy can be married with private property in the workplace; the result of the union is the democratic worker-owned firm.
David Ellerman - The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm, 1990
Although we favour democratic control when collective action is required by the nature of production and other cooperative endeavours, we do not favour collectivism as an ideal in itself. We are not opposed to money or exchange. We believe in private property, so long as it is based on personal occupancy and use. We favour a society in which all relationships and transactions are non-coercive, and based on voluntary cooperation, free exchange, or mutual aid. The "market," in the sense of exchanges of labour between producers, is a profoundly humanising and liberating concept. What we oppose is the conventional understanding of markets, as the idea has been coopted and corrupted by state capitalism. Our ultimate vision is of a society in which the economy is organised around free market exchange between producers, and production is carried out mainly by self-employed artisans and farmers, small producers' cooperatives, worker-controlled large enterprises, and consumers' cooperatives.
Kevin Carson - Mutualist.org