ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club is a global, mutual aid network established in 1999 with the aim of promoting an Ecological & Equitable 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. With a non-sectarian, progressive, mutualist, ecological approach, synthesizing all good ideas and trying to avoid the 'narcissism of small differences', we try to develop, improve, support, promote, propagate and popularise ecological & equitable (socially just) tourism from below.
There is no doubt that we need to constantly identify and resist the ecocidal, undemocratic and oppressive aspects of the currently prevailing, globalised socioeconomic model and of its various local versions. The current, recurring, economic, social and environmental crisis is a direct product of the historic evolution of humans and in particular of the current system (globalised capitalism) and of the choices of dominant actors ruthlessly competing for control and concentration of finite natural resources. At the same time we need to recognise and encourage peaceful, progressive trends 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 boogies and sweeping condemnations. People, religions and ideologies that present the world in black and white are by definition inaccurate and unreliable, as the world has every possible colour and shade thereof.
Most governments claim to be in favour of Freedom, Equality and Solidarity, yet this is rarely evident or practical in the daily lives of the peoples of the world. In the early 21st century many basic human rights and freedoms are still lacking or are increasingly under threat in nearly every country. In the context of Travel from the global south, freedom of movement is currently largely limited to investors and wealthy tourists, while immigrants/refugees perish while trying to cross deserts and seas in search of a better future, usually in the form of a menial job in the global north. Freedom of expression is constantly being curtailed or threatened by increasingly intrusive and authoritarian states, religious fanatics, terrorists and extremists of all hues. The principle of the 'free market' is definitely violated when small businesses are being crushed by giant chains, malls and outlets and permanent unemployment is growing in an era of concentration, international and national oligopolies. Equality also suffers at the same time, with rising long-term unemployment, job insecurity and widening income disparities within and between countries. Free, public or at least affordable health and education for all are retreating worldwide, being replaced by expensive services for self-reproducing elites and low-quality services for the rest. In multi-crisis-ridden times Solidarity often becomes a luxury for ordinary people, a hypocritical CSR exercise for otherwise exploitative corporations or a haphazard and erratic service offered by NGOs incapable of covering huge social and international policy gaps.
The mass tourism industry despite its seemingly (due to geographical and cultural reasons) fragmented and innocuous 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) interested in maximizing profits through the exploitation and commodification of human, cultural and environmental resources. Despite its theoretical interest in preserving, or at least not totally destroying, the environment, the tourism industry is also a key player in the ongoing and accelerating land-grab and enclosure of the commons, in order to create affluent enclaves, mega-resorts and holiday home developments, often funded through tax evasion and money-laundering. The world's last remaining natural (and socioeconomically independent) areas are of course also threatened by the unsustainable expansion of highly exploitative and polluting extractive industries such as Oil, Mining, Forestry and large-scale livestock and farming. Yet, Tourism also has a great potential as a platform for peaceful progressive and/or radical grassroots change as a sizeable constituency of small, locally-owned businesses and the self-employed has survived.
Resistance to the forces of ecological & social destruction 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 just romantic or dysfunctional) 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 (in the form of cooperatives, worker managed businesses, small family businesses and the self-employed) will hopefully contribute to gradual, peaceful, local transitions to genuinely free, stateless & 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 Pyotr Kropotkin's "All is for All" (imagine health, education, leisure and travel for all and being free for all or at least affordable for all!), the French Revolution's "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" do not sound as impossible or romantic as they sound today. As the triple possibility of a major refugee crisis due to climate change, another financial or economic meltdown and of a major peripheral war is lurking, it is clear, even to the most ardent proponents of the status quo, that they cannot continue on the same business-as-usual path. For real progress and a more equitable diffusion of civilization's current and future achievements to all, the people must work for change (i.e. find alternative, practical solutions) by themselves, today and every day rather than wait for charismatic leaders - although - history has shown - they are also needed. There is also no point (it would be self-defeating and a contradiction) for anyone really interested in the progress of humanity to resort to any form of violence, to sacrifice human rights, animal rights, environmental standards or human happiness to any distant, impossible construct. 20th century experiments have indicated that classes and social divisions can only be temporarily and superficially abolished from the top through force and when this force hesitates they come back with a vengeance. Thus in the 21st century we can try to make them permanently irrelevant from the grassroots in peaceful, voluntary and smarter ways, rejecting violence and totalitarian, one-size-fits-all solutions: each place is different, with different traditions and circumstances, it is up to the local people to decide how they wish to meet their needs. The means are the end. Such a grassroots, peaceful path may seem slow in the light of the seriousness of the current situation and hard to explain to the underpriviledged, the exploited and the 1 billion people who still lack basic sanitation, but in fact it is a quicker, more effective and civilised path as it is a steady, peaceful, deeper and a voluntary one. It is also the most likely outcome as the sum of all other contradictory quicker paths. The full humanisation 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) may 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..."
Our Logo: The colour (teal) combines green and blue, key colours of the earth. 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 honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live prudently and honorably 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
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 favor 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 labor between producers, is a profoundly humanizing 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 organized 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.
Corporate Social Responsibility...It allows corporates to play good guys and bad guys all at once. If Vedanta has a cancer hospital somewhere, a bauxite mountain can't be far.
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
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 marvelous victory
Howard Zinn - You can't be neutral on a Moving Train, 1994
What is usually termed the final goal of socialism is nothing to me, the movement is everything.
Eduard Bernstein, The Preconditions of Socialism, 1899
We can't do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.
They want Capitalism without Democracy, we want Democracy without Capitalism!