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 & Equitable (Socially Just) Tourism, according to 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! Inspired by Ecology both as a science and as a political theory, and also by Direct Democracy, Economic Democracy and Self-management, and avoiding the 'narcissism of small differences', the ECOCLUB.com Team tries to support, promote and propagate ecological & equitable (socially just) 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 finite 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, ideologies, philosophical currents and religions 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 with rising long-term unemployment, job insecurity, wage slavery and widening income disparities within and between countries. Universal access to quality, affordable health care and education is retreating worldwide, being replaced by expensive services for self-reproducing elites and low-quality services for the rest. In multi-crisis-ridden times, with the global retreat of the welfare state and the rise of neoliberalism, social solidarity is replaced by hypocritical CSR / pittance or tax & regulation-avoidance exercises for otherwise exploitative corporations or a haphazard and erratic service offered by NGOs incapable of covering huge social and international policy gaps. 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 offer and already do offer solutions even when all other resources are locally lacking. 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 often inappropriate commodification/packaging of human and environmental resources and cultural assets and traditions. Despite their theoretical interest in preserving, or at least not totally destroying, the environment, large tourism developers are key players 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, sometimes in cooperation with local oligarchs and dictators. 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, appropriate forms of Tourism have a great potential as platforms for radical but peaceful, grassroots-led change when a sizeable constituency of small, family-owned businesses, the self-employed and community efforts exists and especially where cooperatives and worker-managed companies emerge.
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 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 (in the form of small businesses, cooperatives, worker-managed entreprises and the self-employed) will hopefully contribute to gradual, peaceful, local transitions 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 triple possibility of constant refugee crises due to conflict, climate change, another financial or economic meltdown and of major peripheral wars is lurking (already a tragic reality in parts of the world such as 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 civilization'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 charismatic leaders and self-styled saviours! 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 violence, to sacrifice human rights, animal rights, environmental standards or human happiness to any distant, impossible construct. 20th century "actually-existing-socialism" experiments proved that classes and social divisions can only be temporarily and superficially abolished from the top through force (creating a nomenclature and a stratocracy along the way) and when this force hesitates they come back with a vengeance. In the 21st century we should try to replace the dominant socio-economic system (authoritarian neoliberalism / actually-existing-capitalism) which is clearly not working, and make divisions permanently irrelevant, from the bottom up, in peaceful, voluntary and intelligent 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 as a whole, but also as individuals, to decide how they wish to meet their own needs, but hopefully without exploiting one another or at the expense of other living forms and of the environment. 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
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 marvelous 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 favor democratic control when collective action is required by the nature of production and other cooperative endeavors, we do not favor 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 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.
Kevin Carson - Mutualist.org