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. Through our worldwide network, with a non-dogmatic approach and inspired by ecological and mutualist ideas, we try to develop, improve, support, promote, propagate and popularise ecological & socially just (equitable) 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 in its various present forms (neoliberal, statist or autocratic) and its pillars: military-industrial-financial complexes, transnational corporations, opaque financial institutions and mainstream media empires. The current, recurring, economic, social and environmental crisis is not a natural phenomenon but a direct product of the current system and its historic evolution and of the choices of dominant actors ruthlessly competing for control of finite natural resources while claiming to promote 'freedom'. At the same time, freedom of movement is limited to capital, with people - immigrants/refugees dying while trying to cross deserts and seas in search of a future in the form of a menial job in the global north. Freedom of expression is constantly being curtailed by ever intrusive and authoritarian states, while even the notion of the 'free market' is also a joke as small businesses are dying and unemployment growing in an era of concentration, international and national oligopolies. Economic concentration and economic democracy are by definition incompatible but we should understand why, beyond historical accidents, Capitalism (and in particular its combination with parliamentary democracy) has so far prevailed as a model: its' modernising and emancipatory impacts on illiberal feudal societies, its shrewd use of motives and rewards, its relative tolerance of alternative pockets and its co-option of innovation and alternatives alike which all increase its ability to evolve dynamically, without losing its main ingredient: private control of the means of production by a minority - even if the composition of that minority may change over time - resulting in a pyramid-like structure of society and a constantly-widening income disparities between and within countries. The pyramid has been used as a symbol of power and power structures since the time of the Pharaohs and through to 19th c. socialists but ever since, and despite marxist prophecies, the pyramid appears to be growing taller and wider over time allowing for more movement up and down (social mobility) and sideways (perceived 'freedom') and providing the comfort to many that they are at least better off than the others below and the illusion that they may rise higher. But it is still a pyramid.
The mass tourism industry despite its seemingly (due to geographical and cultural reasons) fragmented and innocuous character, can also 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, self-employed has survived (and is perhaps immune to) the virus of neoliberal globalisation.
Resistance to the forces of ecological & social destruction and the implementation of progressive laws and 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", the French Revolution's "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" do not sound as utopian 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 that we cannot progress either by continuing on the same business-as-usual path or by serving alternative recipes from the 19th century (failing to comprehend or at least remember that 20th century actually-existing-socialism/militaristic-state-capitalism actually failed and that the fleeting 20th c. anarchism actually fled). For real progress and a more equitable diffusion of civilization's current and future achievements to all people we (where "we" is all those who want to do so) must work for change (i.e. find alternative, practical solutions) today and every day without wasting time waiting for charismatic people (although it is a bonus when they exist) or vanguard organisations (a bonus malus). There is also no point (it would be self-defeating and a contradiction) to resort to any form of violence, to sacrifice human rights, animal rights, environmental standards or human happiness to any distant, impossible construct. The means are the end, and our means are Ecology and Mutualism. 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 we believe that it is more effective and civilised as it is a steady, peaceful, deeper and a voluntary one. The humanisation of humanity, may need another 10,000 years to be fully implemented (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 particularly welcomes as Members tourism workers, job-seekers, students, academics, the self-employed and small-business owners who broadly share our philosophy and aims as stated above and who are 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!