ECOCLUB - International Ecotourism Club is one of the oldest ecological tourism portals and professional social networks, established in 1999 with the aim of promoting the philosophy and practice of genuine Ecotourism (Ecological Tourism), a Tourism which is grounded in the political philosophy and the science of Ecology and meets the following criteria:
ECOCLUB - 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 authentic, Direct Democracy, Epicurus, Aristophanes and Diogenes the Cynic and indeed one of the first international tourism destinations) which tries to promote and propagate genuine Ecotourism by supporting current and aspiring ecotourism professionals, practitioners and academics.
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 competition for control and concentration of finite natural resources. For humanity to progress further we need both freedom (all types thereof) and solidarity. On the one hand, we need to constantly identify and oppose ecocidal, undemocratic and oppressive aspects and actors of the global socioeconomic and geopolitical system. 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, avoiding sweeping condemnations and dogmatisms, and paying attention to detail but without missing the forest for the tree.
Over two centuries after the French Revolution, following two catastrophic world wars and a protracted cold war, most governments claim to be proponents or even defenders of Freedom, Equality, Justice and Social Solidarity, however, 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 most countries and continue to be non-existent in others. In the context of Travel from the global south, freedom of movement is 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, big-brother, states and violent fanatics of all hues. Inequality between and within countries is growing, as is long-term unemployment. Universal access to quality, free 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 unable to find work, 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;
Responsible, sustainable and ecological forms of Tourism can and already offer solutions even when all other resources are locally lacking and tourism, especially locally-owned tourism, constitutes a direct and effective wealth redistribution system. Tourism is one of the few industries and sectors that has a vested interest in safeguarding the world's last remaining natural areas from 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 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 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" may at last materialise.
Using the 20th century's important lessons of what works and what does not in the quest for happy societies, in the 21st century, we have to resist extremism, racism, fascism and totalitarianism (be it of the state or of the multinationals) and support intelligent, peaceful, rational and diverse paths to human progress combining ecology, freedom, mutual aid, economic democracy, social justice, solidarity, pluralism, cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and transparency. Tourism, and in particular Ecological Tourism, has a pivotal and multifaceted role to play in creating quality jobs, opening hearts and minds and in contributing towards a fair, global 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 some cosmic or human-induced 'accident' puts an abrupt end) could take another 10,000 years (since the first settlements based on agrarian surpluses emerged) or even another 4 million years (since Australopithecus afarensis walked upright!) 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...". In the end, nothing and no one apart from inertia is keeping all of us who believe in human progress from helping each other, today and every day. This is exactly what our ecological, mutual aid network, ECOCLUB - International Ecotourism Club, is trying to do: to match and encourage all those who care about Ecology 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: We welcome 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
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
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
I consider an unexamined life, an unreflective life, to be a wasted life, and if it is a chosen path, the life of a moral coward. An examined life presumes freedom of thought, freedom of life style, and the freedom and courage to reject every prejudice, taboo and superstition. By implication, it presumes rejection of each and every instance of oppression, exploitation and ignorance, whether self-imposed or not. But fodder comes first. For a great majority of the earth's population, the freedom to seek the life of one's choice is an unimaginable luxury. Emancipation, therefore, implies, in their case, empowerment, which, for the record, includes empowering them to free thinking. There can be no trading off of liberty for welfare, of empowerment for paternalism and consumerism.
Marcel Wissenburg - www.wissenburg.org