Ecoclub Member Blogs
The future: either green or dystopic
It can be argued beyond any doubt that Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism are today part and parcel of the green movement, a diverse and colourful current ranging from liberal environmentalism to ecosocialism which has a far wider audience than the Green parties, although they also steadily widen and deepen their electoral base around the world.
The green movement is not a temporary phenomenon. Greens are trying to meet the real needs of the 21st century as far as addressing and avoiding catastrophic climate change is concerned. Equally importantly, they are also indirectly attempting to create, in a gradual, voluntary, non-totalitarian and intelligent way, and even if some greens do not realise it, what 20th century radical movements totally botched: happy, free, healthy, classless societies. The 20th century failure of totalitarian recipes was no accident: the idea that a clique or a strongman could or would serve as a dictator curtailing all freedoms in the best interest of the proletariat and then instantly and politely disappearing from the stage, was ludicrous even as a theoretical assumption. Equally ludicrous is the theory that the invisible hand of the market will solve everything and the absurd thacherite pronouncement of "there is no such thing as society". On the contrary, there is a thing as society and it is synonymous with human civilisation!
Green thinking involves the arduous but realistic process of individual and collective, but devolved, self-realisation (meaning: no more vanguard parties, orthodoxy and one-size-fits-all solutions) that people can attain real happiness by sharing, living peacefully with one another and other life forms, covering each other's basic needs through mutual aid and collaborative, cooperative structures bridging, and bringing down, national, cultural, economic and social borders, divisions and walls towards a colourful, happy world of equal citizens which cherishes and nurtures their individuality. Green Technology has a pivotal role to play in creating 'a larger and greener pie', so technophobes, who would for, example, mock "electric aviation" and other breakthroughs as mere 'techno-fixes' are historically ignorant and should be safely ignored - green scientists: please keep researching & inventing!
Perhaps the most civilised product of the 20th century was the Nordic social-democratic model which, for a few decades at least, managed to balance liberty with equality so as to produce happiness and progress. But it is no accident that Green parties are steadily replacing Social Democratic parties around the world, as the latter unfortunately sold-out, forgot their key principles and important welfare-society promises and, lured by the lights of neoliberalism, became entangled in scandals.
It is important to point out, as the great Noam Chomsky recently did and as the wise Deng Xiaoping, the Pericles of China, realised back in the late 70s (and embarked on the successful reform and opening up policy that changed the course of China and the World) the following, convenient, truth: Socialism and Capitalism have evolved from their 19th-century meanings and thus we need new theoretical and policy tools to redefine them so as to understand the present. The prevailing global system can safely be described as a financialised capitalism, but under the neo-liberal veneer, it is a mercantilist, corporatist hybrid dominated by large, state-backed (overtly or covertly) transnationals. Characteristic examples include the oil industry, the aviation industry and the Internet. Do study the way the Internet emerged and has since evolved: originally a stated-funded defence project, then providing a level-playing field to players of all sizes, now increasingly monitored and dominated by a few giant companies which have no real business model other than selling users data to the highest bidder and, of course, to the authorities. Yet, the Internet still retains important progressive, participatory, democratic and devolved corners, with great, libertarian projects such as Wikipedia, Archive.org and others which empower everyone, or at least the 50% that has so far access to the Internet, with free knowledge and tools.
The old "Left-Right" (or progressive-conservative) dividing line which mainly concerns economic policy and class remains of course, but we now also have a new divide which concerns ethics/morals/religion, namely between socially progressive globalists and conservative-minded localists. Green thinking, with its embedded respect for diversity and human rights, is a way to bridge and gradually remove both types of divides, by agreeing to respectfully disagree on some issues, and move forward to find the solutions!
For the same reasons, Political Ecology (which fuses Environmentalism with the best elements of Direct Democracy, Anarchism, Socialism and Liberalism) is also the natural home for those inspired by identity politics, and is emerging as a key global defence against the twin threats of human progress: the barbaric currents of neo-fascism, racism and extreme nationalism on the one side and the religious extremists spewing violence, ignorance, hatred and irrationality on the other. If you look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals you will understand that they are fully aligned with the key green principles: Ecological Sustainability, Social Justice, Grassroots/Economic Democracy and Peace & Non-Violence. This is no accident (and we certainly need to fully support, ethically, politically, operationally and financially all UN structures - they are humanity's greatest achievements and a guarantee that we may avoid a WW3) - green ideology is the only high-minded yet rational ideology and one constantly refined by the science of Ecology, which can solve real problems in every single country, without waiting for a second coming, be it religious or revolutionary, or without ignoring them for the private profits of the 1%.
In the light of the above, we also need to redefine Green Tourism, Ecological Tourism and ultimately Ecotourism. We need to endorse and develop a genuine Ecotourism which is fully compatible with Political Ecology, and is not merely a greenish, sustainable or responsible form of Nature Tourism. You see definitions do matter, it is words we will hopefully use in our peaceful struggle for a better, greener world, and we should not let the fascists, the cynics or the egoists appropriate and expropriate these inspiring, invaluable and beloved terms.
We should certainly be encouraged by the fact that the mainstream has stopped mocking us - we forgive but do not forget - and finally accepted green ideas as reasonable but it is not a time for celebrations. We should keep pressing the mainstream to implement the radical changes that these ideas call for. At the same time, we should neutralize the re-emerging fascist monster at every level and corner of the society and the economy. (I am perpetually amazed by how many nationalistic xenophobes work in tourism, a sector which is synonymous with philoxenia not with xenophobia). Equally important is the role that genuine ecotourism can play in peacefully replacing religious fundamentalism around the world with human rights, labour rights and animal rights!
So, this is the time to move the green tourism agenda forward, to be more ambitious rather than relax at self-congratulatory events. The world out there is still, sometimes increasingly so, an unfair, hostile, semi-barbaric and toxic place for the majority of humans and other life forms.