If we buy the capitalist myth that everything is a struggle for existence, in which only the fittest survive, then we lock our vision of humanity down into this narrow cage, Professor Tim Jackson, author of Post Growth – life after capitalism, told me this week.
The pandemic has caused immense suffering but it has also inspired a global rethink of what is important to people. In exploring the realignment of values emerging from this period of lockdown, Tim depicts a life after capitalism built on balance and a renewed pursuit of meaning and purpose.
“It’s about finding the balance between having too little and too much; it’s about the balance between self and other; it’s about the balance between continually innovating and being bedded in tradition,” he said. “And these balances that we had to learn and re-learn through the pandemic in our lives are also important in thinking about what prosperity is, what the economy should be doing and how there might be a better life for us outside of capitalism.”
These lessons of the pandemic are something Professor Jackson believes can be taken forward to inform a new ‘understanding of how society may change and how we might actually construct meaning and purpose beyond the consumer society that just stopped when the pandemic struck’.
In the pre-Covid world the transformed, post-capitalist future in the book would have seemed, at best, a distant possibility but everything has changed. For more on the book and what that change might look like, catch up with my full podcast with the author.
While overtourism won’t be on many people’s list of worries right now the truth is, despite widespread pledges from world leaders that there won’t simply be a return to business as usual after the pandemic, there is plenty to suggest many of the destructive old ways are returning. Overtourism is one of those destructive habits. In Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future, edited by my guests on Inside Ideas this week, Dr Martha Honey and Kelsey Frenkiel, the message isn’t to put an end to travel, quite the opposite, it is about ensuring it respects the environment, and in the best cases – through regenerative tourism, can be done in a way which leaves a place in a better way than people find it.
“We never imagined that, in the middle of writing this book, tourism would halt completely and I think in 2020 there was only something like 400 million international arrivals, which is still a huge number, but for a time it was halted completely, obviously brought on by a global health crisis,” Frenkiel told me. “I think what we saw was that Covid 19 triggered new and unique challenges for tourism and it actually proved to us that this information was more timely than ever. So we took that opportunity to frame the book, talk about the pandemic and how this information could be used.”
The book charts a path towards sustainable tourism, one that is underpinned by a commitment to people, planet, and prosperity.
Frenkiel continued: “We came up with 13 guiding principles for the future of tourism, so for example, seeing the whole picture – tourism often isn’t looked at very holistically. We used better metrics, so not just measuring tourism by the number of people visiting but what impacts they are having. Those are the kind of steps that we took to chart a better path forward after Covid, and also on the back of the responses that we were seeing from people because of Covid and the new challenges that they were dealing with. What we want everyone to know is that this is an opportunity to really reset.”
The authors want to develop a sustainable future for tourism because they believe passionately in the power of travel.
“When you travel, especially if you travel in a way that doesn’t just take you to an enclave, like an all-inclusive beach resort, but in a way that actually gets you out meeting other people, then this is a profound form of education that is stimulating parts of our brains that are not quite stimulated by classroom learning,” Dr Honey said. “It’s a different type of learning, experiential, and in a way it can be more profound than book learning because all your senses are involved, and so building global citizenship through travel is an extremely important reason for keeping the travel industry going, and it was threatened by the pandemic, but we are convinced that we need this as human beings, as societies.”
For more on the book and insight on the future of tourism, catch up with my full podcast with the authors. Listeners and followers of Inside Ideas can also get 20% off Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future here by using the code HONEY.