Dear ICC members,
We have another three issues for you to vote on. I think it has been quite a few weeks since the last request, so I hope you will get to this promptly. We will tally results and enact positive decisions toward the end of this week - Let's say, Thursday. Not replying by then will be an abstention on all three issues.
A number of us in the ICC have been trying to deal with a disturbing situation that is hurting outreach to new members, disturbing many current members, etc.
If you visit the kinship forum in the IOPS web system you will see that one member - his name is Saif - has created a number of threads, all of which contain material relating to sexism against men. He is on what one might call a campaign to get everyone to see what apparently seems quite obvious to him - which is that sexism is more often than not a system that hurts men, not women. His material, which he has pushed all over the forum area for feminist discussion, has generated a large number of complaints from other members who, understandably, find the stance quite offensive, and even more so the way it is pushed over and over. Some members feel that such material should simply be deleted from the forum on the grounds that it is not in-keeping with IOPS analysis, vision etc. Others seem more annoyed by the way in which Saif has dominated the forum with so many threads / posts. People have stopped participating, because they know that to do so just invites him to pile on his materials crowding out whatever one might be interested in pursuing.
As a compromise, a few of us proposed to Saif that we move his existing posts on the kinship forum on the topic of "sexism against men" into one thread. There he could add additional material on this subject if he wishes and engage with other members who might wish to address his concerns, etc. But he cannot hijack every discussion by pushing these views into each.
If Saif had accepted this as a way forward we wouldn't have a decision to make. Unfortunately however, Saif rejected the offer. This has created a difficult situation for us. If we leave the forum as it is we will continue loosing fed-up members (especially women). If the site admins unilaterally implement the necessary changes against Saif's wishes, no doubt some folks would see it as authoritarian and the hullabaloo about that would, again, loose us many members.
So, as a solution to the problem, we are looking for the ICC to support (or oppose) the site admins in moving all of Saif's threads on the kinship forum into one single thread under one heading and telling him if he persists in injecting this type content into exchanges all over the system, he will lose his right to post at all, or even his membership.
We think this is a one-off request that only applies to this specific issue and is unlikely to arise in so egregious a form again. Supporting the admins - who are, by the way, Jason Chrysostomou and Michael Albert, in this case, in no way gives them the authority to edit the forums as they see fit or conveys any other additional or permanent power.
So on this issues the vote is either...
You support admins handling of the problem...
You oppose admins handling of the problem...
You abstain (by not replying)...
Of course the above issue makes clear that we have no recognized standards for forum posts, comments on content, etc. This invites confusion and conflict. We therefore think we need such standards or norms. We propose the following. If anyone has any suggestions for improvements, please do send them along. For now, however, on the second issue, implementing the content below as norms of participation, please vote either...
You support the norms...
You oppose the norms...
You abstain (by not replying)...
Our guess is that with norms in place, no one will ever violate them to the stage of the ICC having to make a judgement…as was so with Saif. The problem is, without norms, when people do behave poorly, even horribly, there is no recourse.
The proposed norms are:
When posting a comment on a blog, or when posting to the Forum system, IOPS members are bound to abide the following norms…
-> no racism, sexism, or classism in posts.
-> no attributing to other members motives they don't claim for themselves
-> no personal attacks of any sort
-> assume the best interpretation of other member's comments - and the best motivations behind them. If something upsets you, and seems contrary to IOPS norms, or out of character for the person, or for IOPS, assume it is not intended, and at most, if anything, ask for clarification.
-> no excessive posting of the same basic themes and contents in many places, crowding out other exchange.
Violations of these norms in the eyes of other users should be brought to the attention of the site administrators, whether it is international, national, or local. When, for any one individual, a few such complaints are received, the person who is violating will be contacted, the situation explained, and an effort to agree on future correction, sought. If the person is simply unwilling to comply, and continues to post in ways contrary to the norms of posting on IOPS in the eyes of other users who are complaining about it, the behavior, during this interim period lacking other options, will be reported to the ICC, and the person's exclusion from posting will be requested, and, if agreed by the ICC, it will be done.
To develop needed innovations on the site and to fix some bugs and generally maintain the site, we need to raise some funds for the programmers. The ICC should okay fund raising for that, or not. We will seek to raise $10,000. It is more than needed now, enough so we won't have to ask again, for some time.
Please vote either...
You support the fund raising
You oppose fund raising
You abstain (by not replying)...
Given the message that we, the International Consultative Committee of IOPS delivered in a blog post (that is visible on the IOPS page - http://www.iopsociety.org/ ) - that it would be excellent if all members of IOPS would try to soon recruit one additional member each, a woman, to try to double membership and simultaneously move from a minority to a large majority women - it seems that perhaps we should take our own advice and apply it to the composition of the ICC itself.
That the ICC is too male is not due to the initial invitations or follow up entreaties. The list of those invited was female heavy, not male heavy. It is due to who said yes and who did not. So now those who said yes need to redress the imbalance, if possible.
Can we agree on the merits of trying to do that?
If so, can we agree that each ICC member should, in the coming few weeks, if possible, and if able, recruit one new member to the ICC, a woman?
Please answer affirmatively if you think that it is a good idea and you are willing to give it a try.
Please answer negatively, however, if you feel it is a bad idea and literally should not be tried.
And how about, as the approach to take - if anyone on the ICC invites a woman to join and she accepts, then she immediately becomes a member. In other words, one current member of the ICC inviting a new person is enough. There is no vote, no vetting, etc. We all simply assume and trust that no one on the ICC will invite someone who is inappropriate for it.
And what makes someone appropriate?
Well, of course, new ICC members must agree with the defining documents of IOPS and be willing to advocate for it, and to be polled, occasionally, on policy issues - from now until there is a non-interim, self managing mechanism for decision making. The only additional wrinkle is that we need people to be asked from outside the U.S. and UK more than from inside, for international diversity, and of course it is incredibly helpful that each ICC member is known and respected, if not internationally, at least in their own country.
IOPS has 1400 members in a few weeks, from 76 countries. But this has been almost entirely a result of online recruiting via ZNet. The next month or two are a crucial time. Will members other new members via their own efforts? If a large proportion of the 1400 current members were not just intellectually committed to the values, ideas, and hopes of IOPS, but also practically committed to advocating for it, recruiting to it, and writing and talking about it, then there is a very good chance we would be on our way to something profoundly valuable. However, in truth, it is unlikely that that is yet the case. And the obstacle is a very vicious circle.
1400 people join. They consider their commitment. Since they all suffer the generalized skepticism about all things left that virtually everyone on the left suffers, to have motivation they require evidence of the efficacy of further involvement. Without that evidence, their interest will dissipate. With that evidence - we have a chance for success.
One possible source of evidence would be substantial media coverage - of course, not mainstream, but alternative. However - sadly, that is highly unlikely to be spontaneously forthcoming. So far, other than Z coverage, there is an interview appearing in the Netherlands and there is an article at our prodding set to appear in Al Jazeera next week, and that is all we know of.
If everyone is looking at everyone else for a sign that some effort, some discussion, some reporting, and some recruiting makes sense, and yet if each member needs a clear sign from large numbers of other members to personally do anything more - how can anything get rolling? It can't, unless, that is, whether skeptical or not, some subset of members act without advance evidence that others will do so as well.
That is how IOPS got going. A few people took a big leap. Now it must happen again. If ICC members recruit one person each, and especially if we report our efforts and results in the form of announcing new ICC members, then other members will see the activity and take some hope and at least some would likely follow suit - and that could induce others, which could in turn snowball into escalating momentum.
On the other hand, if ICC members decide to universally watch and wait, feeling too busy to even send emails to folks or talk to people they engage with daily, much less write a news story, etc., thus doing no recruiting, then others will follow that lead and won't act either. The momentum will be toward decay, not toward growth and enrichment.
The same goes for writing about iops, posting blogs and comments in online systems, noting one's membership in public, talking to folks when face to face, etc. If people don't see and/or hear about others doing these things, they will, if history is any indicator, feel like it would be dumb for them to do them. To move forward, some folks must step up - as the saying goes - or I fear we are all going to be stepping back.
Below is the current list of Interim International Consultative Committee members.
Can we double its size and redress its gender imbalance, all in one big effort?
In the hopefully warranted expectation that most will at least think, "well, if this works, great, sure, why not"- if you decide to go ahead and recruit before we even get lots of replies in the affirmative, and you succeed in getting a recruit, please send the name and his or her email…and have him or her sign up as a member, of course...
The poll (see results below) for a new organization is winding down. Support is sufficient to begin our four point agenda (see below). As promised, we will keep queries we send you to resolve controversial choices to an absolute minimum.
Here then, is the first such query. We will wait until Tuesday next week to tally your responses. Please reply if you have time. If not, no problem. No further reminders on this first issue, however.
The Issue to Address
We must choose an interim name for the organization.
Based on work that people have already done in some countries building what they consider will shortly become branches and chapters, and based on Z inclinations as well... we are going to pick from three options. So please indicate your favorite of the following three, and add any additional comments or ideas about a name you may have. Remember, the name is only interim - like everything we will be doing - and at a founding convention it could of course be changed.
The three options we are choosing among are:
Interim International Organization for a Free Society - which is currently being used by various people in the U.S. already building chapters.
Interim International Organization for a Participatory Society - which is currently being used by various people in the UK and a number of other countries already building chapters.
Interim International Organization for Participatory Socialism - which means to mediate the above two, and appeal more broadly in Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc.
Please indicate which name you like most as an interim choice, and which, if any, you really dislike, and if you have time and desire, provide any supporting logic you want to add to the mix.