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A Compromise Way to Proceed

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We need to proceed. We can't continue in endless debate, but must begin to move forward. I propose that in light of the last set of ICC replies to preconvention conditions, and the online discussions that have since occurred, we send the following request to the ICC.


The situation of IOPS is at a new crossroads. The ICC - you - were assembled as people with experience, known reputation, etc., to make absolutely unavoidable, but also completely uncontroversial decisions up to founding the organization at a convention. The logic was on the one hand to not make endless decisions with a membership that is not organized (in chapters, etc. as it will be) and that therefore has no direct experience of its future situations and needs and to not make decisions binding on others with too few people involved, too narrow backgrounds, etc. Instead, the idea was to grow and develop, doing whatever people like locally, and eventually, when it could be done well and sensibly, have a convention where actual lasting structure and program can be adopted. Of course, in the interim, whatever would be done, would have to abide the IOPS commitments that all agree to on joining.

There was obviously a lurking problem with that approach, however, as under it no controversial decision could be made, no matter how important. For a time, that was bearable, however, we are now at a point of having to begin making at least some controversial decisions, mainly bearing on a convention, so we need a simple, open, and non destructive, positive procedure for doing so, while still in this interim period. There is no perfect solution - that is why it is interim - but hopefully we can uncontroversially agree on a good solution without undue hassle.

We also soon have to make our first controversial decision, presumably using the new approach. 

So, we now need to assemble ICC votes - your vote - on each of two broad decisions. In each case, we need you to vote yes or no. And for this vote, unlike those in the past, it is critical that essentially all ICC members register their preferences. 

So - I will unabashedly and without interruption, keep writing you, keep asking you, keep pestering you - I guess it is fair to say - until you can find time to do it. Answer soon, to avoid recurring requests!

The two questions to vote yes or no on by return email on, are:

1. Adopt the below proposed new decision approach for controversial but essential issues included below…   (yes / no)

2. Begin implementing the new approach for the specific purpose of deciding preconditions for a convention by posting the "Proceeding to Founding Convention Poll" that appears below, and agreeing to use the results to try to craft an uncontroversial proposal… (yes / no)

As always additional comments you have on anything included below can only help but are not required. If we can overwhelmingly agree on both points, the procedure will be ratified and the poll will appear. We will urge members to tally their poll preferences for a month or so - and when that is complete, the icc will agree on a compromise proposal of features for actual convention preconditions which will run off, in a vote, with the majority position for each feature, as revealed in the poll. The winning proposal for preconditions will be agreed and then members can begin a campaign to fulfill them.

However, if there is not generalized support in the ICC for the two questions raised here  - we will be stuck having to generate a new proposal and voting again, until we can reach agreement. For that reason, if someone votes no on either 1 or 2 - please try to explain your thinking, and please indicate a change that would cause you to vote yes and which you think other ICC members would find unobjectionable. 

Here is the relevant content regarding the two votes.

VOTE ONE: The first vote is yes of no for a new decision procedure for controversial interim issues. The advocated steps are:

1. All Decision proposals go to the ICC - sent to ICC members by any other interim member. 

2. As in the past, these are kept to matters that are truly essential or highly desirable to resolve before a convention, and kept to a minimum.

3. Any proposals for decision that are uncontroversial, as evidenced by overwhelming ICC agreement as well as obviousness - so to speak - are decided, as in the past, by the ICC - of course consistently with IOPS commitments. 

4. Any truly essential to address proposals for decision that turn out to be controversial, as evidenced by prior debate among members, or by ample differences of view among the ICC, are turned into polls for all members to register preferences about all key aspects. 

5. After the poll is complete - running for a month - the ICC attempts to formulate, in light of the results, an uncontroversial compromise solution/proposal that will appeal to all. That proposal is pitted against the majority position as revealed by the earlier poll, in a final run-off election. The winning stance is decided.

VOTE TWO: The second vote is yes or no for posting a poll with specific questions for purposes of arriving at a solution to the issue of preconditions for an IOPS founding convention. The proposed poll text is...

Proceeding to a Founding Convention Poll

At a founding convention we can decide upon issues of name, logo, decision making procedures, chapter relations, internal campaigns and projects, dues, refined commitments, other documents, political opinions, action plans, short and longer term campaigns, etc. That will be a major step forward! To get there, we need to agree upon preconditions for a convention, and a campaign to achieve them, and to that end it would be excellent if all members could answer these ten simple questions.

Question 1 of 10 - How many online members do we need to have before the founding convention?

a.) 5,000
b.) 7,500
c.) 10,000

Question 2 of 10 - Chapter Precondition
How any working chapters should we have in place and operating before the founding convention?

a.) 5
b.) 10
c.) 20

d.) 30
e.) 40

Question 3 of 10 - Chapter Definition

For purposes of Question 3, a chapter is a group of members that meets regularly, develops shared commitments, shares experiences, etc., maintains an IOPS chapter web page, and has a membership of at least:

a.) 3
b.) 5
c.) 7
d.) 10
e.) 15

Question 4 of 10 – National Diversity Precondition:

In how many nation states do we need to have active, functioning chapters, before the founding convention?
a.) 5 nation states
b.) 10 nation states
c.) 15 nation states

Question 5 of 10 – Geographical Diversity Precondition:

In how many continents do those active, functioning chapters need to be represented in, before the founding convention?
a.) 2 continents
b.) 3 continents
c.) 4 continents

Question 6 of 10 – Gender Diversity Precondition:

How female/male diverse do we need to be before the founding convention?

a.) No less than 20% female overall
b.) No less than 30% female overall
d.) No less than 40% female overall
a.) No less than 30% female in each chapter
b.) No less than 40% female in each chapter
d.) No less than 50% female in each chapter

Question 7 of 10 – Time Frame:
What time frame should we set to reach the above convention preconditions?

a.) 6 months
b.) 1 year
c.) 18 months
d.) 2 years

Question 8 of 10 – Commitments to Founding Convention Planning:

Once the campaign succeeds in reaching ¾ of the way to its agreed preconditions, a Founding Convention Working Group will be established. This will be responsible for organizing the convention including making sure there's enough time for discussion about proposals; collecting, sorting and making all proposals available to all members before the convention; and the practical planning of the convention itself - duration, housing, attendance conditions, means, etc. Candidates will be nominated by the ICC and will volunteer. I will participate in electing the Founding Convention Working Group.

a.) Yes

b.) No

Question 9 of 10 – Commitments to Recruitment:

I will commit myself, barring exceptional obstacles, to seriously prioritizing reaching out to new people. This will include explaining IOPS' commitments, guiding them to the IOPS site, and seeking to answer questions they have. My goal is to sign on at least one new member, preferably taking into account the need for diversity in gender, culture, and geography, in the next six months.

a.) Yes

b.) No

Question 10 of 10 – Commitments to Chapter Building:

If I am invited by someone in my local area to attend a meeting seeking to develop ties to establish a local chapter of IOPS, I will do all within reason, given my other commitments, to attend and seek to aid the effort.

a.) Yes

b.) No

Discussion 81 Comments

  • Dave Jones 3rd Jan 2013

    Thanks for your hard work on this Michael. Every mid-wife will tell ya- some births are just more difficult!

  • Gregory VanGaya 3rd Jan 2013

    Ya, this is pretty good, thank you Michael, really, thank you. I understand the 5 minimum members to constitute a chapter. There are security and policy streamlining concerns. Then again, if INTERPOL or the equivalent 20 new agencies want to fuck with us from within our organization they'd have more than plentiful enough resources to pay 5 people instead of just two. Two sticklers who get together just for shits and giggles though, would be pretty fricking annoying. But then there's the 'what if some small Northern Canadian town actually has 2 earnest people want to make a difference in our International' and we don't give them the time of day, despite the extraordinary effort and uniqueness they bring? Canada has shit tons of members, and we're still quite a rural, spread out country, so?.. Do we have votes to approve exceptions for good chapters who don't and won't likely achieve 5?

    • Pontus Proteus 3rd Jan 2013

      Hi Gregory,
      Would the 2 members not be keen to liase with bigger local chapters and consider work they do locally as an equally important part of the larger area's goals? And then other people in said larger chapters just accept the different issues in the place the 2 come from as part of the 'decisions made on who's impacted most by outcome' basis?

      To Michael, yes this seems the logical next step on from other conversations in recent blogs.

    • Gregory VanGaya 6th Jan 2013

      I think you're seeing the situation of the more populate U.S., where 'regional population' always applies because of the much denser population, even in very rural American places. But look at the Canadian membership, we are by far, the highest per capita membership on here, but our country is the spread the thinnest. Right now we have members in butt f*ck who we are trying to rope in via the happening Vancouver chapter, but we all know that will be very difficult. If there are two in a town then that is two per 10,000 people for a 200 mile radius. That's relatively frickin dense per population, but sparse for geography. If there's a chapter up in Vernon, or Williams Lake, then they have their own issues that no other geography is going to be concerned with. Anyways, I want low bar preconditions. I want a founding convention and a debate, and I want to take the seeming "economism" tack and win it. Social movements organizing is for the silly until you have the capacity. Even doing kinship organizing (family centers, daycares, etc,) requires having the economic capacity. People spend all there time at work, so meet and culture them there with Federated Participatory Co-ops.

    • Pontus Proteus 6th Jan 2013

      Actually a rural U.K. perspective, but I take your point.

      Perhaps a sliding scale of chapter minimums based on population density then.

    • Gregory VanGaya 6th Jan 2013

      My apologies for the Americanizing. I think for now MA has addressed it and put in 3 as an option. No need to make things so complicated just for a preconditions for whether or not we'll have our founding convention.

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      The issue in the poll has nothing to do with a group, however small, meeting together and operating like a large chapter, but as a small chapter. It has to do with how to count chapters for the single purpose of attaining enough for having a convention based on chapter organization. But, again, a final poll will allow all such sentiments to appear...

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      The final version of the poll, submitted to the ICC - soon - will take into account the various points raised... not least including more options in the questions - thus, less than, at the low end, and more than at the high end...

      For myself - the idea of saying the whole thing, at the time of a convention, has some minimum of chapters, is about the need for the whole thing to be built on working chapters, that have internal decision making and experience, that serves as an experimental cauldron and a source of insights for the whole. Others may feel differently. Feeling that way, I would say a chapter needs to have some number of fools, meeting together - this doesn't denigrate two people who are doing so, somewhere. They may be the most productive two people in the whole organization, exemplary in every way. But - still - one may feel, as I do that, two, or even four, is just too few to call it a chapter conveying that it is a self managing nucleus on which the whole is built. I would think the two people, or the four people (in my estimate) would participate in the organization as a whole, of course, in various ways, and would relate to one another and meet, etc., and work to recruit more folks.

      An organization is as strong and viable as its members is large and committed, for the most part - and so, for that matter, even if ten people, or twenty, are meeting as a chapter, somewhere, I would say the same thing regarding them - they may be engaging in various programmatic activity as a group, they may be engaging in the larger organization as members, they may be developing their chapter mechanisms, hopefully as guides for others - but they will certainly, also, be trying to enlarge...

      At any rate, no need for us to debate it here - let's see, assuming the ICC advocates its use, what the poll reveals. The real task for everyone here, once the poll goes up - again, assuming it does, soon - is going to be go get members to take it. That may turn out to be the single most important IOPS "event" since the beginning, and for some time to come, members simply taking the poll.

  • Deniz Kellecioglu 4th Jan 2013

    Sounds like a good plan to me. Thank you, Michael.

  • stephen lawton 4th Jan 2013

    I think this is the best way to proceed.

  • Andre Guimond 4th Jan 2013

    Thanks Michael. I agree with and support the proposal, with two minor questions:

    - Would it make sense for questions 2 and 3 to swap positions in the poll? Defining what a 'chapter' is before asking how many we should have might be helpful.
    - When discussing preconditions for a founding convention in our chapter meetings, we've found that paying dues is often the most controversial issue. I wonder if it might be worthwhile to include in the poll a question about obtaining general agreement on dues (whatever the actual dues structure may be) as a precondition for a convention, rather than having it be a potentially divisive issue at the convention? (Or maybe this just opens up a huge can of worms... apologies, if so.)

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      Already made switch in version that will go to ICC, and then, hopefully, with their overwhelming support, go up for membership voting...

      I think adding an item saying we will think about dues - just opens adding items we will think about x - where there are a lot of entries for x. For now, a step at a time...seems far better.

    • Andre Guimond 8th Jan 2013

      Yeah, that makes sense for now - thanks Michael. :)

  • Andre Guimond 4th Jan 2013

    Sorry, forgot one other thing: for the poll, would it be worthwhile to include a "more than" option (e.g., add 'D) More than 10,000' for question 1), in order to capture dissenting opinions?

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      This will appear in the version that goes to the ICC - and then, pending their reaction, hopefully up for all members...

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Jan 2013

    Unfortunately, the proposed poll does not allow one to register objections to setting such numerical preconditions.

    Some detailed suggestions and issues that may need clarification:

    The two questions put to the ICC are formulated as commands, but the addressee of these commands is not clear. It is recommended to make this explicit so as to avoid all misunderstandings. Therefore, in 1, replace "Adopt" by "IOPS should adopt", and in 2, replace "Begin" by "IOPS should begin". Furthermore, in the first question, there are two references to "below", which I assume is by mistake; the simplest is to delete the first occurrence, giving "... the proposed new decision approach ... included below". Also, the three dots following "below" do not serve an identifiable purpose and should be replaced by a single full stop.

    In VOTE ONE, Step 1, the term "interim member" can be misunderstood – after all, we all are interim members. The term "ICC member" is unambiguous.

    In Step 3, the function of the phrase "as well as obviousness – so to speak –" is unclear to me. Something can be uncontroversial and yet not obvious at all. Will that then have an impact on its being decided, and if so, what impact? The best may be to just omit this phrase.

    In Step 4, who gets to decide whether a proposal qualifies as "truly essential"? It should further be specified what the process will be for turning a proposal into a poll. Who will be responsible for phrasing the questions of the poll?

    In Step 5, the term "the majority position" is used. But when there are more than two alternatives, it is quite possible that no alternative has gained a majority. Suggested replacement: "the position that gained the most support in the poll".

    For the questions of the proposed poll under VOTE TWO, and in general any future poll, I assume a member can opt not to pick an alternative. Otherwise, I would recommend to allow responding members to give a "no preference" response. It is well possible that a members sees no reason to prefer any of the given alternatives over any other, and in that case it is better not to be forced to pick a random choice.

    Question 2, replace "any" by "many".

    Question 3, replace "For purposes of Question 3" by "For purposes of Question 2 ".

    Question 5, replace "represented in" by "represented".

    Question 6 engenders a serious risk of us getting stuck. Or do we at some point have to turn hopeful male members away because, whatever we do, 2 out of every 3 newly joining members are male, while the poll has decided on 40% female overall? While we all want a good diversity, putting a percentage as a precondition seems unwise.

    I don't understand what it is that is being asked in the second part of Question 6. Normally I would interpret the condition "No less than 50% female in each chapter" as being falsified if there is even a single chapter, anywhere in the world, less than halve of whose members are female. But that cannot be the intention. Even if typically 80% of all members are female, if they are uniformly randomly distributed over the chapters, then among the chapters with 5 members about one in every 17 chapters will not meet the 50% criterion, and so the condition will almost certainly not be met.

    Further, there is no alternative c in either of the two parts of Question 6.

    In Question 7, it is not clear what the consequences are of not meeting the time frame. At the current rate of growth, we cannot expect to reach 5000 members in the next 2 years. Even if all members respond and not only commit to recruiting as indicated in Question 9, but, moreover, also all succeed in reaching the set goal – something I consider unlikely – we will almost certainly still not have reached 7,500 members 18 months from now.

    In Question 8, could it be made more precise what the meaning is of "Candidates will be nominated by the ICC and will volunteer"? Is the idea that, next to candidates nominated by the ICC, any member can also volunteer and will then be considered a candidate?

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      Again, edits included in new version for sending to ICC.

  • Ian R. 5th Jan 2013

    Sorry, but for me the poll looks like a road to failure.

    In my opinion there´s only one way left to reach a convention and start with a officially founded organization and that´s to take the membership we have as unbalanced as it is and try to get the minimum of 5.000 members with no other limitations.

    Because we know that this would be a decision by a weak membership we can than do a convention every 24 and later every 12 months, like the membership could decide.

    We might have to say goodbye to the idea that we can have a internationally representative membership before the convention.

    Wouldn´t it be ok, to have the representatives according to these quorums at the convention?

    We won´t get these quorums in the whole membership any time soon.

    The polling and the campaign is now distracting a lot of energy from tasks like translating and networking which are crucial in every country without a working chapter and little membership.

    The campaign is trying to mobilize towards the worldwide multi-cultural, multigendered organization we want to have, but the problem is, the means to reach it are currently not there. It´s wishfull thinking given the activists and activity we have. This activity won´t change just because we have the campaign, only those who are currently active will be more focussed and more easily burned out.

    For example, it´s hard enough to get anybody joining IOPS here in Europe, if the few activists we got here only focus on groups already unterrepresented, we very likely become an annoyance instead of fellows to those we try to reach.

    Here we have to work on the translations, on the topics and on the texts to make IOPS more attractive for new members and network with organizations with a more diverse membership. Yes these activities can and should be part of the campaign but they should be done in open and voluntary spirit, not because they are centrally set goals for every substructure, ignoring the special situation on place.

    Therefore the attempt will lead to overstretching our resources and frustration. We should focus on what we can do with the means we have, instead wasting ressources for wishing sth. which is not in our reach in the moment. For which we have currently not enough members, no activity and no resources in time and money.

    What speaks against having a convention on a regular basis, every two years in the beginning and every year after a certain size of membership?

    (That would be an idea that could be included in the poll)

    We can work on diversity between the conventions in our every day work, instead of starting an obstructed campaign with arbitrary goals set on one place for all places with completely different conditions and members.

    When IOPS is officially founded, we can start to focus on the imbalances and problems. If we do it now as described in the poll, IOPS will very likely never get off the ground.

    Corresponding to what I wrote here, I´ll vote for the possible minimum in every poll. Not because I´m against IOPS becoming more diverse, but because I don´t see this happening in the next months unless we rework many of the documents and translations and I don´t see the resources to do that currently.

    • Gregory VanGaya 5th Jan 2013

      Hmm, I take your point. I've had this gnawing feeling about the ambitious preconditions myself. I'll probably vote close to the minimums for at least most categories.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Jan 2013

      Tend to agree with the poinst made by Lambert, I.N., Gregory. Suggest simple idea: just have a founding convention in six months, no pre-conditions.

      Here's the rationale. IMO any notions of IOPS being or becoming some kind of 'representative' Internationale' are pie in the sky and should be dropped. This seems a serious misreading of the historical conditions, which just ain't like that. A libertarian socialist/anarchist Internationale could, logically, only be formed by autonomous revolutionary/activist groups or movements self-federating from below into a global organisation. Given historical conditions, we are obviously a long way from any such situation. Thus what we have instead with IOPS is a central global website which is trying, 'top-down' and with little success, to encourage the formation of autonomous local chapters and then strenously 'recruit' for them.

      Instead, how about a realistic, non-Internationale, non-representative vision for IOPS? Less is more. In this vision, IOPS remains a small but global affinity, communication and propaganda group for the libertarian socialist/anarchist vision. IOPS members, whether in local chapters or not, are active in local social movements propagating the left libertarian vision and specific proposals, lending more coherence to these grassroots movements without imposing anything on them.

      Thus, rather than 'mobilizing' or 'recruiting' (military terms), we attempt to attract members as we go along via the attractiveness and coherence of our vision, the fraternal/sisterly friendliness and fun, cultural creativity, internationalist communication and mutual aid etc? Could even be fun, folks. Yes, he said, fun.

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      Different people view such matters differently - the purpose of an organization having certain scale, diversity, basis in local structures, etc. - isn't a false claim that with 10,000 or 50,000 members it somehow speaks for the whole planet - but to have a foundation on which one believes it will be possible to grow a worthy and effective structure, rather than one which by its narrowness and absences, (a) lacks crucial insight and (b) says to others, this isn't for you. Vote on the poll, when it arises, in light of your own views.

      And by the way, fun - as in realizing that an organization should improve the lives of those in it, even while it is aimed at improving society as a whole - not make them even worse - should certainly be a priority of anyone trying to seriously think through the issues and build something that will last and be effective. This is actually made clear in the commitments, I think...

    • Victor Hertzfeld 7th Jan 2013

      @ Peter Lach-Newinsky and I.N. Reiter, I have similar concerns, but my suggested course of action is a little different. My concerns are two fold: first, I think that we are no where near the size and level of development to be able to have a legitimately democratic founding convention - especially if it is supposed to be representative of the entire globe. This concern would lead me to favor a long period before the "founding convention" in the hopes that further development will take place in a prolonged interim period.

      However, my second concern is that without taking actions now (or sometime soon) that the ICC does not feel entitled/empowered to take, we will see stalled development, potentially leading the failure of IOPS as a project. For example, we need to start collecting DUES so we can have our capable writers, theorists, and propagandists work on literature that is useful for the chapters in self development and recruitment. We also need DUES to pay the costs for people traveling to speak on, and organize for IOPS (see the west coast MA tour that was cancelled partially to concerns for funds: http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/ma-usian-tour). This concern would lead me to believe that we need to have a convention quickly.

      My suggestion is that we have a convention for the limited purpose of deciding on those things necessary for a campaign of chapter building, recruitment and internal development. This convention would, as Reiter suggests, be followed by a second convention in 24 (or even 36 months). I suggest calling the first convention an “interim convention” and the second, a “founding convention.”

      Look for a more fleshed out proposal along these lines from the chapter I belong to, the San Diego, CA, USA chapter.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 13th Jan 2013


      The San Diego Chapter issued a blog advocating for the two tier convention policy I described above. The blog can be found at: http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/a-proposal-for-a-preliminary-convention-from-the-san-diego-chapter

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      You will be able to vote your sentiment - which I take to be keep conditions to a really modest minimum, etc., in the final poll - assuming ICC overwhelmingly okays it...for member voting...

  • Will Henry Lapinel 5th Jan 2013

    Michael, looks great. We CAN keep this moving forward. Thank you for working on it!

  • Marlo Pedroso 6th Jan 2013

    I agree with Peter L-N. IOPS hasn't even gotten off the ground and I already feel like I can't keep up. These extensive discussions and decisions are excruciating and hard to follow. I'm hard-pressed to figure out how to keep up

    This is the paradox inherent in creating a participatory community in the abstract: it has very little tangible relationship to my lived experience.

    It's also why it's hard for me to recruit people to an organization based solely (right now) on a set of abstract principles. How do I convince my activist and non-activist friends to join a group that isn't doing anything just because we have really great principles? I'm only half convinced myself (sorry, just being honest)

    Like Peter says, it seems silly to get so hung up on representation and diversity at this stage. To hold some notion that we will be successful in having a group that is somehow representative of the world's populations is ludicrous.

    Let's have a convention, however humble, socialize, present ideas and topics, have brainstorming sessions, get ourselves excited, meet each other face to face, and collectively define our vision of what IOPS means for those of us currently engaged. Let's not worry about having binding rules, statements or platforms, unless they are temporary. They should always be temporary anyway and subject to change and expansion. My view is that our organization and its ideology should be always flexible, not rigid and static.

    Anyway, if we meet, feel inspired by each other, gather a sense of what IOPS is and could become, I have a feeling that it will be a lot easier to get out into the world and feel like there is actually something real here worth advocating for and working for.

    • Lambert Meertens 6th Jan 2013

      I think this is a sensible proposal. It is not setting us up for failure from which it may be hard to recover. The only momentous decision is the name, simply because it is awkward to switch names later again, so we'd better get something that we'll stay happy with the first time around. For the rest, all rules and such decided on are temporary.

      Concretely, we can poll the membership with the simple question: Do you think the time has come to start concrete preparations for holding the founding convention? – no preconditions – with the understanding that if a majority says yes, the machinery is put in motion and we'll have a convention as soon as everything can be properly arranged, which should certainly be possible within a year. If a majority of respondents says no, not yet, we can simply repeat the poll every three months or so until a majority indicates we're ready.

      Personally I don't understand the sense of urgency among some members for having a founding convention; I think it is better to put our energy in campaigns to present ourselves in a more attractive and welcoming way, to support chapter building, and to attract more members.

    • Pontus Proteus 6th Jan 2013

      Hi Marlo, I don't understand this:- "It's also why it's hard for me to recruit people to an organization based solely (right now) on a set of abstract principles. How do I convince my activist and non-activist friends to join a group that isn't doing anything just because we have really great principles?"

      Those 'abstract principles' are fundamentally about a system of organisation, for everyone. That's as tangible as we want to make it. The IOPS doesn't and won't have a central authority so 'it' can't DO much beyond give people principles to work with and open channels of communication to allow members to decide on how they wish to interact and work together. It's really the membership that make these principles tangible by espousing them over the current capitalist system we are basically all subjected to and using it as a framework to work in and towards. There are plenty of IOPS members that are doing (or trying to do) a great deal, and not just for the organization of the IOPS either. As I see it, the idea would be that their actions in conjunction with their fundamental belief in/agreement with IOPS structure and principles allows the organization to be greater than the sum of its parts. If you want to convince people to join the IOPS, the "really great principles" is one important point, the next is the global network of people that we're trying to grow, who share broadly similar concerns and beliefs. Then it's down to them/us to define how we interact and move forward, how we take control of our own destinies, collectively and mutually.

      This is an 'Interim phase IOPS' so whilst we are all free to discuss, meet or propose whatever we like with fellow members; recruit, campaign, ask for support etc, there is a huge degree of importance on settling how we wish to formalise the organisation. On exactly what membership/chapter thresholds/dynamics are truly representative of IOPS structure and, of course, those bloody principles. It's pretty dull and long-winded, but it's also transparent and considered. Perhaps the history of this particular issue needs to be simplified and put into a chronology so it makes it easier for current and prospectve members to follow. Because I certainly agree it's easy to lose track of.

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      Whether one keeps up with discussion, etc., or not, is up to one. Many no doubt don't try, they are either too busy at the moment, or, I think more often, waiting to see if what they are in, IOPS, gets larger and starts doing things they wish to participate in, locally or more broadly. Nothing wrong with that.

      Others keep up with very nearly every blog and comment - that might be a bit much, but, again, nothing wrong with it. What I don't understand, however, is why often most people find the idea of different strokes for different folks hard to grasp and act on. Most folks often tend to view things overwhelmingly or even solely in terms of their own wants or desires, rather than trying to view things - especially issues of larger policy, etc. - in terms of the range of wants and desires one might reasonably find across the whole operation... in this case the whole membership.

      As to the bigger question of whether it is silly to get hung up on representation and diversity - okay your view is we shouldn't - let's get moving! I sympathize with the sentiment - for sure, but I would bet that the view of a great majority of ICC member and everyone who has had considerable experience in many organizational efforts - where the hope for the organization was to wisely address the totality of centrally important oppressions, amass sufficient participating membership to make change, etc. - is different. I would bet people with that kind of experience and those type desires would tend more toward the view that, say, I have - which is that when you build an organization it is generally very important to get the foundation in rather good shape before proceeding to other floors. In the case of an organization - even more so - because people are very very quick to look at the foundation and gauge whether they should relate, or not, based on it - taking it as being representative of what is most likely to follow. That, at any rate, is the typical reasoning of those who believe an organization that seeks diversity, local infrastructure at its heart, wisdom on all sorts of issues coming, of course, mainly from the affected constituencies, international scope, etc. - should work hard to get an initial membership and structure consistent with and conducive to progress in all those dimensions.

      But, we will see how people vote.

  • Dave Jones 6th Jan 2013

    My own position on this has changed from asking "why set a finish line at all?"(one month ago) to thinking a goal will in fact challenge and motivate us. It may be that the left is in such sorry shape because we have such low expectations. I will resist the urge to rally folks with slogans but what if we aimed high and surprised ourselves (and History)?

    Peter, I'm wondering how crucial these distinctions are between 'mobilize', 'recruit',attract or organize? Or why we would want to create an opposition between them and fun? Inviting folks for food and beverages and a lively chat has been our most effective way of fun recruitment. (Missoula Montana pop. 70,00 -15 members and climbing!)We do try to cross-pollinate with local social movements but are not afraid to challenge their critique if it includes maintaining class differences.

    • Michael Albert 7th Jan 2013

      Exactly Dave - and as long as you raised the point, I would like to second it even more strongly. Instead of of our all often looking for ways to write about things that others say or request or hope for that casts them in the worst possible or even just a bad light - an example would be someone says it would be great if members could recruit more members - we read it and then write about it as if the person was proposing something horrible - in this case, mindless or even military growth. Then people get involved in defining or otherwise riding off on a tangent that represents no one's views.

      I think it is important for people to operate rather differently . You read something, it uses words or has a possible interpretation you don't like. Why not wait and see if that is the real intent. Or, if you must question it right away, why not say, in this case, for example, I assume you mean we should seek growth, I assume you realize growth depends greatly on what one joins enriching and improving one's own life experiences and prospects, as well as having outward potential. Or more generally, why not assume the best, not the worst. We should do this because it avoids getting lost off in tangents, and, not least, because if people would look at the commitments everyone has agreed to, most of the time this isn't even an assumption about people's motives being better, rather than worse. Rather, it is a given, because we all agree about it...and so many other things... as indicated by our shared commitments.

  • Marlo Pedroso 6th Jan 2013

    Proteus, Why it's hard to recruit to IOPS at this point: a. I don't really know what IOPS is at this point. b. IOPS has accomplished nothing tangible as far as improving the state of the world problems thus far. c. IOPS doesn't exist beyond a mere dream, which is fine and how everything starts, but it's pretty ethereal at this point.

    Folks I know who are already active in social movements are busy and tend to give there time to organizations that are already up and running or targeted on achieving specific and clear goals. They tend to be skeptical about joining new groups with big agendas. Folks I know who aren't social committed in general are skeptical about joining anything unless it is clear how it will improve their lives, generally in the short term future, not some pie in the sky long term future.

    These are things I am working on addressing within myself and in my efforts to recruit in general. Proselytizing about IOPS is challenging in this context.

    • Pontus Proteus 6th Jan 2013

      Well we are both IOPS members and we aren't ethereal. The IOPS doesn't change the world, people do. But part of changing the world is replacing it's various failing systems. Systems that have short and long term impact on everyone. I don't see what's intangible about a person saying their goal is to replace one system with another, encouraging people to share that vision in order to realise it. Unless you mean you want working examples of ParEcon/ParSoc to show people. I'm very uncertain of how a convention now with less than 3,000 members and a handful of functioning chapters is going to make anything more tangible in the way you've described.

    • Lambert Meertens 7th Jan 2013

      Pontus, it may not be intangible to you, but is it tangible to people you are trying to convince to join IOPS?
      — Join this new club I'm a member of. Together we are going to change the world.
      — Oh, cool. So what can I do to help change the world if I also become a member?
      — Why, help recruit new members, of course. We need lots of members, and we're having a campaign in which each member is committed to recruiting more members.
      — So what can I then do once you have more members?
      — That will be up to the members to decide.

    • Pontus Proteus 7th Jan 2013

      I don't think I'd ever phrase it in that way. Got to find some mutual ground in the first place. And then IOPS becomes the logical grounds on which you base your vision for replacing capitalism. At least that's how I see it.

    • Pontus Proteus 7th Jan 2013

      Sorry, to more directly answer your question, the IOPS is me, our shared issues (& differences), a website and some literature, to the people I've spoken to. I can't force them to read the website, or monopolise their time. A couple of people I've discussed participatory models with as business alternatives. These are powerful concepts that even in very much imperfect vessels such as myself still make people think. What else can be done to make it more tangible?

    • Mark Evans 9th Jan 2013

      Lambert - in your little dialogue you forgot to mention the subject of this blog - that we are working towards establishing self-managed local chapters / national branches, informed by our shared vision, as part of an effort to launch a new international revolutionary organisation - ???

      If you edit this central aspect of what IOPS is about out of what we are doing then I agree that IOPS sounds like a joke - but to do that is simply a distortion of what is going on here.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2013

      Does that mean you are in favour of my proposal to have a campaign focussing on chapter building?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 10th Jan 2013

      But the above poll in the blog includes questions on building functioning chapters as strategic goals?

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2013

      The goals that will be formally set by determining preconditions as described in these poll questions are too diffuse; you can't design a focussed campaign based on them. We are too weak for an unfocussed campaign to be effective. I expect that these numeric goals will turn out to be unrealistic.

      Everyone agrees that chapter building is a strategic goal. It is also by far the strongest discrepancy between the aspirations and the reality of IOPS. Do we need to hold a poll before we can decide to have a campaign that focusses specifically on chapter building?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 10th Jan 2013

      Do you mean you think there are too many questions and this would result in too many conditions? Perhaps, but the diversity issues are also important to IOPS. As it stands, we'd end up having 5 conditions:
      1. Online members
      2. Functioning chapters
      3. National diversity
      4. Geographical diversity
      5. Gender diversity

      The remaining questions in the poll relate to time frame and commitments. Maybe a 'none' option could be added for the diversity questions for members that think they should not be set as convention preconditions, but don't you think that diversity issues are important that we need to include them? otherwise we could end up with a white male dominated organisation.

      In terms of clarity, having numeric goals is good because it means you can measure progress and know if you have achieved the goals or not. That's why the poll is useful. Goals also act as a source of motivation. I agree, of course, the goals should be realistic, but that's up to members to decide.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2013

      I have pleaded for more accessible documents so that everyone, also people without a strong educational background, should feel welcome. I have put energy in the translation process and proposed an approach for multilingual content, all in the interest of national diversity. I have suggested to collectively spend more effort on a concentrated outreach to the Third World. Like everyone else, I think diversity is very important. I further think being inclusive and non-sectarian is even more important.

      There are two issues here. The first is the setting of numerically quantified preconditions for a founding convention. I am not in favour of doing that, for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we are setting ourselves up for a misdirected effort, failure, and frustration. Instead of collectively deciding on numeric preconditions, why not simply use the precondition that a majority of members is of the opinion that IOPS is ready for the official launch? Members who think we do not yet meet diversity criteria or other criteria such as the number of functioning chapters needed for an effective organization can simply vote "hold it"; those of us feel we shouldn't wait any longer can vote "go!". If you wish, we can as part of such a poll ask about numerical criteria that people feel will establish readiness – but I don't think the results will be easily interpretable and we should not use them as formal criteria. For example, I should think that when IOPS has at least five functioning chapters of more than ten active members in at least three different non-English-speaking countries, that would be a good indication we're ready to launch. But there is no way I can express that through responding to the proposed poll, and I also do not see this as a minimum condition. Twenty functioning chapters on three continents should also be fine. Failure to increase gender diversity should be a grave cause for worry and would hopefully lead to soul-searching on what we're doing wrong and a change of practice, but I would not turn gender diversity into a formal condition. The lack of cultural diversity should be equally worrying, by the way.

      An entirely different matter is setting goals for a campaign. If these goals can be meaningfully expressed numerically, then it is fine to set (realistic) numeric goals. The kind of goal you set will determine the kind of campaign; a campaign to increase the percentage of non-male members by 5 percentage points will be different from a campaign aiming at building a functioning chapter in New Delhi or Tehran. Both are worthwhile goals, but if we try to do everything at the same time the efforts will be so diluted that in the end we achieve nothing.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 10th Jan 2013

      You say about the poll questions that "you can't design a focused campaign based on them". To me it seems very straight forward. Once the goals are set, you work on strategies to reach them, which includes chapter building which you say you are in favour of. As well as functioning chapters, the poll simply includes some diversity pre-conditions too, which you also agree are important. So, if you aren't yet in a functioning local chapter, then you work on building one through recruiting and forming a constitution. If you are in a functioning chapter then you continue to recruit but do so by also addressing gender balance. Once you have a balanced functioning local chapter, you continue to recruit but also provide support and assistance to others who are trying to form chapters. It seems pretty straight forward to me, but maybe I am missing something.

      You say you are against "setting of numerically quantified preconditions for a founding convention." and as an alternative you suggest:

      "why not simply use the precondition that a majority of members is of the opinion that IOPS is ready for the official launch?"

      In order to establish readiness or not, how can I have an opinion on it without numerical information on the number of online members, functioning chapters, male/female ratio, etc? And if you agree you do need numerical information, then this is basically what the poll is asking about.

      If you don't think identifying some measurable targets now to strive towards reaching is sensible then I think we will just have to agree to disagree.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2013

      If we need numerical information on the number of online members (do we also have offline members?) etc. to judge readiness, then we should collect the information and make it public. We will need to do that also if this poll proceeds as proposed. The poll itself is not going to tell us how many of the chapters are actually functioning.

      Here is a measurable target: 1,000,000 members, 52% female. Who could be against that? I'm not. I'm all in favour of our trying to reach that. But (for hopefully obvious reasons) I would be against setting that as the target of a campaign. On the other hand, increasing the non-male membership by 5 percentage points may be in reach, so that could be a sensible target. It is not a matter of being for or against measurable targets by itself. I think it may be worthwhile to identify realistic targets for campaigns, completely independently of any preconditions for a founding convention. I also think that we should set priorities among these realistic targets and not have a campaign for all at the same time.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 10th Jan 2013

      so just choose which targets you think are realistic then. That's what the poll is for. I think you are making it more difficult than it really is. All we need to do is set some goals/conditions to reach in order to have a founding convention. The question is just what they should be. I can't wait for this to be done so we can just get on with it and focus efforts on achieving them.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2013

      We seem to be talking at cross purposes. As I have explained, I don't see at all why we need to set goals/conditions for the convention. Dispensing with such preconditions would make this a lot simpler than is being proposed.

      As to a having a campaign, what you suggest is fine if everyone is supposed to be working on their own, waging an individual one-member campaign so to speak, but that is what we have already now. We know that the present approach is not working very well, what with the membership growth being less than 3 per day on the average. I don't understand why one should expect the current members to suddenly become individually more effective in attracting new members if they are given a target like 5,000 or 7,500.

      My idea of a campaign is that it is a collective activity in which we set specific goals together, develop the campaign plan to achieve these goals and matching materials – arguments, flyers, slogans, tactics, etc. – together and then execute that plan together, dividing tasks among the participants. For example, we have no material encouraging its reader to join IOPS ("We need you!") with an argumentation why that is important ("Together we can change the world!"). If the target of the campaign is to significantly increase the number of members, I don't think you can do that very well without such material. If the target is to increase diversity, you may need a very different, less instrumental style of argumentation. If the campaign goal, however, is to set up chapters where there is already a sufficiently dense concentration of members, you need a totally different approach, for which a Handbook IOPS with practical advice on what can be done locally may be more helpful.

      Developing effective material for a campaign is not simple. We don't have the resources for starting effective campaigns in all possible directions. We barely have the resources for one focussed campaign.

  • Alan Story 8th Jan 2013

    Does anybody else ask themselves why, in the year 2012 and 2013, there is not a single comment from a woman in this blog of 34 comments?

    OR why, anywhere on the many pages of the IOPS website, there is seldom any discussion about oppression, resistance, racism, sexism, capitalist economic crisis, Palestine, art, rape, growing old, cultural imperialism ... in other words, the real stuff of political struggle and liberation?

    • Andre Guimond 8th Jan 2013

      Alan, I agree with the concern of your first point - if few (or in this case, zero) women are involved in the discussion, then it seems reasonable to say that we must be doing something wrong here. To me, that's a serious failure, if indeed it can't be explained by anything else in this case - and reason enough not to immediately have a founding convention, or to have a convention when we reach X members, with no goals for gender balance, as some here have suggested.

      Clearly a revolutionary organization that appeals to, and is dominated by, primarily men, has serious flaws that need to be addressed. Bringing more women into IOPS, and creating an environment more amenable to *all* people feeling able and welcome to talk, debate, propose, engage, etc., should be our top priority, alongside growth, in my opinion. I expect the results of the poll to show that most folks feel pretty similarly.

    • Mark Evans 9th Jan 2013

      Alan - given that this blog is concerned with working towards the establishment of self-managed local chapters / national branches in an effort to launch a new international revolutionary organisation I have to ask you why you think that this is not "the real stuff of political struggle and liberation"? Do you really think that "discussion about oppression, resistance, racism, sexism, capitalist economic crisis, Palestine, art, rape, growing old, cultural imperialism" is more important than working towards establishing the institutions of the future in the present?

    • Will Henry Lapinel 10th Jan 2013

      Alan - see Mark's reply below. I agree with him. There are discussions about oppression all over the place. We could do that all day and never do a thing about it. This is not a forum for discussing the many problems of the world. This is an organization that seeks to replace the oppressive institutions of our society with ones that encourage empathy and cooperation and do not allow a small minority of people to wield disproportionate institutional power. Our discussions should center on how to build the new society.

    • Alan Story 11th Jan 2013


      Your response typifies one thing that is wrong about IOPS: the lack of knowledge of others in this group, a lack of trust and comradeship, and a false assumption of what other people are saying ….and in this case, a false assumption of what I was suggesting.

      I definitely was NOT suggesting that IOPS become a debating or discussion group. Rather, I was suggesting that IOPS engage in what Lambert Meertens (above) calls “campaigns” about political and economic issues of the type that I mentioned ( e.g. racism, class privilege,). (I would suggest, however, such a campaign should NOT be a campaign for people to join IOPS). Organisations are built in the course of practical (and theoretical) struggles; organisational forms arise and will evolve/adapt in the course of those collective struggles and campaigns.

      In turn, such struggles (successful or unsuccessful) open the possibility of developing comradeship, collective political understandings, and optimism of the spirit which I suggest (and I say this after discussions with some other IOPS members) are at present in rather short supply among the IOPS membership.

      As it is now, IOPS is itself preoccupied almost exclusively with organisation matters in the abstract --- in other words, a mere discussion group about organisation. With being too harsh, we could call it boys playing with organisational toys on the Internet.

      For example, measuring matters by the number of members --- that is looking at quantity rather than quality --- is completely wrong-headed in my view. A few hundred members (just to pick a number) actively engaged, building solidarity and experience, having some flair and passion and fun, growing politically internally and growing in influence outside its ranks AND building organisational structures responding to the needs of local struggles AND the existing state of global/national conditions ---- in other words, appreciating the unevenness of political development --- are FAR MORE IMPORTANT ( and less presumptuous) for IOPS’s future than tallying up X thousands of members globally on the top left corner of the IOPS home page.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 11th Jan 2013

      "...boys playing with organisational toys on the internet..." I'd say that is too harsh indeed. Not sure why you're accusing me of "lack of comradeship" (which you are exemplifying?). I don't think I misunderstood you. You asked why there isn't discussion of the various types of oppression in the world, and I said that's not what this is for. I simply disagree, and I think organizational issues of are of utmost importance. In any case I don't think it's fair, to the blogger or the group, to respond by implying that nobody, besides you, cares about the lack of gender diversity in the discussion (everyone is well aware of the problem) and saying we shouldn't be talking about organizational matters. Just start your own blog.

    • Alan Story 12th Jan 2013

      Will - Let's just agree to disagree.

    • Mark Evans 12th Jan 2013

      Alan - instead of agreeing to disagree why not present the evidence for your arguments here as a blog or on the forum?

    • Pontus Proteus 11th Jan 2013

      Hi Alan. Isn't it the case that most people that are drawn to IOPS so far are drawn to it primarily because of it's future organizational capacity rather than as the incubator of their own radicalism which may be extensive outside of the aegis of the IOPS website?

      The IOPS site could be the home of anything anyone wanted to put up on it. But doesn't require centrality to anything beyond IOPS-specific issues.

      Also I don't buy the idea that numbers of members are entirely superficial considering the proposed structure and goals of the organisation.

    • Lambert Meertens 12th Jan 2013

      We don't have much information on what draws people to IOPS, but based on what I see and hear we have all kinds of people with all kinds of motivations and expectations. One of these is simply that IOPS offers the opportunity to meet, compare notes and develop ideas with kindred spirits, which I think is entirely legitimate and by itself already sufficient to justify the existence of IOPS. Some IOPS members are indeed seasoned activists, but others have no activist experience whatsoever and hope to find inspiration for doing something useful through IOPS. How many members really feel we need a founding convention before we can start realizing the potential of IOPS as they see it?

    • Mark Evans 12th Jan 2013

      Lambert - what do you mean when you say "as they see it?"?

    • Lambert Meertens 12th Jan 2013

      As you can read, for example, in the variety of responses at the blog http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/flying-high, there is quite a variety in how people imagine the future IOPS and what they expect from it. The existing organizational description only gives a framework that can be filled in in many ways.

    • Mark Evans 13th Jan 2013

      A self-management organisation - such as IOPS hopes to become - could indeed accommodate diverse forms within local chapters / national branches all within an overall shared framework.

      I assume that it is a commitment to self-management and this overall shared framework - expressed in our key documents - that draws people to IOPS. That is the idea anyway.

    • Pontus Proteus 12th Jan 2013

      Perhaps I assume too much based on posts/comments made on the site so far from a minority of members. It's just that nothing about the site is technically stopping any member from raising any issue Alan listed (and several of them have been). But all those topics have multiple dedicated web spaces for discussion elsewhere. Right now (with only 2900+ members) it seems logical to me that people would be interested in visiting IOPS to hear about...IOPS stuff.

  • justin adkins 9th Jan 2013

    My only comment is to make sure all references to gender, throughout the organization, include more options than male and female.

  • 11th Jan 2013

    I appreciate the effort Lambert and Alan have taken to articulate their “dissident” views regarding the focus of this post and the responses to it. I find them relevant and constructive. For example, why should we expect current members, or existing chapters for that matter, to suddenly become more effective in attracting new members by virtue of numerical targets? And, if we forestall “campaigns” about current political, economic, racial, gender and cultural issues that are local, topical and expand on our written Vision in order to share, learn and constructively work together to address them, instead focusing single-mindedly (as Will seems to suggest) on organizational growth and future “institutions”, why should we expect to have a broad, socioeconomically, culturally and racially diverse and active future membership with the skills necessary to build these new institutions?

    Surely it’s naïve to think we can “build the new society” and a “revolutionary organization” by strictly focusing on numerical targets, just as it would be inappropriate for us to limit ourselves to some single-issue campaign that doesn’t address the underlying cause for the “deepening turmoil” facing modern societies.

    Yes, I agree, we do need to grow the organization, we do need to establish self-managed chapters and national branches if we want the organization to become first an effective counterweight and then replace the destructive institutions of capitalism, but Michael’s response is also relevant and constructive: “we do need to realize growth depends greatly on what one joins enriching and improving one’s own life experiences and prospects, as well as having outward potential.” To that end we need a broaden our perspective and receptivity to diverse opinions, we need to welcome calls for alternative campaigns, more tools and resources, and discussions on issues other than organization so that we can jointly grow and learn and become an effective organization capable of meeting peoples’ needs and enriching their lives – and doing it, one hopes, with “some flair and passion and fun” as Alan suggests.

  • Michael Albert 11th Jan 2013

    I am unaware that anyone has said we should do only one thing - and there is nothing about this whole set of ideas that displaces or makes any less relevant an existing chapter engaging in local organizing. Indeed, trying to grow a chapter, and "using" it to pursue campaigns, are mutually supportive practices. On the other hand, there aren't that many chapters, and most members are not in one...so for them, attracting more people so as to be in position to wage any kind of campaign or project would seem a first step...

    • Jason 13th Jan 2013

      Mr. Albert, sorry to bother: I'm fairly new to IOPS but just on the lack of chapters, when you say 'We can't continue in endless debate,' who's the 'we' you're referring to? I ask because it seems as if you may have kowtowed to an excitable minority of members obsessed with site forum and apparently lacking in any appreciation for the virtue of concision in expression and the task of chapter building—lacks that will see the early end of this organisation. Chapter building, and even maintenance, doesn't require an online survey.
      The arbitrary enforcement of a couple of key planks such as the 10,000—a beautiful number—member requirement and the prioritisation of chapter creation makes sense as a matter of beginning (they're like those plastic tree guards). Let the forum heroes have a whinge if that's how they choose to spend their time.

    • Michael Albert 14th Jan 2013

      The "we" is the organization - but you are correct that only a very small part of it is actually, openly, conversing/debating. That is why we are soon having a poll/vote of the whole membership. To get what has so far not been visible - the feelings of as many as can be induced to participate as possible.

      As to what they decide, I guess we will see. I say I think it will happen soon, because the ICC is slowly but surely itself voting on the proposal, with modifications according to the discussions of those who have participated.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 13th Jan 2013

      I think Michael Albert characterizes the task correctly here. We have lots of members who are one or two members by themselves remote from the rest of us and not in large activist communities in their localities. We as IOPS need to put resources in their hands so that they can build a chapter and take on the kind of campaigns that Alan Story and John Vincent are talking about. But to do that we must develop some tools on the macro/international level that are helpful to people organizing on the ground.

      The Chapter I am in (San Diego, California, USA) advocates a two tier convention strategy with this in mind. IOPS first must have an "interim convention," immediately with no pre-conditions to build the tools we need now to help people organize locally, recruit, and do internal development. Then after we have developed more chapters and have more members actively participating in those chapters we take on the task of having a "founding convention."

    • Jason 14th Jan 2013

      Money isn't going to help people how are isolated build chapters. People are either there to be found or they’re not. Pamphlets, flyers and posters are available in the resources section, the website can run on donations, people are already free to publish newsletters and go on tours and there’s no other justification in sight for establishing mechanisms for moving members’ money around and the accompanying oversight—let alone one that outweighs the massive downsides of threatening trust within IOPS and making it that much more difficult to recruit for.

    • Lambert Meertens 14th Jan 2013

      Yes, there are pamphlets, flyers and posters in the resources section, but none actually present a compelling argument for people to join IOPS. Not everyone can write compellingly. Publishing newsletters and going on tours costs money. I tried to have Michael Albert come to Amsterdam as part of his European tour, but failed, ultimately for lack of resources. I've made IOPS T-shirts and an IOPS flyer in Dutch and had them printed. That cost me a considerable amount of money, which I paid out of my (not very large) pension. We can do more if we share the efforts and costs of producing such materials.

    • Michael Albert 14th Jan 2013


      At this point the real issue is overwhelmingly who the "we" is that can do more. We need to have a poll not least to see the result, but also who and how many participate. I agree that for an IOPS chapter to be really effective it needs to have means of self financing which will help with establishing local campaigns and programs and/or working with some that are in process where it is, developing mechanisms for the continuing education/skills development and even fulfillment of its members, and growing - as well as modes of its own decision making, meeting, etc.

      I think the same is true for a National Branch, or the whole International Organization. At the local level, it can all happen right now - it is merely a matter of chapters forming and doing it. At larger scale, however, other than as the sum of locals, it is going to depend on having a convention, but also on having more members, and more engagement and commitment, I suspect. So, we proceed - not in a way that any given individual would see as perfect, I am quite sure, but in a way that we can all get behind and work to assist, I hope.

    • Lambert Meertens 14th Jan 2013


      Do you think there are many members who are not currently active for IOPS in some way, but who will spring into action once we have determined numerical preconditions for a founding convention? I just don't understand what makes you expect that. It would seem more productive to me, in our current phase, to try to identify what can make the presently existing activities more effective.

    • Michael Albert 14th Jan 2013

      I think it is possible. The prior question is, how many will take the pool. If fifty people take it, and no more - clearly this won't work, and it is hard to see what else might. But if 1,000 or 3,000 take it - and almost all say they will try, etc. etc. Then, while there is no way to know for sure, yes, I think this may well work rather well. We will see.

    • Michael Albert 14th Jan 2013

      Justin - Hi. We are already embarked on a path - pending how the ICC votes on the proposal put to them - to work toward a founding convention with whatever conditions for holding it are decided on in the coming poll, etc. So this suggestions is a bit late... But more, it is very hard for me to imagine any serious travel to a convention by a lot of people, that is only itself interim, and supposed to build tools, etc., something that in fact would have to be done by individuals, or groups, acting as projects - but not over two or three days in some distant place, I would think. In any case, there is no need to decide it is okay for people to produce and offer such tools - it has been okay all along, and there is even means to make them available, already. Anyone could have done it, or can now do it... as could any chapter. I think it would be terrific, for example, for a chapter or chapters, to create such materials and make them available for download for others to use.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 14th Jan 2013


      I hear you on the point that anyone can produce said tools now. However, some of these things, we (San Diego) feel require some kind of sharing of resources - be it dues or some other form (take for example paying for upkeep/development of the website, or publishing pamphlets). And, it appears that the ICC does not feel empowered to take that up. This gap is what the "interim" conference is suggested to fill.

      I also agree that the travel required by an interim conference would be burdensome. But, given the discourse on this site it appears there would be a lot of resistance to the ICC simply putting in more extensive interim rules/procedures/activities etc. Again where we thought an interim convention could fill the gap.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 14th Jan 2013

      P.S. @ Michael Albert,

      Perhaps the gap the San Diego Chapter is trying to fill with an interim conference can be filled with the muscular form of the ICC you suggest (with polls and consensus building), but I have the impression that ICC is/will be timid.

      If this is the case we will little activity outside of the established chapters until we have our founding convention, which may encourage talking on the founding convention prematurely.

  • Marlo Pedroso 13th Jan 2013

    Some tools for organizing campaigns and chapters, I thought might be helpful. Development of organizing skills is key.


    I also highly recommend this book. It's a good one to buy and go back to as a reference.


  • Victor Hertzfeld 13th Jan 2013

    Hi all, I am the chapter located in San Diego, California (USA). We have just posted a blog (under my user name) advocating that we have an "interim convention," as soon as possible, without conditions, but that this interim convention have the limited purpose of building the capacities at the international level that we think will support recruitment and chapter building.

    We argue that we should then have a "founding convention" a few years after the interim convention, when, hopefully, there will be more living chapters in more places.

    In so doing we (the San Diego Chapter) feel we (IOPS) can balance the two concerns of: first immediately creating some capacities to help develop the organization; and second, not rushing into a founding convention when we are not yet ready.

    See our blog here: http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/a-proposal-for-a-preliminary-convention-from-the-san-diego-chapter

  • Dave Jones 14th Jan 2013

    I understand the considered intention behind San Diego's suggestion, as an effort to be helpful, but I fear at some point we enter a rabbit hole of taking a pole to decide if we should have a pole to set up a vote on a pre-interim pre-founding convention... Speaking for myself, if I am going to travel to a convention somewhere, it will be to go "found" something.

    Let me just try to summarize where I think we are after all the interventions. I believe much of the confusion centers around the notion of interim- of not yet being but in the process of becoming, a kind of purgatory or limbo. In this sense we are not yet IOPS; we can't have IOPS actions, campaigns, materials, even official chapter "relations" because should certain goals (numbers, mix, organization) not be met we would all say: "Good try mates, maybe next time" and go "back to the drawing board", as it was originally proposed.

    Personally,I am ok with that challenge or consequence, as it were.

    But some folks joined the Interim but have become attached to IOPS, understandably, and want the "thing that it now is" to become whatever it will be no matter what the ICC comes up with. Starting this day henceforth. Taking this tack, the convention merely formalizes the notion, as Lambert puts it, that "we are already sufficient to justify the existence of IOPS." It can happen any time. In this instance, nothing hangs over our heads saying Produce Now Or Fail. In fact, we are not allowed to fail.

    Taking off from this analysis, the first poll question should simply read: To be or not to be (starting today)?

    One last point. I am trying to organize a Tar Sands Blockade. I want 10,000 people to show up who are ready to be arrested in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. But if only 9,999 willing people show up, I want to call the whole thing off. The theory being, if there is to be anything worthy of calling itself a resistance, it needs to show up or shut up. And the walking away might be more powerful than getting arrested.

  • Lambert Meertens 14th Jan 2013

    I hope IOPS will always be a work of art under construction, also after a founding convention that officially launches it! How could it be else? – as a bottom-up self-managing organization it will keep evolving and only stop doing so when it is dead.

  • 14th Jan 2013

    When Michael wrote above: “that for an IOPS chapter to be really effective it needs to have means of self financing which help with establishing local campaigns and programs and/or working with some that are in the process where it is, developing mechanisms for the continued education/skills development and even fulfillment of its members, and growing – as well as modes of its decision making, meeting, etc.” and that that “can all happen right now” says to me that in many ways IOPS doesn’t need a founding convention to be viable, it just needs to foster the development of self-managing chapters working within the IOPS framework.

    Any chapter can develop and work on its own local program now if it so chooses, and that could, depending on need, include voluntary or mandatory dues. Given sufficient chapter growth and development within a county, region, state, or country, a collection of chapters could decide to combine resources, work on joint projects, and/or have periodic combined membership meetings as a group or via representation. This type of growth, if it continued, would create an eventual organic need for an convention, like a maturing child outgrowing her clothes eventually needing a new wardrobe, except in this case it’s the need for an international organization capable of pursuing an effective international program that reflects the development and ideas of its many participating chapters. But until that time comes there is nothing preventing self managed growth and development with the website acting as a kind of pressure gauge to assess the need for an international convention, all the while providing a home for sharing strategies, ideas and resources on how to increase our presence and effectiveness.

    Based on this, rather than putting undue emphasis on the establishment of numerical preconditions for a convention, we should be focusing on what is needed to foster local chapter growth and development so that interim IOPS can naturally become a viable and effective international organization in the future with a program reflecting its chapters’ needs. I think this is what Lambert and others are suggesting and I think it is consistent with what Michael has written above.

  • Michael Albert 14th Jan 2013

    The real world is complicated - as are, in particularly, individual and group motives and emotions, etc. I have been trying since the beginning to stimulate and motivate the ideas of people recruiting locally, developing chapters, getting going, etc. It happens, but not overly much. I suspect - as I suspected all along - that part of what is needed is related to morale, hope, etc., not just technical possibility, that can arise from coming together, having things formally adopted, but also people meeting other people, person to person, gaining some confidence and hope - sharing a few days - these things will likely help a lot. At any rate, we are on that road, as we have been from the outset...and now getting closer. I also think that having some clear goals, that the poll will hopefully arrive at - can provide real incentive. Again, we will see.