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Autonomy and Heteronomy. Some General Thoughts on IOPS’ Organization and Heritage

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[Intro. This is probably pissing against the wind, and of little relevance to most at this early stage, maybe at any stage. Just some stuff from my particular perspective and background as a ‘68er’ that might be of interest to the odd younger member.]

1. The Tradition. IOPS and ‘participism’ (Parecon etc) are firmly within the anti-authoritarian, libertarian left tradition. In contrast to the authoritarian, statist left traditions (Social Democracy and Leninism), this tradition sees socialism/anarchism/the free society as participatory democracy or grassroots self-management (aka self-organisation, self-activity, autonomy, anarchism not as chaos but as ‘free order’). Thus a liberated society, a participatory society, can only be made by a majority of people able and willing to democratically manage society themselves (and there’s the rub).

2. Ends/Means versus Winning. Generally, the desire, will and ability to engage in self-activity and democratic self-management is only found in the activity thereof. Thus the route to self-management is self-management: ends and means are here one. In self-organized, autonomous actions and campaigns, the WAY something is struggled for or achieved is as, or arguably more, important than what has been achieved. In distracting from this process, the fixation on ‘winning’ can be dangerous. Nothing against the odd ‘winning’, but from a libertarian perspective, self-organized grassroots activities are much better, even when they lose, than are activities organized by others or from above since only the former provide opportunities to practise, learn and, want more, self-management.

3. Autonomy and Heteronomy. The opposite of self-management (autonomy) is, logically, management-by-others and management-from-above (heteronomy or ‘power-over’). Heteronomy is the split and inherent conflict between order-givers and order-takers so pervasive throughout all class and patriarchal societies. Except in childhood (and there decreasingly), heteronomy, ordering and being ordered by others, cannot lead to autonomy or self-empowerment. In contrast, autonomous activity both assumes and creates autonomous (self-active, independent, critical) people. IOPS core values are all about autonomous activity, and thus revolutionary.

4. The Authoritarian (Trad) Left. The prime modern expressions of heteronomy and the split between order-givers and order-takers are the capitalist corporation and the State. The mainstream organisations of the traditional working class movements and Left, the trade union and party bureaucracies, also modelled themselves on these capitalist, hierarchical, authoritarian institutions, quickly becoming useful parts of the capitalist system and providing social mobility and career paths for new bureaucrats or ‘coordinator classes.’ The Leninist versions in Russia and elsewhere ‒ by consciously destroying grassroots self-management, spontaneous workers’ councils and factory committees, peasant communes and soviets, by physically liquidating their adversaries on the right and left ‒ instituted new forms of previously unheard-of totalitarianism and exploitation which (as for example Emma Goldman recognised in the 1930s) ruined the notions of communism and socialism, possibly for good.

5. Drawing Boundaries. If the above is an accurate reading of the historical experience of ‘socialism’, I would argue against an uncritical pluralism within IOPS. Obviously, within the libertarian tradition, it should be a wide church and thus here it’s ‘let a hundred flowers bloom’; nobody knows the ‘right’ way to, or actual details of, the concrete utopia of self-management. However, in my view it is not sectarian to say that in some critical issues it is not ‘both/and’ but can very well be ‘either/or’ (e.g. you’re either pregnant or you’re not). I would argue that both in goals and means, there can, logically, be no compromise between libertarian self-management and the authoritarian and statist Left, between the values of autonomy and heteronomy, between, to use Michael Albert’s personifications, ‘Anna’ (anarchism) and ‘Lenny’ (Leninism). In contrast to Michael I’d argue that Lenny’s ‘good intentions’ are irrelevant: Stalin, Hitler, Thatcher, Reagan, Pinochet, all paved the way to their particular hells with ‘good intentions.’ By drawing a clear boundary to the authoritarian Left, ‘strong leader’ myths and ALL current forms of Leftist oppression, terrorism or violations of human rights WHEREVER they may occur, IOPS can only increase its attractiveness as a revolutionary organisation. (This of course does not preclude IOPS members being members of unions or voting for parties if they so desire, much as one also pragmatically uses various other kinds of services within capitalism).

6. Small is Beautiful. The main strategic challenge for a revolutionary organization within the libertarian tradition like IOPS is the historical fact that grassroots social movements which share its global, total self-management perspective are far and few between, weak or non-existent. It perhaps needs stressing that IOPS has not come together (like some, only theoretically possible, libertarian ‘Internationale’) as a bottom-up, self-federating organisation of local autonomous groups or radical movements. In my view it should thus not try to be what it isn’t, i.e. some kind of mammoth, all-encompassing movement or quasi-Internationale, and instead be what it, potentially, is (and will most likely remain): a small, inevitably minoritarian organization of internationalist, anti-capitalist, libertarian radicals communicating globally and acting locally within various progressive social movements not as some phony ‘vanguard’ or ‘organisers’ but as supporters, dissenters, catalysers, ruckus-raisers, linkers, wideners, instruments, generalisers, radicalisers, coherence-bringers, creatives, visionaries (much as Alex Lewis and Jay Bostrom have recently described for their Seattle and Missoula chapters).

7. Attraction versus Recruitment. I would argue that both social movements and revolutionary organisations tend to attract rather than mechanically ‘recruit’ or ‘organise’ members. Their primary source of attraction lies in their qualitative difference to mainstream establishment and predictably  boring trad left organisations. Their attractiveness derives from the fact that their members simply seem ‘more alive’. When this aliveness, this undefinable drive and energy, leaves the organisation, it’s internally dead, no matter how much it may still externally increase in numbers. Personal relationships of friendship and trust will both express and strengthen this aliveness.

8. Work and Workers. In the ‘post-industrial information societies’ of the global north, the traditional working class movement has all but disappeared. Previous leading notions like ‘socialism’, ‘social revolution’ or ‘the abolition of wage labour’ are now as good as incomprehensible to most people. This inevitably raises an important question for revolutionaries: if not just ‘the American working class is now in China’ (Zizek), where does this leave old libertarian notions such as  occupying the factories/offices, the general strike or the formation of self-managing workers’ councils in advanced capitalist societies? What kind of libertarian relationships can be facilitated between diverse social movements in civil society and the world of work, and between workers, peasants, the marginalised oppressed and activists globally within capitalism’s international division of labour?

9. ‘Politics.’ In advanced capitalism there is a mass disaffection with ‘politics’ in general. This disaffection is ambivalent: on the one hand it is merely one expression of the hyper-capitalist privatisation of consciousness, social isolation, community fragmentation, the generalised alienation of passive consumerism; on the other hand, it is a more than legitimate response to the obvious absurdity of the political class and their carefully crafted media spectacles and sound bites as the distracting entertainment wing of Capital.  Most have at least a gut-level feeling that ‘politics’ in advanced capitalism has been reduced to mainstream branding and PR bullshit, right-wing populism or worse. This is also an opportunity for libertarian revolutionaries..

10. The Dead Left. However, this popular turning away from ‘politics’ and politicians is also an implicit critique of the Left. Who has not chafed at the predictable boredom of ‘progressive’ waddawewantwhendowewannitnow spectacles divorced from any real self-activity, political imagination or visionary perspective (unions, leftist parties and even most mass demonstrations often share these characteristics)? IOPS’ attractiveness can only be enhanced by a marked distance and difference to this generally perceived deadness of politics-as-usual, especially if it ultimately strengthens heteronomy and hierarchy (e.g. parties), activism-as-passivity (e.g. merely voting), a belief in leader celebrities and/or the state ‘fixing’ the issues instead of people themselves.

11. State-oriented Campaigns. However, this does not preclude IOPS from sometimes contributing to broad progressive alliances and essentially social democratic campaigns aimed at pressuring the state on some issue. Realistically, many survival as well as bread-and-butter issues will for a long time only be able to be addressed by national governments. However, from a libertarian perspective any IOPS participation in such state-oriented campaigns should only occur on two general conditions: (a) that this not become its main focus as a libertarian organisation committed to self-activity and participatory democracy, and (b) that IOPS try and push for maximising all means of non-violent-yet-militant direct action and creative grassroots self-activity within such campaigns and continue critiquing all parliamentary and statist illusions (whether Keynesian or authoritarian socialist: ‘whoever you voted for, the government got in’).

12.  Meaningful Action. So what should IOPS be primarily focussed on if it remains true to its anti-authoritarian, participatory values? I know of no better general summary than Maurice Brinton’s (aka Chris Pallis’) from 1967: ‘Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists their demystification.’ (from ‘As We See It’, Solidarity group, UK)

13. Harmful Action. Conversely, Brinton defines ‘sterile and harmful action’ for revolutionaries as being ‘whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.’

14. Betrayal, Nostalgia, Meaninglessness, Vision. In relation to material everyday ‘bread and butter’ issues in advanced capitalist societies, one might speculate that there would seem to be a dual social psychology at work. On the surface, mass protest consciousness since Seattle/WSF and Occupy/Indignados/Syntagma Square seems to express a general feeling of ‘betrayal’ by the neoliberal ruling elites (the ‘1%’) or the ‘capture’ of ‘democracy’ and the political class by the ‘plutocracy’ and thus an im- or explicit nostalgia for the ‘golden age’ of the post-war Keynesian welfare state up to Thatcher and Reagan. However, at the same time beneath, or interwoven with, that nostalgia lies the hunger for self-activity, cooperation and direct democracy manifested, for example, in some of the innovative, ‘horizontalist’ forms of the Occupy movement. And within that one may also perhaps sense the, albeit as yet only partially conscious, rejection of the absurdity, meaninglessness, wastefulness, obscene inequalities and ecological suicidality of the whole system, even as that may concretely manifest in everyday phenomena such as the increasing stress and time poverty of precarious work and a harried daily life looking at screens (rather than at each other or nature). IOPS thus could provide both a forum for libertarian debate for ‘Occupiers’ etc and a concrete but flexible vision for coherently fleshing out the main general slogan of these diverse protest movements: ‘another world is possible’, and this is one of IOPS’ key strengths. It could thus help democratically deepen, widen and shift (not ‘lead’) such movements beyond their predominant Keynesian nostalgia and implicit social democratic limitations of seeking a ‘good’ (‘clean and green’, welfare) capitalism.

15. Industrialising Countries. In the industrialising countries other issues obviously predominate. Generalising wildly, one could say these countries are mostly still experiencing the militant and open class struggles of the rapacious, peasant-proletarianising, commons-enclosing development of early urbanising capitalism. Predominant forms of political consciousness, apart from reactionary fundamentalisms, seem to be outrage at nepotism and corruption by the elites, various forms of populism, a general belief in leaders and hope for a progressive state bureaucracy and/or parliamentary democracy to ‘welfarise’ rapacious capitalism and facilitate greater consumerism and a larger middle class. Here IOPS could provide support for militant indigenous, peasant and worker resistance to capitalist enclosures and land grabs, hyper-exploitation and community-destroying consumerism, global linkage to worker and relevant activist organizations in the north and an internationalist libertarian perspective of revolutionary self-organization in these struggles. Means of mutually equalizing average consumption levels between ‘north’ and ‘south’ (also within countries) towards an ecologically sustainable ‘fair earth share’ for all should be central to this internationalist mutual aid process as well.

16. Gaps and Tensions. Like us as individuals, IOPS as an organization needs to maintain the creative, at times unbearable, tension resulting from an awareness of a series of huge and interconnected gaps: the gap between the actual and the possible, between current global levels of average mass consciousness and the levels of consciousness and self-activity needed to institutionalise participatory democracy, between the increasing urgency of global ecocidal threats like climate chaos and nuclear weapons and the slowness of psychological and cultural change, between the everyday realities of alienated labour and life and the planetary realities of catastrophic ecological tipping points, the communication gaps between the various single-issue movements…Perhaps a cultivation of humour, music, poetry, art, a sense of human ambiguity, complexity and paradox all may help IOPS members in the ongoing struggle to creatively maintain this tension and balance.

 

Discussion 17 Comments

  • LedSuit ' 2nd Jun 2013

    A short, well written and nicely ordered compendium of thoughts and ideas from a 68er that this "youngster" most definitely finds interesting and perhaps even helpful! I usually just rummage around in my head, find ideas, think about 'em for a bit and then toss 'em over my head where they lie with all the others. Then when I'm empty, I turn around, see the pile I've created and start again, like a goldfish rediscovering that single rock in its bowl, as if it wasn't there before, each time it completes a circumnavigation.

    I think, my friend, you have captured much of what goes through my head at times and more, in a nice succinct way. I think I may print it out and carry it around, or place in my studio (old garage!) to peruse and contemplate now and then and for friends to see.

    Muchas gracias camerado.

    PS: Chuffed that you liked the long guitar piece. That was born out of a frustration that has much to do with those "gaps and tensions".





  • Sarah Owens 2nd Jun 2013

    I especially liked the numbered paragraphs with headers. Not bad for a poet. I also liked that it said non-obvious things in a way that made sense, at least until subsequent commentators point out its huge flaws and confuse me again. In fact, I like it so well, I've proposed we discuss this blog at the next chapter meeting, and plan to use it in my Waiting Room Project. How d'you like that?

  • Zane Hannan 2nd Jun 2013

    :)

  • Dave Jones 2nd Jun 2013

    Glad Peter is on our side! Articulate description of where we (libertarian left) have been and where we might go.

  • David Jones 3rd Jun 2013

    This is great Peter, thanks for posting it. Just one comment on first reading through. Under 8. Work and Workers you wrote:

    "What kind of libertarian relationships can be facilitated between diverse social movements in civil society and the world of work, and between workers, peasants, the marginalised oppressed and activists globally within capitalism’s international division of labour?"

    I would consider adding explicitly "the unemployed" to that list. I guess they are implicitly included in "the marginalised oppressed", but it would be nice to include them explicitly (I'm currently unemployed myself, BTW, as you know, but other might not). Drawing attention to their own existence can be problematic for the unemployed, given the stigma / the Morality Of Work thing that governments do to demonise (e.g. our UK government will harp on about 'skivers' vs 'strivers' - the standard divide and conquer bullshit), so it would be good to have our existence acknowledged in writing in your blog ;-) Particularly for the young unemployed - youth unemployment is now averaging around 25% in the "Eurozone" and a lot of these young folks are explicitly and openly advocating for a social revolution, in Greece and Spain particularly, where youth unemployment is highest (62.5% in Greece and 56.4%, with Portugal (42.5%) and Italy (40.5%) now catching up - I got the latest numbers from here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/31/eurozone-unemployment-new-high-quarter-under-25s )

    The unemployed now constitutes a major social group and perhaps are the group best placed to carry forward progressive, libertarian struggles against the status quo (which in itself constitutes an amusing addendum to Marx - if the "revolutionary class" in fact ends up being the industrial NOT-work
    ing class!)

    Maybe it's those liberating possibilities of "profound collapse" kicking in, eh? ;-)

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 3rd Jun 2013

    Many thanks camerados, much appreciated. (Had some misgivings posting this...) Sarah, of course, feel free, very nice of you. David, of course, the unemployed should be explicitly added and/or central to the whole thingo.

  • John Keeley 4th Jun 2013

    Peter,

    A good vision of what revolutionaries of the 21st century are all about as we finally emerge from the shadow of Bolshevism.

    The future is participation.
    The big question is how do we get more to participate in IOPS?

    I think we should consider making social media (FaceLeft) a free part of IOPS & fund it through subscription paying members.
    So as more & more become uneasy with the corporatism of Facebook & look for an alternative, they turn to FaceLeft on the IOPS website, & a proportion of these end up as paying, active members.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Jun 2013

    Thanks, John. I appreciate where you're coming from re FaceLeft. My socialising needs are already fully covered by real life and the stimulating discussions some of us have here at IOPS. Facebook is indeed a big prob and pain in the arse on several levels (maybe we should have a discussion about the whole issue of the [anti-]social media and screen-life compulsion sometime). I personally refuse to go there or Twitter.

    Re participation in IOPS itself, given what I've said above, I'd query the notion of 'getting' more to participate anyway. If there's no inner drive to participate and/or act, there just isn't, and I guess I'd ask why not just let IOPS consist of those who want to participate and leave the rest as the usual consumers of 'politics' made by others and 'like' button pressers/followers? Small is beautiful.

    BTW in case anyone is interested in Maurice Brinton's 'As We See It' (cf. nos. 12 and 13 above), I've just posted it and his 1972 sequel 'As We Don't See It' in the Resources section. Still useful IMO in many respects regarding the authoritarian trad left.

  • Dave Jones 5th Jun 2013

    A couple points for discussion: What is the boundary of autonomy when it comes to rules and regulations and how is it arrived at? Even a classless society would need restrictions on freedom with some penalties attached, correct? Perhaps this is different conceptually than "orders..from above" in some way.

    And for my anarchist comrades: What is the material difference between a democratic state and a self-managed community?

    my last question has to do with "recruitment" and "organizing" which have been used almost as a pejorative in several discussions here at IOPS. As someone from a labor background this is a new perspective- how is it coercive or aggressive to make one's argument in an open, free discourse? Can we create such a discourse? I personally feel that articulating a counter-narrative is our only course at this historical moment of low revolutionary consciousness and activity.

    • Jason 6th Jun 2013

      David,

      The idea that ‘organising’ is being used as a pejorative blows my mind. I can’t even imagine how the argument against it would go.
      Recruitment, however, is different. It’s used as a pejorative because it’s become associated with the aggressive recruitment tactics of much, if not most, of the revolutionary socialist left, which aren’t about honest discourse but pressuring and manipulating people into involvement. Approaches of this kind don’t just fail most of the time, they actively alienate.
      At a recent chapter meeting, one of our guys, Nick Delvino, raised the term ‘attractment,’ which, from what I could gather, is more about holding events and taking actions for people to participate in, making clear your group’s door is open, but never asking, or making the case, directly for joining. So when people associate it’s more from them having decided on their own, on the basis of the group having shown its merit.
      There was also a view that there is a middle way: make the case strongly without capitalising on people’s vulnerabilities (a lack of knowledge about the issues e.g.).
      I like this attractment idea because it'd produce more meaningful engagement and it’s about aesthetics which I believe is the main arena for the war of ideas—strict rational persuasion being only part of the process. I totally agree with the need for a counter-narrative for this reason. The background against which people think needs to change.

      My answer to your question for anarchists is: depends how you define the terms. I was talking with a chapter mate, Tim Ström, about this and we came to the conclusion that it’s very well possible that many people who believe in the need for a state would find the idea of a national or international council (as part of a federation of councils) quite acceptable. And vice versa.
      In my judgement, the term ‘democratic state’ is way too associated with capitalism and, in activist circles, problematic forms of socialism. The term ‘self-managed’ (or ‘participatory’) society, on the other hand, is ripe for association with a rich, progressive vision.

  • stephen lawton 6th Jun 2013

    That's wonderful Peter it lifts the spirit and gives an insightful perspective.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 6th Jun 2013

    Thanks, Stephen, very kind of you.
    Dave, you've raised some interesting points. I think Jason has very well summarised the issue around 'recruiting' vs what he/Nick have called 'attractment', which was really the only point I was trying to make as well. Two further thoughts on that.

    (a) Maybe this kind of word usage is also partly a national/cultural thingo which we need to discuss? I get the feeling that both 'recruiting' and 'organising' might have a different historical connotational field in the US than they do for me (and definitely in my other language German). I'm a bit wary of the instrumentalism (the Frankfurt School's 'instrumentelle Vernunft'/instrumental reason) contained within them, the implicit split between active/passive, subject/object, doer/done to, organizer/organized, recruiter/recruited, all of which are perilously close to the possibility of irksome trad leftist pressuring and manipulation that Jason speaks of. And none of which accord with the egalitarian/horizontalist ethos of self-management.

    This wariness has nothing whatsoever to do with what you've called 'making one's argument' and 'articulating a counter-narrative', which of course are absolutely ESSENTIAL. The more clearly, gently, authentically and forcefully the better. I get the impression that the great stuff you guys in Missoula are doing are what you call 'organising/recruiting' and I'm all for it, only I probably wouldn't call it that. Is this hair splitting or important linguistic differentiations or inter-cultural negotiations of meaning within IOPS? Whatever we call it, I guess our consensus is we agree we don't like what Jason has described re the trad left's/sectarian/Jehova's Witness-style modi operandi re 'recruiting'.

    (b)Jason, I added 'organizing' because I can't see an essential difference to 'recruiting' like you, for the reasons given above. Maybe we can avoid a possible confusion by distinguishing 'organizing' (i.e. others as passive objects) from 'SELF-organizing' (which is what we are supposedly doing in IOPS - nobody is 'organizing' US I gather - and what we seek to facilitate/support/agitate for in social movements we might be involved in?

    Dave, you also asked: 'What is the boundary of autonomy when it comes to rules and regulations and how is it arrived at? Even a classless society would need restrictions on freedom with some penalties attached, correct? Perhaps this is different conceptually than "orders..from above" in some way.'

    My understanding is that, in contrast to now, a participatory democracy makes grassroots democratic decisions about all 'rules and regulations' and 'penalties attached'. Thus by definition these decisions/regulations are material expressions of autonomy, not decisions from above (heteronomy). Maybe you meant to open more questions than that, namely about the thorny issues of a legal/judicial system within a participatory democracy/anarchism? These are issues I also find interesting and important and don't know all that much about myself. It's an issue probably not enough reflected upon (at least in traditional anarchism), but I'll have to leave it there for now.

    Great discussion again, camerados, thank you.

    • Jason 9th Jun 2013

      Peter,

      Thanks for the reply. Quick points:
      • ‘Organising.’ Apologies, I should’ve given this more thought. When put: ‘people must be organised!’ Of course, a problem lurks. To me (from a modest amount of experience), in activism, ‘organising’ just has the plain meaning of bringing about a state of organisation, and an ‘organiser’ (not as title) is anyone who facilitates this process—the manner being up for grabs.
      • I have doubts about committing to ‘self-organising.’ E.g. IOPS began by interested people being corralled into an already made website. People were organised into a self-managing situation. I think that’s generally how it goes. I may have this wrong. Thoughts?
      • I would worry about risking not just hair-splitting but hypocrisy by rejecting the term ‘recruitment’ (and I’m not saying you’re recommending that, I’m just saying). Surely, attraction (or attractment) are just styles of recruitment, albeit soft recruitment—consider the term ‘soft power.’ I also suspect there’s an oft-appropriate honesty in the idea of ‘recruitment’ in that it conveys the urgency of the situation.
      • Part of the beauty of IOPS is that it answers anarchist illusions about the actual potential for spontaneous organisation. Instead of waiting for groups to form themselves and gradually find each other, IOPS came out of the gates with founding documents and an international communication platform, means of horizontal (or self) organisation.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 7th Jun 2013

    Oh, and just wanted to say I TOTALLY agree with what you say here, Jason: 'I like this attractment idea because it'd produce more meaningful engagement and it’s about aesthetics which I believe is the main arena for the war of ideas — strict rational persuasion being only part of the process."

    Worth a whole blog in itself. The importance of the non-rational, group vibes, intuition, images and symbols, music, authenticity, jokes, poetry etc etc. The HOW as, or more, important than the WHAT. Not something the trad left was/is much good at. We over-focus on rational persuasion at our peril, as important as it is (e.g. our discussions here).

    Some examples. The first thing that attracted me in 68 was the ATMOSPHERE at the general meetings, the general vibe the excitement. THIS was where the action was, these people were more alive than anybody else...The way I, say, hand over a pamphlet and the vibe I give off might often be more important than the pamphlet itself, at least at first.

    Or, how often have we experienced not being able to concentrate on what someone is saying because of the WAY they are saying it or some body language anomaly or even their choice of tie for chrissake? Aren't we evolutionarily wired to respond with the whole body (intuitively, pre- or sub-consciously) to someone first before we listen to their explicit verbal statements (i.e. 'we like/don't like', and THEN we listen or don't). The vibe with eating and drinking together so important too...

  • stephen lawton 7th Jun 2013

    This thread has a nice feel to it, in that it is expanding what it means to be a part of something . How to interact and how to feel towards one another. Mark, Tom and me( Birmingham chapter) were talking about the notion of "Mindfulness" and what role it could play in IOPS. Mark Evans said he going to write about it on hear soon because Mark and myself are using Mindfulness techniques in our work. I love the word fellowship because it conjures up notions of love, warmth and respect even when we differ.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 10th Jun 2013

    i think iops is an important organization for clarifying and disseminating alternative information...a gateway for all things participatory...to read and learn and ask questions and arrive at opinions and decisions with like minded people...
    and, like john pointed out, z-social, face-left or world-social, may be a way to connect with people that are looking for alternatives and then turn to iops for more...that’s probably their strategy there...
    that said, i also agree with peter, that “iops can only increase it’s attractiveness as a revolutionary organization if it doesn’t try to be some kind of mammoth, all-encompassing movement...” the participatory message doesn’t need to be diluted...
    when reading brinton’s essay, “as we don’t see it”, about how “positive self-consciousness implies the gradual breakdown of the state of chronic schizophrenia in which-through conditioning and other mechanisms-most people succeed in carrying mutually incompatible ideas in their heads.”, the light-bulb in my head went off again, as it frequently does when reading at iops...
    i hope we can reach enough people to facilitate positive self-consciousness and overcome the conditioning that created/creates that state of chronic schizophrenia in masses of people...
    creating a genuine, safe environment for people willing to learn and ask questions is essential...
    seems like a formidable task, but then, so was/is addressing racism, sexism, etc...maybe the time is ripening for the world to seriously address classism...?

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 11th Jun 2013

    Like your first paragraph, Kristi, seems a good summary of what IOPS can/should be as a website. Thanks for your input.