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New York City Chapter, IOPS


I. Introduction


As part of the lengthy process that has been the formation of IOPS, certain internal markers were voted upon via an online poll: 1) online membership of 3,500, 2) 20 chapters, and 3) in 3 continents by June 12, 2014. If all 3 conditions are met, we will then plan a conference where we would, among other things, establish a formal organization.


Today, we have over 3,500 online members, and 6 chapters across 3 continents. Several chapters and affiliates, including IOPS-NYC, IOPS-Norway/Counterpower, OFS(Organization for a Free Society), and IOPS-Montana, have started a conversation about meeting our 20 chapter mark; the point is to not lose momentum.  The following is a draft joint proposal which will be disseminated to all online members, formal chapters, affiliates, and the interim coordinating committee that will advocate for a two prong approach: 1) Do everything we can to meet our internal markers, and, at the same time, 2) collectively develop a contingency plan in case we, in spite of our best efforts, do not meet the 20 Chapter marker by June 12, 2014. (This Chapter building proposal has already been formally sent to the ICC, and each of the 6 chapters, with time for them to comment on it. That commentary has been positive, with a few questions about capacity)


II. Mission


The mission and purpose of this proposal is to prepare for the upcoming, self-imposed June 12 deadline; get ample buy in from all individuals and groups who would be most affected by the decision on what gets done about the internal markers; build upon the foundation of a participatory society using our collective ideas, labor and resources.


III. Methods


A.   Meeting the 20 Chapter Marker


1.     Chapter Toolkit: The Chapter Toolkit will be developed by a collaboration of online members, formal chapters, affiliates, and the interim coordinating committee, that will not only clearly and concisely establish the IOPS platform, but will also include every resource necessary to form and maintain an organizational chapter, i.e. sign up sheets, how to form a list serve, sample fundraising plans, etc. (much of this already exisit in the Resources section of the IOPS website)



2.     US Chapter-Building Tour: The Chapter Building Tour will send experienced trainers to strategic concentrations of online members with no formal chapter, with the purpose of inspiring the group to form a chapter as well as providing a series of trainings using the Chapter Toolkit to form regional chapters. The goal will be that at the end of each day-long session, the group will decide to be a formal chapter. 


Each city will have one main organizer already involved; this organizer will be responsible for the promotion of the training with the support of the trainers.



The training team itself has had years of experience with community organizing and trainings in their fields of expertise.  People of color are strongly represented so as gain more interest in diverse audiences.


Demographic Information


The following demographic information was derived from the website in March, 2014. The data shows concentrations of online members in the United States which can be used to strategically plan the Chapter Building Tour. Further online research must be made to determine where the areas with the highest concentrations of online memberships are located outside of the United States and identify functioning chapters that can outreach to those areas. 


The NYC Chapter is willing to take the tour to several target cities with affiliated organizers and media in the East Coast over weekends in the summer months.  These cities are: Baltimore MD, Boston MA, Cambridge MA, Philadelphia PA, and possibly Washington D.C.



West Coast

§       Berkeley, CA (15)

§       San Diego, CA (21)

§       Oakland, CA (21)

§       San Francisco, CA (28)

§       Sacramento, CA (7)

§       Los Angeles, CA (5)

Mid West

§       Ann Arbor, MI (9)

§       Detroit, MI (8)

§       Grand Rapids, MI (4)

§       Cinncinati, OH (9)

§       Columbus, OH (5)

§       Toledo, OH (4)

§       Chicago, IL (30)

§       Ames, IA (6)

§       Denver, CO (15)

§       Boulder, CO (10)

South West

§       Austin, TX (12)

§       El Paso, TX (4)

§       Houston, TX (8)

§       San Antonio, TX (12)

East Coast

§       Baltimore, Maryland (10 people, 11 if you count a person in Baltimore County)

§       Amherst, Massachusetts (7 people)

§       Boston, Mass (19)

§       Cambridge, Mass (10)

§       Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (10)

§       Washington, D.C. (9)

§       Tampa, FL (5)

§       Miami, FL (4)

§       Tallahase, FL (4)

§       Sarasotta, FL (4)

East Coast Tour Proposed Budget


Below is a proposed budget based on expenses from other organizing tours.  This will require fundraising by online members, formal chapters, affiliates, and the Interim Consultative Committee.




Per Diem Trainer 1*


Per Diem Trainer 2*


Per Diem Trainer 3*


Car Rental & gas**






Total Budget Amount


*based on living wage in New York City, source: http://livingwage.mit.edu/places/3606151000 

5 trainings, approximately 8 hours a day in transporting, preparation, and presentation, $12.75 per hour.

**based on information from Orbitz.com, current gas prices and approximate milleage covered



B.    Contingency Plan


1.     Regional Conferences or Conference Calls: Put the call out to organize regional conferences or chapter conference calls and elect people from each group to participate in an international Skype meeting.  Goal: Convergence organized by August.

a.     Reflect and possibly redefine international markers and/or what it means to be a chapter,

b.     Change required number of chapters, and/or

c.     Push the date forward 6 months


2.     Chapter Affiliate Organizational Designation:  Many individuals currently signed up on the IOPS website are currently doing grassroots work in organizations that pre-date the initial formation of the IOPS. Of those affiliated organizations, most if not all are either already working under the framework/vision of IOPS ( via, for example, the balanced-job complex) or may be interested in working under that framework.


A central goal of IOPS about disseminating these core values, more than it is about an area of life or a set of outcomes. And as such it is somewhat difficult to organize individuals to participate in it as its own separate entity. This may be why so far two chapters have dissolved in the past year.


One way to approach this tension is to organize existing groups in all different kinds of anti-oppression areas to put into practice the core vision and values. These organizations can all come together and  agree to organizing under these principles, have a cohesive analysis as to why it is effective, and collectively normalize culture that puts participatory socialism into practice. For example, develop a plan and alanlysis on how participatory socialism principles play out in housing groups, and here's what it looks like when we imbue these principles in labor organizing, and when these principles are embedded in a legal practice it has these impacts, etc.


To do this, the chapters, individual members, affiliates and Iterim Consulting Committee can develop a method for organizations to become official affiliates of the IOPS without necessarily meeting the internal requirements set for IOPS chapters.


Individual Member Requests:


We are respectfully requesting that individual IOPS members provide feedback and support on this chapter building proposal.


The most useful support from individual members would be :

1)    Organizing bake sale, yard sale, or houseparty to fundraise and sponsor part of the tour.

2)    Agree to host the trainers for a night or two when they visit your town. (please contact us  through the website!)

3)    Agree to help organize a training at your local community space, church or bookstore.

4)    Donating use of a car or van to save on the cost of the travel.

5)    Training with us over skype, and then doing the trainings in your local area, attempting to found chapters in areas outside of the US east coast. (please reach out to us over the website or via the email below)

6)    Help set up a fundraising website (for example Indigogo) for the east coast tour.



For more information on this proposal please contact:  aaafranco@riseup.net


Discussion 23 Comments

  • Rebecca G 8th May 2014

    I'm not sure it's clear what the training will teach?

    • Jon Doe 8th May 2014

      In terms of defining "organizing", there are a number of resources we would draw from, most of which are posted in the resources section of the website, but some of which would be responsive to the needs of the groups in question. A preliminary idea for some possible elements of the chapter tool kit is: http://www.iopsociety.org/resources
      1) Guild to Empowering meetings
      2) Comic zine of IOPS mission/vision, trifold and background sheet flyers.
      3) 12 existing short political music/comedy videos about the different visionary aspects of IOPS (for movie night screenings) (Should develop a Movie night conversation/discussion questions training piece with OFS and IOPS)
      4) Occupy strategy book
      5) SOUL guild to outreach: outreach as a system. (Practice getting phone numbers off the website, and follow up calls within two days, and reminder calls 3 days before, reminder text the day of the meeting)
      6) Ruckus action strategy guild: http://www.iopsociety.org/resources
      7) Academics letter to the editor about IOPS
      8) Aljazeera article “from occupy to IOPS” by danny schenter.

  • Sarah Owens 8th May 2014

    So, when the IOPS NYC chapter asked the Salem IOPS chapter to consider this proposal awhile back, we responded with questions that have not yet been answered. Even though the post directs "more information" inquiries to "aaafranco@riseup.net" (which is where we sent our response), I'm thinking maybe we should just post the Salem IOPS (preliminary) response here, in case others are thinking along the same lines.

    Michael Livingston wrote on behalf of the Salem IOPS chapter:

    "I can tell you right up front that there's not a lot of enthusiasm in our group for the proposed fundraising, and, although we're not necessarily opposed to the organizing effort, we don't have enough information to decide whether to support it. Here are a few questions that we have:

    (1) What dialogue have you had with the chapters you propose to organize? For example, it's not obvious to us why NYC organizers need to go the Bay area.

    (2) How do we know that "organizing" is the answer for each of these non-active chapters?

    (3) What's your timeline/deadline for completing this organizing effort?

    Regardless whether the "CHAPTER BUILDING TOUR" proposal goes forward, we think there's merit in further active discussion of a "Contingency Plan," including, but not limited to, the ideas listed [in the proposal under that heading]."

    • Jon Doe 8th May 2014

      thanks for your response. We did not have a meeting where we could agree on a collective chapter wide response to your questions. I can answer some of your questions for myself, but not representing the whole IOPS-NYC chapter.

      1) We broke up the individual contact with IOPS members across 7 chapter members, so I don't know how the individual contacts have been going. I personally have been in contact with IOPS members in 3 east coast cities who were interested having us do an organizing training. Boston, Baltimore and Syracuse all have members who have expressed interest in organizing a training and hosting trainers. I also have connection with IOPS members in the bay area, but we state in the proposal we would be focusing our organizing on places that we could drive to on the east coast. We have discussed with montana-IOPS about coordinating with chapters on the west coast for their chapter, or others, to conduct a similar training tour on the west coast, or midwest.

      2) The three cities with attempted chapters where I have personally spoken to people, plus multiple members of the ICC, and other individual chapter members have all said that help with organizing is a great need. In terms of defining "organizing", there are a number of resources we would draw from, most of which are posted in the resources section of the website, but some of which would be responsive to the needs of the groups in question. A preliminary idea for some possible elements of the chapter tool kit is: http://www.iopsociety.org/resources
      1) Guild to Empowering meetings
      2) Comic zine of IOPS mission/vision, trifold and background sheet flyers.
      3) 12 existing short political music/comedy videos about the different visionary aspects of IOPS (for movie night screenings) (Should develop a Movie night conversation/discussion questions training piece with OFS and IOPS)
      4) Occupy strategy book
      5) SOUL guild to outreach: outreach as a system. (Practice getting phone numbers off the website, and follow up calls within two days, and reminder calls 3 days before, reminder text the day of the meeting)
      6) Ruckus action strategy guild: http://www.iopsociety.org/resources
      7) Academics letter to the editor about IOPS
      8) Aljazeera article “from occupy to IOPS” by danny schenter.

      3) The timeline for the effort is the summer months, so june, july, august, and maybe september depending on demand.

      hope that helps clarify! - Jon

    • Michael Livingston 8th May 2014


      Thank you for these details. Sounds like you're focusing your efforts on northeast US chapters whose members agree that they need some outside assistance to become "active." I assume that "Occupy strategy book" is a reference to the book by that name in the FANFARE series -- is that right?

    • Jon Doe 9th May 2014

      Yes, our chapter has been reading "occupy strategy" by Jessica Anzule and M. Albert from the Fanfare series. We have found it to be the most helpful, practical and simple read of the series. It sums up the main IOPS ideas, and provides with good strategic perspective moving forward, and is well written. We would be encouraging other chapters to read it, and basing some of the trainings on its insights.

  • Fred Curran 8th May 2014

    I do not oppose the idea of you travelling around the United States to garner support for IOPS, and to develop working chapters. But I am worried this would be an expensive burden, because I think your goals could more effectively and with less financial strain be met via the use of social media and existing social networks, friends, family, existing activist and community organizations. Reaching out to these groups and existing IOPS members you don't have to be in a place to organize there. I am currently organizing a potluck in San Francisco, and I live in Chicago, and have no intention of attending. I was able to do this by welcoming incoming members, and asking them why they joined and what they thought we could do. I was able to connect two members and we are now all working to reach out to the rest of their community to put on a potluck. There were obstacles but we have been able to overcome thus far, and no travel on my part has been required. Even if we can manage to organize resources as you would wish, don't you think serious consideration should be put into this strategy?

    • Jon Doe 8th May 2014

      Thanks for the work you put in organizing and reaching out to people! In NYC it took us about a year and a half of face to face meetings, with small amount of support from existing organizations, like OFS, to have a functional chapter(5 or more, meeting monthly, with common agreements/roles and 30% female participation). This involved a significant amount of relationship building, basic phone, email and text reminder calls, event planning, facilitation and organizing skill. We had to build trust at every stage and have consistent and dedicated space with meetings on the 1st and 3rd of the month. Other chapters, like IOPS-Montana, have had success as first being cohesive face to face organizations that then transitioned to become IOPS. In our experience the response rate on the website is between 5%-10%. I would be happy to find the least time and effort mechanism to achieve the most impact interims of chapter organizing. In NYC in 2011-12 there was an attempt to organize meetups through the website and it did not provide cohesion and eventually was abandoned. We found that the majority of the organizing needs to be face to face and, it takes significant effort, follow up and thoughtful work.

  • Gregory VanGaya 8th May 2014

    Hi, Jon.

    This is a venerable effort. It reminds me of the kind of commitment that was more common during the EarthFirst! (Ruckus included) and International Days of Action hay day.

    I organized from scratch pretty much two chapters, one that met about 9 times with up to 14 people per meeting here in Vancouver, and the other chapter in Mexico where I found almost every well formed socialist revolutionary and none of them showed up despite being super impressed in principal and that I found 9 socialists in a small, bourgeois tourist town.

    And I can tell you, it's not about organizing based on education, we had that going in Vancouver, and in Mexico they were all pretty well formed socialist intellectuals. It's not about how to organize whether through a direct action, events based, or mass-movement orientation.

    It's about power, cynicism that we have no power, let alone enough power. I even try to address this about making organizing based on my take on what you might understand as Brian Dominick's Participatory Dual Power-Strategy. Building real companies, commercial co-ops that can accrue the means to house, heal and feed revolutionaries. And people are so tired, so afraid of having hope and losing it yet again, that because I don't already have the power-with organization for them to step into, they presume it's a wild eyed long shot that they need not waste their time and energy in... It's pissing into the wind.
    I believe however, that if we who are here in IOPS now, built a Federation of Participatory Co-ops that getting people to plug in with their skills, their hopes and their enthusiastic participation, would be much easier.
    Right now people won't study BJC, RES, SPS etc., because it's theoretical gymnastics that land them on their head, not walking forward in anything that will meaningfully impact their lives. However, if we stop acting like leftist organizers, and instead organize as entrepreneurs towards the most radical methodology ever proposed (parecon), then we might get somewhere.
    Right now we are askinng people to come and participate in nothing. If we build a house, with electricity and plumbing, then watch them sit down and plug in, live, and work.
    I think we should map out who has what industry skills, credentials, and networks. Then we should start a business. Then a few of us get supported by the many to be together day in and day out, growing like a real team. Then, hopefully, sometime not too distantly, there is surplus value to roll into another co-op, and another... And we start to see a real living ecosystem where we can decolonize our selves and grow into learning and living real participatory culture.

  • Gregory VanGaya 8th May 2014

    If you came to Vancouver for example, we'd probably rally 8 people to meet you over 3 hours, maybe even twice in one week. But we'd peter out again with 3 months with no meaninful activity and self-sustaining capacity.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 11th May 2014

    I applaud this initiative. Here in San Diego we found it necessary to start a separate organization because it seemed a significant barrier to get people to join an international organization. I hope this effort bears fruit in breathing a new life into this framework for an organization, but remember that whether IOPS lives or goes into a long-term coma, if we are bringing people together to work together on a long-term political revolutionary project, then it is worth the effort. Gregory, I must solidaritously disagree with the idea of building co-ops as the shortest viable path to revolution. Such efforts take a tremendous amount of time and effort, and it is all at the behest of a ruthless market which drives wages down and production up. I'd rather take a decent wage 9-5 working for the man, and have some free time, give some of those wages into building an organization which has more independence from market pressures. In my opinion, it's old fashioned organizing that got us where we are, and it's old fashioned organizing that will take us where we want to be. The old revolutionary libertarian socialists had it right and that's why they built a huge movement, that's why they got the establishment scared and elicited a brutal counter-revolution.

    • Gregory VanGaya 13th May 2014

      If by shortest you mean 10-17 years then yes, I think my plan is much shorter, also sustainable once "up and running". Old fashioned organizing got us here, where the US is financing and arming 150,000 Islamo-fascist fighters to destroy Syria, and has helped birth an army of perhaps 30,000-50,000 neo-Nazis in Eastern Europe... And, still, there is no peace movement to speak of. In the 1980s my family was a big part of organizing 80,000 person peace marches and now in my grandma's World Peace Forum organization, which did somewhat ok in the mid 2000s' and now is dead? Or maybe our internationale here where a handful of us work and try and organize, when the first 3 internationales, even the one under Stalin had millions of members within the first few years, including in the 1880s when illiteracy was rampant.
      Traditional style Left organizing is quite clearly dead and/or impotent. History has shown most people well that issues, and 'solidarity' based organizing, rallies, petitions and evening meetings of groups is a failure of a model. The evidence abounds, I beg you to observe and assess it.
      I don't even think that necessarily it needs to be co-ops/businesses but some vessel (carrier) for growing meaningful, full time spaces that are sustainable and give people a good, consistent taste of r'evolutionary living, not meetings more meetings and ruminations of a different, meaningfully connected life.
      I would go so far as to saying it could be us taking over defunct churches (like the United church did here in Canada, piling people into a little attended church to vote in new administration and take over the asset). It could be hosting a big annual camp at Burning-Man or other festivals. Etc.
      It could be starting up a Reclaim the Streets in some cities. All shit tons of work and resources, that is what it takes to build... especially a revolution. FUCKING SHIT TONS of work. Our bourgeois jobs in bourgeois cities, growing up in relatively bourgeois families, have little idea about how hard a job it is. I doubt even the few of us still in hoping with IOPS are up for it. The best we could do is set up some kinds of communes (shared houses on land with workshops and shared vehicles to help keep our costs down and our mutual spirits up) for revolutionaries to be able to have the shared moral and momentum to keep up the decades of hard 12 hour days it would take. We need to be get the capacity and will, and moral set up for the long haul, there is no other time period for revolution, because in the end, even if you were to win massive capacity and power-with, it'd be a profoundly cultural, even linguistic process of evolutionary growth at the personal, and collective scales.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th May 2014

      I suppose we are digressing, but suffice to say that I suspect we generally agree on vision but differ significantly on emphasis in strategy. What I meant by "old fashioned organizing" was that of the labor movement. That was the only movement that really threatened the establishment. The bourgeoise peace movement was a mild nuisance with respect to the overall establishment. When I think of building co-ops and self-sustaining communities, when I think of peace movements, and the like, I think of white middle-class countercultural movements. I happen to be reading Oppose and Propose: Lessons from the Movement for a New Society. It seems that while the founders of MNS had a revolutionary perspective, the focus changed to introspection and lifestyle, an "exemplary" organization similar to a-political "intentional communities" instead of an adverserial organization rooted in class struggle. I would opt for the latter, and am in favor of walking with the periphery of society and assisting, joining, encouraging them in self-liberation with a solidaritous and revolutionary perspective. "Issues-based movements" started by middlers just won't get us there.

    • Gregory VanGaya 13th May 2014

      I don't think a discussion of an in-depth review for what might be an effective contemporary organizing doctrine is a digression at this point. I guess I'm trying to provoke that very discussion in the few of us who are remaining.

      I hear you that the Peace movement was fairly white middle class. Although here it was, along with labour organizing one of the main fronts of our Canadian Communist Party. My family was deeply integrated, and still is, on both fronts.

      I also am aware of the insular nature of 'alternative life-style' organizing, how it quickly devolves. And that is why I have come up with fixes to the traditional problems there, including fixes to the co-operative (mutualist) problems of entrenched workers forming a self-serving workers capitalism as their co-ops mature... And obviously BJC, SPS and RES inform against that quite heavily. I.e., a membership in an organization is not just the workers or the consumers but the consumers, workers, and even revolutionary organizing/promoters and the community members who may be neither workers or consumers... But can have pre-weighted say, in the articles of incorporation, as I've designed for legal incorporation here in BC.
      I stayed on the periphery of a group of reasonably good Trots here in BC that are now defunct (because of cynicism/liberalism in the wider Left, and their own lack of capacity). They were seriously committed to a labour unions insertion strategy, it just never got much of anywhere except to get one guy of their main Trot members in the executive in Ottawa, fighting a losing battle of the Postal Workers' union being gutted.
      In a dispersed 'labour movement' (basically non-existent), could we really insert and win sit-down strikes, worker appropriations based on outstanding wages, what have you all with the kind of capacity we could forsee in, say, maybe 3 years from here?
      I think confrontational strategies, instead of quietly building internal, yet expansionist capacity, is silly. I've seen very powerful genergal-strike momentum that people in and around my family had large hands brining my Province to quelled by the ruling class at, practically the wave of a hand. Just to get to think of a getting crush in a Jack London's Iron Heel kind of scenario is really unthinkable at this point. Underestimating a CIA, etc., that literally re-employed Nazi foot soldiers throughout Europe right after WWII and gave them arms cashes in the woods of Germany, Italy, etc., and then set them up to committ acts of terrorism to destabilize left momentum, is folly.
      I fully include traditional left labour organizing in my charachterization of left organizing as nigh on irrelevant.
      Fascism never lost power, and indeed is on the hard rise in more explicit and all encompassing social settings now. Our fields of opportunity as r'evovlutionaries is closing, and even consolidation to powerful underground river system, which can still be expansionist, is closing.

      Do you see? Please counter me if appropriate to open my eyes. Your last response actually tells me that we're closer than, perhaps, either of us might have thought.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th May 2014

      I agree that we are probably closer than we realize. It's easier to talk about specifics than generalities. I'm not sure I completely understand your points, but I'll just add that whatever we are doing, as long as we conceive of self-managed, solidaritous movements with the capacity to win short-term gains while continuously building political power, we are in agreement. I'm just leery of the co-op or communities thing because here it's a very liberal, privileged, localist type thing which fundamentally excludes the poor and working class (see No Local by Greg Sharzer [I disagree with his characterization of Parecon as localist]). I agree that there is no labor movement, but I think that needs to be addressed at some point, not circumvented. I think it is ultimately the organization of workers which will provide the power to fundamentally alter society.

    • Gregory VanGaya 13th May 2014

      Let's set a skype date even if it's just to come to some mutual clarity. I think we are, in our strategy or broader directionality, very aligned. It is my tactical-strategy addressing your insightful concerns informing your broad concerns that I think you are not seeing, and quite likely me missing your tactical-strategy all together.
      Maybe we could record the call to post for other IOPS members to listen to if our conversation is at all fruitful in attaining clarity and helpful insight to tactical-strategy (where we can actually put rubber to the road inter-regionally). My skype handle is redresonant

    • Gregory VanGaya 13th May 2014

      Oh, and it's hard to be sure of a time with me, maybe lunch tomorrow?

    • Will Henry Lapinel 14th May 2014

      I'd be delighted to - but it would be hard for me to find a time as well. I am unfortunately quite busy between my extremely active 1.5 year old and my local organization which is just barely establishing itself and requires a lot of work. I can't schedule anything in the near future but would like to keep in touch with a view to skyping at some point in the future.

    • Rufus Polson 15th May 2014

      I'm not at all sure I buy the "no local" argument, and in any case I'm not sure it applies to co-operatives as a category. Look at Mondragon--over 70,000 employees in the Mondragon group, many of them involved in moderately heavy industry, like manufacturing washing machines. How localist is that?

      Particularly with the latest technologies, such as 3d printing, it's not clear to me that localism has to be about boutique food and primitivism. Sharzer's arguments tell me that thus far, from a radical perspective, localism hasn't been done very well, at least in recent years. But then, the same could be said of unionism, socialism and so on. All that means is that all of them, including localism, should be done better.
      Similarly, Sharzer points out that localist movements are subject to pressures from the broader capitalist society. Sure. Name a form of resistance that isn't. Yet he treats this as an argument that localism is a dead end.
      I think well done localism can be important and useful. Over the decades, if there's one thing that capitalist imperialism has fought tenaciously and with real fear and fury, it's the existence of good examples. Usually this is on a nationalist level--countries that resist imperialism (Vietnam et al) or elect leftist governments (Chile et al) or both (Venezuela, gosh do they hate Venezuela). But localism could create local good examples. It would need to go as comprehensive as possible, create networks of communities and groups, perhaps create "tariffs" in some way on things made within the communities in the network (so as to avoid the "race to the bottom" pressure of the surrounding capitalist vendors).
      So localism is an approach that doesn't have a magic wand to go with it. We'll have to do it smart and well, just like a labor movement or a radical political movement have to be done smart and well in order to both amount to anything and not revert to flabby reformism. But it does allow incremental progress starting from small. The danger of localism seems to be less failure of ideology than failure of ambition--the tendency to get a good thing going and leave it at that rather than building around it.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 15th May 2014

      Rufus, I think we probably agree, just have different understandings of the term "localism." The game is ultimately about changing hearts and minds and building a growing counterpower. I don't think a strategy of building a network of cooperative businesses necessarily satisfies either, certainly not the second. If you can get a hold of Oppose and Propose, this topic is discussed quite nicely in my opinion. The point was that there is a difference between "alternative institutions" which are simply exemplary organizations with egalitarian features and "counter-institutions," which are part of a revolutionary movement. Unfortunately Mondragón is hardly part of a revolutionary movement - I am not aware of any politics associated with it. Most worker co-ops are like intentional communities - no threat whatsoever to the establishment, in fact they fit in quite nicely. I agree that "good examples" are something the establishment fears, I just don't think this includes cooperative businesses. A worker owned co-op is just another business with a horizontal management structure; it's not a growing social organization with a revolutionary political tilt. Again, we have to talk specifics to have a real conversation, but I certainly don't think replicating Mondragon will get us anywhere.

  • Gregory VanGaya 13th May 2014

    I think from here we could start with regional groups and shared, share initiative. Like simply funding Carl in St. Louis to re-purpose his illustrations for the parecomic into a more 'sexy' video to have out there. Maybe we on the West Coast could do a camp at Burning Man to bring ourselves together, get on some kind of the same page and do some meaningful work-shopping of the idea of paresoc, and hopefully recruit some high quality new people to the regional organization.
    But definitely a shared initiative that could more simply aggregate inter-regional resources and efforts.
    For example we could all do reviews and generally on-line promotion of the parecomic and do pitch in for another print of it.

  • Lambert Meertens 13th May 2014

    I haven't fully thought this true, but my immediate reaction is that it might be better to scale down the ambition a bit and focus the effort on a smaller number of the most promising locations to be judged by some combination of the size of the local membership and the presence of a couple of enthusiastic members. Where there are just four members, it is less likely that the chapter can mount a successful sustained organizing effort, even after training. There may also be a need for follow-up activities by the Chapter Building Tour, which may be more cost-effective than spreading the effort thin; it is not clear to me if such follow-up activities are included in the proposed budget.

    I don't expect this will help to make us meet the self-imposed preconditions by June 12, 2014, but it still seems worth the effort by itself.

  • Alexander Androv 15th May 2014

    I agree with Gregory VanGaya's arguments. I lived the first 16 years of my live in Eastern Europe's socialist countries. I was exposed all the time to ideological and organizational speeches. But It was not enough.

    If you provide teaching, explanations and dinner meetings with music and talks about the possibilities of the bright future it raises the mood for a while. And that's it. Oh, and you have good memories from good people.

    Instead you can draw a better way of leaving after some change. And by better way of leaving I mean more resources and freedoms for all that take part in this change. That is why it was much easier to get massive support in Russia in 1917 and in Venezuela in the past and today. It was not so hard to draw better picture of leaving in both places. And people followed. Which is not the case in the developed societies today because it is much harder to draw a realistic better future in these societies.

    It is in the human nature to self-project in future and instinctively seek better ways of leaving. You can call it "an evolutionary greed" if needed (And I am not referring to the 2% that have overcome this and are ready to sacrifice).

    So if you can organize co-ops in which people have more resources and more freedoms than they have right now it will only remain to make this co-ops survive and spread. And they will survive and spread if they have a vital structure, good planning and good organization and strategies and even if they are ideologically (as cooperative form of ownership) against the believes of other organizations and institutions which surrounds them, if they give to these other organizations and institutions some advance (lower prices of the production or better quality, or both) they will work with the co-ops and even can think to transform themselves in order to achieve the same advantages. And most important – people will be willing to participate in the co-ops. Because by participating they will achieve advantages.

    I have lived for a several months in a real kolkhoz (a “mutual household”) and now I think I can distinct some basic reasons about its final failure to provide a solid base for further economic development. … which is part of another conversation…

    And I have no idea how to promote the IOPS values in Belgium. I don't know how to do it for now.