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The message that appears at the end of this blog, below the broken line, was sent to the current Interim Consultative Committee of IOPS which is 62 people.

The following ICC members replied - Ria Julian, Perveez Hoodbhoy, Ann Ferguson, Paul Street, Justin Podur, Patrick Bond, Verena Stresing, Stephen Shalom, Paul Street, Yotam Marom, Noam Chomsky, Fernando Vegas, Nico Raptis, Marie Trigona, Florian Zollman, M Adams, Denitsa Dimitrova, Anders Sandstrom, Eliot Tarver, Taylan Tosun, Gregory Wilpert, Mandisi Majavu, Yoann Le Guen, Lydia Sargent, Michael Albert, Jason Chrysostomou, Cynthia Peters, Ezequiel Adamovsky, Charlotte Saenz, David Marty, Mark Evans, Andrej Grubacic, and Harpret Paul.

All but one who replied answered affirmatively on question 1. One more respondant thought there should be no preconditions. The rest agreed we should have a convention and have preconditions for it. Then, among options a, b, and c, for the actual preconditions - and thus also the aims of a campaign leading to scheduling a convention - there was a pretty even split, certainly nothing absolutely definitive one way or another.

I would propose as a simple solution that once there is a tool in place, we have a membership wide vote. I would urge, for simplicity sake, compromising on plan b, but, in any event, going with whatever wins most votes. I do think that were the ICC polled with that proposal, the result would be essentially unanimous. I would suggest, however, that the poll to choose among the options that goes before the whole membership have one additional question -

Whatever option wins, I will pledge myself to recruit at least one person, a woman, and in any event no more men than women, in the next six months, as a priority I will do my all to fulfill, as a contribution to the campaign to meet the preconditions.  Yes - or - No…

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  1. Do you think IOPS should exist, have a convention, and at a convention settle on structure, program, etc.? (If not, please indicate if you want to no longer be on the IOPS ICC - or, if you do want to stay on it, explain why.)
  2. If you agree on having a convention, do you agree there should be preconditions for it (seems like a truism) and also a campaign urged the whole membership to attain those preconditions?
  3. If you agree on preconditions and a campaign to attain them, of the three proposed in the message below, which do you prefer?
  4. If you think none are worthy - please indicate what you would prefer, instead.

The relevant document: 


Three Proposed Campaigns to Achieve the Preconditions for a Founding Convention

In an IOPS blog published September 17, 2012, Michael Albert proposed that IOPS members engage in a “shared campaign” to achieve the preconditions for holding an IOPS founding convention and proposed a process for the development of campaign options. (See http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/2650-convention-conditions). Thereafter, a number of forum and blog discussions considered what the preconditions for a founding convention should be and what strategies to use to achieve those preconditions.  (See, e.g., http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/2nd-proposalhttp://www.iopsociety.org/forum/interim-goals-for-founding-conventionhttp://www.iopsociety.org/blog/case-for-campaign.) 

There was general agreement among the participants in those discussions about the conditions for a founding convention: (1) more members than we have now; (2) a more diverse and representative membership with respect to gender and nationality; and (3) more “active” members and/or chapters than we have now. The primary differences of opinion concerned how many more members and how to measure or define “active.” 

Under Michael’s proposal, campaign-option discussions were to conclude on November 15, 2012.  On November 18, when two of us asked about next steps, Michael Albert suggested “perhaps you should look at the original proposal, etc., propose something very specific for the icc to address.” (See http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/iops-program-possibilities ).  Set out below, based on the blog and forum discussions referenced above, are three proposals for campaigns to achieve the preconditions for a founding convention.


Campaign A

Number of Members: at least 10,000

Diversity:
- from at least 10 countries distributed over at least 3 continents
- a greater proportion of female members at the end of the campaign than at the beginning

Proportion of “Active” Members:
at least 1,000 self-identifying as active

Strategy for Campaign A:
- All IOPS members commit best efforts to introducing IOPS to 1 new person (preferably female) per month, for 3 months, but if the first new person is male, the second will be female.  At the end of the first 3 months, the then-current members (including those who joined during the preceding 3-month period) commit to introducing IOPS to 1 new person over the next three months, preferably female. 

- All IOPS members commit best efforts to “recruit from within” – i.e., to undertake a self-assessment and act on the results of that self-assessment, if necessary,  to become a more active member so that the new members introduced to IOPS by current members will see that activity and know what work there is to be done.  The recruit-from-within self-assessment could include questions like these: Am I a member of an IOPS project, and is that project doing anything?  Can I explain to others why I joined IOPS, what IOPS is doing now, and what I do as an IOPS member?  Do I belong to a local IOPS chapter, and, if so, what are the chapter’s activities?  Do I feel that I understand the IOPS Mission and Vision statements well enough to talk about them?

- If a chapter has at 3 members or more, members commit best efforts to holding a meeting within 30 days.  If already meeting, members commit best efforts to engaging in two of the following:  regular face-to-face chapter meetings; a program of self-education to develop understanding and ability to communicate IOPS values and commitments; community outreach; participation in other organizations compatible with IOPS values; posting regular reports on the IOPS chapter page, or adopting a constitution that provides methods of decision making and collection of dues.  

Time Limits & Convention Planning for Campaign A:
1 to 3 years to reach campaign goals; when ½ the conditions have been met, a Founding Convention organizing project is initiated; if the campaign fails to reach its goals by the completion date, interim IOPS initiates a re-evaluation, re-assessment process, which may or may not include proceeding to a Founding Convention.



Campaign B

Number of Members: at least 7,500

Diversity: (Same as for Campaign A)

Organized Chapters: at least 25 in at least 10 countries distributed over at least 3 continents, each one of which has certified that, at the time of certification, the chapter is organized, as defined by the individual chapter

Strategy for Campaign B: (Same as for Campaign A)

Time Limits & Convention Planning for Campaign B: (Same as for Campaign A)



Campaign C

Number of Members: at least 7,500

Diversity: (Same as for Campaign A)

Organized Chapters: at least 25 in at least 10 countries distributed over at least 3 continents, each one of which has certified that, at the time of certification, it has an admin, at least 5 members, met regularly f2f with a majority in attendance, adopted a constitution that defines decision-making processes and dues expectations, and posted at least 3 regular chapter reports in standardized format.

Strategy for Campaign C: (Same as for Campaign A)

Time Limits & Convention Planning for Campaign C: (Same as for Campaign A)


Submitted by:
Michael Livingston, IOPS Salem, Oregon
Sarah Owens, IOPS Salem, Oregon

Discussion 20 Comments

  • Kim Keyser 22nd Dec 2012

    Hi Michael. Good to see things moving forward with this. The three options are mainly clear, but I have a few comments and questions:

    Michael Albert: "All but one who replied answered affirmatively on question 1."

    Hmm… Did that person indicate why? I must say that regardless of what the explanation might be, I'd be very, very, very critical about having a person in the Interim Consultative Committee who can't even answer affirmatively such a simple and straight forward question: "Do you think IOPS should exist, have a convention, and at a convention settle on structure, program, etc.?"

    Michael Albert: "I would propose as a simple solution that once there is a tool in place, we have a membership wide vote."

    Sounds good to me! But it does require that a tool will be available in the foreseeable future though. I'm not sure it will be. Will it?

    Michael Albert: "1 to 3 years to reach campaign goals"

    Just to be sure about this: This will be from when we the membership has chosen then (and not from now)?

    Michael Albert: "I would suggest, however, that the poll to choose among the options that goes before the whole membership have one additional question -

    Whatever option wins, I will pledge myself to recruit at least one person, a woman, and in any event no more men than women, in the next six months, as a priority I will do my all to fulfill, as a contribution to the campaign to meet the preconditions. Yes - or - No…"

    Just so I won't have any doubts about this question: It is a separate and autonomous question, and not one that is integrated into any of the three campaign options? (If so, I'm alright with it. However, I'd not be if it would be integrated into the three main options.)

    • Michael Albert 22nd Dec 2012

      I think the polling tool should not be a big problem... I meant the last question as a way to see the prospects of fulfilling the preconditions in a reasonable time period, whatever conditions a person may vote for, and then whatever campaign we pursue.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 24th Dec 2012

      Hi Kim. We are working on adding a simple opinion poll feature to the site and should have it ready this week.

  • Kuan Phillips 22nd Dec 2012

    Hi Michael. Thanks for taking the time to write your article and to inform us of committee decisions. It is my understanding based on your article, that whichever of the above plans is adopted the interim phase of IOPS will continue for another 3 years unless the membership hits a certain number before then. Like Kim, I’m not clear if the 3 year period is supposed to start from when the plan is ratified or from now (or from when the website started 3 months ago). I assume it starts from now, although what I have to say isn’t particularly dependent on this detail.

    Based on the rate at which new member profiles have been appearing in the membership section of the website over the last few months, by my calculations we’re currently getting about 1000 new members per year. If we continue at the present rate the interim phase will extend to the full 3 years whichever of the above plans is adopted.

    For me, the decision to probably spend 3 years under the control of an unelected committee is a very bad policy. In the second half of my recent blog on this site “My View of IOPS” I tried to refute arguments for this committee and presented my alternative which is an online majority voting system that gives equal voting rights to all our members.

    It seems to me that those who want to see a more democratic world can take one of two views. Either the “seeds of a new society” view that movements like ours should be as internally democratic as the society they wish to see or a more Vanguardist approach where we need an internal hierarchy for the time being if the movement is to achieve anything. I’m strongly in the “seeds of a new society” camp, even more so as my long term vision is of an extreme version of democracy where literally no-one is allowed to be more powerful than anyone else. Your writing, Michael, has also suggested to me that you are also of the “seeds” persuasion, as do the statements of principles that were written for IOPS. I have no interest in vilifying the vanguardist position, so if your view has elements of this then this is a debate I think we ought to have.

    For someone from the “seeds of a new society” perspective to argue for a probable 3 year suspension of democracy within the movement seems very strange to me. It’s such a long period that it amounts to a vanguardist policy. For me the “seeds” view should apply to our group over the next few years as much as it would later on. If you believe democracy will be the best for society’s myriad of problems in the more distant future then what’s so unusual about the problems this movement faces in the next 3 years that require us to resort to unelected oligarchy?

    I suggest that there’s nothing exceptional about the present time that might justify such an approach, and that IOPS will be 1) far more successful and 2) it’s success will have a much more positive impact, if we try to make it as democratic as possible now. Some specific points I'd like to make are the following. Firstly, having democratically decided policies and/or issuing democratically agreed statements on specific issues things like Carbon Trading, Tibet, China, Nuclear power, The U.N. etc. and actively participating in action in these areas will, I believe, attract positive interest in our group from people who aren’t turned on by IOPS’s very general and numerous principles. Next, the internal debates and votes we might have to arrive at such statements would help to make IOPS a vibrant intellectual environment. By contrast, the policy of attracting members but having no official or international IOPS campaigns due to the Interim Committee’s decision avoidance approach just isn’t going to work, in my opinion - I don’t think members will stick around when there are other organisations in which they can have a say and which can speak and act as one united voice. Lastly, any members we do gather during this undemocratic Interim period will, I believe, have learned less about thinking for themselves and learning the skills of acting as a democratic collective, and more about repeating the statements of the group’s leaders and being salespeople for IOPS. Even if the group’s basic philosophies are fairly sound, which I believe they are, the group’s internal culture will, in my view, inevitably bend towards hierarchy and dogma, and do little good in the world.

    I admit that I’m not a particularly experienced activist or an expert in any of this, so this is all basically just my personal opinion. Sorry if some of this seems a bit negative, I’m not trying to argue with anyone, just to share my honest view of the situation and contribute to friendly debate and the healthy democratic world that I wish to see. All the best.

    • Michael Albert 22nd Dec 2012

      Hi,

      You raise a number of issues...but I think maybe there is one misunderstanding, also. IOPS isn't being directed by the ICC. They are doing, and are meant to do, virtually nothing. The organization is committed to self management, which is beyond democracy...but it also notes that a small membership, not organized in chapters, not meeting, etc., also shouldn't be making lots of decisions.

      Any chapter that forms is immediately self managing. Once there are some number, a national or even international organization could be too. So the approach being taken is meant to implement the seeds of the future idea...

      It is odd, I agree, to think the best way to do that is to hold decision making in abeyance until some conditions are met, but that has been the idea. It is easy to see, and I think everyone would agree, it makes sense at least up to a point. So when there were ten or twenty or fifty members, it would not have created a serious international self managing organization built on self managing chapters for those few members to have decided an entire structure, program, etc. etc. It could be done, we could have done it, but the belief was it should wait for a convention, for people to have had experience locally, for people to have worked at least some together, for people to be more diverse and widespread, and so on.

      So there is nothing even a tiny bit vanguardist or Leninist about the approach. If the icc was making all kinds of controversial decisions, or even just lots of decisions at all, I would agree with you. But I think they have decided literally nothing in four months...

      The other main point you raise is different. Even if there is some danger in having a relatively small membership, that isn't in chapters, that isn't working together, and so on, establishing program, etc., without a convention - would it greatly increase the likelihood of people joining and establishing chapters? Maybe, but I admit I don't think so. I think what will work is, well, work...organizing. Recruiting, meeting with people and creating chapters, and then by all means, chapters having program.

      There is a second problem, I think, with the current membership trying to establish program, etc. without a convention, without chapters. Currently the only way to discuss or explore ideas is online. That is far from ideal. I sincerely doubt it would work, or mean much.

      Consider an example...we vote to oppose a war, or a climate policy, or vote for something positive. Supposing we could agree on anything that added to the mix out there, what difference would that make? It matters only if it causes large numbers of people to engage in concerted efforts. I suspect that that requires chapters. I could be completely wrong about that.

      Maybe we vote for an international campaign for a shorted work week, or an international campaign to press various demands on mainstream media all over the world and then, instead of nothing happening, in lots of places it becomes possible to convene chapters to work on the program, and it is not just about the program, but the whole set of IOPS commitments. If that vision is real, I would say, I guess, okay, it is worth the risk of enacting decisions with too small and not diverse a membership, since it will generate more sixpence and more diversity.

      Last point, on how long it will take. We have 3,000 members. If each member recruits one, two, or three, in six months, we have a convention in six months...or at most a year, with whichever set of conditions we settled on. Honestly, if people cannot do that, once we all agree it is a priority...it is hard to see how proclaiming some program commitment will mean much. Likewise, if people can do it, and we can have a convention, and chapters, I would bet it will not only be far more in tune with planting worthy seeds, but also embark on program with far greater prospects of having real impact.

  • Dave Jones 22nd Dec 2012

    What you are saying then, Kuan, please correct me if I am wrong, is that you would like to end the interim phase and just become the organization that we are at this point in time. That "we" 2700 members ( or whatever it is at the moment), by virtue of having read the mission statement, agreed, and clicked the sign-me-up button, begin creation of a platform, voting on positions to various issues. In other words, IOPS doesn't require a "founding convention" as such, but begins today. The criteria ( so many members, so much activity) is irrelevant, it is voting democratically which makes us "active".

    I personally think a critical mass (I like 7,500) and a certain number of active chapters prior to full on dues paying initiation is still the way to go. I have not sensed any Vanguardist usurpation of authority by the interim committee, nor am I feeling any crucial urgency to begin a platform. I think a testing period, in which a sufficient AND necessary level of commitment is either demonstrated ( new recruitment by each interim member, in which case we proceed) or not ( in which case we go back to the drawing board) is also a good idea.

    My reasons are these. My experience with Occupy (in America) demonstrated that simply saying "we are all democrats now" was not nearly enough. We (the left Left) need to challenge ourselves with exactly this kind of ultimatum: go find anti-capitalists and bring them under one roof. The question isn't Tibet or carbon trading or nuclear power- it is whether a participatory society is a viable option at this time. If IOPS doesn't have legs, there are too many other things I can be doing.

    So yes, let's come up with a voting tool and choose among the options. I like campaign B, leaving the determination of "active" up to the integrity of the 25 chapters in 10 countries ( striving for gender balance and ethnic diversity)

  • Kim Keyser 23rd Dec 2012

    @Kuan: I understand – and sympathize with – your way of thinking. However, all local chapters are directly democratic, self-managing units (or rather recommended to be so, IOPS has no security mechanism to ensure they are, as of yet). And having strategy documents and so on, with no actual organizational capacity (i.e. active chapters) to even start implementing them, makes little to no sense. And even trying to come up with all the things that needs to be done during a founding convention (settling on a name, a logo, a platform, rules, action plan, budget, electing mandatees, at the very least) is extremely cumbersome to do through internet… Trust me.

    AFAIK though, you could start pushing your own chapter, and IOPS UK, to be more directly-democratic. It doesn't yet even have a basic set of rules, which ascertains how members and local chapters are included and excluded, rights and duties of each member and local chapter, decision making procedures, and so on… Why not start there?

    It seems to me that too many are waiting for some magic thing that will emanate from IOPS as such. But IOPS as such doesn't really exist as of yet, and right now, it's local initiatives such as that which can spearhead our organization and lay the foundation for a founding congress. ;)

  • Deniz Kellecioglu 23rd Dec 2012

    Hi everyone, I just want to say that I like the outcome and the proposals contained in this post. I also find the discussion in the comments valuable, including the valid concerns of Kuan. In conclusion, however, I hope we are able to proceed as suggested. I think we should (need?) take two more years to reach at least (!) 7 500 members and one of the options in A, B or C. In so, it is likely that IOPS depart from a position with a determined membership - a strong foundation to build further on.

    • Mark Evans 23rd Dec 2012

      Hi Deniz - you write "I also find the discussion in the comments valuable, including the valid concerns of Kuan."

      I also think it is healthy for members to have concerns about the ICC and interim phase. After all it is an unusual, perhaps even historically completely novel, approach to organising we are trying here and it is not without its dangers. So concerns are fine and make sense within this context. Of course we may fail and have to try something else - a different approach. But for now, at least and pending results, this is what we are trying.

      Within this context what does not make sense are objections to the interim phase from interim members. I think it is important that we are all very clear about this. Furthermore we all should also be clear about the way to overcome valid concerns regarding the ICC / interim phase - i.e. organise self-managed local chapters and national branches that can take over the running of IOPS as a functioning international organisation. That is what makes sense - at least within our current context.

    • Deniz Kellecioglu 23rd Dec 2012

      Dear Mark, I share your frustration and the passion that drives it. But please note that, although I found the comments valuable, it doesn't mean I share the conclusions arising from the comments. In the same spirit I do not agree with your sentence: "Within this context what does not make sense are objections to the interim phase from interim members." In my opinion, depending on the substance, it may make sense in any context to object to any phase from any member. This is just plain discussion, I guess. The importance is to take the spirit of resistance forward :-)

    • Mark Evans 23rd Dec 2012

      To see objections to our interim phase from interim members as "plain discussion" is, to my mind, a mistake. This is not discussion, as would be the case with raising concerns, but instead a call to action by interim members to end our interim phase.

      If someone objects to our interim phase then why join as an interim member? As far as I can tell this has nothing to do with taking "the spirit of resistance forward" - at least not within an IOPS context.

      But don't get me wrong, I have no problem with leftist and people in general objecting to what we are doing here. I am more than happy to see folks posting criticisms and objections to IOPS all over the internet. It is within this broader context that those who object to interim IOPS can have their discussion. Within that broader context objecting to interim IOPS is a discussion and could generally be described as taking "the spirit of resistance forward".

      But to join interim IOPS as an interim member and then to object to our interim phase is, unintentionally or not, much more than just discussion - even when presented as friendly discussion.

  • John Keeley 23rd Dec 2012

    I can understand setting out some core values, encouraging people to sign up to them, organise locally & give this a certain amount of time to reach a decent size & then have some kind of international decision-making body, but how much time?

    A year is not unreasonable, if growth was proceeding towards a decent total & local chapters were springing up all other the place maybe you could hold off for another year as everyone is busy & motivated by the progress. But when growth has stalled, as it has, & it looks like even 7,500 members isn't going to happen for some considerable time, how can you expect current members to be denied a democratic say on organisation?

    If things arn't working & a new approach is required there has to be an inclusive, democratic way of reaching decisions. Hence all three options are unattractive to me. We need a deadline, say the WSF of 2014, as the very latest date to implement some kind of equality in decision-making.

  • Michael Albert 24th Dec 2012

    Hi John.... Thinking about the issues - and I think I will write another blog, as the length is too much for a comment...

  • Leo Clark 24th Dec 2012

    After reviewing the blog and comments above, I have a couple of thoughts to consider. First, I would suggest that any organization is best started and encouraged at the local level. If we consider an IOPS wide convention too early, we immediately exclude members with less economic means, whereas the development of chapters will permit a later capacity to allow chapters to support their representatives in the participation of a larger convention. Second, I personally believe that the concepts outlined in the IOPS charter will require patience and time to materialize; forcing progress at an early stage risks having the charter usurped by a minority that (presumably having the best of intensions) is either in a position to currently act or possessing resources that permits their greater activity. We should be in no hurry to appoint anyone in charge internationally, but should allow it to develop naturally while observing how well the concepts are able to perform at the local level. Additionally, I suggest that relative to the nature of this endeavor, conceptualizing chapters based upon present borders is defeatist. It occurs to me that we should instead transcend existing borders and present imaginary lines as local and regional chapters are constructed, allowing events and participants to define chapters. We should steer away from time constraints and benchmarks, I suspect that as local and regional chapters form it will become self evident when a larger convention is necessary. Thus, what are important at this stage are the organization of local chapters and the constructive flow of information to all interim members to assist and facilitate this organization at local levels.
    Thank you,

  • Kuan Phillips 25th Dec 2012

    Hi all. Thanks for the positive, respectful replies given the critical nature of my posting. I appreciate the friendly attitude on here. I’m still in the process of writing responses to your points, Dave and Kim, so I’ll put them in a separate post if that’s ok.

    Michael - I appreciate the time you took to consider my points at length. The first claim I’d like to make is that even if the Interim Committee doesn’t change anything, it is still undemocratic in my view. Imagine a town in which most people want a statue to be built in the town square. If the town authorities refuse to build the statue they are, I believe, doing the undemocratic thing, as their minority-supported course of action is being chosen over the majority-supported one. So whether the Committee makes changes or maintains the status quo it is still controlling IOPS undemocratically.

    In addition to keeping the status quo in most areas, the Committee is making some very important active decisions, like that we’re going to have a conference at some point, and that this will be when the membership reaches 7.5-10 thousand people. By denying a vote on things at international level to most of the members until this target is reached the Committee has also effectively made the choice that a membership drive will be the priority for the organisation for the next few years.

    You say, Michael, that our approach is not vanguardist, so from that I’m taking it to mean that you think we’re holding ourselves to the standards of democracy that we want for the world, to the extent that this is practicable, and this interim period is not intended to be an undemocratic means to a more democratic end. As you accept this, I won’t spend time in this posting continuing to argue how being internally undemocratic won’t (in my view) contribute to a more democratic world. Whatever our precise reasons, you and I share the goal to make IOPS as democratic as we can now.

    Aside from your personal commitment to a democratic approach, the founding documents of the organisation itself promise the ordinary members a wide range of democratic rights. I’m referring to points 1,2,6, 8, 10 and 12 of the Structure and Policy section (on the Structure and Program tab). The Interim Committee structure is, in my judgement, contradicting these 6 policies.

    So my summary of all this is that, far from being as democratic as we can be, at international/organisational level we are not even worthy of being called democratic, and we’re inconsistent with our own stated policies. I concur with John, that this situation might be okay for a brief period, but it’s gone on longer than that. I would favour immediate debate leading to proposals and referenda within the space of months, but I’ll welcome any step in the right direction. How about we start rotating the members of the Committee?

    The arguments for focussing on recruitment and chapter building v/s developing policy or projects is perfectly valid and important. As are arguments in favour of face-to-face meetings v/s online ones, delegates v/s direct democracy and for greater diversity of gender etc. But none have a bearing on the argument for democracy in the group now at international/organisational level unless you take the vanguardist view that most of our members cannot be trusted to steer us an intelligent and enlightened direction when faced with these choices.

    Thanks again for engaging with me in this discussion - feel free to pull apart what I’ve written:) I hope, again, that I’m not being too negative - my issue is with specific features of the current situation, not the group in general or any of the people in it.

    • Pontus Proteus 25th Dec 2012

      Kuan, is anyone stopping you campaigning for a) alternative organisation, b) alternative campaigns, c) arranging a non-committee vote on either the campaigns above or alternative campaigns, d) dissolving the Committee, thereby formalising the IOPS sans-convention or e) doing/contributing literally anything else you want to any of the outlets available? After all, you knew the Committee existed before you joined, so if you disagreed with it you would have known such actions would have been necessary for you.

      Attracting members is surely going to be as key in 3 years time as it is right now. That can't be done without actually engaging in the sort of activities the full IOPS (post convention) would be engaging in anyway, so the committee's concern with it doesn't actually impede ANY other agendas.

    • Mark Evans 26th Dec 2012

      Hi Pontus - I tend to agree with what you write but I would push the point a little further.

      IOPS is an interim organisation. When someone joins they therefore do so as an interim member. One of the questions to consider when thinking about joining IOPS is therefore - do I agree with the logic of the interim phase? If the answer to this question is "no" then that person will not want to be an interim member and will therefore choose not to join. That would be the reasonable way to go.

      From this we can see that the process of joining IOPS acts as a kind of filter. It brings certain people in - those who agree with our key documents and interim logic - and keep certain people out - those who oppose our vision etc, and our interim process.

      The idea of having this filter is that it means that we - the membership - do not have to have endless and demoralising internal debates, with people who oppose what we are doing, about all kinds of issues that are a distraction away from our organisational priorities. More broadly we can engage with these people on the internet and in real life as part of popular campaigns etc, but IOPS - the site and local chapters - are meant to be our space to organise within, free from such distractions.

      So whilst I would agree with you that no-one is stopping members from presenting anti-interim / anti-ICC arguments there is the more basic point that if people were respectful of IOPS such debates would not be occurring in the first place - at least not internally - because, for reasons of common sense logic that are too basic to breakdown into bullet points - those who oppose inter IOPS will not have joined as interim members.

      Unfortunately, it seems that some people are choosing not to see this logic - joining as interim members despite opposing the rationale for our interim phase - and continue to agitate internally despite the fact that this has been pointed out to them many many times. Why people would continue to do this is beyond me.

    • Pontus Proteus 26th Dec 2012

      Quite right.

    • Michael Albert 26th Dec 2012

      I am going to put up another blog, shortly, adding to my own thoughts on what to do next. But, for here...just a few points. First the icc didn't decide anything about a convention...but instead I reported their consultative reaction to some proposals some members generated.

      The Interim nature of the organization, and the determination of actual lasting decision structures and political program via a convention and not before having one, were in the definition of IOPS from the beginning, before there was an icc, and were supposed to be agreed to as part of the basis for joining. It is changing that, honestly, that would violate the logic and the agreements on which IOPS participation has been solicited, as well as violating the logic of self management and wise decision making.

      The reason for not taking lots of decisions, however, that is, such as deciding lots of structure, or settling on international program, or deciding dues, say, has to do with the commitments. IOPS does not elevate democracy, one person one vote majority rule, as some kind of universal goal, but instead self management...decision making influence in proportion to effects. It also elevates the desirability of diversity, solidarity, and experience, and participation. Combining these commitments led to, again at the very outset, the idea that waiting on a convention which would in turn wait on achieving certain admittedly initially vague preconditions was essential because wise decisions require related experience, diverse opinions, deliberation, etc. this, keep interim decisions to an absolute minimum...

      I am quite sure you would agree that when there were five, ten, or twenty members, all friends who knew each other, etc., for them to decide the detailed structure of the sought organization, and its first program or even a five year plan, say...would have been technically possible, even in some sense easy, but undesirable. And I agree. So despite having a huge amount of years of involvement, and despite the hard work they were putting, and their connections and trust of one another, and of course wanting to be in a well defined and clearly oriented organization, those folks restrained themselves.

      Well, later, it was 100 that restrained themselves, and now it is about 3000. And it is not a violation of self management to do so, but instead is a means of pursuing it...in the form of pursuing a face to face organization of mutually trusting participants organized in local chapters, federated nationally and then internationally, with appropriate levels of influence at each level and over different types of decision, protection of minority viewpoints, etc. etc.

      This is a path folks agreed too on joining, and a path that people are trying to pursue. We are all impatient for progress and next stages, and rightly so. But that doesn't mean we should view only one side of the issues, or toss our carefully conceived and agreed plans prematurely. It actually means we should work hard on making progress and I would suggest, with all respect, that those who are doing that most vigorously, at least that I am aware of...those who are most avidly trying to recruit, trying to prepare the way for chapters, trying to actually generate chapters, and trying to learn and distill relevant lessons to guide proposals...are not just in majority, but my guess would be virtually unanimously, in favor of proceeding as conceived and agreed.

      There is, however, zero impediment to people proposing program and creating projects consistent with trying to refine and improve ideas for program, and also acting on them locally. And the same is true regarding structural ideas, which could not only be broached, but implemented, again locally. I would indeed say that anyone concerned about getting to the point of agreed structure and program, and wanting to focus their attention on that, ought to be doing just these things, by way of preparation. That some people think such steps should instead be taken by a disjoint international membership, centered largely in the west, and u.s., that has few means and shows little inclination, with virtually no experimentation and accumulation of derivative experience, so far, and little if any serious deliberations, and that has little experience with chapters and this type organization, and most of whom have put in little time on any of that, strikes me as ignoring reality.

      And indeed, it does also seem to me that the actual reality is that what really needs doing and what accords with our initial agreements, is growing our numbers, diversifying our composition, and especially developing local chapters so we are not merely a cyber entity, so that people engaging with one another gain experience bearing on issues of structure and program, and become seriously involved, locally, with others, etc.

      IOPS was and remains interim...seeking to move to a next stage and now considering what conditions will permit that transition is precisely what is occurring. But trying to jump steps and labeling it democracy and as a logical argument evoking a hypothetical majority, isn't really consistent with what has been done, or sought, or agreed.

      The sad truth is that participation is low, and even if we had a means for serious deliberation on line, and actually, arguably, technically we do, and even if people were taking the time to utilize it...and folks overwhelmingly are not...the idea that disjoint people casting one person one vote ballots about how chapters should be organized, or about the whole international, or about program that should be undertaken, would even represent an informed minority much less majority, much less apportion self managing influence, much less be highly informed and insightfully based on related experience, is just not in tune with the actual situation we are, so far, still in.

      That said, again, I will, as far as you may have interest in my personal views, post another blog shortly, and as I think you may find it agreeable, particularly it's proposal, perhaps waiting on it would be helpful...

      Michael Albert

    • Kuan Phillips 26th Dec 2012

      Hi Michael. Thanks again for replying to me swiftly and at length. I think your new blog is excellent and a real step in the right direction. Thanks very much for listening and trying to address the concerns of myself and others and I'll respond as soon as I can. All the best.