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Ditch the Internationale - Re-evaluating IOPS

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Just a couple of thoughts to throw into the IOPS re-evaluation mix after the predictable failure of the 12 June deadline. I think we need to move beyond just asking ourselves very restricted organizational questions as those in the latest poll, and begin a more serious re-evaluation, for example of some key assumptions.

1. One of the key assumptions behind the founding of interim IOPS (and continuing in many discussions even now despite everything) seems to be that of IOPS becoming some sort of huge Internationale. I would argue that that assumption is wrong, a delusion of grandeur if you like, and the sooner it is dropped, the better.

2. The word Internationale itself is historically burdensome, if not irksome, from an anti-authoritarian perspective that IOPS supposedly shares.. The second and third Internationales were authoritarian, bureaucratic, repressive organisations. The tiny first Internationale of Marx and Bakunin broke up quickly along authoritarian/anti-authoritarian lines.

3. Any anti-authoritarian, internationalist organization on a global level could only come about from below, as a result and wish of self-networking or self-federating grassroots organizations engaged in social struggles. That seems a long way off at this point (the WSF would seem to have been the last failed attempt).

4. These three arguments above may also be at least one reason why IOPS has been so relatively ignored by many on the left spectrum, including by most of its own ICC. (This is only pure conjecture on my part of course, but the deafening silence of almost all ICC members throughout our short existence has now culminated in the majority ICC 'go-away-I'm-busy' debacle.)

5. Given the huge complexity and differences of global social, radical, anti-capitalist movements and non-Anglophone mass movements, their massive self-organizing and -linking on a global level will most likely only happen via increasing communication, dialogue, alliances between these different movements. Is this happening enough, or at all?

6. IOPS could make the facilitation of this global communication and linkage between social movements one of its main activities, not in terms of trying to absorb them into IOPS but of enabling a greater degree of self-consciousness, coherence and self-organization, ultimately at a global level, as a 'Movement of movements' that will find its own institutional forms, forms we cannot as yet know.

7. If IOPS were to pursue its IOPS-as-Internationale and correlative 'credibility' delusion, it would, logically, need to become much more 'credible' in terms of 'representation' than the first 'preconditions' poll suggested. I hope people realise that with, say, 4,000 members, it would not only need to be 50% women, but the number of members from Asia would need to be roughly 2,256 and from Africa 496, from Europe about 400, but only 208 North Americans could be admitted (sorry guys, ya gotta go) and 24 Australians and New Zealanders! 

8. It would also need to 'represent' BILLIONS of people and movements, so let's just start with the world's radical peasants for example (Via Campesina with 150 million peasants in 60 countries; the Brasilian MST with 1.5 million members; the Guatamalan CPR, Indian KKRS and Navadanya/DWD, Bangla Deshi Nayakrishi Andolon, South African LPM, Mexican EZLN), or Chinese workers, Cambodian and Bangla Deshi textile workers, 20 million literally enslaved men, women and children etc. IOPS does not quite fit the bill, no?

9. Not being an 'Internationale' in spe, IOPS does not have to 'represent' anyone. Its 'prefigurative' nature would lie not in any numerical quotas but in its internal participatory democracy and, hopefully, solidarious, pleasant and humane internal and external relations. Obviously I would thus argue for the abolition of the previous chapter/convention preconditions (as the majority did, BTW, in the 'first first' poll...).

10. So, what instead of IOPS-as-Internationale? How about IOPS, both as chapters and website, as (a) consciousness-raiser, beginning with ourselves (as in early feminism); (b) facilitator of inter-movement dialogue, coherence-building and self-organization; (c) creative intervenor in social direct actions and movements (the leaven in the dough); (d) support, affinity and mutual aid network? (All of this of course predicated on enough members not only wanting any or all of this, but prepared to debate and act on it, perhaps doubtful at this stage?)

11. Re interim status, ICC and founding convention: could we not get over all that quite simply by having a poll about simply declaring ourselves founded and ditching the ICC? Too simple?

 

Discussion 21 Comments

  • Howard Goldson 28th Jun 2014

    Your ideas have merit. I agree that another socialist/democratic organization does not seem urgent. There are many groups of all kinds working on many laudable human projects. I think the prevailing model in groups tends to be corporate rather than participatory. Perhaps we should seek to be a unifying factor whose contribution would be the desirability of voice for all their constituents.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 28th Jun 2014

    Thanks for the comment, Howard. "I agree that another socialist/democratic organization does not seem urgent." I certainly didn't say that. I think IOPS useful and necessary, otherwise I wouldn't be here. It's what KIND of org IOPS should see itself as that I'm questioning: i.e. as a global Internationale in spe, or as a small-is-beautiful network of anti-authoritarian activists advocating and facilitating participatory democracy/eco-socialism/anarchism. That seems to me to be the basic choice...

  • Rick New 29th Jun 2014

    This post inspired me to join (if somewhat tentatively) as it opens the door to options and frees up people to begin thinking for themselves about basic premises rather than to follow an already defined set assumptions deemed as "uncontroversial."

    Three points jumped out for me:
    The word Internationale itself is historically burdensome, if not irksome, from an anti-authoritarian perspective that IOPS supposedly shares.. The second and third Internationales were authoritarian, bureaucratic, repressive organisations. The tiny first Internationale of Marx and Bakunin broke up quickly along authoritarian/anti-authoritarian lines.

    Those authoritarian seeds already seem strong in IOPS, despite consternation that this isn't so.

    and

    "in its internal participatory democracy and, hopefully, solidarious, pleasant and humane internal and external relations."

    Perhaps the word "participatory" could be deeply explored together, so that moving forward was not based on assumptions of what that means?

    and


    "So, what instead of IOPS-as-Internationale? How about IOPS, both as chapters and website, as (a) consciousness-raiser, beginning with ourselves (as in early feminism); (b) facilitator of inter-movement dialogue, coherence-building and self-organization; (c) creative intervenor in social direct actions and movements (the leaven in the dough); (d) support, affinity and mutual aid network?"

    Which I think has been accomplished successful (albeit in a related, but quite different milieu by Daniel Pinchbeck) at https://realitysandwich.com/

    Thanks for posting, I hope this dialog can continue.

    Rick

    • Michael Livingston 29th Jun 2014

      RICK: Welcome to IOPS. You've certainly picked a challenging time to sign up. It will require some time, but, I encourage you to take a look at the multiple perspectives about our current circumstances and what we should do next reflected in the comments on these recent blogs:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/polls/poll-on-iops-future
      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/what-now
      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/whatq-nowqq
      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/now-what

      And, to give some context to those comments (and Peter's proposal in this blog), take another look at the "key documents" on the ABOUT IOPS page of this website: http://www.iopsociety.org/about

    • Rick New 29th Jun 2014

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your reply. I've responded to Peter at the main thread level which covers the docs.

      My inspiration to join was based on a particular post about stepping back (Why IOPS failed) "To me the only way to avoid that would be to take a huge step back..."
      and the challenge in this post to "consciousness-raiser, beginning with ourselves..."

      What might that mean to begin with oneself? For a group to turn inward? To look at one's own assumptions?
      The turning inward perhaps has some momentum as the crisis of the failure to meet the convention terms arose.

      Could that momentum to look at ourselves be followed, even for a short time? Can a step back be taken, back to the key word in the name "participatory"?

      Thank you,

      Rick

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 29th Jun 2014

    Thanks for the comment Rick. Glad you've been inspired to contribute.

    "Those authoritarian seeds already seem strong in IOPS, despite consternation that this isn't so."

    Maybe you could elucidate what you mean here. I don't see it that way. There have been constant efforts by everyone to run everything very democratically, and I think that can only increase.

    "Perhaps the word "participatory" could be deeply explored together, so that moving forward was not based on assumptions of what that means?"

    I think those assumptions are pretty well spelled out in the Mission statement and other baseline texts on site.

    "Which I think has been accomplished successful (albeit in a related, but quite different milieu by Daniel Pinchbeck) at https://realitysandwich.com/"

    Checked out Reality Sandwich as far as I could (many buttons, incl. 'About', did not give any information). Thanks for the link. An interesting participatory but non-committal publishing venture, to be sure, but I think very little to do with the anti-capitalist, libertarian approach to system change and social movements which IOPS incorporates.

  • Dave Jones 29th Jun 2014

    A tale of two approaches: Following economic crisis, an encampment breaks out on Wall Street calling itself "Occupy". It has no founding documents or philosophy or demands or leaders. It spontaneously spreads around the globe (mostly West) fueled by discontent, but almost as quickly begins to de-volve as consensus grows more distant, as the "ideological rubble" piles higher and higher. In its anti-authritarian purity, millions of clamoring voices turn into a cacophony.

    A website appears complete with founding documents (Mission, Vision, Values) and thousands sign on from around the globe ( Same folks?) It declares itself an "interim organization" with pre-conditions and a body of "advisors" with vague decision making power. It too is somewhat Western-centric but at least the rubble seems less an obstacle and consensus on anti-capitalism established. But because it is virtual and lacks a physical space, there is little exchange of human to human energy and the feeling of alienation spreads. Anarchists are wary of an over-seeing ICC. We see only avatars and small pictures of each other. The economic crisis is "managed" and capitalism repairs itself once more.

    I think declaring ourselves founded is a good idea but wonder if those managing the website will keep it up? Could those of us left agree to participate in something collectively? Something that challenges the status quo?

    • Howard Goldson 29th Jun 2014

      Thanks Dave. I made a specific proposal (not necessarily a good one) in another forum and made a request for others to make proposals with the idea that we would select one from the many and focus on its accomplishment. The only response I got was that my proposal had been tried in another context and found illegal. Ofcourse that missed the entire point. No one (There were many post in this forum) made a different proposal. Nevertheless, I think you are thinking in the correct direction when you propose a project that we could all focus upon. Why don't you take a shot at it?

    • Fred Curran 29th Jun 2014

      Well said Dave.
      I do not think that the members here were generally involved with the occupy movement. Few who I have talked to on the site. And in Eugene and Chicago I do not see familiar faces or names, maybe one or two, but I do not think they are active on the site or aware of it at this point. To the question whether or not I will personally commit to participate in something that challenges the status quo collectively, I would love to. As to all of your other questions, I will differ to others.

    • Fred Curran 29th Jun 2014

      defer not differ my brother tells me

  • Michael Livingston 29th Jun 2014

    Peter:

    (1) What made IOPS' "failure of the 12 June deadline" "predictable"?

    (2) Are you arguing here that IOPS' aspiration to be an international organization was a/the cause for our not achieving the "preconditions"? If so, what's the connection?

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 30th Jun 2014

      Hi Michael.

      Q1 re predictability. A sense of the obvious trend based on the low and declining rate of new members (plus loss of old), the low and declining level of virtual participation at the website, the very slow and low level of chapter-forming. (Add to that the fact, if I remember correctly, that the majority of those that bothered doing the 'first first' poll was against having pre-conditions etc).

      Q2 There's some confusion re my arguments in the wording of your question, methinks. I of course have nothing against "IOPS' aspiration to be an INTERNATIONAL organization". For me, that in fact is its very charm. I think you're conflating the notion of any org being 'international' (or 'internationalist') with the notion of an org as some form of INTERNATIONALE (think First, Second, Third and Fourth Internationales). It's against the latter only, as a delusion of grandeur, that I'm arguing against for the reasons given.

      As for anything being "a/the cause for our not achieving the preconditions" - my point 4 is not about that but only a conjecture for why perhaps some on the libertarian left or the ICC do not seem to have been all that enthusiastic about publicizing or participating in the IOPS project. But I'm sure there are many complex and diverse reasons.

      Hope that answers your questions. Salud.

  • Rick New 29th Jun 2014

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your reply.

    You asked:
    "Maybe you could elucidate what you mean here. I don't see it that way. There have been constant efforts by everyone to run everything very democratically, and I think that can only increase."

    Then later go on to write:
    "I think those assumptions are pretty well spelled out in the Mission statement and other baseline texts on site."

    When we refer to an external source, isn't that referring to an authority? When the mission becomes a capital "Mission", when questions and probings can be answered by already defined assumptions?

    Is it possible to explore together what a word means, to redefine words and each other moment to moment and come to shared meaning rather than referring to a document written years ago?

    You wrote:
    The second and third Internationales were authoritarian, bureaucratic, repressive organisations. The tiny first Internationale of Marx and Bakunin broke up quickly along authoritarian/anti-authoritarian lines.

    Any anti-authoritarian, internationalist organization on a global level could only come about from below...

    If we refer to the long list of documents written by previous IOPS members, how can something come from below? The documents are already there, imposed, something one must agree to before walking in the door.

    How can something that begins with the authority of the written word and the demand to agree to those terms (if you want to participate) not continue as an authoritarian organization?

    Is this what is meant by "participation"; "please refer to the documents"?

    Thank you,

    Rick


    ***

    Reality Sandwich has an "Evolver" network. They do workshops, clinics, publish books. They are dedicated to supporting global change by attempting to step out of old models. I'm not advocating for RS, just positing one example among what could be a wide range of approaches.



  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 30th Jun 2014

    Hi Rick,

    "Is it possible to explore together what a word means, to redefine words and each other moment to moment and come to shared meaning rather than referring to a document written years ago?"

    Indeed it is. As befits a democratic organization at IOPS there have in fact been numerous blogs, forum discussions and even a project (Translating IOPS) all looking at 'redefining words' and 'coming to shared meanings'. Maybe you'd like to check some of them out. Although IOPS as an interim organization has not the democratic means of making decisions together about such matters as refining or changing its own 'constitution' (Mission Statement etc), I personally have had a few goes at writing alternative mission statements just for the hell of it and to encourage debate.

    "If we refer to the long list of documents written by previous IOPS members, how can something come from below? The documents are already there, imposed, something one must agree to before walking in the door.

    How can something that begins with the authority of the written word and the demand to agree to those terms (if you want to participate) not continue as an authoritarian organization?"

    In order to somehow define and give direction to a proposed organization, I see nothing wrong with having to agree with some set out basic values and ideas. I can't in fact see how else you could do this. (A totally open org without boundaries or criteria or specific values is not an org but an uncreative, non-committal chaos; anarchy is not chaos but 'free order', self-managed order). For a libertarian organization that of course does not mean one has to agree with every single notion or wording (I don't, for example, but I do agree with the values and general thrust), and it also means that all those notions and their wordings must be able to be discussed, refined, changed. That is also part of participatory, anti-authoritarian IOPS structure as I understand it. If it weren't so, I would not be in it.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 30th Jun 2014

    Rick, here an early draft alternative mission statement from me:

    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/alternative-draft-iops-mission-statement

    And here a more general text as a kind of proposed consensus for debate re an extended IOPS self-definition:

    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/as-we-see-it-2.0

  • Rick New 30th Jun 2014

    Thank you for your reply, Peter. I will think about what you've written and reply back.

    Regards,

    Rick

    P.S. I didn't get notified about your post is there a way to set up so I get notifications?

  • Rick New 30th Jun 2014

    Hello Peter,

    Thank you for your reply.

    >> Rick, here an early draft alternative mission statement from me and here a more general text as a kind of proposed consensus for debate re an extended IOPS self-definition.

    >> I see nothing wrong with having to agree with some set out basic values and ideas.

    Thank you so much for those documents, they look very thoughtfully and comprehensively written. However, to me they seem like a reformulation of the basic premises set forth in the original mission, vision values. Are there some key points in what you’ve written that challenge any of the original assumptions?

    As Chomsky often points out, a wide range of debate is encouraged in our democratic process, but that debate doesn’t have much to do with what is fundamental to the system.

    ***

    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....” N.C.

    ***

    Perhaps, this is a common pitfall they we can all easily fall into? We set forth a comprehensive set of missions, visions values and encourage debate within that spectrum, but exclude voices that fall outside of that. Perhaps, we discourage those who don’t agree with us not to participate. Those within the system don’t feel authoritarian, yet they protect and defend the basic assumptions of the system while feeling there aren’t other options.

    >> I can't in fact see how else you could do this.
    Could we look at some other options, together? Is it possible to remain radically open to the possibility the foundations that one have been working with, could be a part of the problems one is trying to solve? Is it possible to step way back together, without the defensiveness that sometimes comes along with preconceived ideas?

    Thank you,

    Rick

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 30th Jun 2014

    Rick, thanks for your thoughts. Our conversation seems to be getting quite far away from the thread and thrust of my original blog about delusions of grandeur and the Internationale notion. Perhaps you might like to post your own blog about your thoughts - I would encourage you to, go for it.

    Just to respond to your last comment briefly. I think we agree on the need to look at assumptions, to 'stand back' as you put it. I think we further agree on the need to encourage all kind of debates between differing views if we're serious about participatory democracy.

    Where we might not quite agree at this point is on the need or not for a radical, anti-authoritarian org like IOPS to define its core values, goals, visions, commitments and thus its necessary boundaries (which I assume you had generally accepted by joining up). This will automatically exclude people with authoritarian, sexist, racist, xenophobic, terrorist views. Of course such people can and must be talked with within society, but obviously IOPS cannot have them as members.. Forgive me if that's stating the obvious. All the best.

    • Rick New 1st Jul 2014

      Dar Peter,

      My apologies is our conversation was getting away from the main thrust of your post. I must have misread points 2 & 3 of your post as I thought they were referring to the the dangers of falling into authoritarianism.

      Thank you,

      Rick




    • Rick New 1st Jul 2014

      Hi Peter,

      At your suggestion, I've made a blog posting.
      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/authoritarianism

      Thank you,

      Rick

  • Fred Curran 1st Jul 2014

    Wonderful blog Peter, with so few people actively involved in IOPS, how do you think we should best organize our efforts toward deciding to proceed and then accomplishing your points 9,10,11? Aside from just prolonged blog debates that do not seem to build very much on themselves.