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Interim Goals?

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“One cannot predict, before the fact, the results of any endeavor like this. Sometimes embarking on creating a new project or organization goes nowhere, or continues for a bit, and then folds. Other times, lasting structures come into existence that make important contributions for years or even decades. What do we hope for?”
 
The above quote is taken from the History and Future Hopes section of our (IOPS) key documents.  It highlights a simple, but nonetheless, important truth: IOPS will succeed or fail, largely depending on what the interim membership do.
 
Will IOPS develop past it's interim phase?  Will we continue for a bit and then fold?  Or will we create lasting structures capable of contributing to significant social change? 
 
In answer to the question posed at the end of the above quote - what do we hope for? - we obviously want the latter. We want to create lasting structures!
 
But what does this mean in terms of actual objectives for existing members during our interim phase?  What should our priorities be during the interim phase?  What criteria do we need to meet before we can formally launch IOPS, bringing the interim phase to an end, and with it make the ICC redundant?  This is what we should be organising for now!  This is what we should be focusing on!  But what does it actually entail?  What should our interim goals be?
 
Here is what I would like to see:
 

  • A minimum of 5000 members.
  • For these members to be regularly organising face-to-face meetings at the local chapter level, practicing self-management etc. 
  • For these chapters to be engaged in self-education in which members develop a good understanding of IOPS key documents - our values, vision, structure, etc.
  • For these chapters to be engaged in recruitment drives to ensure that (1) the membership is increasing, and (2) they are attempting to build a membership which reflects the community in which they are based in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc.
  • For these local chapters to be doing outreach within their community and workplaces, raising awareness of IOPS, etc. 
  • For these local chapters to be networking with other local chapters within their region in preparation for the establishment of National branches. 
  • For members and chapters to be engaged, in solidarity with the broader left, in existing campaigns for social justice. 
  • For chapters to be posting regular reports on the IOPS website on organisational issues for others to see and comment on.
  • For chapters to be implementing some sort of membership dues system as a means of raising funds for activities, including the formal launch of IOPS. 

 
I think that if we can get 5000 members, not just on the site but active in local chapters, engaged in the above type of activities then we might be on to something.  It seems to me that the above would constitute the foundations of "lasting structure" with the potential to make "important contributions for years or even decades".


It is also exciting to think that if we could get 5000 committed members who are willing to contribute an average of say $20 per month that would generate $100,000 per month or $1,200,000 per year.  With that kind of money at our disposal we should be able to engage in some serious organising, which should help draw more members into our organisation, which in turn would generate more membership dues. 


That is the kind of dynamic I think we need to establish if we are to realise our hope of building a serious international revolutionary organisation.  But before we can do that we need to meet our interim goals. 
 
Do you share these goals?


Do you think they are achievable, say over the next 12 months? 

Discussion 52 Comments

  • Will Henry Lapinel 23rd Aug 2012

    Seriously, thank you for posting this. I do share them, and I DO think they are achievable. A couple of things I want to add:

    1. We do not have time to sit back. It is fatal for this organization to continue this level of activity and this growth rate. I am frustrated by the complacency I sense. I would love to hear from other active chapters - please post your activities.

    2. I am not sure about the financial aspect. I am having trouble imagining ways that we would use that kind of money in ways that would help our cause. I think our power can only be achieved and legitimized through intense grassroots organizing. What could a central supply of money buy us?

    -Will Henry

    • Jason Chrysostomou 25th Aug 2012

      I agree with you that it's really important that chapters who are meeting and organising need to be publishing what they are up to for others to see. In London, for example, we are holding meetings and have some events lined up which we have posted on the site - but I will propose to the others that we take turns posting blogs with updates.

  • Mark Evans 24th Aug 2012

    Hi William, the money could be held Nationally, regionally or locally - no need for it to be held at the international level, although that is an option that I think we should not rule out before exploring the pro's and con's of each.

    That detail aside I assume that you agree that IOPS needs money - right?

    • Will Henry Lapinel 28th Aug 2012

      Mark, sorry for the late reply. Yes, I do agree that you can't accomplish much without money - but I just wonder how it would be used and if there might be other ways to do it.

  • stephen lawton 24th Aug 2012

    With Crowd Funding and the revolution in Peer-to-Peer technologies, together with our Vision I hope we are going to set up Co-operatives. Do it rather than talk about it, a Mondragon in all the nations in which we exist. We can offer Hope 'Vision and work, participatory co-operatives for everyone.

    • Mark Evans 24th Aug 2012

      Hi Stephen - hope you are well.

      What you describe sounds great, but I assume you agree that there still remains some very important organising at the more fundamental level before we can start to initiate the more ambitious projects like the one you describe.

    • Anibal Hernández 25th Aug 2012

      I would never talk about something like mondragon (a corporate like cooperative), there are other models of co-operatives much more interesting going on also in spain. Check this one http://cooperativa.cat/es

      This is a self managed, decentralized, revolutionary organization around a lot of productive projects. Mondragon is just and enterprise. The Cooperativa Integral Catalana could be a model to study.

  • stephen lawton 24th Aug 2012

    Yep there is a lot of hard and exciting work ahead of us. On a personal note things went very well with my partner.

    • Mark Evans 24th Aug 2012

      That is great news! Let's meet for a celebratory pint and a chat. Text me!

  • Jason Chrysostomou 25th Aug 2012

    Hi Mark

    I'm in support of having some interim goals and like what you have proposed. I think having a more formally defined set of strategic goals during the interim phase will act to motivate and help members to focus their efforts with a clearer picture of what needs to be achieved in order to have a founding international convention.

    I've read that for Goals to be effective, they need to be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time measurable (S.M.A.R.T). Below, I evaluate each of your proposed goals according to this.

    If there is support in working out some clearer goals for the interim period, do you think they should be presented to the ICC for a vote on adoption?

    'A minimum of 5000 members.'

    Yes, sounds realistic to me. Would be better to have more, but I think this is could be a bare minimum. Online members?

    'For these members to be regularly organising face-to-face meetings at the local chapter level, practicing self-management etc.'

    I think this needs to be made more specific. How about at least 100 local chapters having regular (fortnightly, or monthly meetings)

    'For these chapters to be engaged in self-education in which members develop a good understanding of IOPS key documents - our values, vision, structure, etc.'

    Difficult to measure. It may be more of a strategy in achieving a goal. What would the goal be and how would it be possible to measure whether members have reached a good understanding of IOPS key documents?

    'For these chapters to be engaged in recruitment drives to ensure that (1) the membership is increasing, and (2) they are attempting to build a membership which reflects the community in which they are based in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc.'

    Needs to be more specific: what gender, race, age balance do we require as a minimum?

    'For these local chapters to be doing outreach within their community and workplaces, raising awareness of IOPS, etc.'

    Sounds like a strategy, to me, that chapters can adopt to reach the goal of reaching 5,000 members.

    'For these local chapters to be networking with other local chapters within their region in preparation for the establishment of National branches.'

    Again, a strategy? How could it be measured? How about at least 100 local chapters need to have a formal delegate appointed. At least 10 national branches need to have held a national gathering of regional or local delegates?

    'For members and chapters to be engaged, in solidarity with the broader left, in existing campaigns for social justice.'

    Is there a specific measurable goal for this?

    'For chapters to be posting regular reports on the IOPS website on organisational issues for others to see and comment on.'

    To make more specific, how about reports need to be published by at least 100 local or regional chapters within the period of a year.

    'For chapters to be implementing some sort of membership dues system as a means of raising funds for activities, including the formal launch of IOPS.'

    At least 20 chapters or branches to have started to have setup a bank account and be collecting membership dues?

    To make the goals more S.M.A.R.T, perhaps we could summarise the strategic goals as follows:

    The following requirements are to be met in order to have a founding IOPS international convention which would establish IOPS as a formal organisation:

    1.) To have at least 5,000 members

    2.) To have at least 100 functioning local chapters, defined as:
    - having regular meetings
    - have some component of self-development and education
    - publishing chapter reports on the site: at least one every 4 months

    3.) To reach a gender balance of at least 40% women or men.

    4.) For at least 5 National Branches to have held a national IOPS gathering.

    5.) To have at least 10 chapters or branches having setup a bank account and be collecting regular membership dues.

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Hi Jase - maybe as a we approach the 5000 members mark on the site we could look at undertaking some kind of survey that would give us an idea of where we are at and then, based on the results, formulate some interim goals to put to the ICC.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 28th Aug 2012

      Sending out a survey for chapters to respond to is a good idea to get a more accurate picture of where we are at. But I think first I would identify the full set of measurable criteria that we need to meet first - our target to reach - before evaluating whether we have met it.
      Another idea, is say we have a list of 5 key goals for the interim period we need to reach to begin planning for a founding convention. We could then feature them prominently on the home page and have a running update.

      For example:

      TARGET: CURRENT:
      5,000 Members 2,500 Members
      40% min women 37% min
      100 functioning 18 functioning
      chapters chapters
      etc.

      I quite like this. What do people think?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 28th Aug 2012

      sorry it didn't format properly. Here is what I mean:


      TARGET: ---------------CURRENT:
      5,000 Members----------2,500 Members
      40% min ---------------women 37% min
      100 functioning -------18 functioning
      chapters --------------chapters
      etc.

      what a functioning chapter is would need to be more specifically defined e.g. holding meetings at least once a month.

  • Dave Jones 25th Aug 2012

    Missing from your SMART goals is the time element, Jason. By when? Is this a purely arbitrary date? This points to the subjectivity of all these figures and deadlines more generally. For instance, if we only had a 36% gender balance does the whole project fold? Why set a finish line at all?( unless the organization/website as is is taking too much time and resource)

    As for funding, I think some sort of sliding scale would be popular.I like the idea of chapter reports as well as a place to report on the activity of ongoing projects.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 25th Aug 2012

      We could set a period of time that would act as further motivation for members, but that is also realistic and achievable. For example, a two year time frame. What period of time do you think is realistic?
      Having a list of specific measurable goals, allows us to set a criteria for determining if we have succeeded or failed and whether we are ready for a founding convention, but if we do fail in meeting them in the set time frame, it doesn't mean we need to give up - we just make an evaluation of our strategies, revise our goals and set a new strategic plan.

  • stephen lawton 26th Aug 2012

    Anibal the link does not work. I sited Mondragon because it is the biggest and from what I have read no workers have been sacked during the world recession, given that unemployment in Espania is up to 50% of the under 25s it is a real success. I do take your point though comrade.

  • stephen lawton 26th Aug 2012

    Jason I'm a little uneasy with the term SMART or SMARTA it is the language of managerialism, the coordinator class. Measuring brings in bureaucracy, do we really want this from the very beginning?

    New Labour Used TARGETS to centralise power and kill off creativity, lets be cautious that all I'm saying

    • Jason Chrysostomou 28th Aug 2012

      Stephen, I can understand your uneasiness when hearing terms like SMART goals that are abound in corporate planning and business literature. However, I think that the tools and methodologies, in themselves, are politically neutral. Like technology, say. It depends on what the technology is used for, or what the goals are you are setting to achieve. The goal could be malevolent, to wage war on a population, or it could be benevolent, in our case for winning a better world. If we want to be effective in planning our strategies then, personally, I think tools like these can be quite useful.

  • Haroon Bajwa 27th Aug 2012

    Mark, thank you for listing some very practical and, I believe, achievable expectations. I hope we don't spend a lot of time over-analyzing and debating these expectations.

    Jason, I don't mind using SMART to help guide us. And, I think Stephen's advice is also worth noting. We want to be careful. I think efficiency needs to marry principle in our way forward. But, I think it helps to remember that people who are in IOPS share the same vision and values, so we should try to see people's attempts at solving problems as good intentioned.

    Also, I agree with Jason when he suggests that we not give up, even if we fail. We simply re-organize and keep going until we get it right.

    By the way, I think dues and reporting are great ways to measure the health and sustainability of IOPS. I think it should be incumbent upon Chapter Administrators to provide a monthly report on the health of his/her Chapter. For instance, did the chapter reach a consensus on dues? How many members have engaged in face-to-face activities? What kinds of projects or activities were attempted and how many were successful? What kinds of trends or issues can be identified within the Chapter?

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Hi Haroon - I also feel that there is not much to think about here. I agree that the goals are achievable, the question is, will members make them happen?

      We all know what kind of organisation we need to make the changes we need. IOPS offers this on a plate. What we need is that 5000 membership as a base on which to grow.

      With 5000 committed and active members we could see our membership double every year. In five years that could mean a membership of 160 000 which, based on the $20 per month dues, would mean an annual income of nearly $40,000,000.

      That is the kind of trajectory I think we should have in mind, but to grow in this way we first need to get some basics in place.

  • Eduardo Enríquez 27th Aug 2012

    i am too poor and currently unemployed to afford 20 dollars for membership. i suggest a yearly fee instead or maybe an open fee where the people who have more money can give more and us poor unemployed hippies and punks could provide more in other ways. when i get a job after i finish my postgraduate studies i might be afble to afford a yearly fee but i think this organization should also think about us simple living people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_living) . Something like fundraisers could be an option which could consist of parties, concerts etc. I think i am a great DJ.

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Hi Eduardo - the $20 was presented only to illustrate the fundraising potential of IOPS with 5000 members, which, as I said, I think is quite exciting. Also the $20 was suggested as an average contribution.

      I definitely agree with you that thoughs who can not afford to pay membership dues should be exempt. And parties for fundraising is an excellent ideas as this not only raises funds it also helps to raise awareness.

    • Jon Doe 27th Aug 2012

      The Zapatistas, in Mexico, have a great strategy for international solidarity activists to pay for their accommodations when attending school in Zapatista territory, they charge a days minimum wage in whichever country you are from. IOPS should plan on a similar structure, that way the huge differential in earning power country to country will be incorporated in to IOPS membership dues in a just manner.

  • Kim Keyser 27th Aug 2012

    Mark: "With 5000 committed and active members we could see our membership double every year. In five years that could mean a membership of 160 000 which, based on the $20 per month dues, would mean an annual income of nearly $40,000,000."

    Those kind of numbers have for libertarian socialists historically only been achievable, AFAIK, in mass movements – i.e. the workers movement (think CNT in Spain) and so on – and never for more ideological organizations like IOPS (think FAI in Spain). The sole exception being – partly (partly because the social democratic and anarchists who created these organizations some times controlled unions) – the communist movement after the Russian revolution. But would we like to get totally rid of the organizational distinction between a conscious libertarian socialist movement and the workers movement?

    Now, I too am very ambitious – we have to be if we'd like to change the world(!) –, but perhaps I have another kind of organization in mind than you. I would /not/ like IOPS to dissolve into a mass organization – like a trade union or similar. (You haven't stated you'd like to either, but from my historical analysis I deduct that that is indeed what you're implying). Instead, I favor the concept of dual organizationalism: I like for us as conscious libertarian socialists to be organized in a libertarian socialist organization, and for us as workers be organized in a (distinct) workers organization (union).

    This is simply due the fact that an effective workers organization attracts new members because workers view it as an effective organization to fight for bread and butter issues, and a lot of them neither cares about, nor even agrees about the libertarian socialist content. Thus we risk that it becomes diluted. With a distinct libertarian socialist organization, we don't need that to happen. We can retain our own ideologically based organization, while fighting within the broader mass movements for solidarity, direct democracy and direct action.

    Such an organization doesn't need to have as many members as a mass organization, because so many of its members are committed and effective organizers. Granted, we need to become 160 000 people globally. Sure. But in 5 years? With exponential growth? I don't see it happen. But in 10 years or more, perhaps – if we work had, get lucky and have success.

    I'm not saying this to be off putting, just to present some ideas we might discuss (which are more qualitative than quantitative), and which people might want to respond to.

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      " I would /not/ like IOPS to dissolve into a mass organization – like a trade union or similar. (You haven't stated you'd like to either, but from my historical analysis I deduct that that is indeed what you're implying)."

      No, not at all.

      I think you give too much weight to historical facts in terms of their power to predict what is possible in the present / future and in-so-doing draw conclusions that have little actual validity.

      Kim - I understand that you do not want to be "off putting" but in attributing so much power to historical facts leads you to draw conclusions that are, in fact, off putting in as much as they convince you, and maybe others, that our growth potential is much lower than it actually is.

      I say that our potential is largely determined by (1) the quality of our ideas - which are excellent, and (2) the organisational commitment of our members. In this regard the past has very little to do with the present or future - unless we choose to make it so.

  • L L 27th Aug 2012

    I understand the motivations behind these goals but but I'm not entirely agreed with some of them. Going through those individually.

    "For these members to be regularly organising face-to-face meetings at the local chapter level, practicing self-management etc."- I think its important not to over-stress the importance of face-to-face meetings, particularly in such a digital age. If some chapters have for example 5 members, rather than organising monthly meetings with an average attendance of 3 (all be it ever growing) they would gain more by joining with other nearby chapters and having an online meeting where say 15 participate. Secondly, it may be a semantic issue rather than an actual one;rather than having 'meetings' to discuss strategy, growing membership etc., we should have 'gatherings' yes to partly discuss these important matters, but also to discuss, debate and theorise the nature of a participatory society.

    "For these chapters to be engaged in recruitment drives to ensure that (1) the membership is increasing, and (2) they are attempting to build a membership which reflects the community in which they are based in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc."- Yes, it is crucial to build membership and engagement but perhaps we would have more success simply spreading the ideals and ideas of IOPS and for people who sympathise with these to join us on those merits, rather than contrived membership drives.

    "For these local chapters to be doing outreach within their community and workplaces, raising awareness of IOPS, etc." - As with previous point.

    "For these local chapters to be networking with other local chapters within their region in preparation for the establishment of National branches."- It is important to collate skills, knowledge and experience, to cooperate, communicate and work together but we must be very wary of a tendency to centralise power, which would undermine the ideals of IOPS.

    "For chapters to be implementing some sort of membership dues system as a means of raising funds for activities, including the formal launch of IOPS."- As discussed earlier in this thread, all such contributions must be absolutely voluntary, with no financial obligations to members at any level.

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Hi Luke - I agree that in some situations on-line meetings will make sense, but overall I think we should strive to overcome the isolation of members by working towards face-to-face meetings, or gatherings if you prefer, at which members could discuss vision etc.

      I'm not sure what the difference is between "simply spreading the ideals and ideas of IOPS" and "contrived membership drives".

      I'm also not sure why you raise the concern regarding the centralisation of power but I, of course, agree.

      I do not, however, agree that membership dues should be voluntary. An organisation like IOPS must be self-funding and whether we like it or not we do need money to organise. Membership dues should be scaled - say from $1 per month up to say $100 per month - to accommodate different circumstances and there should also be a "can not afford anything" category for those who are totally broke. But we do need money and we are unlikely to get it from anywhere other than ourselves - at least not consistently and without strings attached etc.

    • L L 28th Aug 2012

      I think that face-to-face meetings are preferable if possible, though we must recognise that in some circumstances they aren't.

      I meant publishing and publicising the ideals and aims of IOPS and engaging people through practice of participatory politics, economics, culture, democracy etc. rather than contrived membership drives.

      As we develop national and international levels of IOPS, we must be wary of 'leaders' emerging and hierarchies developing.

      I must disagree, the only way to justify creating financial obligations to IOPS members is to have all individual members agreeing to it. Majoritarianism is seriously flawed but at the very least a majority of members must be agreed. Then someone must be responsible for the finances of the organisation. Is selecting a small group of individuals to take care of this truely in the spirit of a participatory society?

  • Kim Keyser 27th Aug 2012

    Mark: "No, not at all."

    Well. Good. For me, that's the most important part of the answer (i.e. with the most concrete consequences).

    Mark: "in attributing so much power to historical facts leads you to draw conclusions that are, in fact, off putting in as much as they convince you, and maybe others, that our growth potential is much lower than it actually is."

    Maybe... I hope it's you who'll be right, and not me. But I don't think it's realistic. I think it'll take longer time. And numbers aren't the only thing that's important...

    In the UK for instance, the main revolutionary group – which runs a lot of the social movements (not the workers movement though, but a lot of the others) – are only a few thousand members (I'm talking about the SWP, of course). SWP is part of a global network (IST) of just a few more thousand activists, but have quite a lot of influence a lot of places (incl. in the US, for instance). Now, rest assured, we need to have a lot of more influence than IST. And if we become 10 000 members (I mean, not solely internet members, but actual activist members) worldwide in 5 years, we will achieve that, and I'll be happy, and it'll be a great vantage point for reaching 20 000 a few years more down the road, and then more, and more, and still more... :)

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Kim - I don't think it is a question of "maybe".

      If we believe that historical facts - like the ones you highlight in you reply - are important in terms of the future of IOPS then they become important and we act accordingly. For you this means that the numbers I talk about are not "realistic".

      But what happens if we say that those historical facts have nothing to do with the future of IOPS? What if we adopt the position that the future of IOPS is largely in the hands of its membership and we all act accordingly? From this perspective the numbers I talk about seem achievable.

      Furthermore I would argue that the first position is both false and disempowering and that the second position is both true and empowering.

      Now in five years time we may not have reached the numbers I talk about and you might come back to me and say, I told you so! Here, again I would simple point out that if we all act like the historical facts you highlight are powerful indicators of what is possible then they become powerful and your prophecy is confirmed.

      On the other hand, if we take no notice of these historical facts, and instead focus on the reality that - by engaging in the kind of activities I bullet point in my blog, the future of IOPS is in our hands - then maybe in five years time we will have reached the kind of numbers I talk about.

      You see the point - right? Not that you intend it that way, but you see how such claims to knowledge can be used as a rationalisation of failure - the left do it all the time.

  • Dave Jones 27th Aug 2012

    Jason, I think two years is a fair horizon but would put this out more broadly so those with more organizational knowledge than I could debate it. It seems pretty crucial. I am also glad to see "failure" defined more as re-examination.

    As for your comment, Mark, that "IOPS will succeed or fail, largely depending on what the interim membership do" reflects on the problem of that question: "What do we hope for?"

    Hope is something I don't put much stock in. A better question to my mind is : what are the conditions of possibility which exist ? And to answer it requires taking Kim's point about historical analysis (not "facts") very seriously. In my reading, there are times in which people did everything they could, their ideas were great, etc., but the historical conditions did not permit an opening. At other times, people did relatively little but walked into perfect conditions.

    In this sense, a look at the territory as it currently exists would be a critical component and any historical comparisons valuable. An example that comes to mind is the radical labor movement and IWW being squashed by the US entry into WWI.

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      "Hope is something I don't put much stock in. A better question to my mind is : what are the conditions of possibility which exist ?"

      Surely they are both connected - no? For example, if my analysis concludes that the conditions are favourable then I feel more hopeful about organising. If my analysis concludes that the conditions are unfavourable then I feel less hopeful.

      But, it seems to me, this is different to saying something much more specific about the future of an organisation (in this case our potetial for recriutment) based on some knowledge of the past - as Kim does.

  • Haroon Bajwa 27th Aug 2012

    "...the question is, will members make them happen?"

    Mark - I AGREE!

  • Kim Keyser 27th Aug 2012

    Mark: "But what happens if we say that those historical facts have nothing to do with the future of IOPS?"

    Then we're playing ourselves, I think. I think there are reasons (universal sociological ones within capitalist society, not simply historical ones which happen to have happened in the past...) behind why not that many people have become organized in consciously libertarian socialist groups throughout history (tell me if you'd like me to expound, but I guess at least a few of these reasons are obvious?).

    That doesn't mean that one can't become super influential. It just means that not that many people join such organizations that fast. They can join mass movements though, where our ideas can be influential – and thus be influenced, and even act upon it. But belonging to a mass movement is way different from being a member of a more committed and more conscious libertarian socialist organization, which I think we both agree on(?).

    Mark: "Not that you intend it that way, but you see how such claims to knowledge can be used as a rationalisation of failure - the left do it all the time. "

    Yes, I do see that. And as you point out, it's not my intention. My intention is to kill a couple of – what I see as unrealistic – goals, which are very common to people on the left (esp. the never-ending exponential growth thing in new organizations and among young activists), and the ensuing demoralization and disillusionment.

    We can indeed contribute to achieve our goal, and we can be better than any other organization in history has been thus far(!), but 160 000 real members in 5 years time, is simply unrealistic, I think (yes, even if we fulfill our potential maximally during those 5 years). I'd like to be proven proven wrong though, but I'd even less like that a lot of people end up demoralized and disillusioned due to what I think are simply unrealistic goals. That's why I wrote the comment(s). I hope you better understand where I'm coming from, now?

    • Mark Evans 27th Aug 2012

      Kim - as I tried to make clear in my blog (see opening quote) the danger of failure and the demoralisation that follows is very real. So we agree on that - I am just not sure what this has to do with the predictive power of your analysis regarding the future of IOPS.

      I still think that you are giving way too much weight to your analysis. For example I am not aware of any "universal sociological" reasons that allow us to confidently predict the future. Yes we can look at society closely, and draw tentative conclusions, but we should be carefully, I think, not to take then too seriously.

      But maybe you know something I don't - so let me ask you this:

      For IOPS to double its membership each year would mean that, on average, every existing member would need to recruit one new member every 12 months. What universal sociological reason or historical facts would you give for that not being a realistic goal for say the next 5 or 10 years?

  • Sarah Owens 27th Aug 2012

    Mark Evans, I related to your goals primarily as suggestions for our immediate local activity, taking the references to criteria for "success" as context. To answer your question, I agree with them, and am hoping to further them with the ions of the Local Forum & Project Project (http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/local-chapter-project/facilitating-local-activity), and, through them, with 15 local chapters.

    Those ions not in the Local project who wish to join us are invited to do so! http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/local-chapter-project

  • Haroon Bajwa 27th Aug 2012

    Sarah - I could not open the links. An Error message appears. I will try to track down the Project elsewhere on the site.

  • Kim Keyser 27th Aug 2012

    Mark: "For IOPS to double its membership each year would mean that, on average, every existing member would need to recruit one new member every 12 months. What universal sociological reason or historical facts would you give for that not being a realistic goal for say the next 5 or 10 years?"

    These are the ones I find most important:

    The daily work load: After having finished wage work and care work, then trying to care for oneself, a lot of people have neither time, energy nor money left to commit to activism. Those that do have time, energy and money, usually use it on other stuff, like:
    Entertainment: Due to consumerism, most people are more into entertainment and bought identities than activism.
    Drugs: ...a lot of people also have drug problems.
    Religion: ...and some people think there's a heaven after this, and that it's much /we/ can to do about the status quo, because it's in the hands of a god. (Of course, this isn't true for all religions nor all religious people, but for a lot it is.)
    Fear: ...and a lot of people simply are paralized by fear – of being isolated, beaten, jailed, fired and so on.
    Ruling class information: ...and most of the people who have both time, energy, money, aren't sucked into cheap entertainment, don't use drugs, don't believe some god will make things better here and now, and aren't afraid ...simply don't know much about what's going on, due to the massive influence of ruling class information (through schools and mass media).

    Against this we fight, but we – those of us who are consciously organized activists in a libertarian socialist organization – don't control companies nor states, are repressed and split, and in general have to fight against extremely powerful enemies. Still, a lot of people can become engaged in activism, but few as members in consciously libertarian socialist organizations. Only a minority (those who have time, energy and money), of a minority (those who're not totally diverted by consumerist entertainment), of a minority (those who don't have too much trouble with drugs to contribute), of a minority (those who don't believe it's sufficient to trust divine forces), of a minority (those who're not paralyzed by fear), of a minority (those who're not too misled by ruling class information), become active. But this active minority (at extreme heights of struggle a majority of the workers have belonged to explicitly revolutionary workers organizations, but usually it's been a minority and usually a small – or even tiny – minority even), have been small. And a minority of /this/ minority, have been organized in dual organized libertarian socialist organizations. That's what we need to keep in the back of our heads when we talk about this stuff, I think.

    I happen to believe this minority won't grow as big as fast as you suggest, because that would require an /incredibly/ much stronger movement – theoretically and practically – coupled with some historical event (like the Russian revolution, but libertarian socialist instead of authoritarian socialist). Do I find that possible in the foreseeable future? Yes. In 5 years: No.

    I say this not to deter us from getting many more members, and growing steadily – qualitatively and quantitatively –, because that is obviously wanted, possible and necessary. I'm saying this because I've seen people been extremely demoralized after having too much (ungrounded) expectations.

    That said, I'm in general agreement with what you outlined in the original post, and I think a two-three year time frame, /might/ be realistic. I think that's what we should aim for.

    • Mark Evans 28th Aug 2012

      Kim - I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one.

      There is nothing in what you say that makes me think that I can not recruit, on average, one new member per 12 months for the next 5 or 10 years, and if I can do it then so can you and I assume so can everyone else, more or less.

      But if you believe what you believe then it makes it less likely that you will do what is achievable and the same goes for all of us. That is the point I am trying to make and although you say you are not trying to deter people that is in fact what you are doing.

      Regarding your concern over demoralisation, I would say that activists don't become demoralised due to not reaching a target within a time frame but instead because their organisation stagnates or completely disintegrates. But that is not to do with having too high expectations but rather is to do with a lack of organisational success at a more basic level.

      Anyway, I am glad that we are in agreement with the point in my original blog. I am happy with that - for now!

  • Will Henry Lapinel 28th Aug 2012

    Some really great points have been made here. I agree that there is a lot to overcome (that is a great list, Kim - I haven't seen that but it's pretty complete), but we live in a very different time from that of previous movements.

  • Kim Keyser 28th Aug 2012

    Mark: "Anyway, I am glad that we are in agreement with the point in my original blog. I am happy with that - for now!"

    Hehehe. Good! :)

    And I agree on disagreeing about the prospect for how big we can get how fast, too. I want to comment on one more thing though, before ending the derail of the original topic.

    You said: "But if you believe what you believe then it makes it less likely that you will do what is achievable and the same goes for all of us."

    I can personally assure that this has not been true in the past, not now, and not in the future, for me at least. On the contrary, I think you'll come to know me as one of your co-members with the most ambitious ideas and goals, and one that acts upon those ambitious ideas and goals in concrete manners. ;)

    • Mark Evans 28th Aug 2012

      Given that what you think is achievable is informed by what you call universal sociological reasoning the fact that you have been able to meet your goals in the past says nothing with regards to the point I have been trying to make and suggests that you have not understood it.

      Kim - I am not questioning your level of ambition, I am questioning your claim to know that IOPS can not grow as fast as I suggest based on some facts from the past. Nobody knows that much - if they did they wouldn't be human.

  • stephen lawton 28th Aug 2012

    If the crisis of capitalism continues we will grow, perhaps exponentially. If capitalism overcomes the current madness we will find it difficult to make headway. This is why an understanding of how Capitalism works is important.

    I joined IOPS because I think the current crisis is systemic and epoch making, remember Mark " we make our own history but not simply as we please, ( Marx). There are historic and sociological forces, as Kim says, at play that we need to work with.

    • Mark Evans 28th Aug 2012

      Hi Stephen - I agree with your general point, but Kim is making a more specific claim.

  • Kim Keyser 28th Aug 2012

    Mark: "I am questioning your claim to know that IOPS can not grow as fast as I suggest based on some facts from the past. Nobody knows that much[.]"

    Of course not. I haven't said "I /know/", I've repeatedly said "I /think/" and "I /believe/". I'm not sure how you could interpret me the way you've done, but if I have given you the impression that I /know/, it's not the message I've been trying to get convey (claiming to /know/ the future, would indeed be utterly ridiculous).

    • Mark Evans 29th Aug 2012

      Then I'm not sure why you raised the point in the first place - why you argued that my projections for IOPS growth are unrealistic based on what you call universal sociological reasons.

  • Kim Keyser 29th Aug 2012

    @Mark: Because unrealistic expectations often lead to disillusionment and hopelessness.

  • Sarah Owens 29th Aug 2012

    Kim's just sayin', I think, 'cause he's said it to me a couple of times, always appropriately, "We need to be grounded. Very grounded."

    Seems to me, both of you have valid points that should inform our coms, whether with ions, or with those we introduce to IOPS?

  • Jason Chrysostomou 30th Aug 2012

    Lets draw our attention towards the blog content and the goals Mark has proposed. I think we should be ambitious, but, at the same time, a target of 50,000 members in a year is of course not gonna happen, so what is a realistic interim strategic target? And also, what level of membership and activity is enough in order to have a meaningful founding international convention?

    Do we think Mark's proposal of reaching 5,000 members is realistic in a give time frame of say, by summer 2013?

    What is our specific target of an acceptable and realistic gender balance exactly, in percentage terms?

    What is our specific target for an acceptable and realistic level of activity? e.g number of chapters meeting?

    In any case, these are the important questions if we are going to be productive, in my opinion.

  • 23rd Oct 2012

    It would seem to me that online meetings might allow for "facetime" to be used in more productive ways (i.e. actions in coordination with other community groups). Meetings are boring, and put oscar wilde and many other people off socialist activism. If we make decisions online about the kind of actions we want to take then meet up to act on them would maybe be a better use of peoples precious time.

    We really shouldn't think of holding a meeting as a goal in itself.