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A revolutionary organization needs to grow, to seek change, and to provide a worthy home for its own membership. Providing a worthy home for its members includes fostering mutual aid and a fulfilling environment as well as aiding the development of members' abilities to pursue their own chosen paths. The latter, in turn, includes having internal mechanisms for members to expand their understanding bearing on social change. In that light, what follows is an outline of a possible process members might undertake on the road to such understanding.  

  

Of course the procedure and actual outline for study would alter from chapter to chapter and country to country, but the broad focus would likely not stray too much from what appears here. Some chapters might prefer a very school-like approach, with rotating lecturers, assignments that folks fulfill, and so on. Other chapters might prefer a seminar-like approach with preparation by all involved, and then a more free form exploration of issues and views. Chapters might benefit from all participants giving presentations. The mandate in general might be, for example, that new members go through a learning/sharing process, and that older members serve as sources of material, mentors, teachers, or whatever the chapter settles on.  

  

In any case,  below is a possible draft “curriculum” chapters or even just individuals might opt to work from. It is based largely on the three book set, Fanfare for the Future, following its chapters pretty closely, which shouldn't occasion surprise as Fanfare was written with the express purpose of filling this type role. For some local chapters Fanfare might even serve as a kind of text. Others might make it supplemental to various other readings, and alternative forms of media etc. Still others might not use it at all, preferring some other resources. The main point is to get going with internal development of people’s ability to use and present ideas - as well as associated skills. 

  

Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become ‘voting’ members. For members with less time and commitment, a summary version of the program might be of use and may be associated with different membership rights and responsibilities. 

 

In all cases – whether in the summary or comprehensive learning/sharing process - such a program might be carried out simultaneously while members create spaces to build trust, involvement within IOPS and with other revolutionary groups, and some members engage in grassroots struggles to resist forms of oppression. Grassroots struggles that seek to win meaningful and tangible improvement in the lives of people today are necessary, at the same time they create a sense of momentum crucial to growing the movement for a participatory society.  

 

By engaging in grassroots struggles while developing unity around shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy, we hope IOPS will grow and be strengthened – particularly through the application of experiences to theory and vice versa. In this way, some IOPS chapters may develop into a collection of activists sharing a common analysis, vision, strategy and program while cultivating skills and knowledge within the organization and the movement. Shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy would help IOPS members build alternative institutions that embody and prefigure our values and create spaces where we can confront and undo the oppression we’ve internalized. Through studying, developing our unity, creating sustainable structure and practicing our organizing on the grassroots level we may be able to grow IOPS so that we can eventually – in the future –begin to organize together on shared campaigns. 

 

The draft “curriculum” below highlights one way in which IOPS members may start to develop a shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy. 

 

[*This blog was authored jointly by: Jason ChrysostomouPreeti KaurDavid MartySarah OwensVerena Stresing and Florian Zollmann.]


https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif 

  

Potential IOPS Curriculum for  

Participatory Comprehension, Creativity, and Communication 

 

Part One: Concepts for Comprehension

 

Thinking about society and history, and then also vision and strategy is aided tremendously by having useful concepts that quickly orient us to examine what is important and not get mired in what is peripheral. Part one of this potential curriculum is about developing such concepts and beginning to use them in assessing our societies. 

 

Conceptual Tools Development

 

Institutions and Beliefs

 

Collectively develop and try to apply ideas regarding: what is an institution, what are institutions’ defining aspects in general, roles, and then also what actual aspects, roles, do we find in some specific cases. 

 

Explore, the relation of beliefs and other human attributes to institutions and their roles, again, in general, as well as in specific cases.

 

Finally, determine how paying special attention to these concepts adds to comprehension for social change.

 

Four Spheres and Two Contexts

 

Collectively develop and try to apply ideas regarding what are the core institutional features of kinship, culture, polity, and economy, both in general and in one’s own society, and how they affect people filling roles in society’s institutions. 

 

Determine the key attributes of ecology and international relations in general, and in specific cases. 

 

Consider the insights of marxism, feminism, anarchism, nationalism, green movements, and internationalism, and assess what is desirable to keep, but what is problematic or flawed. Regarding problems, work through conceptual solutions.


Assess why useful comprehension for social change can and should be premised on attention to all these focuses without elevating any one above the rest, and why prioritizing any one of these focuses typically leads to poor results regarding the others, and often even the chosen one.

 

Accommodation and CoReproduction

 

Collectively develop and try to apply ideas regarding the general ways each of the four social spheres affects the rest, both influencing and even reproducing them, and being influenced and even reproduced by them. 

 

Find specific examples of the relations between the four social spheres and consider how attention to these dynamics is critical to useful theory for social change. 

 

Do the same for the two contexts.

 

Society

 

Collectively develop and try to apply the above ideas regarding institutions, people, spheres of social life, overarching contexts, accommodation and co-reproduction to assess the way your society fits together... including contrasting your society to others.

 

History

 

Collectively develop and try to apply the ideas developed thus far plus your own evaluations and refinements, to the usual changes that constitute typical day to day history and also, much less frequent revolutionary changes. Do this both in general, and more specifically for your society.

 

Consider some of the broad implications for movement program and organizational agendas - much more of which will come later in the curriculum.

 


Conceptual Tools Use

 

Case Studies

 

Collectively develop and try to apply the concepts considered so far to interesting aspects of your own society, national policies, movement phenomena, etc. 

 

Theory: Sectarian or Participatory

 

Explore how to use the concepts you have liked in ways that are open, foster continual development, and in ways that augment your natural inclinations due to your own experiences, rather than protecting them from insights less directly your own.

 

Thus, address the general question - with these concepts, however we have and will refine and enrich them, how do we remain flexible, open to insights, non defensive, anti sectarian - and also enlarge our own perspectives.


Part Two: Creativity Regarding Goals

 

The reason those seeking to change the world develop and share concepts, as we have done in Part One of our curriculum process, is to use them creatively, often in difficult circumstances, specifically to guide practice via creatively developing vision and developing and assessing strategy and tactics in diverse situations. Part two of the curriculum is about arriving at broad visionary insights sufficient to guiding insightful practice in current societies.

 

Visionary Guidelines

 

Developing Vision

 

Consider the importance of vision and how to make a case for needing it to doubters and critics. What are the arguments against - and how are they answered? What are the arguments for, and how might they be fulfilled?

 

What is too much vision? What is too little?

 

Thinking About Vision

 

Collectively develop an approach to developing institutional vision sufficient to provide orientation of analysis and strategy as well as a sense of informed and inspiring hope to movement activists, but not exceeding our capacity or overstepping our responsibilities.

  

Values to Guide Vision

 

Develop a set of shared values sufficient to guide visionary thinking, including exploring their implications and ways of arguing their merit. Use the values to assess existing societies and their institutions.

 

Raise objections to the values and rebut them, developing confidence in doing so.


Actual Visionary Substance

 

Economic Vision

 

Determine the composition of economics - for example, production, consumption, and allocation - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive economic vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to economics to determine more specific aims for the economy. What institutions are at root of economic oppression, class division and rule, etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary economic commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

Political Vision

 

Determine the composition of politics - for example, legislation, adjudication, collective implementation - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive political vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to politics to determine more specific aims for the polity. What institutions are at root of political oppression, authoritarian division and rule, etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary political commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

Kinship Vision

 

Determine the composition of kinship - for example, procreation, nurturance, socialization, sexual life, living unit life - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive kinship vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to kinship to determine more specific aims for kinship. What institutions are at root of kinship oppression, gender, age, and sexual division and rule, etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary kinship commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

Cultural Vision

 

Determine the composition of  culture - for example, language, celebration, identity, race, religion, etc. - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive cultural vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to culture to determine more specific aims for the community/culture. What institutions are at root of culture oppression, race, ethnic, and national division and rule, etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary cultural commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

Ecological Vision

 

Determine the composition of ecology - for example, natural and made environment and their interrelations - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive ecology vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to ecology to determine more specific aims for the ecology. What institutions are at root of ecological irrationality etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary ecology commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

Internationalist Vision

 

Determine the composition of international relations - for example, trade, occupation, colonialism, war, adjudication, legislation - and what are the core features one must address to provide a sufficient but not excessive internationalist vision. 

 

Apply the general values of vision to economics to determine more specific aims for international relations. What institutions are at root of international oppression, impoverishment, war, etc.? What replacements are needed?

 

Examine the visionary international commitments of IOPS. Assess their merit. Determine other visionary aspects that might be favored and assess them as well. 

 

Consider criticisms of any commitments you like, and defenses of any you dislike, to the point you are confident you can rebut the former and overcome the latter - or, if not - to the point where you comfortably hold or remain open to mixed views and have open questions. 

 

 

Part Three: Conceiving and Using Strategy

 

Strategy is far more contextual than general concepts or overall vision. Everyone country, every locale, has its own issues. Still, there are insights that are general and others that are nearly so, with a high burden of proof to ignore. These are the focus of the third part of the potential IOPS curriculum. 


Importance of Strategy  

 

Think through why strategy is needed, why it must be flexible, what its components are.

 

Diverse Components of Strategy

 

Consider agents of revolution, necessity of commitment, importance of vision to motivation, the issues of difference, sectarianism, etc., over thinking, under thinking, the role of the personal, how to seek reforms non reformistly, planting the seeds of the future in the present, issues of power and dealing with the state and elections, the role of organization - and the strategies of various existing perspectives such as marxism leninism and anarchism.


Tactical Case Studies

 

Consider issues of violence and pacifism, consensus decision making, the occupy history, and other experiences from those involved in the curriculum.

 

Sample Program

 

Conceive and evaluate possible program for economy, polity, kinship, culture, ecology, and international relations.

 

Broad Paths

 

Consider broad paths to change include electoral, insurrectionary, and constructivist - and try to merge and mesh them in a single  conception, to the extent possible.

 

Minimalist Maximalism

 

Apply the idea that we should not have too much, or too little, to the issues of strategy.

 

Part Four: Communicating with Others

 

Being able to develop and share vision and strategy becomes a powerful asset only when one can also communicate them. This involves both skills and confidence, each largely a function of practice.

 

Writing

 

Practice writing different length pieces, on different matters - for example, about IOPS generally, about vision, strategy, events, etc. Mutually evaluate to develop skills and confidence. Do it until everyone is reasonably comfortable. Post results.

 

Speaking

 

Practice giving talks on different matters. Mutually evaluate to develop skills and confidence. Do it until everyone is reasonably comfortable. Then video and post results.

 

Interviewing

 

Practice interviewing and being interviewed on different matters. Mutually evaluate to develop skills and confidence. Do it until everyone is reasonably comfortable.Then post results.

 

Debating

 

Practice debating - and criticizing - by taking both sides of issues. Mutually evaluate to develop skills and confidence. Do it until everyone is reasonably comfortable.Then post results.

 

Chairing

 

Practice chairing sessions. Mutually evaluate to develop skills and confidence. Do it until everyone is reasonably comfortable.


Discussion 182 Comments

  • Sara Cromwell 24th Nov 2012

    I appreciate what I imagine was some incredibly hard and time-consuming work that went into preparing this post by the IOPS ions who authored this blog. I think some type of structure is necessary, both within our chapters and within the organization as a whole for the organization to fulfill the mission and vision for which it stands. I think the proposed organizational structure is thoughtful, thorough, but allows sufficient flexibility to adapt when necessary to membership and chapter needs. I especially support the proposed structure insofar as the proposed structure assumes that we can all learn from our IOPS colleagues by engaging each other in discussion, testing our knowledge and assumptions through a process of critical examination and non-defensive discussions, and celebrating our differences. I think part four, communication, is key -- practicing discussions, debates and the like is vital for maintaining and growing our membership.

    • Preeti Kaur 24th Nov 2012

      Dear Sara, Thank you for your comment and feedback. I hope others find this posting similarly helpful. Preeti

  • 24th Nov 2012

    Great work.
    I'll translate it into French this week-end or as soon as possible

  • John Keeley 24th Nov 2012

    Excellent proposal.
    Well done Preeti & all.

    Is the idea that each chapter (or whatever geographical grouping) follows cirriculum separately, at their own pace?
    Or, we try & coordinate all IOPS members worldwide in an examination of the ideas presented in Fanfare?

    Again I worry about members in non active chapters being left behind & not feeling included.

    If we coordinated the cirriculum above (or a variation of it) to be examined & discussed over the course of next year, ensuring everyone has a meeting to go to, or at the very least can contribute to a discussion on-line (forums), then this would be a good way of creating a feeling of solidarity.
    I think it would also be a good way of recruiting, as many people would like to come to meetings that are exploring such issues.

    The four parts of the proposed cirriculum could be discussed in each quarter of 2013. This might mean weekly, fortnightly or monthly meetings, depending upon levels of activity, & how deep people wanted to explore.

    I've got all three volumes of Fanfare & no doubt many others have. Perhaps parts of Fanfare can be made available at weekly intervals throughout 2013, or those of us who have read it can present summaries for others to read who don't feel they have the time to read it all, or who are just put off reading large amounts.

    • Preeti Kaur 24th Nov 2012

      Thanks John!

      IOPS members in Greater London are meeting tomorrow and on Monday 3rd Dec - I hope we can begin to formulate ideas around how the above blog can be implemented locally. Of course, members from the surrounding area are welcome! A report on our discussions will be made available on IOPS.

      1) Quarterly in-person meetings
      I would certainly be very interested in helping to coordinate regional meetings for members in the UK in March, June, September, and November 2013. Yhese meetings could provide a great opportunity for IOPS members to report on:
      a) the programme outlined in the blog (or a version of it) and have further detailed discussions on it;
      b) grassroots organising by members and lessons learned from it, particularly as grassroots organising will inform theory, or the theory may have informed practice; and
      c) attempts to create sustainable structure locally.

      If active members and chapters in the UK can reach a decision on this, we could report on it and invite others, outside of the country, to join in a similar programme. Does that seem sensible?

      2) On-line forums
      I share your concern about members in non active chapters being left behind & not feeling included. The potential March, June, September, and November 2013 could be webcast, and/or allow for input of thoughts and ideas through social media.
      More regularly, I agree that on-line forums are a good option for members in non active chapters. It's a good idea for parts of Fanfare to be made available on-line. They could be made available on-line as chapters discuss them, chapters could post summaries of in-person discussions and individuals unable to attend in-person workshops/seminars could join the conversation on-line?

      3) Summaries
      I'd be happy to work on this with you, perhaps we could create a project which others could join.

      4) Developing a local / regional programme
      One might consider how members that become active as the programme is being implemented can be brought into the fold, e.g. new members that become interested in the middle of next year. It could be that 'volunteer mentors' work with newly active IOPS members to help the 'catch up' with the rest of the chapter / on-line forum discussion.

  • John Keeley 24th Nov 2012

    Peeti,

    We will have to see what support this proposal for a curriculum being the basis of active organisation in IOPS.

    If it does have widespread support, then we should seriously consider launching it as a project on an international basis.

    It could be called something like 'Reading Fanfare'.
    I'll be more than happy to be involved.

    • Preeti Kaur 24th Nov 2012

      We could start locally, share our experiences and invite others - internationally - to join with us, or help them start their own process. IOPS London members proposed a similar programme at the Sun 28 meeting and will consider this further tomorrow, including ways to implement it in the new year.
      Best, Preeti

    • Jason Chrysostomou 26th Nov 2012

      Something similar was already tried. See online projects: Occupy Theory, Occupy Vision and Occupy Strategy.
      There tends to be less participation with online study. Perhaps it could be tried in tandem with local chapters meeting face-to-face.

    • John Keeley 27th Nov 2012

      Jason, I wasn't aware of this.

      Is it worth having another go but posting a bit at a time, say each week & linking this in with the proposed 'curriculum' & regular meetings?

      I agree face to face meetings are important & it's a good way of getting IOPS members together & organising.

      What has London decided to do?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      Previously, we did have a fortnightly reading group going for a number of months following the topics in the book 'Realizing Hope'. We'd take turns presenting each topic followed by discussion. It was quite successful.
      We are working on planning the next phase of development. will keep you and others updated.

    • Jane Johnson 29th Nov 2012

      I think it's definitely worth having another go at an online project and doing it as John suggests - posting a bit at a time, and linking it in with the proposed curriculum and regular face to face meetings.

  • 24th Nov 2012

    "If it does have widespread support, then we should seriously consider launching it as a project on an international basis."
    I fully support the idea.(why not keep the title?)
    John, I've read your blog "What kind of anti-capitalist organisation?"
    "The main issue is probably language. The ACI & commune members are more likely to use revolutionary language like communism." The same is true with anarchism and between communism & anarchism. IOPS could be the right place at the right time to consider such issues.
    Let's Keep on Keeping On ...

  • Florian Zollman 24th Nov 2012

    Hi Didier and all, many thanks for the positive feedback :-). Another language issue I find important is related to the question: who do we want to reach? I would like to reach a wide margin of the population. And the language of people in my neighbourhood might be quite different from the language of people in the communist and anarchist communities. What do you think about this?

  • 24th Nov 2012

    Am I the only one who sees a disparity between IOPS stated aims:
    "Structure and Policy: The organization’s structure and policy while of course regularly updated and adapted, nonetheless always seeks to be internally classless and self-managing including structuring itself so that a minority who are initially disproportionately equipped with needed skills, information, and confidence do not form a formal or informal decision-making hierarchy, leaving less prepared members to follow orders or perform only rote tasks."

    And this article's statement:
    "Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become ‘voting’ members. For members with less time and commitment, a summary version of the program might be of use and may be associated with different membership rights and responsibilities."

    This does not sound like the organisation I signed up to.

    • Michael Albert 24th Nov 2012

      Hi Rosi - and others.

      Of course I rather like the idea of internal education and vision/strategy sharing for whatever size groups - in chapters in particular, but perhaps across them where they don't yet exist. That seems to be the point of the blog...not a proposal about structure of chapters. And I like that groups would pursue it as they decide, and ditto for whole chapters - reporting on their experiences for others to learn from, and perhaps emulate.

      But Rosi, regarding the few words about possible structures, I am not sure I understand your concern. Suppose in some city there are a bunch of folks who are really eager and energetic, but also have time - and having that time, they do the actual work of the chapter, work on projects, attend meetings and so on and so forth. Then there are other folks - who could be just as energetic or even more so (think Chomsky, Pilger, Shiva, etc. etc., say, among lots and lots of others) who are tied up with very different responsibilities, and so don't have much time to participate in meetings and projects. They probably don't even want to have decision making power and their not voting much, in any case, would be quite consistent with self management - since most decisions about projects they aren't in and policies they are not abiding - would not affect them - or might not. They might just want to keep up with news, pay dues - if we ever get to having dues - etc. So, regardless of whether people name and define two tiers - they would nonetheless exist. Now the question would be, should people harbor misgivings about this, etc. etc. Or should they be defined and perfectly acceptable?

      My guess is that you are thinking having some members who vote, make decisions, engage, etc. etc. and another set who are much less involved, sets up a serious and harmful division. You may be right, in which case, presumably, chapters would not opt for it. But, on the other hand, if the folks who don't have that much time, want to partake a little, but would feel bad having rights that go beyond their participation level, then having the two tiers may be the best bet.

      Like lots and lots of others things folks might mention bearing on structure, I don't think the best idea is to try to figure it out, now, ahead of time. Rather, some chapter or chapters will try it - others won't. And reports will indicate what works well for people, and what doesn't.

      My own feeling is that the bottom up, self managing, diversity welcoming, and participatory thrust of IOPS, that I assume is a big part of what you joined for, mandates not particular preconceived structural solutions, but that chapters try what they think makes most sense and will work, of course fitting the broad definitions of the organization, and everyone learns from those experiences. This has two merits - we are far more likely to arrive at good results by actually testing approaches people like. And there is no reason to argue on the road to those results.

    • 24th Nov 2012

      But surely now IS the time to figure it out, when it is being proposed as something we should try? It strikes me that what is being suggested - whether for one chapter or all, is in opposition to IOPS stated aims. This kind of statement: "Of course the procedure and actual outline for study would alter from chapter to chapter and country to country, but the broad focus would likely not stray too much from what appears here", combined with this blog's prominence on the front page, strongly gives the impression that this is not so much a trial/ optional/ general suggestion, but something that is strongly backed as an IOPS wide intiative. If that is not the case, fine, but then we need to be aware that giving certain blogs such prominence is tacit acceptance and promotion.

      If I am misunderstanding this, please explain it to me more simply. But the way it reads to me is that we are going to end up with a variety of levels of involvement (agreed) and that those who have more time and energy to devote to the organisation may well have more rights. If that is the way it is heading, and no one else has a problem with that, fine, but please could we make that clear up front? I don't know any other political party, union or organisation which works in that way, so that would be quite unusual; if we think it is a good innovation, lets be more open about it.

      I strongly got the impression (again, maybe I misread this originally) that IOPS was trying to draw in grass roots movements, activists, and projects around the world under one banner to form a strong, united left. Given the nature of the people who will join, many of us will already be devoted to other political activities, and are here to draw our various efforts into a cohesive whole. This does not mean we are any less committed to IOPS, but that we see IOPS as part of our larger role. Why should we then have less rights than those who have only IOPS to concentrate on?

    • John Keeley 25th Nov 2012

      I'm with Rosi.

      I can't see how you can have a core value of equity & then talk about tiered membership with voting & non-voting members.
      There may be a time when members are encouraged to pay subs, but this shouldn't end up as defining two types of members.

      Please can the offending paragraph be removed from the proposal?

    • Michael Albert 25th Nov 2012

      John,

      Take a look at my reply to Rosi and others - I think it probably appears below...

      While it may be wise to remove the paragraph from the proposal to avoid confusion - equity does not mean everyone does everything the same as everyone else. Equity is about income, actually. Self management is about power. And whether either iops commitment would be violated by, or enhanced by, tiered membership, or, for that matter, untiered membership, is very much contextual, I think, and not a matter of principle.

      What are the tiers, how are they defined, what is the context the local chapter is functioning in, and so on?

      Or, for that matter, even take the international itself. Suppose most people are in it, and in local chapters. But some want to be in the international, and not in a local chapter.

      Does this accord different rights along with different responsibilities? Maybe it should, maybe not. But it is far from obvious what is the best way, or even a viable way, to implement the core values.

      In the case of local chapters opting for tiered or untiered membership structure, I would say what has a far higher probability of leading toward recurring violations of self management is a national or international, far from the context a local operates in, very likely relatively ignorant of the conditions a local confronts and is trying to navigate, telling it what it must or must not do regarding its own local choices.

      More in the other post...

      A point of method - just a thought. Perhaps we should find a way - if people want to discuss this - which I hope people do but I don't htink is particualrly urgent - to do it under another blog - leaving this one for discussion of how to do iops self development, which I do think is urgent, and was, after all, the purpose of the above blog post.

    • Michael Albert 25th Nov 2012

      Rosi, and others, Hi.

      Apologies, this comment is long - but it is because I think the issue is complicated and at the heart of what iops ought to be.

      In a nutshell, now is the time to figure out some things - but not other things.

      I read the blog quite differently - but I don't want to duck your point, by saying in this case the issue doesn't arise because it was just a peripheral hypothetical. So, on the one hand we have a suggested way of engaging in internal consciousness raising - which is incredibly flexibly put, involving people doing studies, at whatever pace, using whatever tools, following the recommended topics, or others, etc. etc. Let's assume that part is fine with people, for the moment - since it is really a kind of call for activity and a presentation of one possible mode of doing it - which I don't see how that can be deemed out of place, and I think you agree on that.

      Then, in the course of the blog, is mentioned the possibility that some chapters might adopt an additional approach - really not having much to do with internal consciousness raising at all - which is why it is separate. I do agree its presence clouds the point of the blog for some... but I don't think its presence is something to be concerned about - much less something contrary to iops values - and I want to say why.

      IOPS favors self management - people having a say in decisions proportionate to the effect on them. This does not mean that everyone always has the same say. Instead, it is, itself, not only consistent with but even implies that at times one person has more say, being more affected, and at other times that same person has less say, being less affected.

      One of the key times in an organization that differential affects on people, and thus in the amount of say they should have, arises, in thinking about how chapters conduct themselves internally. This is a matter for chapters, overwhelmingly, to decide for themselves, not for an international to impose on them. Ten, twenty, or fifty people are deciding their approach, their meetings, their procedures, their local program - all in light of their knowledge of themselves and their local circumstances, and with reprecussions overwhelmingly for themselves. They certainly have to do it in context of overall organizational commitments and values, but still, it is they who do it.

      Why? Not only because of self management due to the fact that the chapters themselves, wherever they may be in the world, are most affected by their internal choices, but also because of favoring diversity. The chapters will typically encounter very different situations, audiences, etc. and often different approaches than used elsewhere, that they are best equipped to discern, are likely to be better or worse.

      Different solutions to local structure and program are likely inevitable but also desirable and it is people in specific contexts who are not only most affected, but also most knowledgeable about those contexts.

      Second, in any case, we don't know nearly enough, now - with virtually zero experience of working active chapters, inside working nationals, inside a working international - to know even broadly what the best approaches are to many different local issues. Trying alternatives will give us all evidence on which to make judgements.

      For example, in the UK there are lots of chapters emerging. I would, myself, suggest that nationally they discuss options like the one in question here, and others. If they find some folks are favoring tiered, say, and some favoring not tiered, I would urge that they try as much as they can to find a way to experiment with both, learning by practice their merits and debits and making the lessons available widely, to others.

      Take the issue at hand - quite peripheral to the blog post - of a chapter deciding to institute, let's say, two tiers of members - voting and supporting - where the latter doesn't have votes on daily program and policy of the chapter, though they do participate bearing on national or international issues.

      Let's say the demarcation line between being in one group or the other is participating in daily program and activity - such as attending local meetings, paying dues that finance the local activities, working on one or more chapter projects, etc. Then, roughly speaking, the division into the two types of local members, voting and supporting, honors self management, giving those affected by the local decisions lots of say in them, and those uninvolved no or little say in them.

      Instead, suppose there is no such difference between voting and supporting - and the chapter has decided that in most matters the easiest way to function is one person one vote - so there is no need for constant meetings - and that everyone can vote - and votes are online, not at face to face meetings. Now we have people with very disparate levels of involvement - and thus of being affected - having the same say in decisions. People who don't come to meetings can decide their timing, or who don't participate in projects can vote which are undertaken and which put on hold, and so on. That, roughly speaking, would could certainly violate self management.

      Is tiered membership the only possible solution? No, I don't think so. Could it be a bad one? Yes, I do think so. Could it be okay in some situations, places, times, and not in others? Yes, I suspect it could be. But of course my impression could be wrong on all three counts.

      My point is that I think this issue is a good example of the practical meaning of iops's commitment to respecting internal differences, allowing them to be tested, honoring diversity, seeking self management, all simultaneously.

      The issue is not to abstractly decide in advance of experience that such and such approach is nearly always bad, or nearly always good - except when it is really quite obviously so for people in iops - such as with the iops commitments themselves.

      The issue is rather, I think, consistent with the iops commitments, to have an opinion, sure, but then to acknowledge that one's opinion may be right or wrong, and that practice can best show that, and so some may pursue a particular path, others not, and we can learn from that.

      I do think that that was the spirit of the may and might words in the blog, and rightly so.

      My point here, again, is that there are two issues - broadly: first, is a tiered membership something that might be worth having in some cases, and not in others - or even yes or no in all cases - and, second, how do we decide.

      The answer to the former should be maybe yes, maybe no, we can't be sure in advance, though we can certainly have opinions. Tiered membership - allowing folks to be part of IOPS yet not have to attend all its meeting, be in its projects, and keep abreast of all debates, etc., but, as a result, also have less say over local outcomes - is a method some may feel would be good to employ to try to implement the IOPS commitments. If a chapter tries it, and the method fails to implement the commitments, or has bad side effects (and some may predict this result and may turn out right) then it is not a good choice, it may even be a horrible choice. If the approach instead fulfills the commitments admirably, at least in some contexts (and some may predict that result and turn out right) then for those contexts and perhaps more generally as well, it may be a good choice.

      So, Rosi and others, the place where I am disagreeing with you is precisely the idea that we need to decide this issue - or various other complex issues - in advance of having any experience of them in IOPS, and that we have to do so universally as some IOPS norm. On the contrary, I think the opposite. We should decide this and many other things by experimenting - assuming some people want to try contending approaches - which is the spirit of the blog, I think.

      I am sorry to go on at length. But I think this is a very important issue and want to try to be clear about it. What should distinguish IOPS, in this view, isn't one or another value alone - but a set of values and trying to fulfill them all, simultaneously, as much as possible.

      Finally, more specifically to this issue, two tiers may look like a hierarchy, but it need not be. If one tier is deciding outcomes that affect the other tier - then, yes, it is. A coordinator class type tier, which monopolizes empowering positions in the organization, and which makes decisions which others carry out and are affected by, and a working class type tier, that follows instructions, is a good example of two tiers that are harshly hierarchical. But a voting tier and a non voting tier (on daily matters) where the former is carrying out policies and overwhelming impacted by them, and the latter has too many other responsibilities and commitments and, as a result, (and not out of disdain) doesn't participate locally much, but is also largely unaffected by the choices taken locally, is not automatically a hierarchy.

      Still, given who we are, and our habits, and so on, can this be done without incurring a hierarchy? We don't know. Maybe yes, maybe no. If people in some chapter want to try it, then we can see how it works out. If they wanted to try men ruling women, or those with coordinator class jobs or training ruling those without - then, yes, I would agree with Rosi that that would so obviously violate iops norms and everyone's inclinations, that it should be ruled out.

      But here is the interesting thing, I think, about iops - even now, in its earliest stages - no one in iops will propose the latter type arrangement - men ruling women, coordinator backgrounds ruling working class backgrounds, or anything like these objectionable examples.

      More generally, when some in iops - and especially enough members to even implement an approach in a chapter - propose something, and believe in something - the likelihood is going to be that it is complex, responding to many variables, and at least may be excellent. The best approach is not to try to curtail the inclination based on an analysis its proponents do not share or while ignoring matters they feel are critical. The best result, instead, is to try options, carefully, and tally the results, and see what makes sense.


  • Thomas Hallbert 24th Nov 2012

    Rosi: I agree with you. But I would also add that both these statements are not very clear and straight forward communication.
    And in the second statement "For members with less time" less time??? we all have the same relevant time I suppose.

    A secondary issue: what are you others using as navigator to be able to respond directly to a selected comment? I have tried with both Firefox and IE (Windows XP)and it does not work for me.

    • 24th Nov 2012

      I've also replied with both Firefox and Safari; it automatically posts the comment below the one I clicked 'answer' on.

    • Michael Albert 24th Nov 2012

      Now answering as a kind of admin - I think the oddity of the replies is they only go under what one is replying too for a fixed number of levels - and I don't know how many. For this answer, I clicked answer, which appeared under your comment...

      Now more as Michael - people have very very different time available. Some work one job, or two jobs, or no job - some have kids and major time consuming responsibilities in that realm, others don't, some just sleep less, some need more, and, yes, some have many political involvements, not one or two - and so may well have relatively little time left for iops, or anything new... and this is all even if folks have basically the same exact desires vis a vis iops - now imagine they don't...

    • Thomas Hallbert 26th Nov 2012

      adressing you as an admin Michael: the answer "button" does not exist in french nor swedish, maybe not on other languages than english. And the submit "button" appears just as a blue field without text, but at least it works.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      Thomas - the answer link should now be visible for other languages.

    • Thomas Hallbert 27th Nov 2012

      xclnt
      maybe you saw I created a developpers group on zsocial?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      no, but i'll check it out, thanks thomas.

  • 24th Nov 2012

    Thomas, I've no problem with Firefox .
    Florian, I am less concerned about an anarchist label than I am about the construction of a mass movement.I just think than anarchism can help through its history and its anti authoritarian tradition. And I don’t think I’m using a specific language .
    But my turn : do people in your neighbourhood talk about a classeless society or self-management ?Rosi, the organisation you signed up to is up to you and to everybody. You are welcome to question the (potential) curriculum and to make a proposal .

    • 24th Nov 2012

      My problem is not the curriculum itself so much as that we are even discussing following a curriculum which gives some more rights than others.

    • Preeti Kaur 24th Nov 2012

      Nothing in proposed curriculum gives some members more rights that others.

      The curriculum is separate from structural questions. The paragraph you quoted consistently used the words 'may' and 'might' as - of course - it is up to local chapters to decide structural issues (as long as they foster classlessness and self-management). Of course, this includes deciding whether membership will be associated with developing learning and sharing around methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy.

    • 24th Nov 2012

      "Nothing in proposed curriculum gives some members more rights that others."

      Then how am I to understand this?
      "Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become ‘voting’ members."

      Using the words 'may' and 'might' does not negate making the suggestion in the first place. The idea must be popular with the authors or it would not have been suggested. I can't read the touting of some members having more rights than others as doing anything other than creating hierarchies - it's certainly not fostering classlessness.

    • Michael Albert 25th Nov 2012

      Rosi - there really are two issues. The curriculum - flexible in method and content - doesn't have any differential effects, other than some might do it, some might not do it, etc.

      A chapter could opt for tiered membership, and that does have differential effects, implications. I think it is actually highly unlikely this would be based on doing or not doing some studies. More likely it might arise based on attending meetings or not, being in projects or not, and so on. It is a different matter, and really not the topic of the blog, as I read it.

      You are right that using may and might doesn't mean the suggestion isn't there. But it doesn't follow that the idea is popular with the authors, at all. They may just think it is something some chapters may or might do - and they may prefer it did not happen. I don't know.

      Now the big issue is the last - and I want to address that separately, in another comment, because I think it is separate, but also because I think there are a lot of issues at stake...

    • 26th Nov 2012

      There are so many worrying elements of this that I'm not sure where to begin. Are we seriously promoting blogs that include passages the authors may not mean, may prefer not to happen at all? Why would anyone write that? If you do not know, maybe the blog authors could answer themselves? Or are they in fact publishing your thoughts in the first place?

      It is not the major point of the blog, but it is part of the blog nonetheless, and therefore open to discussion. Anyone could write a controversial paragraph, stick it in the middle of a less controversial piece, and then dismiss discussion of it on the basis that it is not the main thrust of the article. Oh wait, there's a name for that isn't there… yes, spin doctoring. Slip something in, refuse to discuss it, implement it, and hey presto it's too late to undo.

      I can't help wondering, if this is all so speculative, untried, and vague, why it is being promoted on the front page? I have pointed out before that placing the same old in-crowd's blogs in prime position is tacit acceptance and support for the piece being IOPS wide policy. You chose not to engage with that point, but it still stands.

      It is no secret that IOPS is seen as the Michael Albert Show. It is often cited as a reason people feel it will not be the participatory experience it promises. Yet despite this, the first proposed curriculum consists entirely of your books. Is there any effort being made at all to counter this view? And please don't say "That is just a suggestion, people can do what they like". The people writing these blogs and posting them prominently are seen as leaders by virtue of being given voice over other blogs. You must surely realise this. This comes with a responsibility. Not least, to mean what you say and say it clearly. Not to make flippant comments that may or may not be meant, and then to dismiss concerns as 'not the point'. Maybe the first part of the curriculum should be communication skills and reading through work before it is posted.

      The idea of an organisation drawing together the numerous strands of the left into a cohesive whole is much needed. Syriza seem to be doing an admirable job of it… *wanders off to learn Greek*

    • Michael Albert 26th Nov 2012

      Rosi,

      I will assume that you simply missed the last few lines of the comment you are nonetheless commenting on. The real question is did you read them and dismiss them as unreal, or did you not get to them?

      Because of the tone of what you wrote, I am not clear which it was. The last few lines were: "Now the big issue [two tiered membership] is the last - and I want to address that separately, in another comment, because I think it is separate, but also because I think there are a lot of issues at stake…"

      I assume you didn't register those lines, because to have perceived them, and then written that I didn't want to discuss your concern, would be impossible. Indeed, in that case, I would think you might have looked around for the other comment, and if you looked up the page a few comments, you would hare seen a very long one from me, that is, in fact, discussing, at length, your concerns.

      You ask: "Are we seriously promoting blogs that include passages the authors may not mean, may prefer not to happen at all? Why would anyone write that?"

      The problem here is you take the blog as arguing for two tiered membership, but it isn't. If someone says people may do x - or, in this case, chapters may opt for tiered membership - they may like the idea of x or tiered membership, or they may dislike it. They write what they do because they think it is true, in this case, that people, or chapters, may opt as indicated. There is nothing at all strange about that. And it does not imply favoring, or not favoring, having tiered membership. Some will like the idea, some won't.

      Then you say, "It is not the major point of the blog, but it is part of the blog nonetheless, and therefore open to discussion."

      Quite right, which is why it is being discussed - while for the rest of the blog, not so much.

      I took up the concern you raised, myself, because I happen to think there are very important issues at stake, as I wrote. And thus I wrote the long comment exploring those matters that you have not yet seen, I assume. Some might say, it is too long. I think they would be wrong. There are real issues involving many factors and they deserve serious attention.

      Then you write: "Anyone could write a controversial paragraph, stick it in the middle of a less controversial piece, and then dismiss discussion of it on the basis that it is not the main thrust of the article."

      Yes, anyone could do that, but no one has. First, I doubt anyone thought it was controversial. Second, I doubt anyone had any agenda in writing it. And, in any case, third, people are discussing it. I and others have said it wasn't central to the blog post - and it very clearly wasn't. It should probably be discussed separately - and I think it should. But none of that implies it is unimportant, or that the concerns about it engendering hierarchy are unimportant - quite the contrary.

      You then write: "Oh wait, there's a name for that isn't there… yes, spin doctoring. Slip something in, refuse to discuss it, implement it, and hey presto it's too late to undo."

      Now you are getting a bit sarcastic - even nasty - it seems to me, and I don't understand why.

      Why do you assume bad motive? Nothing was slipped in. People are discussing. And why is it not possible that the authors wrote and signed what they thought - which is that folks might do x - in context of a larger discussion about internal education?

      As far as actually implementing tiered membership, of course it would be chapters that would do that, by way of trying it, not authors of a blog post. And even then, too "late to undo" Why?

      You write: "I can't help wondering, if this is all so speculative, untried, and vague, why it is being promoted on the front page?"

      You take the piece as being about tiered membership - about twenty words of it, mentioning a possibility without any details - and so you wonder as you do. But the actual ideas of the piece - to try to enhance the knowledge and skills of members - are not only not speculative and vague, they are also part of IOPS defiining commitments. The specific ways mentioned in the piece to try to implement those commitments, are possibilities the authors like. Folks in chapters, or even projects, might undertake them, or might choose another path. The mention of something chapters might do, create tiered membership, could easily have been in the blog or not, and have had essentially zero impact on the main point being made by the blog. It upset you, because it seemed to you contrary to the commitments of IOPS - reasonably enough. So, people are trying to engage with that concern, particularly myself, as well as trying not to have the initial intent of the blog get lost.

      You write: "I have pointed out before that placing the same old in-crowd's blogs in prime position is tacit acceptance and support for the piece being IOPS wide policy. You chose not to engage with that point, but it still stands."

      I think you are mistaken. I think new people are appearing in the blog system quite regularly - certainly people I have never heard of - and being featured. And I even think those who are well known and also working in IOPS, of which there are, regrettably, very few, are posting less often, as new people take up tasks.

      Indeed, of the authors of this particular blog, which ones had you even heard of before you joined IOPS? Which ones are known and prominent due to anything other than working on IOPS, for that matter? In fact, which ones have even posted other blogs - not all, I bet.

      If every time anyone puts in some work, writes, engages, and thereby becomes visible, whether commenting, blogging, doing interviews, working on projects, or whatever, shortly later it will be claimed they are part of an in crowd and their motives will be questioned - then by definition the only thing ever visible is an in crowd with flawed motives.

      Worse, people don't want to be labelled that way, and so don't work, don't write, don't become visible, to avoid the dynamic. Instead of calling the blog's authors an in group, implicitly criticizing them for their efforts, and even their motives, why not thank them for their efforts and urge others on to contribute as well, while accurately noting that this group is from five countries and knows each other, and is known to others, precisely due to having become active in and working on IOPS - and barely at all, earlier than that?

      You write: "It is no secret that IOPS is seen as the Michael Albert Show. It is often cited as a reason people feel it will not be the participatory experience it promises."

      I think you are correct that this is often claimed, or thought, and is used as a reason for doubt. But I also think it is a slur on others, and rather nasty toward me, too.

      You write: "Yet despite this, the first proposed curriculum consists entirely of your books."

      No, it suggests that books that have six authors from four countries are a POSSIBLE source. It does that, as it mentions, because unlike anything else as yet available, these three books were written literally with that purpose in mind.

      You add: "Is there any effort being made at all to counter this view? And please don't say "That is just a suggestion, people can do what they like"."

      I assume you mean the view that it is "my show" as well as regarding the books. Yes, the most important thing is the IOPS commitments - which, if abided, make the notion that any one person, or small group, or even large group, is going to impose its will on IOPS pretty much ludicrous. Second, there is the effort to engage steadily more people in visible initiatives, in taking charge of their circumstances, in contributing, etc. But as to the curriculum, sorry, but what you say I shouldn't say is exactly what I will say - the curriculum makes clear that it is a possible approach, and other approaches could be as good or better. The authors of the blog can choose to speak for themselves. What you might have done, to counter the view which should not be held - which is the idea that the only way to approach the problem of raising consciousness internally was to use Fanfare as a source, which is explicitly rejected in the blog - would be to offer a different approach. I would certainly celebrate your doing so.

      You write: "The people writing these blogs and posting them prominently are seen as leaders by virtue of being given voice over other blogs."

      I am not sure who you think are seen as leaders - but, whoever is - other than people with a long history, it will be because they are working hard, in diverse ways, sometimes visibly, in IOPS. What blogs get highlighted is overwhelmingly a function of what blogs attract quick attention - or what blogs make serious proposals that should be seen by all, or that provide a model of outreach - as best I have been able to discern. I don't know, but I would bet a survey of what blogs have been featured would show a mix - with some people appearing more often, yes, but due to those people writing way more often, being more involved, etc.

      You write: "You must surely realise this. This comes with a responsibility. Not least, to mean what you say and say it clearly."

      I agree. And I make every effort to do just as you suggest, not always successfully (on being clear) - as do others. But, Rosi, do you really MEAN that you think I am not willing to discuss with you your concerns, or that others are unwilling? Do you really mean we are spin doctors? And so on. I hope not.

      You add: "Not to make flippant comments that may or may not be meant, and then to dismiss concerns as 'not the point'."

      I can't help but think there is an odd dynamic here. I said that what you pointed to was "a big issue" and deserves more lengthy attention, but was "not the point" of the blog, and that it therefore deserved separate treatment in another comment, because it was so important. And I entered that longer comment simultaneously.

      To you that somehow amounted to being flippant, to saying things I don't mean, and to dismissing your concerns.

      I am hard pressed to see why you took it that way - from me or anyone else, but, if you did, since that being true would be really quite egregious, why not just ask, Michael (or it could be anyone), are you being flippant with me, are you writing things you don't mean, are you spin doctoring? instead of assuming that all that is the case?

      You write: "Maybe the first part of the curriculum should be communication skills and reading through work before it is posted."

      Maybe so. And here is another thing I think it would be terrific for us all to learn. To not assume the worst of people, to hold in abeyance sarcasm and negative assertions about motives, and to instead try to understand people, first.

    • Jane Johnson 29th Nov 2012

      Quote from Michael Albert:

      "And here is another thing I think it would be terrific for us all to learn. To not assume the worst of people, to hold in abeyance sarcasm and negative assertions about motives, and to instead try to understand people, first."

      I agree! :-)

  • Mark W 24th Nov 2012

    I think this is awesome. It's more or less what I was going to suggest tomorrow but in much more depth. I find convincing activists to spend time on theory extremely hard. Really excited by this.

    mk

    • Preeti Kaur 24th Nov 2012

      Great! I look forward to discussing this in more detail tomorrow! Preeti

  • Florian Zollman 24th Nov 2012

    Didier: If I tell people in my neighborhood about IOPS vision they are very positive about its outlook. They would rather think that it is difficult to reach the stated visinary aims. If I tell Anarchists or Marxists about it the reaction is mixed, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, depending on their specific ideology. But these are just my experiences and I guess it really depends on the people we speak to. Generally, I think we should try to appeal to the general public including Anarchists and Communists, that is my strategic focus at least.

    Rosi and Thomas: We think it is important to do something to increase participation in chapters. As we wrote "The draft “curriculum” below highlights one way in which IOPS members may start to develop a shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy."

    In the end, any chapter is free to develop its own mechanisms I suppose. And I really dont know how we should influence how your chapter develops. I am in Lincoln, for example, and I feel free to build a chapter in my area without any input from people say in London or the USA. However, I find this quite difficult in the moment so I try to work together with people in London and other areas to share ideas like those stated here.

    Generally, it would be great if other people came up with proposals for internal chapter development and education as well. We have a list of texts, for example, we want to study to inform us more on how to develop our local chapters and we are currently working on another document outlining how a chapter could be structured.

  • Thomas Hallbert 24th Nov 2012

    Technical issue: I dont see any button "answer" and searching with the cursor in the "dark" does not help either.

    • Anders Sandstrom 25th Nov 2012

      Thomas, it seems to have to do with what language you use. If "English" you see the "answer" button. If "Svenska" for instance, it is not there.

    • Thomas Hallbert 25th Nov 2012

      Tack Anders
      same goes for French version, just another bug.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      Apologies - this is now fixed.

    • Thomas Hallbert 27th Nov 2012

      Excellent Jason
      But there is still no text in the submit button below.

      And now when this is solved it could be usefull to have a choice to delete unnecessary conversation. With the permit to delete only your own comments.

      In this case I can give you my permission to do it for me.

  • 24th Nov 2012

    "Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become ‘voting’ members". Isn't that a bit, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”?

    • 24th Nov 2012

      It 'may' be. May being very noncommittal. I can say whatever I like because it has 'may' in front of it...

    • Preeti Kaur 25th Nov 2012

      Mark - you may wish to see Michael's larger response to Rosi above which addresses this.

      Nothing in proposed curriculum gives some members more rights that others. As I have said before, structurally, some chapters may choose to develop tiered membership structures. If tiered membership structures were explored by some chapters, this would likely be to reflect different levels of involvement that members themselves WANT in the group.

      Some won't have much time to participate in meetings and projects and so may not even want to have decision making power and voting on projects that are not participating in. As Michael says above, this would be quite consistent with self management - since most decisions would be about projects they aren't in and policies they are not abiding and so would likely not affect them.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      The paragraph included in the text was of course just a suggestion of how chapters could approach integrating development with membership rights and responsibilities. You may have different ideas on how to approach the issue within your local chapter and I look forward to hearing about your experiences and reports from other local chapters so we can share and learn from each other.

      Rather than repeat some of the points that have already been addressed above on the issue of tiered membership that I think are better left to a separate discussion, what do you think about the actual curriculum and do you agree that is important for chapters to have programmes for developing knowledge and skills in communicating participatory society theory?

  • 25th Nov 2012

    Thomas, the blue rectangle "submit" in English (and just a blue rectangle in the French version. )
    And of course, you have to log in.

    Rosi, the paragraph brought into question could be deleted, or ignored, or rewritten As Preeti said "it is up to local chapters to decide structural issues" .

    Florian, "If I tell Anarchists or Marxists about it the reaction is mixed, sometimes positive, sometimes negative",
    This is my experience, too. And yes it depends on the people we speak to.
    "I think we should try to appeal to the general public"
    You’re right of course. I’m learning a lot from the struggle against the airport in Notre Dame des Landes http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/rural-rebels-and-useless-airports
    Young radicals, local farmers, "ordinary people", rub shoulders with each other, each in his own way, in a common struggle, with a shared goal. It’s not a "ideological" matter.

    "I strongly got the impression (again, maybe I misread this originally) that IOPS was trying to draw in grass roots movements, activists, and projects around the world under one banner to form a strong left" [Rosi]
    I’m sceptical about the term "left" in the actual French political context. But yes, we have to talk with the general public and to draw in activists projects and movements as well.

  • John Keeley 25th Nov 2012

    The big question still to be answered is whether different groups of IOPS members follow this, or a similar curriculum, based around Fanfare in their own way, in their own time, or we try & initiate a project where all IOPS members who want to follow this, or something similar, do so together?

    I'm very much for an international approach.
    Who would be willing to be involved in such a project?
    Could we publish extracts of Fanfare weekly, say on the international resource page?
    Discussions can take place on the forum & groups of members can organise meetings around it.
    It gives a good reason to organise a meeting & breath life into dormant chapters.

    Is there enough support for this?

    • Michael Albert 26th Nov 2012

      John, why is it either or? Why can't there be a project that people, pursue, with this or a similar curriculum, whether in a chapter, where face to face meetings are possible - or across chapters where they aren't? And then also, if some want to pursue it, another project, or many others, with fewer, or more people, that use a different curriculum? That flexibility is what the IOPS commitments warrant, I think...

    • John Keeley 27th Nov 2012

      Yes, indeed. Just trying to gauge the level of support for the idea of an international approach.

      If there's enough support I'm happy to launch it as a project.

      Is there any problem posting bits of Fanfare on the IOPS website for all to read (say every week)?
      I've got the Kindle (mobi) version of Fanfare, but would need a different version to be able to copy & paste. Maybe there's a way of converting mobi to pdf.
      It would also be best to post these on the resources page, so we would need someone with international admin rights to be involved?

      Who would join such a project?

    • Michael Albert 27th Nov 2012

      A project seems like a good idea...

      The difficulty with putting Fanfare online free, is that it kills sales, to be blunt. how then, do we pay the associated costs? How do we finance new books?

      The idea that all info needs to be free is nice, but it has the deadly effect, over time, in the economy we currently inhabit, of making it impossible to maintain info institutions. Ad almost impossible, as well, for the info to be a product of serious long term effort, investigation, polishing, etc.

      Let me be blunt. We asked everyone in IOPS to try ZSocial, to give it a chance, and many, but certainly not all, have. Why not, for the rest? Perhaps it is not least because people know that later it will involve a fee, albeit very low. Everyone takes more or less for granted that we, and alternative media producers more generally, will just keep delivering... but don't see a need to help. Why is that?

      This problem has gotten steadily more aggrandizing over the past few years, and is now intense.

      Various folks wrote three books and asked IOPS members to get copies themselves and even to distribute them...to do reviews, etc., so that people would know about them, if they find they like them. Very very few people have done so. We generated the site you are using, the promo that gathered people, etc. This is what an institution can do. We need institutions, particularly media institutions. But media workers can't keep doing it, we can't even keep existing, unless we can generate revenues.

      Here is what I just don't get, again being blunt. Given that these books are written by IOPS folks for IOPS folks, and are available for as little as $3 an ebook, and $10 print, why wouldn't folks in large numbers in IOPS be checking them out generally, and if folks want to actually use them as a source for collective study, why wouldn't folks WANT to pay, even if the books were online free? And want to further promote them, as tools others should benefit from too?

      Yes, of course I can generate a PDF. Of course I can post it. Should I....that is the question. Doing so just reinforces the belief there is no down side of not paying for information. And that is a horrible and suicidal misconception.

      We just did a fund raising...it was very ineffective for the first time in twenty years. And I knew it would be. I told people it would be. Twenty for twenty, and I knew the twenty first would be the first to fail. Consider the implications of fewer donors donating less, on one side...and people asking for everything to be free, at the same time. All that will be left is advertising for income. Even as the ideas and values we have been working for become more widely spread our ability to continue assisting them becomes steadily reduced. Talk about a rock and a hard place...it is a recipe for collapse.

    • John Keeley 28th Nov 2012

      Michael,

      It might not kill sales, it might increase them!

      I'm not saying post it all in one go. Just a bit each week. Maybe many might want their own copy to carry around while their exploring it. And maybe by making more chapters active, even more people join & get involved & buy it.

      A lot of mights & maybes, I know.

    • Michael Albert 28th Nov 2012

      Perhaps you didn't notice - I put all of occupy vision and occupy theory online, for the two projects that were to explore them. About 120 people signed up. I don't think too many of them bought the books - and probably none who would not have done so anyhow. And what you want me to do is not just write it, but then prepare it, chapter by chapter, for people to read without purchasing it. And these are people, no less, who you feel are going to be using it for study sessions. I am not in a good mood - but think about what it says that even such people are disinclined to buy - this is why publishers on the left are suffering, why magazines on the left are suffering, etc. Leftists have gotten it into their minds that to get information free is somehow a positive thing to do - and to pay for information is a foolish thing to do. And every time we make information available free - we not only get it out there - which is good - we also enforce that viewpoint, which is bad.

    • John Keeley 29th Nov 2012

      No I didn't know that vision & theory were available online.

      The approach I'm proposing is linking a reading of Fanfare with the prposed curriculum. The reality is most people will only do things when its made easy for them. I, or whoever else joins the project, would present a bit of Fanfare at a time, maybe each week, Bitsize so people are no daunted by the challenge. Meetings could be arranged around it's reading & the related ciriculum topic. For those who don't have a meeting to go to they could get involved online.

      I'm not suggesting you have to do anything. But if your not happy with the idea, & seeing that you're the main contribitor to Fanfare, I simply won't bother progressing the idea any further.

    • Jane Johnson 29th Nov 2012

      I think what John is proposing is a good idea!

    • Michael Albert 29th Nov 2012

      But I like the idea. I think it is fine. I just don't think it needs to be or ought to be proposed as the only way to proceed. Different chapters, as they exist or emerge, may propose different approaches....which is fine. I assume you agree. Results can be compared. Lessons learned. What works can be pursued more vigorously. Same goes for individuals. Suppose you start an online version of what you indicate...maybe someone else starts an online approach that is different, again, that diversity is fine.

      The one thing I do think is that while working through useful discussion and exploration online is very good, it is very unlikely to be as effective as adding to the mix gatherings, especially when it comes to being able to practice presenting ideals, working with them, and learning skills.

    • Sarah Owens 1st Dec 2012

      I couldn't agree with your last point more. I'll even go further and opine that, if one wants to be able to communicate orally, writing, even in dialogue with others, is not enough. And by "communicate", I mean, communicate.

    • Sarah Owens 1st Dec 2012

      Hello again, John Keeley, not sure what your thoughts are at this point, but if you're still thinking about that project, you'll probably save yourself some work and/or heartburn if you look at

      http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/about-projects .

      http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/occupy-theory-explorations .

      http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/occupy-vision-explorations .

      Jason mentioned the latter two earlier (above), but I wanted to second his suggestion.

    • John Keeley 2nd Dec 2012

      Sarah,

      Thanks for the links.
      There doesn't appear to be enough support for an international-wide studying of Fanfare together, so I don't intend to pursue it any further.

  • 25th Nov 2012

    In my opinion, this document is a good start. We can base our work on different documents (mission, vision...) and on a methodology proposal, possibly perfectible .
    And I’m for an international approach, too, as far as possible.

  • Yoann Le Guen 26th Nov 2012

    Hi folks,

    I like the idea of spending more time with others exchanging ideas, theory and analysis. I see the above as one proposal for one chapter. But I can't see how the proposal would apply to all or many chapters / be part of IOPS structure. We're better off on that topic having groups writing about their experience and seeing what works for them.

    If we want a proposal to "apply" to many chapters it needs to be a lot more vague. Something like: We encourage all chapters to spend a good part of their time discussing such and such aspects. Similarly a strong emphasis may be put on encouraging all members to take parts in progressive movements in their local, regional and national level.

    About nurturing a group, allowing it to grow, welcome others etc... A lot of it has to do with what practical stuff people can get on with and work on with others. Having study groups at the beginning risks being divisive especially if the curriculum is quite large. If you have a small one it's ok, you can run it 4 times a year and new people can always join in on one of them next time, or next time again, or in a year time. etc...

    Overall I welcome the effort put in writing this post but I have difficulties seeing its relevance here. I think some groups can try that if they have enough members with enough commitments and share their experience along the way. Or Maybe I misread (quickly) the whole thing.

    • Mark Evans 26th Nov 2012

      Hi Yoann - you write "I see the above as one proposal for one chapter. But I can't see how the proposal would apply to all or many chapters / be part of IOPS structure."

      I think the idea is that the blog outlines one possible education programme for IOPS members / chapters to engage in as part of our overall development. As the authors say:

      "The draft “curriculum” below highlights one way in which IOPS members may start to develop a shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy"

      But in any case members have already signed up to IOPS - and in so doing have stated an agreement with the key documents - and it seems to me that the above proposal is very much in-keeping with those documents.

      Would you agree with this?

      If not could you say why. If you do agree then why do you think that the above proposal has such limited applicability - "for one chapter"? If the above proposal complements the key documents that all members have stated an agreement with then why can't the above proposal "apply to all or many chapters"?

    • Yoann Le Guen 27th Nov 2012

      Hi Mark,

      To be honest, I misread the blog a fair bit as I've got a lot on and gave myself an extra push to have a look at it. So I feel like I'm wasting people time a bit. Hopefully something constructive can come out of my rushed comment.

      The main issue I have is with the extent of the draft curriculum. It's huge. It made me misread the blog. I can't realistically ever find/build a group that could sustain studying so much material together. As a way forward I would suggest topics only. People can then later on within their chapters suggest articles, workshops formats , extracts from books etc...These could also be put together in an IOPS project etc...
      To do so I would modify paragraph 3 to suggest topics that would seem beneficial/suitable.

      I also think the fourth paragraph mentioning tiered membership should be removed and discussed somewhere else. It seems controversial and quite complex (in the abstract anyway).

      I hope my comment is useful this time.

      Mark, Thanks for getting back to me as I probably wouldn't have spent the time to re-read it and be mor econstructive otherwise. I hope I'll find an opprotunity to see you again soon in Birmingham or elsewhere.

      Ta

    • Mark Evans 27th Nov 2012

      Yoann - I might be wrong but I still think you are misreading the intention of the blog. You say that your "main issue I have is with the extent of the draft curriculum. It's huge."

      Well yes it does cover all the key areas for revolutionary organising - at least from an IOPS perspective - so yes there is a lot of ground to cover.

      However I don't think the authors are suggesting that all members need to read all the relevant material by the end of the month or whatever. Rather, as I understand it, it is suggested as a template for all members to work from. The template can be adapted and used as the individual members or chapter sees fit and could inform a short or long term educational programme. Or, if we ever get a functioning National branch here in the UK - with members paying fees - we could use it as a template for something like an IOPS summer school that could run over three days, for example.

      Personally I have probably been studying this material for about 10 years now, and am still learning, so I don't think anyone should read the above and feel any pressure to know it all within a short period of time - or ever for that matter. Like I say, the idea of the blog, I think, is instead for IOPS members to identify an educational template that makes sense to IOPS members and that we can all work from and develop flexibly and collectively.

      Hope to see you soon mate!

  • 26th Nov 2012

    With respect to the discussion centered around the issue of tiered membership, what I found curious: Why was the concept of tiered membership even brought up in this blog? What is its origin and why was it advanced?

    An internet search on “iopsociety.org tiered” produces three references to the word “tiered” on the IOPS website in addition to this blog, two in a blog by Michael Albert and one in the “Occupy Vision”.

    In "Occupy Vision" the following question is raised:

    “Once we have vision, and we make it important to what we are doing, don’t we run a new risk that those who know the vision can feel overly important, and maybe become a new elite. Can’t participation become two TIERED between those who know and can apply the vision, and those who only watch the visionaries and wait for instructions?” [emphasis added]

    And the following answer is provided:

    “This kind of elitism can, and has, happened. But is the alternative to have no vision - or is it to have vision (and strategy too) in ways that enhance rather than diminish participation and that challenge and undercut rather than obscure and enforce elitism?

    “How can we do that? By avoiding unnecessarily difficult language and using concepts that are easily understood. By sharing our vision as widely as possible. By aggressively respecting and fostering criticism and debate. Winning social justice requires vision - but not vision for a few. We need vision able to be used by and refined by all those involved in social change efforts.”

    So, to avoid a two-tiered membership, and undesirable elitism, we must have a shared vision that avoids unnecessarily difficult language and concepts. We want a vision not for the few, but one that can be used and refined by all. We have the original “Vision” contained in the Organization Description, and the above implies that though it may be refined in the future it should be accomplished in a non-elitist manner using straightforward concepts and language so that all members can use it to advance social change.

    This implies, at least to me, that we should work toward organizational structures that avoid tiered membership. So then, why have the authors of this blog, four of whom happen to be members of the ICC, included a reference to tiered memberships?

    The first blog reference to “tiered” was in a reply by Michael Albert to a question raised in his “2500 and Climbing…” blog. He wrote:

    “My guess is the most likely basis for a tiered membership, which i too think is inevitable and desirable, is chapters...

    “From now until a convention, we are all just members, but, for example, imagine that after that, also being a member, via signing up online, in iops international, requires only filling out a form and some level of dues, say. However, imagine all voting occurs, after a convention, by way of chapter membership, and that chapters can and do set the terms for what a voting or non voting member is. This would be tiered membership, non voting and voting.”

    Why should a tiered membership be inevitable and desirable?

    Michael Albert proposes the following as an example:

    “One could imagine many possibilities for becoming a voting member. Again, for example, perhaps that chapters have at least ten members, and that to have the option to vote a member must be participant in some number of projects, or must be involved with some level of local iops or non iops organizing, and/or must have given some evidence of mastery of issues, or whatever is settled on at the convention.”

    This implies that chapters might limit voting to those who have participated in some number of projects and have mastered the issues. That latter part sounds a bit elitist. Will IOPS chapters advance social issues in the future that even some of its members, let alone those on whose behalf they may be advocating, cannot comprehend? Why would they call for a vote before everyone is proficient in a particular issue? I can understand project participants making decisions without the approval of nonparticipating members as long as they do not impact the entire chapter membership, but that hardly constitutes a tiered membership in my opinion. I would hope that our social advocacy never becomes so complex that only those who have mastered it can have a say; that would be very undemocratic.

    The second blog reference to “tiered” was a reply by Michael Albert to a question raised in his “2650 & Convention Conditions” blog. He wrote:

    “IOPS isn't open, so to speak, already. One must agree with the commitments to join. It may lay, on top of that, that one must pay dues, to be a member at all, but I myself doubt it. Rather, I suspect IOPS will wind up having a multi-tiered membership in chapters, with most members paying dues, some not wanting to, and some literally not being able to afford to. I can also imagine different roles...

    “But to me seriously addressing all of this, while very interesting and very important, is in the future which we have to do a lot to get to. By way of reminder - this blog proposes a procedure and a set of conditions for having a convention - that is, in essence, for making concerns about all manner of issues forefront, rather than distant.”

    This suggests that a tiered membership may arise as a result of the obligation of dues, those who don’t pay may or may not get to vote. But Michael makes the point that the subject of a tiered membership while interesting is something that should be reserved for the future.

    So again, why was the concept of a tiered membership even brought up? I can understand why some find it disconcerting.

    I apologize if I have unfairly taken written responses out of context; my intent was not to shine a negative light on them but to use them to advance the discussion and raise a few questions that might be pertinent.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 27th Nov 2012

      "Why was the concept of tiered membership even brought up in this blog? What is its origin and why was it advanced?"

      Well, because IOPS is being created as an organiation, and membership rights and responsibilities is an issue that any organisation will need to address, at some point. However, in this blog it was just a related suggestion of how some chapters may want to integrate educational development with membership responsibilities, and to some of us who have been having ongoing discussions on the issue, it seemed a sensible one to make. But, perhaps it would have been better not to include it here, as the issue deserves much more elaboration than just a short paragraph - and especially that it is distracting away from the main point of the proposal, which is about educational and skills development.
      I think, ultimately, it is up to chapters and branches to work out for themselves, when they are ready, how they deal with membership rights and responsibilities. I imagine chapters will come up with different approaches, and I'd hope that chapters share their experiences with others.

      In London, for example, we will be discussing a proposal to formalise our membership, which will include an educational element and flexible ways that people can choose to relate to the chapter, with each conveying certain responsibilities and rights. For example, those that choose to commit time to organising have the right to self-manage and decide how they plan and carry out their activities. Those that prefer to only make financial contributions (based on ability to pay) have rights and responsibilities appropriate to them, perhaps only being able to influence in what areas the funds are allocated during annual budget planning. This all still to be worked out.

      The membership levels aside, what do you think about the central issue of the blog and the curriculum proposed?
      "The main point is to get going with internal development of people’s ability to use and present ideas - as well as associated skills. "

  • Florian Zollman 26th Nov 2012

    At least the co-authors living in the UK (Preeti, Jason and me) have been discussing tiered membership structures for some time during meetings. I cannot speak for the co-writers in general but I found it reasonable to consider tiered membership structures. Nonetheless, I understand that it might have been better to not include this issue in this blog. The reason it is in there might simply be that we found it uncontroversial to consider tiered membership structures and just mentioned them (that is at least my perspective on it). I did not at all think that it is regarded as controversial as it seems to be.

    Regarding the issue: I find that tiered structures can be implemented in accord with self-management for the reasons outlined by Preeti:

    "If tiered membership structures were explored by some chapters, this would likely be to reflect different levels of involvement that members themselves WANT in the group.

    Some won't have much time to participate in meetings and projects and so may not even want to have decision making power and voting on projects that are not participating in. As Michael says above, this would be quite consistent with self management - since most decisions would be about projects they aren't in and policies they are not abiding and so would likely not affect them."

    But in the end, it depends on the chapters to come up with and implement structural solutions. My intention is to explore, implement and refine structures that sufficiently enable chapter development and tiered structures could be one way to do that.

  • Michael Albert 27th Nov 2012

    I keep thinking there are two topics being discussed.

    One is, I think, immediately tractable...do we need to seriously address the issue of members steadily developing more knowledge, confidence, and skills, in collective ways suitable to their situations? I bet everyone agrees that we should do so... And that different folks, and groups, and chapters will opt for different paths. Ad that it would be good to describe successes and failures, so the best paths might proliferate. That, I think is the message of the blog.

    The second topic is tiered membership in chapters....or, we might generalize, it is the actual day to day organization of chapters and their internal policies. It seems to me that here, too, we should be able to agree on an overarching point. Chapters should decide their own, but to remain chapters their choices should be seeking to accord with and implement IOPS commitments, and, if they show signs of failing to do so, should be altered.

    I would say there is more we should be able to agree about. We have very little experience of chapter life, so to speak, for an organization like IOPS, even at our current size, much less in the future, much less in different countries, with different contexts applying. I assume everyone agrees.

    The commitments to diversity, solidarity, self management, mutual aid, participation, do seem highly germane to just this type situation. Chapters should be welcome to evaluate their own circumstances and try their own ideas, also conveying the results publicly so others can learn. Prejudging those results is unwarranted, no one knows enough to be confident about such matters even for one city or country, much less for all. Again, I doubt anyone would disagree.

    Saying some chapters might opt for x is consistent with that flexible approach, whether the person saying it thinks x is likely to be good, or bad.. Saying no chapter should discuss much less experiment with y, is not, unless y is rather obviously contrary to IOPS commitments, and can be shown to be so, even before trying it, to those considering it. This may be more controversial, but I hope we can agree to it.

    If we can agree on the above, honestly, I think the discussing of some chapters trying tiered membership becomes a matter of very different meaning than many are giving it. We have opinions, but even folks who are dubious it will have merit, if they are humble enough to recognize that they may be wrong, will welcome experiment. And ditto for vice versa, even folks who perhaps think different membership tiers reflecting different interest or involvement levels will often make really good sense, will, if humble enough, want to see experiments with no tiers.

    To me, the above approach is what is really, or can be really, definitively new about IOPS. It can be an organization in which people don't say "my way or the highway," to use a u.s. slogan from my youth...a slogan that could have been conceived to describe the dynamics or organizational splitting.

    We should all want chapters to arrive at policies that suit their conditions and actions really well, that work, and that are consistent with IOPS overarching commitments. We should not want our own intuitions to be ratified, much less before evidence exists, that is, we should instead want the best intuitions to be ratified...and by experience, and mostly, with a lot of diversity.

  • David Jones 28th Nov 2012

    Hi all,

    I'd like to try and move discussion away from that "controversial" paragraph a bit and onto what I at least saw as the main point of the blog, if that's okay? (though I can understand people's concerns RE that paragraph and it would perhaps be a worrying sign of nobody had raised any objections to it - that maybe shows we are sensitive to the dangers of a group of "coordinators" with organizational privileges developing within IOPS.)

    So, I think having a "curriculum" (loosely defined and subject to interpretation of and emphasis upon the material by individual chapters) is a great idea. RE "Other chapters might prefer a seminar-like approach with preparation by all involved, and then a more free form exploration of issues and views." - I did something like this last year at Southampton University. We set up a little study group to discuss the inter-relation of economics and ecology (it was a spin-off group from one of the uni's environmental groups). For each meeting we sent an email round a few days beforehand with some suggested reading, then explored a topic - like say "economic growth", "the monetary system", "economy within ecology", "markets vs parecon" etc. I'll write a blog with more on what we did soon, once I have some more free time.

    I have a question as far as developing the "curriculum" goes - can somebody explain to me what the difference between a "sphere" and a "context" is? (I'm sure it's explained and explored in Fanfare, but I haven't had a chance to read that yet - I'm going to order a copy of the books and read them over the Christmas holidays). Would choosing at the outset to draw this firm distinction between economy, polity, culture and kinship on the one hand, and international and ecology on the other, influence majorly how the material in the "curriculum" is likely to be developed and explored by chapters? It seems to me that might be a discussion worth having here.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 29th Nov 2012

      Hi David

      The way I understand it is that every society is made up of people coming together to form inter-connected roles and relationships, or institutions, that achieve cultural, kinship, political and economic functions (the four spheres). The different ways any society can organise these institutions will have varying outcomes on people, and so our task as revolutionaries is to envisage and construct new institutions that fulfil these societal functions, but in ways that have different outcomes on people than the existing arrangements do - that we can measure based on our values, like equity, solidarity, diversity, etc

      The ecological context is just the environment that the society (made up of people and their interconnected roles) sits in. You could think of it as society being a tennis ball and the ecology being a bucket the ball is in. It's the relationship between the people in the society and the natural world it exists in and is dependent on for survival.

      The international context is the relationship between one society, or one tennis ball, to use my rather basic analogy, and other societies, or tennis balls, and the whole world being a bucket of tennis balls!

      The way i see it is that the spheres are about relationships between people within a society and the contexts are concerned with relationships between people and institutions in a society with the natural environment and other societies.
      Of course these are just abstract concepts that are only meant as useful theoretical tools for helping us understand society and to formulate vision and strategy.

    • Mark Evans 30th Nov 2012

      Nice summary Jase - but I don't think your analogy works as it fails to capture the fluid nature of the theoretical framework.

    • Preeti Kaur 30th Nov 2012

      My understanding on this sphere / context conversation is the same as Jason's. Indeed, to quote Michael Albert "Beyond the four social spheres, there is also ecology and international relations, each of which establishes a context in which societies operate and develop, dramatically affecting prospects - not least by such phenomena as global warming and wars."

    • Jason Chrysostomou 2nd Dec 2012

      yeah, it's maybe not the best analogy (I just wrote the the first one that popped in my head), but do you have any better analogies you can think of to explain the 4 spheres and 2 contexts? or does anyone else? For visual thinkers like myself, these kinds of graphical examples help with explaining and understanding the model.

    • Mark Evans 2nd Dec 2012

      put some water in the bucket!

  • Mark Evans 28th Nov 2012

    Hi David - my understanding is that the blog outlines a proposal for a shared methodology for IOPS members educational development. It is proposed because it is very much in-keeping with the key documents that all members have, on joining, agree to.

    It is not proposed as the only possible outline but only one that is compatible with our shared commitments. Other proposals can be made but they will, of course, need to be in-keeping with our key documents and shared commitments.

    The study groups that you talk about in your comment seem to me to be more like open forums where all sorts of issues are discussed by all sort of people. That of course is fine but I don't think it is what is being proposed here.

    IOPS members running or being part of study groups within an open forum is great and this will likely mean that broader left issues will need to be addressed. However, internal education can and should be much more focused around the ideas that inform our revolutionary programme.

    Regarding the difference between spheres and context - they are just different words that are used to distinguish different aspects of society. If you read the books it should become clear.

  • David Jones 30th Nov 2012

    Jason and Mark, thanks for your answers.

    @ Mark

    Okay, I'll read the Fanfare books to see how "spheres" and "contexts" are handled and to get some idea how "focused" the IOPS framework is compared to the group I was part of. I'm not really sure yet, as our founding documents seem quite broad and hence consistent with the sorts of things we discussed for that group, but perhaps not - it's true we weren't organizing it in reference to any to specific, documented commitments.

    @Jason

    Thanks for the analogy. I had a similar picture in my head, which I actually made into a blog posting a while back, not sure if you saw it or not?

    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/one-world-consciousness .


    Do you have in mind an image something like that? What do you think of the idea of a logo (like that of the PPS-UK site) to visually summarise the "four spheres and two contexts" framework you described? Of course, we could go with buckets and tennis balls instead ;-)

    • Mark Evans 1st Dec 2012

      David - you seem to have misunderstood my point.

      My point wasn't that the organising you describe is inconsistent with the IOPS key documents - I think it is great if IOPS members engage in those kinds of broader left issues. That is one of the ways we will raise awareness of our organisation and hopefully, as a result, recruit new members.

      My point was that the above blog is intended for internal educational development for members - at least that is my understanding. For obvious reasons education has always been an important part of revolutionary organising and here I assume the idea is to identify a shared framework, that is in-keeping with our key documents, and that we can work from in an effort to collectively address the uneven levels of confidence and understanding and for members to empower themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills for effective organising for a participatory society / socialism.

      The framework outlined in the blog is one possible way of doing such internal educational work. Members can opt to use it or instead develop alternative frameworks that are also consistent with the IOPS key documents that we have all signed up to.

      I hope that is clearer.

    • David Jones 1st Dec 2012

      Okay, so you're saying (?) that the point of this blog is more to identify a possible process chapters could follow to develop their own educational program, rather than an outline of such an educational program itself? I think I agree, having read it again. Perhaps (I wonder if you agree?) the use of the word "curriculum" in the blog has caused some confusion here? When I google "curriculum" I get things like:

      "The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college."

      To me that suggests a set list of educational topics rather than a process by which such a list may be arrived at by the members of a chapter.

    • Mark Evans 2nd Dec 2012

      I think you are over-thinking it Dave.

      As the authors say:

      "The draft “curriculum” below highlights one way in which IOPS members may start to develop a shared methodology, analysis, vision, and strategy."

      That is all. And from an IOPS point of view their proposal is completely uncontroversial.

    • David Jones 4th Dec 2012

      "I think you are over-thinking it Dave."

      haha, that's probably exactly what I'm doing! I have something of a reputation for this in "real life" too ;-)

    • David Jones 1st Dec 2012

      Hi Mark, my reply is below...

    • David Jones 1st Dec 2012

      Okay, ignore above comment! I clicked "answer" to your comment originally, but the relplies didn't get "nested". I guess something had changed with the website?

    • Sarah Owens 1st Dec 2012

      Yes! "[I]nternal educational development for members...to collectively address the uneven levels of confidence and understanding and for members to empower themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills for effective organising for a participatory society / socialism." (Emphasis added.)

      That was it exactly, for me, anyway. Thanks, Mark. Nice to be understood.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 2nd Dec 2012

      David, Yeah I like the idea of an IOPS logo with the four spheres (I designed it for pps-uk). The current one we are using on the website is just temporary. In the future, we should elicit logo designs and then have a vote for the best one.

    • David Jones 4th Dec 2012

      Cool. The logo I came up with for that blog was just a suggestion (and to get across the idea of having something for more visual thinkers, like you said to Mark). I'm sure a proper graphics designer could come up with something way better than I managed in half an hour on powerpoint! A competition followed by a vote sounds like a great idea :-)

  • Lambert Meertens 1st Dec 2012

    Isn't there a risk that the spirit of bottom-up diversity is killed by a top-down delivered specific analytical framework?

    • Sarah Owens 1st Dec 2012

      Lambert, what are you asking, exactly?

    • Sara Cromwell 9th Dec 2012

      Lambert, comments made like this are not constructive. Do YOU think it poses a risk? What is the risk? If so, what are possible alternatives? Also, I think your premise that a top-down delivered specific analytical framework exists assumes facts not in evidence, especially given that the "curriculum" is merely a flexible suggestion that may or may mot be adopted by the membership of local chapters, and modified as necessary by the members to suit the members. Please explain the basis for your premise, and why you're asking the question. Otherwise, your "questions" seem like no more than obstructive naysaying designed to sideline productive conversation and discourage people from innovating.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Dec 2012

      The reason I asked the question was that I was concerned. I have tried to express my concerns in more detail, and as clearly as I was able to, elsewhere on this page. I don't think it will help anybody if I reiterate them once more.

    • Sara Cromwell 9th Dec 2012

      Read the postings. We've ALL been asking you to explain your premises and state your positions, over and over.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Dec 2012

      Apart from my initial one-sentence comment, all my further contributions have been attempts at elucidation of my concerns in direct response to incessant pointed questions and other challenges. I got really tired of it but I didn't want to be seen as avoiding these questions. In spite of my best attempts I was accused of evading questions, circumnavigating the issues, and launching snarks and jibes. Total communication failure. I feel hectored enough and don't want to be subjected to another bout.

    • Sarah Owens 11th Dec 2012

      "Incessant pointed" questions and "other" challenges? Do you feel you were treated unfairly? It sounds a bit like it.

      Do you ever go through the exercise of writing from the point of view of those with whom you disagree? For instance, "In spite of my best attempts I was accused of evading questions, circumnavigating the issues, and launching snarks and jibes" might become, "Although I posted something in response to each question, I was unable to avoid using snarks and jibes, and came across as evading the simple questions I was asked to answer, and circumnavigating the issues."

      Does your saying you feel "hectored" (S.A.T. word for "bullied") and "subjected to another bout" mean you're not going to attempt to take up James's suggestion (below) to "write a blog about whether or not [references to Parecon] should be removed from the front page to ascertain what members general thoughts are"? Too bad. I think having to put your views directly and assertively, forthrightly, premises stated clearly, evidence offered, all of that, would be courageous and inspiring for all of us. Good modeling just to attempt it. Maybe when you've had a chance to recover, what?

  • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

    I find it worrisome that a sufficient amount of schooling is suggested as a requirement on full membership in the context of a proposal for a curriculum that is based on a specific analytical framework, the "four spheres and two contexts", and promotes specific approaches, such as Parecon (also promoted elsewhere on the IOPS home page), that are not as such part of the IOPS commitments. I don't find the reactions to the objections satisfying and reassuring. Can't we do a better job of not continually reinforcing the existing impression that IOPS was set up as a vehicle to spread one particular person's ideology?

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      Parecon may not be part of the commitments but again I want to stress that it means Participatory Economy and fits quite beautifully with IOPS and its commitments. PS means participatory society. Promoting Parecon at IOPS makes absolute sense to me and I am constantly bamboozled by this tendency to suggest that talking about Parecon is somehow tantamount to discussing the Michael Albert show. Who cares who invented Parecon. Get over it and just look at the goddam thing as a viable proposal for how to run an economy based on the bloody commitments of this participatory organisation.

      Further, the four spheres and two contexts are part of the commitments. It's right there in the vision section. They're the bloody basis of it. The curriculum is just an idea that could be followed if some chose to. If you don't want to don't. But as far as I'm concerned Fanfare is beautifully set up and designed to fit with this org, so absorbing it and becoming confident with it seems like common bloody sense to me. But then I'm just a Parecon purist!

      I am also finding it a little tedious and down right annoying (not to mention disrespectful and insulting to this "particular person") to see that people still think that IOPS is some sort of vehicle to spread one particular person's ideology. If they have a name, at least have the courage to say it.

      This org evolved out of a long process via ZNet with discussions involving many others and polls. It's based on a certain way of looking at society. It's not one person's ideology just because they may have written about it.

      The curriculum and the full membership thingy were just that, a suggestion. Something that grown ups can discuss in their respective chapters and decide for themselves in a self-managed participatory way.

      I will continue to trumpet the virtues of Parecon and how it fits perfectly with IOPS commitments until the cows come home. And if someone else, or a collective of IOPS radicals comes up with another economic model of equal significance that fits as well, I'll trumpet that. So far silence.

      I think Parecon is of major importance. As important, if not more so, than anything else I have read. It should be on the home page. I also think the suggestions in the blog were pretty good. Tiered membership wasn't carved in stone and can be discussed. Easily sorted.

      This paragraph does seem fairly open to me, perhaps some haven't read it,

      "In any case, below is a possible draft “curriculum” chapters or even just individuals might opt to work from. It is based largely on the three book set, Fanfare for the Future, following its chapters pretty closely, which shouldn't occasion surprise as Fanfare was written with the express purpose of filling this type role. For some local chapters Fanfare might even serve as a kind of text. Others might make it supplemental to various other readings, and alternative forms of media etc. Still others might not use it at all, preferring some other resources. The main point is to get going with internal development of people’s ability to use and present ideas - as well as associated skills."

      I also feel personally affronted by the suggestion that IOPS is a vehicle to spread one person's ideology. As if by not buying into this idea I'm some sort of sucker.I find the suggestion just so mindbogglingly ridiculous, absurd and insulting. Stop it.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      Do you have any suggestion how to stop it? The way we are going about it now is not very effective. When I respond to criticism by saying that Albert is just one IOPS member and as such his particular ideas have no special position, it is hardly convincing when they are prominently promoted all over the home page.

      I am very much in favour of the idea that the concept of participatory democracy must also apply to the sphere of economics, and I'm happy to call that "participatory economics". But I'm not at all convinced by the specific Parecon model. I do not believe that it can be made to work in practice. Even assuming it can somehow be made to work, I'm not at all sure the result will be desirable. So to me it does not make sense that it is so prominently and centrally promoted all the time.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      The only "idea" of Albert's promoted "all over the home page" is Parecon. And that isn't even his alone, there was another author and it just happened to come first. All the other "ideas" aren't "his". They are just ones he shares with many, have been around a while and IOPS was built around them.

      You may be unconvinced, don't believe and are unsure about Parecon, but it is what it is, a participatory economy. The only one truly out there so it deserves prominence. Like I said, if someone comes up with another real alternative, which will probably also have its naysayers, then shove it right up there with Parecon. Make sure we don't put any names to it. Or do we have to wait for all of us collectively to contribute to the construction of such an economy for it to be considered appropriate to promote? I don't know what your solution to markets, divisions of labour, workplace hierarchies and fair remuneration would be, but at least Parecon provides a basis from which to discuss such important things. Show me some other alternative that equates so strongly with IOPS commitments. Someone's got to think things up. It's not that Parecon has a special position, it's that it is the only real economic alternative that fits with IOPS so far. It's fully worked out. Debate it. If you think it can be improved then suggest what those improvements may be. Just having doubts about it doesn't mean anything to me. Doesn't mean it won't work just because you have doubts. Everything else is so vague, nebulous and like some sort of pipedream, doubts would be an understatement. Alternatively one has to read copious amounts stuff like Marx, then enter a room full of those who know better, who will tell you you've missed the point. Eventually someone has to come up with something or you've just got endless debate. Got to build chapters and numbers or you've got nothing. IOPS has to offer some alternative people on the outside can sink their teeth into regardless of how unappealing or possible it may be. Parecon provides that meat. That something. A start. Fanfare provides further possible material. Marxism just creates debate, it's problematic and doesn't fit with IOPS commitments, nor does Market Socialism, nor does a Pluralist Commonwealth and anarchism's just vague hope for the best. I wouldn't have the faintest idea how from each to each would really work or what it really means. It just kind of sounds good. As far as gift economies go-well how far would they go?

      As far as stopping the perception IOPS is the Albert show, you can't. People will always pull that sort of crap. It's not even an argument that really needs debating. It's brought up to distract people from meaningful debate. If one wants classlessness how do we achieve that? Is it something that will miraculously appear through some sort of self-managed participatory process. Or do we need institutions to help foster it. Well, Parecon helps to provide such a way regardless of whether you have doubts (but of course the retort that one is just a Michael Albert clone or Parecon purist would suffice as a counter argument).It would be foolish to not put it up there prominently as it provides at least one way of trying to achieve that goal and therefore provoke greater discussion and the possibility of someone being creative and possibly resolving the things that produce your doubt. Just leaving, not joining or whatever just because Parecon is "Albert's baby", is pathetic and the world doesn't have time for that.

      I cannot appease your doubts re Parecon, but I flat out disagree with you that it makes no sense to prominently promote it. It needs even greater promotion as far as I'm concerned because no-one else is offering up much else. It's probably too late anyway.

      Education about Parecon and Fanfare stuff is important. Real specific participatory stuff. Not just endless discussions about all kinds of notions and ideas where no-one is willing to collapse the wave function and make a stand.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      When I observe that a pianist is committing murder on a Beethoven sonata, is it reasonable then to dismiss my criticism with the demand that I give a better performance? I don't have the pretension that I can play the piano, but nevertheless I can distinguish between a good and a bad performance. So why do I need to shut up or come up with an alternative to Parecon? And do you really believe a proposed alternative would be afforded equal prominence? IOPS does not advocate detailed blueprints that transcend movement needs and knowledge, with an exception for Parecon.

      OK, next time I'll tell people who have doubts about joining that they are just pathetic and that the world has no time for that. No doubt that will convince them.

    • David Jones 2nd Dec 2012

      Lambert, you write further up that "I do not believe that it [parecon] can be made to work in practice. Even assuming it can somehow be made to work, I'm not at all sure the result will be desirable." Would you be prepared to elaborate as to why you think so in this thread?

      http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/economy/criticism-of-parecon .

      Also, you may find the way Robin Hahnel handles this question (go to 1:30) interesting:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8Mwv01a9wg .

      I currently find the "micro-economics" of parecon pretty irrefutable, but like the questioner in the above video I need to read and think more on the "macro-economics" to be convinced it can work out in practice.

      I hope you're wrong about "do you really believe a proposed alternative would be afforded equal prominence?" From what I've heard though, Michael Albert is always encouraging people to develop alternatives consistent with the IOPS commitments and keen to counter a general "anti-visionary" stance of the libertarian left. If a better pianist emerges (to use your analogy) then it is in the interests of IOPS to surrender the stage to their music. And then there are the other "spheres", for historical reasons currently less prominently developed than the economy (par-polity is getting some attention now, but I don't read so much on par-kinship, par-culture, par-ecology etc.).

      So, we will see... You're right that IOPS has to prove itself here, but I wouldn't write it off just yet...

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      Frankly, I'm not interested in contributing to criticism of Parecon, if only because I don't see how it makes a difference in any practical choices in the foreseeable future. Also, I found the rebuttal of Schweickart's criticism not convincing – although I also think the latter's model of a market economy with "social control of investment", perhaps more realistic and an improvement over the capitalist market economy, will nevertheless fail to live up to our key values. I haven't looked at Fotopoulos yet, but I wonder, would people like Schweickart and Fotopoulos expect to feel welcome in IOPS?

      I can see that Parecon inspires some people while having the opposite effect on others. All I wish is that we wouldn't tout it so much that we keep feeding the existing misconception that IOPS is committed to it.

    • Mark Evans 2nd Dec 2012

      "Frankly, I'm not interested in contributing to criticism of Parecon, if only because I don't see how it makes a difference in any practical choices in the foreseeable future."

      Coming from someone who has stated an agreement with "building the seeds of the future in the present" I have to say that I find the above statement difficult to make sense of. I am always interested to hear criticisms of the parecon model and would love to hear what Lambert has to say.

      Regarding Lambert's question about how welcome Schweickart and Fotopoulos would be made to feel here at IOPS - well that depends.

      Lets say they join after reading and agreeing with our key documents and help to organise for a founding convention based upon this shared agreement and commitment then I see no problem.

      But let's say they join and don't actually agree with or understand the key documents and use IOPS as a platform to promote their own agenda then they are likely to be made to feel less welcome - or asked to leave.

      The organisational logic of the above is elementary and, it seems to me, completely uncontroversial.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      I wasn't so much wondering how welcome Schweickart and Fotopoulos would be made to feel, but how much they'd expect to feel welcome – assuming that they do not join with a hidden agenda, but that they also do not check in their criticism of the Parecon model at the door.

      I'd love to be proved short-sighted in my failure to imagine how Parecon could be seeded and start to grow in some practically meaningful way under the current dominant political and economic conditions. I'm particularly interested in the details of the allocation mechanism shown in action, replacing the "invisible hand". So please, if there are instances of this, regale us with stories of these inspiring examples.

    • Mark Evans 2nd Dec 2012

      Criticisms of parecon are welcome here - a point that has been made to you on numerous occasions and yet, for some reason, you do not seem able to hear or comprehend it. Members who advocate the parecon model will, of course, defend it - but that is all part of a lively and constructive debate.

      What is not welcome is for anti-capitalists to join IOPS who advocate markets or central planning, a corporate division of labour, etc as part of their vision. If that is part of Schweickart and Fotopoulos vision then they will not be made welcome - same goes for everyone else.

      On the other hand if they agree that "there is no corporate division of labor giving about a fifth of workers predominantly empowering tasks and four fifths mainly rote, repetitive, and obedient tasks" and "there is neither market competition nor top-down planning, but instead decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs, whether accomplished by workers and consumers councils or some other suitable method" etc, then there is no problem.

      Again, the organisational logic is elementary. Something else that is a matter of elementary logic is that parecon is a vision for a classless economy - which means that it does not exist other than as a model and therefore "details of the allocation mechanism shown in action" are not yet available.

      Critical assessments of parecon therefore need to focus on the values and institutions that go to make up the model. The same goes for parpolity etc. That is what developing vision is all about.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      Mark, you fail to point out that messrs. Schweickart and Fotopoulos would also be made to feel unwelcome if they join and then advocate the reintroduction of slavery. But that is equally besides the point.

      I hear that criticism of Parecon is welcome here. I see that we even have a Criticism of Parecon forum topic specifically inviting such criticism (which, incidentally, affirms the prominence of the Parecon model). But I wonder, would critics of Parecon expect to be welcome here?. That is a different question, and it cannot be answered in the affirmative by repeating the mantra that criticism of Parecon is welcome.

    • James Wilson 4th Dec 2012

      "What is not welcome is for anti-capitalists to join IOPS who advocate markets or central planning, a corporate division of labour, etc as part of their vision. If that is part of Schweickart and Fotopoulos vision then they will not be made welcome - same goes for everyone else."

      Mark, I'm not sure if this is right. I would say that the views they are advocating would not be welcome. Their vision's lack of compatibility with IOPS's vision would be pointed out and heavily criticised, but I'm not sure whether that translates into making the person feel unwelcome. They may come to feel unwelcome but I would hope that IOPS members weren't trying to have that effect. Offer them a cup of tea, make them comfortable, before we totally destroyed any semblance of credibility within their vision. Perhaps, in as nice a way as possible, to get them to see how their vision doesn't fit with IOPS and that they would have the option to leave or understand the different perspective of IOPS, realize why their views were being criticized and stay, while continuing to relentlessly criticize Parecon (without advocating an incompatible vision) to the great enjoyment and fun of Parecon advocates.

      However, I do think Lambert is pushing this barrow into more and more crevices and cracks that it's becoming a little ridiculous. How would anyone actually know what someone's expectations were before joining unless they actually told you. The question should be directed towards Gar Alperovitz or Schweickart and Fotopoulos. Mark answered the question in the only way he could Lambert. That anyone would be made to feel welcome, because that is all we can do from our side. You seem utterly obsessed with trying to find out what those who haven't joined feel or think, prior to joining, so IOPS can modify or change itself (continually) in order to allay any negative feelings they may have. As if IOPS is some amorphous org designed to shift and alter to accommodate every person's subtly nuanced interpretation of what IOPS is. If that's wrong, I'm sorry, but that's the impression I'm getting.

      I would welcome Schweickart, Fotopoulos, Alperovitz, with open arms. Then when the criticism of Parecon starts to flow I would probably hop into the fray. However, I can't see them joining because they have their own barrows to push and their own 'groups' and websites devoted to their vision. I really don't see what else their is to say on this matter.

      The criticism of the prominence of Parecon has now shifted from its placement on the front page, along with the debates, to a forum set up to discuss it. Should we not discuss it at all. Should we delete Parecon's existence all together from IOPS and start afresh. Is that what you want Lambert. If we did that what economic vision would we discuss. One similar to the visions we are discussing and debating within the gender/kinship and cultural spheres.

      Parecon exists. It is a participatory economy. This is an org devoted to a participatory society. It makes absolute sense that if there is an economic vision/model developed along the same principles/values that the organisation espouses and is built upon, that it be discussed and debated. Dragged across the coals. Thrown against the walls. Punched, kicked and keelhauled. Pushed through the gauntlet to see if it comes out the other end intact, demolished or altered. For that to happen members need to be made aware of it. If I was a member of IOPS, I would want to know about Parecon. If I wasn't made aware of it, I would be shaking my head in disbelief.

      You have also extended your criticism to the use of Fanfare in the curriculum outlined in this blog when the authors explicitly state that chapters, groups or individual members can use whatever material they like. I have noted the paragraph twice. The choice of Fanfare was a collapsing of the wave function and an appropriate one. What material would you choose Lambert?

      People are trying to make a go of things. People are trying to be constructive. People are trying to do their best. Parecon is constructive. Criticizing Parecon can be constructive. Criticizing its 'prominence' on this website because you don't think it workable or it creates a perception outside that IOPS is Albert's baby is completely different. It's like asking a Marxist org to not display a Marxist economic model on its homepage for fear it would be known as Amin's baby. A Samir Amin model would be a Marxist one. Hahnel and Albert's is a participatory one. If there were two participatory ones both would be displayed. Just as many Marxists ones would be in a Marxist org (I would hope).

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2012

      I didn't ask if critics of Parecon would feel welcome, and I did not expect anyone to answer a question I did not ask. I just wrote that I wondered if they would expect to feel welcome – a different thing, about which we can only speculate. But I do get the feeling that my criticism is not welcome.

      As (I think) I made quite clear, the objection I raised here mainly concerns the idea of a tiered (perhaps also tired) membership requiring members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program to gain full membership rights. Personally, I don't see how people can subscribe to the IOPS commitments and at the same time advance such a suggestion. Implementing this would be a stab in the heart of what IOPS represents for me. I still would not have voiced that objection, though, if I had found the reactions to essentially the same objection expressed earlier by others satisfactory. But they did little to put my unease at rest.

      The Parecon issue is of a completely different nature. I wouldn't care how prominent the presence of Parecon as a model looming over IOPS is, if there did not exist an external perception that IOPS is committed to Parecon, that there may be a token discussion but that the issue is actually settled. I happen to think that it is wiser to avoid reinforcing that perception. I would still think the same thing if I was a Parecon adherent. I would have the exact same problem with Parpolity, or Parsnip, or whatever specific blueprint, if it was equally centrally advanced while being externally perceived as an IOPS commitment.

    • James Wilson 4th Dec 2012

      But you did call it a question, perhaps posed as a wonder, and critiqued Mark's answer.Critcisms of Parecon are welcome as is evidenced by the forum. Your criticism of Parecon's prominence may invite disagreement from some, like me, but that is a different matter. Why not pose the 'question' in a blog and see what sort of response you get. You may be surprised. Some may also be interested in all your specific problems with the Parecon model. Perhaps you could outline them for further discussion. Of course that would only create more focus on Parecon thereby increasing the perception that concerns you so much. A real catch 22.

      As regards tierd membership. I had similar concerns when I initially read it, but on subsequent thought and the answers given, I'm ok with the idea. Not carved in stone.

      How do you propose we stop the perception that some people have of our assumed commitment to Parecon? Do we remove it from the front page? Do we lessen the amount people want to talk about it? What do we do about the forum criticizing it if that also aids in the perception?

      Parecon's not a blueprint. It's a participatory economic proposal. That has been made clear numerous times. But I sense you don't agree with that either.

    • James Wilson 4th Dec 2012

      Do we lessen the amount of people WHO want to talk about it?

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2012

      Catch 22 indeed. I'm sorry I missed the numerous occasions where it was made clear that the Parecon model is not a blueprint. May I call it a "detailed model"? This stuff about indicative prices, final relative valuations, individual and collective consumption plans, production plans, production and consumption councils, facilitation boards, and rounds of accommodation, all seems rather detailed to me.

      If you're OK with the idea of tiered membership, good for you. I'm not.

    • James Wilson 4th Dec 2012

      Like I said, not carved in stone. Up to the people to decide through self-manged participatory processes, not individuals.

    • Sara Cromwell 9th Dec 2012

      The point is, though, you don't have to be in favor of tiered membership. You get to decide how active you want to be in your chapter, and you get to affect the structure of your own chapter to the extent you are affected by it -- your chapter might choose not to implement a tiered membership structure. As I said in response to one of your previous comments, you are missing the point that the curriculum is a broad, flexible, suggested outline, not some kind of 'mandate for above' under which members' freedom to self-govern is not abandoned.

      My other point is that equality and equity do not mean sameness, and self-governing does not mean abrogating leadership or structure. You seem to conflate those concepts.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      I have personally sent letters recommending Schweickart, Inclusive Democracy, Social Ecology and Alperovitz's Pluralist Commonwealth to people , radio or whoever, I hear want to hear about an alternative. I agree with you regarding Schweickart's model being "more realistic" as it really is just an extension of current paradigms pushed to the limit. And you are correct it doesn't live up to IOPS values and so therefore is not compatible with IOPS. Schweickart doesn't really believe complete equity is necessary.

      Inclusive Democracy is harder to penetrate for me. But I also found the criticisms of Parecon somewhat misguided. But it has been a while since I read them.

      One could personally tout any alternative. One could join other organisations if one feels those offer better economic models. But if one joins IOPS. Parecon, so far, is the only compatible model. So no matter what you or others feel about it, it is worth placing up there as a possible alternative that fits with this org's values.

      What does Parecon do that the others don't? What do the others do that Parecon doesn't? Are there ways Parecon could be used to eventually improve the Schweickart model to encompass classlessness and non-market allocation.? What are the major differences between Inclusive Democracy's economic model and Parecon? Could they inform one another? Improve on each? Make each better? Does Inclusive Democracy's model fit with IOPS values? Haven't read it for a while, maybe it does? Or maybe one could just join the Inclusive Democracy group and support it wholly. I wonder if other organisations, like Inclusive Democracy, would tout other models too?

      Would Parecon and some of its ideas and institutions improve a Pluralist Commonwealth or a Social Ecology? Does it address problems they both don't? Can Parecon be improved on? Can things be made more "realistic"?

      You are right Parecon is a long term thing something that won't happen in the foreseeable future. Practical choices NOW have to be made Reforms that lead to further reforms and change. But is really GOOD to have ideas like Parecon out there and in the heads of many, along with all those other alternatives so people have a choice, an option. That is why it should have prominence and exposure as a bonafide alternative just like Schweickart's or Fotopoulos's models. Why limit the choices, particularly when one is a member of an org whose values are compatible with those of Parecon.

      It just makes sense. Will it work? Who knows. Will the earth burn yup in the next 50-100 years? Who knows. Parecon adds to the creative universe. It doesn't detract from it.It collapses the economic wave function and gives rise to 'one' possible existence.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      When I say Schweickart's model is current paradigms pushed to the limit, I mean cooperative type models like Mondragon and others.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      James, you keep saying that Parecon is compatible with IOPS. But that clearly assumes that it will work, which is under discussion. If the Parecon system, put to the test, fails to produce a reasonable allocation in a reasonable amount of time, so that famines and riots ensue and hundreds of millions of people perish, then my assessment (if I survive) will be that this was not compatible with the IOPS vision.

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Yeah, like flogging a dead horse. You know what I mean. It's a vision that is in accord with the VALUES, and commitments of this organisation. I hate using these words like commitments and such. Participatory Economics for a Participatory Society. It doesn't get much simpler for me. Just like Fanfare's pretty clear in what it's laying out. If you don't like the model Parecon, fine. It's just an option. It deserves to be promoted here, as anywhere else as a possible model to stand alongside any other. That's all.

      As far as the perception of IOPS outside, re Parecon, Fanfare, Albert, do whatever you want to get what you see as a problem changed.

      As far as your scenario above, I think it's ridiculous. Some sort of reductio ad absurdum? If it failed then WE (we as in people, human beings) failed because Parecon is a self-managed participatory model. If we allowed a system to cause such havoc, then to hell with us. The same thing could happen to any system, huh. Like the one we have now. After the fact compatibility. Wish I had a crystal ball.

      Further, Parecon's viability, that it will work, is not the same as what I mean when I say it's compatible with IOPS as I have already explained. I have no idea whether it will work as intended. Will Schweickart's model work? Will Fotopoulos's work? Will a bunch of autonomous federated states operating on economic ideas expressed by Gar Alperovitz eventuate and work? Is Marx right? Do the material conditions for change need to mature in the old society first? Is human intuition and intelligence part of that? Should I read Hegel before I read Marx? Meritocracy? Is Parecon a viable alternative? Is Parecon a viable alternative? Is Parecon a viable alternative? Who are the brain police?

      IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE!!!

      I'm tired Lambert. Just going round in circles.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      James, I wrote: "But I'm not at all convinced by the specific Parecon model. I do not believe that it can be made to work in practice." I think that there are compelling reasons for not advocating models that cannot be made to work in practice. When you then write that we should nevertheless advocate it because it is "compatible with IOPS", I get tired.

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Come on Lambert, you don't KNOW it can't be made to work in practice. You just BELIEVE it. There's a bloody difference. And by the way where are these COMPELLING reasons?

      Do you actually know what I mean when I say it's in accord with the values and commitments of IOPS? That that has nothing to do with whether you believe it will work or not. That'it's a full blown economic model that fits within the economic sphere, based on the values that IOPS is based on.

      I know you don't BELIEVE it can be made to work in practice. But your next statement is rather different. You say "there are compelling reasons for not advocating models that CANNOT (my emphasis) be made to work in practice". What's it to be Lambert, It CANNOT be made to work or you BELIEVE it cannot be made to work.

      I'm MORE tired.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      CANNOT be made to work and BELIEVE it cannot be made to work are not mutually exclusive. So why should I have to choose between them?

      There were people, such as the reviled "capitalist roader" and "traitor" Liu Shaoqi, who warned that the Great Leap Forward could not be made to work. Yes, he BELIEVEd that. He could not PROVE it (until it was too late). And the GLF was fully in accord with the lofty values and commitments of the CPC, so what was the business of this capitalist pig-dog publicly stating his objections?

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Because CANNOT is definitive and suggests it won't and BELIEVE it cannot work is just your personal belief that could be wrong.

      For my tiny brain that's a difference.

      So where are these compelling reasons?

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      I BELIEVE that I CANNOT PROVE that it cannot be made to work. So what? Does that mean that I should not voice my doubts? If IOPS was advancing an economic model in which all production was organized on a family base and all exchange was effected by barter between families, all fully in accord with the values and commitments of IOPS, and (regardless of your brain capacity) you did BELIEVE this could not be made to work, wouldn't you speak out against the centralized promotion of that model?

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Lambert, you are not getting it.You stated that because I see Parecon as being in accord with the values and commitments of IOPS (compatible), that I assume it will clearly work. I said I didn't know for sure that it would work. But there is no reason to assume it couldn't as far as I'm concerned. But that's by the by. Parecon is a good fit with IOPS regardless of whether you or I think it can work. It has all the trappings of a viable economic system. Like Schweickart's. You're the one who shifted the goal posts by saying that if you believe it cannot be made to work then you feel it should not be advocated by IOPS. I don't think your individual belief is enough to make that call.

      Do a blog. Present all the compelling reasons and criticisms of Parecon and invite others to voice their opinions and see what happens from within IOPS. Maybe it will get removed from the front page. Otherwise you and I will be going round for eternity.

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Maybe a majority will agree with you.

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Further the dude you talk of, and I know nothing about him, believed something and he could not prove it. So he didn't KNOW it could not work. So when he said the GLF could not be made to work, he was being disingenuous, in that it is really just his belief without any proof. A feeling, or intuition say? One is left to add that he believes it could not be made to work. There is a difference in saying there is a god and I believe there is a god. "There is a god" needs clarification. There is a god because you know it or there is a god because you believe it.

      You don't KNOW Parecon cannot work you actually just think, feel, have a hunch, believe, that maybe possibly perhaps it might not because of compelling reasons. Fair enough. That may be counted, I believe, by others who have opposing beliefs regarding Parecon for compelling reasons.

      Where does that leave us Lambert.

      Face off?

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      Yes, shame on Liu Shaoqi for being disingenuous and speaking up. He got what he deserved. And what a pity he was posthumously rehabilitated.

    • James Wilson 3rd Dec 2012

      Sarcasm?

      I know nothing of this person. I wasn't implying anything about him other than in relation to the words he chose. Or perhaps the words you chose.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      Who told you to shut up? I asked you to show me some other alternative equally as good and in line with commitments. And some people may consider what you think is murder of a Beethoven sonata to be quite good. Assuming of course no-one would perform such if they were truly obviously a crap player. No-one would suggest anyone could perform it. Just as not everyone can come up with something like Parecon. But someone has and others perhaps could. Maybe not you.

      And yes I would place another alternative up there with Parecon. Just like all the debates are up on the home page. Parecon is not a blueprint and it doesn't transcend movement needs and knowledge it's an example of what's needed and present knowledge.

      The argument that because Parecon is Albert's baby is a pathetic reason for not joining because it isn't a reasonable argument as far as I'm concerned. In fact it's not even an argument. It's merely creating the illusion that Albert has some sort of coordinator complex. He's a hypocrite of some sort. Any reasoned talk about Parecon and IOPS would show how they are compatible regardless of whether Parecon is viable or not, or one's doubts. If you wish to tell people who use that as a reason for not joining that it is pathetic and the world has no time for that. I wouldn't have a problem. You probably need a bit more than that to convince them otherwise but it could get their attention.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      People who have that criticism are not criticizing Albert. They are criticizing IOPS. More accurately, they question how open IOPS is to different viewpoints – not in theory, but in actuality. I am not too sure about that either.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      Some may be just criticizing IOPS and its flexibility. But merely pointing to Parecon's prominence- and by the way ignoring the debates that are there as well- and notions that the ideas of IOPS are all Albert's is NOT a GOOD REASONABLE argument and it should be pointed out.

      The commitments of IOPS are clear and greater than Parecon or ALbert. Point that out to the little buggers and convince them otherwise. If they are Marxist or anarchist purists, good luck.

      First, different view points have to exist in theory first unless they have strong historical precedent or they spontaneously arise. Discuss, debate, but don't throw something good like Parecon out just because there isn't anything else yet. And don't be afraid to promote it as a possibility either, even if you are unsure. No harm done. David's right,"(I think the IOPS framework is [sufficiently flexible], otherwise I wouldn't have joined)."

    • David Jones 2nd Dec 2012

      I think there is more to be gained than lost by using "a specific analytic framework", provided that framework is sufficiently flexible (I think the IOPS framework is, otherwise I wouldn't have joined). It gives a focus for organizational development and "collapse[es] the wave function" as James put it, so that we can proceed beyond endlessly debating potential societies towards actual action within the present society.

      I think we are safe choosing "a specific analytic framework" so long as we remind ourselves from time to time that "the map is not the territory". I like how Richard Feynman expressed this in his Lectures on Physics:

      "A poet once said, 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.' We will probably never know in what sense he meant it, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization; all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it!

      If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts -- physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on -- remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure; drink it and forget it all!"

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      The IOPS Vision document groups its items under six headings, which correspond to the four spheres plus two contexts. It does not follow from this presentation that IOPS is committed to this 4+2 categorization as an analytical tool. It is very likely true that there is more to be gained than lost by using a specific analytic framework, provided it is an adequate framework for our analysis. I wouldn't know why I should assume that the 4+2 framework is particularly adequate. For example, it seems to me that something as important as education is somewhat tangential to the spherical model, which can be surmised to answer the question why education gets such short thrift here – it is not even a category in our forum. Other similarly tangential subjects are art and science. (You may counter that art is part of culture and so belongs to the Culture and Community sphere, but the actual topics discussed as being part of that sphere have a quite different nature. Michael Albert puts the work by artists in the category labour, subject to the same structural impositions as all other labour in the Parecon model, which makes sense to me for people working in a factory churning out romantic landscape paintings, but not for what I see artists do in general.)

      Perhaps we should adopt the glass-of-wine model as our analytical tool.

    • James Wilson 2nd Dec 2012

      I'm a free improviser. A creator of crap that nobody likes to pay to listen to when I get the time to do it which nowadays is hardly ever. I have no problem with Parecon in this regard and have thought long and hard about its relationship with art. As an aside, I do have a problem with the notion of "art music" which is usually a notion perpetuated by people with a strong "classical" (for want of a better word )background and love and I see Parecon as something that could actually tear down those pathetic elitist notions that exist within creative fields.

      Education can easily fit into one or even two of the spheres. Perhaps it overlaps into all. I don't see how that negates what the authors of this blog have suggested, nor that the 4 + 2 framework is not a worthy tool to acquaint oneself with. It doesn't rule out any other possibilities either. Whatever floats ya boat as long as long as whatever theories, visions, tactics and strategies one comes up with don't conflict or contradict IOPS commitments. Otherwise what's IOPS?

      And I wholeheartedly agree with what Mark has written below.

    • Mark Evans 2nd Dec 2012

      Why would a member worry about a proposed educational framework that has exactly the same structure - four spheres, two context, etc - as the key documents of the organisation that they agreed to on joining?

      Why would a member of an organisation need reassuring about the prominent promotion and discussion of an economic model (parecon) that is completely in-keeping with the key documents that all members have agree to?

      There are no grounds for such concerns as the above proposal for an educational programme and the parecon model are both perfectly in-keeping with IOPS commitments.

      IOPS is not "one persons ideology" it is the "ideology" - if you want to call it that - of all those who agree to the key documents on joining. Looking at it in any other way is damaging to IOPS. If members have any ideas for alternatives to the parecon model or the above educational programme that are also in-keeping with our shared commitments then they can discuss them, write about them, develop the ideas etc - no problem.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Dec 2012

      Okay, so, as I understand your response, when you wrote "Isn't there a risk that the spirit of bottom-up diversity is killed by a top-down delivered specific analytical framework?", you were not asking a question, you are registering an objection. Specifically, you object to the proposed curriculum because it is based on Fanfare, which includes a section on Parecon, and you think that is bad because it makes other people, but not you, think that IOPS is a "vehicle" for Michael Albert's ideology. Is that right?

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      I don't think that IOPS as it is now is a "vehicle" for Michael Albert's ideology, and also not that it was set up to be that. But I do see that there exists a perception outside IOPS that this is the case, and that we should be careful not to reinforce that if we can avoid it. I think, furthermore, that there is the potential for this currently incorrect perception to become self-fulfilling – just like the perception that IOPS is for well-educated academically minded people and not for everyone could become self-fulfilling if we are not careful.

      In particular the suggestion that members may need to be schooled to have voting rights in combination of the proposed curriculum works as a red flag that will not be missed, I'm sure, by IOPS critics reading this blog.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Dec 2012

      Okay, so are you saying it is not the proposed curriculum that you object to, but this paragraph of the introduction?

      "Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become ‘voting’ members. For members with less time and commitment, a summary version of the program might be of use and may be associated with different membership rights and responsibilities."

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      I see that paragraph as going squarely against what I see as the spirit of bottom-up diversity that is at the heart of the IOPS concept. I expressed my uneasiness because I was not reassured by some of the reactions given to objections voiced by others before me – on the contrary. I also see the continual prominence given to one specific economic model as problematic. That is another issue that can obviously not be related to any single instance such as the proposed curriculum. But in this specific case I found the combination of the two (the suggestion of requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning program, together with a proposed curriculum giving prominence to one particular model) particularly troubling.

    • Sarah Owens 3rd Dec 2012

      Okay, now you seem to be saying your concern is not with IOPS critics. You seem to be saying, you, personally, don’t like the paragraph. You, personally, find the paragraph inconsistent with diversity. And, you think the curriculum “gives prominence” to Parecon, which is inconsistent with diversity. So, together, the paragraph and the curriculum-as-you-see-it, are even more inconsistent with diversity. Do I have that about right? This may seem tedious, but am having trouble understanding just what your concerns are.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      I have no (personal) problem with Parecon being given prominence in a suggested curriculum or otherwise, if it is clear that following such a curriculum is entirely voluntary. But I balk at any suggestion of a mandatory curriculum and second-class membership. I find that objectionable. My objection gets really strong when the curriculum gives completely uncritical prominence to a particular ideology that is not part of the IOPS commitments, even though meant to be "in accord" with these commitments. That I find inconsistent with our core value of diversity. And then the problem gets exacerbated because this reinforces the existing misconceived perception that it actually is part and parcel of the IOPS ideology.

    • Sarah Owens 3rd Dec 2012

      So, I’ll take that as a “Yes.”

      And now you appear to be saying, indirectly, that the blog (1) does not make “clear” that “following the [proposed] curriculum is entirely voluntary”, and (2) “suggest[s]” a “mandatory” curriculum and “second-class membership”, and the curriculum “gives completely uncritical prominence to” Parecon.

      Right, is that what you’re saying?

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2012

      Not in those words. The blog says: "Larger chapters may choose to build towards tiered membership structures and slowly work toward encouraging or requiring all members to engage in a comprehensive learning and sharing program, such as the one outlined below, in order to become 'voting' members." So while this curriculum would currently be voluntary, a possible development is announced (and, I think, encouraged) that would make following a curriculum "such as" the one proposed a requirement for becoming voting members. I'm not sure what the function of the scare quotes around the word "voting" is, but something tells me that members who have not met the requirements and therefore have not become 'voting' members will have fewer rights than 'voting' members. Something that is required in order to be able to enjoy full membership rights can be called "mandatory", I think, and only members who have full membership rights qualify for what I would call first-class membership.

      The curriculum is based on the Fanfare trilogy, which presents Parecon as "the" participatory model for the economic sphere. The reader of these books will not learn from them that there are people who analyze the current culmination of crises as a result of the combination of a market economy, a broken system of so-called representative democracy and hierarchical structures in general, who therefore advocate a radical participatory democracy to solve these problems and want to abolish any role of a market in the economy, and who yet think the form of planning of the Parecon model cannot be reconciled with genuine self-management in the workplace. Now these books do not claim that they are representative of the IOPS ideology, and the authors are free to present their ideas as they see fit. An IOPS curriculum should be more circumspect in this respect. A balanced IOPS curriculum should at least present a balanced overview of the discussion.

    • James Wilson 4th Dec 2012

      "In any case, below is a possible draft “curriculum” chapters or even just individuals might opt to work from. It is based largely on the three book set, Fanfare for the Future, following its chapters pretty closely, which shouldn't occasion surprise as Fanfare was written with the express purpose of filling this type role. For some local chapters Fanfare might even serve as a kind of text. Others might make it supplemental to various other readings, and alternative forms of media etc. Still others might not use it at all, preferring some other resources. The main point is to get going with internal development of people’s ability to use and present ideas - as well as associated skills."

    • Sarah Owens 4th Dec 2012

      Okay, so you think the proposed curriculum lacks circumspection, balance. The blog invites local chapters to withhold membership rights unfairly. Is that right?

      And what about James's point? I assume you maintain your position despite the language he cites?

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2012

      I said that an IOPS curriculum should be more balanced than the Fanfare books. I did not say that the proposed curriculum is unbalanced. But seeing as it based on the trilogy, and one of the options mentioned explicitly is that it might serve as a kind of text, the risk of unbalance is not purely theoretical. Who gets to decide the content of the schooling, and whether an individual member's engagement in the program meets the requirements for full-fledged membership? This is not about fairness, but about the introduction of a more privileged class of members within IOPS. I would be unable to defend that against detractors of IOPS, and I want to be on record as being opposed to any notion that some members are more equal than others.

    • Sarah Owens 4th Dec 2012

      Hmm. Okay, you were comparing the proposed curriculum to the Fanfare books. Got it. The Fanfare books are unbalanced. Right.

      But I’m having trouble with your statement “I did not say that the proposed curriculum is unbalanced.” Are you saying, then, that you think the proposed curriculum is balanced?

      And what about James's point? I assume you maintain your position despite the language he cites?

    • Lambert Meertens 5th Dec 2012

      The proposed curriculum is in many ways unspecific and (intentionally) malleable. It is neither meaningful to state that by itself it is balanced, nor that it is unbalanced. Such judgments are only possible for actualized curricula.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "maintaining my position"? Are we having a debate? I voiced a concern I have. James made clear he did not share my concern. Fine, but it did little to reassure me. If you mean to ask whether I'm still concerned, then indeed, I'm still concerned.

    • Sarah Owens 5th Dec 2012

      You don’t like the phrase “maintain your position”? Okay, what words would you prefer? That you “still think what you think”, “still feel what you feel”, “still believe what you believe”? I just want to know what effect, if any, the LANGUAGE JAMES CITED FROM THE BLOG has on the views, beliefs, concerns, feelings you expressed in the paragraph beginning, “Not in those words.”

      I am at a loss to understand what you mean when you say you can’t make a judgment whether the proposed curriculum is balanced because it isn’t “actualized.” I mean, it’s right up at the top of this thread, in black and white. It’s a curriculum, for heaven’s sake, a course of study. And I think you HAVE made judgments about it in this conversation (see above). So what you are saying now about not being able to make a judgment because the curriculum isn’t “actualized” just seems nonsensical.

      You know, Lambert, I have tried very hard here to identify just what problems you have with the blog and proposed curriculum so that I can do what I can to fix them. But, I have to say, I feel I’m alone in that endeavor, and you’re just using my questions as a springboard to launch new snarks and jibes. I don’t know what’s eating you about Michael Albert and Parecon and their influence in this organization, but I suggest you get it sorted.

    • Lambert Meertens 7th Dec 2012

      Sarah, we are both having a hard time. You find it hard to identify my problems. I find it hard to understand that they are hard to understand, so I'm at a loss at how I can explain my concerns any better.

      As I wrote before, my main concern is the idea of a tiered membership subject to a requirement that members engage in an IOPS learning programme. I voiced my concern after it had already been raised by others and been responded to, because I found the responses not at all reassuring. I read the whole blog before I first expressed my concern and the language that James refers to was already there. So I don't understand how you can expect it to have a reassuring effect. I was concerned then and I remain concerned, so I maintain the "position" that I am concerned.

      I don't see snarks and jibes in what I wrote, nor any criticism of Albert, unless criticism of Parecon counts as criticism of Albert. And I only criticized Parecon in response to James Wilson's statement that to him promoting Parecon at IOPS makes absolute sense because it fits quite beautifully with IOPS and its commitments. You know as well as I do that the perception exists that IOPS was created as a vehicle for promoting a particular ideology. I think we should not unnecessarily keep reinforcing that perception by centrally promoting it. I hope it will remain possible to venture voicing criticism without being taken to task for being snarky.

    • Sarah Owens 7th Dec 2012

      “You know as well as I do that the perception exists that IOPS was created as a vehicle for promoting a particular ideology” < == that is a snark jibe.

      “I think we should not unnecessarily keep reinforcing that perception by centrally promoting it.” < == that is a snark jibe.

      “I hope it will remain possible to venture voicing criticism without being taken to task for being snarky.” Not as long as I am alive.

      You also don’t answer questions.

    • Lambert Meertens 7th Dec 2012

      I think I detect a certain hostility in your reply. I do not understand what I did to deserve it. Maybe my knowledge of English does not suffice to grasp what is meant by "snark jibe". As far as I can see, I've answered all questions, but I may indeed have overlooked some.

    • Sarah Owens 7th Dec 2012

      A snark jibe is an aggressive sideways comment directed for effect. A snark jibe offered in response to a question is disrespectful.

    • Jane Johnson 7th Dec 2012

      Sarah, I didn't get the impression that any of those statements of Lambert's were "snark jibes". And I certainly don't think any of his comments were in any way aggressive. Perhaps you just took it the wrong way?

    • Sarah Owens 7th Dec 2012

      Hi, Jane. I guess you had to be there.

    • James Wilson 7th Dec 2012

      Criticizing Parecon is different than criticizing it being promoted at IOPS.

      Promoting the existence as a possible alternative is important as far as I see. If I cannot talk about a participatory economy that has been designed around and to actively encourage the promotion of the same values as IOPS, without it being perceived as someone as "centrally promoting" it, then muzzle me Lambert. That it is on the front page along side all the debates with some who criticize the arse out of it, you may see as "centrally promoting" it, but I see as actively promoting discussion and debate as regards creative possibilities.

      I am sure that is not true what you write above, that you only criticized Parecon because of what I said. I may have said what I said in response to the criticism of talking about, merely discussing Parecon that is helping to create this perception that IOPS is "centrally promoting" it. "Centrally promoting" Parecon is a perception you and others have. I do not. I, as an individual member of this organisation have a right to talk about whatever I choose, within acceptable boundaries of course. If a group, chapter or whoever chooses to discuss Parecon or Fanfare in the context of some educational curriculum or whatever, they have a right to do so. If they choose not to, that is also their right.

      Explain to me this Lambert. Do you see anything about Parecon that does not fit with the commitments of IOPS?Is Parecon a possible alternative way of running an economy? Are there other alternative "detailed models" that we could also talk about within the walls of IOPS that are based on the same set of values?
      Other than talking about, not "centrally promoting", possible ways of organizing an economy on the fly in a self-managed participatory way (and I have no problem with that either), I don't see talking about one that already outlines what the basic institutional structures could be as "promoting a particular ideology" (even though it kind of is, because it is trying to achieve something that is in line with what IOPS is trying to achieve!). I resent the implication of that phrase as if talking about a creative economic possibility is restricting the chance of talking about any other creative possibility and somehow promoting the perception that IOPS is some sort of sect/cult with a set of dogmatic doctrines which it was secretly really set up to promote. I find that insulting to me and others who can make their own minds up. You may not be being "snarky" Lambert, but you are implying something that I do much like. But maybe I'm blinded by some irrational like of Parecon!! How much should I or others talk about it? To what degree should Parecon be talked about, advocated as a possibility that attempts to do what other ideas out there do not (without making assumptions as to whether it can work or not) before you decide Lambert, that we are going too far? Take it off the front page? Get rid of the forum criticizing it? Muzzle me? Muzzle others? Stop chapters from discussing it in conjunction with Fanfare even though they self-decided in a self-managing participatory way to do so? Find a whole bunch of other material first, before we set off discussing or educating ourselves? What list of stuff will you bring to the table Lambert? All the right stuff, with all the right implications for how IOPS should be perceived by others who aren't members?

      Call me an idiot but doesn't IOPS promote a particular ideology, or is it anything goes. Here's a definition of ideology Lambert.

      1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.
      2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

      I am not sure if "doctrine" automatically implies dogma, but perhaps you could educate me on that one. If the above definition is fair Lambert, then IOPS does promote a particular ideology. A participatory one. I think you are conflating what you wish IOPS to be and your misgivings with Parecon. Misperceptions as to why IOPS was set up can be refuted through discussion and talking with those who have such perceptions and trying to correct them. Rather than attempting to engage in such discussions with these people and correcting the view, setting them straight, politely trying to convince them that what they perceive is not quite true, you are simply suggesting that we should restrict, limit talking about the things that you feel are feeding that, one of which you have misgivings about (which is your right), or at least limit the talk and balance it with other stuff. I have no problem with balancing it with other stuff but I do have trouble with someone suggesting I, or perhaps others, should limit our discussion regarding something like Parecon, Fanfare, or anything else that mentions Parecon or is connected to Albert, merely to pander to some perception that someone else has as to why IOPS was set up.

      I also feel that Florian's post below was fair and clear and yet you still find a way to circumnavigate it as if everyone else is missing something that you see as self-evident and simple.

      Until you write a blog or something that outlines precisely what you feel is the problem, offer suggestions to fix it and invite everyone else to comment, I see no remedy for this endless discussion. Like I said before, you may find yourself in a majority. You may be surprised.

      Promoting Parecon at IOPS does make sense. It is based on the same set of values and endeavours to achieve what IOPS is trying to, as spelt out in the commitments. To not discuss openly and fearlessly such ideas is simply silly. Within the economic sphere there is so far one outline of a possible detailed model. In the political sphere there is a less detailed outline of a polity. In the others there is very little so far. Keep talking, keep, thinking, keep creating.

      I do not see this as "centrally promoting" a "particular ideology" which you seem to be implying Lambert, suggests IOPS is not living up to its own commitments of self-managed participatory decision making. Parecon itself was intended to be a self-managed from the bottom up participatory economy.

      But then, it's not Parecon per se you have trouble with is it Lambert, it's the perception of IOPS outside in the real world that concerns you. So let's see your proposals for limiting, restricting, or balancing any discussions of Parecon, material that contains discussion of Parecon, any material that is connected with Michael Albert or anything at all that may feed the perception that IOPS is "promoting a particular ideology" and therefore going way beyond its own intended commitments. Or perhaps IOPS, through self-managed participatory processes, can do this for itself.

      You may not be being snarky Lambert, but you are implying things things I find a little insulting.

    • James Wilson 7th Dec 2012

      "You may not be being "snarky" Lambert, but you are implying something that I do much like."

      I meant to write, "...don't much like."

      Need an edit.

    • Lambert Meertens 7th Dec 2012

      Of course it's fine when Parecon gets discussed. Like some others, I usually find reading about economic stuff extremely uninspiring (with a few exceptions, like Dean Baker's articles). Still, I tried hard to understand the forum discussion on "How are prices set in a parecon?" because I thought this was an important part of the whole thing – and one for which I don't truly understand how it is supposed to work in practice. I'm afraid that after reading all the replies I'm still somewhat unclear about the whole thing – like where the money comes from and where it goes to, and who gets to decide what how and why. But these may be unimportant details. In any case, I tried. And I would not criticize anyone for discussing such questions.

      The following statement is a counterfactual conditional, so I cannot offer evidence for it, but I believe that even if I thought Parecon would work beautifully in practice and I was all in favour of seeing it realized, I would still be opposed to what I see as central promotion on the IOPS home page. What individual members promote is up to them. Some promote opposing the system by not filing tax returns. I'm not sure that's a good idea, but let them promote it. I would oppose it if IOPS as such promoted this. I am personally in favour of abolishing diplomas – or more precisely, not allowing discrimination in hiring based on diplomas. I'm happy to promote this idea, which I did at http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/unschooling-part-i. I sincerely believe this idea is in full accord with the commitments and spirit of IOPS, and that it would ease the transition to the kind of world we want to build. But again, I would oppose central IOPS promotion of the same idea as long as we have not decided, by a democratic process after due discussion, to adopt this as part of an IOPS program of strategic demands. The doubts I personally have about Parecon are not really relevant here. I'm sorry I mentioned them. That created a distraction from the actual concerns I was trying to express.

      Of course IOPS promotes a particular ideology, the one implied by its commitments. And please note that I nowhere suggested that IOPS promotes another particular ideology. I even stated explicitly that I did not think so. The only way in which I mentioned this, was in pointing out that there exists a perception outside IOPS that this is the case. You may not like that, and neither do I. But does that mean I should not state it? These misperceptions cannot be refuted through discussion with those who have them if you don't have a chance to talk to them, which, in general, we don't have.

      I too thought Florian's post was fair and clear. And it made the concern I have worse. I don't think I am capable of writing a blog that outlines "precisely what I feel is the problem". I've tried to be as clear as I can, but you see circumnavigation, and Sarah thinks I'm avoiding answering questions.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      Cool Lambert.

      I am quite happy with your counterfactual conditional(whatever the frigg that is). I too don't mind Dean Baker, particularly his book on the conservative nanny state.

      So you don't have a problem with the forum criticizing Parecon then? Because you did allude to it as not being helpful allaying the fears you have. It's only that it is on the front page? Perhaps a blog about whether or not it should be removed from the front page to ascertain what members general thoughts are regarding this could be helpful?

      And just an after thought. I did consider calling people Parecon purists a jibe.

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Dec 2012

      I have not called any IOPS member or any other specific person a Parecon purist.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      Seem to remember someone using the phrase generally, not so specifically. It may have been someone else. My apologies if twasn't you.

      Is it only because it is on the front page?

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Dec 2012

      I did use the phrase, but in a context like "I'm not sure if Parecon purists would agree, but ...". I can't find now where I wrote that, but I definitely had no one in mind writing that.

      Parecon is in a sense three times on the international home page. There is the section titled Participatory Economics with the cartoon video by Jason Lynn Mitchell. This by itself is already enough, I think, to sustain the impression that IOPS supports Parecon. The next section, Some Helpful, Provocative Debates, consists of nine links, eight of which lead to seven debates (two links go to the same debate) involving Michael Albert, a majority of which is about responding to criticism on Parecon. And then there is a section for Fanfare for the Future, which advocates a set of books that advocate Parecon. Not only does a majority of topics in the category Economy deal with Parecon ("Support for Parecon", "Essay On Parecon Chapter Of 'Realising Hope'", "How to connect pareconish contractual relations with communistic communities?", "Role of money in a parecon?", "IOPS, anarcho-communism and PARECON", "Parecon and land", "Criticism of Parecon", "How are prices set in a parecon?"), but all forum pages, whether about Parecon or not, show the cover of Michael Albert's book Parecon: Life after Capitalism. All together this creates the hard-to-turn-around impression that IOPS is about promoting Michael Albert and Parecon.

    • Jane Johnson 8th Dec 2012

      Lambert, you left out the Parecon Hip-Hop Primer for the 99% video which is also on the international home page ;-)

      I think Lambert has got a pretty strong case about the possible over-promotion of Parecon on the IOPS website!

    • Florian Zollman 8th Dec 2012

      Parecon is perhaps the only existing and fully developed economic model which is in accord with IOPS committments. Many of the principles in IOPS committments are the same as stated in the Parecon literature. Having these discussion posted here, and learning from them, I think, is thus even helpful for IOPS advocates because there are many intersections.

      Hence, I dont really understand the problem about this. If there was a competing model in accord with IOPS commitments that is not considered on the website I would understand this, of course. But I am not aware of any model that should be highlighted.

      I also find statements like "there exists a perception outside IOPS..." not very helpful because such statements are anecdotal and subjective. Everyone could use this notion as evidence to say that there is a certain perception about IOPS. But effectively this would not mean anything because 99.999 per cent of the world have not heard of IOPS.

      Generally, this discussion about parecon is a bit like going to Amnesty International and telling them they should feature the Universal Declaration of Human Rights less prominently on their website because it signifies a bias towards specific human rights.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      Then perhaps Jane you would have a better chance of convincing him to put the case out there in a blog so others can voice their opinions and we could ascertain whether it may be better to remove all those references.

      I just think it would be better coming from him than me. I'm not perturbed.

      Of course subject to the number of responses, that we don't have an adequate voting system and other things, it may not amount to anything but we might get some gauge.

      However it may just result in Lambert and myself going round in some perpetual intellectually mindless tango.

      Although he did write this,

      " If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution — Emma Goldman
      (Yes, I know she did not use these actual words.)

    • Sarah Owens 8th Dec 2012

      Lambert, if you don't get how using the phrase "Parecon purists" could reasonably be interpreted as "calling people" Parecon purists, and/or as an insult, particularly when someone with whom you have engaged at length (James) has told you he interprets it that way, then you lack social awareness.

      Moreover, that you had "no one in mind" when you used the phrase is not responsive to James's complaint. You had "people" in mind, clearly, or would you deny that, as well? It's bad enough level insults the way you do, sideways and snarkily, but if you want to avoid being taken to task for such snarks and jibes, you should endeavor to communicate more assertively (directly), which you will certainly want to do if you have the courage to take up James's suggestion to "write a blog about whether or not [references to Parecon] should be removed from the front page to ascertain what members general thoughts are", which I second. What about it, Lambert? Will you try and make your case directly, let the chips fall?



    • Lambert Meertens 8th Dec 2012

      This is what I wrote, on 3rd September 2012, in a forum discussion on the strategic demand of basic income, in response to a question whether basic income is compatible with Parecon: "My understanding of the concept of basic income is that it is a flat-rate component of people's income. It is not a remuneration based on one's social contribution. As far as I'm aware descriptions of a parecon do not give actual formulas for individual allocations, but it is easy to see the possibility that a certain percentage of the total social output is set aside for a flat-rate component of the individual allocations. But I can't predict whether Parecon purists will think it is acceptable within the Parecon spirit."

      I had no one in mind when I wrote that, and certainly not James, who did not even participate in this conversation. I do not understand why he should feel offended by my choice of words. A hypothetical Parecon adept who rejects the idea of basic income on the ground that remuneration must be proportional to the duration, intensity and onerosity of socially valued labour apparently values the strict observance of some rule more than achieving the goal for which we have the rule in the first place. And isn't that called purism?

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      I also answered further above Lambert but will also do so here.

      "I do not understand why he should feel offended by my choice of words."

      Because it was an unnecessary phrase to use and it did imply, at least to me, that you felt that there were people out there who as Parecon purists were less open minded than your good self. And as you used it in a general sense I thought, "who are these Parecon purists? What is a Parecon purist?" Now you define it as a Hypothetical Parecon adept. Perhaps "hypothetical Parecon adept" is less jibey. And no, I don't think it is purism. The use of the word purism, even here Lambert, is implying more than someone merely debating with you regarding the merits of a basic income. You place the use of the word in a specific context, "apparently values the strict observance of some rule more than achieving the goal for which we have the rule in the first place", which to me implies that this hypothetical Parecon adept, or purist is some dogmatic person stuck in some doctrine. Unmovable, as opposed to yourself, more open to other possibilities and suggestions than this purist. They are less opwen minded than you. If you had of said Pareconist, or Pareconista, Parecon advocate, or left it out, I wouldn't have had a problem with it ( albeit a small, tiny one). Parecon purist implies more as your paragraph above confirms.

      I will not go on to explain my immediate thought was that it was a jibe, having a go, a poke, a shot, no matter how innocuous but I will go on to note that I find it quite amazing that you "do not understand why he (me) should feel offended by my CHOICE of words" as most of what you appear to be concerned with HERE is how IOPS is PERCEIVED by others, with very little ACTUAL evidence, while I have actually provided you with a perfectly sound reason why I PERCEIVED something you wrote as a jibe and yet you cannot understand how I could be offended. (I wasn't really offended, just saw it as a little niggle, a jibe, at those who feel Parecon is worthwhile debating and discussing).

      "I had no one in mind when I wrote that,..."

      Then why write it? Why place your point or argument in such a context? No need to.m You must have had some idea of people existing who you would consider a purist regarding Parecon or you would not have used the phrase.

      Sorry to be so long winded but you do circumnavigate.

      Now how about that blog?

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Dec 2012

      And what about you writing "If they are Marxist or anarchist purists, good luck."? Shouldn't you apologize to all Marxists and anarchists and their friends and family for insulting them?

      This is a sentence I found somewhere on the web:

      "The punctuation in the sentence above is not considered correct by punctuation purists, but seems to me to be the only way to make the sense clear (without leaving a sentence hanging in mid air bereft of its concluding punctuation)."

      If people who care about punctuation feel offended by this, they are too sensitive.

      If you really want to know why I wrote it, it was to hedge my preceding sentence, which seemed to suggest that basic income could be accommodated by Parecon. I wanted to protect the questioner against assuming without further confirmation that all Parecon adepts would accept the presumed compatibility without reservation. I could have written: "But I can't predict whether all Parecon adepts will think it is acceptable within the Parecon spirit or some of them will reject the idea of basic income on the ground that remuneration must be proportional to the duration, intensity and onerosity of socially valued labour." But that seemed a bit long-winded.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      I admit that was a jibe. If they or you want me to apologize I will. I also said your phrase didn't really offend me, but that I saw it as a jibe albeit one of not much size. Perhaps Planck length.

      Two, I don't agree with the phrase "too sensitive". Someone can be sensitive but not "too sensitive". That's a phrase reserved for those who seem to know what the right amount of sensitivity is.

      Three, you didn't write that, you wrote Parecon purist which implied, to me, something else. A little shot, a poke, a jibe. Not of any great significance, but a jibe nonetheless. In the same way Marxist or anarchist purist is a jibe by me. I admit to that. No big deal. I apologize to all anarchists and Marxists. I would have been fine with Parecon adept. Purist is a loaded word as far as I'm concerned within the context of a self-managed participatory decision making processes in proportion to the degree one is affected. As if one has already made their mind up and won't budge. And while someone like that may be out there, iI am yet to come across one. Adept isn't. Advocate isn't. So we can split hairs until the cows come home, or we can move on.

      You could have written, " But I can't predict whether it is acceptable within the Parecon spirit." Far less longwinded.

      I'm longwinded by nature. A genetic, biological fault that no doubt is giving many here at IOPS that shits.


    • Lambert Meertens 9th Dec 2012

       "You could have written, " But I can't predict whether it is acceptable within the Parecon spirit." Far less longwinded."

      And a different meaning. Not what I meant to convey.

    • James Wilson 9th Dec 2012

      I'm sure.

    • Caragh du Toit 9th Dec 2012

      Perhaps- the conversation can end here for the moment. Perhaps some time away thinking things through could help. Perhaps wondering why, again, this has turned into a situation discussing mainly one sphere.

      Development, as far as I know, means being able to see things from a multitude of angles, and instead of seeing diverging opinions as a reason to question intentions, to consider why perhaps there are different views, more importantly, how the the diversity of views can make us stronger.

      When you talk about an evolving society, you may look at economics and GDP, but it is quite a narrow view of viewing the health of a situation and the individuals in that situation.

      There was a book written once called compulsory miseducation where there were some ideas around how to have people participate in their education. It was written a very long time ago.

      P.S. Talking about spirit might be very offensive for teetotallers by the way :)

    • Sarah Owens 9th Dec 2012

      Caragh, not sure why you wrote, "Perhaps- the conversation can end here for the moment. Perhaps some time away thinking things through could help." Maybe you could be more direct?

      And the meaning of your comment "instead of seeing diverging opinions as a reason to question intentions" also makes me wonder about your meaning. You seem to be implying that "the conversation" can be summarized as participants interpreting "diverging opinions" as "reason[s] to question intentions." If so, I think you have not read the (very long) thread closely enough.

      The conversation is an important one, and did not begin here. Please respect (not saying you're not) James and Lambert and other participants by trusting that they know when to end a conversation.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      So it's not just what is on the front page?

      Many of the forum topics may have been set up by individual members for perfectly good reason. You say it's alright for individuals to promote it. Is discussing it in such forums different to individuals promoting it as you write? Is it perfectly reasonable for members to discuss whatever they wish in the forums (within boundaries as on front page)and use whatever image they wish at its head?

      I want to establish whether it is the promotion of Parecon on the front page that is the main problem. You still have not really answered the question.

      However, I do not see why you could not post this answer as a blog (maybe in the exact same words or slightly altered) to ascertain reaction from others in this regard.

      And thank you for at least acknowledging the use of the phrase Parecon purist, as I was scouring over loads of stuff last night and couldn't find it. Thinking perhaps it wasn't you I apologized. How you say you used it is how I remember it and did see it as a jibe then. That is all. Not a biggy but a jibe nevertheless. A jibe because you had been involved in debates about Parecon, had no doubt read others, and were using a phrase that I perceived as a little backhander that some unnamed group of people were perhaps a little more dogmatic or stuck or unmovable in regards to Parecon. Creating the perception that they were similar to say some Marxists, or Leninists. A little closed minded. But that is just MY perception and maybe it is a wrong one.

      I am sure if you posted your reply above as a post it would elicit some response from members. At least to find out whether they agree or not. Why not it wouldn't hurt.

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Dec 2012

      I don't know what the "main" problem is. I observe that some people who are sympathetic to the IOPS vision are not joining because they perceive IOPS as a vehicle for promoting Albert's ideas and specifically Parecon, and not open to an open discussion without too many preconceptions. I'm not in a position to institute proper research into what or who gave them that absurd idea. What I do know, is that with the website as it is, it is not very convincing to rebut this by saying, no, Parecon is "just" a model and IOPS is quite open to other ideas. By saying "not very convincing" I mean that it fails to convince people.

      I also see (as I wrote before) that some people are inspired by Parecon and that to them the enthusiasm for Parecon at IOPS is an incentive to join. I have no idea which effect is stronger. But I suspect that plastering it all over the place, in a way that arbitrary members can't emulate, is not optimal.

    • James Wilson 8th Dec 2012

      Ok. So you don't know what the "main" problem is but you do know that engaging with people who have a problem, as you state above, " by saying, no, Parecon is "just" a model and IOPS is quite open to other ideas" is not very convincing. In the same way you haven't completely convinced me that Parecon pusist was not meant to be, to any extent, a jibe. I can understand that. It's hard to get people to change their minds.

      So I suspect that by this comment, "but I suspect that plastering it all over the place, in a way that arbitrary members can't emulate, is not optimal," you believe it may be better to remove such stuff from the front page?

      Putting it out there as a blog may be a good idea to find whether many others agree with you, and moves could be made to ameliorate the issue. I just happen to agree with Florian.

  • 2nd Dec 2012

    Self organizing isn’t an easy task, but it’s a key task.Maybe it could help
    Methods of Organizing for Collectives
    http://www.iopsociety.org/resources/fr

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      Aren't the ideas expressed in this "anti-mass" article somewhat antithetical to the prevailing ideas about IOPS organizing?

  • 2nd Dec 2012

    Antithetical, why ? I don’t go alone with that completly but I think some points are of interest :

    -(Organizing) Concretely, this means: organize yourselves, not somebody else.
    (Ie the curriculum under discussion. You are not convinced by the specific Parecon model. that’s OK and you can propose/apply an other one.)

    And :

    - The uniqueness of developing collectives is their definitive break with all hierarchic forms of organization and the reconstructing of a classless society. 

    - The form of the collective is its practice.
    - A collective is not a faction.
    -The principle of unity is based on the proposition that everyone (Michael Albert included & every chapter] is a unit .

    - The question of what we are going to do is the hardest to answer and the one that ultimately will determine whether a collective will continue to exist.

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Dec 2012

      When I read "a multitude of collectives", I think it corresponds to my vision of IOPS as an organization formed by a network of close-knit groups with a shared vision and who self-identify as part of the larger whole, knowing that we are all in this together. I was made to understand that this vision was not politically correct (and, moreover, that I was not supposed to label this with the term "vision", the term only to be applied to the official IOPS Vision). The obvious rejoinder is that the local chapters are the collectives of the anti-mass write-up, but I'm not so sure they can in general function as such.

      A more detailed response will stray too far from the original topic of this blog. For a non-exhaustive array of viewpoints on the organizational model of IOPS, see http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/flying-high.

      I see no lack of examples of concrete things to do around me that I can't tackle alone, but where collective action can make a difference.

    • Florian Zollman 5th Dec 2012

      Hi Lambert, I would like to respond to some of your concerns raised here.

      The issues we propose can obviously only be decided by chapters and I thus do not see how a curriculum could be imposed on IOPS in general. Our point is simply to say that it might be meaningful to start institutionalising an educational programme within a chapter. Would you agree that education is good? Or does your mass approach mean we should not educate ourselves and we should not define a set of expected commitments for our chapter members?

      In any meaningful organisation, to my knowledge, there are expectations such as participation and engaging in shared activities. Education is certainly part of such activities in one way or another. That is why chapters may institutionalise formal mechanisms that set out requirements for members and they may define membership status, in the sense of being a member or not. If you want a serious organisation you cannot get around such issues, I believe. That has nothing to do with second or first class or elitist membership. It simply means that there are requirements for being part of a self-managed chapter in order to having membership and voting rights etc. Such requirements could indeed be defined as having to engage in educational activities and having to participate in weekly meetings. Look at any other organisation, even a hobby football team, and there are requirements such as having a shared understanding of the activities (being able to play, knowing and abiding to the rules etc. which have to be learned) and attending regularly.

      Moreover, such issues need to be tried and there may be different approaches some more flexible than others. Considering that virtually anyone in IOPS can establish an own chapter there is enormous room for diversity in approaches. Why don't you propose a way you would structure a chapter in regard to membership expectations and try it out? If it provides to attract a lot of people I am sure other chapters would like to follow your strategy.

      Moreover, it might be worth pointing out that the broad curriculum we propose is in accord with IOPS commitments. We do not propose that Fanfare should be the only text although it might be used as a major text. There is no reason why chapters would not use other texts as we clearly state. There is no reason why chapters would not criticise parecon or talk about other participatory models. Regarding your points about parecon it might be worth to mention that you conflate parecon vision with strategy to implement it. No one ever suggested to impose parecon on a society in a top-down fashion - an approach which would be problematic as you seem to state. Parecon institutions would need to be tried and practiced over a long time period during reformist struggles in the sense of planting the seeds of the future in the present (in accord with IOPS commitments) and during such episodes it could be demonstrated if it works or not.

    • Lambert Meertens 7th Dec 2012

      Florian,

      You raise so many issues that I hardly know where to start. Let me begin with your question concerning education. You ask: Would you agree that education is good? The pronouncement that education is good is very general. In the text "Our Movement" that I wrote before I learned of the existence of IOPS, I wrote: We aim for ... a society that respects human rights and that values education, science and culture. So, yes, I value education – in general. But a person's valuing something in general does not imply they agree with all forms or manifestations that it can assume. I don't accept the validity of a syllogism like Socrates values education. Traditional school is education. Therefore Socrates values traditional school. I hope we will educate ourselves, and that we will support each other's efforts at self-education. But not in all forms and at all costs.

      While organizations may have expectations of members' engagement in shared activities, few have a notion of imposing these expectations on their members. Exceptions are the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Such organizations also typically require their members to practise criticism and self-criticism. I hope that IOPS will not join their ranks.

      For me it does not make a principled difference whether such expected commitments are imposed centrally, or by local chapters. But pragmatically, the latter would, in my eyes, be actually worse. Of course we hope and expect members to participate in IOPS activities to the extent they are able to. But we should not set any concrete requirements with potential consequences if they are not met. In short, I'm opposed to any notion in which any undertaking of any activity by any member is other than purely voluntary without any consideration of possible consequences this may have for the status of the individual's membership.

      When an IOPS chapter succeeds in offering a self-education programme that corresponds to member's needs, that is great. Sharing resources to make this possible is fine. If members feel they can profit from following the programme together – no problem, splendid. That can be more fun and help to sustain the effort. I'd hesitate to label this as "institutionalizing an educational programme". That sounds a bit scary. I'm easily scared, as you see.

      I don't care what it is called if we have members with voting rights and members without voting rights, but I am unable to consider the second kind of members as other than a group that has less rights than the first group. I am opposed to any notion that any member may have less rights than any other member. And this is a breaking point for me. If IOPS ever institutes such a thing, I will give up all hope that IOPS can grow into an organization that can make a difference.

      Considering that virtually anyone in IOPS is a member of a one-person chapter, and that most larger local chapters don't seem able to even have regular face-to-face meetings, I don't see much room for meaningful experimentation with membership expectations.

      Do I conflate Parecon vision with Parecon implementation? The texts I have seen do not make a clear distinction between the two, so I wouldn't be able to tell what part of it is vision. Maybe all my objections are against the proposed implementation, but how would I know? But I have sincere doubts that it is possible or even meaningful to try out Parecon's negotiated allocation mechanisms in a process of reformist struggles. I don't even believe in the theory of "Parecon in One Country" (unless it is autarkic, like North Korea).

    • Sara Cromwell 9th Dec 2012

      First, I'm not sure why you're talking so much about Parecon instead of the proposed curriculum.

      Second, I'm not sure your concern about having to suffer top-down elitist mandates because of the curriculum is supportable give that the proposed curriculum came about as an organic project developed by members of equal status to yourself.

      Third, as I and many others have said, you're missing the point of the proposed curriculum. It's not mandatory, it's not carved in stone, and, IMHO, unless we have some kind of organization to draw people to, IOPS will never be more than a disorganized group of people who all want a better world but won't do more to make it come about than just talk and lament. I find that unacceptable.

      Finally, a request, or plea, however you choose to construe it. If you find the idea of tiered membership so abhorrent, do something about it. Pose an alternative. Draft an alternate curriculum that corrects what you believe are inconsistencies with the IOPS vision and mission. You have strong ideas, you are clearly well-read, you can use those resouces to move the discussion along instead of, time and again, throwing up roadblocks and obstructing momentum. You've wrongly accused others of saying what I'm about to say, so I'll just say it and accept whatever criticism I deserve for being rude, put up or shut up.