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Odd Shared Experience and Confusion

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I recently had an interesting interchange with a friend, also on the ICC of IOPS, as I am. I asked if he had been trying to recruit and he replied that yes, he had been talking to and writing various contacts. So I asked how it was going. 

 

He said it was disheartening, people were ignoring his requests or even responding angrily. I was surprised, "what do you mean angry?" He said most of the people he wrote to did nothing, hoping he would go away without further ado, but some said they felt bullied by having already received a few emails about IOPS. Yes, bullied, by email…

 

He relayed that not one person, and these are all serious activists, said anything substantive about the organization's definition. No one gave any reason, in fact, for why they thought their joining would be useless or counterproductive. No one said I don't like the vision for these reasons - or I don't like the organizational commitments for those reasons. They instead simply dismissed IOPS the way you might dismiss a request to join a mars brigade, or a racist klan coven. Their reply was silence, or, essentially to say, "get out of my face with this silly IOPS already."

 

I wasn't particularly surprised by all this because I have had similar experiences - in my case I mail to a very large number of people - and some join, but far more do not, and those who do not join, just ignore me. This includes not only my bulk mailings, to roughly 100,000 people - in which case not replying makes good sense - but even mailings to actual friends and comrades including numerous media people. They either join, or they just ignore requests - and perhaps complain to others, though not me, that they feel bullied for having received the requests. 

 

My friend and I were both disheartened about the situation. He felt, "if these activists had reasons and offered them, that would be fine. If they joined, hopefully knowing why, that would be fine. But to dismiss the project out of hand, like we were advocating something heinous - that just seems preposterous."  

 

I said, okay, what is odd, we agree, is not people joining or deciding not to join due to liking or not liking elements of IOPS, but people not looking at its definition at all and not offering any reason related to what IOPS actually is now or aims to be, yet nonetheless being adamant about not joining, and even angry about being asked to consider joining. 

 

So first, if you too encounter that reaction, you are not alone. But, second, what does it mean? How do we understand it? How do we relate to it?

 

The obvious answer on how to relate is that we listen and we stop bugging people where "bugging people" means being really obnoxious. Of course we shouldn't be obnoxious - but what about simply bringing the organization to their attention, via direct face to face comment, or via email, or whatever? To back off from further entreaties is the seemingly civil thing to do once asked, but both my friend and I agreed it is in fact not civil, but, ironically, instead it is succumbing to not doing what we think is right and warranted merely because others express anger at our efforts - in essence, being bullied into acting contrary to our beliefs. 

 

We thought, let's try to "deconstruct" the situation - meaning, let's try to explain it. 

 

Is silence plus anger a normal reaction from leftists to proposals? IF so, then the reaction to IOPS is typical and needs no further explanation.

 

Some people pose a path forward. If it is idiotic and has support from nearly no one, maybe silence would greet it - though even then there is likely to be some public criticism/dismissal. And if you happened to say to a friend, why not relate to x - and your friend felt that x was obviously idiotic, your friend would reply, hold on, you have to be kidding - not only won't I relate to x, but you shouldn't do so either. And then, crucially, you friend, being  friend, would add - here is why. 

 

But now suppose that x, the proposed path forward, is serious, has substance, and even has growing support. Do leftists typically ignore something like that? 

No, typically there will be, and rightly so, discussion of it. Some will reject it, sometimes aggressively. Some will advocate it. All will offer reasons. And, as above, if you ask a friend to relate, he or she may say, I will do so later, or he or she may do it right away - but he or she is very unlikely to say, get out of my face with that, I don't want to hear about it. Even if it was of some narrow focus not relevant to your friend, the friend not would say bug off.

 

Suppose a person is doing lots of work and just doesn't see that joining IOPS would benefit that work, and so the person figures, well, it is not too important for me, maybe I will join later. Okay, that is fair enough - though a bit narrow in not understanding that joining is not just about benefitting one's own actions, but contributing to something potentially much larger - but, be that as it may, the person would certainly feel no hesitancy at saying why they were hesitant. And the person would not feel bullied or angry, at getting a few emails. And if told, wait a minute, all the stuff you are already doing is consistent with being in IOPS - and since you like the IOPS definition and the aims, why not join and see later if you want to do any new things specifically for the new organization meanwhile just continuing as you are, though perhaps with some international support - they may say, sure, okay. Or they may say no, and give a reason. Either way, it would be no problem - but not silence, and not anger, that would be a problem.

 

So what about IOPS? In three months it has support from almost 2,000 members. It has testimonials from diverse folks and participation in a temporary decision making body from people revered throughout the left such as Chomsky, Pilger, Santos, and Whittaker, as well as from more locally known and revered folks from around the world. Its statement of vision and its organizational commitments are clearly serious, accessible, and reflect views held by a very large number of activists, probably a great majority and maybe nearly all those who are asked to consider joining. 

 

So is there a public response? No. There has been one article  noting the existence of the effort, and that was in Al Jazeera - and that is it. There has been nothing in serious alternative media outlets, other than Z. How do we explain that? And then what do we do to reverse it?

 

No one who has been asked to look at the IOPS site and consider joining it based on reading the defining documents, has written back privately, much less written publicly, that there is something about the IOPS definition that makes them feel that joining would be mistaken nor even that IOPS has no chance to be beneficial. When you consider it, given the cantankerousness of the left, that is rather remarkable. Silence, though odd, is not golden.

 

There are two remotely comparable recent organizational initiatives I can think of. The first, obviously promising a larger scale, was the announcement a few years back by Chavez of his seeking a new Internationale - which immediately had pro and con debate around the world despite that as it was put forth included virtually zero substance about what features this new Internationale would have. Rather, the call was basically an eloquent statement that the world sucks, a claim that we need a new Internationale, and an assertion that Chavez and others in Venezuela would convene it and, obviously, largely define it. What its definition would be went unstated. Of course, the reason for the loud response, both yea and nay, was belief that this organization would form and persist - which it never did. Rather it got nowhere. 

 

The other analogous event was a call in 2006 for a new international organization, called the Bamako Appeal, put out by a few prominent people on the left, most notably Samir Amin.  It argued the need for organization, but was pretty vague about what it would look like and seek to achieve. Nonetheless, there was wide discussion, pro and con, though, again, the project went nowhere. 

 

So now we have IOPS. There are many prominent people on board - though no heads of state, of course - and there is lots of serious substance. Initially, there was not much popular reaction - which was fair enough because people reasonably wondered if it would go anywhere. But then there emerged a powerful, excellent site.  2,000 people joined. Testimonials appeared. Activity diversified. People in 85 countries were on board. And, mostly, one could talk about it, if one desired, whether pro or con, not by guessing at its probable features or projecting one's fears or hopes and opining about them, but by literally talking about its clearly enunciated definition. One could, if one wished, talk about its structure, its organizational commitments, its site, and its vision. 

 

And yet no one does. There are no critics. There aren't even any dissenters. There are just people turning away without looking, silent, but sometimes angry. And there are people joining.

 

Okay, it is a stretch, but in my own experience I have encountered this type situation of people not wanting to hear about something and being angry at reminders, though without reference to the thing's actual features, many times. The most explicit, long running, and intense, was during the Vietnam War, and especially the early days. We would go out to raise consciousness, to hand out materials. People would not reject taking leaflets due to having reasons relating to the content of the leaflets - they would reject without knowing what was in the materials, having never looked at them at all. They didn't, couldn't, and wouldn't, rebut the content of the message. They just didn't want to hear the message. They knew they did not want to oppose the war for diverse personal reasons - but they also knew they had no reasons related to the war itself, or morality, or anything other than just not wanting to buck their neighbors, employers, or, even more strongly, their own families, particularly when they had children, parents, or siblings in uniform. 

 

Seeking people to join organizations, back then, also had things in common with the current IOPS experience. On campuses, for example, students took affront at being asked to consider joining anti war organizations, or SDS. They even felt picked on and bullied if they were given leaflets or called more than once. They did not want to hear about such a thing but they never said anything about the agenda or structure of the proposed organization. This wasn't everyone of course. Many related. Some didn't, and offered reasons, mostly weird - honestly. They might ask, for example, well what would I do if I were in the organization - clearly, with others, make decisions and act on them. But overwhelmingly, for most people asked, the reflex response was get out of my face - offered with passion but no reasons. Of course, in time, take note, many of those resistant people got deeply involved.

 

I don't know the extent of the analogy. There is similar behavior but I rather different logic because in the IOPS case we are not talking about reactions from the general public, but reactions from people who, under other circumstances, would say the definition matches very closely with their standards for having an ideal effort, and for whom the importance of developing mutual ties, even across borders, is a given. 

 

IOPS even offers a very serious and pretty comprehensive Q & A discussion of reasons for and against joining, including agreement that some people certainly should not join, depending on their take on the matters discussed. But not one person - anywhere - as far as I know, has made reference to that document. But of course those who have avoided looking at the IOPS site, haven't seen the Q & A, either, at least so far.

 

So my friend was disheartened. How do you proceed when people will not discuss, explore, express - anything - about what you are proposing? Not that everyone has to invest time and relay their thoughts, but not anyone? No one? It is great that some join, and that IOPS is growing. But how do we talk to others, if they won't talk back? And why won't they talk back?

 

Well, I think the why of silence and anger. of rejection without assessment, is hard to discern - and there is probably no one answer, though the reaction is so consistent and prevelant that I suspect there are not many answers, either. The q/a deals well with the issues, I think. Of course there is skepticism. Of course there are worries. Of course people are busy. Of course people doubt it will work out. But beyond all that, it does seem like maybe there is something more. One very serious activist/writer told me his problem with IOPS was the idea of classlessness. He just didn't believe it was possible. Society would be egalitarian, if classless, but the trains wouldn't run on time. To my ears that was sad, but at least it was a real reason. Another activist said, well, sure, it is nice, but I am so busy. I couldn't understand that one. Everything he was doing was fine to be doing as an IOPS member. Nothing more was required. So what was the problem? But, in any event, on the question of what to do about people not wanting to take IOPS seriously, perhaps we can answer that, however hard it is to personally act on the answer.

 

As in the Vietnam era - we have to persist. We should not back off on grounds we are disturbing people. We shouldn't be obnoxious, of course. But the idea that it is obnoxious to sincerely ask serious activists to look at and assess an international organizational with 2000 members and lots of people who they have high respect for on board, and which we think is critically important, is itself nonsense. The same people look at thousands of ads all day long, asking them not to assess, but simply to buy things that are often outright harmful - and it is rare that they react as angrily as they will to you when you say, hey, have you checked out IOPS - if so, what did you think? Did you join? If not, how come? What didn't you like? But that doesn't mean you are wrong to pursue the issue. You aren't. So keep trying. 

 

It induces some tension? So be it. It makes some folks irritated at you? So be it. Take it from me, I know the feeling. The alternative is to be, well, bullied out of what you believe in. 

Discussion 126 Comments

  • Paulo Rodriguez 18th Jun 2012

    For what's worth, the stuff you described above is exactly what seems to be happening over here. Either uninterested looks and change of topic, or silence. I've used the arguments above to several members, but I guess in a sense, they'd rather take their chances doing their own thing within the current setting they are accustomed to, than to use IOPS to share what they are doing and potentially reach people around the world, or access the body of information that has grown at a staggering rate.

    I might be at fault for not being the best organizer material, but very very often, I feel that your points from "Remembering Tomorrow" resonate strongly regarding the situation. Persist in your efforts to chip away at cynicism, keep trying, keep leading by example to the best of your ability, keep talking about IOPS without being invasive, and I believe easy wins are posting fun/social events which humanize what we are trying to do: bring good vibes into the mix I guess! Those elicit the most reponse in my (short) experience.

    As to whether this will yield results in the long run, we'll see, but for this once I'll gladly give in to my usual impulsiveness and declare that this time we'll get it right!!! :)

    On a sadder note, I'm going to need a new copy of "Remembering Tomorrow", it's badly battered from all the reading. Thanks again for writing what must be the most inspiring of all the books you have written. Specially regarding the above.

    We won't be bullied out of what we believe in, and that's a fucking promise.

  • Michael Albert 18th Jun 2012

    Thanks Paulo...but at the risk of venturing where we shouldn't, how do you explain the behavior? What do you think is the cause?

    • Paulo Rodriguez 19th Jun 2012

      Hi Michael,

      A couple of questions if you don't mind:

      Quote:

      I agree with you that at least over time, "Combining the "fun" bits (socializing activities) with the "serious" bits (exploration and debate) would do the trick if structured correctly, in an organic and congenial way."


      I am not quite clear on the "at least over time" part. Is there a situation where making serious exploration and debate possible in a congenial way would be a mistake? Unless my use of the word "fun" was perhaps a bit too vague, which I guess it is. What I was referring to, was from my personal experience in marxist-leninist meetings, where people were so serious and the atmosphere so pressing as to become unpleasant to participate, and intimidating to chime in. This could be linked to my own personal make-up, but even when working in corporations, teaching what might be considered "dry" subject matter, but spiced with a smile and some humor, helps a lot to open up minds, and even make labour more pleasant.

      Quote:

      "When you say "if we can't improve people's lives in a visible way, or giving them pride in being part of an organisation that makes a real difference which they can *observe*, motivation's going to remain a problem." Again, I of course agree. But there is a catch 22 - few people, no matter how capable, are not going to make a real difference in social structures and policies. So however hard, we must grow large even before we can prove our merit by our impact on social norms, relations, etc. There is, however, one sense in which we can affect people's lives, even small. We can create chapters, and those can provide social sustenance, mutual aid, even services, even before they are big enough to help win changes in wages, income, environmental laws, or whatever else."


      Agreed, hence my shifting from being active in Brussels and the 12M movement to my local venue. The improvements resulting from it regarding time, logistics and transportation, and most importantly insight into my own locale and its problems, make this a very sensible approach already. The fact that my locale is a place where fairly well-off people live will bring a new set of interesting challenges to the table though.


      Quote:

      "I don't understand the reference to language. Each country's web system can be done in their own language…already. If someone writes a blog post, say, in German, say, and marks it for international, say - then it will appear there in German, and on the German page in German. The International page is default english - for menus, etc. but one can choose other languages."

      My reference to language was as follows: since the content in the Belgian chapter is currently in english, the whole organisation can partake and/or enjoy the content. Writing in english thus increases the potential audience of the material and strengthens the connections between members across borders. The price one pays for this, is that people not speaking English but to whom the content should be ideally directed to, will have difficulty enjoying the content, or perhaps not even understand it due to a lack of fluency in the English language. This also facilitates participation and exchange from the start for people fluent in english, and that's not the typical situation of the 80% of our citizens which should be our priority to organize, correct?
      I understand it's not an or/or situation, ideally content could be posted in 2 or 3 languages, but this means either less content in more languages or more content in less languages per unit of time given equal resources.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      It seems there is a bug, Paulo - because I didn't see a reply link under your comment. I hope you find this - and we will work on fixing the way it works...

      All i meant by "at least over time" - admittedly not very clear - was just that being pleasant, humorous, caring - not anti social - won't succeed instantly - not that it wasn't always desirable.

      As far as language - maybe I am wrong about this - but I am pretty sure there is an effort to get as many as are needed - what is done is to translate all the core material - and the menus - to each new language. Of course that has to be done by folks proficient in the language.

      Then, once it is done for some language, one can see the site - and even any sub site - with that language for the menus, etc.

      Or course blogs or comments are in whatever language people choose to write in.

      I am not sure what more one could do...

    • Paulo Rodriguez 19th Jun 2012

      Hi again,

      Regarding the bug, I actually thought this was by design. A while ago the issue appeared where nested replies resulted in the texts being panned right to the point it became silly. I thought the nested replies were removed to avoid this?

      Regarding the translations, yes, french is already done, dutch is not and I've already started on it (see forum post) but so far on my own. A bit of a daunting task for one person if you ask me hehe. One of the IOPS Belgium members is willing to help but only later this month.

      Indeed, not much else one can do besides what you mentioned, but still worth noting.
      Thanks for taking the time to reply!

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Regarding the bug - yes, the many layered nesting was junked because it tended to get ridiculous. So, the result was, first replies would go under the item replied to. So if I was replying to x with this - it would go under, indented one. Suppose then you want to reply to what I wrote. First, there should be a link under what I wrote for you to do so. This is missing, now. Then, when you do, because it is now second level, it would not be indented yet again. it would stay at the level of what it was replying to, but under it, not removed far from it. Or that's what I thought, anyhow.

      We don't want indent, indent, indent, indent - and then the comment is three words wide. But neither do we want a situation where you can't have, and can't find, a conversation... or that's my preference, anyhow.

      In things like Facebook and twitter - there is so little substance - hopefully that won't offend anyone - that of course no one cares much about following serious exchanges, there just aren't any... and that pattern has spread... or that is my guess. Same as the complete prioritization of brevity, down to ridiculous levels, has come from that source and the habits it imposes.

      But that is all a side bar - let's not get into it now, I think - not the place for it....

  • Mark Evans 18th Jun 2012

    One possible explanation is -

    An honest reply to the IOPS emails would, for many on the left, mean making elitist convictions both explicit and public.

    Why on-earth would they do that?

    So instead we get poor excuses or silence.

    In short IOPS represents an ideological threat, not only to the right but also to much of the left. I have always felt this to be the case and the silence we are experiencing has, unfortunately reinforced this view.

    Another possible explanation is that we are all crazy.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      They are wrong in thinking we are delusional and crazy, or we are delusional and crazy - indeed, I figure we have all been in this situation, often.

      But I am not so sure about the other observation. Yes, one can not join IOPS because one doesn't like one or another visionary commitment - like the person I mentioned in the essay, who was, however, quite willing to say so. And who, before I described the commitments had no idea what they were, and yet, hadn't looked. Others might feel similarly and not want to say so, I agree. But this is IOPS, not parecon, and we are talking about people who don't look at it at all and therefore don't know what its commitments are.

      So I suspect more is operating - I suspect most of them would not look at any organization, and certainly at any revolutionary organization, even including those who say they desire revolution but don't look at IOPS. I think the Q/A address lots of real and quite legitimate reasons a person might have for being dubious - not embarrassing but sensible reasons - that people might have. The problem is, people with those reasons do not look, I suspect, at the Q/A.

      And that means, if we are going to go talk to people, we have to anticipate - at least as a probability - that they will have doubts of the sort offered in the Q/A. And we will have to be prepared, in our own ways, to address those doubts, not disparagingly or dismissively, but by literally countering the worries.

      Regarding the silence from media, however - which is to say from people who have tons of experience, who do know what IOPS is about, at least broadly, and who are avoiding looking at it more closely, much less carrying information about it - there I think, sadly, that your explanation has much more weight.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 18th Jun 2012

    Michael,

    Thanks for this. It is really helpful for those of us who have no experience organizing, who are used to keeping to ourselves and doing what we're told. I've been feeling frustrated, but it is good to see the numbers constantly grow.

    And we can't forget that merely introducing these ideas to people is progress in itself. As in the case of your friend, most people have never contemplated a classless society. But you have made them think - you've planted the seed.

    I remember when my brother started talking to me 2 years ago about Parecon - he was like "being somebody's boss - think about it - that basically implies being better than somebody." And I scoffed, but afterward, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. And here I am now.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      That is precisely what I think we need to remember - but we also need to do better, always...

  • Paulo Rodriguez 18th Jun 2012

    I can venture a couple of guesses.

    Most members are clearly easy to motivate regarding single-issue activities that relate to their personal hobbies or activism preferences, see the report on the 12M protest. The more youthful members there were clearly happy to be dj'ing and playing records during the protest for fun, while contributing to the good atmosphere there and socializing. Commitment to checking the vision statement on the other hand is not "fun" in the same sense, and seems to result in an "I'll check it later" attittude.
    Thus, the importance about vision needs to be better relayed or made even more accessible, or I and the other convinced members need to do a better job at conveying its importance. Combining the "fun" bits (socializing activities) with the "serious" bits (exploration and debate) would do the trick if structured correctly, in an organic and congenial way.

    Second, as mentioned, I might not be yet quite capable of advocating IOPS in a structured or inspiring way. I'm not being self-deprecating but merely honest, and I'm trying to address this as we speak, see the Occupy Theory/Vision/Strategy projects. At least I seem to be able to keep my former temper and lack of patience in check this time hehe.

    Third, I believe for the older members, while they sympathize with IOPS, I sense a lack of interest in self-evaluating old political frameworks which they have embraced for quite a while, though one member clearly opened up after a really nice discussion on the topic, where I believe (I hope) he did most of the talking, and I did most of the listening, though clearly committed to put myself in his shoes. More active participation didn't ensue from this though... yet!

    Another concrete case of this was an older gentleman who heard about the IOPS initiative through another IOPS member. He had a past in local politics and was clearly interested in the concept of a "world party", an initiative he also started independently and which received some attention , after writing a column for a known dutch-speaking mag. Discussing the matter of balanced job-complexes and nested councils, and their implications on empowerment and participation, didn't seem to generate much enthusiasm, despite him agreeing that traditional representative democracy was FAR from perfect. When pressed on the matter, I honestly perceived a lack of faith regarding workers and citizens in general, being able to self-manage, which I have to admit made me cringe just a little... Thus, old political habits and a lack of faith in human nature.

    Fourth, and again, not being self-deprecating, but I can't help but feel that for IOPS to motivate its members more, here in Belgium, it'd have to up the ante in diversity and frequency of activities and their expected visibility, for it to be taken seriously. Time and material constraints are barriers in this sense. Thus, if we can't improve people's lives in a visible way, or giving them pride in being part of an organisation that makes a real difference which they can *observe*, motivation's going to remain a problem.

    Fifth, one member admitted that it was in his nature to be a "lone wolf". I'm not quite sure this is the whole story though: regarding his activities outside IOPS, he's quite active and involved in other groups, and very militant. Thus, my assumption is that in his eyes IOPS might not offer him anything that is dramatically different or better from the settings and organisations he is already actively involved in.

    Sixth, one members voiced quite clear concerns about the risk involved in following a truly radical path, specially as he's now part of a happy family with stable income. I deduce from this that IOPS participation either needs to become worth the risk, give him a very good reason to readjust his priorities with regards to his personal time or better yet, IOPS should have the means to protect his safety and that of his loved ones, as well as the stuff mentioned before. I tend to agree with him on this one, as I've encountered a similar situation where activism resulted in negative effects at the family level from external sources. No new insights here, it's not easy to be a committed and effective radical activist, and the price one pays can be high.

    Finally, the language situation. I haven't quite yet figured out the best approach to be honest. There are several advantages to using english on the Belgian section, but when honestly considering the matter, I don't expect everyone in Belgium to feel confident enough about interacting mainly in English. If the aim is to reach the largest amount of people in Belgium, the content should be created in the local languages. English seems to work for now, exactly because the people on board at the moment are either non-natives, or people from a social class that feels quite at home interacting in English: at the risk of offending some, nearly everyone on board would be definitely pegged into the coordinator class: information technology buffs like myself and 2 others, political commentators, one movie actor, university students, and so on. I haven't met one member yet which I would consider from a working class background, except for one from french-speaking Belgium.

    The price to pay is the potential isolation that could ensue from making the content dutch-only or french-only, and I'm not even taking german into consideration. Multi-language content would require manpower which is currently not yet available, though it could potentially be done with a 16-member base of dedicated people.

    Does this somewhat answer your question? I hope I didn't go all over the place with my answers!

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012


      I agree with you that at least over time, "Combining the "fun" bits (socializing activities) with the "serious" bits (exploration and debate) would do the trick if structured correctly, in an organic and congenial way."
      I also agree that it is not self deprecating to admit one isn't yet able to confidently and effectively make a case for IOPS. The fact is, that comes with practice, and even study in some cases. Certainly it did for me, to the extent I have even gotten there, yet.
      And I agree that older folks with long allegiances to contrary views are not going to be quick allies…of course. Indeed, some will never be. Others only after a wrenching break with their pasts.
      When you describe that some just don't believe it possible - "When pressed on the matter, I honestly perceived a lack of faith regarding workers and citizens in general, being able to self-manage, which I have to admit made me cringe just a little... Thus, old political habits and a lack of faith in human nature."
      Yes, that is going to be a bedrock issue of debate with and dissent from IOPS - often subterranean and not admitted…but there. And we need to be able to address it, compellingly, and without cringing or getting angry - I too have a tendency to err in those directions. It is hard not to…and sometimes, I have to say, I think it is warranted and may even be the only way to really break through...
      When you say "if we can't improve people's lives in a visible way, or giving them pride in being part of an organisation that makes a real difference which they can *observe*, motivation's going to remain a problem." Again, I of course agree. But there is a catch 22 - few people, no matter how capable, are not going to make a real difference in social structures and policies. So however hard, we must grow large even before we can prove our merit by our impact on social norms, relations, etc. There is, however, one sense in which we can affect people's lives, even small. We can create chapters, and those can provide social sustenance, mutual aid, even services, even before they are big enough to help win changes in wages, income, environmental laws, or whatever else.
      When you say "one member admitted that it was in his nature to be a "lone wolf" my guess is that it is the issue address in another of these comments, so I won't repeat here.
      When you say "one member voiced quite clear concerns about the risk involved in following a truly radical path, specially as he's now part of a happy family with stable income" of course that is real. But your answer is real too "I deduce from this that IOPS participation either needs to become worth the risk, give him a very good reason to readjust his priorities with regards to his personal time or better yet, IOPS should have the means to protect his safety and that of his loved ones, as well as the stuff mentioned before." One can point to the IOPS definition, at least regarding intent.
      I don't understand the reference to language. Each country's web system can be done in their own language…already. If someone writes a blog post, say, in German, say, and marks it for international, say - then it will appear there in German, and on the German page in German. The International page is default english - for menus, etc. but one can choose other languages.

  • David Jones 18th Jun 2012

    Michael, I have a very nosy question, something that is none of my business (you're welcome to tell me as much!): why is Robin Hahnel not a member of IOPS? At least, I don't see his name on the members list when I search for it. I'm surprised - the two of you developed the parecon model together, I think? So I'd have assumed that IOPS is something he'd be keen to be involved with? It's totally his decision of course (self management and all that). It just seems strange, that's all.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Apparently he isn't. You would have to ask him. If you look at the book Remembering Tomorrow, you will read that we had a parting of the ways - not about political commitments - but nonetheless real. What I could say about that break, I said there.

      I think it is strange, too, that he hasn't joined, didn't accept invites to be on the ICC, etc. But, as you say, it is entirely his decision. I would say, write to him, ask him.

  • Haroon Bajwa 18th Jun 2012

    First of all, I want to thank everyone who responded to Michael's blog. I believe everyone has brought up valid guesses, and in some cases, actual explanations, for the unwillingness and irritation on the part of people who have chosen to ignore IOPS. It is probably impossible to get at the complete truth - Too many people and too many variables. However,I do wonder whether persons on the left who have a track record of being serious activists, may find it intimidating or ego-shattering to work alongside many who have less experience or perceived knowledge. Has activism become a profession for some? Is it too difficult to embrace humility?

    I'm not sure it's worth spending a lot of time contemplating these questions. I think Michael's spot on about carrying on and, hopefully, others will join us. If IOPS continues to grow, I believe it will be taken more seriously (People tend to jump on board when something big begins to happen).

    It's true that joining IOPS is a radical statement. It's true that it involves some personal sacrifice and,possibly, risks. It's also true that the grind of every day life can sometimes cause hopelessness and despair. But, if we don't try, what's the alternative? Besides, working alongside many others who share the same vision, values and principles provides hope and solidarity. As a result, you feel less isolated and you keep finding inspiration to fight for a better world.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Hi Haroon,

      This is interesting - but I would have thought not really an issue because typically being in a revolutionary organization has the opposite connotation. At least when you are operating in it, and with people in it, you are operating with people as serious as yourself - no? It is usually a step up in commitment.

      Of course it is true that the biggest and most effective argument for joining will be, at some point, the numbers already involved, and their effectivity. I agree. Trouble is, we have to get there.

      For the rest, I quite agree.

    • 19th Jun 2012

      Haroon: your first paragraph is so very sadly profoundly accurate.

      But one love to you, anyway, brother!

  • 18th Jun 2012

    Hi all.

    It was either read more Fanfare, or this, but I think this is an important discussion right now.

    Yes, I do share a few of the situations mentioned. Luckily, while I’ve been ignored, no-one has responded angrily.

    First, I must say that from the beginning I avoided being a ‘recruiter’, for exactly the reason that I fear people may be put off by the possible over-zealousness, as I often am when in similar situations. This is not to say anyone here is doing this, of course.

    I also have to say that I haven’t sent out any mass mailings, as many on my email list are polar opposites to me politically, and would definitely react with anger if they received an email about IOPS.

    Most of my spreading-the-word has been of two types. The first is face to face with people I know socially, who I have ascertained, through general discussions about the daily news and politics in general, sit on the left of the political spectrum. This is a slow process. All had heard of Chomsky; a couple had heard of you, Michael, and Znet. One said she wasn’t political, but felt she should be more politically aware, and had only vaguely heard of Chomsky through her father. She finally had a look at the website after a couple of reminders, and her interest was peaked by the Occupy connection. While a couple have joined, the others are all very busy, have very demanding projects on the go, but will look closer when they have time. One is preparing a blog which he is considering posting on IOPS and Znet after he has joined.

    While I do very often speak about IOPS, I also do not want to push anyone, and I do trust that in time these people will join.

    I also do a lot of posting on various like-minded walls on Facebook. I try to be aware of who has liked the post, who has shared, and what the response has been to their shares on their own pages. There is a slow burn here, but it is growing.

    Paulo, I totally concur with suggestions and insights in both your posts.

    This is something I wrote about in some of my earliest IOPS postings, but I also completely agree that one ‘problem’ is that IOPS just isn’t as ‘sexy’ as Occupy, as hip and fun and rebellious. But I do sense that as these ‘sexier’ movements lose momentum, they look around for more substantial support, and find IOPS. I have always believed that this would be IOPS mode of growth, slow but sure. And I have noted a seeming increase in younger members joining.

    Also, a few weeks ago there was an article about IOPS in the London Occupied Times newspaper, written by members of the London chapter. The newspaper contacted one of the writers recently with a list of questions about IOPS, which has led to another article being written, which will be published in the upcoming edition. So interest is slowly growing.

    I also like the idea of creating an IOPS-friendly culture. There is a wonderful film project underway called Creating Freedom, by fellow IOPS member Raoul Martinez. It includes very many interviews, with Michael, Chomsky, and so on. He is currently looking for crowd funding, so have a look at the trailer, and contribute if you can. It will be a great film, and very useful for promoting IOPS culture and values:
    http://www.indiegogo.com/creatingfreedom?c=home

    Just a couple of ideas: I was chatting about this a while back with a female member, and we both agreed that it would be very useful to create a welcome page for first timer visitors. Make it easy for them to find, using simple, friendly language. Explain, in a very short way, using vivid, concrete language, the IOPS vision. From there they can then choose to move on to the more serious vision, mission, etc., statements. Again, this is an issue about language, which has been so hotly debated in so many areas of this website.

    The thing is, the language and tone in Occupy Theory and Vision is so friendly and personable, and the pictures so colourful and warm, that it seems a waste not to extend this feel to the website main page.

    I do believe that many may quickly come to the main page, but make a snap judgement, and then leave. We need to give those people something more attractive and warmer, and also something easier to digest after a hectic day at work, such as a friendly welcome, which can then encourage them to return to do a more in-depth exploration later, when they have more time. Or even immediately.

    Also: what about making downloadable, printable leaflets and flyers available on the site? Also short, warm, visually attractive, that we can carry around and give to friends, people at work, someone to read on the bus or tube, or just leave lying around for a stranger to pick up? We can maybe create a section called promotional materials, or something, which members can add to, download, print, and distribute, as they like.

    Haroon: very interesting point about humility, there. I sadly suspect you may be correct, though only about a small section of people. I do like your last paragraph! :)

    • Will Henry Lapinel 19th Jun 2012

      Zane,
      That video looks amazing. It should definitely be posted on the IOPS home page. I am definitely sharing that with all.

      There are some flyers in the resources tab, but more (and more artistic/cooler) flyers would be good.

      Enjoying and agreeing with all of the comments on this blog.

    • 19th Jun 2012

      William, thank you! I am still finding my way around the website. It has got so large so quickly!

      Is there an overall site map anywhere, to get a conceptual overview?

      I have suggested to Raoul that he post the trailer on the IOPS home page, so we'll see. Keep on sharing! :)

  • Jon Doe 18th Jun 2012

    Another important attempt at creating an international leftist organization that has similarly struggled was the Other Campaign and the "Intergalactic" international of the Zapatistas in 2006. The Other Campaign was a little more focused on the Mexican political situation but had a really admirable focus on listening and starting where communities were at. It was also a little more stridently anti-politician. It still is an ongoing organization in Mexico, and people and organizations adhere to it internationally, but it seems to have lost some political cohesion and has not been a functional international organization. However, it is a very important model to learn from about how to organize on a grassroots level towards an international with some of the most impoverished and most impacted communities in North America. Many Other Campaign advocates are organizers who may be able to form bonds with and they may be able to give us some perspective, tips and ideas for our organizational struggles. Here are some web links for back ground:

    The text of the original organizational declaration (english)
    https://webspace.utexas.edu/hcleaver/www/SixthDeclaration.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_Campaign

    http://www.narconews.com/otroperiodismo/planning/en.html

    http://www.narconews.com/Issue38/article1371.html

    http://zeztainternazional.ezln.org.mx/ (The international in spanish)

    http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/ (the ongoing national campaign in spanish)

    http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100945400

  • Gerry Conroy 18th Jun 2012

    > ' ...My central problem is this : although I respect the Noam Chomsky/Michael Albert intellectual axis, I find the "movement" around them a little like the Unification Church...'

    How about that for a reply! Got that one from a climate and media activist. I told her that's exactly what the corporate media will say, once they start to say anything at all. She understands very well how the media works.

    But I'd guess there's more than a few who feel that way about it to some extent - people who wouldn't otherwise have any question about the principles of the org. - but who feel some threat to their personal autonomy by joining. Plenty of people could express that by an uncomfortable silence.

    My guess is that problem will ease off when the org. moves a good way beyond its ZNet base in membership.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Hi Gerry,

      If the person is seriously representing their real reasons, my reaction is, fair enough, it is justified worry. BUT - you should not take your justified worry and assume, without looking, that it applies. If you look, and you believe it applies, by all means do not join. But if you look, and you find an organization which is more committed to permitting and allowing internal dissent than any that you have known, and which has a very wide span of membership in just three months, etc. etc. - then perhaps you should join, and work to be sure your fears are not manifested.

      The broader issue of a threat to personal autonomy is, I think, different - and very very important. Joining a serious organization does involve compromises of "personal autonomy," if the latter is taken to mean, I get to do whatever I want. In an organization, once it is developed and operating, you don't. There are decisions that limit options, as well as making new ones available. This is true when one takes a job, say, even at a high level, say becoming a doctor.

      So this concern is really saying something like - if I join, and it grows, it will have implications for my options and choices. There will be pressures to relate. There will be things that are ruled out. What do I get, in return? So the person either agrees, or not, that the benefits of joining outweigh constraints they feel - or the person doesn't feel the limits as constraints at all. Either works.

      To live outside the law you must be honest - dylan wrote that. It means, if you naturally as your own inclination obey laws, then you are living outside them because they have no unwanted implications for you. But, if you would be inclined to do x, that is forbidden by law, then you are not outside them, whether you obey them or defy them.

      Same thing goes for whatever limits and options an organization permits. If we take a job, there are plenty of limits - we are constrained from doing tons of things we would be inclined to do, by the "laws" or the organization we have joined, as a worker. We do it, because we want the wage, and in rare cases the fulfillment of the work. If we work in a place all of whose limitations and options are precisely in tune with our priorities, then they are irrelevant to us. There is no trade off.

      Okay - in IOPS some will find, as it develops, that its implications for members are totally in tune with their own personal desires and inclinations and therefore they are "outside" the organizational constraints. Other will find that they are an encumbrance, they do limits choices - but will agree to that because of the gains - a new world, and, before that, serious and effective involvement in moving toward it.

      Sorry to have been so wordy in reply - but there is a deep issue here. And it actually the same issue that applies over and over. Does one think IOPS can become a significant contributor - otherwise absent - to the process of creating a new world. And does one think planting the seeds of the future in the present, including in its internal organization, will impose severe hardship on one.

      OR - sometimes this concern operates without thinking through the situation, just reflexively. Sadly, I think in the U.S. in particular, there is a lot of the latter. Also, honestly, among some anarchists - who think any agreement to abide any norms is somehow in violation of their beliefs. I guess we just have to address all these things, as best we can.

  • Alex of... 18th Jun 2012

    interesting and heartfelt

    my first question would be, what is the content of the requests? are they personalized toward each showing some knowledge and appreciation for the other party? does the content say, hey, i found your work on such and such amazing and we could really use your help, here is a place we'd like you to share as we are trying to network those active in social progress. or did it say? hey! check out our vision, you should join us.

    is it possible the path forward feels too set? and we really just need to listen, letting Par unravel more on it's own by being a provider of the space.

    as Paulo mentions comfort in doing what they are doing, and yes time and resources. hmm. can we slow down a bit and focus on our local chapters? seems to me that's where much of the real action is at. but for me, at least, i need to foster some relationships. actually i am. but this takes time and i don't approach it from a direct "recruit" level. i am thinking about doing interviews at this point with local activists and progressive folks and making into blogs. telling them where it's going and what for, to share their work. give them something rather than ask for something. maybe they would then share that article and appreciate. and what comes?

    "another possible explanation is that we are all crazy" lol, probably true. i'm guessing our culture is insane and we need to keep reminding each other of what's important.

    "And we can't forget that merely introducing these ideas to people is progress in itself" - passion is inspiring

    "more accessible" yes

    there's no Bansky pics

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Well, on the content of the invitations, it depends. When I write to friends, of course it is personalized, so to speak. But when I send a large mailing to lots of people, then, no, it cannot be. Oddly, and very counter intuitively, at least in my experience, it doesn't make a lot of difference - maybe none. Whether people join - much more to the point whether they look at the site and read about IOPS top decide if they want to join, seems to have very very little if anything to do with the nature of the invitation they get. Some will rush to look - very few - no matter how they are told of its existence. Others will not look, again, no matter how. That at least, is the impression I get.

      But now, again, we come to some points that were raised below, as well. IOPS is not trying to network the whole left, the whole of all dissenters, much less the whole of everyone in society. That is not what it is. IOPS is, instead, trying to find and welcome those who are left, who are dissenters, but who also agree with our vision, our structural commitments. And as well, to make a case for those, and thus in time attract folks who don't now agree, but may in the future.

      I have written, in various blogs, etc., about the primacy of getting new members. And I still entirely believe that is a paramount IOPS priority, or should be. And then, right after that, I guess, internal development both of organization and chapters, and of our own clarity. But what I think would be a gigantic mistake is trying to get more members by reducing the defining features one must agree about to be a member, or by skimming over them. That is not growing in a way that leads to success for IOPS. It is growing in a way that makes IOPS no different than, say, Occupy - just a gathering of anyone who dissents and says, hey, I like you... Not a coherent group capable of yielding mutual aid and program across borders and in local venues, all consistent with the goals we believe in.

      No, to put it bluntly, we do not need to alter our defining documents substance to be less demanding to attract more people. That is a giant mistake - nearly always, and certainly in our case. The reason it is worth getting members is precisely that we have a definition different from the rest of what people typically, and righty, join up with. When we want to engage with folks who don't share those views - no problem - they are out in the vast left networks, and even more so, they are everywhere in society. But when we want to interact with folks who share a bedrock set of visionary and structural commitments - not overly much, but enough to yield real trust and real coherence, a basis on which dissent can be welcome, but enough glue to ensure stability - then we operate in what we might call a room of our own - our organization, and we certainly continually welcome others to join...but only if they mesh well.

  • Darcy McClare 18th Jun 2012

    My guess is that many people want to see this organization in motion before they decide to join it. If this organization is meant to change as it goes, lets see it change as it goes. I know it's still early, and everyone is doing what they can, but we should at least be working on deciding how to participate and change things like what is written on the about page. Maybe there could be a process similar to how wikipedia is designed.

    Perhaps we should be asking what we can do for people rather than asking why they won't do anything for us.

    Perhaps if we served the function of being a network between various activist organizations we could give people a reason to be affiliated with us.

    If we become a way to find solidarity there would be a reason for people to join us. Polling could really help this. And polling would give people a way to immediately participate as soon as they visit the site. If this site evolves into a new kind of activism-oriented social networking site it could give people a reason to join us. And please keep Tunisia and Egypt in mind before dismissing the relevance of social networking to revolution. Systematic polling, citizen journalism, information sharing, blogs, forums, connections between activists, all together could give people a reason to join us. We could be an information gathering service, with archives of wide ranging polls which journalist could analyze and use as evidence in articles. New sciences could be developed around new forms of participation.

    Perhaps if the network were separate from all the parecon business --which could be thought of as a working model for participants to consider moving towards but not a requirement for participating in the network --people would feel free to participate without being afraid that they were getting in over their heads in something which could be needlessly complicated and not likely to simplify anything in their hectic lives.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      I just responded to someone below in a way that bears on your points, Darcy, too. IOPS is not a network. It is an organization, with shared views and vision and structural commitments. Occupy is a network. A loose affiliation of lots of projects could be a network. Lots of things could be a network. But IOPS isn't. We need polling/voting - and are trying to build it, now, of course. And we need face to face chapters, which in turn have their own methods, and activities. And yes, most future members of IOPS will become members - and I mean when we go from 5,000 or 10,000 members up to 50,000 or 100,000 or more members, based on their appreciation for and wanting to be involved with IOPS practices, program, activity, etc.

      But even then, to join will not mean just - I like what you are doing, so sign me up. It will also mean, I agree with your bedrock defining attributes and commitments. I will be part of your structure, I will respect the responsibilities implied, and so on.

      Occupy is an example of the very broad and encompassing network you and some others mention - IOPS is not. It is in that, but it is a more defined entity - and that is, indeed, the point.

  • Jon Doe 18th Jun 2012

    I tend to find the cultural work tends to be the best starting point to bring people in. Send something that is funny or engaging so people feel happy to have spent their precious time listening to your crazy idea. Then move on to the more explicitly political ask. The Zapatistas are masterful at this. As a knee jerk response to our individually focused consumer culture many anti-authroitrians and leftist are rightfully very skeptical of anything that seems to bound up in one persons ego, especially when they view it as "just another white guy telling me what I need to do and why only they can fix the world." This is why though I've organized and asked people to do stuff for years, I have a hard time sending out any personal appeals unless they are actually about relationship building and individualized, not like a mass mailing to "convert the unwashed." :) Thats also why I took the time to work on the Simpsons cartoon, cause it is a funny accessible way to introduce the org with out it being attached to any one person. It has been getting a lot less views over the past couple weeks, I think it could be e-blasted or facebooked out with possibly good results (and maybe placed as an actual page on the IOPS site that people can comment on) If you haven't seen it, it has a Banksy clip!!! http://vimeo.com/39937744

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Humor is great, of course. But we have to be a little careful. It is one thing to attract people to a broad movement about some issue - say ending a war - or to attract them even to some broad umbrella conglomeration of everyone who is dissenting - more or less like Occupy. In those cases it is totally obvious what one is getting into, and if what one brings another potential member to the door, so to speak, by a humorous invitation, or whatever else that is not too substantive, that's fine and it remains fine even if they come through the door, based just on that. Because the person who passes through the door will easily also know on their own, why and what it implies.

      But now take IOPS. One could welcome in people in ways that are not - in my view - desirable. Please be sure, I am not saying being humorous is undesirable. Far from it. Sometimes I give talks and people tell me they had no idea I was a stand up comic. And I know you know this - but the point is worth making - because it is easy to lose track of.

      So what I am saying is that if we say, come join us, we want a better world, and we are funny and fun - and the person is laughing, or otherwise engaged, and likes you, and says, oh okay, sure - and before they join we don't say - and we in IOPS believe this, and summarize it, and then point to the defining statements - and point out that joining means they agree and like these commitments too, so they shouldn't just rush to join, but should assess the vision and structural statements and only then, if they agree, join - we are doing them a disservice and also the organization a disservice. And while it is correct to point out that that means our efforts to get new members will get fewer into the door - that isn't a bad thing.

      We have 2,000 members. We want greatly to get to 5,000, say. However, to get there by having 3,000 new members who don't in fact agree about what IOPS is seeking, or about its structural commitments, etc., who really don't understand and appreciate and especially agree with what they are getting into, is not only not to grow, it is to virtually guarantee future dissolution.

      This is not like Facebook where you may want to get another person, and then another, and then another, to click and be your friend. That is empty of real substance, even though on Facebook it has some meaning. It is not organization building which is more like, I would like to be your political ally - in your affinity group - have your back and you have mine - your partner, so lets have lunch, lets get to know each other, lets see if we are really alike enough in our deepest desires to be friends... and then, if we are, okay, we announce - we are friends, and it means a lot.

      When we talk to someone about IOPS we are seeking, dare I use the word, new comrades, or, in our own language, new political friends, new allies, new partners - we are seeking people with whom we share a bedrock of views that gives us serious coherence. It doesn't mean no differences, no disputes, but it does mean the basics are, for us - not for a whole society - shared. In contrast, in the networks that people have in mind, this not so. That type network is just everyone who is searching, at all, for a better future. We are there too - but we are also in a much smaller group that is searching, but on the basis of much more shared belief, commitments, and ties. Is it harder to get new participants in our smaller group then in the whole broad network? Of course. But the solution is to work harder, not to diminish the bedrock shared views of our organization.

  • 19th Jun 2012

    Darcy: I do like the idea of softening the automatic allegiance to parecon in favour of a more generalised network, with parecon “as a working model for participants to consider moving towards but not a requirement for participating in the network”, and with those who wish to participate in more parecon-ish activities free to do so. Would this larger, softer network be catered for by Z-Social? Anyone have any ideas on this?

    Jon: I do like the focus on culture building. I agree it’s extremely important. In the past, I did share your Simpsons video, but haven’t for a while. Thanks for reminding me! Have posted and shared.

    Michael: I think that culture building in this way would also make it more media-friendly. It’s a little difficult to report on only a set of ideas. But I certainly share your slight puzzlement at the lack of media attention, and left media attention in particular. Then again, maybe it’s not quite so surprising in this political context. I do think that this will slowly change, however.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      This is important I think - because lots of people are confusing two things. Think of it this way. There is the whole population of one's country. Then there are all kinds of diverse and very often single issue movements. Then there may be, and it would very important for there to be, some kind of broad umbrella movement - Occupy in its various incarnations has this character - which are just everyone who is concerned and upset getting together. Then there are specific organizations, much more defined things - that share views, vision, strategy, etc. and are also under that umbrella. This latter is where IOPS falls. That's why one has to agree with its definition to be part of it. It is why, in time, it will have clear decision making procedures. A shared program. Etc. etc.

      So, is there a "network" that is pretty much everyone who is upset with existing relations and wants to become involved in seeking better outcomes? Sure - in many places the Occupy movement is an example. We don't have to, nor should we even consider morphing into being that - though of course we are inside that. The broad network is simply not what IOPS is seeking to be. Nor what it could be. Nor what it should be. That exists - and if in some places it doesn't exist, and IOPS does, then IOPS participants will, in time, be trying to galvanize struggles that will not only produce change, and new members of IOPS, but also produce that larger faster growing set of engaged but not yet so committed or ideological folks.

      ZSocial, yes, it will hopefully serve that much large constituency - precisely so. Same for ZNet, only a little less so - because ZNet is a little further left, a little more defined, than that constituency.

      The broad, loose, network people are thinking about...that folks can be in without any particular beliefs or commitments, just by wanting to be in it - is or should be very important and valuable from the point of view of providing easy access toward more involvement and commitment - but is not a home for folks who already have that greater level of involvement and commitment - and shared views - and thus shared program, mutual aid, etc. That comes with and is enhanced by, organization - and in our case, IOPS.

  • Jon Doe 19th Jun 2012

    "How is it different this time?"
    This is the most clear response I have gotten from friends and organizers when telling them about IOPS. Its a good question. I don't know any leftist who haven't felt some heartbreak when a project they sunk there soul into fell apart for want of resources, interpersonal antagonism or fear of repression. It helps to address this with people. Znet has proposed other project that have some times been wildly successful and some times fallen apart for lack of follow through. How can we reassure people that this project will be there in 6 months, 2 years or 10 years? How can we show them that here they will find others who are willing to hug and struggle and stick with it through the lack of resources, the personal attacks and the repression? On a certain level no one should believe we will until we actually do. The internet is not a great place for building lasting personal commitments. But somehow I know, thru sickness and health, this project is different and this time is our time.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      The honest answer is, we of course cannot know it will succeed. How it is different, however, is easier to answer. The vision is different than that of any other project they might have had experience with. So are the organizational commitments.

      I think we need to clarify something. The first 5,000, maybe 10,000 people to join are going to do so as a leap of faith. They are going to know that it isn't already so large, so stable, so entrenched, that its future is secure. Rather, they are going to leap, hoping that their doing so gets the project to that stable point.

      So you could say to your friends, if we take for granted that at some time people are going to successfully launch, sustain, and bring to fruition organization that will contribute to winning a new world - then some people will have to take that leap, in the beginning. And the question is, do you want to be one of those people, or to join later, when that hardest part of the process has been achieved. Either choice is reasonable. But you might add, that joining now, adding yourself to the list, doesn't mean you have to kill yourself with commitment to make it succeed. You still do whatever it is you decide makes sense for you, given all your activities. Etc.

      That's how I would answer, at any rate... as well as to add that IOPS does not mean to be an internet organization. It means to be an organization of local chapters, federated at national and then international levels. Those local chapters are meant to meet regularly, to engage together in all manner of ways, etc.

  • Darcy McClare 19th Jun 2012

    Michael, "IOPS does not mean to be an internet organization. It means to be an organization of local chapters, federated at national and then international levels. Those local chapters are meant to meet regularly, to engage together in all manner of ways, etc. "

    Is this written in stone, or can participants participate in deciding on what IOPS is meant to be?

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      It has been said repeatedly that iops is I creation, and will be formalized at some point by a convention. That is what people have been joining.

      When lot of people form something, or join a bit later, let's say an organization, and get more people to join, and the premise is x, can x change? Sure. But not because lots of people who never wanted x at all join and say, okay, now we are y. That would be rather horrible. On the other hand if there are a whole lot of people committed to x, and circumstances alter, conditions change, possibilities, change, insights develop,, and those people move to,preferring y, that would be fine. The difference is very real.

      People should not join an organization created with a clear definition having the purpose of changing the definition. Honestly, that would be dishonest. One joins because one likes the definition.

      So, yes, I suppose even the idea that iops is a federation of nationals which are in turn a federation of locals, could change, sure. But not because lots of people join with the intention of changing it.

      Similarly I suppose one could imagine sometime in the future the membership of iops deciding it thinks gender is paramount and everything else secondary, or economics is paramount and everythema else is secondary, or whatever. But not because a ton of radical feminists join, or orthodox marxists join, and in essence they hijack the organization by packing the vote. They would be like a ton of anarchists joining a Leninist organization and voting that it should renounce Leninism, or vice versa, leninists joining an anarchist organization and voting it should become democratic centralist.

      I am not saying I expect anything like that...I don't...assuming we all, when we invite new members, make clear the defining features they are ratifying by joining.

  • Mark Evans 19th Jun 2012

    Darcy - whist I would answer that nothing here is written in stone I would also point out that IOPS has been set-up with a certain approach to organising in mind, an approach that is reflected in the organisational description that members should read before to joining. I would also point out that IOPS is not a free-for-all open forum where anything goes.

    IOPS is a well defined organisation that people who like that definition can join. And of course the organisation can be further developed by the membership over time. However, what we don't want is people joining IOPS who do not agree with or like the organisational description and then using their rights as a members to completely transform IOPS into a very different kind of organisation. For members to do that would be incredibly disrespectful - a bit like me joining a Leninist organisation and voting against democratic centralism.

    Of course people may look at the organisational description and decide not to join IOPS because it is not what they are looking for. They may prefer to be part of a loose network or something. That is their prerogative.

    That said, if you get an email inviting you to look at and maybe join a new revolutionary organisation and you decide not to join that person should really say why. But, as Michael points out in his blog post, many people are not doing that and instead are simply ignoring us. The question is - why?

  • Darcy McClare 19th Jun 2012

    Well this is quite disappointing. I had high hopes that this could be a fruitful coming together of many minds. I can't speak for anyone who has not responded to mass emails, but I can say why I will be leaving this organization, unless attitudes significantly change. It is misleading to call something an International Organization for a Participatory Society when it apparently is an organization for people who believe that Micheal Albert and Mark Evans have everything all figured out and that participation is a matter of submitting to those authorities and drowning out the urge to think freely.
    I would say good-luck on polarizing activists, creating Orwellian illusions, and igniting a new cold war --but those are not goals which I believe in. Apparently the occupy together movement is the place for those of us who are interested in peaceful networks of solidarity and IOPS is not interested in working with such people.
    I did enjoy some discussions on here.
    Take care folks. Be careful not be labelled as incredibly disrespectful through expressing ideas even slightly diverging from what is written on the about page.

    • Michael Albert 19th Jun 2012

      Darcy - Hi.

      I think maybe you are jumping to a conclusion...

      First, There is a huge difference between all I believe, or Mark believes, or you believe, etc. and what is in the defining documents of IOPS which are maybe two or three pages. I am not sure if you have looked at those and agreed with them - if so, then you are the same as me, him, or anyone else.

      I have to tell you honestly, as far as being disrespectful - we all slip up sometimes in being too abrupt, or assuming too much, or just wording things not so well. You are saying, here, it seems, that folks don't want you to think for yourself - drowning it out, even - and are creating orwellian illusions?, igniting a new cold war?, etc. Really.

      But you are also saying, I think quite rightly, that you don't want to be in an organization that has key attributes you don't like. Nor do I, nor anyone else, I think. I am happy to be in vast movements that have many people with views that I don't like. Occupy, as but one example, has people in it who support Obama, say, or Ron Paul - in the U.S. and people who are not only not anti capitalist, but even support it, albeit with major overhauling, and so on. Fine. It is a broad network, a loose movement...

      But when you create an organization that means to be much more coherent than that, it typically means you want a place where you don't have to debate about every little thing - especially with people who have very very contrary views, that evidence highly different values. Inside IOPS, I and I think other members don't want to have to debate, over and over and over, whether race is important, or gender, or class - or whether, another step, we want classlessness, or we want to plant the seeds of the future in the present, and a so on - through the defining documents.

      The vision and structural commitments of IOPS - very far from everything that anyone believes - are those that folks feel - agree - create a venue where they can further develop ideas, and especially program, productively. We are all in other activities, other venues, with less agreement - but here the idea is there should be a little more agreement. To pose that as following the ideas of some person - is really not very productive, in fact, I think you should seriously consider whether it wasn't a good example of writing something quickly which is far more disparaging than you intended.

      Do I like the views in the defining documents? Yes, of course I do. Are many of them consistent with things I have believed for a long time? Yes, they are. And even if that was true for only me, or only me and Mark - if everyone else came to these views recently, still your characterization would not be fair or productive. But it isn't true for just us - my guess it is true for maybe three out of every four people now in IOPS, maybe much more.

      I wouldn't be in IOPS if I didn't like its defining views. But that is presumably true of everyone in the organization. It is very very far from a narrow or highly detailed set of views - it is, instead, basic views - quite common on the left - that we take as a basis for our being together.

    • Caragh - 19th Jun 2012

      Oh Darcy!

      I understand what you are saying as much as any human can understand any other human. Thank you for your post the other day by the way- it was very refreshing.


      This interim phase is extremely frustrating. What is more frustrating is that while people are making efforts they are mostly meeting brick walls- and not even pretty brick walls at that.

      If it is any consolation there are quite a few others that are biting their tongues and trying desperately hard not to start screaming at the way things are done now. Once we move out of this interim phase I have a feeling it will be a little less odd , but if you are really at the end of your tether then I wish you well anyway. I cant help this - but I would just like to stress for any other readers that this response is coming from someone that speaks your language and is male.

      The response is not in isolation - there are lots of people that are not responding to IOPS because they don't really see it as relevant. How on earth can it be? While the ideals are sparkling it is very skewed towards a certain kind of dialogue. While I understand both Mark and Michael's desire to have everyone on the same page I disagree with the way the tactics are being carried out.

      Are we not all outsiders? Every single human on the planet? The commitment to using language which is alienating and cold , and stressing that things need to be 'right' the whole time is oppressive. IOPS should be a joyful undertaking. We are all at least partially aware of how incredibly difficult things can get down the road and we are willing to risk it anyway. However, while taking the risk we do want to have a say in how things are done.

      I know that the Occupy Projects are done with the best intentions but I have to say that I felt bullied into joining. It is not that I don't think they are important but I think it would be nice if we did things where there was no big brother glaring down. I know that is the last feeling that is wanted but that is how it feels. The site is dominated by a certain kind of language and a certain kind of emphasis and that leaves those of us who think is is all good and well but hanker after a little fluidity feeling somewhat painted into a corner - without a whisky in sight.

      But that is what happens when things are approached as a war. This is not supposed to be a war. It should not be about winning. While that is useful to a degree when speaking to certain audiences it is not actually helpful. It is not cooperative having such a dogma. Even if people are convinced it is the most elevated dogma it is still a dogma. And most of us start twitching at the scent of it.

      I am sure that even a portion of mutability would be appreciated. I also think we have to shift the way things are being done. I also know that it is incredibly difficult.

      At the moment though there is too much prescription . I don't like doctors unless they help me heal myself and they can't do that unless they orient themselves to step out of their coat and sit next to a prefiguritive river with me so I can walk away with my back turned, not cowering with awe.

      We cannot force change - we can only ever act as catalysts or weavers. Stepping away from an ideal of an organization with serious members playing at ancient greek philosophers, and moving towards a human organisation is key. IOPS is not new- not really. People have thought these things forever. For IOPS to truly be new we have to be a little more humble. We also have to seriously start helping people untangle the social lie. Then you will have members.

      Today is a blue moon so I am hauling out the Rexroth
      “The masters, whether they be priests or kings or capitalists, when they want to exploit you, the first thing they have to do is demoralize you, and they demoralize you very simply by kicking you in the nuts. This is how it’s done. Nobody is going to read any advertising copy if he is what the Reichians call orgastically potent. This is a principle of the advertising copy writer, that he must stir up discontent in the family...''

      We all know that is what we are facing. The trouble as usual is that we are all delusional. I have no idea how we are going to sort things out. Where did I find the above quote - it wasnt on IOPS. Where do I find music to make me smile or strategies to survive work? Not on IOPS.

      There is a whole world out there. Skies and rocks, beautiful trees, crumbling chairs. People who have been slaves or survivors for century's. There is no right way, and there is never only one way to tell a story.

      I hope you stay on a little Darcy. I hope we all do.

    • 19th Jun 2012

      Darcy! Don't leave yet!

      Hi Caragh!

      Darcy, I was also extremely disappointed by that response, but honestly not surprised, as this seems to be yet another repetition of similar discussions we've had in the feminist forum.

      I can only quote someone, a wonderful woman, who seems to have disappeared from IOPS (unsurprisingly), that half a century after the 60s, when feminism, and all these issues about power, control, and so on, where discussed, it is almost shocking to be having these sorts of interactions into the second decade of the 21st Century.

      I want to reflect on this, and will respond later.

    • 19th Jun 2012

      Another quick comment.

      I’ve just returned from a wonderful talk by the Dalai Lama in the Royal Albert Hall. There were many valuable things he said.

      One was the following: one result of the huge amount of scientific research he’s been involved in apropos finding scientific grounds for compassion and a secular ethics, is that women seem hardwired into a greater capacity for empathy and compassion. Therefore, if we want to build a truly non-violent, compassionate, PARTICIPATORY world, women are going to have to be allowed to lead the way.

      Look past the easy knee-jerk criticism of biological determinism, and think about it…

      I’ll be back…

    • 19th Jun 2012

      Another quick, provocative comment: first, Michael, I don’t think it is Darcy who is jumping to any conclusions.

      People who still speak in the (as an ex-pomo, to borrow a pomo phrase) phallogocentric language of the mid-20th Century, immediately lose my respect.
      en.wiktionary.org/wiki/phallogocentrism

      Just as so many of the major institutions of the west are presently losing their legitimacy, so the institution of the Old Authoritative White Heterosexual Male is losing its legitimacy, even within the left.

      Those Old Authoritative White Heterosexual Males in this particular left can see, quite empirically, the delegitimizing, polarising, and excluding results of their linguistic, attitudinal, and tonal choices. (If you want a bit more info about these aspects of language, go back to the ICC, and ask Chomsky).

      Finally: I want to state that I, (largely) subscribe to the various statements on the site, and YES, I have read them, but I still do not blindly accept them as some sort of Nicene Creed. Nor do I accept the way IOPS members and their individual beliefs and expressions are treated by some other members.

      So: I accept the vision (as an Old White BIsexual Male), but still strongly oppose what is going on here.

      Does that mean I am rejected or excluded?

      Who rejects me? On what grounds? With what legitimacy? Who determines the percentage of points of the IOPS definition to be the acceptable limit within one can be judged to be a member of IOPS? Who is calibrating these criteria?

      Mark: putting aside everything anyone who actually knows anything about language actually knows, including ICC member Chomsky, what exactly do you mean by a ‘definition’? What do you mean by a ‘well defined organisation’?

      Before you respond to this question, I would advise you to be very careful here, as there is Noam Chomsky on the ICC, and some people, including myself, whose expertise is language, including the philosophy of language.

      So don’t go off half-cocked. Don’t fire from the hip.

      I have way too much of my life already committed to this, and the world as a whole has far too much at stake, for this to be derailed by such pettiness.

      Are you serious about the long-term realisation of the vision, or do you want adherents?

      Let me add that as someone who ran a seminary for over 5 years, I know the difference.

      One love to everyone!

  • Mark Evans 19th Jun 2012

    Darcy is disappointed.

    Zane is disappointed.

    But what is the basis of their disappointment?

    I'm not sure about Zane and how his evening with the Dalai Lama relates to this issues but Darcy seems to think that I am somehow opposed to free thinking. Nothing could be further from the truth. But for me freethinking requires certain conditions and to my mind those conditions are expressed in the IOPS organisational description. If Darcy thinks otherwise then I would be very interested to hear how and why he thinks the IOPS description, especially the visionary commitment, blocks freethinking.

  • Paulo Rodriguez 19th Jun 2012

    Hi all,

    I'm not sure where this impression about the IOPS project not being diverse in its discourse or approach is coming from.
    A quick look at the list of projects should put such concerns to rest, no? We have people who have engaged in psychic health projects, dropping materials in dental practices, exploring sustainable living, writing stream-of-consciousness articles, telecommunication alternatives, social events, meetings and drinks... on top of that, while I'll admit that most people here are male and many have marxist backgrounds, we've had a variety of points-of-views being shown prominently on feminism, indigenous communities. There is quite a lot one can do and is being done.

    The music can be found on IOPS. See Lonnie's stuff or the stuff I posted from Molina Speaks. Everyone is free to add stuff to this or participate, it won't appear on its own though. Why not help IOPS become what you want it to become? Add your preferences, share your knowledge, spark interest in others about what you hold dearly, or perhaps allow others to discover wholly new things, musically or otherwise?

    Strategies on surviving work? The Love Unriot Federation project contains several links pointing to information on handling information overload at demanding workplaces (GTD among other things), and psychological advice on how to deal with the issues of daily life. So where does this comment about it not being on IOPS come from?

    The fact that Mark and Michael might be prominently visible might not actually have anything to do with them being "the boss". I believe this comes from a relentless commitment to getting things going while many of us just wait and see. How about instead of complaining about their visibility, we keep expressing ourselves, discussing and acting on the knowledge born from those discussions?

    I hope this isn't perceived as an attack on you, Caragh, or you, Darcy. I for one sincerely believe that we aren't doing such a bad job as a group. Frankly I'm happy to see more and more that we don't opt for the easy way, such as diluting the visionary and strategic commitments, because most of us believe that it doesn't lead to what we truly want. I for one want the truly juicy fruit at the treetops, not the low-hanging ones.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 19th Jun 2012

    Darcy, I hope you don't leave. I am not just saying this to get you to stay, but I agree that your comments were hastily dismissed. And I think people would do well to be more careful in the wording of replies, especially in cases of disagreement. Lastly, I think there is much to what you're saying. IOPS should and must be willing to provide services to non-members in order to get publicity. For example, if we open up a soup kitchen using the IOPS name, are we risking the recruitment of people who don't understand our mission/vision? Well, how is this any different? So we need to be open to providing services to non-members. One of those services, separate from the member forum, could be a radical network or hub. I think we could definitely do that, without resulting in gaining members who disagree with our mission and vision. The idea that the two are mutually exclusive, while understandable, is false, in my most humble and inexperienced opinion.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      William, I think you might want to go back and look again. I don't think Darcy's comments were hastily dismissed, or even dismissed at all. Rather there was reply or two, that disagreed, even asking for clarifications. I don't remember seeing anything about providing services, and I doubt there is anyone in IOPS who wouldn't think this was a good thing to do, once there was means, enough people, and inclination.

      And there isa big difference between, say, having a soup kitchen staffed by IOPS people, and perhaps with access to IOPS info, or whatever - and asking people to join, say, based on liking the soup, so to speak - when in fact joining needs to be based on agreeing with the defining commitments. Nobody has said reaching out, providing services, working in movements is contradictory to IOPS, in fact the defining commitments say precisely the opposite, I believe.

  • 19th Jun 2012

    Michael: I was writing my reply while you posted your comment.

    I have to admit to being quite shocked that you could possibly interpret anything said here as 'radically feminist', or as some underhand means of 'packing the vote', joining so as to change the agenda. That is so offensive and insulting to me I know I will have to disengage from this group for a few days to actually reflect on this.

    Many would interpret your comment not only as heterosexist, but as possibly misogynistic. I wouldn’t, but some would…

    That is such an Oligarchic tactic. In South Africa in the 80s, they called it the ’rooi gevaar’, the red peril,
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooi_gevaar
    So as to justify the state of Emergency.

    Much as the U.S. uses the terrorist threat to support the Patriot Act, drones, and so on…

    I am quite shocked that such a paranoid reading could have been applied so early on in the IOPS process.

    Mark: if you are not sure how what the Dalai Lama said relates to this conversation, then you seem to be profoundly ignorant of what a truly humanistic and participatory society demands.

    Please be a little more thoughtful about your responses in the future, or you will make many readers believe that this is only a lightweight organization.

    Please do not insult my intelligence, integrity, or sincerity in the future, or I will follow Darcy and many others, and also remove myself from this organization.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      Zane,
      I suspect most people are tuning out - of the relatively few who were probably reading any of this anyhow. And I sympathize - but my blog post is at the top of this pile, and in the case of this message, my words are the focus, so I feel a need to answer...

      You say: "I have to admit to being quite shocked that you could possibly interpret anything said here as 'radically feminist', or as some underhand means of 'packing the vote', joining so as to change the agenda."

      And well you should be, because I didn't. You apparently took it that way. I instead gave numerous examples, trying to demonstrate that organizations do not sign up lots of people on the basis of some defining commitments and yet feel it is fine for others to join while seriously disagreeing, and with the intent of changing the definitions. I explained why that is generally the case, indeed, universally.

      You add "That is so offensive and insulting to me I know I will have to disengage from this group for a few days to actually reflect on this."
      I think that is a good idea. It seems - though I haven't read further yet - that you did not do it. But if you decide to at some point, here is something I think might be worth considering. Since your interpretation of my words rightly strikes you as at least very unexpected and odd, perhaps you should consider that your interpretation might be seriously misreading the words - or, even if the words could be read as you did, that it might not be what is intended. That would be true and warranted, rather than taking the worst possible meaning, even if you didn't know me and my history and my work at all. Since you do, this is, I am sorry, really, I guess the word is, shocking.

      The speed with which people take a few words, hear them in a way that is upsetting, and then jump to conclusions, rather than looking again, and again, given contrary expectations, and if things are still not clearer, asking about it, is a serious problem. It would not happen in actual face to face exchange but i does happen in streams of comments and forums and the like. It shouldn't. It certainly shouldn't among people in a single organization.

      "Many would interpret your comment not only as heterosexist, but as possibly misogynistic. I wouldn’t, but some would…"

      Well then my comments would have also been anti anarchist, anti marxist, etc. They weren't - none of the above. Nor were they anti you, or anti anyone else. They were making a general point - having a definition, gaining members based on it - means members support the definition. Having at the outset an approach clearly stated that says everything is open comes convention time, means that is part of what people are agreeing, as well, upon joining. Having respect means, in three months, while people are struggling, not attacking their motives, their everything… due to an interpretation, much less due to a misinterpretation. In fact, in your shoes, I wouldn't even have asked about it in public, I would have written a private email, before even intimating as a possibility such disparaging things as follow.

      Then you say, "That is such an Oligarchic tactic. In South Africa in the 80s, they called it the ’rooi gevaar’, the red peril,"
      Can you see how absolutely out of place that is? Suppose I had written something that one could reasonably take to be disparaging, or reasonably take to be oligarchic - should you just claim it is so because you do take it that way - despite all contrary history? Or should you ask and try to understand, first, hoping your interpretation is in fact, wrong, and expecting it will be. That said - it is indeed all misinterpretation, turned into nasty words…which usually leads to nasty replies, but hopefully we can avoid that.

      You write: "Much as the U.S. uses the terrorist threat to support the Patriot Act, drones, and so on… I am quite shocked that such a paranoid reading could have been applied so early on in the IOPS process."

      If you are shocked by the meaning you took - rather than assume you are right - why not be a hair more humble, as you advised everyone, rightly, earlier, if I remember right. Why not think - he can't mean what I am hearing. I should ask.

      You write: "Mark: if you are not sure how what the Dalai Lama said relates to this conversation, then you seem to be profoundly ignorant of what a truly humanistic and participatory society demands."

      Well, Zane, I am not sure either. So I guess I am "profoundly ignorant of what a truly humanistic and participatory society demands." Zane, Mark isn't and didn't call anyone any names, didn't call into question peoples values, didn't pose as wise and others ignorant, and so on. Didn't polarize - just differed. You, however, seem to me be doing all the things you are saying should not be done.

      "Please be a little more thoughtful about your responses in the future, or you will make many readers believe that this is only a lightweight organization."

      This is beneath you. If someone doesn't grasp the Dalai Lama, much less if they are not impressed, then they are ignorant? This is posing as knowledgeable and saying others should say what you say/believe, or agree with it, or they are ignorant. Or so it reads to me. He will convey that the organization is ignorant? Do you really believe that? You think the Dalai Lama is relevant, and think if others don't they are ignorant? And moreover, they shouldn't say they disagree as it will imply the whole organization is "lightweight." This is doing what you say should not be done. I don't think Mark did it, anywhere in this exchange, nor myself - nor others.

      You write: "Please do not insult my intelligence, integrity, or sincerity in the future, or I will follow Darcy and many others, and also remove myself from this organization."

      Alright, I have myself had enough of these type threats. An organization isn't for everyone, No organization is. If this isn't for you, fine, don't belong. That is okay. But don't tell people to act differently or you will leave - that is really unseemly, to say the least. You say don't insult my intelligence, integrity, or sincerity in the future - I don't think anyone has. But I think, while pleading no one should do that, you have done precisely that, quite harshly, calling Mark, and given your criteria, also me, and I suspect many others, ignorant. Calling me oligarchic. And so on. You do it while saying you are hurting, and some people hear the statement of hurting, and they simply accept the rest as being worthy. Well, I feel for the hurting, I don't doubt you are when you say it - but I don't accept that that things you are saying about why you are hurting and about other people's intelligence, integrity, or sincerity, are worthy of you, or a mutually supportive organization.

      And Zane this is before the run of additional comments you added. And I am not going to reply to all of those, since I fear - although I will look - that they are just going to escalate your remarks - unless there is something that is really a confusing misunderstanding - as in this case.

    • 20th Jun 2012

      Hi Michael,
      Thank you.
      I will read through this slowly when I return from work.

  • Haroon Bajwa 19th Jun 2012

    Hi Michael,

    I think your response to Darcy about what IOPS is and what it is not, is very valuable and important. Do you think it may be worthwhile to write abuot this to the whole of the IOPS membership to address any confusion that may exist among people, especially now, when we are speaking to others about joining IOPS. Your answer was constructive and helpful to me. I now feel more informed and clear about the kind of conversation I want to have with people. In fact, I feel the entire discussion on your blog has been very helpful in this respect.

    By the way, in my earlier comment to your blog, and in response to your comments to me, I think Gerry found the words that I wish I had used, in reference to some on the left who are recognized as committed to particular causes but have not, yet, responded to an invitation to have a look at IOPS: "personal autonomy." I found your response to this informative.

    Darcy, I hope you will stay. Perhaps, a visit to the IOPS mission statement and values will be worth reviewing again, just so you can determine, for sure, whether you want stay or leave. After all, there is nothing stopping you and I, as Michael pointed out, from joining venues that subscribe to loose affiliations (Networks) and single issue campaigns any time in our lives. However, there is an important distinction between this and what is IOPS.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      Glad you appreciated it. I am not sure it would be desirable for me to be writing to the whole membership on such matters. How about if you give it a try? When I do something like that, I run it past other folks, to take care on wording, etc. You might try that.

  • Alex of... 19th Jun 2012

    to quote Darcy from his blog post:

    "On the issue of academic-speak having to be made understandable, it should be emphasized that this is not a matter of dumbing-down discourses for the brain-washed masses but of respecting the intelligence of co-collaboraters and to be as excited about recieving contributions from others as about contributing our own knowledge and perspectives."

    and a curious reply from my comment above:

    "No, to put it bluntly, we do not need to alter our defining documents substance to be less demanding to attract more people. That is a giant mistake"

    which seems to be reply to my statement:

    "is it possible the path forward feels too set? and we really just need to listen, letting Par unravel more on it's own by being a provider of the space."

    i am one, not suggesting that Parecon, for example, be re-written, if that is a defining document, but i do suggest it is the work of a few people and there is a whole world of people interested in social change that resonate with parts of it but maybe not all. and there is much to be learned from them. and two, i am not even suggesting the basic mission and vision be changed, as it seems to be clear that that rests in the hands of a fe that have little interest in even considering the possibility.

    i am, however wondering if this 'organization' is truly dedicated to mass movement, which is vast in complexity, or if the founders have so much investment in their own ideas, they are not willing to listen to members that are investing in them.

    i'm not interested in occupy directly but i am interested in the folks invested. i am interested in the words i heard the other day from a woman i know that invests her time in battered women's shelters, after experiencing cycles of child abuse in her family. i am interested in a couple friends of mine that resonate with Gene Sharp and are using music to carry their message of revolution. i am interested in organic farming. i am interested in using martial arts for social change. i am interested in developing community. i am scared as hell by climate change and am interested in what environmentalists have to say. i am interested in what a buddhist picture framer has to say. i am interested in why a vegan rejects exploitation of life. i am interested in what Darcy has to say. i am interested in feminism. and i am interested why any of those folks chose to come here. and i am not interested in immediately hopping on board with everything prescribed to me by just a few people or feeling pressured to do so. if that is the intention, then that's rather odd.

    a statement that seemed to resonate with (and draws from) some folks in the recent climate change post.

    "how inviting are we right now? a challenge for IOPS: open the gate. quoting someone "there are many amazing grass roots community groups and organisations already active and doing great things that fit within the parecon ethos" but right now we still have quite the Z community. can we start approaching these groups with massive respect without advising or requiring them to hop on board with everything parecon and fanfare, and make this a better place to network? a place to listen to each other without a top-down feel (which i feel), letting go a bit to find some answers together?"

    not trying to bloat myself by quoting myself. as i said, this draws from others as much as it is my own opinion.

    if the question is, why are invites being ignored or getting a negative reaction?

    one thought i present:

    "i am thinking about doing interviews at this point with local activists and progressive folks and making into blogs. telling them where it's going and what for, to share their work. give them something rather than ask for something. maybe they would then share that article and appreciate. and what comes?"

    give something. don't ask for something. you may THINK you are giving something, but why would someone want to be here when they have their own work and investment? what makes that appealing. honestly, it's disrespectful to say read our shit if not willing to hear from them first. but maybe that's what you call a free-for-all, or networking. maybe the question really is, who do you want to talk to? by all means, alienate those interested in a better future who have not yet read, or have and don't agree entirely, the material… and see how that works out (is it working? isn't that the concern). if that is participatory, by iops definition, awesome. you will be talking to yourselves next to a stack of books invested in ego that can't invite the work of of social change that is going on everyday by a diverse populace. do you really expect that just by contacting someone that they will wow, whoopee over the opportunity to take on your direction?

    solidiversity

    • 19th Jun 2012

      :)

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      I am going to answer you too, at length. I take your words seriously, that is why.

      Alex,

      Parecon is a vision, a book, etc. - but it is certainly not a defining commitment of IOPs. Many in the organization support the full model. Many have lots of other views. But IOPS defining commitments are what is visible in the documents linked from the top page of IOPS, using the left menu, or the about page, etc. It is what the option to join and invitations to join say one should carefully assess, and, if one agrees, then consider joining.

      When you ask, "is it possible the path forward feels too set?" for some folks. Of course it is possible. Some will have looked at the site, the definitions, etc. and decided this is not for me. I don't agree about various important commitments - they may not like having polity , economy, culture, and kinship all focused comparably, they may not agree with seeking classlessness, they may not agree with the emphasis on respecting minority views, and so on. Not agreeing with the book parecon, however, would be irrelevant. The defining documents commit to some aspects, but not others.

      You say, "i am not even suggesting the basic mission and vision be changed, as it seems to be clear that that rests in the hands of a few that have little interest in even considering the possibility." That is not correct. The defining statements were sent to hundreds, in fact thousands, of people and massaged into their form by taking in reactions and suggestions. Then a poll of 4000 people liked them by 97%, in sum. Then they became guiding commitments for a new organization and a basis on which people join. And, even with all that, everyone has said that at a convention - when there are real mechanisms, when people have some practice together, when there are more people from more places and backgrounds - at that point everything is of course subject to elaboration, refinement, and, yes, change. So why do people keep saying that because someone says folks should not join feeling that they disagree and will change the defining features, but behold join because they do agree - the person saying that is opposed to change, per se?

      You add, "i am, however wondering if this 'organization' is truly dedicated to mass movement, which is vast in complexity, or if the founders have so much investment in their own ideas, they are not willing to listen to members that are investing in them."

      I think we all believe in mass participation in movements, of course. I also think the founders - and indeed, all those who have joined, have considerable responsibility - not to put forth something on one basis, and, willy nilly, with no mechanisms, change it out from under everyone. There are maybe ten people who have talked about change - but nothing specific. There are 2,000 members.

      When first starting I got emails form people, maybe some others did too, saying change these words, change those words, Etc. My reply was always the same even when I often thought the suggestions were good. I can't. This is the product of a process. People have joined based on it. It has to stay until there are worthy mechanisms in place to make any changes, even minor ones.

      Suppose as a member I felt that the definitions are generally nice, but there is something really important, critical, missing, or something wrong that is there, for that matter - not when I joined - but later, due to new experiences or further thought. No problem. I would hope the changes will come. I would argue for them at some point. I would want to see a convention address them, supposing others also felt they had merit, and I may also want to see lots of people discuss the specific ideas for changes before then, say via blog posts, or comments, or the forums, on in a chapter meeting where I am. No problem. I think I would wait more than three months - for more experience, for more stability - before raising any such hope, but, at some point, and I guess maybe even three months if I thought it was urgent enough, I would want to get the discussion going. But in that case, I would offer the idea for discussion. There would be zero need to talk about the efficacy of change per se - that is a given. I would want to talk about whatever it was I felt was so urgent or important to change. BUT - I would not join IOPS if, before joining, I already felt it was in need of some very significant alteration. In that case, I might make that suggestion from outside, or maybe not. To me this makes sense. The whole dispute, honestly, for this reason, seems to be about nothing at all. I haven't heard anyone seriously suggest any changes that are so urgent that they need to be discussed now, nor even any changes at all regardless of how important. And I haven't heard anyone say change is forbidden - quite the contrary.

      Like you, i am interested in the folks in Occupy, and also in Occupy directly, and in lots and lots of other things. Indeed, I am most closely reading and relating to the posts, even in this forum, and when I don't know what someone means, asking about it, because I am, indeed, interested. But then you say about yourself, "I am not interested in immediately hopping on board with everything prescribed to me by just a few people or feeling pressured to do so. if that is the intention, then that's rather odd."

      Why would you say anything like that? What would cause you to even think it, much less say it? Yes, it would be rather odd which is why, as a baseline, you should assume no one has that in mind, or is trying for anything like that - and if something seems to contradict that, ask about it.

      When you ask "how inviting are we right now?"

      Given people's views, feelings, etc. - not too. But, let's have a sense of proportion, if we had 50,000 members, in the grand scheme, referring to everyone out there, the answer would still be not very attractive to the world's people - but pretty attractive to those with the same broad commitments. I think the real question is the one in the blog post - what stands in the way of people who would like the defining commitments of IOPS if they read them from even looking at them? And if they do, and they like them, then what stands in the way of their joining?

      The formulation: "a challenge for IOPS: open the gate" is very unclear. It seems to me to be suggesting that we have fewer defining commitments, dump a lot of it, and perhaps, if we took the logic all the way, to get so that anyone who dislikes current outcomes and trends in the world can join - like Occupy. But that is Occupy. It is not us. We can each individually, and when IOPS is more substantial perhaps as a whole also, function in Occupy and things like it, but we are something quite different.

      When you say "there are many amazing grass roots community groups and organisations already active and doing great things that fit within the parecon ethos" - well, I hope so, and I tend to think so too. But most of the participants don't. And a great many of them do at least at this moment, have quite contrary views.

      You say "we start approaching these groups with massive respect without advising or requiring them to hop on board with everything parecon and fanfare, and make this a better place to network?"

      We can indeed approach them, but not by saying we are just a network, hop on because it is fine to do so without agreeing on the defining commitments. Then we are not IOPS. ZNet says something like that, as a media institution. Occupy says it as a movement. ZSocial will say it as a social media site. But IOPS can't say that. Someone in IOPS, working, respectfully and out of allegiance to its aims, etc. in one of those groups, couldn't and shouldn't just say, hey, we are a network for everyone on the left - leninists, stalinists, progressives who do great things but also think capitalism is eternal, folks really strong on class but who deny the parallel centrality of race or gender - or vice versa - and so on. Occupy rightly includes all that. An anti war movement can rightly include all of that - requiring only anti war agreement. But IOPOS means to be a coherent organization with deeper and a broader agreement at its base. That is clear in every invite, in the site, in the defining commitments. It in no way says anything negative about anything else, nor does it interfere with relating to anything else.

      You say why can't it be "a place to listen to each other without a top-down feel (which i feel), letting go a bit to find some answers together?" Well it can be. It is. But that doesn't mean everything is fine. I suspect you would agree that someone arguing for racism is not welcome. Okay - I think someone arguing against the defining commitments clearly because when that person entered it was their agenda to do that - they already disagreed - is also inappropriate. I think, at the same time, that everything is alterable, and that pursuing new ideas is great - if someone actually offers any. But also, not changing definition three months in, with no decision mechanisms, etc.

      You suggest: "i am thinking about doing interviews at this point with local activists and progressive folks and making into blogs. telling them where it's going and what for, to share their work. give them something rather than ask for something. maybe they would then share that article and appreciate. and what comes?"

      I think it is a fine idea. I doubt anyone would think otherwise. I hope not.
      You write: "give something. don't ask for something. you may THINK you are giving something, but why would someone want to be here when they have their own work and investment?"

      For one answer that I don't think people who are not here look at, see the Q&A.

      You say, "what makes that appealing. honestly, it's disrespectful to say read our shit if not willing to hear from them first."

      Again this just doesn't correspond to anything that is occuring. To say that joining means agreeing with defining commitments isn't disrespectful at all. To respond to everything, is also good, I agree. I send bulk mails to upwards of 80,000 people at a time, often. Some addresses are certainly expired but it goes to a lot of people. About IOPS, I put my return address. I reply to all responses. Others due likewise, to smaller numbers. That is not ignoring people who don't read our stuff first, or even who don't agree with it. To go from people should join based on agreeing, to thinking we ignore those that don't, is just not warranted, and false, at least for me, and those in the organization I know.

      When you say, "but maybe that's what you call a free-for-all, or networking. maybe the question really is, who do you want to talk to?"
      Via IOPS, I personally want to address people who are so sick and tired of societal oppression and hypocrisy that they incline toward the belief that a new society is needed, a new world - and who, also, share various commitments we have. I think that is hundreds of thousands of people around the world. For purposes of joining, now, before there is program, chapters, etc., I think that is the potential and sensible audience to try to reach. Not all your friends, you political ones who may already agree, or may do so after talking about it. Same for workmates, people in other projects, etc. I continually want to talk to many others to, by writing, by deeds, and verbally. Not least to make a case that might help them arrive at views such that then talking about IOPS makes sense.

      You write: "by all means, alienate those interested in a better future who have not yet read, or have and don't agree entirely, the material… and see how that works out (is it working?"

      Who is alienating anyone, and how? And why the sarcasm? If someone doesn't like the definition in some serious way, then they should not now join. Yes, I do believe that but more to the point it has been the out front premise on which we have gotten 2,000 members. But that isn't alienating those who don't join. In fact I think having them join on the grounds it is suitable them, when it isn't, would not be doing them any positive service at all.

      You now, I am sorry, lash out - I don't know why.

      "if that is participatory, by iops definition, awesome. you will be talking to yourselves next to a stack of books invested in ego that can't invite the work of of social change that is going on everyday by a diverse populace. do you really expect that just by contacting someone that they will wow, whoopee over the opportunity to take on your direction?"

      This is just a total non sequitor. Yes, people feel as you say, highly suspicious, etc. Due to many factors, not least a long history of it often being true for projects. But in fact, we are trying something very different. If you don't see that, okay. But there is no need for this kind of nasty sarcasm, is there? Especially in reply to a blog post sincerely looking to understand the unfolding situation.

      And perhaps to keep things in perspective, I suspect going from zero members to 2,000 members in under three months, with zero media help other than Z, is not bad.

  • 19th Jun 2012

    Haroon: I completely support your request to communicate to everyone about what IOPS is and what it is not. I do feel that there may have been a misunderstanding.

    IOPS seems to be a particular political organisation, to which members must commit themselves to before they join.

    Fine.

    Real-politically, I see this as a once in a generation, or more, opportunity to change civilisation.

    It profoundly depresses me when I see pathetic ideological or organisational squabbles place themselves ahead of humanity, or the planet.

    No wonder most people think we are too full of 20th Century bullshit to bother joining.

    (And for those of you who think I am bullshitting, speak to me in 2 years).

    But the simple fact is: everyone on IOPS is so 20th Century. You are all so out-of-date already. You are so yesterday.

    Do you want to actually enter the 21st Century?

    Just asking….

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      "But the simple fact is: everyone on IOPS is so 20th Century. You are all so out-of-date already. You are so yesterday."

      Zane - this is your idea of respect? Having seemingly attacked mark, me, and some others, now you expand to everyone in IOPS, Fine. That is your view, you are entitled to it. But if I felt as you feel, I would want to be elsewhere, not here, and I would just go. And if you feel, as you say, then I for one have to tell you honestly that I don't want to spend much more time engaging with you. Precisely because doing so has the effects you decry in the earlier part of this post.

      And if someone tells me - but Zane is hurting, My reply - in advance - is, yes, apparently so. And I feel for his hurt. And we have been trying to relate without being dismissive or angry, etc. But his mood, even if it was warranted, isn't a justification for attacking people, demeaning people, calling people ignorant, and otherwise being dismissive. I can feel for him - and I can still think he is wrong, and more important, at this point, behaving harmfully.


  • Victor Hertzfeld 19th Jun 2012

    Michael,

    I am not surprised by the reaction. The reason for this is that we are trying to recruit for a revolutionary cadre organization. That is a demanding ask in two ways. First, it asks for a lot in terms of ideological agreement. Second, it asks for a lot in terms of time and effort. I will address both of these briefly.

    First ideological agreement. I would describe IOPS as stalking out a post-Marxist libertarian socialist world view. It is attempting to construct a more holistic analysis than that label would describe, but at the moment I think that is the theory that IOPS has firmly at its disposal. That position immediately excludes most leftists. Democratic Socialist (in the historical reformists sense of the term), and Marxists are likely not to be too tickled, and those two groups make up a significant portion of self described leftists.

    So who are we pooling from? Well, the Libertarian Left and new activists. The Libertarian Left is small and relatively ideologically incoherent. Many on the Libertarian Left who are more committed to traditional Anarchist conceptions will be uninterested or feel threatened by IOPS. As for new activists, it is a big ask for a new activist to join a revolutionary cadre organization, when they have not felt out where they fall on a lot of questions where we (IOPS) already have commitments.

    Now, second, the issue of commitment of time. What is the point of joining IOPS if you are not going to be an active member. In my opinion not much, at least at this point when the organization has little in terms of large networks and resources. Down the line if we can represent a political home, network, and resources for sympathetic activists that will likely change. But right now it represents a lot of meetings and work create the character of the organization, and build it.

    I think the path forward is to create small nucleoli of activity, and build slowly from there. We need to get every local chapter to a critical mass where the chapters can effectively participate in building the organization (both its material existence, and theoretical basis) while also engaging, as a block in political struggles. If we can do that we will build confident political activists and esteem in the organization, and through being engaged in political struggles be in constant contact with potential new members.

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2012

      Hi Justin - I think you may be on to something here. The two demanding asks you highlight may well be putting people off even looking at IOPS. But I wonder how demanding IOPS actually is. I wonder if this feeling of demand is more perceived than real. I wonder, if people on the left actually looked at the IOPS organisational description, what they would find demanding - ideologically I mean. It would be great to get feedback from people out there about this.

      As with time people give what they can so there should not be a problem there - however, joining IOPS may mean a change in priorities for some people and that can be demanding.

      I also like your suggestion of a path forward. I think you might be right about that too.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      Hi Justin,

      In a cadre organization, typically, there are specific norms, rules, responsibilities, that everyone has - usually very demanding. IOPS does not have that. In IOPS, you join due to agreeing with the defining commitments and hoping the organization becomes powerful and effective - but how much effort you put into helping that happen is up to you. That is different. I suppose it may change with the inclusion of dues, and perhaps also time demanding responsibilities, but that is how it now is, and, in my view, while I think dues will be needed, I don't think fixed commitments of time should be sought.

      I can imagine in chapters however, rules about, for example, attending meetings, and partaking of other activities...perhaps, too. And so on.

      As to time commitments, I think people joining who don't have a lot of time to give is fine. For one thing, one reason they may not have a lot of time is they are already doing lots of politically valuable things. Once there are chapters, once there is more structure, and more program, my hopes is that all that would be seen to be doing IOPS work - as well as it is, of course, doing work in other venues, because IOPS will support it all, feel it is worthy and important, and so on. Another reason people may not yet give more time is doubt about the benefits, and I think that too is fine. Joing helps create a context in which that doubt can be overcome.

      I agree with you, however, that about the importance of face to face chapters. The trouble is, to form a chapter it typically takes maybe ten people, maybe twenty, and they have to be motivated. Getting to that point may be the hardest step in a long trajectory of difficult steps.

  • Victor Hertzfeld 19th Jun 2012

    As to the side discussion going on here as to whether IOPS should be a revolutionary cadre organization (i.e. where members have a general commitment to the same theory),versus being a network of activists with no theoretical commitments, I am 100% with Michael on this one, and for a revolutionary cadre organization.

    I do not accept Michael's (or the many other theorist involved for that matter) theoretical "leadership" completely; there are some theoretical interventions I would make certainly. Having met Michael at a session of ZMI, he can attest (if he remembers - Michael purportedly has a bad memory for those kind of things) that I pushed back in discussions on several theoretical questions: I have concerns about how feasibility of some features of parecon, and have concerns on how radical holism deals with theories of history, etc., etc...

    However, I joined the organization because I agree with the mass majority of core principals put forward, and I think a revolutionary cadre organization is necessary. What I mean by "revolutionary cadre organization" is an organization seeking to build and hone a common revolutionary politics in order to have a basis for acting and building power.

    That does not mean we all have to agree on everything, but some shared theoretical points of view are necessary, I think. The question of how tight an ideological coherence we feel is needed for membership in the organization will have to be decided by the membership at our various conventions over the coming years.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 20th Jun 2012

      Justin (hi buddy! looking forward to our meeting next week!),

      You know a lot more about left history and whatnot than I (thanks for loaning me the book), and anyway what you said above makes sense, but the one thing I wanted to ask - why is it network vs. organization? Why can't an organization also have service function as a network? In what I envision, people who would use the network are not necessarily members, and are not encouraged to join without fully understanding the mission and vision of IOPS. I just don't understand why we can't have both, how running a network under the IOPS name somehow threatens IOPS with dilution, or threatens IOPS with the prospect of becoming Occupy.

      I guess this is a small point to argue, but overall I think maybe we should be a little more open to ideas. It seems to me that as soon as someone mentioned the word "network", everybody thought of Occupy and started slinging accusations. Which got people defensive and hurt. Maybe I'm dumb, but I still fail to see how any of Darcy's statements are contrary to the IOPS defining documents.

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2012

      Justin - have you written anything on your concerns regarding parecon / holism? I'd be interested to read it if you have. If not maybe you would write something, a blog, and post it here.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      We disagree a bit - it may be semantics, as per the earlier post. I think as it is, IOPS doesn't have all kinds of time requirements - as a cadre organization would. I think that is fine. As to disagreeing about stuff - of course!

      The rest I of course agree with...and I wouldn't have relied at all, except for some concerns about using the word cadre.

      It is a fine line I think we are trying to run - we want to avoid becoming sect-ish, of course. We want to avoid replicating Occupy and being a network, I think also obviously. Both are clearly indicated by the defining commitments which can even be seen as largely trying to provide a basis for walking that fine line.

      I think the word cadre leans too much in the former direction - but the rest of the post is right on that desirable line!

    • Victor Hertzfeld 20th Jun 2012

      @ William, Good to see you (virtually) as well. Per your comment I see no issue at all with folk in IOPS or a chapter, or the whole of IOPS building a network as Darcy suggests. I just see that project as being one of the many possible activities of IOPS or one of its chapters - meaning there would be IOPS and the network as two orgs with distinct (but overlapping) memberships and distinct decision making processes, IOPS just chooses to support/help build the network. Just as if an IOPS Chapter were to join a coalition against the death penalty, or against war, for queer peoples rights, etc. Not everyone in the network would be IOPS, the network would not make decisions for IOPS or visa versa. But no reason we could not be engaged in the project. An admirable goal at that.

      P.S. stop being so self-effacing - no one thinks you are "dumb," I certainly do not.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 20th Jun 2012

      @ Michael, yes - the goal is to walk the line between having no shared commitments and being a sectarian tiny (and quit possibly silly organization). Particularly we want to avoid a founders cult, by which I mean we need to avoid defining our commitments with so little space that we cannot have free discourse and development without people fearing being excommunicated or excluded. One might think of the many comical, if they were not so tragic machinations, of Leninist parties.

      But all this to say, that we must have some shared commitments beyond immediate policy demands, commitments to a process, or cultural affinities that are the basis of more spontaneous movements such as Occupy. Before people take me to mean something I do not. I am NOT being critical of Occupy here. Spontaneous up swellings of people are wonderful, and very necessary. And I am not saying that people participating in Occupy are some how less sophisticated than us. I am saying we also need organizations with longer term thinking, such as IOPS, to support and participate in larger, more spontaneous, and more ideologically diverse movements.

  • 19th Jun 2012

    Just to say: I and so many others were actually doing pretty amazing things before we linked up here.

    You'd better make it worth our while, or we're definitely going elsewhere.

  • 19th Jun 2012

    My earlier reply sounded so very arrogant. I do apologise.

    Please continue with your agenda. It sounds very nice and the definitions sound very impressive.

    Almost like a real dictionary with words and everything. The word 'cadre' also sounds very nice, very attractive.

    If you add the zing of 'revolutionary' to it, it almost sounds like Pepsi: 'revolutionary cadre'. So exciting!

    You could add a bit of South American to it, and maybe create a real brand, and sell some T-shirts.

    It sounds so exciting, a whole group of 5 or even 6 people, reciting the IOPS mission statement together, accurately, without any subversionist agendas. Purely and completely, all as it is meant to be.

    I feel so fulfilled, without all these subversive feminists, queers, bisexuals, women, gays, coloureds, niggers, and so on. This is Britain!

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      Zane,

      I strongly urge you to take a break and look at the things you are saying, and what others have said...that you think warrants it - before you continue.

      In another forum there was someone posting some quite disturbing material about gender issues, I received numerous requests to please do something, or to find someone to do something, to bring it to an end. No one knew how to relate to him, with respect, yet letting him know he was treating others horribly. I wrote him privately and urged him to think about the way he was flooding the forum...friends talked to him, etc.

      We don't have norms yet, or people in some position yet, to say, enough is enough - stop or leave - when someone starts getting personal and nasty. We don't have it for this exchange, either. But, I have to say, your sarcasm, you dismissals or people, your calling people ignorant, and this post, all of it seems to me to be way out of bounds, and I suspect, in a calm moment, you will agree. I hope so, in any case.

      What seems clear, in any event, is we do need norms for commenting and forums - and I believe justin set up a forum thread to discuss that, and I think people should think it through...

  • 19th Jun 2012

    A couple more things:

    In the past 4 weeks I've:

    1) moved my money (MYM-UK)and changed my bank account from Barclays to the Co-op.

    2) become a vegetarian.

    So if anybody attempts to negatively evaluate my commitment to building the seeds of the future in the present, I have no compunction in expressing some pretty choice language right up in their face.

    Go on, just try me. Let’s test our commitment to real social change.

    Solidarity!

    • Alex of... 19th Jun 2012

      just talked with the only member from iops in my area showing a willingness to sit down to a second meeting. he completely resonates with the idea that we need to be open to the work others do without expectations to accept all aspects of existing works. as well, he has a family and time limits and is wondering where his place on iops exists. he is familiar with a chunk of the texts, does not agree with them all, but is here, and interested in social change, and agrees that respect should be shown for existing contributions and learned from as contribution.

      as such, we agreed to co-author a piece in the coming week, if time allows, on his experience working with survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster in India, as a native.

      and solidiversity...

    • Ian R. 20th Jun 2012

      Zane, I do many of the same and other things to do a change practically change. I don´t like the word "cadre" too and I don´t think that it´s a fitting description.

      For example:
      When you are a member of attac, you are together with conservative christians, wealthy artists, social democratic politicians, reformists unionists, and I would never start a discussion about making attac a left libertarian organization, same for the party, the left, because members would look at me and ask me "Was that the reason you joined?!"

      Being a member in IOPS doesn´t mean that you should be exclusively active here, or leave behind other political affiliations, on the contrary, but to be able to work together with very loose formal ties and without any supervision we have to share a common vision.

      Like somebody who thinks that world trade relations are just, privatization is always the solution and medical service should be a commodity shouldn´t join attac.

    • 23rd Jun 2012

      thats awesome zane!

      if you cant feel how good your body feels, you can feel how good it is to really be doing something for the most oppressed in this global system of economic abuse, and then theres the environment - giving the meat away is the greatest single thing any individual can do for the environment. let me know if you want some links or other good stuff =)

      thats the nice thing here - enough foundation of commonality that we can learn from one another. like it or not, organisations that have people communicating ARE networks. so we have already benefitted from this. i get that this is not the core, primary focus of IOPS, but it seems the horse has bolted, no? we feel like a network. just on that is organised by formal principles in ways that the 'usual' social networking sites are not. perhaps people need to put aside the narrow idea of what they think networks are, forget facebook/myspace, and remember that 'network' existed before.

      yes, commitment to social change. to be honest, i cant keep up here on iops. everytime i come back here i find such a massive amount of stuff to read, i just dont have time :-( this week i was busy doing some serious activism, and next week even more busy on that front. this is one of the reasons why people arent looking - they've 'seen it all before' as they imagine it, and dont have time to stop their activist and advocacy work. after all, the people we are mostly reaching out to, surely, are social change people.

      another things not explicitly put forward, in words, but certainly expressed, is the passion of those who are directly engaged in social change, advocacy and activism. and note, there is a huge difference between planning, theorising or teaching, and grassroots doing. when you are at the coal face of the most fucked things in this society, you're prone to fire up. and good. that 'fire up' is what keeps us going and motivated.

      stay passionate zane. but i'd also say (to everyone), know when to move away from the keyboard, or (better) engage a private conversation with a trusted comrade. skype is great for this because it means the blunt limitations of skype can be avoided, allowing real communication.

      i hope everyone is feeling alright ... theres so much frustration, and the only reason i'm seeing that and not feeling it is because i've only now jumped in!

  • David Adamcik 19th Jun 2012

    This is all part of the modern day Mohawk Valley Formula. I will be making a project about this. Chomsky referred to this as starting early in the 1900's. The people replying in this thread did not make their objections to specific vision, mission, or structure and program statements. It's a trick designed to dilute the original statements that started the organization. The statements we have that define us are not hard to interpret. Its our tax dollars at work. Our government can't stand Parecon or IOPS principles - that's where these member comments come from and we will see many many more in more elaborate disguises.

    • Alex of... 20th Jun 2012

      yes, it's a trick. so how is your chapter doing?

    • Paulo Rodriguez 20th Jun 2012

      While there seems to be strong disagreements on the path IOPS is following, I didn't for one second question the motivations from anyone in here. If anything, their passionate replies rather tell me that they are not only worried, but also committed to making things better and improve matters. Let's not misinterpret it to the point of questioning their honesty and integrity, and making it personal.

      As mentioned, let's not go into paranoid mode for the heck of it!

    • 23rd Jun 2012

      i think this is the most bizarre thing i've read yet (more so than my interactions with my beloved saif in the kinship space). so, are you referring to the people here who are expressing their frustrations as being US cointelpro?

      if so david, then perhaps look further around IOPS to see the depth and breadth of conversations the above members have had ... i imagine many of the people they've had great conversations with have been reading this but are unwilling to jump in. but in any case, you should know that their frustration reflects their passion, original commitment to IOPS and the time they've already invested here.

      cheers

  • 20th Jun 2012

    Ok. It's the Nicene Creed. Not hard to interpret, like all fundamentalisms. It's 'obvious'. Attempts to go beyond literalist and fundamentalist interpretations are classified as 'tricks', subterfuge.

    I do hope responsible people are aware of how these discussions are being manipulated into the usual divide and rule that has fragmented such movements in the past.

    Amazing the degree of paranoia here, being given free reign. In human societies, this would be healthy disagreement and discussion.

    Sincerely committed members are being sidelined and configured as undercover plants bent on disrupting the system. This is exactly how ideological rigidity can be exploited to fragemnt solidarity.

    We did try to warn you,

    Michael, I sent you many private emails at the beginning to warn you about this.

    But, let me re-state: I am committed to the principles, so who has the right to judge me as not measuring up? Who has elected them as judge? Who are the participants in that decision? Just wandering...

  • 20th Jun 2012

    But, the way this is going, I really don't know if I should bother any more. I've probably sacrificed enough time, energy, health, and intellect to something that is obviously stuck in the 20th century, and not ready to live up to its stated commitments.

    The 21st century really belongs to the youth, and maybe my energy would be better spent facilitating their creativities, rather than catering to the egos of Old White Heterosexual Males from the last century.

    The game has changed, and people just don’t have time to waste on the trivialities that IOPS seems to have quickly devolved into, and is still so stuck in.

    So there’s an answer to a lack of membership, as I and others have suggested before, but were never acknowledged, except via defensive, ineffective rationalisations.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 20th Jun 2012

    I think the medium is to blame for the way this discussion has gone - I don't think it would have happened if we were all sitting around talking.

    Anyway, I can't find anything in Darcy's comments that are contradictory to the founding documents of IOPS. And even if they were, please, let's not make wild accusations of harboring ulterior motives for joining, or some other form of subversiveness. It's incredibly divisive to do that, not to mention just downright ugly. Let's all take a deep breath and remember who we are, and for goodness sake, give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    • Haroon Bajwa 20th Jun 2012

      I couldn't agree more with you, William. I think we need to start showing each other respect, not only when we agree with one another. We all need to remember that we are joined together by a strong desire to bring about a better world. Constructive debate on issues can be healthy if we stick to substance and not attack a person's character or worthiness. I believe William is correct in stating that this medium is not always the best way to have a discussion as language can be misinterpreted and lead to hurt feelings.

      I think it would be wise for us to summarize the points of contention and offer reasonable argument for and against, rather than making things personal.

  • Alex of... 20th Jun 2012

    wall of separation - Banksy


    http://www.bennettstevens.com/Politics-and-Religion/Banksy-Palestine/Israel/906700710_Rg8Ms-L-2.jpg

  • 20th Jun 2012

    Thanks William. I completely agree. But I have to say that after so many repetitions of exactly the same issues, right from the first blogs in IOPS, my patience is being worn thin.

    We have such massive demands out there in creating a liveable and just world, and if discussions like the above is where our energy is going to go, then I don't think the tools are adequate to the task. The costs are already beginning to far outweigh the benefits. I have already spend far too many sleepless nights and weekends slaving away trying to deal with these issues, and promote IOPS.

    But now I am, apparently a plant, intent on subverting IOPS. Just for not following the party line.

    I grew up in South Africa where our party line was Christian Nationalism. An ideology inspired by National Socialism. I have no wish to return to that.

    So I’ll probably bow out of this one, along with Darcy, and several of the women in the feminist project, and leave you guys to your romance with the oh-so-easily-and-obviously-interpretable creed, and the various cold-war spy stories you want to tell yourselves to give you some frisson and excitement in your lonely twilight years.

    All the best. We did create some truly revolutionary work.

    • Alex of... 20th Jun 2012

      you have been THE most positive influence on this site by far and activity wise, as one member put it "like a gopher in prison"

      you know you have a place to go though ;) and i walk with you, with you through the shadows.. gallows can't hang my head shallow even in deep water, i keep squawkin, even as perceived as fodder, eaten alive by sheep's fathers, treated but we swallow, fly and we holler, these collar's knot needed, but seeds follow, solomon's key to reach, beseech each in treasonous entreatment... and peace...

    • Haroon Bajwa 20th Jun 2012

      Zane, I am saddened that you feel this way. I hope, with some time for reflection, you will return and make the contribution that you so heartfully wanted to make in improving this world.

    • Alex of... 20th Jun 2012

      or seed's wheat follow

    • 20th Jun 2012

      Thanks Haroon.

      But the truth is that I was involved in such work before, and don't need IOPS to do it.

      I joined because I believed it would amplify my, and others', efforts. But after so many interactions like the above, that belief is pretty much gone.

      It seems it may even be a hindrance, in sucking energy into debates about the party line, rather than making a difference in the lives of real, suffering, embodied human beings.

      There are many fantastic organisations out there doing brilliant work, who don't demand blind allegiance to some creed in order to join in work to create a better future for everyone.

  • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2012

    I'm number six from Paulo's post. I type real slow. Brain goes faster than fingers. Many mistakes. I know no activists other than you guys here and a 40yr old anarchist from a community radio station I took on re Parecon, Parpolity, and IOPS. Mainly coz he seemed to be ignoring my emails. I persisted and I think now I could quite easily sit with him, have a coffee and discuss shit and learn something. He, along with an indigenous leader and others, just won recognition for two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner here in victoria, australia. The first two people executed in victoria(now I realise victoria doesn't deserve a capital either!).They won with persistance and no quitting. Both 40yrs of activism for tiny gain. I bow to them. I cannot say the same for myself. I reiterate. Normal punter with extreme hatred of competitive capitalism, markets, class, hierarchy etc, no activist experience, no activist friends, and as people may have gathered from my post, an issue with confidence. Not just what someone might ordinarily think confidence is, but all it's extreme subtleties and nuances and how it can manifest in all manner of shapes and sizes and desert you at a moments notice. Again, number six on Paulo's list of reasons why some don't join. But I did. My relationship could suffer quite easily from more commitment from myself. My wife's idea of activism is, you mess with my kids and I mess with you. Joining an org to change the world. Fuck that! I have. I might not last, but not coz I don't agree with what IOPS is trying to do, but because I don't know if I have what it takes.

    I can see coordinators lurking in the shadows. Of course I can. But I see them manifesting, or looming up out of the darkness as, I recede into the background. If I don't say something, leave or whatever, then others will. My absence or silence will be like non-existence. Like when one is severely depressed and watching the world go on its merry way as if you're not there, or part of it. There is nuthin' wrong with getting up in people's faces, arguing about such things etc, debating- as I said, self-management. I read somewhere here that Rufus Polson aint that social, but feels that should not be an impediment to being part of IOPS. I agree. Sometimes I read posts and I just feel totally inadequate, useless and intellectually denied!!. Sometimes I hit the submit. I think this org should be able to withstand arm wrestles between methods, style, language, 20th century left baggage because we all know, I believe, that the overall vision of IOPS, is NEW. It is comprehensive, all encompassing, possesses accompanying documents, like Parecon which in my humble opinion is the ONLY outline of a NON-MARKET BASED participatory economic system EVER elucidated in real detail, Parpolity, etc etc. All these things are open to debate and criticism. In fact the authors of said doc's invite it. I haven't seen another org that would be that open, including anarchist ones. If people see some here as coordinator types then ones reaction will reflect that. If one sees them as just another member proffering an opinion, maybe one's reaction will be less combative. Michael, Mark, the ICC, they really are just other people with ideas, views, interests, loves, etc who want the world to be a better place for all. But they are also people committed to change and have been for a long time. Unlike my pathetic little self. Sometimes I see coordinators when they aren't there at all and I fucking argue with 'em in my head!!! Piss off.

    I practised Buddhism for six years. Failed miserably. Buddhism, to be practised authentically, means not to mix it with this or that other thing from some other space. Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan, made this point repeatedly. People in the west make soup out of spiritual traditions by getting a bit of this, a bit of that, chucking it in a pot and then proclaim they have something far more powerful. Or usually in the case of westerners, something easier to deal with. You know, meditation made easy!! Here comes the book!! True Buddhist practice is fucking hard and takes extraordinary commitment and time. And the traditional Nyingma (Oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism) way is uncompromising. In Zen they say, the long hard road to the little red cushion. And that's just to get started with your sitting!! IOPS isn't even at the cushion yet. We are heading toward it. Buddhism isn't to be one with the universe. That's just hippie shit. It's emptiness of emptiness. It's kill the buddha. It's shit on the end of a stick. It's Do Kyentse introducing Patrul Rinpoche to the nature of his mind, by throwing stones at him, punching him until he is knocked out and muttering, "you intellectuals are full of shit", because Patrul Rinpoche smelt alcohol and made the thought that "even great masters get drunk"!! It's certainly not Ginsberg reading The Heart Sutra, and a fight stops in a cafe. That's just a coincidence. That's pretending you know before you do. I failed at Buddhism because it felt like a test. Plus I'm a lazy bastard. My skeptical side won out. If our very subtle mind has been around since beginningless time, infinitely, and our real purpose is to realise our true nature, our Buddha nature, empty of essence, cognizant, and unimpeded, then we should all be Buddha's by now!! Somehow I don't see it! Logic won out. That does not mean I don't embrace the absurd. EXISTENCE IS ABSURD. True NOTHINGNESS IS NONSENSE. Vacuums are not NOTHING no matter what a physicist says. Particles manifesting out of a vacuum momentarily is not something manifesting out of NOTHING. They just can't describe it any other way. A moment is a sixtieth of a finger snap. Smile!

    There is hierarchy in Buddhism. There are rules to follow. Guru's to be humiliated by. All in the name of the realisation of selflessness. I left. I even felt a little animosity towards Sogyal Rinpoche. I felt there was an arrogance behind the facade of humility. I like the idea of sitting. Of emptiness. Of eating cucumbers in the springtime. But it won't save the world from catastrophe. Plus I think I never really believed it anyway. I play, teach and studied jazz, but I don't like the old standards. I HATE Sinatra and what HE represents!! Give me Billie and her lazy, wonderful phrasing but not the tunes. I hate Elvis and what he represents but I don't hate music. Have a look at Big Mama Thornton doing Houndog and then have a look at that goddamn awful appropriation of said song by that average, hey look I can move my knee real fast, white overpaid fat fraud!! The King indeed! Opinion. Yeah, up in ya face.

    This place can handle dissent. It's even in the mission, vision, structure thingy somewhere. I read it. This is just the site where peeps can do some stuff. Get to know others. Hit the submit and say hello. Discuss. disagree. Get all up in peoples faces. BUT STAY.

    Come back sooner than later Zane and Darcy. The other stuff will always be there. The world needs this org. It's certainly strong enough to handle the shit I write.

    IT'S A LONG HARD ROAD TO A PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY.

    SOLIDIVERSITY.

  • David Jones 20th Jun 2012

    How very sad. I've just sat down and read through this entire exchange. I see a lot of one-way 'communication' going on here. We come here because we think we have something to learn from people like Michael and Mark, and we do, plenty. But let's not lose sight of what this organization is really about, why we are really here. I'm here because I'm gravely concerned about the future. I see clearly the possibility that by the time I reach Michael's age, there may not be very much left of my world worth saving.

    Those of us that come to this site do so because we have a commitment to values like solidarity, diversity, equity and self-management. A smaller number of us will have some degree of familiarity with models like parecon (less so and with less depth of understanding than members like Michael and Mark, of course).

    But let me make a distinction here between the ethical values implicit in the IOPS defining documents (those that truly bring us here) and the specifics of the social institutions we will rely upon to realise these values. These broadly "anti-authoritarian" "anti-capitalist" "anti-racist" "anti-imperialist" ethical values are shared by everyone here, of course. Whereas the nitty-gritty specifics of the social institutions needed to manifest them are not precisely agreed upon.

    This is fine. There is room for dissent here. This should not be a matter of exclusion or membership, or indeed a cause for paranoia. I regard something like parecon as a good and interesting foundation only; something subject to improvements and reevaluations based upon theoretical deliberations and empirical experiences in attempting to implement it. It is also the work of only a few people. There are many more people out there, with many important insights to contribute and to incorporate ('greens' 'Buddhists' etc. etc.) However, is IOPS communicating its desire to learn from them? Or only its desire to 'educate' them?

    I don't regard parecon as "the ten commandments", but frankly some of the communication styles of the founding members do give this impression. There is no 'proof' that Zane and others are 'wrong' to take offense at these styles of communication. We are not solving algebra here. The 'proof' is in the experience of the offense felt. If styles of communication are, empirically, causing offense to valued members of IOPS (which they are, apparently) perhaps these styles of communication need to be rethought? Perhaps those that have caused the offense to be taken need to give serious consideration to rethinking how they express their responses to heartfelt objections? Perhaps, rather than responding reflexively, as seems to have happened so far, some thought can be given to the proposition that they are in the wrong?

    Perhaps some things need to change here? If more and more people like Zane start leaving I may follow. This would be a real shame, because there are currently a lot of positive things happening here, in large part due to members like Zane. We can work these communication issues out, but only if we begin by agreeing that doing so *at this interim stage* is of critical importance to the organization. Also, it is sometimes communicated that some of the many positive, ongoing projects occurring now (as have been mentioned above) are little more than distractions from the 'real' work of IOPS, or are even subversive elements, pests to be swatted. At least, other members seem to have interpreted what has been communicated to them in this way, and the 'proof' is again in their experience of this. That really needs to be addressed and corrected, most urgently.

    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      If someone says to you, you are a racist - for some reason or other. It may be true, it may not be true. If they say it in public, in a forum, with lots of passion - some will start to take it is a given. This will be true, even if they offer zero evidence. They don't give instances. Etc.

      This is what should not happen ever, and certainly in an organization of people trying to make the world better. In fact, I don't think anyone has called Zane, or anyone else, even one nasty name. But people say they have, no quotes, and so that becomes a given. If I have, and it is pointed out, I will apologize in an instant. I think I haven't. Even after he has gotten very aggressive. I don't think Mark has, either. Nor anyone else. The same thing holds for Darcy.

      If you think there is something in the way of communicating - other than literally calling people ignorant, or saying people are oligopolisitc, or mired in the past, and so on, that I need to look at, by all means, please do let me know. But it won't help to simply say there is. Nor to say there is because Zane feels it, or Darcy did. It would require taking a minute to find instances, and then convey them, whether in private, or even in public.

      As to working out these issues, I agree, we need norms and procedures for the forums and commenting...

    • David Jones 20th Jun 2012

      Thanks for that Michael. Things seemed to get very out of hand on this post very quickly and I'm not exactly sure why yet. I did read your long post further down, where you say:

      "I think respect means being careful - thinking things through - making criticisms not based on the worst spin you can put on another person's words, but on the best - and if we just can't muster good interpretation, then we should ask about what we find troubling, we don't just reject or attack"

      I agree. I think there have been instances on these forums where we have all done this, perhaps. There have been instances where we've said things that never would have been said face-to-face. Instances where we've been typing faster than we've been thinking? Perhaps we should think "would I actually say this face-to-face" in future, before posting something?

      I can understand your getting upset at much of what Zane wrote here. Yes, I think much of it should not have been worded as it was. Thing is, I've read many of his posts and chatted with him all over these forums and never once seen him express himself remotely like that before, ever. So I can imagine a legitimate basis behind the grievances (not legitimizing the accusations themselves, however) which I think will become clearer in time, after things have calmed down. I do think it's worth making that point, as a 'character witness' of sorts (and I think others will be willing to vouch for that). I'd also like to talk to him about it myself.

      "If you think there is something in the way of communicating - other than literally calling people ignorant, or saying people are oligopolisitc, or mired in the past, and so on, that I need to look at, by all means, please do let me know. But it won't help to simply say there is. Nor to say there is because Zane feels it, or Darcy did. It would require taking a minute to find instances, and then convey them, whether in private, or even in public."

      Yes, that is a very fair comment. I didn't manage to express what I wanted to in this post. The comments about 'proof' are quite unclear, confused or perhaps wrong, I agree. I'd write it differently if I wrote it again. I need to rethink how to say this and possibly talk with some of the other members first. I'd like to get back to you about it. Later though, when I've had some time to reflect and have something more clear to say. And I'll try to find some examples for you, so this discussion becomes a bit less abstract.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond here, it is appreciated. I think there is more to all this than meets the eye however, and it needs to be (calmly!) discussed in future. I think perhaps some of the members have been feeling ignored or marginalized for some time (rightly or wrongly) and this post was a kind of a "last straw" for some? It needs discussing, but not like it was done here.

    • David Jones 20th Jun 2012

      One more thing Michael, if I may. You've made me aware that the last two paragraphs of my above post were poorly expressed, so I'll work on re-expressing them.

      But did you think there was anything substantive in the previous four paragraphs of it? Would it be a good idea to distinguish clearly the underlying values of IOPS from the institutions intended to realise these? Is initially agreeing fully with both a condition of membership here, or just with the former? I think perhaps this is unclear to members at present.

  • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2012

    Why isn't Chomsky much of a joiner? Hey. Someone answer me that. Why is such an important statement IGNORED in light of what we are asking other people to do here. I don't think the answer to that question is all that simple. I wonder what he would have said if he was asked why he isn't much of a joiner?

    People have dispositions. They are different ages. Different histories. Communication styles. Educational differences. Why I don't even know if others see the physical world in the same way. Is the Blue I see the same as the Blue they see. I might get angry fast and they slow. My head hurts when I see french!!

    I can dig Parecon and Parpolity one minute and then it pisses me of the next. I can read posts about voting systems that do my head in. I can read posts about impending doom. And sometimes I read shit that pisses me off and I my swearing quota goes through the roof. Arguments, yelling ensue. Cooling off. civility restored through personal communication. Understanding comes.

    Participating in society is hard work. No one here is wrong or right. Illusions exist. Just like the nature of confidence isn't so easy to pin down.

    Coordinators lurk in the shadows but if you shine a light on 'em you can kick 'em in the shins! Leaving or remaining in the dark won't remove 'em.

    Can anyone tell me why Chomsky isn't much of a joiner?






    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      It was merely Noam describing his very personal inclinations - he doesn't join things... it really was that, and nothing more. It doesn't mean, he joins lots of things, but not political projects, it means he very very rarely joins anything. Being in IOPS is not the norm for him, but quite different....

    • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2012

      I was being a little facetious. It did strike me though as this could be equally a valid response to not joining by many. Sometimes in print, sarcasm, facetiousness don't come across.

  • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2012

    And for all those when the shit really hits the fan!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMrjpicBVro&feature=related

    Dig the piano solo peeps.

  • Stephen Roblin 20th Jun 2012

    I don't believe this has been said yet, though I can't be certain since I didn't read every word in this long exchange. A few people I've spoken to about IOPS simply said that they're waiting for the founding convention. They'll show up and participate -- because they share IOPS committments and believe a revolutionary organization is badly needed--, and if the convention goes well, then they'll join. In the mean time, they'd rather not join an "online organization."

    In my view, this position shouldn't discourage us. Quite the opposite. It suggests that there may be more interest out there than we think--a hesitant, cautious kind of interest, but interest nonetheless.

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2012

      That is great to hear Stephen, I hope what you say is more generally the case. But of course the simple truth is that if these people joined now instead of waiting it would make the likelihood of a successful launch a much more realistic outcome as well as something we could do sooner.

      If we actually have contact with people who are saying this we really should be encouraging them to join now, making the above case.

    • Stephen Roblin 20th Jun 2012

      @ Mark. I agree with both your points.

  • 20th Jun 2012

    I have a longer text which I will post later, but I have to rush to work.

    I do want to say that I will not leave yet. But I will take a few days off to reflect, and get back into real life.

    I think I've probably spent a bit too much time online on all this in the last 3 months! So I'm going to take a break.

    I'll post my longer response later, though, after work.

    Solidarity to all (Including Michael and Mark!)

    :)

  • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

    Since I wrote the opening blog post, I felt and feel a responsibility to react to people's comments. I got up a few minutes ago, in the early am on the east coast, and found a long stream of them, too many to address one by one. So, I am going to reply to a bunch of pieces, related to one another, all at once. You may note, if you are sticking with this, that I have posted it after also reading and reacting to various individual posts - it was, however, written before all that. It is long, I apologize. But I take these issues seriously because this type exchanges really is deadly. It says to blog writers, watch out, this may happen under something you write - do you really want to relate to this - and many will think to themselves, no, I don't. It says to commenters, watch it, if you word something so someone takes it differently than you intend, bedlam could ensure - and you could be attacked, you motives questioned, etc. Do you really want to risk that? Many will think, no, I don't.
    I am pretty inured, I think is the word, to long exchanges, etc., but even so, this sets of comments makes me wonder whether I should post blogs. I just can't give this much time to trying to clarify misinterpretations, etc. I can't. I hope that the fact that this reply is long, is okay. Why is it long? Because I want to address each person, and I want to be understood, and I think this type engagement is terribly harmful and thus we do need to see if we can tease out a different way of interacting.

    As far as I can see, commenting on this blog and reacting to those comments was going along very helpfully and constructively - about forty comments strong - and then Darcy, who was participating, found a comment "quite disappointing" Honestly, I still don't know why. I truly don't. In fact, I am not even sure which comment was disappointing, since Darcy did not quote anything. I am not sure if Darcy is a she or a he, either - so I will use S/he…

    Darcy said s/he will be "leaving this organization, unless attitudes significantly change." I will set aside that I don't understand someone saying that in response to a post comment in a steam, in fact, I don't see saying it at all - for two reasons.
    First, presumably the offending comment came from a person - not the organization per se. And second, what if the comment did not mean what it was taken to mean. This is the point I want to emphasize.

    Suppose someone says or writes something that you (or I or anyone) takes to have a very disturbing or perhaps harmful or even vile meaning. What to do? Well, in general, I think the answer is we should ask the person whether our interpretation of the person's meaning is accurate, whether we are hearing what was intended. I think this is very wise generally, for example, even if talking to someone with whom one has nearly nothing in common - but if the speaker and the listener are both in the same organization, and we both have committed to a set of shared values, etc. - then I think it is absolutely essential. Yet this is largely missing from the exchange, or at least aspects of it, from Darcy's comment on.

    Then, someone reading Darcy will wonder - indeed, I wondered - what attitudes have to change for Darcy to not leave? Or more to the point, what is it that s/he finds disturbing. S/he follows up, presumably to explain: "It is misleading to call something an International Organization for a Participatory Society when it apparently is an organization for people who believe that Michall Albert and Mark Evans have everything all figured out and that participation is a matter of submitting to those authorities and drowning out the urge to think freely."

    Take a breath. I mean that seriously. Now assess: to my ears, this is a very disrespectful and disparaging thing to say, based on - what? Nothing. It is simply asserted. Not only is it nasty toward myself and Mark - but even more so, toward everyone else, if you think about it. But of course, this is just my "reading" of its meaning - it could be it is just that the words were poorly chosen, and Darcy actually had a very different intent than they conveyed, at least to me. Or maybe the words are fine, and I just read it wrong. So I didn't say back, nor did I instantly feel and start formulating in my mind to say back, where the hell do you get off - or whatever - and nor did anyone else, that I can see.

    S/he follows, "I would say good-luck on polarizing activists, creating Orwellian illusions, and igniting a new cold war -- but those are not goals which I believe in." I don't know how to take this other than that s/he thinks someone else favors this, presumably Mark, myself, and all the people in the organization of folks who think we know everything and have everything right. And yet, again, I did not say back, nor did anyone else, where do you get off calling us names like that? The polarizing thing, ironically, that I see in this stream of comments, to this point, is Darcy's comment. The polarization - those wanting to leave, and those giving up thinking and wanting to stay. And I see no creation of Orwellian illusions. No igniting a new cold war. And no fealty to leaders. This is not nice. Look closely. But, because Darcy gives every indication of being in pain - no one lobs back, and none should, regardless.

    Then s/he says "Apparently the occupy together movement is the place for those of us who are interested in peaceful networks of solidarity and IOPS is not interested in working with such people." This is a total non sequitor not only of anything said here in this stream, but of anything said anywhere in IOPS, that I am aware of. Now again, maybe s/he thinks it is true, although if s/he does, it would have been helpful to know why. Or maybe something said in this flow of comments, that I can't see, meant this to him/her - but in that case, since it is so a wildly contrary to expectations and political sense, s/he he should asked about those words. But, still, maybe Darcy's words were just hyperbole or badly chosen. Again, no one said, how can you possibly say such things?

    Finally, s/he says, "Be careful not be labelled as incredibly disrespectful through expressing ideas even slightly diverging from what is written on the about page." Again, this is being upset about something that hasn't happened… to my knowledge, but is asserted anyhow. No one labelled him/her anything. Look back, look at the flow of comments - and then the one from Darcy, that started the explosion of exchange. But just saying it has happened, caused many, later, to take it as a given that it did - but it didn't.

    Here is what seems to me to be the important thing with lasting relevance. Not that Darcy's claims were not remotely warranted by anything that anyone had said, now or ever in this organization, as far as I know. I think, honestly, that that is the case, but, I do think it is quite secondary. Rather what seems to me to be the important and more widely relevant thing is this: Someone says they feel - indeed they say they have been - mistreated, or that someone else was - and then just says any old thing, regardless of how disparaging, without any attribution or evidence - and without giving the slightest benefit of the doubt or having the slightest reservations about perhaps having misperceived in the first place - all in the name of creating a congenial environment - and then there is a presumption of validity given, by many, to whatever is said.

    Two problems - first, we should be giving the benefit of the doubt to everyone, not just when someone says they are upset. We should be doubting our own perceptions - particularly whenever our perceptions cause us to think disparagingly of others in the organization. That is what it means, indeed, to show some respect. You don't assume you have it right, you ask. And second, we should not presume that because someone says I feel hurt, or I am so troubled that I am going to leave, that means they are in fact right. We should be sensitive to anyone feeling pain for any reason - but we should not assume the stated cause is operative, particularly when it is damning to others. For that, more evidence is required than someone being upset.

    Of course this is all elementary and obvious - yet, in political organizations and movements, in particular, it is often forgotten and violated.

    I replied to Darcy, and I think Mark did, in essence asking, what are you saying, and with some clarifications, okay, here is where we perhaps disagree. And than Caragh posts. He begins by saying to Darcy, "I understand what you are saying as much as any human can understand any other human." I have to ask, Caragh, why would you say something like that? I mean, really? Now I could read this to mean, I, Caragh, take sides with the oppressed, I reach out to you, I understand you - but others do not. Is that fair as reading of his intent? Does Caragh really mean to imply that? Disparaging others and elevating self. If I think so, I should ask, not fire away. I don't think so, so I will just move on.

    Then Caragh says, "This interim phase is extremely frustrating." I. for one, agree for a host of reasons - which, I suspect, however, may be different than Caragh's and are, in my view, unavoidable owing to the great difficulty of getting something that will be in accord with the defining commitments of IOPS started. So we have to truck on through, toward better days.

    But then Caragh adds, "What is more frustrating is that while people are making efforts they are mostly meeting brick walls- and not even pretty brick walls at that."

    Again, has someone else said anything more disparaging about anyone in IOPS than this, at least so far in this exchange? But maybe he doesn't mean it the way it sounds. It sounds like, I Caragh care, these others don't. They are just an ugly brick wall in our way. Really? Why? How? Because they, and I have to think this includes me, disagreed about a particular point? Caragh doesn't say who constitutes a brick wall, and more to the point, he doesn't say how. He just lobs the claim - I almost said brick - but since the claim is made in the name of someone who said they were upset, it is fine in many people's eyes and can be repeated as if true, as if the real need here is to apologize for being a brick.

    What should be my or anyone else's response who is offended by Caragh's statement? I think it should be to ask Caragh if the way they are hearing it is really the way he meant it. Or perhaps to let it pass. What would be wrong - but what is so prevalent in left exchanges in particular, and here, would be to hear the claim and feel the untoward meaning, and simply run with that as a fact, without asking if it was really intended, lashing out in kind.

    Then Caragh says, "If it is any consolation there are quite a few others that are biting their tongues and trying desperately hard not to start screaming at the way things are done now."

    Well screaming, whether in life or in print, isn't too constructive - and this formulation, again, makes assertions, to line up camps - polarizing - without, however, any indication what "the way things are done now" even means, much less who is lining up. But surely, short of screaming, there is no reason for people not to be registering concerns. There are forums, there is a blog system, there is commenting.

    Now Caragh says, "there are lots of people that are not responding to IOPS because they don't really see it as relevant."

    I agree. On the other hand, I don't think it is irrelevant, and I think it can get much more relevant, as it grows, etc. But, yes, I agree - I assume most others, perhaps all others, do too.

    But then he adds, "How on earth can it be? While the ideals are sparkling it is very skewed towards a certain kind of dialogue. While I understand both Mark and Michael's desire to have everyone on the same page I disagree with the way the tactics are being carried out."

    Okay, fair enough - except, what does "everyone on the same page," mean? Well, it could mean, I suppose, everyone becoming a robotic parrot - giving up their minds, etc. etc. Or it could mean what has been said from when this organization was first brought up in polls, right to today - to join one should read carefully, assess, and advocate the defining commitments.

    This is not me and Mark, it is every member. It is what the invites all indicate. It is what the join page indicates. Okay, what tactics? (I think that implies an attempt to manipulate - should I run with that reading and fire back - or, if I really feel it, ask about it?) What behavior? When you criticize a person, and do it without indicating why, it is as if you think the criticism must per se be right. Should I assume Caragh does? Maybe it is accurate. Maybe it isn't. One cannot know without actual substance.

    Now Caragh gets on a role: "Are we not all outsiders? Every single human on the planet? The commitment to using language which is alienating and cold , and stressing that things need to be 'right' the whole time is oppressive."
    Yes, it would be. But what is this language. And where it the demand to be "right all the time." And who is doing it? Notice, now some are "oppressive" and not even by accident, or a little, but "the whole time." Does he mean what it says? I don't know. I will assume not. I hope not.

    Caragh says "IOPS should be a joyful undertaking. We are all at least partially aware of how incredibly difficult things can get down the road and we are willing to risk it anyway. However, while taking the risk we do want to have a say in how things are done."

    Well, yes, and that is why IOPS seeks to institute self management. And to have chapters, etc., where there can be face to face deliberations, and so on, and why we are working on voting tools, and the like. And it is why there are few, almost no decisions - and nothing that is even slightly controversial in relation to what everyone has agreed on, which is the defining commitments.

    Caragh says, "I know that the Occupy Projects are done with the best intentions but I have to say that I felt bullied into joining."

    For those who don't know - there are projects for discussing theory, vision, and strategy. Bullied? How? You got some email invitations and that was an imposition? Did someone threaten you, force you? I don't get it. And whatever occurred, Caragh, do you really think it warrants the label "bullied?"

    Caragh says, "It is not that I don't think they are important but I think it would be nice if we did things where there was no big brother glaring down."

    Who is big brother? Can you see how someone can read this as an incredibly nasty personal attack? Again, should I get pissed off at that and fire back. Should Mark, or Mandisi, assuming Caragh has in mind the authors. Caragh, you present yourself as an advocate of respect. This is respectful? I take the time to reply to people in the projects, what I can anticipate may be a hundred, maybe even many hundreds of messages, and you decide to call that "big brother glaring down." If I didn't participate, you might say I was an elitist - writing and not giving any means for feedback, and ignoring it - elitist for writing and presenting but not relating to comments and queries.

    Caragh says, "I know that is the last feeling that is wanted but that is how it feels. "
    The trouble may be that it feels that way to you, Caragh… but, with the slightest respect for me or other authors, it wouldn't feel that way. For one thing, you may notice, there is intentionally only one topic for questions of the authors for each chapter, but others for interchange among everyone. The problem to me is that everything is given a nasty spin and then rejected…in disparaging ways, all in the name of respect.

    Caragh says, "The site is dominated by a certain kind of language and a certain kind of emphasis and that leaves those of us who think is is all good and well but hanker after a little fluidity feeling somewhat painted into a corner - without a whisky in sight."

    The ease with which people who favor respect and space and listening will start to criticize even the language that others use is at times quite striking. But really, is this remotely true? Whatever precisely it means.

    Caragh says, "But that is what happens when things are approached as a war. This is not supposed to be a war. It should not be about winning."

    This may be the first clearly stated substantive difference between Caragh and me, at least - and it is a difference. I think, Caragh, you would have to look long and hard to find someone on record in really public ways who is more consistently in favor of diversity in a movement, of serving member's interests, etc. etc. than myself, and more broadly, than IOPS. But it is still most certainly about winning. It is not just about us being fulfilled now, nor even not oppressed now, though that is part of it. It is about attaining a new society - which is the definition of winning. And you are right, I think, that the fact that we are trying to win in a struggle, does tend to push in often bad directions - and that we should guard against that. But the solution is not to say we are not about winning.

    Caragh says, "While that is useful to a degree when speaking to certain audiences it is not actually helpful. It is not cooperative having such a dogma." What dogma? That we are about winning a new society, a new world. Well, I don't know what to say other than, if someone isn't, then that someone should not be in a revolutionary organization of any sort. If the dogma is something else, what? The defining commitments - they are not dogma, they are beliefs, values, aims, reasoned out and supporting due to careful assessment, or not.

    He says, "Even if people are convinced it is the most elevated dogma it is still a dogma. And most of us start twitching at the scent of it." There is a way of writing that really is disparaging - is this an example - the scent of it? Why is that needed?

    Caragh says, "I am sure that even a portion of mutability would be appreciated. I also think we have to shift the way things are being done. I also know that it is incredibly difficult."

    What is a "portion of mutability"? What is even being talked about? Changing the IOPS definitions, that 2,000 people have signed on for? Well, yes, that could happen, at a convention, after much thought and practice. Sure. Are we talking about what is inside some people's heads? Well, that can certainly change, too. What? As to "changing the way things are being done," no one disagrees. They are interim ways of doing things because we don't have chapters, because there are 850 U.S. members, and maybe a fraction of that from all of Asia, because there are too many men relative to women, because of lots of things that mean we should hold off on going too fast into program or further defining details of IOPS, at least internationally.

    Caragh says, "At the moment though there is too much prescription."
    What does that mean? What prescription? Anyone can create a project. Anyone can put up blog posts. Anyone can comment. Anyone can give as much or little time as they wish. Virtually no decisions are being made - the absolute minimum, precisely because we do not have means to make them well, yet. Every country and city has its own site, and can alter it as it chooses. And so on.

    Caragh says, "I don't like doctors unless they help me heal myself and they can't do that unless they orient themselves to step out of their coat and sit next to a prefigurative river with me so I can walk away with my back turned, not cowering with awe."

    I suppose this is poetry, but I hope you won't take this as disparaging you, Caragh - I think you just got on a verbal role and I can't even remotely believe you think this, unless you have never been sick, or known anyone sick, in your life. I have had three cornea transplants - as but one example. The stories of those are interesting - but with this attitude I would now be blind. I know a lot of people who would be dead. So, since what you say here seems to me to clash so mightily with what seems to me so obvious, I would either ask you if you really mean it, or let it slide assuming it is excess and won't be repeated, but, I would not reject it, dismissively, in a normal exchange.

    I think respect means being careful - thinking things through - making criticisms not based on the worst spin you can put on another person's words, but on the best - and if we just can't muster good interpretation, then we should ask about what we find troubling, we don't just reject or attack
    Caragh says, "We cannot force change - we can only ever act as catalysts or weavers." I have no idea what this means. I am sorry, I don't. I understand, perhaps, that partly it means we have to construct, create, build. Sure. Clearly I think that. I do that. And we have to do it well. But we also will have to force. We have to force an end to wars, higher pay, women's rights, and on and on, all the way to winning a new world. It is not nice that we have to force outcomes that others will very mightily not want, but that is the playing field we, and any revolutionary organization, operate on.

    He says, "Stepping away from an ideal of an organization with serious members playing at ancient greek philosophers, and moving towards a human organisation is key."

    What I am doing in this post is trying to show what happens if someone reads and doesn't give the best spin possible. The bad spin here is, gee, now you are calling folks play actors at ancient greek philosophy - as compared to being human, like you want, like you think you are.

    That is the bad spin. Should I fire back, or, if I want to address it at all, ask about it?

    I am replying, I think, to what is really there in the words as Caragh, and before him Darcy, put them down. I just think they probably didn't really mean them as they read to me. And so I would ordinarily reply by simply asking. Others tend to get the impression, take it as a given, and fire…

    We need to hear each other, read each other, and presume good motivations, presume good intent, and if something seems so contrary to that, then instead of saying we are offended and are going to leave, or whatever, we need to ask, kindly, did you really mean what I took you to mean…

    Caragh says, "IOPS is not new- not really. People have thought these things forever." Caragh, I have no way of knowing what you know about left history, left organization, etc. You make pronouncements but don't give reasons. IOPS is in fact new. New in the sense it wasn't here four months ago. And it is also new in some of its attributes. Very few endeavors have had structural commitments expressed as it does, maybe none. No organization I am aware of - other than ones that are part of IOPS or highly connected to it - have had the visionary commitments it has.

    Then Caragh says, "For IOPS to truly be new we have to be a little more humble. We also have to seriously start helping people untangle the social lie. Then you will have members."

    Good advice. Though I think that is far from what it takes to have members. But what is being humble inside an organization? I think to considerable degree it is precisely hearing what others say, carefully, and if it runs contrary to what one thinks - especially if it appears nasty or horrible in some respect - then assuming one has a wrong impression, and asking about it.

    Zane become involved more or less at this point I think. Zane, I am not going to do what I did above, with you. I honestly think you should take a look at your posts and consider if you really meant even a fraction of what you wrote.

    You compare what is going on here - the above, presumably - to "masters kicking you in the nuts."

    "Where do I find music to make me smile or strategies to survive work? Not on IOPS."

    "People who still speak in the (as an ex-pomo, to borrow a pomo phrase) phallogocentric language of the mid-20th Century, immediately lose my respect."
    And who is that - and why immediate. And if you don't respect people, immediately, on hearing some words - and this would probably include a good part of humanity, why should they respect you?

    "Just as so many of the major institutions of the west are presently losing their legitimacy, so the institution of the Old Authoritative White Heterosexual Male is losing its legitimacy, even within the left."

    This is beneath you - assuming you mean it as an attack on this old heterosexual male, but I doubt you do, though it certainly reads that way. Should I attack back? No. But nor should I just agree...

    You write, "Those Old Authoritative White Heterosexual Males in this particular left can see, quite empirically, the delegitimizing, polarising, and excluding results of their linguistic, attitudinal, and tonal choices. (If you want a bit more info about these aspects of language, go back to the ICC, and ask Chomsky)."

    I think you ought to reign it in a bit. Noam would be horrified and laugh, but not at me. There is delegitimating and polarizing text above, I agree, and also in the rest of your numerous follow up posts. And I suppose in your view, perhaps, it is all caused by something in my original blog post…but I doubt it.

    When you write: "Finally: I want to state that I, (largely) subscribe to the various statements on the site, and YES, I have read them, but I still do not blindly accept them as some sort of Nicene Creed. Nor do I accept the way IOPS members and their individual beliefs and expressions are treated by some other members."

    Well, I quite agree. But I doubt there is anyone who treats the defining commitments of IOPS as you indicate. And I also agree everyone ought to calmly and carefully reject some members casting aspersions on the motives and intents of others - rather than discussing, asking, exploring. But, honestly, Zane, look at your stream of comments and ask yourself - is this warranted? Has anyone said or done any of the things you assert? Are you, yourself, polarizing? Are you disparaging?

    You say…"I accept the vision (as an Old White BIsexual Male), but still strongly oppose what is going on here."

    Well, again we agree. I advocate the defining commitments, am attracted by them, and so I belong, too. And I also oppose what is going on there - meaning in the stream of comments beginning with Darcy saying s/he was going to leave, under my blog post. But I think we have different explanations for why what is going on is bad.

    You ask, "Does that mean I am rejected or excluded?" Why would you ask that? Presumably, you have that feeling - but no one has said anything like that, so far - though, I will admit, If you escalate even further, I wouldn't be surprised if some did feel that, or even felt, hey, why isn't he leaving of his own choice, given how he says he feels? Indeed, I will now say something like that. If you honestly feel and believe the stuff you have put in your stream of posts, after calmly relaxing and seeing that they say, then I do think you should probably leave - not rejected, not excluded, but rejecting and excluding us. That's fine, if you do. That is the import of your words, as I read them, it seems to me.

    You ask "Who rejects me? On what grounds? With what legitimacy? Who determines the percentage of points of the IOPS definition to be the acceptable limit within one can be judged to be a member of IOPS? Who is calibrating these criteria?"

    No one, no one, no one, no one, and no one, are the answers, I think. That said, it is up to each of us, until a convention comes up with anything else, if it does, to assess our attitude - do we or do we not support the defining commitments.
    You write: "Mark: putting aside everything anyone who actually knows anything about language actually knows, including ICC member Chomsky, what exactly do you mean by a ‘definition’? What do you mean by a ‘well defined organisation’?"

    Mark may answer for himself, I honestly hope not. Because I don't think this warrants it - nor does it warrant an attack. There are defining commitments of IOPS, as listed on the top page. Well defined, in Mark's eyes, presumably, means those commitments are enough, and not more than enough, to help us get through to a convention that establishes IOPS more fully. It is what I think too.
    You write: "Before you respond to this question, I would advise you to be very careful here, as there is Noam Chomsky on the ICC, and some people, including myself, whose expertise is language, including the philosophy of language."

    This is beneath you. Sorry, it is. And it is precisely the opposite of the congenial approach. Just imagine, by analogy, if I preface comments similarly. And when you say "So don’t go off half-cocked. Don’t fire from the hip," I think it is very good advice - but I honestly think you might want to consider taking it. I believe after this post there are many more from you - yet not from Mark, not from me, until I got all of it, and this, feeling a responsibility to do so, again, given that this is all under my blog post - and not from others. Who is shooting from the hip?

    You say, "I have way too much of my life already committed to this, and the world as a whole has far too much at stake, for this to be derailed by such pettiness."
    Agreed. Which is why people threatening to leave, and without even identifying specific reasons, without any indication that they think they might be misperceiving, or over reacting, is not helpful.

    Then you ask: "Are you serious about the long-term realisation of the vision, or do you want adherents?"

    Can you see how obnoxiously degrading this question might read to Mark, as put? Should he read it that way? Should he respond in kind? I don't think so. But I don't think you should be doing that type thing, either. And what is incredible, honestly, Zane, is you are not reading things that Mark or I or anyone writes that say in any reasonable reading what you attribute, or even anything close to what you attribute - you are just attributing…

    • David Jones 20th Jun 2012

      Michael, just letting you know that I replied to your reply to my post (further up). Thanks for taking the time to write that, and this.

      P.S. Caragh is a SHE ;-)

  • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

    David,

    I didn't see it. Thanks for it. And I agree there are likely many things to discuss, but it is a long road, and I really don't think there is a rush. I don't what it means, some people are feeling ignored, I think you said that, above, no? How? I not only answer what people put in comments on my articles, and anything I write, but I also answers lots of personal email. Don't know what more I could, do, honestly. And other seem to be doing what they can.

    I think people mistake someone not agreeing with them, sometimes, for people ignoring them - or dismissing them. It really is different, obviously...

    • David Jones 20th Jun 2012

      Yes, I think you are right, we need a little more time is all, for most of these things to work themselves out. The comment about people feeling 'ignored' was not directed at you (or any other members) specifically 'ignoring' people. I appreciate your efforts (here for example) to respond to our comments. I also haven't felt 'ignored' personally. Yes, the difference between 'ignoring' and 'disagreeing' is important, perhaps some members have been guilty of confusing the two?

      Most of this feeling of being 'ignored' (as expressed by some other members, though not in that way exactly) is perhaps that there are issues outside your area of expertise that haven't been brought into the foreground of IOPS enough yet. For example, see the (much calmer!) ongoing discussions in Verena Stresing's latest blog post on climate change:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/man-made-climate-change-2-the-hockey-stick-and-the-attack-on-climate-science .

      Peter Lach-Newinsky wrote there that:

      "The conversation above has inspired me. Thank you everyone. All the arguments that need airing so badly in IOPS where, indeed, ParEcology seems 'somewhat of an after-thought' when it should be at the centre, given human/humane survival is at stake. Not to mention the need for an evolutionary leap into One World Consciousness, a spiritual-economic-political-eclogical revolution as has never been attempted. Exciting times. Tick tock. As the clock ticks, will Joe & Mary Blogs see the light and come to the party of revolution or continue to play follow the leaders over into the abyss as in so many collapsed/overshot civilisations before?

      If THESE are the stakes, should not IOPS, at the very least, say so? Loudly. Clearly. Internationally. Poetically. Make it a central part of the Vision, theory, strategy, organisation? At the moment IOPS is more tack-on environmentalist than radically ecological IMO. Can we change that for a start perhaps?"

      I do agree with the above. I am not laying any blame at your door for this, however. You can only do and say and write about so much and have expertise in so many areas. I don't think par-ecology will continue to be 'ignored', by yourself or others. I think, given time, it will become incorporated more centrally within the parsoc framework. And the same goes for many other areas of discussion where people may presently feel 'ignored'. For example, some feminists may feel 'ignored', since more has been written at present about economy and polity than culture and kinship, but that will be addressed in good time. More patience, less haste I say. And most importantly, be respectful in the meanwhile, as you said:

      "I think respect means being careful - thinking things through - making criticisms not based on the worst spin you can put on another person's words, but on the best - and if we just can't muster good interpretation, then we should ask about what we find troubling, we don't just reject or attack"

      I think that is in the end the take-away message from this blog posting of yours.

  • Alex of... 20th Jun 2012

    Michael, thank you for your above response. yes, i'm a sarcastic bastard! however, in an act of solidarity with Zane and for the sake of some others i've heard from, i am taking a moment of silence.

  • Florian Zollman 20th Jun 2012

    Hi David,

    I think nothing stops you from following environmentalist or other issues. For example, I have considered to engage in environmental groups and advocate for IOPS within them. This could be mutually beneficial for IOPS and them... Just a thought.

    • David Jones 21st Jun 2012

      Of course, I am already involved in bits and pieces elsewhere. The thing is, I think IOPS needs 'environmentalism' more that 'environmentalism' needs IOPS. We need a habitable planet to situate our participatory society on! We need to be able to feed people. Such prerequisites look far from guaranteed, to me at least. They shouldn't be taken for granted. 'Climate chaos' is a game-changer.

      That's why I think IOPS itself needs to incorporate ecology more centrally. It is absolutely crtitical to every other aspects of the vision succeeding.

  • 20th Jun 2012

    Dear all,

    I would just like to sincerely apologise to those whom I offended in my above comments. Strange as this may sound, my comments were not intended personally, but as a means to a larger point. I apologise regardless, and unconditionally.

    My rhetorical style was a tactical decision, which still did not succeed in communicating the substance of the points I was attempting to make.

    So: it was a failed communication attempt, seemingly on all levels.

    I will take a break from IOPS for a while. Good luck in the interim, everyone!

    • Stephen Roblin 20th Jun 2012

      @ Zane. No harm, no foul. As someone who read almost the entire blog exchange (phew!), I found it surprisingly instructive.

      Hope you're not taking a break because of "a failed communication attempt." If I withdrew every time I failed to connect when communicating to others, I'd never leave my basement.

  • Caragh - 20th Jun 2012

    Oh wow

    Things have spun some. I have to say it is very funny that you (Michael) made me a boy. I was quite impressed with myself for sticking it out as one of the only girls but perhaps my style isn't inflammatory enough to be seen as female. Oh well. So it goes. ( I am trying to lighten the tone a little here :) )

    I am not sure how to respond to things. One of the reasons I am not sure how to respond is that whenever I have written anything it is attacked by some people and not seen for what it is. I have been reading Z since I was 11 years old. I agree with the ideas - they have shaped me and I am quite happy about that. The thing is that this blog was about confusion and not being able to get through to people.

    My only goal is to encourage more people to participate. I am a youth I cannot expect much more from myself. When I write it is not to bash anyone over the head with sense. I think people have had so much sense thrown at them that proves to be well constructed lies that it is difficult for them to trust it. I want to give people space to breathe a little. While I try and control my tongue, every now and then something inflammatory does manage to sneak out. That is what happens when you communicate- if you are worried you cant help but show that you are worried- no matter what you do to disguise it. I am sorry if you were offended by what I said.


    My response to Darcy was also written soon after waking up. We are all human. However while you - Michael - so neatly dismantled it - I still dont regret writing it. The barrage of comments is exhausting, but some interesting things have come out of it - and I am talking here about Stephens point mostly.

    The thing with IOPS as it stands is that it does exclude people. What worries me is that it excludes many people that actually agree with the ideas. There were 4000 polled and we have 2000 now.
    This is alarming. What I find particularly alarming is that the demographic is so narrow. What I also find distressing is how most people that feel confident to talk have a degree - myself included. They are also mainly english first language speakers from the 'developed ' world.

    When myself and others express frustration, I really believe it is not because we have an agenda to turn IOPS on its head. We like the principles. We don't want to change them . ( I am pretty sure about this because it takes alot of concentration and time to engage - especially in a style you feel uncomfortable with)

    At the moment the style of engagement means that many people will just not throw down their cards.

    It does come down to winning. When you are trying to force people to do something you limit them. When you manipulate a situation it works to a degree but afterwards people will realize that things weren't quite the way they thought it was. I understand and respect that you Michael have put alot into this organisation, and have given it fodder. Unfortunately because of this you are in an awkward situation. I am sure only you know just how awkward and uncomfortable that is.

    I havent really made any points here. I have been receiving panicked emails though and so I thought I should say something. The way things become venemous is extremely disconcerting . I don't really understand why this is but I do think it has to do with needing to be right and winning.


    I understand that this is an unsatisfactory response in the terms that are being used so I try will respond directly to one point :)
    I am a petty egomanic after all and cant resist the attention.
    When I said I felt bullied into the Occupy projects it is because they have been given so much prominence and are the only projects to so far have been mailed to people. I know that a lot of work has gone into them and I am impressed by how much you are putting yourself ( Michael and the other authors) out of your way but the level of urging has been very high. It just didn't feel like the group had anything to do with that agenda. I know that is inevitable but there you go - point responded to.

    I think it would be different if there were not other factors in play for me personally. As one of the only women I was asked to make a video for an introduction to IOPS . Right- I understand the motivation - try and be more friendly. However I was given a script and told to read it. Fine. I said I was uncomfortable with the script because it was impossible to read without it sounding like a laundry advert. There is a whole world out there of other women but none of them want to do it so I was asked to do it please.( If there are any people who are less impossible than me please contact them - it is driving them crazy and it will be appreciated) I have been trying and trying for weeks now to read it and actually send it, and I can't,I sound too weird- whatever I do. Now I feel as though I have failed because I cant say the words in a way which shows I believe them.

    Is this my failing- yes. But what makes it so difficult for me?
    I cant believe people I know, or myself responding to it positively. I also don't know how I feel about having a female voice - my voice-on the front of a website where there are so few other female voices that it can usually be assumed that a writer is male. (Grin - yay bargaining power! )

    Now this is odd no? The reason why I am uncomfortable is that I am pretty sure they they won't feel welcome - as they are. With some time anyone can understand what IOPS stands for. The problem is that there is something disembodied about IOPS which means that everyday life somehow gets shunted to the side. The problem is most of us deal in everyday life more than 'dream lego'( to quote the individual who was asking you existential questions in the Occupy Theory project). That means that most people just don't even feel comfortable starting to think about winning a new world. Their own lives are such a carefully balanced dance they cant imagine how they can have the audacity to start building a society.

    That is where the winning comes in - and the urging. If we were concentrating more on people and not theory, it would be more about 'evolving', through fiery metamorphosis or calm whittling. It would be about learning to live in harmony. That is what IOPS wants no? Harmony. I dont believe you can maximize harmony by winning.

    I suppose this hasn't answered any of your statements, but perhaps I have communicated something. I hope everyone gets a good nights rest. It is solstice after all :)



    • Michael Albert 20th Jun 2012

      Hi Caragh,

      Now it is late at night, instead of early morning!

      First, sorry about the he stuff...i asked and someone said that. I should have looked further. Sorry.

      I will now tell you a little story I will likely get in trouble for though i thnk i also put it in the memoir, remembering tomorrow. Many years ago, when the Internet was young, before the web, we hosted a system, including forums lbbs. Trying hard to get people to be involved, since engaging online was very new back then, I had to seed the forums with some engaging content or there would simply be nothing. I not only posted under my name, but also under four of five others for a few weeks. I was on the system as three women and two men. I sometimes even debated points with myself. Here was a very odd thing. I took some different positions for the diferent people, though oneof the women had exactly my views, and gave them all different main interests and priorities but made no effort whatever to write differently for each, or to make the men and women different by gender or to make that one woman in any way different than me. Often I would even write a post and then randomly pick which persona would put it up.

      No one, not even close friends, saw what was happening. Sometimes, they were even debating me, in another persona, and not knowing. Even when I told peoplethat i was doing it, thouh not the names, they couldn't guess which folks were me. It worked to generate lots of involvement, but it left me surprised at the extent to which I was so easily different people without other people knowing even though my writing is, I thnk, distinctively bad in many respects. Thus, you could be male, or female... P.S. Don't worry, I never did anything like that again.

      Second, just so you know, I had no idea about the video. And, my initial reaction is, if I were asked to do a video I certainly would not simply read a script I was given. I might like something suggested, or I might not. And if not, I would do something I did like. And then people could use it or not. I would urge you not to read something you don't like, for whatever reason you don't like it. But perhaps work out a script together with whoever is asking, or try your own, but in any event, something you like.

      Your other comments I think are very astute...but a problem remains. The issue here really does seem to be what is IOPS. If it was a kind of network, a gathering, etc., sort of like Occupy, then I think your comments would be completely germane. Such an effort involves people with all kinds of views, types of involvement and levels of commitment, and so on. So focusing on people is precisely what it can do, presuming pretty much nothng about those people, or only a little, at any rate.

      IOPS is an organization for people who share certain views and commitments. It isn't a comprehensive list, but neither is it only a little. So in IOPS focusing on people takes that shared part as a base from which to move. That is different, though still addressing people, as well as working toward winning, and indeed, focusing on each not least to succeed in the other. If you check out the IOPS commitments again, you will find quite a lot there about dealing with personal advance and solidarity, internally. So it is, or it needs to be, part of the focus, I very much agree with you. But we also seek to win, which is why the people focus part includes some shared agreements as a base.

      The hard part, yes, is both focusing on developing people, ourselves, and meeting needs, and nurturing desires and respecting hopes...while also trying to win... You are right, I thnk, that the latter can when done wrong, contradict the former. But in that case it will fail. The former can overlook the latter, and at least at creating a new world, that too will fail. So we have to do both. My guess is that we agree.

      Finally, you are right about the three projects getting more visibility. The reason was becusse it seemed that was okay not merely because there is a great deal of effort behind them, and to be expended in them, but because they are one attempt at internal development, discussion, exploration, in a sustained manner. They are in that sense so in tune with the iops commitments, and the attention to people as well as to winning, and people owning, ot simply following, theory, vision and strategy, that it seemed warranted to be sure people knew about them.

      That may have been overstepping. If so, I am sorry, and it is only my fault. We could have polled the ICC about sending the announcements, but we didn't, In accord with keeping their efforts to a minimum. Finally, the way we announced the projects was the newsletter...and at the same time that we announced the projects, we also emphasized that folks could and should send submissions for future ones. That hasn't happened so far.

      Again, I suspect we don't have much disagreement.


  • James Green 20th Jun 2012

    Rarely, and perhaps even never, do I encounter on the internet or in my daily life the degree of care, thoughtfulness and gentleness towards another person, in reality a stranger, demonstrated in this thread.

    Something special is definitely happening here. To be honest, I just don`t yet have the patience to respond to such lengthy comments point by point or at great length. But I read many of them and clearly see the value of these replies which achieve such high levels of poignancy and detail. They are extremely educational.

    I`m guessing that for every person commenting, there are at least 10 people, like me, reading these exchanges, witnessing the actualization of the principles being professed and learning how to participate constructively in our community.

    So for those of you who expend the time and energy to engage in the dialogues, thank you. Your contributions are crucial.

    • LedSuit ' 21st Jun 2012

      Touché, James. ( Is that French?)

  • James Green 21st Jun 2012

    @Michael

    "The ease with which people who favor respect and space and listening will start to criticize even the language that others use is at times quite striking."

    Thank you for pointing this out.

  • Michael Albert 21st Jun 2012

    David, Hi. We agree, I think, overwhelmingly. But I will reply, in any event. I do think, however, that this stream is growing useless due to its length. Wading through 125 comments to get to something new is not likely to appeal to many people...perhaps, if you have other things you want to explore, it might make sense to find some new place...

    When you write, there are issues that haven't been brought to the foreground in IOPS yet, of course that is true. Indeed, almost all issues. There is no foreground discussion of on going wars, or distribution of income, or drones, of resurgent racism, of climate calamity, and on and on. But this is because there is no discussion, as yet, of IOPS program. By the initial agreements, and I think also good sense - we need good means of decision making, and hopefully face to face chapters, for such discussions to be carried through well, and we need more people, honestly, for them to matter much.
    But I don't see how ecology is treated any less than other areas in the IOPS commitments. None of this is in any sense precluded, of course. Anyone can write a blog, anytime, bringing matters to people's attention. As people are doing. Anyone can create a project, to pursue some studies or practical activities regarding such concerns. Not sure what is ignored?
    You quote: "The conversation above has inspired me. Thank you everyone. All the arguments that need airing so badly in IOPS where, indeed, ParEcology seems 'somewhat of an after-thought' when it should be at the centre, given human/humane survival is at stake."
    Well, I dare say the whole point is that people can say the same - it is urgent - about all the rest of the key areas of the IOPS statements, which, in any event, aren't about what is affecting people mightily, but about areas of focus and visionary commitments for them. Again the issue of program is very different. Maybe IOPS, at a convention, will settle on a few national focuses for program, for now - for example I could imagine global warming, income distribution or I could imagine something more specific, say, the length of the work week, month, and year, immigration, violence against women, or other things. But as a vision - it would not have ecology or kinship, or vice versa, but both…
    I don't think IOPS is "Tack on" environmental, at all. How does what is in the Commitments yield that. Because it is not elevated above the rest? Well, that is an IOPS commitment, just as economy isn't elevated above the rest, or culture, etc.
    In the Occupy Theory Project there is an interesting exchange bearing directly on this… by the way.
    When you say "I do agree with the above" meaning the quote, I wonder why. Again, I don't think putting your further feelings here - beneath well over 100 comments, does it justice. I would say, write something, or find another spot to discuss it, that will attract those interested.
    And again, if you mean there is not much clarity about and discussion of par ecology beyond the IOPS commitments, I agree. If you mean there is not much discussion of ecology program as yet, I agree again. I think the former needs work - but is not easy. I would urge people on to do it, just as I do for elaborating more compelling and sufficient vision in the other domains.
    People need to take up the task. But in the IOPS definition it is treated on the same level as other key focuses. As to program, again, I think discussion can start anytime, via the blogs, or perhaps projects. But I don't think settling on one can usefully happen, yet. By the way, the vision project - occupy vision - will certainly discuss ecology vision, just like it will the others. And the strategy project - occupy strategy, will certainly, I assume, talk about ecology related programmatic matters.
    As you say, "it will become incorporated more centrally within the parsoc framework," as people develop it better. "And the same goes for many other areas of discussion where people may presently feel 'ignored'. For example, some feminists may feel 'ignored', since more has been written at present about economy and polity than culture and kinship, but that will be addressed in good time. More patience, less haste I say. And most importantly, be respectful in the meanwhile"
    We agreee

    • David Jones 21st Jun 2012

      Thanks Michael. I agree with most of this. Just one comment however, in response to:

      "But I don't see how ecology is treated any less than other areas in the IOPS commitments."

      To give one concrete example: there are currently sections in the forums for posts about "Economy" "Polity" "Kinship" and "Culture and community", as outlined in the vision section of the website. There is no section for "ecology" however. Can a section for "ecology" be added?

      For the record: I don't want "parecology" elevated above any other topics being discussed. Just placed on a par with them.

  • Michael Albert 21st Jun 2012

    Sure, it can be added, why not - I wasn't even aware there wasn't one...

    • David Jones 21st Jun 2012

      That was quick ;-) Cool. Yeah, I noticed "international" was missing too. Now they're both there, great.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 21st Jun 2012

    I agree with Michael that this is probably an investment of diminishing returns for everyone, but I wanted to express agreement with James. And I wanted to thank everyone for taking so much time to come to an understanding, after an unfortunate (and yet arguably productive?) misunderstanding. Again, I found Michael's blog and everyone's comments very helpful.

  • Alex of... 22nd Jun 2012

    my vow of silence broken. in brief Michael. i feel my original response was pretty supportive and inquisitive. the content is based on a variety of souls i've interacted with here, and my own thoughts. i feel i got a pretty cherry picked, defensive, flat out NO response in the content of your response.

    i ask if we need to be better listeners, slow down a bit and focus on local chapters… foster relationships. that's the content. and while we can all do projects, yours hold a level of primacy. that comes from your position. you can make your post the featured post. everyone knows you have a large influence in creating the site. and you repeatedly pressure to a point it feels like a duty and the primary path forward. some will respond to that kind of authoritative call in what is an authoritative culture. and that's dangerous considering the nature of intended goals. it feels anxious. there is an intended convention. my questions to you in the theory project about the hastiness of pushing the reading material right now came back with the strategy of timing toward a convention.

    i don't apologize for my sarcasm. it comes embodied by the frustration i keep hearing, and concern when i hear Darcy as well. that's the content. Caragh hit all this on the head to me in her last comment. i'm not interested going quote by quote on everything. (and mind you, some people find that very disengaging when done to extent). you could turn that around and say the same of my sarcasm and there we have some sort of "cold war". but, if having read much of my other dialogues, i am quite supportive and encouraging when others are too. but i will step from that when i need to make a point.

    honestly, i found it strange that you would recognize Caragh as a HE, being she is one of the only female voices sticking it out here and has a project on Translating IOPS. sure, none of us (probably) read every single word here, but if, as suggested by Mark, a convention signifies credibility, and part of that credibility is based on the demographic, it seems strange you would not be familiar with those holding down what is such a weak demographic and slipping.

    all that said without many other things, i've thrown up a new blog for brainstorming on your confusion to be constructive.

    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/from-dream-lego-to-chapter-building

  • Michael Albert 22nd Jun 2012

    Alex,

    I scrolled back and read your original post, i think i found it, and I agree with you it was inquisitive and supportive. But I don't understand what about my reply you felt dismissed you. You asked about the messages sent. I answered quite fully about them though i think there was no reaction to that, thereafter. You said you favored developing locally. I answered that I agreed...and that for me that means getting more folks aboard, getting together, and developing chapters, as well as developing greater clarity, etc. i didnt go on long about that becuase i have said it over and over. These are the things I have been trying to urge and also to do.

    I did disagree about one thing...the desirability of reducing the IOPS definition as a way of accomplishing those ends...which I said had been suggested by a few people. I wasnt replying at that point to you specifically, but to that broad idea. I said I thought it was not a good idea and also that it would be a violation of trust, since making such changes now, not least when there are no means of doing so but contrary to what was posed as how things would proceed to all joining, was not the grounds on which people became involved. I still think both things... I was not sarcastic. I did not question your motives. I answered the questions you put. And I offered an opinion amidst dealing with a whole lot of other posts, too. I am sorry if that rubbed wrong...I am most certainly thinking about why.

    I will wait a bit, think more on it, and try to respond more generally about the nature of my participation, separately from this now unmanageably long thread, later.

    • Alex of... 23rd Jun 2012

      ok. i'll take my own advice to remember there is a time to give up in the spirit of learning. so apologies for likely being offensive with my level of sarcasm. i do sense that some people here are feeling a little forced and need some breathing room. they are feeling told and dissected.

      and i really am trying to understand what i'm inviting people to. what makes this relevant to people's busy lives. i'm trying to find an answer to why invites would be rejected and why people become frustrated with this environment. Zane has suggested before that we develop a new language. i think he's on to something there. my thoughts on blogs about folks in other organizations is an idea that might allow some participation without full engagement as a method of invitation. open to ideas. my current blog post is for that. your welcome to come to the dream lego rumpus room of course, as long as you don't hog the toys. (joke). rule one on there was a joke too. hopefully some more kids come out to play.

  • David MacClement 23rd Jun 2012

    · Is IOPS too serious to be interesting to most people these days? Perhaps an IOPS-themed cabaret like the following "Bloomsday" celebration would lighten things up.
    (by David MacClement - http://www.iopsociety.org/profile/davd 23 June 19:57 NZT)

    http://gpjanz.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/
    - about half way down, has:
    Saturday, June 16, 7.30pm, Thirsty Dog Tavern, Corner Howe St & Karangahape Rd, Auckland
    BLOOMSDAY! JUNE 16! THIRSTY DOG! Missed May Day? Make up for it in June. June 16 is "Bloomsday", a sort of literary St Patrick's Day. It's a commemoration of the fictional day in 1904 in which James Joyce's comic masterpiece Ulysses unfolds. All around the world there are Bloomsday celebrations.
    In Auckland for the past decade a Bloomsday cabaret has unleashed itself in the red-light district of Karangahape Rd. This year it will be at the Thirsty Dog Tavern and feature Outrageous Fortune's Robyn Malcolm reading from the notoriously explicit 50-page soliloquy of Molly Bloom, and George Henare playing pale young poet Stephen Dedalus, girlishly winsome Gerty McDowell and fierce transvestite dominatrix Bella Cohen. With the addition of klezmer music by The Jews Brothers Band, it's the only Hiberno-Hebrew Bloomsday in the known world! Cast of thousands: Dublin actor Brian Keegan, mezzo soprano Yuko Takahashi, international busker and former Auckland Equity secretary Farrell Cleary, political tenor Chris "Crubeen" Trotter, Unite union organiser Joe Carolan (and dog) plus a barbershop quartet singing "Danny Boy". Can't beat it. Saturday night, June 16, 7.30-10.30pm Thirsty Dog Tavern, Corner Howe St & Karangahape Rd, Auckland, New Zealand

    • Michael Albert 23rd Jun 2012

      Yes I think hosting events, both for people in the organization and for the public, should be a very important part of IOPS life, so to speak...for a host of reasons. The trouble is, it requires strong chapters, with lots of members, I think - say twenty, anyhow...or maybe even more, who knows. So I think it ca very much aid outreach, but I suspect not so much now, as later...

  • 24th Jun 2012

    Michael and others,

    I'm a little surprised to hear that people reacted angrily to your friend's emails. I've sent about emails to about 200 friends, and a little less than half have responded in some way. None have responded angrily. Many in fact were very happy that I thought of them, and sent multiple emails to them.

    Also, the proportion of people responding to my emails - nearly half - seems higher than what I'm hearing from other people here. One thing that helped is that I included a line that I took from your (Michael's) example in one of your other blog posts, where you asked for reasons why people weren't joining, if they didn't, so that you could either respond/clarify or benefit from their insight and try and change IOPS accordingly. I think that encouraged responses and thought.

    The second thing that I think encouraged response is that after a week or two I sent a one line email to people I hadn't heard from saying, "Just curious: have you been able to check out the International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS)?" (as a reply to my original email so that they had the link if they scrolled down). Responses ballooned.

    Responses varied, paraphrasing: "I'm too busy now but will look into it later (I noted to follow up with them); thanks so much for your persistence; what does IOPS do?; your dedication is inspiring; I have too many things on my plate; thanks for the reminder, I forgot; people are happier being told what to do, this won't work; what's your involvement look like?; how did you first hear about it?; what do you do in Berkeley?; it's hard to tell if this is practical; it's hard to know if I want to join when it's in development; not interested in politics; lots of jargon; confused about purpose; I'm concerned I'll be fired from my federal job under the Hatch Act; what made this stand out from all the other groups for you?." This is only some of the comments.

    Also, some responded by joining, and with positive emails.

    It's worth noting that only one in two-hundred (or roughly one-hundred that replied) had heard of IOPS before.

    I've responded to all these concerns in turn, but this is an example of what people might be thinking originally. My pool of friends is also undoubtedly different than others.

  • Michael Albert 24th Jun 2012

    It sounds like you are doing a very good job of it! Are your friends already highly politicized?