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Towards a Credible International

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The web site for the International Organisation for a Participatory Society / Socialism (IOPS) was launched a couple of months back. This represented the start of our interim phase where people can join IOPS and use the existing facilities to discuss ideas in the forum, initiate projects, organise face-to-face meetings with other members in their area, etc, all in preparation for the formal launch of the organisation. But some might wonder, why have an interim phase at all? Why not just launch the organisation and allow for full participation from day one?

Well, to launch IOPS in that way, with no interim phase, was an option. But the rationale for not doing so was / is that IOPS does not yet constitute a credible international organisation. This is felt for a number of reasons.

First there are the quality and quantity issues. To be a credible international organisation we need a significant number of members. In addition to numbers we also need the membership to have a good grasp of what IOPS is about, where it came from, its structure and program etc. This latter reason isn't suggested because I want to see IOPS become some secular religion or cult-like organisation where everyone mindlessly regurgitates what has been laid down by the ICC. On the contrary! What I would like to see is for members to familiarise themselves with the ideas that underpin IOPS so that we can have a rational and open discussion starting from a broadly shared set of convictions that can open out and develop over time. We should certainly try to avoid the stifling dogmatic intellectual culture that typifies much of the revolutionary left.

So I have already highlighted two important tasks for members to engage in during the interim period which, I suggest, would move us towards a credible international organisation - (1) recruitment (for quantity of membership) and (2) study (for quality of membership).

Second we need to think carefully about who we recruit. Part of being a credible international organisation also means that IOPS is representative of the constituents it hope to facilitate in their self-emancipation. This means that when we are recruiting for our National branches and local chapters we need to keep an eye on the demographic of our membership and using this information to inform recruitment priorities. Ultimately we need our membership to reflect the particular part of the world in which our members are organising.

A third consideration has to do with time. We need time to address the above three issues - quantity, quality and balance of membership - if we are to move towards a credible international organisation, and, as I have argued, this is what the interim phase is for. However, there likely will come a time when the interim period will start to have a negative impact on our organisation. We can imagine a situation, say a year down the line, whereby IOPS is still successfully recruiting whilst at the same time loosing members who get sick of waiting for the formal launch. We obviously want to avoid that situation. So it seems to me that we need to put some kind of timeframe on the interim phase.

To summarise, so far I have argued that in order to constitute being a credible international organisation IOPS needs:

  1. More members.
  2. Members that understand the basics of what IOPS is about - its vision and strategy, the significance of prefigurative organising, what it means to be part of a self-managed organisation, etc.
  3. National branches and local chapters that reflects the constituency within that area. Amongst other considerations this will mean that all National branches of IOPS will mostly need to have something like a 50-50 female / male membership.

In addition to the above three points I have also argued that we need to put a timeframe on these activities in order to avoid the danger of loosing existing members. That said, I do think that any such timeframe will need to be flexible. Having a fixed timeframe does not make sense and could prove costly. Imagine, for example, that we settle on a one year timeframe to undertake the above three tasks but that in the tenth or eleventh or twelfth month we suddenly have a rapid growth in membership or are making great gains in addressing the imbalance in say gender membership in a number of key branches. In such a scenario it would be completely irrational for us, as well as counterproductive for the organisation, to bring our interim phase to a close. Better, instead, to extend the timeframe by a month or two and see how things pan-out.

In a nutshell I am arguing that for IOPS to qualify as a credible international organisation we need quantity and quality of membership. We need membership that is representative of the constituents where we have branches / chapters. In addition to this criteria for credibility I feel that we need a timeframe in which to achieve these goals.

So here are some questions for members to think about and maybe comment on:

The timeframe question - Keeping in mind the point discussed above regarding flexibility, how long do we want to maintain the interim phase? Or put another way, how long should we give ourselves to do the above highlighted work?

The quantity question - How many members should we aim to recruit during this timeframe?

The quality question - What are the best ways in which members can help each other to gain an understanding of what IOPS is about in preparation for the launch?

The representative question - By what means can we ensure that we develop a membership that reflects the areas that we are organising in? Or put more harshly, how can we avoid IOPS becoming another left wing sect?

Discussion 60 Comments

  • Darcy McClare 23rd May 2012

    Hello. Though I'm all for learning for the sake of learning and studying for the sake of revolutionary change, it sounds dangerous to me to be saying this organization should concerned with judging who can and who can't participate in an international participatory society. Either we should be encouraging everyone voice their sense of conscience or this is just another hierarchical organization which will serve no other purpose than to re-enforce the patriarchal system which oppresses us all.
    As for other issues, the word 'recruit' is problematic. I do not want to be a part of any militia or cult. I do not want to be converted to any set-in-stone world-view. And I do not want to have to pass an entrance exam to be able to participate in something more hypocritical than the falsehood which is representational democracy. I want to be part of a network which facilitates communication between a wide variety of other organizations all working together to make it easier for people to contribute their imaginations, hands, and consciences to shaping local communities and international relations in fair and sensible ways.
    The main way to gain credibility, in my opinion, is to become thoroughly interwoven with other non-governmental organizations already in existence --from large ones such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, and unions, to the smallest zine libraries, social centers, and infoshops. In the words of Kropotkin, "In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the State in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national, and international --temporary or more or less permanent --for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defense of the territory, and so on; and on the other side, for the satisfaction of the ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary, and sociable needs."
    The current way in which this interim organization is structured may be hindering moving in this direction. Perhaps division into national branches and regional chapters should be reconsidered. For on thing, nationalism is a plague on international solidarity! Also, it might be better to change the website so as to allow organizations to sign up as being a part of the IOPS network. Then all the people who support Greenpeace or whatever other organization might like to unite in the effort of creating an international participatory society can find out about IOPS through the newsletters and blogs of those organizations and feel already invested in the movement because an organization which they've been supporting for years is invested in it.

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Darcy - the impression I get from what you write is that you and I have quite different ideas of what a participatory society might be. I also don't understand why you say some of the things you say.

      For example you write -

      "Either we should be encouraging everyone voice their sense of conscience or this is just another hierarchical organization which will serve no other purpose than to re-enforce the patriarchal system which oppresses us all."

      You seem to be suggesting that IOPS is somehow blocking free speech and in-so-doing will lead to an oppression system. If so could you give an actual example?

      You feel -

      "the word 'recruit' is problematic. I do not want to be a part of any militia or cult."

      I don't follow. I don't see a necessary connection between recruiting members to iOPS and IOPS becoming a cult.

      You write -

      "I do not want to be converted to any set-in-stone world-view. And I do not want to have to pass an entrance exam to be able to participate..."

      Nor do I. Where is "set-in-stone world-view"? Where is the "entrance exam"?

      You state -

      "For on thing, nationalism is a plague on international solidarity!"

      This tends to be the case today but I don't think this is necessarily true.

  • Conor Ó Daighre 23rd May 2012

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I think it’s important to focus on our direction at this early stage and work out some sort of broad strategy to bring us closer to becoming a truly participatory organisation. I don’t think we should rush this...it will take time and we need to be patient.

    There are a number of issues I’d add to your list of what would constitute us becoming a credible international organisation:

    - A greater proportion of our members coming from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
    - Within Western countries, increasing the proportion of members from ‘minority’ backgrounds. I’m thinking mainly of London where I live. Out of around 60 members in the London Chapter, over 90% are white. This is not a true reflection of the demographic of London where only around 70% are white. This is a common failure of leftist organisations.
    - Changing the name and logo of the organisation so that has universal appeal (I think ‘International Organisation for a Participatory Society’ would make a good subtitle). This will need a great deal of consideration and deliberation between members with the best suggestions being put to a vote. I’m thinking of a one word name that is snappy, appealing, unique and instantly recognisable (something like 'Solidarnosk' in Poland. Perhaps a word from an indigenous language that perfectly captures the essence of our organisation?

    With regards to your questions...

    Time frame/Quantity: I don’t see any reason to delay introducing a voting mechanism on the website as early as possible. I’m guessing the vast majority of members know what the organisation is about and broadly agree with its principles (or at least are willing to learn more about the details of ParSoc). Could you expand on the practical reasons for delaying this? How do we determine how many members is enough? How do we determine when we are a truly international organisation? Who decides this?

    Quality: Our first priority is getting to know the people in our local chapters and have face-to-face meetings. Reading groups are also an excellent way to become familiar with the theory/practice of ParSoc and gain confidence debating and speaking about our views.

    Representative Question: Once chapters are fully functioning and members get to know and support each other, it may be a good idea for them to map the social/ngo landscape in their city/region. Speak to community leaders, religious leaders, social workers, community volunteers, co-ops, community gardens, etc and gage their reaction and how members could be offer some practical assistance (without getting co-opted by State funding, etc). If we’re serious about this, we should know our local areas inside out and plan a strategy that steers away from many of the mistakes left wing organisations usually make with their ostentatious considerations of those in the community.

    On a side note...I feel that all those on the interim committee could be the difference between IOPS becoming popular or just another obscure leftist organisation. Those who are well known and respected on the left could be writing more articles in the alternative media and pushing IOPS as something worthwhile...their words have great weight amongst radicals and would give our membership drive a great boost by raising awareness of our principles and vision. I'm not sure why this isn't being done (yet?).

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Hi Conor -

      You write - "There are a number of issues I’d add to your list of what would constitute us becoming a credible international organisation:"

      Okay.

      "- A greater proportion of our members coming from Africa, Asia and Latin America."

      I would also like to see this but, it seems to me, that we can only be responsible for our membership within the National branches and local chapters that are in existence at any given time.

      "- Within Western countries, increasing the proportion of members from ‘minority’ backgrounds. I’m thinking mainly of London where I live. Out of around 60 members in the London Chapter, over 90% are white. This is not a true reflection of the demographic of London where only around 70% are white. This is a common failure of leftist organisations."

      I agree. That is what the representative question is about.

      "- Changing the name and logo of the organisation..."

      This is something members can look at, if they are interested, when we formally launch.

      You also ask about the time frame - "Could you expand on the practical reasons for delaying this? How do we determine how many members is enough? How do we determine when we are a truly international organisation? Who decides this?"
      As I said in my blog we could have launched IOPS with full participation (voting facilities, etc) from day one. The reason this seemed like a bad idea was that the initial membership did not constitute a credible international organisation. The idea of having an interim phase is to give us time to address this issues - to move towards membership for a credible international organisation - before launching. That is the subject of my blog.

    • Conor Ó Daighre 24th May 2012

      Hi Mark,

      You write in response to the point about a greater proportion of our members coming from Africa, Asia and Latin America:

      "I would also like to see this but, it seems to me, that we can only be responsible for our membership within the National branches and local chapters that are in existence at any given time."

      As a Western-centric organisation, we *are* responsible for a shortage of members from the Global South. The onus is on us to make this organisation as relevant as possible to people of other continents outside N.America and Europe. If the majority of members are from the USA, while the whole of Africa only has about 10 members, it's only going to be *International* in name. A token 'internationalism'.

      We may not intend to be Eurocentric, but we are and our perspectives will reflect this. To be truly internationalist we need to seriously think about broadening our appeal to other cultures.

      That's what I was trying to get at with the name change too. I think it necessary....most people I've talked to agree that IOPS sounds off-putting and dry. I think this is extremely important...we need a hook, something that rolls of the tongue and can cross cultural boundaries while still maintaining the essence of what this organisation means. Hence the word-from-an-indigenous-language suggestion :)

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Conor - of course I / we want members from all over to join IOPS. It would be ridiculous to want otherwise. However, it seems to me that it is only reasonable to ask members to take responsibility for the representation question within the area in which they are organising. For you that means London > England> etc. Obviously members with connection in other parts of the world can choose to exploit these to the benefit of IOPS but otherwise...

      On the name issue, we disagree.

    • 24th May 2012

      Can you elaborate on this "many of the mistakes left wing organisations usually make with their ostentatious considerations of those in the community?" I don't know what you mean.

    • Conor Ó Daighre 25th May 2012

      Mark, I hope you understand what I was getting at when I said it's important that we don't remain a Western-centric organisation and be mindful about changing this.
      Can you explain why you disagree on the name issue?

      John,
      I'm thinking of many leftist groups who talk about the working class all the time without having any real roots in working class communities. They just don't have much practical relevance to the everyday lives of people in the community.

    • Mark Evans 25th May 2012

      Conor -

      On the name issue: First, I like the name as it is. Second, if the name is to change this should happen at the founding convention, or after, and should involve the whole of the membership. It is not, in my opinion, something that we should be focusing on during the interim phase or deciding on before we have a credible membership for an international organisation.

      Regarding IOPS being Western centric: you write "The onus is on us to make this organisation as relevant as possible to people of other continents outside N.America and Europe." My feeling is that we are already doing this. Our visionary commitment is not only relevant to Europe / America, nor is our notion of self-management. IOPS, in my opinion, has a universal appeal and application. As you know we are also facilitating self-managed organising internationally via this site. But if you see things differently or have suggestions for how we can improve on this then please say how.

    • Conor Ó Daighre 26th May 2012

      Okey-dokey, Mark. I do see things differently but what I have to say on this will take a blog-length post. Thanks! You've spurned me into action on this issue. Will hopefully write something within the coming week.

    • Mark Evans 26th May 2012

      That so great to hear Conor - I very much look forward to reading your thoughts!

  • Kim Keyser 23rd May 2012

    I think it be very unwise to determine a time frame now. First there needs to be formed local organizations (not internet members, but actual activist organizations), then regional organizations and perhaps even national organizations. When there are a few such actual activist organizations in place, I think we can set the time frame. By building actual activist organizations one "learns by doing", one learns about all the three main prefigurative priniciples in practice: solidarity, direct democracy and direct action.

    If we just set a time frame here and now, we might end up an empty shell of an international organization, which might now have the capability to actually implement the action plan it decides upon. It'll only usher in a feeling of hopelessness. (Please do believe me, as I've been involved in constructing such an international organization before.)

    Conor: "How do we determine how many members is enough? How do we determine when we are a truly international organisation? Who decides this?"

    There is no clear answer to your question (there seldom are for good interim organizations), but I think we could determine that when we've established a few actual activist organizations. You hint at this in your next paragraph, where you said "Our first priority is getting to know the people in our local chapters and have face-to-face meetings", and also "map the social/ngo landscape in their city/region". I couldn't agree more! Such measures are the next logical steps to building actual activist organizations.

    My /guess/ though, we won't have a sufficient amount of such organizations before /at least/ one year from now.

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Kim -

      The time frame I talk about in my blog is for the interim phase. The interim phase is there to allow us to move towards a credible international organisation - to address the issues I highlight such as quality of membership, quantity of membership, membership being representative of the area in which we are organising. However, none of this excludes local meetings / National gatherings etc. I also suggest that any time frame should be flexible to allow for unseen developments. But the point is that the interim phase can not go on for ever and maybe having a flexible time frame for addressing the highlighted issues would be helpful.

  • Kim Keyser 23rd May 2012

    One last thing. I do understand – and 100% agree with – the sentiment about building a representative organization. But please do understand that just proclaiming that one would like such an organization here at the internet, will not help one bit, quite the contrary.

    There are real class issues why both white, men and higher layers of workers are overrepresented on the internet, and thus probably here as well (they use the internet more, amongst other things because they have more material assets and thus more access, but also because they have more self-confidence, and all this has a self-reinforcing effect by the social law of homogenous attraction...). This can only change if you meet the prospective members where they are (i.e. not here). To do so you need to have real, on the ground, targeted campaigns.

    You wanna reach women? Don't talk about it here. Form the local IOPS, develop a targeted program, print some stickers and get the interested female members of the local activist IOPS organization to stick'em up at girls toilets at schools. Stuff like that. (We're developing such programs in the organization I'm a member of here in Oslo, Norway). Similar with other underrepresented groups.

    One last thing: A 50/50-ratio is very difficult to achieve, because we live in capitalism, and it will anyway take time. I'm saying this not to discourage people from reaching that goal, but to offer you realistic expectations so anyone won't be demoralized when we haven't reached that goal one year from now (it'll take time from the day one implements concrete programs, right now, when there are no real programs – only internet proclamations – it might take forever though ;) ).

    I hope this will be taken as a constructive and friendly comment, because that's certainly what my intention is!

    • Alex of... 25th May 2012

      Kim, you sound just a little apologetic in that last line. please don't be. in my personal opinion, you've touched on the most important issue in this discussion. i would only differ to say, in regards to reaching women, DO talk about it here as well. you, as well as men that hear you. speak to other men. talk about in any way possible. minds need to open. we need to reflect and remind each other of what is important. we need better dialogue.

    • Conor Ó Daighre 25th May 2012

      I'd like to second what Alexander said. It's one of the most important issues and needs to be pushed to the forefront of debates surrounding what we want IOPS to become.

  • 23rd May 2012

    Thank you for your thoughts. Not much to add apart from stressing the need to recruit more people of non-Western background as Conor said, and evaluating the possibility of changing the name.

    As for the questions:

    - Timeframe: By launching the organization do you mean setting a date for a convention? If so, I think that this should be discussed through a survey or voting system on the website.

    - Quantity: ditto.

    - Quality. Reading groups offer great opportunity to share and improve knowledge. An idea could also be that of suggesting a few key texts on the website, as to direct newcomers to the sources and topics that are being discussed by members (Albert, Chomsky, Graeber, etc...). A voting system could be ideal in order to decide which ones to put up.

    - Representative: on the one hand I think we should avoid expressing ourselves in 'academese' with terms nobody understand apart from college educated people (this anyway is just a reminder. All post so far have been written in a fairly accessible way). On the other hand, I think that we should also avoid the same old rhetoric of passionate comradeship and fervor that is employed by many, if not all, leftist groups through their various slogans and manifestos. This makes much sense for people who are already activists, but I believe is not very appealing for potential newcomer (with this I'm not saying I don't like the rhetoric and slogans, quite the opposite. I just think IOPS aims at being something different than other more sectarian groups).

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Hi Giulio, you ask "By launching the organization do you mean setting a date for a convention?"

      Yes, that is what is hoped for.

      You add - "If so, I think that this should be discussed through a survey or voting system on the website."

      This blog is an attempt at getting members to think about and discuss what is involved when considering such issues.

  • 23rd May 2012

    Quoting Darcy, I also think that "The main way to gain credibility, in my opinion, is to become thoroughly interwoven with other non-governmental organizations already in existence --from large ones such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, and unions, to the smallest zine libraries, social centers, and infoshops".

  • 23rd May 2012

    Every time I stop by IOPS has moved a little to the right... First we dropped the word socialist without consulting everyone, then there is discussion of astrology as a reasonable subject for discussion. Next we have a definition of revolutionary as peaceful change over a very long time (Allende must have joined while I was not looking). And people in countries where left organisational membership is dangerous in itself are given no special help by IOPS, no advice or resources. Now Greenpeace becomes a reasonable recruitment area just like other NGOs... like unions ?! ...
    I am not sure that Michael Albert and Co expected that a strong orientation in favour of self management combined with a low level of jointly agreed statements would have such an impact this quickly...
    Anyway I write this because I think that good intentions & unstructured discussions probably will not be enough to defeat the capitalists, or even give much help to workers involved in terrible & hard battles.
    I think organisation means members acting together in a coordinated fashion... Otherwise it is just a lifestyle club. Which is fine if that is what people want...

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Li Xie Jie - this thread is meant for comments on my blog not general comments on IOPS. Nevertheless Im concerned about the impression you are getting.

      You write - "I think organisation means members acting together in a coordinated fashion... Otherwise it is just a lifestyle club. Which is fine if that is what people want..."

      Well actually it is not fine. If people want that they should go somewhere else. IOPS was set up as a new revolutionary organisation which means organising in the way that you define it.

      You also write - "First we dropped the word socialist without consulting everyone".

      I include the word socialism in my blog and it has not been remove from the IOPS definition - not sure why you think it has.

      You say - "Next we have a definition of revolutionary as peaceful change over a very long time."

      Im not sure to what you are referring here... The organisational description??? If so that hasn't changed since day one.

      Regarding your other comments Im not sure why you think trade unionist, for example, would not be interested in IOPS. Same with members of other NGO's who are feeling the frustration of working within the limitations of purely reformist organisations.

    • 24th May 2012

      What's your suggestion exactly? I don't follow.

    • Jason Chrysostomou 25th May 2012

      Li Xie Jie, You write:

      "Every time I stop by IOPS has moved a little to the right..."

      I'd like to know why you think this. Please provide reasons or evidence.

      "First we dropped the word socialist without consulting everyone,"

      I am not sure what are you referring to? the temporary name of the organisation to be used during the interim phase was decided by the interim committee until the name is formally decided by iops membership at the founding convention.

      "then there is discussion of astrology as a reasonable subject for discussion."

      this was a blog post you are referring to, right? What someone posts in a blog is their own opinion. Whether it is a reasonable subject for discussion is for others to decide.

      "Next we have a definition of revolutionary as peaceful change over a very long time (Allende must have joined while I was not looking)."

      Whose definition is this? Again, maybe someone else's personal opinion?

      "And people in countries where left organisational membership is dangerous in itself are given no special help by IOPS, no advice or resources. Now Greenpeace becomes a reasonable recruitment area just like other NGOs... like unions ?! ..."

      IOPS interim has barely been launched and is still in a creation stage. What resources is IOPS supposed to provide to other organisations at this stage?

      I think it is important that we keep im mind that building an effective functioning self-managed international organisation does not happen overnight and that it will take time. There is a long road ahead, but it will require patience, a constructive and respectful spirit and persistence.

  • 23rd May 2012

    Short of time (as usual!), so only a short response:

    First: hi to all!

    1) Mark: Thanks for reminding us of the four issues of timeframe, quantity, quality, and representivity. While I appreciate your points about the uses of a timeframe, especially as a focusing tool, I share Kim’s reticence about an actual implementation.

    2) Darcy: I totally love the idea of the interwoven network, and I share it. That is what I am actively working towards myself, in however informal a way, amongst the many subcultures and groups I have some involvement in. I also like the idea of organisational and institutional affiliation, such as Greenpeace linking up within this network of participatory solidarity. This is the creation of a culture, even a civilisation, that we’re envisioning and co-evolving.

    For those who fear possible dilution of parecon principles, I’d like to remind you of the hard-won institutionality of Znet and its affiliates. I do believe Znet can serve as an conceptual lynchpin so as to centripetally counteract any centrifugal tendency for IOPS to get sucked into the orbit of these other organisations it links to and participates with, and so forget itself. Further, Michael’s Parecon writings provide an additional bedrock, and so will the forthcoming Fanfare for the Future trilogy.

    3) Conor: I certainly agree with the need for greater representivity. I think we are all working towards this in any way we can. We must simply continue.

    4) Kim: as usual, I agree with your voice of experience.

    Thanks again for the post!

    :)

    • Mark Evans 26th May 2012

      Hi Zane, you write - "While I appreciate your points about the uses of a timeframe, especially as a focusing tool, I share Kim’s reticence about an actual implementation."

      I actually share Kim and your concern regarding imposing a time frame on the interim phase. However, I also have other concerns that I think need to be taken into consideration. They are:

      1) having an unspecified interim phase could prove problematic in terms of members motivation.

      2) the danger of loosing members who get tiered of waiting for the interim phase to end and have no way of knowing when it might.

      I don't think we can ignore these concerns and a flexible time frame might be a solution.

    • 27th May 2012

      Yes, I understand your point. I think a flexible time-frame is a good idea. It's just getting the balance right.

      So maybe we should begin tentatively imagining concrete goals?

    • Alex of... 27th May 2012

      flexibility is pretty cool.

  • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

    Li Xie Jie - this thread is meant for comments on my blog not general comments on IOPS. Nevertheless Im concerned about the impression you are getting.

    You write - "I think organisation means members acting together in a coordinated fashion... Otherwise it is just a lifestyle club. Which is fine if that is what people want..."

    Well actually it is not fine. If people want that they should go somewhere else. IOPS was set up as a new revolutionary organisation which means organising in the way that you define it.

    You also write - "First we dropped the word socialist without consulting everyone".

    I include the word socialism in my blog and it has not been remove from the IOPS definition - not sure why you think it has.

    You say - "Next we have a definition of revolutionary as peaceful change over a very long time."

    Im not sure to what you are referring here... The organisational description??? If so that hasn't changed since day one.

    Regarding your other comments Im not sure why you think trade unionist, for example, would not be interested in IOPS. Same with members of other NGO's who are feeling the frustration of working within the limitations of purely reformist organisations.

  • Marlo Pedroso 24th May 2012

    A few brief thoughts as I read through:

    1. When we say "credible", in who's eyes and how do we define that? I ask because in my limited experience, a group's credibility is often not judged in terms of their numbers or how diverse their group members are (though, those are important), but by whether they get shit done. Which leads to my second point...

    2. Again in my experience, poor people (who are disproportionately people of color), join organizations that can make a positive difference in their lives, not because they have a cool philosophical orientation. That doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't have both, that's the point, right? But it does mean that if we want to recruit people of color and working poor, we have to be prepare to answer the questions, "what's in it for me? why should I invest my limited time and energy in this?" And to answer in some concrete, immediate terms (ie. as in: "when the revolution comes...blah, blah, blah").

    3. Coalition building is fine, but the reason I'm interested in this group is because it actually has a vision for the future, guiding principles that I like, and, eventually I hope, some concrete objectives and strategies for achieving them. Again, having a groups name on a piece of paper is fine, but when it all comes down to dust, the question other groups will be asking is, what has IOPS been able to change in the world today", even as we move towards a more ideal future?

    4. I wasn't involved in the name change thing, but as an North American, I think anything with the word socialist will automatically be dismissed as fringe. I personally like International Organization for a Participatory Society. In any case, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, what will be more important than a "brand", if you will, is how good the product is.

    Cheers,
    Marlo

  • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

    Thanks Mario - I agree with much of what you write and you are right to highlight the vision aspect of IOPS a particularly significant. Your second point is also spot on.

    You also raise the question of credibility in terms of what IOPS actually achieves. This is, of course, the ultimate test. However, that must come later. Serous organisng takes time and we are just laying the foundations here. Once we have functioning local chapters and National branches we can start to formulate and launch actual campaigns or join forces with existing progressive coalitions - all, of course, self-managed. This is what pre-figurative organising is all about.

    You write - "When we say "credible", in who's eyes and how do we define that? I ask because in my limited experience, a group's credibility is often not judged in terms of their numbers or how diverse their group members are (though, those are important), but by whether they get shit done."

    That is true. However, in our case this ultimately means building a participatory society and to get this done we will need:

    1) a popularly supported organisation (the quantity question).
    2) a knowledgeable membership (the quality question)
    3) a membership that reflects the constituents where they are organising (the representative question)

    A participatory society simple can not come into existence any other way.

    Furthermore, to ensure that we start as we mean to go on it is important that when we formally launch IOPS we, as an organsation, has a membership that already has some credibility by this criteria.

    PS. I wasn't involved in the name change either but that is because it did not happen. IOPS still stands for International Organisation for a Participatory Society / Socialism and members should use whichever version works best where they are, which will vary from place to place.

  • 24th May 2012

    Thank you for answering Mark

    "IOPS still stands for International Organisation for a Participatory Society / Socialism and members should use whichever version works best where they are, which will vary from place to place."

    The title of the website is not varying from place to place. The editors of the site have more power than the members (as in all other organisations). They use it as they think proper, but here they pretend they have no extra power...

    My comment was about Greenpeace, not about unions. Greenpeace is a completely capitalist & pro-capitalist organisation. To list it next to unions as some list of progressive NGOs we should be relating to shows extreme confusion about class in this society.

    ... I was making comments about other members' blogs. But obviously people don't read every blog and every comment, so debate is a bit confusing.

    Anyway, it is clear this organisation is not for me so it is time for me to leave this organisation. I wonder if when I leave all my previous comments will disappear like they do on Facebook, or will they stay as a history of my debates with some members?

    We will soon see.

    All the best with all IOPS developments and activities. Solidarity from Melbourne Australia.

    • Mark Evans 24th May 2012

      Li Xie Jie - you are right about the website address but that has not changed since we launched the site. My guess is that the "not varying from place to place" is due to technical limitations.

      Regarding your opinions regarding Green Peace - fine! I doubt everyone will agree but so it goes...

      You say "it is clear this organisation is not for me". Im sorry to hear that but I have to say it is not so clear to me. Perhaps you would say why...

    • Alex of... 25th May 2012

      Li Xie JIe

      consider not leaving, for a moment, and consider that your voice here has value. some may not hear you, and some may. i don't agree with everything you've said, and you don't agree with some things others have said. that's ok. we need to figure out how that works. and yes, in a sea of discussions, it gets confusing.

      "The editors of the site have more power than the members (as in all other organisations). They use it as they think proper"

      I agree

      "but here they pretend they have no extra power…"

      can we get a little deeper into that thought? is it really a matter of pretending?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 25th May 2012

      "The title of the website is not varying from place to place. The editors of the site have more power than the members (as in all other organisations). They use it as they think proper, but here they pretend they have no extra power..."

      International Organisation for a Participatory Society got the most votes when it was put to the Interim Committee and that is why it is being used on the website during the interim phase. Additionally you can visit the site using the domain http://www.iopsocialism.org. The final name of the organisation will be decided by members at the founding convention.

      We will be updating the IOPS logo so that it updates when changing language but haven't implemented that yet. Please understand that our time and resources are stretched and that everything on the website is also interim and can be changed. The website is a work in progress and will be updated and modified based on what members want over time. Certainly, when voting facilities are up it will be easier for members to express their preferences on what features to add/change on the site.

      "Anyway, it is clear this organisation is not for me so it is time for me to leave this organisation. I wonder if when I leave all my previous comments will disappear like they do on Facebook, or will they stay as a history of my debates with some members?"

      What do you prefer? I'd suggest that comments stay unless someone requests them to be deleted.

    • 31st May 2012

      a shame to see someone leave early in the development ... though i do understand.

      I guess there is a lot of shifting sand during this phase, and my absence due to 'life' means i'm just now catchng up on these things.

      I agree, Greenpeace is a thoroughly capitalist reformist organisation, but organisations representing all causes sit at a variety of points on a spectrum (say, Greenpeace at one end and Earth First nearer the other end) - this is a good thing in terms of pragmatics because it gives people somewhere on that spectrum for a cause to 'hook' onto. From there they can hopefully come into contact with material that causes them to drift toward more serious engagements that go beyond a minor financial donation and changing their light globes.

      The relevance to this conversation? I too like the notion of collaboration and interwoven networks - networks are interwoven already, its just a matter of becoming aware of them and being purposeful about creating particular connections. I do, however, draw the line on collaborating with organisations/individuals that are kneedeep in their own economic rationalist muck :-)

    • 3rd Jun 2012

      Alison: I do like the way you have described the pragmatics of the interwoven networks. Very clearly put! Thank you!

  • 24th May 2012

    Do you know the significance of prefigurative organising? Can you explain?

    Do you know what it means to be part of a self-managed organisation? Can you explain?

    I think you recognize this, but another option instead of developing a tentative deadline for when IOPS should stop being interim is to develop a list of criteria that should be met before IOPS stops being interim. The benefit of this is that it gives us something to work toward.

  • Alex of... 25th May 2012

    Mark Evans quoted "But some might wonder, why have an interim phase at all? Why not just launch the organisation and allow for full participation from day one?"

    proposals then are about a timeframe to what? Giulio Ongaro asks "By launching the organization do you mean setting a date for a convention?" Mark says yes, and as for voting, this blog is attempt to consider and discuss such issues.

    i have no idea what such a convention is all about. perhaps someone can explain better. but really, i don't understand why there has to be some big deal about moving from an interim period to a "credible international organization" with the big "launch date". this feels a bit like central planning. we, the members, talk about stuff. then, an interim committee collates the data and makes decisions. we, who are not in that committee or admins have no real idea how those decisions are being made. there's very little transparency.

    an example, i made a comment on Michael Albert's post "Imagine a Stadium" (the previous featured post), to raise the question of decision making (at this point, remains without response, but here we are). read it if you want elaboration on where i'm coming from, but getting more specific from there… in the first place, who decides the featured post? i can accept that at this point it is probably the "international admins" (three men) and perhaps some amount of personal communication unknown to the rest of us. and who knows if the predominantly male interim committee at large has anything to do with this. but, i would like to know.

    and then, we also have a "Member Blogs" section under "What Comes Next" in the sidebar. as i noted in the other post, three of the five posts are from Michael Albert. hmm. i would think Member Blogs are a place to represent member posts that have hit on issues that resonate with the membership concerning where to go next. it would seem that Michael is three fifths of that, and that is a bit disheartening.

    "The way to seek a new world, which we certainly need to do, is to win changes, now, that empower us more, induce in us more desires, and induce in us the wherewithal to seek to pursue those additional desires even as we win immediate goals." Michael Albert

    that quote makes sense to me, and addressed the larger scheme of social progress. so then, why not apply that here on IOPS? instead of looking toward the big launch date, could we instead find empowering influence in small ways now that organically develop IOPS? instead of central planners absorbing the data from membership over a log period of time, we could start with small things. can we get some transparency on how featured posts are being decided and make it more self-managed to reflect member activity?

    i nominated Caragh du Toit's "It is time for IOPS to evolve" post as some kind of featured post "as it relates to the gender gap, voices unheard, and personal relationships." sure, that's just my suggestion. there are ways to approach this, like if a post gains a certain amount of activity, it could be featured. that could be manipulated by spamming a post with comments, so there would have to be a safeguard for that, like member-based objection. there could also be simple member-based nomination system for featuring a post. that's a couple approaches with logistics to think about. i don't want to get too deep into that, as i'm more looking for feedback on the observation and general idea. the idea being, taking one issue and creating a means of active-member empowerment toward others.

    additionally, i nominate that post, as i am now convinced the number one issue we face on the web end at least is the gender gap. it is encouraged that members be mindful of the demographic, but i'm not the first to point out that the same issue exists in the interim committee. it exists in the international admins, the featured posts, the membership, the activity, and perhaps above all, the level of communication. and much of this ()as well as other gaps) exist between internet use and ground work.

    Kim Keyser quoted: "I do understand – and 100% agree with – the sentiment about building a representative organization. But please do understand that just proclaiming that one would like such an organization here at the internet, will not help one bit, quite the contrary."

    i see something like 3 or 4 women and a 100 men talking on this website, and a lot of "my idea is so important" comments (guilty myself). i think our language ands means of empowerment needs to change. we need to win some small changes.

    "It is time for IOPS to evolve"
    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/it-is-time-for-iops-to-evolve-

    • Jason Chrysostomou 25th May 2012

      Alexander,

      "we, the members, talk about stuff. then, an interim committee collates the data and makes decisions. we, who are not in that committee or admins have no real idea how those decisions are being made. there's very little transparency."

      This is why we need to move from an interim phase to a fully self-managed organisation. The ICC guiding decisions is only meant as a temporary measure during the interim phase until the organisation is founded. Although, the few ICC decisions that have been made so far are being reported transparently on the site, no? but, i certainly agree with you that this should only be a temporary arrangement.

      "who decides the featured post? i can accept that at this point it is probably the "international admins" (three men) and perhaps some amount of personal communication unknown to the rest of us. and who knows if the predominantly male interim committee at large has anything to do with this. but, i would like to know."

      Yes, it is the international admins who select which post to feature, and, no, the ICC are not involved with it.
      Same for any branch/chapter page - the chapter admins make decisions on managing the content of their home page. Another reason why we need to move beyond the interim arrangement to implement a mechanism to decide who gets to be admin - either chapter members decide in person face to face, or using an online voting system. With the featured post another possibility could be to add a 'vote to feature blog' facility where members can vote which blogs they wish to be featured.

      "I nominated Caragh du Toit's "It is time for IOPS to evolve" post as some kind of featured post "as it relates to the gender gap, voices unheard, and personal relationships." sure, that's just my suggestion. there are ways to approach this, like if a post gains a certain amount of activity, it could be featured."

      I agree, Caragh's post should have been featured and will be added to the what comes next list. I've been away for the last two weeks. Apologies.

      "that could be manipulated by spamming a post with comments, so there would have to be a safeguard for that, like member-based objection. there could also be simple member-based nomination system for featuring a post. that's a couple approaches with logistics to think about. i don't want to get too deep into that, as i'm more looking for feedback on the observation and general idea. the idea being, taking one issue and creating a means of active-member empowerment toward others."

      yes, I agree. It is just down to time and resources we have with adding features to the site. I'm going to make a call out for people with relevant skills to join an IOPS website team that should be able to help share the workload on the site.

    • Mark Evans 25th May 2012

      Hi Alexander, you write "i don't understand why there has to be some big deal about moving from an interim period to a "credible international organization" with the big "launch date". this feels a bit like central planning."

      The reason this is a big deal is because, to have credibility, the membership of any international organisation has to meet certain criteria. I have suggested what this criteria might be in my blog.

      To illustrate the point, imagine if we had had no interim phase and just launched IOPS. And imagine that the initial membership consisted of 10 posh white guys from America / Europe. This would have been problematic for two main reasons. First, 10 posh white guys from America / Europe can not call themselves an international organisation and be taken seriously - at least not on the left. Second, this would set a very bad precedent for the likely development of the organisation.

      Nevertheless we do need to operate within the ugly reality of the current world system. This means that, despite our best intentions, we are still likely to attract relatively well-off white males from America / Europe to IOPS - at least initially.

      The point being, the interim phase creates an opportunity for the initial membership to address this important issue (along with others I highlight in my blog) before any formal launch.

      For the record, I completely agree that the current set-up with IOPS is far from participatory. That said, however, it is important that members understand why this is and for us all to focus on what needs to be done during our interim phase.

    • Alex of... 26th May 2012

      thanks Jason. first to say, i have a huge.. no wait… HUGE respect for what you have done to manage this site on the development end and the time involved. thank you for that dedication, seriously.

      as for transparency, i might come off a little harsh… and as i wrote, recognized the ICC has reported on how decision making happens, but didn't say so and probably should have. i may be posing it that way simply to make space for the conversation, as i've seen a few discussions where folks feel they are not involved or are confused on how things work currently. that could be looked as members not involving themselves enough to gain understanding, but on the flip-side, a lack of clarity or path from those already experienced.

      in example (patience for my lengthy way), i'm the current admin of the city i live. my approach was to be minimal and open, so i have a post up as a welcome-mat after sending out a message to let everyone know i'm available as contact point and encourage having a bio and pic in profiles. i set up two forum topics, local introductions and a place for ideas. i refrained from adding anything else, like a page on what i think is important. i've had three contacts thus far. one from my city and one from a neighboring city, that both shared a thank you at our first meeting for showing some activity that could be connected to… in particular, the member outside of my city who had, previous to my membership, sent out a message to multiple members and got no response. we decided it made sense to have our city meeting together if this is the current activity. i now have their influence to vote on what we can expand with, mindful that we are a small group deciding, but can initiate some ideas to expand and open up for new membership.

      lengthy, sorry, getting to the point. the other message back was negative with concern over admins not being democratically elected and thus a refusal to participate. i shared the link of Michael Albert's blog post "Growth and Some Worries", not knowing if he had read it. blog posts get buried, they are there, but it takes investigation to find relevant topics, and that's not the inclination for everyone who may still have very relevant influence to bring. that post gives a little background on the idea of how admins work in this interim phase. but he wouldn't know that, maybe, without going through many posts or without my message and response. for him, this is not transparent and took my research to give a response. so we all play different roles, and i open this up as we might need to be constantly mindful that what is apparent to one is not to another, so we always need to improve. the responsibility doesn't just rely on another to figure it out but our ability to teach each other and accept each other's roles and inclinations to find the best outcomes from mutual participation. at times, we need to open a pathway for someone that has a completely different approach to our own.

      and then, to let him know about the background, and not get a response to that, i have to question my own language when doing so. maybe he thinks i'm talking down where i intended to open the opportunity. there is maybe some line between being informative and human.

      "yes, I agree. It is just down to time and resources we have with adding features to the site. I'm going to make a call out for people with relevant skills to join an IOPS website team that should be able to help share the workload on the site."

      again, thank you. i know it has been mentioned elsewhere, but what about a donations option? i saw a project toward "Parecomic" that raised over $8000 through Kickstarter for a two hundred page graphic novel "about Michael Albert and his life's struggle as a US left wing activist" which is not for me but can draw from. i don't have a lot of money but would donate directly to IOPS. but, more so inclined, i would donate directly to a specific idea like the creation of a voting mechanism for a specific reason as a test for others to come. so what if, there was a mechanism for active-member based priorities in addition to Admin or ICC based reflections? yes, that could be collated (not like i'm against that, but mindful of how it works and evolves) to make a current and changing list that gets voted on. start with a list, and with suggestion box for what may have been missed. votes within a period of time then decided for topics of expansion. or something like that. concept being, a single mechanism and then.. what is the dollar amount needed to develop? make that a donation goal, create it, learn from it, apply better and to the next mechanism. (and not necessarily about my specific suggestion.)

      the thought being, multiple interim challenges in multiple ways creating empowerment at each step organically based on current active-members in ways that empower and create pathways for more active membership. and that doesn't have to detract from current goals of a switch-over/launch-date.

    • Alex of... 26th May 2012

      Hi Mark! i'm with you on the points you've made. i started with Jason's comment but certainly responding to you and Kim and all with all said… but more specifically to you in response to yours (but still to all): my main concern is whether a formal launch date comes with incremental changes in empowering ways or it is just a long process of data collection where the burden and power rests within a few toward some substantial switch. the latter being what it at least sounds like at times, but maybe not the intention, message… or there are also options now to adapt to reality from original ideas. (and if that comes to a convention, who really can participate in that?)

      for example, membership may have been thought to start bigger based on znet support for iops, but actual membership is now something we are all figuring out in terms of numbers and participation. and now we have to figure out how to increase participation, or create the paths that allow one to feel comfortable participating, or recognize the difference between those that participate in different ways- such as online vs ground level activism or based on gender or posh whiteness. bridging all this is not immediately apparent and will never be. it's in every facet of life as we know it and "the ugly reality of the current world system" we have to face.

      so, i also agree it is important for members to understand the process of this interim phase and where it goes to be more participatory or self-managed. and thank you for this post to help that process. we have many challenges here. i am involved in this conversation and that will sift away into the record of blog post activity, being our conversation, notes taken from admins and ICC. i have a better understanding because i'm involved in the conversation, which is by choice, but also my level of confidence to enter this conversation. i'm actually a pretty shy person and i'm not as knowledgeable about parsoc and parecon etc, as you, but other life experience allows me to go ahead and speak my mind.

      so how do we create more confidence? or how do we create the pathway for empowerment of those that resonate with the IOPS values so that more voices can contribute? this plagues me. i am learning in my own way but i'm self-motivated and confident in that. i had to learn to do that over years of discovery to deal with childhood oppression. and now, as someone who has worked with children since, i see that it is not often inherently a trait of an individual but the surrounding culture that gives that opportunity. so i'm looking for ways to give opportunity. my experience with children has taught me that the opportunity for a small amount of influence and participation can mean a lot to an individual. it can mean the gates are open to more or they are shut for life even. so when i question a launch date, i think that may seem very intangible to voices of many values that just don't see their entry point. if it's not here and now for something specific, it may not provide an entry point.

    • Alex of... 27th May 2012

      from Jason: "I agree, Caragh's post should have been featured and will be added to the what comes next list. I've been away for the last two weeks. Apologies."

      cool. no need for apologies... instead a thank you. hope it gets there, and hopes for a process, that i'm willing to contribute to, to make some active-member-based way to achieve that in the future.

  • Kim Keyser 25th May 2012

    Alexander Lewis: "i have no idea what such a convention is all about"

    At the founding convention we can collectively decide upon a few things:

    * NAME AND SLOGAN: Would we like other names than IOPS? Would we want a slogan to go with it, and in case, what slogan?
    * RULES: How will people be included and excluded as members, what will the membership dues be like, how will local groups be included and excluded, how will we make decisions, how often will we meet for an international convention and where, who will the mandate holders (those who'll hold mandates, like say editor group of our website), and all those kind of things.
    * POLITICAL PLATFORM: Would we like three key documents, like now (vision, mission, structure and program), or would we like less or more? What would the name of the(se) document(s) be (manifesto? platform? vision? ...?)? What length should it be, what should it contain and focus on, and how will it be worded?
    STRATEGY DOCUMENTS: Would we like separate strategy documents for each of the areas we focus on (like for instance sexism, racism and militarism), to complement the key document(s)? And how would these be worded?
    ACTION PLAN: What do we want to actually DO? Would we like to try to build unions from scratch? Have a campaign to empower women? Organize a global speaking tour? Just focus on publishing books? The action plan is also related to the budget, which we also need to talk about.

    In short, at the convention we can decide what the name and slogan of the organization will be, what the politics will be, how we make decisions and what we're actually going to do.

    I hope this made sense? I guess it might be a bit too self-explanatory to those that have lots of organizing experience, but in my experience, a lot of people do not have such organizing experience, even when they've been members of organizations(!). That's because those organizations have usually not been directly democratic, like ours hopefully will be. ;)

  • Kim Keyser 25th May 2012

    John Kenny: "instead of developing a tentative deadline for when IOPS should stop being interim is to develop a list of criteria that should be met before IOPS stops being interim. The benefit of this is that it gives us something to work toward."

    Yes! What such criteria would you like to see being met before the convention?

    In my mind, it would mainly be:

    * At least 10 local activist IOPS organizations – who've already had their local founding conventions, and who're active both in the social movements locally and in the debate about IOPS online here at our website – spread out over at least five different countries, spanning at least two-three continents.
    * See the above paragraph. :)

    Jason Chrysostomou: "I think it is important that we keep im mind that building an effective functioning self-managed international organisation does not happen overnight and that it will take time. There is a long road ahead, but it will require patience, a constructive and respectful spirit and persistence."

    Indeed. Lets have these wise words in the back of our minds, as we work /as hard as we can/ towards first local founding conventions and then the international founding convention!

    • 30th May 2012

      Excellent suggestion for criteria.

      I'm not sure if this is necessary or not but we can also add that we should have some kind of voting, polling, or self-determination mechanism tested an in place.

  • Kim Keyser 25th May 2012

    Alexander Lewis: "i see something like 3 or 4 women and a 100 men talking on this website, and a lot of "my idea is so important" comments (guilty myself)."

    I don't like guilt. Guilt is almost never constructive, and seldom deserved. Talking about stuff without doing stuff often contributes to guilt. I'm totally fine with /talking/ about the issue, /if/ we also /do/ something about it.

    I hope I can contribute more to that discussion in a while, as my activist organization has used the last year to develop a comprehensive theoretical-practical gender justice course. We've attended self-defence courses, participated in meetings, developed workshops, collected money and so on. It'll consist of an introductory weekend for females, filled with both practical and theoretical workshops, and then one practical follow up module and one theoretical follow up module, which both runs over 5 weeks (the former is focused on self-defence, while the latter is a study group on a pamphlet/book we've written). It comes complete with a website, fliers, stickers, posters, roll-up, pamphlet, and more, and we're launching it this autumn. The next autumn we'll launch a kinda similar thing for men. The course complements our yearly gender justice conference, which has the same URL and name as the course and the pamphlet.

    That's the kind of things I think people should talk about, be concrete and solution-focused!

    When we've gained some experience and have a bit stronger organization, I hope we can translate the material and teach it to all interested IOPS organizations. But like I've said before, and like Jason mentioned in his former comment too, we need patience, since these things will take time to deal with.

    We also have other measures, but alas I don't have more time to explain now...

    • Alex of... 26th May 2012

      Kim, i invited a young woman, experienced in local anarchist organizations, to the next local IOPS meeting (just one so far) after she shared many interesting ideas with me on a personal level. when i told her she was welcome and has ideas we need, she said "really?" like she hadn't heard that before. this came after multiple conversations, mostly me asking questions and her sharing. but her surprise that she was welcome made me both sad and happy. happy she will influence and sad by her surprise. her tone suggested that she was not used to her ideas being relevant, even experienced as an activist. i feel a sense of guilt in that as a male, but constructive to be available.

      i am fortunate to have had a female/lesbian karate instructor that helped me through many of my own personal issues. she, having endured an extremely abusive childhood that led her to join the military and take martial arts as an angry person that wanted to fight men, found herself and people that weren't the men she grew up with. she took that and created a school to teach or, maybe better said, guide others to find positive ways to interact and battle their fears. through her, i also taught children for a couple years in after-school programs in poor neighborhoods, something that probably saved my own life. and i must say, those children taught me more than i could have ever hoped to teach them.

      one question her and i talked about was how to create the same experience in class that lead to break-throughs in the self that we both have experienced. it's both personal and something that needs help. and sometimes we fail to be the right kind of help. it takes patience and a focus on solutions. it takes an open mind and active evolving approaches. so i think you are right that we will have a hard time finding the 50/50 here on IOPS. that is, it won't be found here, it will be found in the intentions we have to explore and doesn't happen in a snap. we're talking about a large cultural change, one that involves personal experiences and general socialization. we are in this for the long haul and must know that reading a few books is not really the key to realizing a better culture.

      i say this also, as to address the creation of a 'credible international organization'. i don't think a launch date that says so is really a credible idea. what it takes to create a balance of voice is a long path and has no specific timing. it's an organic process.

    • Alex of... 28th May 2012

      Kim. i hope that didn't come off as rude. very much appreciate your responses and time. as i question the credibility of a launch date, that's not meant to be directed at you if that's how it sounded. it's just my question… something i don't really understand, so i'm putting it out there.

      i'm trying to understand how common causes will actually get represented in this organization and how a variety of voices and ideas can be better represented currently. does that make sense?

      and yes, patience :)

  • Mark Evans 25th May 2012

    John Kelly - you have asked a number of questions here but I am not sure who they are directed at??? If intended to be for me please restate and Ill answer. Thanks!

    • 30th May 2012

      Mark, thanks. I didn't realize that it wasn't clear.

      "Do you know the significance of prefigurative organising? Can you explain?

      Do you know what it means to be part of a self-managed organisation? Can you explain?

      I think you recognize this, but another option instead of developing a tentative deadline for when IOPS should stop being interim is to develop a list of criteria that should be met before IOPS stops being interim. The benefit of this is that it gives us something to work toward." Is directed to you.

  • 27th May 2012

    Just wanted to say that I'm loving this discussion, and the mutual respect and seriousness with which we treat each other's comments.

    This is what a participatory society looks like!

  • Kim Keyser 28th May 2012

    Alexander Lewis: "i hope that didn't come off as rude"

    To me? Not at all.

    Mark Evans: "I actually share Kim and your [Zane] concern regarding imposing a time frame on the interim phase."

    I'm glad we agree on that. :)

    Mark Evans: "However, I also have other concerns that I think need to be taken into consideration.

    They are: 1) having an unspecified interim phase could prove problematic in terms of members motivation.

    2) the danger of loosing members who get tiered of waiting for the interim phase to end and have no way of knowing when it might.

    I don't think we can ignore these concerns[.]"

    Neither do I. However, I think the best way to tackle these concerns is to build an active organization – composed from the ground up, of local activist organizations – rather than setting a time frame now, whether the time frame will be flexible or not. By doing the former we'll be getting closer to the day we can set the time frame, at the same time as we're offering our members meaningful activities to get involved in, so they won't just wait around for a time frame.

    I rather liked John Kenny's suggestion (obviously it's not possible to link to permalinks, so I have to paste the whole comment into this comment): "instead of developing a tentative deadline for when IOPS should stop being interim is to develop a list of criteria that should be met before IOPS stops being interim. The benefit of this is that it gives us something to work toward."

    I answered this as such:

    "Yes! What such criteria would you like to see being met before the convention? [This is of course directed to all of you, and not just John.]

    In my mind, it would mainly be:

    * At least 10 local activist IOPS organizations – who've already had their local founding conventions, and who're active both in the social movements locally and in the debate about IOPS online, here at our website – spread out over at least five different countries, spanning at least two-three continents."

    When we have met that criteria, I think it would be pretty safe to set the date for the international founding convention, because then we won't risk being just an empty shell with over-ambitious plans. What ya'll think?

  • Mark Evans 28th May 2012

    Kim - the time frame I am talking about in my blog is for the interim phase, in which we need to address the issues I raise and which can not go on forever.

    The criteria for a credible international organisation that you offer fails to address a number of these issues, ie:

    >The representation question.

    >The quality question.

    • 30th May 2012

      Mark,

      Doesn't the "spread out over at least five different countries, spanning at least two-three continents" of Kim's suggestion answer the representation question?

      "who've already had their local founding conventions, and who're active both in the social movements locally and in the debate about IOPS online" of Kim's suggestion gets at the quality question, right? It just needs to be better defined.

  • Alex of... 28th May 2012

    hmm. or maybe it does address some of the issues you've raised Mark?

    Kim: "I think the best way to tackle these concerns is to build an active organization – composed from the ground up, of local activist organizations – rather than setting a time frame now, whether the time frame will be flexible or not. By doing the former we'll be getting closer to the day we can set the time frame, at the same time as we're offering our members meaningful activities to get involved in, so they won't just wait around for a time frame."

    I'm not one to suggest anything too specific about how many local organizations there should be or how many members there should first be, but i do agree there should be self-managed options or meaningful activities being developed in the interim period that help get folks involved.

    so as to the quality question or "best ways in which members can help each other to gain an understanding of what IOPS is about" …and representation or "ensure that we develop a membership that reflects the areas we are organizing in" …perhaps the criteria question is a good one.

    i now see a little better the idea of some sort of convention, but seeing there being some major difference between the interim period and being a credible organization doesn't really mean a lot to me. what gets done to open participation currently, does.

    i would really like to see a couple voting options, and i realize this is a matter of resources. like i said above, i'd donate to IOPS but since my personal resources are limited i would rather donate directly to creating a vote option for 1 or 2 things as a specific project goal with a set dollar amount to raise for what it would take to create that.

    i'd like to see some kind of vote option for ideas the membership here finds currently important. and perhaps one for what kind of criteria the membership thinks should be met toward a convention? hoping something like that helps out a bit on the online end for more folks to have an entry point to participate and explore the ideas they find the most relevant, besides just talking about it here and there, or not at all.

    i say this after having received a personal message from someone who chooses to do so out of worry his ideas might not be substantial enough for say, a conversation like this one, and then shared some really cool things. someone else expressed her concern about the cold game of wits and lack of personal conversation among other things. so these are some priorities among others that could use attention without necessitating such a devotion to writing over and over, or not at all. so i'm suggesting we have a way to create those priorities better to open things up.

    and i partly share some of my own personal story in previous comments to add a little personality behind why i am even trying to enter this conversation. and also share some of that because as Kim said:

    "A 50/50-ratio is very difficult to achieve, because we live in capitalism, and it will anyway take time. I'm saying this not to discourage people from reaching that goal, but to offer you realistic expectations so anyone won't be demoralized when we haven't reached that goal one year from now"

    basically saying that what it takes to reach the kind of credibility you've outlined Mark, takes a lot of ground work and connecting with organizations that may not even have anything directly to do with IOPS, or at least not for a very long time. what it takes for an individual to feel comfortable participating is complex, and could take a person years or a lifetime within a culture that has taught otherwise. and there are some larger imbalances there we are facing within that. so will we be credible in a year?

    i say this to all of course. and hope the feedback is viewed as constructive and not combative. time to go feed the kitty. peace all. kinship and solidarity.

  • Mark Evans 29th May 2012

    Alexander, I was referring to this -

    * At least 10 local activist IOPS organizations – who've already had their local founding conventions, and who're active both in the social movements locally and in the debate about IOPS online, here at our website – spread out over at least five different countries, spanning at least two-three continents."

    And I'm certainly not proposing a time frame for members to just "wait around". The idea of a time frame for the interim phase would be to address the questions I raise at the end of my blog. This is very important work that will require a lot of organisational effort from existing members.

    • 30th May 2012

      I think I finally understand. Our task it to 1. Develop answers to your questions at the end of your post. These answers are the criteria that we must achieve to become non-interim. We must work towards these goals. 2. We give ourselves a time-frame because this helps us set benchmarks to keep us working on meeting our goals.

  • Alex of... 29th May 2012

    thanks for elaborating Mark. i appreciate the questions you've put forth and suggest there might be other ways of looking at this as well that are relevant to those questions. so i think kim's suggestion might be part of that process. perhaps it doesn't "fail" so much as gives a new perspective to open members to think about what criteria they see to be relevant, as i believe John Kenny was suggesting.

    i would need more elaboration from Kim to understand why she feels that makes a good approach. perhaps she sees opportunity in that to better meet some of the goals you've set out.

    there are methods to approach this, such as another conversation specifically to talk about what criteria the membership views to be important toward having a convention and why, and maybe even a vote. maybe more to discuss here first. you've outlined a good framework for that conversation Mark and i'm guessing reflects what the ICC has so far considered. so this post could be required reading to a new set of questions perhaps. just a thought if there's interest.

    we may even need a little more clarification on the purpose of a convention.

    i mention the 50/50 gender aspect as you have raised it in your description as what constitutes credibility, and thus having a convention. i think that's a noble but perhaps lofty goal to put a timeframe on, and why i dropped the quote from Kim about that. it certainly is one part of credibility besides other gaps to be bridged. how long that actually takes? i'm not sure, might be another 100 years of actively overcoming gender roles. so perhaps we might need a little flexibility in the purpose of a convention.

    i think this post is an important conversation so i don't want to see it sift away. i really hope there is more to talk about. thanks.

  • Mark Evans 30th May 2012

    Spot-on John!