Uneven Development and IOPS
IOPS Blog started 16 January
One would be naïve to think that radical political sentiments, let alone the number of people wanting, indeed prepared, to oppose and organise against capitalist oppression, will be evenly spread also the globe. The briefest study of revolutionary history over the past 200 years proves that resistance and revolt develop unevenly. And this is not the place to catalogue and discuss what factors help to explain this unevenness.
Yet, in the case of the geographic spread of IOPS and where its approximately 3,000 current members reside, I would argue that TWO main factors (individually and /or jointly) explain the results. They are:
a) whether or not the most widespread or predominant language in that country is English;
b) the percentage of people in a given country who have access to computers and the Internet (which is often closely linked to the per capita income of its people.)
The evidence? Here is a roll call (done on 14 Jan.) of various countries with their number of IOPS members in brackets.
First, the predominately English-speaking countries (and all with a relatively high percentage of residents with Internet access): The United States of America (1218), England (260), Canada (249), Australia (131), Ireland (44), Scotland (40), New Zealand (36).
Now here is a list of 17 other countries which are included first because they are not predominately English-speaking countries and then because of other factors that may or may not apply to them AND may or may not be relevant for building an international organisation as IOPS aspires to be.
What factors were chosen for inclusion in this second list? They may have large, sometimes very large, populations; they are often more influential countries politically, regionally and/or globally, than many others ‘on average’ (which I appreciate is a bit of a weasel word); they may have a low level of Internet access, they sometimes have oppressed colonial histories and are, on average, relatively poor economically due primarily to imperialism; they are countries in political or economic crisis/turmoil and sometimes with large dissenting sectors; they may have political histories that are ‘important’ (another weasel word) in the current conjuncture, and so on.
This is not intended to be either a comprehensive or nuanced list and is presented in no particular order: Egypt (9), Bolivia (3), Greece (18), India (51), Indonesia (9), Brazil (28), Argentina (36), Chile (3), Nigeria (1), Ghana (0), Kenya (0), France (45), Germany (54), Iran (10), Pakistan (15) Bangladesh (8), the Philippines (4) Russia (6). (As one reference, here is an English-language Wikipedia link to the population of the world’s countries:
It is impossible to comment on whether the current level of political experience and IOPS political activity is higher, on a per member basis, in some countries than others. So this roll call avoids the KEY ‘quality’ issue of IOPS members and of current IOPS activity. Nor does this blog address the KEY questions of the possibilities for political advance in certain countries compared to others and then which ones in the next few years…and the strategical consequences of such conclusions.
But, and here is the main point: the geographic and linguistic and income imbalance/unevenness in IOPS’s membership is obvious and pronounced. To take, at random, several examples from Asia/Oceania: Indonesia has a population of 237 million, Pakistan’s is about 180 million, and New Zealand has just over 4 million residents.
In addition, as at least one other interim IOPS interim member and I have recently commented, men almost completely dominate the postings on most recent IOPS blogs. Most of these men write in these blogs as English language speakers.
As IOPS passes its first birthday, this blog asks two questions:
1) Are these current imbalances of significant political importance for a revolutionary grouping that calls itself an ‘international organisation’ and which may hold an ‘international’ convention in the next few years? Why or why not?
2) If you do think these imbalances are important, what should be done practically to try to overcome them?
I have views on both questions, but will refrain from expressing them at the start of this new blog.
Alan Story, Nottingham, UK.