Login Join IOPS

What now?

forest
  • Written by:
  • Published on:
  • Categories:
  • Comments:
  • Share:

IOPS was founded in the belief that serious organizational decisions must “await more members, more experience with chapters and program”, and a “methodology suited to self- management” that would be established by a founding convention. In the interim, the “Interim Consultative Committee” (ICC) would make, or guide, all decisions that, in their view, needed to be made in the interim phase [1]. Subsequently, we, the membership, with the guidance of the ICC, quantified “more” to mean 3,500 members and 20 active chapters distributed among 5 nation states, and we gave ourselves one year to achieve these “preconditions” [2].

The deadline ends Thursday, June 12, 2014, and, although we have increased our membership, and have several active chapters, we have not yet achieved what we wanted to achieve before holding a founding convention, and are very unlikely to do so. This failure to meet our deadline must be acknowledged. It also raises the question that many of us have been discussing for quite some time: “What now?”

The possibility that we might face the situation we face today was discussed in late 2012, well before the preconditions had been determined. At that time, there seemed to be general agreement that, if we were unable to reach our goals within the set time-frame, we should “strategically reassess the future of IOPS[,] including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed" [3], and “reevaluate the future of IOPS based on this experience." [4]. We did not, and have not since, identified precisely the mechanism for that reevaluation process. We need to do that now. We understand that the ICC has the matter under consideration, and that we can expect to hear from them soon, when they have finished their deliberations. In the mean time, it might be helpful to ask ourselves a few questions. Here are some suggestions.

At least part of “our conception” back in those days was, of course, the assumption that IOPS would be launched following an international founding convention. Another was a desire that IOPS should be taken seriously. For that, we felt, we needed “credibility.”

“[F]or a left international organisation to have any credibility it must meet some basic criteria before launching. For example its founding membership needs to have some international representation as well as reflecting the constituents within its localities – in terms of class, race [sic], gender etc – at least to some extent. Six wealthy white guys from America / Europe can not launch a left international organisation and expect to be taken seriously. The same goes for sixty, six hundred, etc.” [5].

So, assuming we did not have “credibility” a year ago, one question we might ask ourselves at this point is, “Do we, despite not having met our goals within the set time-frame, still feel we lack ‘credibility’ at the international level?” What about our local or regional levels? What does “credibility” mean, in concrete terms, to us as members? How does “credibility” relate to organizational capacity, and where are we presently in terms of organizational capacity? What does “launching” mean to us as members? What does not “launching” mean?


This blog was co-authored by the IOPS chapters of DublinMelbourneMissoulaNew York CitySalem and Vienna.

Discussion 196 Comments

  • Michael Livingston 10th Jun 2014

    A year and a half ago, during our discussions about “preconditions” for a “founding convention,” IOPS member Thomas Halbert wrote:

    “In my opinion it is not a question of numbers of members that can determine if an organization can be founded or not. It is determined by the level of achieved activity that reflects the entire program of the interim pre-organization. And not represented by just one country or continent if it honestly would call itself an International organization. The day the organization is ready to get founded it will just be a formality that confirms an organizational body that is up and RUNNING.”

    He’s talking about “credibility” here, I think, and his assessment is particularly pertinent now. It's not having a convention that matters -- what matters is what IOPS looks like when and if we do have one. Indeed, if we do the work that each of us committed to do when we joined IOPS -- first locally, then regionally, etc., -- the convention may be (as Halbert suggests) just a formality. (See IOPS Structure and Program ). As between the two questions, “what now?” is more important than “what went wrong?” Proposals to water down the preconditions for a founding convention, or, simply to declare ourselves “founded,” miss the point and are inconsistent with the IOPS Structure and Program. Assuming that disbanding IOPS is not an option -- and, I think it shouldn’t be one -- the “credibility” question is fundamental; i.e., (1) does IOPS currently have the organizational capacity to be self-managing, and (2) if not, what's the plan for getting there?

    • Will Henry Lapinel 11th Jun 2014

      Michael, I generally agree with Thomas Halbert's thoughts you quote.

      I personally feel that credibility requires that the question of "what now" requires an honest assessment of "what went wrong." There are some lessons from the past 2 years and I think it is very important we should capture and address those before moving forward with another plan, otherwise it seems like we would just be arbitrarily moving the goal-post. So I think that in itself is the "what now" as far as IOPS is concerned. I think it would be a worthy endeavor to publish something short as a contribution to the general project of revolutionary socialism, kinda like they did for STORM or Love and Rage, or Movement For a New Society.

      But to answer your questions:
      (1) No, and (2) Depends on what we learn from the failure of the past 2 years.

      I think we need to take a big step back and assess the fundamental reasons behind IOPS failure to launch, and how we might do things differently if we were to start anew. I don't think it will work to leave everything the same and just try harder.

  • Lambert Meertens 10th Jun 2014

    If I'm allowed to quote myself, here are two snippets I wrote around the same time:

    “Somehow I think that by the time we’re ready for the launch, a consensus will develop that we’re ready, independent of any formal criteria we have attempted to impose upon ourselves.” [25th Sep 2012]

    “At some point a substantial number of local chapters will be mature enough and ready to start thinking about having a [founding] convention, and that is when we can start to seriously prepare for one, driven by bottom-up demand.” [1st Oct 2012]

    I think they agree with Thomas Halbert's opinion quoted above. I'd furthermore like to offer this quote by Marlo Pedroso:

    “Let’s have a convention, however humble, socialize, present ideas and topics, have brainstorming sessions, get ourselves excited, meet each other face to face, and collectively define our vision of what IOPS means for those of us currently engaged. Let’s not worry about having binding rules, statements or platforms, unless they are temporary. They should always be temporary anyway and subject to change and expansion. My view is that our organization and its ideology should be always flexible, not rigid and static. Anyway, if we meet, feel inspired by each other, gather a sense of what IOPS is and could become, I have a feeling that it will be a lot easier to get out into the world and feel like there is actually something real here worth advocating for and working for.” [6th Jan 2013]

    This bypasses the issue of “credibility” in a credible way. If I'm in favour of declaring ourselves “founded”, it is not because I feel we have gained enough “credibility”, but simply to get out of the current impasse, which doesn't do anything to increase credibility.

  • Joe Henson 10th Jun 2014

    I agree, at this point we should pull together, as best we can, those that are interested in pushing forwards this set of ideas, and decide how best to proceed in the light of the problems with the initial goal. This requires looking at what we *have* achieved in terms of involvement, resources and organisation. Before kicking off prematurely, we have to get a plan on how to carry out this "audit", have this discussion, and make decisions. It will be interesting to see what the ICC has to say first.
    Since you raise the questions of international credibility, yes, it seems clear that this set of ideas currently has most pull in the imperialist states. E.g. France has more members than India. The causes are not that obscure; India already has many well-established traditions of resistance, and Participatory Society ideas are relatively new and originate in the US. I doubt they're intrinsically less appealing than orthodox Marxism-Leninism given the facts on the ground in India, but the roots of that approach go very deep there. If we shy away from getting active with what we have, it seems to me we get stuck in a chicken and egg impasse: having little support in the most oppressed regions on the one hand, and no means to generate it on the other. I see the dangers of ideas generally flowing from Imperial core to periphery, but if it is a choice between something and nothing I choose something. We will have to tackle the problems that generates some other way, e.g. allying with pre-existing groups.
    Similar comments could be made for the popularity of these ideas within countries, e.g. the UK. I'll save my more positive thoughts for later.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 10th Jun 2014

    Though I have stated that perhaps disbanding should be considered, I now generally agree that don't necessarily see any advantages in disbanding the organization either, provided that it still serves a distinct function that isn't served better by other organizations. So ideally if it does disband, its members will flow into another organization. IOPS is an important public relationship that in my view has been quite productive throughout its short life, if only as a means of putting like-minded people in touch with one another. Rather than a bunch of individuals reading articles on ZNet, we were suddenly part of a federation of local chapters, and that was very important and exciting for me.

    But, if its members truly desire to achieve its vision, I think it should change itself to reflect its reality, which might require changing its name, for example, and perhaps other aspects. I don't think it should be called international, because it has failed to achieve real internationality and is not likely to do so in the near-term. I don't think there should be an ICC.

    More importantly, I think people should think about the role and function of an ideological organization, such as IOPS, in the real world.

    1. Is primarily a place for a relatively small number of revolutionaries to provide mutual support and collectively develop theory and strategy?

    2. Should our members participate exclusively in such an organization?

    3. Does it really work to try make this a mass organization, or should its members also foment and participate in separate, broader social movements which win gains and create conditions for further gains?

    4. Should we envision the revolutionary organization as eventually becoming the framework for a new society? Is that realistic? Or should the revolutionary organization continuously insert its ideals into the popular organizations, such as the revolutionary unions, which will be necessary components of overthrowing capitalism, and part of the framework for the a new society?

    Other important questions: What sort of status should "at large" members not belonging to a chapter have? They should certainly be included, but how? Should we dissolve inactive chapters? Can we come up with minimum commitments for our members so that our numbers reflect the number of active members (perhaps a couple hundred, vs. a false 3,500)?

    The answers may seem obvious to some, but I think we would probably get different answers from our members. These are questions which must be addressed in order to keep the organization currently known as IOPS credible. We should also look at how other organizations answered these questions. Depending on the answers, we may find that transforming IOPS would be duplicating the model and efforts of existing revolutionary organizations, in which case perhaps dissolution or merging might be the best option.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 10th Jun 2014

      http://www.marxists.org/archive/malatesta/1897/xx/anarchorg.htm

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Jun 2014

      If the organization does not see building a world-wide revolutionary mass movement as its primary task, I'm not interested. If it does, I'd say yes to question 1 above if we see this not as the primary function but one of the primary functions, and interpret "relatively small" as "unfortunately still rather small". As to question 2, of course not. We should individually support local struggles for justice and autonomy wherever we can; if this is done more effectively by joining other organizations, fine. I don't see this as a point of contention. For question 3, as I have explained elsewhere, I don't see these as mutually exclusive alternatives. Similar for question 4: where we are strong enough, we'll take the initiative for building new institutions; where not, we'll support such initiatives taken by others. (I have my doubts, though, about the revolutionary effectiveness of a "dual power" strategy; I see it more as a propaganda tool.)

      I have opinions about the organizational issues concerning isolated members and inactive chapters, but I think a deeper discussion of these issues will make more sense after we have reached some clarity and consensus about our strategy.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 11th Jun 2014

      I think we agree except for a key point - the idea that IOPS will become a mass organization. If we do succeed in building a mass revolutionary movement, I think it is unrealistic to assume that IOPS will become the mass organization, and I think there may be a danger of a sort of horizontal vanguardism. This strange thought needs some more development on my part. I used to share your belief generally, until very recently, because I misunderstood the concept of especifismo, but now I think the two must be separated. The popular organization will not be subsumed into IOPS - it will arise organically of its own accord. The revolutionary cadre organization will exist as long as it its existence has a purpose - i.e. until the popular organization has achieved its vision of libertarian socialism. This is platformism, and there has been a lot written about it.

    • LedSuit ' 11th Jun 2014

      What is the libertarian socialist vision? Where is it that we want to go? What are the new institutional structures that will replace the old? Are vague notions enough to get people on board? Is "spontaneous and voluntary" action, arising "organically of its own accord" enough? If an individual goes on a journey with only a vague notion of where they are going, they may be prepared and looking forward to the surprises that await. That's part of the fun. Is the same applicable to large numbers? Can you mobilise masses, even small yet largish numbers, without any real and concrete vision or direction?

      The market is a huge beast. A massive Lebiathan. Hobbes' absolute sovereign. What in its place? How to remove the psychological effects of this monster on the minds of the bewildered herd who know of no other way? Including the one and nineteen per cent. How to get massive numbers believing that another way is possible requires working on and establishing strong and clear visions of what those other ways are.

      But alas, me thinks this is where things always seem to go astray. The left starts to split and argue with itself.

      However I'm new and naive when it comes to "activism", yet these thoughts continually plague me.

      Vision is weirdly one of the most talked about ideas in most things I read and come across yet, paradoxically, the one thing that is rarely, or minimally discussed and debated in a comprehensive way.

      Strategise for what?

    • LedSuit ' 11th Jun 2014

      Leviathan, not Lebiathan.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      James, as to your first paragraph. Vision is paramount. But we libertarian socialists are few, and don't have the time, resources, or space required to convince people of a) why our vision is better than the other visions out there (including the current one) and b) how it is possible to achieve it and c) why they should spend their time and energy in what seems to be tilting at windmills.

      Our vision and strategy for achieving it is something that requires a great deal of background knowledge, and frankly faith, something that only we share. We are simply incapable of bringing that faith to large numbers of people except talking people through practical action. So we have to build movement in society toward that vision based on a pragmatic near-term struggle, and we will probably modify and refine it as we go along, but we are a long long way from building the framework for the new society - it's simply putting the cart before the horse. IOPS should be the organization FOR a new society, but it should not envision itself as THE new society.

    • Michael Livingston 11th Jun 2014

      Can we at least try to stay focused on the relatively narrow issues and questions raised by this blog?

    • Will Henry Lapinel 11th Jun 2014

      Perhaps I misunderstood, but the question of how to attain credibility seems pretty broad to me. Though I admit I am raising a lot of questions that could and should be discussions unto themselves, I am trying to make the point that achieving credibility may require a lot more than coming up with a plan of how to make this organization self-managing. My question is, even if IOPS were self-managing, what would it do, what purpose would it serve?

    • Johannes 11th Jun 2014

      I think comparatively the question of «What?» is pretty much answered in our mission, vision, structure and program. I don't think we should «advocate or seek to implement detailed blueprints that transcend movement needs and knowledge». Members in specific projects, local chapters and so on work on that question in more detail depending on their specific situations anyway.

      More important to me seems the question of «How?» at the moment. And I think making the organization more self-managing should be one (big) part of the answer to that question. And I do think that would give credibility to the organization (among other things like number of members, their distribution around the world, their level of activity, the impact their activity has, the variety of issues their activities address and so on).

    • Will Henry Lapinel 12th Jun 2014

      Johannes, "Blueprints" usually means a refined vision for a future society. Is that what you mean? I'm not advocating more vision, I'm advocating more of an understanding of how IOPS would and could function in the transformation of society. I'm saying that instead of trying to figure out "how" to get more people to join IOPS, we should first ask whether that is indeed possible or worthy and try to see if there are models and strategies more grounded in reality. For example, if we delude ourselves that IOPS will attract mass numbers and will eventually itself become the society, instead of an engine to propel revolutionary transformation via a growing network of self-managed popular movements, our goals milestones and milestones will reflect such delusion and we will find ourselves again at the question of "what went wrong?" If we decided to move forward without addressing these questions it would be a mistake. And it would be one thing if these were new questions that have not been answered by many active libertarians in the past and present, but they have, and instead of discussing and accepting or refuting those decisions, we are ignoring the history and wisdom of people who were trying to do the exact same thing, and re-inventing the wheel, in a vaccuum. We need to understand how our model differs from previous models as well as contemporary models and we need to be able to explain how we came to those differences. To do otherwise is just forging blindly forward, and that is not credible behavior for an organization

    • Johannes 13th Jun 2014

      If there are any answers to the questions you raise beyond the obvious they are unknown to me. If you know about any deep «wisdom of people who were trying to do the exact same thing», feel free to add that to the conversation. Considering that the only visible activity of IOPS San Diego lasted for less than half a year and already ended more than a year ago I assume that, frankly, you simply don't know of any great «models and strategies more grounded in reality» either.

      What it really comes down to, I think, is if people on the ground put in the effort. You just have to hand out those fliers, put up those posters, talk to people, engage in struggles and so on. From what little I know that's how you get somewhere – by doing things, and not only talking about doing things.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      I'll admit I should probably not consider myself a member of IOPS since we broke off over a year ago. I suppose it's only because I have a few friends and family here that I still communicate on the website. But Johannes, you clearly misunderstood me, and your assumption that "[I] don't know of any [models or strategies]" is based on the assumption that my activity is limited to the defunct IOPS San Diego. As I said, I'm not referring to history and wisdom of IOPS but of libertarian socialists in general. This is not the only attempt to launch a revolutionary project but IOPS members seem to think so and have little interest in learning from the past, distant as well as recent, including, apparently doing an honest assessment of IOPS and its itself. As I said before, IOPS San Diego is no longer active; I am not a member of an active chapter. IOPS SD broke off to form an independent organization due to the many problems preventing the IOPS project from achieving legitimacy. We were probably the most active chapter up until our break, and our currently growing org is probably more active and larger than almost all IOPS chapters, and is looking at the possibility of federating with a nationwide organization which again is far more credible and active than IOPS in the US and has more collective experience as well as a more defined analysis and strategy. IOPS has some features that other orgs could learn from too. I'm not trying to put IOPS down, I'm just saying we need to open our eyes and ears and stop acting like we're the first and only thing like us out there. That said, I think I should probably step down because my faith is no longer there and I am now talking more as an outsider than a member.

    • Jason 13th Jun 2014

      Quote from Will: If we delude ourselves that IOPS will attract mass numbers and will eventually itself become the society, instead of an engine to propel revolutionary transformation via a growing network of self-managed popular movements, our goals milestones and milestones will reflect such delusion and we will find ourselves again at the question of "what went wrong?"

      Hey Will, Have some envisioned or talked about IOPS becoming the society? I haven’t come across that. It has definitely been envisioned in way too grand a way and agree that the model cannot be based on any such hope, fantasy , delusion.

      Did IOPS SD do a departing blog or anything? I’d be interested to know how you arrived at the decision. What did IOPS SD become? What’s the national org you’re looking at affiliating with?

      This is not the only attempt to launch a revolutionary project but IOPS members seem to think so and have little interest in learning from the past, distant as well as recent, including, apparently doing an honest assessment of IOPS and its itself.

      I’ve been digging on your recent contributions and I’m surprised to see you sneer. A harsh generalisation, not even backed up—uncalled for, man.

      [A] nationwide organization which again is far more credible and active than IOPS in the US and has more collective experience as well as a more defined analysis and strategy.

      I can’t believe nobody told me about this competition! This just reads like, ‘fuck IOPS’—again, weird considering your recent contributions. IOPS has been interesting—including a lack of experience. IOPS Melbourne is almost entirely made up of people not involved in activism before coming across the website—probably due to it’s (relatively) non-elitest, even non-historical, presentation. Tell me there’s not something in that. It’s a weird trying-to-be-new thing and it’s not surprising that it’s been messy and involved (big) mistakes, but lost ground can be made up for if the right choices are made at this juncture. Let’s find it’s potential!

    • Jason 13th Jun 2014

      Apologies, quote boxes didn’t work—if you could be so kind as to imagine them, that would be swell.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      No worries, the quote boxes appeared in my email notification. :)

      Re: IOPS as the society as opposed to the cadre. I think the org was conceived as a mass organization - there was lots of hope and expectation that we would get tens of thousands to join as active contributing members as opposed to the couple hundred we really have (being generous there with my definition of "active contributing"). I think the idea was that we could get lots of people to be participatory socialists in a fairly short time. Some comments on this blog have affirmed this conception of the organization.

      I believe IOPS SD may have done a departing blog, not sure. I was out of country so I can't remember if I read something or not. Most of our members were not very active online anyway, as we prioritized building chapter cohesiveness. I was the only one who was constantly on here (to the point of excess like I am now!)

      Re: harsh generalization. Harsh maybe, but it really does seem true to me. If it came across as a sneer that was unintentional.

      I think you're taking my quotes out of context, the context being the implication that I was uninvolved with models and strategies in practice outside of IOPS, and my response as a counter that claim. There is no competition that I am aware of - are comparisons pointless outside of competition? To me it is quite useful and necessary to compare organizations trying to achieve similar visions. Everybody does that, not sure why you interpret my comments the way you have.

      It is good to get people not involved in activism. The same was true for me and I would be in a very different situation if it had not been for IOPS. I have stated this earlier in this blog - IOPS has been a very good project. But, I personally think the "what now" should include a broader range of options than the posters of this blog are willing to entertain. And I do think it's a mistake to pretend to be ahistorical when in reality there's a very deep history. The result is that the org's members are led to believe that everything is new.

      All that said Jason, I can see from these discussions that my perspective is a tiny minority among those who are still online, and it's not fair to the people who remain faithful in the current model for me to continue saying how IOPS needs to be transformed into basically a new organization with a different concept. And it's probably not even consistent with the commitments to remain a member when I am not contributing to building an active chapter, so I'll step out and let you all continue moving forward. See you out there!

    • Jason 13th Jun 2014

      Sorry if I read tone into your writing that wasn’t there but your expression was loaded. That an organisation with more history and that’s not interim is more credible and active than IOPS is a statement of the obvious that is easily read as a gesture to belittlement—to be more defensive: our chapter’s respected in our city’s lib soc activist scene.

      I was one of the people who held the grand vision hope but that was early on. With time—especially from the weeks that proceeded the setting of the preconditions—it became apparent that the experiment as conceived was not going to be workable. The preconditions didn’t go unfulfilled by just a bit—to take but one issue.

      I personally think the "what now" should include a broader range of options than the posters of this blog are willing to entertain.

      Hi, I’m someone who agrees with you. My whole chapter agrees with you in fact. And there are a good number of others who will also be pushing for a radical overhaul of IOPS’s model—so no tiny (or insignificant) minority. (Though I’ll leave it to others to declare their own hand of course.) Your support in this would be appreciated. I think your perspective, as a former member of a former active chapter, is a very important one.

      And as for you being the only member of your chapter participating online, I think that’s the case for most chapters. People give their activist energy to meetings and actions, and it’ll usually be only one or two from the group that will have the time to, and be bothered to, do those things and participate in online discussions.

      Sorry to go so long… On the history point: I’m reminded of how the parecon books get criticised for denying history but it’s really that they just don’t mention it (for the sake of focus). If anyone wants to know the historical roots they can look. Or in IOPS’s case, start a conversation or project about it. I also think not explicitly associating with, and prioritising an understanding of, particular traditions can make it more accessible to those without the time or inclination to go over dense literature. It also leaves the identity issue a bit more open than it would otherwise be.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      Jason, and James, are you folks involved with MACG at all? Just wondering. Might be something to consider if the overhaul doesn't come through.

    • LedSuit ' 14th Jun 2014

      Not sure what that is Will. I wanted to send you a personal message but you seem to have unhooked yourself from IOPS, unnecessarily I think.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 14th Jun 2014

      This is the ghost of WH (for some reason my profile still works...) I sent you a message. Also MACG is Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group... maybe they're defunct if you haven't heard of them. Might be worth reaching out. Just curious because they are platformists.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      Oh, almost forgot your other question: the San Diego cadre does not yet have a name. The national federation is Black Rose Anarchist Federation. Disclaimer: it has been nobody's expressed desire to federate with Black Rose except mine and maybe a couple others, but we have had talks with the LA branch and the possibility has been mentioned once or twice. But we're having a weekend retreat coming up and I expect that this may be discussed. Some might judge both organizations as ineffective because of the lack of things like public/web presence or even a name, and I might have once agreed, but hopefully people will find that there are more important criteria to judge organizations. I personally was very impressed by the nationwide "Struggling to Win" speaking tour which Black Rose organized. In San Diego we have our own set of challenges, such as achieving theoretical and strategic unity, but I think that by any measure we are more effective now as a separate entity than we were as part of an interim organization.

    • Michael Livingston 13th Jun 2014

      These personal digressions and speculations may be appropriate for a different blog or forum discussion, or perhaps a private dialogue, but are plainly beyond the scope of this blog, and, instead of advancing the discussion of the questions raised by the authors, they distract from it.

    • Michael Livingston 13th Jun 2014

      My comment above, beginning with "These personal digressions..." is intended as a response/answer to Will Henry Lapinel's comment above, beginning with "I'll admit I should probably not consider myself a member of IOPS." (I regret any confusion -- the original comment did not post where I thought it would.)

    • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Jun 2014

      You're right - I'll refrain from opining or responding further.

  • Juan Ignacio Salzano 11th Jun 2014

    I always envisioned IOPS, since I found about it, as a transversal composition of different revolutionary movements and ideas, with a few basic principles (anticapitalist, antiauthoritarian) than as an homogeneous group with a set of identical strategies and theories. That means that it´s not, for me, a specific "group" closed onto its own contours, but a milieu in which different groups and individuals that come from different movements can put their own limits and closed theoretical and practical identities constantly in question, in transformative motion. If this could be considered as a adequate account of what IOPS is about as an International organization, then I don´t think that dissolution is an option (it would only contribute to drag each individual and/or groups existing here to their previous enclosed identity or to separate into new and atomized identities). And by the way, I don´t think 2 years is enough to build an International organization. In my spanish speaking country there is not much information about IOPS nor are there translated texts about this kind of paths (given that here we have usually peronism running the show, and their logic is mostly "vertically based"; with only trotskist, leninist or socialdemocratic parties or movements as counterpoint to it, and not much international relations, except in a really small proportion).

    • Johannes 11th Jun 2014

      There actually are Spanish translations of the central IOPS documents, see:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/about/sp

      They outline the (interim) basics of IOPS. We haven't agreed on much beyond that so there is not much more information to translate.

      I know there are already many Spanish speaking members. However they are distributed over very large areas and therefore not able to communicate face to face with each other regularly. I therefore think that it is our responsibility to bring those people together online. At least until there are sufficient members to make regular face to face meetings feasible. I think so far we have not done a good job at that and furthermore that we should take the issue seriously and come up with reasonable proposals.

    • Juan Ignacio Salzano 11th Jun 2014

      Johannes,

      You are right about that. Perhaphs what I meant with IOPS texts was actually texts about "participatory politics, economics, etc." (Albert, Hanhel, Shalom, etc.), to go along with the "marxist, libertarian socialists, anarchists, etc." texts that we do have and know and exhausted.

      Regarding the idea of bringing spanish speaking members, you are right, we didn´t do a good job. In my defence, specifically -not that I need any, nor I´m suggesting you say I do, of course-, I just found out about IOPS recently, and became a member not that long ago. I´v been discussing and trying people to get to know the webpage, the basics and so on of IOPS since. And I will continue to do so. So I agree with you: we should take this seriously.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 11th Jun 2014

      I agree that this is what IOPS is, but I wonder if such an organization is broadened to the point where it is unable to act because its members cannot agree on a course of action?

      If that's true, then is it more than a geographically federated discussion board which encourages face-to-face meetings?

      Not saying such a thing would be useless.

    • Juan Ignacio Salzano 11th Jun 2014

      Will, you are right, I think, like you, that the problem of action is something that has to be solved. I think that defending the "horizontalily" idea does not mean we cannot have strategies of "non-vertical, non-coordinatorial" centralism. I mean with this that I think we should discuss the need for having delegates, spokesmen, etc. Chiapas "Caracoles" dynamics are a perfecte example of that. For 20 years they had a "consensus logic" based on assemblies, but at the same time, they had specific people organizing the debates and preparing the public interventions, coordinating the different assemblies, etc., always of course consulting the assemblies as the decisional final power. This was possible because of the large indigenous tradition they have regarding the strange figure of "powerless Chiefs" (see anthropologist "Pierre Clastres" book: "Society against the State" for this). Subcomandante Marcos was the spokesman figure, the Chiefs coordinated the assemblies only to give the voice and real power to assembly participants. As time went by all members started learning the coordinatory function as they started a rotation of those roles, but they never forgot they needed some kind of "tranvsersal unification" moment (as Deleuze and Guattari would put it) if they wanted to avoid pure dispersion and ineffectiveness (also avoiding at the same time, burocratic, authoritarian vertical, coordinatorial centralization, of course). For example, I think we should have an agenda, we should have periodical central "meetings" (be they virtual or whatever we can think of) with all chapters, or at leaste a "nested chapters" video encounter beetween delegates from every chapter (at the same time each chapter have a video internal encounter, as they can, at the same time, speak with its "spokesman", who would have to get back to its chapter for debate of each proposal that emerges from the "second level" council of delegates or spokesmen from each chapter, etc.). So, I think that to be horizontal and participatory does not mean to reject all "organizational" dynamics, just the authoritarian, vertical, non-participatory aspects of it.

      In the meantime, and as you say, I agree that a "federated discussion board" is not something automatically useless.

    • Juan Ignacio Salzano 11th Jun 2014

      Just wanted to add, due to the recent important events: Of course, after 20 years -and due to recent paramilitar, violent events- they decided to dissolve the figure of Subcomandante Marcos, to give a new visibility to the collective -and indigenous- reality that is and has always been Chiapas zapatismo. Which does not, in any sense, mean they don´t have those rotating functions anymore, but that they can be exercised by new young people that were raised in zapatismo and that were too young (or hadn´t been born) in 1994.

    • Lambert Meertens 13th Jun 2014

      Quote from Will Henry Lapinel:

       "... I wonder if such an organization is broadened to the point where it is unable to act because its members cannot agree on a course of action?"

      The fact is that we have no method for agreeing on anything at the international level unless it is truly essential or highly desirable, uncontroversial, and proposed by an ICC member.

  • Tasner Curran 11th Jun 2014

    I don't have much new to add. I agree with Michael that simply declaring us founded misses the point. In considering us founded, however, we are crossing a psychological threshold. So it should not be seen as simply declaring us founded, but at a minimum declaring us founded, and then working from there. The questions raised alone in this discussion would be keep us busy for a while.

  • Sarah Owens 12th Jun 2014

    So, here we are on June 12th; nothing yet from the ICC. It seems from the above discussion so far that the answer to the first question in the blog [“Do we, despite not having met our goals within the set time-frame, still feel we lack ‘credibility’ at the international level?”] is "yes" or "it doesn't matter." At least I see no one arguing affirmatively that we do, at least at the international level. Nor do I see anyone arguing affirmatively that IOPS has organizational capacity at the international level.

    But what about IOPS at the local and regional levels, where the self-management is possible under the interim structure? Shouldn't our reevaluation of the future of IOPS include assessing IOPS's credibility/organizational capacity at the local and regional levels, and how the presence or lack thereof should be weighed in deciding whether simply to declare ourselves founded, as some have suggested?

    • Lambert Meertens 12th Jun 2014

      To form an active local chapter you need at least a certain concentration of activist members. I can't imagine that any of the active chapters we have, before they constituted themselves, considered the question, “Are we credible at the local level?”. All you need is enough members willing to attend regular face-to-face meetings and to consider undertaking joint activities. What is holding us back locally almost everywhere is the low concentration of members.

      Therefore I expect that it is more fruitful to seek ways to convince more people to join, and to focus membership drives on these areas where such efforts are most likely to lead to a sufficient concentration for establishing a chapter.


    • Fred Curran 12th Jun 2014

      I do not know if it is simply a matter of member concentration as a lot of chapters have concentrations but are still lacking in active chapters. Maybe I am just very not good at establishing an active chapter but...

    • Lambert Meertens 12th Jun 2014

      @Fred: It is not "simply" a matter of member concentration. Local social and historic factors also play a role. But member concentration is a major factor. Most of our members registered "spontaneously", without prior connection to any other members. My estimate is that in general, without specific circumstances, you can expect roughly 10% of such members to show up when a local chapter meeting is called. This presumes that the meeting venue can be reached within a half to one hour of travel. So about 50 members within a relatively small area are needed for forming a sustainable active chapter. Even then, the stability is precarious.

    • Fred Curran 12th Jun 2014

      I must say I agree

    • Jason 12th Jun 2014

      Hi Sarah, Self-management at the local and regional levels within the discredited ‘interim structure’ is only possible to the extent that activity doesn’t involve, or make reference to, the international level which, very significantly, includes: the website design, the signup mechanism, rigid geographical definitions of chapters, promotional material, the founding documents, decisions made by the ICC, and so on and so on.

      The concept of ‘being founded,’ in the context of the way IOPS was originally envisioned, was loaded with ideas about ideal representation—a fantasy of the future which elsewhere has been termed ‘having credibility.’ It has been my experience—as a member of an active chapter spawned by the website’s communicative facilities—that ‘being interim’ doesn’t hold any meaning outside of the organisation, and IOPS is taken to be represented by whomever happens to be organising for it (at any given time). So there’s a state a denial to be dealt with.

      Don’t get me wrong: having chapters be representative of the communities it seeks to benefit should be a top priority. I just don’t think that the failure to fulfill this aspiration should be used as an excuse to suspend the implementation of our organisation’s core values.

  • Joe Henson 12th Jun 2014

    "So, here we are on June 12th; nothing yet from the ICC."

    Maybe some members of the ICC are on pacific time... From what I've heard they are working on it, hopefully something will appear soon.

  • Fred Curran 12th Jun 2014

    As for waiting for the ICC how many members of the ICC actually participate in ICC decisions, IOPS itself... are all of the ICC members still IOPS members?

    • Jon Doe 12th Jun 2014

      Every ICC member is an IOPS member, but some are not active with IOPS. This means that they are too busy with other responsibilities too really focus on IOPS, but share a commitment to the group.

  • Jon Doe 12th Jun 2014

    I think that the best plan forward is for existing chapters to organize ongoing skype calls to share skills, perspectives, and nuts and bolts organizing tips, then to follow up with chapter tours to meet people face to face and begin the process of building the trust and experience needed to commit to ongoing chapter meetings.

    • Joseph Essertier 20th Jun 2014

      That is an excellent idea. I for one would appreciate a skype call like that.

  • LedSuit ' 13th Jun 2014

    Ok, a few points.

    I think I agree with most of what Lambert says. That's gut feel. Credibility just comes with time and stuff done I guess. The Melbourne chapter received an award from the Anarchist a Media Institute here. We felt chuffed, but took it with a grain of salt. We have been discussing getting a radio spot on a local community station, suggested by Joe Toscano, from the Anarchist Media Institute, who seems to think that 3cr is losing its politics. Sounds like a little cred from an activist who's been around for a long time. But we take it with a grain a of salt and humour really. It's hard to be a committed activist group, any group. Most are small and don't contain wads of 52 year olds with families locked into a lifestyle, with partners who make facetious remarks about trying to save the world when I should be spending more time with the family (don't worry, I just gave her the finger and everything is sweet now!)

    It's really just time. Finding one's feet. Practicing and practicing some more. Don't really understand why Will, or any in his own group can't remain connected with IOPS. Really, what's the bloody difference.

    Maybe that's something to be considered. Difference. Is there a point of difference that needs to be explicated for IOPS to be something worthy and stay together.

    And why does it feel like we are all trudging into slowly, intermittently into some virtual room awaiting some sort of wise decision about IOPS's future by a bunch of people from the ICC, most of whom have had little to say regarding IOPS outside, and even less to say on the site? And how long do we have to wait? What's the point?

    • LedSuit ' 13th Jun 2014

      "...trudging slowly, intermittently into.....", not ". The first "into" should not be there.

  • Fred Curran 13th Jun 2014

    I agree with James' sentiments.
    And Lamberts, here and in recent forums
    and I agree with Juan and Joe,
    and I feel many points Will raises are important.
    So as the blog says what now?

    Lambert makes an interesting point "The fact is that we have no method for agreeing on anything at the international level unless it is truly essential or highly desirable, uncontroversial, and proposed by an ICC member."

    The initial blog makes an interesting point "we should “strategically reassess the future of IOPS[,] including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed" [3], and “reevaluate the future of IOPS based on this experience." [4]. We did not, and have not since, identified precisely the mechanism for that reevaluation process. We need to do that now"

    and james "why does it feel like we are all trudging into slowly, intermittently into some virtual room awaiting some sort of wise decision about IOPS's future by a bunch of people from the ICC, most of whom have had little to say regarding IOPS outside, and even less to say on the site? And how long do we have to wait? What's the point?"

  • Lambert Meertens 14th Jun 2014

    It seems to me that we are not any closer yet to identifying precisely the mechanism for the reevaluation process that is now needed.

    Let us first and foremost agree, as Marlo Pedroso put it, that our organization and its ideology should be always flexible, not rigid and static. Anything we decide in connection with such a reevaluation should be temporary and subject to change and expansion in accordance with further experiences and deepened insights. We are building a shelter here, not designing a temple.

    As part of a reevaluation we should be prepared to consider “the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed”, but what, again, is actually “our conception”? It should be obvious that there is some lack of clarity on what we want IOPS to be, ideally. Never mind where we are now; the question is where we want to be. Hopefully we all agree that IOPS has a revolutionary mission, that’s not the issue. But do we wish to see ourselves as more of a small cadre organization of seasoned activists working through existing social movements, or do we aspire to offer a home to anyone who believes another world is possible if we work together to reach it? This question cannot be considered without also having a conception of our strategy. But what is our strategy? We have never identified it, nor do we have put a process in place for doing so.

    Therefore it appears to me that any structured reevaluation process should start with us defining a strategy, however temporary and subject to change and expansion, and more precisely outlining the organizational conception of IOPS in light of that strategy. If we don’t do that, efforts to “strategically reassess the future of IOPS” will be an exercise in futility.

    • LedSuit ' 14th Jun 2014

      The conception that we could meet both targets may have be wrong or flawed, but to conclude that building an org like IOPS, in the way it has been, is "fundamentally flawed" I think would be fairly presumptuous after only two years. A difficult task, perhaps, mistakes made, possibly, to have done some things differently maybe,,but to expect much greater after only two years may be the only conception that is fundamentally flawed.

      The cadre idea was only that of one member. A worthy discussion possibly but I haven't seen many others take it up with any fervour

    • Lambert Meertens 14th Jun 2014

      The words “fundamentally flawed” are straight from Michael Albert (see point 6 here). And that was for not meeting a target of at least 7,500 members by May 1, 2013!

      Only one (ex?) member expressed the cadre idea here recently, but I've seen others say basically the same.

      The last time we had a discussion of what we thought IOPS could or should be was in September 2012, when we still had only about two thirds of the members we have now, and it's not as if we reached a clear conclusion then.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 14th Jun 2014

      My ghost again James, just had to chime in one last time: two years for an international federation is certainly ok, but two years for locals/chapters to develop substantial membership or take meaningful action on anything? I think that's below any standard of effectiveness. Hence my conviction that chapter members are constrained from acting, developing, or recruiting by the weight of a fictitious federation constructed on a falsely projected or estimated unity of principles, and my conviction that this project took the reverse order of the anarchist federation process. You all need to stick together but you need to decentralize and loosen up a lot more, perhaps to the point of de-federating completely into more of a network (with a view to developing a real federation after you have something to federate) so you can start fighting, recruiting, agitating and organizing NOW, and not waiting for the erstwhile ICC or for everybody to get on board. That's my two cents because it has worked for us so far. Ok now I'll shut up.

    • Tasner Curran 14th Jun 2014

      I couldn't agree more with Lambert. In defining that strategy we'll need to, as Will L. mentioned, take into account those members not in active chapters. Jon Doe mentioned Skype calls between active chapters to build trust, share skills, etc.

      I'd add that we should find a way to include members of non active chapters in these talks, or parallel ones. Members of non-active chapters need some kind of surrogate chapters and weekly talks, I believe, or one piece of that. Talks such as the one Jon Doe suggests and the one I am advocating for as well are not strategy in themselves but they build solidarity and add one more layer of communication to make strategizing easier.

      There should be a post with the link of the June 15th live talk up in a couple hours. A little last minute I know, but they'll be another on June 22nd as well. Will L. suggested we do chats a a year or so back. Given that Google hangout really cant handle more than a few people the proposed live oral discussion very well might turn into a chat...which is fine with me.

      As for what this strategy will be , that'll take some serious thought.

    • Tasner Curran 14th Jun 2014

      P.S. By not being able to handle more than a few people I meant that, based on my observations of others using Google Hangout, the quality seems to did when more than five or six people are present in the video or audio chat. Therefore, if we get a good turnout a chat might be the best option, or a mix.

    • Tasner Curran 14th Jun 2014

      PPS. dip not did. OK no more corrections:)

  • John Keeley 14th Jun 2014

    Are the ICC going to offer proposals for the way forward?

    • Johannes 14th Jun 2014

      Apparently yes but I don't know when. As far as I know they are currently discussing two opposing proposals.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 15th Jun 2014

    Here's what I wrote James, upon request, a while back. Might be relevant. This whole 'credibility' thingo is based on assumptions I do not share. I don't like 'cadres', am not a Platformist or any other kind of -Ist but I do like catalysors, facilitators and creative yeasts in the dough of movements.

    Losing the Delusions of Grandeur, or Why Small is Beautiful

    1. An 'Internationale' in the libertarian sense can only be something like a bottom-up self-federation of active anti-capitalist groups or a 'network of networks'

    2. IOPS ain't an Internationale, won't be one, nor should it be

    3. IOPS is not THE Big Org or Movement that is somehow going to 'implement' some nifty 'strategy' or diverse set of strategies that is going to 'win' either minor or major 'gains', not to mention drive a global anti-capitalist 'revolution'

    4. Interim IOPS is an online clicktivist (rather than activist) organisation with a majority of 'like' button-clickers and non-participating Followers. Not much point to that, especially for an org committed to participatory democracy that has few actual participants

    5. IOPS could and should remain restricted to those actually participating, i.e. small and radical. It could define itself as a small international and internationalist (unfortunately mainly anglophone at this stage) group of anti-authoritarian activists and individuals committed to spreading the revolutionary visions and anti-capitalist notions of participatory democracy, self-organisation, self-management, mutual aid, global equality, ecological sustainability and justice, especially within the social movements engaged in single issue struggles and manifesting more revolutionary, globalist potentials (e.g. anti-austerity, Occupy...)

    6. Once the 'Internationale' delusion is dropped, it follows that a founding convention need not be bound by any 'representative' constrictions as to member, chapter, gender or geographical numbers. Just do it. Ah has spoke.

    Here's a poem (posted here once as a blog, but what the hell, no one read it, and it's not lineated correctly when posted here...) on why it's all in the movement(s):

    THE WAY THEY MOVED

    In the whorehouses on the dead outskirts of the River Plate, hard men invented the tango blind

    with the boredom of waiting for their taciturn turns of consolation & grind

    In Rio’s pulsing carnivals rolling out from the lower depths regional black rhythms fused

    into pelvic ecstasies of sex & life that became the samba’s sinuous muse

    In, yes, Perdido Street in1906 New Orleans five-year-old Satchmo watched, listless, from a window

    down onto poverty & nothing-new till one day from a corner Billy Bolden blew

    his party- & funeral-raising horn at the sky encircled by clapping, singing, dance, &, shaking

    with sound, almost fell from the window into his calling called jazz, soul quaking

    with the bold cornet of a phantom called Billy soon sectioned in the Negro Section

    where he died unknown, unrecorded, round the time the Street crashed all connection,

    the unemployed queued, workers marched into red, black or brown, & jazz

    became big band, respectable & white.

    When the black & white students of the sixties went south to sit-in segregated cafes

    & be fire-hosed or mauled by police dogs, a reporter held a mike to a local young black

    & asked what had prompted her to join these blow-ins from the north:

    it was the way they moved, she said,

    the way they moved

    In ‘68 it was somatic conviction that convinced our eye & gut

    long before any clever word hit the expectant brain, an inward dance propelled

    by black pulsations of hip & spine, the blues, rock-and-roll, the saxy free jazz

    of struggle that infused the opening horizons of our blue-note night

    it was the way they moved

    the way they moved

    Even in the most rarefied branching of the live & leaderless symphony of the human tree

    poetry sings the melodic line above the sustained bass of sweat & struggle,

    toil & tenderness, debate & dance, moving like wheat fields in the cross-winds

    of history, memory, calm animations of dignity, upright refusal

    to doff caps, tug forelocks, sit at the back of the bus

    it was the way they moved

    the way they moved

    Even through filigreed Bach, Beethoven, Schönberg, through Whitman, Rilke, Neruda

    the subtle ear may hear the thud of peasant feet, hammer & beat of working hands,

    poetic cadence in the rise & fall of civilisations, spiral dance of humanity’s long dark

    quest towards itself, driving propaganda of the lowly deed, feet stomping in struggle

    rock & rolling with the planet exfoliating its potentials powered by the progress

    of the cyclic sun revolving around nothing, no one, but itself

    it was the way they moved

    the way they moved

    Even within the nine-second cage Mrs H. had to weld one

    of the three thousand one hundred & forty daily tubes,

    she had, over the dead vast of years, maintaining her piece-rate,

    found the tiny seed of freedom’s breath: for a micro-second

    her arm & shoulder briefly winged upwards

    in one totally superfluous movement of her own

    one invisibly angelic movement of her own

    • Lambert Meertens 15th Jun 2014

      Peter, it is not clear to me from your preceding contribution whether you would be willing to subscribe to the thesis that the task of IOPS (being the collectivity of its members) should be to build, or help build, a revolutionary mass movement? (See We need a strategy.)

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Jun 2014

      Yep Lambert my friend, HELP 'build' (or facilitate or catalyse or stimulate...), which is not the same as 'build'.

      This is because I think any conceivable, self-networking, or -federating or -institutionalising, global Movement of Movements, if it ever should emerge at all within our lifetimes, will be something quite organic and complex coming from the 'depths' (of society, the soul, spirit, the unconscious...), seemingly spontaneously.

      IOPS will not BE that Movement (of Movements) itself, but, hopefully just a small but active and creative part of it, arguing and acting for PD values and visions. Consciousness raising, consciousness raising, consciousness raising, beginning with ourselves.

      I think we should try to leave worn, old, mechanical trad left notions of 'organizing', 'recruiting', 'mobilising', 'cadres' etc behind and try thinking in flexible and fresh ways that do justice both to our emergent complex realities and the urgency and depth of our challenges. (Otherwise there's also a real danger of being told by young people, correctly, 'your politics is as boring as fuck', to quote a young anarchist woman...).

      All this is thoroughly utopian of course, as utopian as participatory democracy and self-management itself. And that's a great reason to propagate it. It appeals to the hidden, suppressed dimensions of people, their basic sense of truth and authenticity, like all good revolutionary notions(Oscar Wilde: 'Everything popular is wrong.')

      But I don't expect mainstream IOPS will agree.

    • Fred Curran 16th Jun 2014

      Beautifully said Peter, but in its organic nature raising up from the depths, can we preclude IOPS?
      I mean we can say it probably will not be THE movement of movements, but in a hope of such a movement, should we not try to embody that reality? I don't know that the difference is so great as far as internal and external consciousness raising, such an effort might very well not preclude either possibility of helping to build versus building. And as there is no current movement of movements, should we not endeavor to serve as such until some greater example exists?

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 17th Jun 2014

      Thanks Fred. "I mean we can say it probably will not be THE movement of movements, but in a hope of such a movement, should we not try to embody that reality?"

      Don't see how one can 'embody' what one is not or what is not there.

    • Lambert Meertens 17th Jun 2014

      One can embody the hope, or aspiration, of something that is not yet there.

    • LedSuit ' 17th Jun 2014

      Mass or big movement is the hope, while the reality is small. Always seems to be the case. Reminds me of the Raphael painting with Plato pointing skyward and Aristotle's palm facing the ground.

      Meanwhile back at the ranch.....

      17th June. 9.32pm Melbourne time.

      What now? 9.48pm

  • LedSuit ' 15th Jun 2014

    Why doesn't someone from the ICC let us all know what is going on? Some time line, what "they" are doing, or something, or is that a stupid thing to ask?

    • Johannes 15th Jun 2014

      I assume no single member of the ICC can speak for all of them and publishing anything on behalf of all of them involves time consuming discussions in advance. Therefore, I think, we will not get any official information before their two proposals they are currently discussing are ready for publication. Feel free to contact any individual member from the ICC nonetheless.

    • Lambert Meertens 15th Jun 2014

      As aspiring revolutionaries we must learn to be patient. :)

    • LedSuit ' 15th Jun 2014

      So I am assuming what they are proposing, considering, is uncontroversial, yet truly essential and highly desirable?

    • Lambert Meertens 15th Jun 2014

      Truly essential or highly desirable, but not necessarily uncontroversial. Decision proposals that turn out to be controversial are turned into polls for all members. See point 4 of Interim Committee.

    • LedSuit ' 15th Jun 2014

      I was kind of paraphrasing you Lambert. Not a direct quote but close. Just being a bit facetious really. Probably unhelpful and silly. But while we wait, anyone no any jokes?

    • LedSuit ' 15th Jun 2014

      "Know" any jokes!

    • LedSuit ' 16th Jun 2014

      Why did the activist cross the road?
      In solidarity with the chicken!

      Why do anarchists drink herbal tea?
      Because proper tea is theft!

      How many anarchists does it take to run a collective?
      14. Three to do all the necessary stuff and eleven to make sparkle fingers!

      Two Greek anarchists were making Molotov cocktails. One asked, "who we gonna throw these at? The other responded, "what are you, a fucking intellectual?"

  • Howard Goldson 15th Jun 2014

    A wonderful conversation. I too am waiting. Let us all keep the revolution alive and well.

  • Alexander Androv 16th Jun 2014

    Lambert Meertens: "Therefore I expect that it is more fruitful to seek ways to convince more people to join, and to focus membership drives on these areas where such efforts are most likely to lead to a sufficient concentration for establishing a chapter."

    I believe we are mainly aiming to bring puzzle pieces in their places. Aren't we?

    I don't see any objective obstacles for achieving this goal. We just need to concentrate our efforts on a highest possible level which in my opinion is the realization.

    Why?

    Because the ideas and theories are only preconditions. They are not the natural and mature state of things. And the realization is the evident result of the ideas and theories applied in it.

    Let's put it in this simple chain of dependencies:

    Idea
    Theory
    Realization (all meanings)

    We have ideas and theories. So now we can put some puzzle pieces on their places.

    What we need?

    1. Well defined projects which will bring as result some advantages for both the individual who supports them and the group of individuals in which the individual belongs (you can extend it from local hobby club to a nation state or continent. It's up to you and the scale of the project)

    2. Plan of action for the project

    3. Actions

    4. At least positive output if not 99,9% realization.

    Why am I calling this "a highest level of concentration of efforts"?

    If we are capable of doing it that will show we have all the necessary preconditions met. It includes theoretical basis, coordination between the people, capability for achieving goals, realization of those goals. Puzzle piece by puzzle piece. And for having it done we don't need to meet eachother. At least for some of the possible projects.


    For example:

    A project for creating an informational section in the site for describing the existing state institutions in the nation states (in some of them at least as starting point).

    Providing structural schemas, description of the institutions and their competences, the place they have in the overall hierarchy of the system of governance of the given nation state, number of employees, budget, contact details, documents issued by them.

    Main purpose:
    Getting knowledge and realistic picture about the present state of the governance structure worldwide. And again reach and realistic picture. I don't believe you know in detail all the governance structures of your country but if you know it share it with us. It will lead us to analytical results. We will be able to tell more about why things go wrong in some places on the Earth and where we see good practices.

    Additional benefits:
    People searching related information on the web will be able to find it in IOPS site and in the same time will be aware of us.

    Theory of the development

    Plan of actions

    Realization (all meanings of the word)

    It was just an example.

    And by the way I'm here and I'm working for IOPS. Does it mean I'm working for and representing a non-existing entity? Of course not. IOPS is alive until all of us are here.

    And even if it is not "officially born" I don't care. The "bustards" are much more vital than the "officially born children". Because they need to prove all the time everything to everybody. This is somehow very close to the definition of the live itself. It needs constant movement.

  • Michael Livingston 17th Jun 2014

    In a June 14th comment on this blog, Lambert Mertens contends that “any structured reevaluation process should start with us defining a strategy, however temporary and subject to change and expansion, and more precisely outlining the organizational conception of IOPS in light of that strategy” and warns that, “[i]f we don’t do that, efforts to ‘strategically reassess the future of IOPS’ will be an exercise in futility.” For the reasons outlined below, I disagree.

    Lambert’s proposal rests on the unsupported premise that our present circumstances are the result of an inadequate, or undefined, IOPS strategy. But, the elements of the IOPS “Program and Structure” (http://www.iopsociety.org/structure-and-program) constitute a more than adequate strategy. The primary problem is that we haven’t executed that strategy very well. Although the IOPS “Program and Structure” clearly anticipates (if not requires) that each person who signs up as a member be committed to organizing for and building the local, regional and international components of IOPS, many (if not most) folks who sign up as members don’t do that. It’s as if, for some reason, they’re waiting for someone else to do the work, or believe that nothing meaningful can/should be done at any level until IOPS holds a “founding convention.” Perhaps the best evidence of that is the small (and, over the past few months, declining) number of “active” local chapters. Mark Evans and Peter Lach-Newinsky each described this failure-to-execute problem in comments on the “Reevaluating IOPS” blog posted last month:

    MARK: “Perhaps this is the problem. Members understand the primary work of organising self-managed local chapters and national branches as doing nothing or not doing anything in particular. Conclusion - no current game plan. The reality is that the most important work any revolutionary, who shares our vision, could engage in today is this kind of primary organising. On a day-to-day basis this is not particularly exciting or glamorous work. But if we can somehow come together and experience the potential then this kind of organising can become extremely meaningful. * * * It is true that establishing local chapters / national branches and engaging in immediate struggle are not mutually exclusive. My concern is that the former is seen as doing nothing, or as an exercise in organisation in order to grow for the sake of growth and nothing more. If this is a common misunderstanding amongst the membership then I would suggest that it needs to be addressed as part of the reevaluation. It seems to me to be a matter of common sense logic that we cannot engage in serious organising without an organisational base. * * * If members are understanding the establishment of local chapters and national branches as nothing more than an exercise in organisation in order to grown in order to organise and grow, etc, and not as planting the seeds of the future in the present, then this could help explain quite a lot. * * * [T]here is a lot more to meeting our interim targets than simply organising in order to grow. * * * My point is that this kind of organising is a necessary precursor to meaningful revolutionary action. For us this means setting up local chapters and national branches. Understood in these terms meeting our interim targets is incredibly important and meaningful work which has nothing to do with dead-ends and eternal treadmills.”

    PETER: “I think it is because the organization is being built roof first. It began as an international organization that existed only online and is having trouble with the foundation, meaning active chapters and real world struggles. IOPS did not spontaneously grow out of the active social struggles of international groups and individuals linking up and self-federating from below. Thus perhaps its tendency to contain a majority of mere 'followers' who clicked 'like'.”

    And, in this “What Now?” blog, Peter candidly observes that: “Interim IOPS is an online clicktivist (rather than activist) organisation with a majority of 'like' button-clickers and non-participating Followers. Not much point to that, especially for an org committed to participatory democracy that has few actual participants.”

    Again, the problem is not that IOPS lacks a strategy, or that the strategy isn’t clear enough -- the problem is that we haven’t executed it by engaging in the organizing work that Mark describes in the quote above. And, acknowledging that fundamental deficiency is essential to any meaningful reassessment of IOPS.

  • LedSuit ' 18th Jun 2014

    Maybe there is some truth in what Lambert, Peter, Michael, and others have said here. The truth is, for me, that I don't really see a "problem" as such (other than the difficulty of trying to change the world), but rather, that what has happened is probably what we should have expected. Getting involved in something like IOPS, seriously, takes hard committed work over time, and two years ain't that long.

    An org built as Peter said,from the roof down, via the net, is more than likely going to draw in many people - like button clickers - who just aren't all that good or experienced at what Mark and others think we should be concentrating on. Probably or more than likely, not a lot of people with confidence in their "activist" abilities. Maybe there are a few here that are good at those things, but perhaps not when it comes to building/organising small revolutionary activist groups, even IF they like what IOPS is about. Obviously there are those who are good at organising activist groups with a revolutionary bent, but I wonder how many, what their experience actually is and possible previous success rate was.

    All in all, when you do the math/s, the proportions of those attempting to organise or get chapters up and running, and those actually successful so far, when measured against the total membership, is probably what one would expect. I mean, to seriously organise, I have learnt, takes real commitment. A commitment to something that, the more one learns and one reads, comes with very little reward for considerable effort and time spent. What proportion of "like button clickers" would one expect to seriously, confidently and successfully organise small groups of local revolutionary activists, from a slowly growing membership that has only just reached 3500 internationally? And this is without taking in geographical considerations. Distances between members. A major problem in people getting together. This goes to Peter's notion of building via the net, roof down. The virtual world ignores physical space.

    We can also look at the number of people who voted in the first serious poll. I think it was 700 or so out of, what, let's say 2800-3000 or something, probably less. So about a quarter actually voted. We wanted 20 chapters and we got about a quarter. Then look at how many members actually use the site on a regular basis.

    Then, look at the phenomenon of losing about 30 or so members, it seemed, directly after the email/message debacle of 2014 (forgot the month). It seemed that event pissed some off enough to dismember themselves. We had made 3500, but it suddenly dropped to around 3470 and took a little while to recover. What does that say, both about IOPS and some of its membership?

    Maybe all these things amount to some sort of problem or flaw with IOPS, and I am happy to go along with the idea, but maybe, things were never going to be otherwise, particularly when you start in the virtual world. Who knows who is going to join? Then, before any chapters are up and running, people are endeavouring to get others to join. To join what exactly? A website organisation with a utopian vision, and a strategic structure and program, that more than likely, gets a quick once over and nothing more from most members. Further, who are you asking to join? Your grandmother, sister, daughter, drinking buddies...? Do you target serious activists with serious organising skills? The point is, they're probably already doing other stuff, and even if they join in solidarity you probably won't hear much from them again because they're so so busy, fitting everything in already. Sounds like some on the ICC don't it?

    So problems with IOPS? From someone quite unaware of what it takes/took to be an activist or what they actually did/do, I really can't imagine much more. It took sometime to get the Melbourne chapter going. Started with 5 and then shot to 12 or so and fluctuates between the two. Mainly young, bar myself and Reg. That's another thing. Who actually has the time to commit to serious organising? I ask that generally. In other words, is it a failure of the membership that we haven't done more, or is it merely a reflection of who has joined? If we want a more "inclusive" diverse membership, what percentage of it will be CONFIDENT and able to be seriously "active"? It seems serious organising will be done by a small number of mostly youngish people willing to sacrifice or make time.

    All I know is that if IOPS had not launched I would NOT have met and got to know so many like minded people and chatted with them. I would most likely NOT have met with five strangers at a North Melbourne pub way back when. I would NOT have made new friendships with some who enable me to discuss shit that I know my usual cohorts are not the slightest bit interested in. I most certainly would NOT be meeting, reasonably regularly (they meet every fortnight), with a small group of intelligent, caring, energetic, committed people who have most certainly taught me more than I have to offer them. I go to meetings, hang around like a bad smell, like I do on the website, then leave. Anything more than that and facetious remarks from my wife regarding saving the world may become more serious. And those things are NOT trivial matters for some!

    Like I said, maybe the only thing fundamentally flawed about starting an org in the virtual world, is expecting too much from it. Are there problems, probably, but I'm too dim witted to really know what they may be. As far as solving them, forget it. From my gleaning, over a short time within this world, activist groups tend towards the small side, if not tiny, unless of course you take the hierarchical approach, like some socialist, Marxist and Union groups.

    I know maybe the above is all over the joint. Maybe redundant in that most of you already know all this, but don't feel the need to actually say it. Or maybe you do but with concision and brevity and I just miss it. Or maybe the above doesn't make sense, is stupid, non-sensical and has no value at all or relevance to the blog. I don't really know for sure, it's just how me head works and if people don't like it, stiff.

    • Michael Livingston 18th Jun 2014

      "Getting involved in something like IOPS, seriously, takes hard committed work over time, and two years ain't that long."

      Yes indeed, James.


      And, what you've written here is neither "redundant," nor "all over the joint" -- to the contrary, it's refreshingly non-abstract and accessible. There's a poem by William Stafford that ends with this line: "[T]he signals we give -- yes or no, or maybe -- should be clear: the darkness around us is deep." The signals you're sending here are very clear.

  • Lambert Meertens 18th Jun 2014

    I agree with what James wrote – not strange, seeing as that he sees some truth in what I wrote :).

    If there isn't more to the IOPS strategy than we can read from our Structure and program document, then it doesn't amount to much. To see how what is written there relates to our revolutionary aspirations takes a fair dose of imagination. Does the document really require that each person who signs up as a member be committed to organizing for and building the local, regional and international components of IOPS? All I see is that IOPS expects its members to actively participate in the life of the organization, and participating constructively in the internal discussions would, in my mind, fit that expectation.

    How much effort an individual member puts into organizing for IOPS is the resultant of a large combination of factors, such as available time (members who are working two jobs while raising young children obviously have less time), skills (some members have zero organizing experience), language barriers, cultural barriers, self-confidence, opportunity, moral support, and actual organizational support. This list is far from exhaustive. I'm furthermore fairly sure there are plenty of members willing to organize and spending time and energy on that, but we just don't know about it because they are not very successful and they don't blog about it. I think creating a dichotomy in our minds between merely "clicktivist" members and "committed" members denies the reality that there is a whole spectrum there, and fails to take into account that we have done very little, organizationally and systematically, to tap the vast potential that is out there. Ultimately, I think this is more harmful than helpful.

    • Michael Livingston 18th Jun 2014

      "How much effort an individual member puts into organizing for IOPS is the resultant of a large combination of factors, such as available time (members who are working two jobs while raising young children obviously have less time), skills (some members have zero organizing experience), language barriers, cultural barriers, self-confidence, opportunity, moral support, and actual organizational support."

      So, I guess we should just pack it in, because it's just too hard. Sorry, I don't buy that. These are challenges to organizing, not reasons for not doing it at all. And, the reality is that a lot of folks aren't doing it, and we should knowledge that.

    • Fred Curran 18th Jun 2014

      If we are willing to consider the barriers to participation seriously and not as if their consideration is tantamount to wanting to disband I think we can be well served. IOPS does have a vast wealth of untapped potential we must address, it is in our key documents. We do not want to build a society in which the vast majority do not participate and do not have a voice.

    • Michael Livingston 18th Jun 2014

      Fred, I think you've misread what I'm saying here. Of course there are challenges to those who are trying organize, particularly if it's their first experience doing that. But organizing work for IOPS can take many forms, and, many of the challenges are, in effect, self-imposed because folks don't understand that. IOPS is being built, and that process will take a while. It's like a barn raising -- folks who sign on should bring the tools they have and be ready to work.

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Jun 2014

      Quote from Michael Livingston:

       "So, I guess we should just pack it in, because it's just too hard."

      I didn't say that and you know I don't think that. I do not understand why you (apparently) think it is implied by what I said. What are your ideas on what we should do with members who are not seen to be organizing? Purge them?

    • Michael Livingston 18th Jun 2014

      No, you didn't say that, and yes, I know you don't think that. I wrote that to make a point: When we list all of these impediments to organizing and don't identify them as problems to be addressed (first, by the individual member), the implication is that they constitute reasons for not acting, which further enables a member's immobility instead of encouraging problem-solving.

      IOPS organizing can take many forms. For example, Lambert, you do not have an active chapter to work with, but, through your translation and website work for IOPS, you certainly are actively engaged in building this organization. Regardless of individual circumstances, most, if not all of us, can do something, even if all it is reading and understanding the "key documents" and talking about them with friends. And, if we don't see what we can do or how to do it, we can ask others and "work the problem."

      Here's another example: 11 IOPS members (4 women and 7 men) live in 5 towns in the "county" of Oxfordshire, England. Because they lack gender diversity and/or sufficient numbers,there are no town-based "active" chapters. If, however, they got together and formed an Oxfordshire chapter and met regularly face-to-face, Oxfordshire would qualify as an "active" chapter. Admittedly, not all organizational challenges are that easily remedied, but, many of them are.

    • Mark Evans 18th Jun 2014

      "If there isn't more to the IOPS strategy than we can read from our Structure and program document, then it doesn't amount to much. To see how what is written there relates to our revolutionary aspirations takes a fair dose of imagination. Does the document really require that each person who signs up as a member be committed to organizing for and building the local, regional and international components of IOPS? All I see is that IOPS expects its members to actively participate in the life of the organization, and participating constructively in the internal discussions would, in my mind, fit that expectation."

      Lambert - there are more specific suggestions for what members can do on the "Getting Involved" page.

      As for strategy - that needs to be formulated by the members on the ground. The reason for this is that what makes sense in one place, or at one time, might not make sense in another. Strategy is context specific. Nevertheless, despite this diversity on the ground, because we all share the same vision we all move in the same direction, so to speak. That is why we are focusing on building local chapters first, so that members can then go on to do this kind of work in a meaningful way.

    • Lambert Meertens 19th Jun 2014

      Mark,

      I called for starting the structured reevaluation process that we need now with us defining a strategy, however temporary and subject to change and expansion, and more precisely outlining the organizational conception of IOPS in light of that strategy. The sentence you quoted was inspired by Michael Livingston's reaction to my call. Michael stated that the elements of the IOPS Structure and program document (http://www.iopsociety.org/structure-and-program) constitute a "more than adequate" strategy. You however, state that we must build local chapters first before we proceed to formulate local, context-specific, strategies.

      If IOPS as a whole chooses to forego having a global strategy for achieving the global fundamental change outlined in its mission and vision, then most of the potential value of IOPS being an international organization is thrown away.

      I for one have had very little success with convincing people who are sympathetic to the vision of IOPS to sign on as members. At that rate, I might call for the Amsterdam members to convene and constitute a chapter by perhaps 2044, when I'll be 100 years old. Blame it on my lack of organizing skills, but what can I tell them to convince them that their joining IOPS will bring that vision closer if we have no strategy for achieving it? Why should they think that chapter-building activities are a better use of their time than the work they already are doing?

    • Mark Evans 19th Jun 2014

      It depends on what we mean by strategy.

      On the one hand there are the activities that we engage in in order to lay the foundation off which to launch IOPS - the kinds of things suggested in the Getting Involved page.

      On the other hand there are the activities that could be formulated by functioning local chapters and national branches after we launch - the kinds of things outlined in the History and Future Hopes page.

      Both of these examples can be thought of as strategy. But either way, clearly, there are lots of activities for members to engage in - if they so choose.

      I do not know what you mean by a "global strategy" so I cannot comment on that. But again, the important point here - it seems to me - is that there are already plenty of meaningful activities for members to get involved in.

      As for your last comment, if you are going around telling "people who are sympathetic to the vision" that IOPS has "no strategy for achieving it" then you might want to reconsider that approach as a recruitment tactic - not only because it is bad, but also because it is untrue.

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Jun 2014

      Of course I don't go around telling them that. But if they ask me how IOPS hopes to achieve its lofty revolutionary vision, I'm not sure what to respond. Nothing I can find in our sacred documents appears to me to be a satisfactory answer to this question.

      I don't think the following, in particular, is a satisfactory answer. "IOPS members build the seeds of the future in the present and recruit more IOPS members who build the seeds of the future in the present and recruit more IOPS members and so on until BOOM! the Global Glorious Revolution happens."

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2014

      I repeat, there are suggestions for very important and meaningful activities that members can undertake in the Getting Involved section. Members can also draw on the other documents - such as the vision statement - to inform strategic options.

      But you are right - IOPS does expect its members to think for themselves and to take initiatives. The fact that people are asking you this question, and that you think that you should have an answer, is quite telling. Such an outlook has nothing to do with the kind of culture we are trying to generate inside IOPS. What should be happening is that members, in their local chapters, should all be trying to answer this question together.

      I also find your "boom" answer to be unsatisfactory - although increasing awareness of, and involvement in, our local chapters and national branches is a very important part of what we need to do. People who do not appreciate the importance of such work simply do not understand left-libertarian organising.

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Jun 2014

      I find the question how IOPS hopes to achieve its revolutionary vision completely legitimate and reasonable, and the response "We expect our members to think for themselves and to take initiatives" ..., well, not quite reasonable.

      I don't know what kind of culture you think we are trying to generate inside IOPS, except that I see some members discouraging other members to question the unbounded wisdom enshrined in the sidebar documents – so much for expecting members to think for themselves.

      Determining the tactics of the struggle, which (in my eyes) is much harder than selecting a strategy, should obviously take account of the local situations and opportunities at any given time and can only be done meaningfully by people who are familiar with them on a dynamic basis.

      A strategy, on the other hand, is something you develop for the long run, the next fifty years or so, a plan that sets out a way of getting from where we are now to the point where a new world has been won. It should help us to determine what our priorities are in different phases of the struggle, and tactics should always serve the overall strategy. While we should be flexible, not having a clear guiding strategy makes it impossible to determine priorities in a sensible way and to coordinate the local struggles effectively. It is an excellent way of making it unlikely from the start that you will be successful.

    • Fred Curran 20th Jun 2014

      Fifty years seems a bit long given where IOPS is now in terms of deliberative, cooperative capacity. Five or ten would seem maybe a better place to start? But then again, a flexible shared understanding of the most legitimate viable path, we can come to a decision on, in some manner, that will lead "to the point where a new world has been won" seems a reasonable endeavor, however long the arc of that may stretch. And if it is being decided on in a post ICC IOPS then it would seem a valuable undertaking.

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

      @Fred: You may be using "viable path" in the sense in which I mean the term "strategy" – although "path" suggests more detail to me than "strategy". After all, we're talking here about uncharted territory. But the more we think and plan ahead for contingencies, the better.

      Maybe a metaphor can bring across how I think about this all. Suppose you're trying to form a troop of pastoral people to go to the green pastures that are known to lie in the east, a journey that will take many months. To get to the promised land the troop will need to go either south and cross a treacherous river and a desert, or go north and find a pass over a steep and dangerous mountain range, before it can proceed to the east. A difficult choice. Naturally, the people you approach will want to know which route the troop will take. If half of the troop starts out going north and the other half goes south because they can't agree, both are bound to fail: for either choice, they need each other. You can't avoid making a choice or postpone it. It doesn't make sense then to say: let's make a choice for the first few weeks and then we'll see again. Once the troop gets going, they'd better stick to the choice unless they have very good reasons for a change. If they decide on the southern strategy, say, then it doesn't make sense to change strategy and turn north when they encounter a treacherous river. They knew that in advance; crossing that river was part of the chosen approach.

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2014

      I didn't say the question is not legitimate. I said that the answer to the question should be worked out by the members, together, within their local chapters and national branches. That is the kind of culture we are trying to generate inside IOPS.

      When I say members need to think for themselves I am talking about it within the context of IOPS - where there is a shared agreement to the key documents - and with specific reference to developing strategy for their particular part of the world.

      As for the other stuff you write - I am sorry, I can not understand it.

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

      @Mark: Try to envisage the following dialogue:

      —IOPS member: ... mission ... vision ... program ... structure ... hopes ... what you can do ...
      —Prospect: That sounds most enticing. Pray tell me, how doth this miraculous IOPS of which thou speakest hope to achieve its revolutionary dreams?
      —IOPS member: Why don't you join? Then you can work out the answer to this question together with the other members within your local chapter and national branch.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Who do you think should formulate strategy, if not the members "together with the other members" ?

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

      I think we should start doing it now, not only at the local levels, and not wait for some preconditions to be fulfilled.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Lambert - you cannot freely choose to join an organisation, stating an agreement to a process, and then complain about that process.

      The sane thing to do, if you do not agree with the process, is to not join.

      The organisation you chose to join is in its interim phase. We are interim because we want to build capacity on the ground before launching formally. As a matter of common sense logic this means we have to have interim targets - which, by definition, rules out the "not wait for some preconditions to be fulfilled" option that you favor.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      I think you are mixing up the polling done and the key documents. Is the ICC representative?

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      The polling done and the key documents are all part of the same process.

      Sorry - I don't understand your question. As far as I know the ICC does not claim to represent anyone.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      Well the polling done and the key documents are not the same. What is this process you are speaking of? The ICC process? I also cannot find transparency behind any decisions the ICC has made for the past twp years.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      This is not the place for this.
      I suggest you take a new look at the key document and discuss them with someone who knows what they are talking about in order to seek clarification. Then decide if you like this project, or not.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      I must say I would say the same to you

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Well, I help write them and set this thing up, so...

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      You seem to be acting on an agenda that is not necessarily in line with the revolutionary aims of IOPS.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      To you, maybe.

      Why don't you write a blog on it and I will debate you there.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      Better yet, what we could do, and what would be a much more valuable use of my time. Would be to begin an open discussion in regard to Lambert's points. I think if no one else creates a blog in regard to those points he has raised, I will consider doing it. Maybe some more collective decisions can be made by the members on the ground.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Whatever you think best.

  • Dave Jones 18th Jun 2014

    I agree with Michael that, like any project, making this thing work requires devotion and yes, sacrifice of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere. It's hardly rocket science. That's not to say building an org/movement/revolution can't also be fun and invigorating, at times, but some of it is boring and tedious and frustrating. So suck it up if you think it is something worth doing.

    Which is why I disagree with Peter opposing Organizing to "flexible and fresh thinking". Organizing can be as creative as we care to make it but there will still be tasks that are mundane. Like the rest of life. Think of the Zapatistas in the hot, buggy,jungle for ten years before "acting". Probably lots of joy and lots of time spent doing laundry.

    • LedSuit ' 18th Jun 2014

      No, it is hardly rocket science Dave, but the sacrifice of energy and time is hardly like that of learning an instrument. Further, it's not as if learning to be an "activist" and the diverse "skills" that are required is like getting a job. It's not as if the goal of the task at hand is as clear as building a barn. The suck it up principle won't cut it in "this" world unfortunately and sounds too much like a the sort of attitude people need to get ahead in the already existing system. Some activists of experience are hardened war horses, with strong personalities that can stand up to and take on the most hardened of enemies. The same sort of qualities needed to be a CEO or the singer of the worlds oldest rock and roll band. Those qualities, regardless that they are being used to make the world better, can be both scary and intimidating to others less hardened by the jovial world of activism!

      I don't think Peter with his fresh ideas and flexible thinking is opposed to organising at all. It was the virtual world roof down approach that wasn't going to draw in the right amount of those with already needed skills and "tools", regardless of what people may have thought they were signing up to. At least, not at the levels some may have been projecting or dreaming of.

      Self-managed horizontal structured organisations are not things people are used to let alone organising for. In some other sense also, one can see why the idea of balanced job complexes is something worth looking at far more seriously than some think. IOPS ain't Parecon, but the psyche of most in this world, those who we wish to recruit and see involved, a diverse range of ordinary sods perhaps (and much needed if mass movement is to eventually arrive), is embedded with ideas of hierarchy AND following, listening to, those who do most empowering work. Chomsky's mechanic and ice cream vendor may enjoy what they do but they might certainly NOT be used to getting involved in something as weird and strange for MOST people as fun and exhilarating revolutionary organising.

      It ain't rocket science but it ain't flipping burgers either. 150 years of so called anarchist organising, ideas, self-management and internal bickering and I still probably wouldn't be able to fill the MCG with 'em!

      No-one here is suggesting pack it in at all. Most members are probably getting on with their lives. Like button clickers, uncertain about making such a commitment, most likely out of fear and lack of confidence(which is what the fresh and flexible idea of balanced job complexes is supposed to aid in changing over time even in a post capitalist society!). Some may be anonymously organising and doing stuff because they've been there before and have that confidence, due to experience or genetic endowment. Some are here, five or six of us, wrapping lyrically about what's next, while we await the word of our great and glorious ICC members, who won't even drop us, all of us, a line about what they are actually doing and how much longer it may take. The idea that I should ask personally is a tad ridiculous to me.

      But that's ok, it's like that way because that's the way it is.

  • Fred Curran 18th Jun 2014

    I assumed we all understood that IOPS was always open to change and would always need to reevaluate its position and change accordingly. Lambert, If by strategy you mean what we are figuring on doing together as a group of people scattered around the world, I think you are right. I think your point on actual organizational support is an important one as well, and if it is overlooked too much longer I will no longer see a point or purpose to IOPS, other than to craft the world writ large into our little microcosm. Fear and lack of confidence are important barriers we must work to lessen or better destroy, not embolden with the suck it up mentality. It is shockingly familiar, again to the awfully unjust world 'outside' of IOPS. Moving forward considering all of this by members on the ground, rather than the ICC, seems to be the only reasonable path.

    • Michael Livingston 19th Jun 2014

      FRED: You write -- "Fear and lack of confidence are important barriers we must work to lessen or better destroy, not embolden with the suck it up mentality. It is shockingly familiar, again to the awfully unjust world 'outside' of IOPS."

      I don't think that's a fair reading of what Dave Jones is saying; he plainly wasn't speaking in a Marine-Corps-drill-sergeant way. Here's his suck-it-up reference in context -- "That's not to say building an org/movement/revolution can't also be fun and invigorating, at times, but some of it is boring and tedious and frustrating. So suck it up if you think it is something worth doing." That message isn't "unjust." it's realistic and encouraging.

    • Mark Evans 19th Jun 2014

      Fred -

      You are right in assuming that IOPS has always been open to reevaluation and change.

      Regarding your comment on "actual organizational support" - what do you have in mind exactly that you think IOPS is currently overlooking?

      As for "moving forward" by "members on the ground" - that has always been the plan. If you are waiting for the ICC to do this work then you misunderstand what the ICC is about.

    • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2014

      Mark

      In light of this statement from Johannes,

      "We understand that the ICC has the matter under consideration, and that we can expect to hear from them soon, when they have finished their deliberations."

      and this of yours,

      "If you are waiting for the ICC to do this work then you misunderstand what the ICC is about."

      and considering you are a member of the ICC, and just out of curiosity, can you enlighten us as to what the ICC is doing, what "soon" may mean or whatever, or should I not ask? I mean seeing as you're here!

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2014

      Of course you can ask! What do you think the ICC members are - royalty? Honestly, it embarrasses me that you ask.

      I hate the ICC and want to get rid of it asap - as does Michael, and I assume the rest. But, if we are to be credible and effective, we need an organisational foundation off which to launch IOPS. This means an interim phase which require some kind of decision-making body for "truly essential or highly desirable" decisions during this phase.

      As the deadline for our interim targets arrived, and because we failed to meet some of them, we (the ICC) are having to make such a decision at the moment. Two proposals were presented and the discussion and the vote proved controversial. Also some ICC members are calling for information to be collected from existing functioning chapters so that we can have a better idea of what we actually have on the ground. I am not one of these members.

      I wrote a short report of the vote results which got sent to the ICC members, and I know Michael has written a blog on the situation.

      This is as much as I know. I assume that the ICC members who want that additional info are collecting it. And I assume that a poll is being put together.

      But none of this should be a distraction away from the much more important work that members need to engage in - the kinds of activities suggested in the Getting Involved section of our site.

      But please - if you want to ask me any questions, just ask! All I want is to be an ordinary member of an extraordinary organisation.

    • LedSuit ' 20th Jun 2014

      Ok, sorry for embarrassing you. I felt a little embarrassed asking as it seemed no one else was concerned to do so.

      Honestly, I don't know why you or someone else didn't just write something like that above earlier, because I did actually feel a little in the dark. But perhaps that's just me, eh.

      And no, I don't think the ICC are royalty and your ordinariness has never been questioned, at least by me.

      Thanks for the heads up.

    • Mark Evans 20th Jun 2014

      I agree James - I do not know why members of the ICC do not engage much more with the broader membership. I guess they have more important things to be getting on with - but what could be more important than this, I do not know.

      Blushing in solidarity.

    • Fred Curran 20th Jun 2014

      What were the proposals, what were the discussions, how many participants in the ICC participated? Who initiated the talks, who brought forward the proposals? What was the vote, who voted?

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      As I understand it, the plan is to send out the results to all members in a newsletter, and maybe post a blog, with some additional information about plans to move forward.

      There seems to be a delay, which I assume has something to do with the collection of the additional info I mentioned that some ICC members want, but I cannot be sure.

    • Daniël de Klerk 21st Jun 2014

      I'm somewhat dismayed by lack of transparency that is implicated by this. Is what ever happens here going to matter if the interim makes a decision on its own?

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      There is no lack of transparency - just a delay in publishing the results, the reasons for which I am not aware.

      As for your question, there is a process in place - that we all signed up to - and I assume we will follow that process.

  • Michael Livingston 19th Jun 2014

    An observation: The focus of this "What now?" blog is the "credibility" of IOPS. So far, 18 people have participated in the discussion -- 17 males and 1 female.

    • Daniël de Klerk 19th Jun 2014

      It's actually not bad for a forum discussion that's somewhat coherent.

    • Claire Bruhn 20th Jun 2014

      I guess we know who is going to lose this dick measuring contest

    • LedSuit ' 21st Jun 2014

      Could you elaborate Claire? A fresh perspective.

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jun 2014

      Claire: I'm not sure what you mean by your comment, or what you may be reading into the observation I made about the disproportionate number of male respondents. I posted that observation, because I think the 17-to-1 disparity is a cause for concern. In Fred Curran's "Future of IOPS" blog/poll earlier this month, a couple of folks were saying that we should consider watering down, or abandoning, the gender diversity "precondition" requirement. I thought that was a bad idea and explained why in comments there. The calls to effectively ignore the gender diversity requirement continue. I don't know how we expect to build a society that incorporates the values expressed in the preconditions (and the IOPS "key documents"), or be perceived as an organization with the capacity and vision to create that society, if we abandon those preconditions because we're impatient with our current "interim" status. Given all of that, I would want to hear what female IOPS members have to say about the "What now?" issues, particularly the question of "credibility.". And, I put in the observation about the 17-to-1 disparity because no one else seems to have noticed it.

    • Daniël de Klerk 21st Jun 2014

      Forum discussions tend not attract a very wide range of participants, especially here were the structure of somewhat hard to follow. Having this many people on a single matter is by standards that I've experienced in my time here (and on the internet) an achievement. As for your gender diversity comment, well I can say a few things on the use of affirmative action and gender quotes as a means of achieving diversity but that wont add to the actual progress of this discussion so'll digress.

    • Daniël de Klerk 21st Jun 2014

      I do however think It would be great if more people joined in with a wider range of sociological status on this discussion.

  • Sean Tinney 20th Jun 2014

    It seems to me that what is needed is a social network, but what has been set up is a website where people can post blogs and comments. Until there is a functional network with communication flowing between people then IOPS is going to be hindered in its attempts to develop. In my opinion, the first objective should be to develop the platform on which IOPS exists. Construct the technological apparatus on which to communicate; develop a model or logical structure of the organisation. Then the members can populate it and start to modify and develop it as needed.

    The most promising solution that I've seen suggested is diaspora*, an open source server framework for building social networks. It allows for groups to set up their own “pods”; a server running the diaspora* software, which houses a collection of members. The pod is then linked into the diaspora* network. That's how I understand it anyway, I'm no expert, but it looks promising to me. If the objective is to bind together groups of people, who have never met and are dispersed around the globe, into a cohesive organisation, I see no other way.

    For an initial period everyone can commit to being on this network for a period of time, an hour or two a day maybe, to get things rolling, so people get in the habit of hanging out there. The object just being to get people talking to each other about what direction they think things should be taken in. The aim should be to try and ensure there is activity on the network for 24 hours a day for a certain period. It might be beneficial to organise things along the lines of some sort of “speed dating” scenario. Possibly set some tasks, like a small online research project for a group to do. The aim being to link people together in smallish groups, so as to facilitate discussion and get them cooperating with each other. Then rotate the members to spread ideas and contacts.

    Once there are good communication links between members, a more profitable discussion on development and direction can be had. I think a training and development phase is required where members embark on some skill acquisition. There are good educational resources on the web and members will have skill sets that can be utilised and disseminated. I would propose activities such as forming small groups and taking a MOOC together; form research groups to put together analysis on topics of interest; surveil the goings on in the institutions of government then coordinate lobbying activities across constituencies. Developing databases and tools for collaboration could also be something to look into.

    A network will facilitate the development of working groups. A network can provide services to active groups, which will attract members. Perhaps groups that are already in existence might see a benefit in joining if IOPS develops capacities such as research and analysis, education, coordination of lobbying activities, and other utilities.

    I should say, I have no experience in activism or developing social networks, and have only been a member for a few days, so maybe I speak out of turn, but that's my thinking on the subject anyway. At present this place, the website, is closer to the atomised world which is being railed against, than the integrated society that we want to create.

    • Michael Livingston 20th Jun 2014

      With some "minor" modifications, the "blog" function on the current IOPS website could facilitate more focused and collaborative discussions. As it's set up now, when you want to write and post a blog and you "click" "Add a blog post," all 4 distribution ("Post in:")choices are checked by default. In order to limit the distribution (say, to a region) you have to "uncheck" the other boxes. That function could be set so that there were no default choices and the writer of the blog could select the scope of distribution.


      Welcome to IOPS. As you can see from the questions posed by the authors of this blog and the 100+ comments above, you've chosen a very interesting time to join.

  • Fred Curran 20th Jun 2014

    What we should do is create proposals by collective group deliberation, collectively construct a poll on all the points ( contentious and otherwise), put it to vote, determine the result of the vote by collective deliberation, and put the results of this vote to experiment. Repeat as needed. This idea is central to the idea of self management and IOPS's core. I would assume that we all agree with at least this.

  • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

    @Fred: There are some who feel that we (the "interim" members) should not make collective decisions for IOPS as a whole until we have a decidedly more diverse membership than we have now. That is part of the impasse we're in. If we cannot make collective decisions, we can also not collectively decide that we'll make collective decisions.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      The interim targets where arrived at via a "collective decisions for IOPS as a whole".

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

      That is true, but the poll had no option for expressing the opinion that there should be no targets that were posed as preconditions. What would you choose in a poll in which you may decide between the alternatives of being drawn-and-quartered and being hanged upside down while being disemboweled? As you are led to the place of execution, will you have forfeited your right to complain because you were given a choice?

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Lambert - you cannot freely choose to join an organisation, stating an agreement to a process, and then complain about that process.

      The sane thing to do, if you do not agree with the process, is to not join.

      The organisation you chose to join is in its interim phase. We are interim because we want to build capacity on the ground before launching formally. As a matter of common sense logic this means we have to have interim targets - which, by definition, rules out the "no targets" option that you think should have been included in the poll.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      Mark are you conflating precondition goals established by a poll with the "key documents" in you analysis here

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      No. I am just pointing out that we are interim for a reason and that reason has logical implications.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      Well it seems as if you are suggesting joining IOPS was the same as completely agreeing with the results of the poll, and not feeling anything should be changed, even though it was a decision made collectively by the members no such decision should be approached again.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      Not at all. I don't agree with the results of the poll myself - I would have set the interim targets much higher. But participating is not so much about getting your way as about having your fair say.

      Also, if we follow the procedure that we all sign up to we should be having a new poll very soon which could lead to a very different situation.

      We shall see...

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jun 2014

      The page "About IOPS" states that IOPS is open for anyone wishing to join who shares the goals, values and visionary commitments laid out in the organizational description. It does not state – nor does any other page – that you have to agree with the process laid down on the page "Interim Committee". I don't think that there was any suggestion on any of these pages that the founding convention wasto be subject to unrealistic preconditions – that is, unrealistic for any deadline within the foreseeable feature. And whereas the process on the page "Interim Committee" promises that polls will allow all members to register preferences about all key aspects, it was not possible to register the preference "no pre-formulated numeric preconditions", which was the aspect that was most key of the whole thing.

      Your "common sense logic" is obviously different from what I believe makes sense. When I signed up for IOPS, I was not warned in advance about the Mark Evans form of common sense logic that was going to be used again and again to castigate members not well-versed in it.

      So yes, I think it is perfectly sane and legitimate for me to complain about the in my eyes ill-conceived process that led to the current situation.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jun 2014

      This is getting a little bit personal, and a bit silly, so I will stop.

  • Kim Keyser 21st Jun 2014

    I would have several ideas of what we could do, but I can't contribute to make those ideas a reality, right now, so I'll refrain from mentioning them (those ideas are ideas I'd expect no one else here could/would act on either, before they'd had much, much, much stronger local organization…).

    What I *will* do is give you a very short update from Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark). Together our three organizations comprise more than 100 dues paying activists, distributed amongst 8 local chapters (a few members are scattered in a handful of places we have no local chapters yet, as well).

    Except for 2 of those 8 chapters, we do not yet fulfill the gender balance criteria (I'm working on it!).

    Two of these organizations (Sweden and Norway) have political platforms that incorporate the main points of IOPS' platform in their politics. The last one (Denmark) does not yet, but it's my unambiguous impression that a majority of individual members do, and that the organization as such will, after a congress where it'll be discussed.

    We're slowly, but steadfastly growing – both quantitatively and qualitatively –, and we've done so ever since we got started. Case in point though: The place we started organizing first (the smallest country, Norway, five years ago), is stronger than the place we started organizing second (the medium country, Denmark, four and half year ago), which again is significantly stronger than the place we started organizing third (the biggest country, Sweden, four years ago). I think the same will be true of IOPS: it needs more time to develop (the initiative for IOPS was taken two years ago, and it's not yet formally founded).

    In the meantime, I do not deem the prospects for us in Scandinavia to significantly help out with organizing other places, as particularly good, in the immediate/short term. We're simply not strong enough to do so yet, and there are only a small handful of our members (one in Sweden, two in Norway and one in Denmark) who show any real interest in engaging with IOPS a the moment (the local perspective usually takes precedence; IOPS is quite slow; the nearest active local IOPS chapters are quite far away; some of us have other, more active organizations we're used to cooperate with; …).

    I do hope though, that IOPS – first and foremost the other local chapters (Salem, Missoula, NYC, Dublin, Birmingham, London, Vienna, Melbourne, and future local chapters) – will continue develop in tandem with the chapters of the libertarian socialist organizations here in Scandinavia (Stockholm, Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø, Aalborg, Copenhagen, and future local chapters). In that way, I think we'll reach a critical threshold here in Scandinavia, where we'll have more experience and more resources to share with the rest of IOPS. In the meanwhile we need to stay in touch and build better inter-personal relationships.

    I think the essence of what I'm trying to say for now, would be: We need to have resolution and patience at the same time, and we need to think globally and act locally. "Just do it!" :D

    • Daniël de Klerk 21st Jun 2014

      I share that idea that patience is probably the key here, considering what we have build in this short time. At the very least I might be productive to conclude the who interim targets were perhaps too optimistic for a 2 and a halve year period.

  • Claire Bruhn 21st Jun 2014

    Lack of represented gender equality right now should not hold us back from being a revolutionary organization which champions women and marginalized people. Who's sign-off are we waiting for?
    I understand the sentiment behind the preconditions. The organization wants to be credible, we want to walk-the-walk and not seem hypocritical in our lack of diversity. This is an unequal and skewed organization and that only makes sense. We should not be surprised there are few women participating in this conversation. Let's not beat ourselves up or get too defensive. We are revolutionary in thought, but we live in a world very stuck in its ways and so are we individually and as an organization. It is important to not think of ourselves as credible prematurely. We should focus on earning it. I think we lose credibility the longer we stay inactive though. People lose interest and invest their faculties else where. Calling IOPS active or founded or beyond the interim before the preconditions are met should not mean that we have abandoned our goals. Let's maybe be more realistic and understanding of what we are working with. It does not mean givin up what we stand for. I think as an Active organization we would be in a more advantageous position to actually reach our goals. With more movement the women will surely come. :)

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jun 2014

      (1) "We should not be surprised there are few women participating in this conversation."

      Really? Why is that?

      (2) "I think we lose credibility the longer we stay inactive though."

      Nothing about the current "interim" phase requires that chapters or members be "inactive."

      (3) "Calling IOPS active or founded or beyond the interim before the preconditions are met should not mean that we have abandoned our goals."

      If you substitute the word "principles" for "goals," that's exactly what it means. And the primary principle that we would abandon is the commitment to build an organization that prefigures the participatory society we seek to achieve. It is that principle that makes IOPS unique. Give that up, and we're not much different from many other leftist groups.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      Pre-figuratively controlled exclusively by the decisions put forward by the ICC, until we reach preconditions that are not in themselves the pre-figurative society we hope to build?

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jun 2014

      The membership, in effect, determined through a poll that these preconditions, if satisfied, would mean that the organization would be sufficiently prefigurative to be representative and self-managing at the international level. Nothing the ICC did, or didn't, do is responsible for our failure to satisfy the preconditions by June 12th.

    • Fred Curran 21st Jun 2014

      I don't think you're understanding me. New polling should be crafted, not by the ICC, but by the members on the ground. We should collectively cooperatively supportively deliberate on the questions and available answers. Considering proposals brought forward. Put up the poll, vote as an organization, as an organization again begin to consider the results collectively, supportively, determine the best implementation of those results, and begin experimenting. And this should be a regular part of IOPS.

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jun 2014

      Whether the vague process that you describe "should be a regular part of IOPS" is a purely academic question under the current circumstances and given the organizational framework that you signed onto when you joined IOPS.

  • LedSuit ' 21st Jun 2014

    Kim's update from Scandanavia is informative from two perspectives- gender diversity and length of time. Five years of organising across three countries and only two of eight chapters have met the gender balance criteria. Also the groups are not yet "strong enough" to help out with organising in other places or to give time to working with IOPS (yet-and not that they wouldn't if they could, I presume). And they already have 100 dues paying members.

    Advice-patience and resolution. Perhaps the former is required for the latter.

  • Claire Bruhn 21st Jun 2014

    To elaborate further Michael,
    1) We have been grappling with female membership. There is a disproportionate male to female ratio with in the organization. In other words, we need more women. It should be no surprise this disproportion would also be represented in a blog such as this. I think it only makes sense. Lack of female membership has been a much talked about subject. I think it deserves even more exploring, prehaps in another blog where we could really focus on those issues and give it proper focus.
    2)Ok. Sure it doesn't require it, but IOPS remains largely inactive. Our wishes and dreams and singular efforts do not change that fact. Let's call it what it is.
    3) It seems these prefigurative preconditions have become some what dogmatic and unhelpful and unrealistic, despite their noble nature. They seem to be in some strange way holding us back, causing us to bicker and be suspended in inactivity. My point is that this does not have to be so. Let us remember we are deciding for ourselves our own rules. We can amend conditions which are working against us. I agree Michael, we must Keep our real principals in sight.

    • Michael Livingston 23rd Jun 2014

      CLAIRE: Thank you. A couple of thoughts in response:

      "IOPS is largely inactive." Declaring ourselves "founded" is unlikely to change that. If we're honest about it, we have to acknowledge that we'll still be the same folks we are right now. And the let's-take-a-poll-every-week form of direct democracy that some say should be implemented after that declaration is not self-management. There ARE some things we can do. For example, we can engage in a membership-wide "shared campaign" to attain the preconditions (SEE http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/case-for-campaign) and we can "recruit from within" -- i.e., during this “interim” phase, we not only need to recruit new members, we also need to recruit from within so that all current members are "active," and the new members whom they bring in will see that activity, know what there is to be done and come with their tools and be ready to go to work.

    • Johannes 24th Jun 2014

      I agree that we should try to «recruit from within», unfortunately I have not seen any feasible proposals for how to do that. Active members could offer to chat with less engaged members online maybe.

    • Michael Livingston 24th Jun 2014

      I wrote a short "forum" post about the "recruiting from within" idea back in November 2012:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/interim-goals-for-founding-convention/recruiting-from-within

  • LedSuit ' 21st Jun 2014

    I know it has been spoken about before(I think) regarding the ICC, but it's gender make up is 15 to 56, women to men. Of the 56, only one women, Verena Stressing is familiar to me as someone who has contributed on the IOPS site. There are about six men who I am familiar with in this regard.

    If gender diversity is so important I find the make up of the ICC odd. Old news I know, but why would an interim body not be made up of equal numbers in the first place, if not with more women, as a precondition before launching the organisation? I think 15 out of 56 is approx 26 %, so it wouldn't even meet the preconditions for a chapter to be considered active.

    • Mark Evans 23rd Jun 2014

      James - perhaps you have forgotten, but there was a recruitment drive to address gender imbalance in the ICC, as there was within IOPS more generally (see the interim targets) - but we were unsuccessful on both counts.

      What we need to work out is the reasons for these failings. Blaming the ICC or the interim phase, and then using this as a reason to abolish these - as some here are doing - is misguided analysis that will fail to address the real issues, which is a combination of poor organisational skills and learned helplessness.

    • LedSuit ' 23rd Jun 2014

      I'm not blaming anyone or anything. I had forgotten and realize that there was an attempt but as the ICC was initially chosen or put together, it is odd that this wasn't taken care of prior, considering the importance of gender balance but I acknowledge I am way behind on pointing this out. Slow on the uptake so to speak. Perhaps O just don't okay enough attention sometimes.

      I'm certainly not suggesting abolishing anything really. I'm not that presumptuous.I am certainly not making a correlation between the ICC and the interim phase and our failure to meet any kind of precondition. I think Kim's Scandanavian experience of organising and the unique way IOPS was initially launched, via the web, are possibly more revealing. Our expectations are/were too high, perhaps.

    • LedSuit ' 23rd Jun 2014

      That sentence is meant to be,

      "Perhaps I just don't pay enough attention sometimes."

    • Mark Evans 23rd Jun 2014

      I don't think that concluding that "our expectations are/were too high" tells us anything about where we are going wrong - at least not if we are interested in building a serious international. On the other hand I think that poor organisational skills and learned hopelessness does. In fact, to have such low expectations, to draw that conclusion, could be understood as an example of learned hopelessness.

      People just make these things up and believe that they are facts, and then act like they are facts, and then - surprise surprise - they become facts. Finally - and this is the saddest bit of all - having been proven right, these people then feel very clever. You can see this in some of the posts above.

    • LedSuit ' 23rd Jun 2014

      I was not concluding anything. There was a perhaps at the end of the statement. It was a thought I merely inferred from Kim's post. Not that I hadn't thought it myself.

      Maybe poor organisational skills is part but you'd need some evidence and not just a hunch. I certainly wouldn't "draw the conclusion" that having "low expectations" is possibly an example of "learned helplessness". Not in this sort of case. My "thought" that "perhaps" our expectations were too high was a post facto one. One that isn't difficult to make.

      Further, sometimes people just throw stuff out there to see where it lands. No harm at all. Not all people make things up and believe them to be facts. Of course some do, but I find it a little, well, rude of you to suggest I or even others here are doing that. Such a remark, I consider, to be far more unhelpful than mine or others here.

      I also don't really find psychological assessments of membership helpful at all. They usually elicit responses like that of my fellow chapter participant and friend, Jason.

      Further again, I am not so sure about the claim that things that were just made up can, surprise surprise, become facts. I will have to think through this logic further. Does God fall into this category? Further, I don't think anyone here is just making shit up. Throwing shit out there maybe, but they are all legitimate attempts at understanding a situation and issue/s that require attention and possible solutions. Members on this blog are just having a go, sometimes in the most ordinary of ways.

    • Jason 23rd Jun 2014

      Nail on the head, Mark. Totally agree. I mean, one only has to look at IOPS’s model to realise it’s perfect or otherwise unquestionable. The problem is the lazy, unskilled, misguided, excuse-making members who don’t read and respect the founding documents enough. They just need to be better or get out, and the minority of good members need to keep telling the bad one’s to get their shit together. Then it’ll be smooooth sailing.

    • Mark Evans 23rd Jun 2014

      I doubt it will ever be smooth sailing Jason - but things could get very interesting if we get organised and start to make a difference.

      Just to be clear, learned hopelessness has nothing to do with laziness or excuse-making - although it can be misinterpreted as such.

      As for perfection - that has nothing to do with real life.

    • Jason 23rd Jun 2014

      I’m sorry for the hostile sarcasm of my last remark but I’m very troubled by the idea that IOPS’s development problems are down to the members. I mean, the model has attracted the kinds of members it now has. To my mind, to bring about a different mix of attitudes in the membership the model—i.e. to say the website and its features, the geographical definitions of chapters, the sign up mechanism, the way decisions are made, the framing contained in the founding documents (those other than the mission, values, structure I mean), etc.—have to be reviewed. And for such changes to be effective, it would involve new initiatives and commitments on the part of the members.

      Also, importantly, I think we have seen a contradiction play out between IOPS’s values and IOPS’s process—the interim, preconditions, the ICC. E.g. IOPS spawned a very healthy chapter in San Diego early on that once it had confidence in itself, split from the organisation, without announcing so, because it felt restricted by the interim. This may have happened a couple of times (we wouldn’t know—a bit of process may be lacking). Even my chapter of Melbourne has doubts about its continued association. Maybe such members and chapters are wrong to feel this way but, if even if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter because the fact is they do and the losses represent a real cost to the organisation, specifically momentum and confidence.

      I actually voted for very high targets in the 2013 preconditions poll. But the experiment has played out and it hasn’t gone anywhere near according to plan. We’ve got a situation now where some members have invested a ton of energy establishing, and trying to establish, IOPS on the ground, and many others that made an account in early 2012 and haven’t engaged since. Both of these kinds of members have equal voting rights. Again, references to what people originally signed up for are besides the point, this is a problem of basic coherence.

      In a general sense, when faced with the problem of where to find fault in an organisation, my leftist instincts tell me that it is not going to lie with the people, the human beings that hold the kinds of values IOPS is based on.

      Lastly, I respect the fact that, of all the ICC members, you’ve been one of the most, if not the most, active and consistent participants in site discussions, and I take you to really care about IOPS’s fate. I just hope that you’re not basing your views on an attachment to the processes IOPS’s happen to start out with rather than the values and the mission. [Sorry to go so long.]

    • Mark Evans 23rd Jun 2014

      Jason - you say that you are "very troubled by the idea that IOPS’s development problems are down to the members." And yet you write, "to bring about a different mix of attitudes in the membership the model ... have to be reviewed."

      So it seems that we both think that there is a problem with the attitudes of the members. The only difference is that we identify the root cause of this problem in different places - you say it is due to a conceptual flaw in IOPS, whereas I say it is due to learned helplessness and poor organisational skills.

      You also say that "we have seen a contradiction play out between IOPS’s values and IOPS’s process—the interim, preconditions, the ICC." Well I wouldn't say contradiction exactly but as is made clear on the Interim Committee page:

      "The ICC is ... as the name implies, interim, not optimal, not a model for the future, but suitable for the current moment."

      I have no idea why the San Diego chapter split from IOPS so I cannot comment on that. The same goes for why your chapter is thinking of doing the same.

      My general sense is that you are drawing conclusions about IOPS way too soon. The fact of the matter is that the approach that we are trying out here has not yet really been tested. We have 3500 plus online members - only a small percentage of which have even tried to engage and fulfill our interim objectives. This is despite the fact that "Joining IOPS is saying, yes, I want that to happen. Yes, I want to be part of attaining that new world, and, given my means and circumstances, yes, along with many other responsibilities that I have, I would like to help. Count me in."

      Also, of this small percentage of active members we have had some who seemed not to really understand what we are trying to do here - and others who don't even seem interested in finding out.

      Knowing all of this I do not see how anyone can reasonably draw the conclusion - at this stage in our development - that IOPS is conceptually flawed. Therefore another explanation for our failure to meet our interim targets has to be sort.

    • Jason 23rd Jun 2014

      We don’t agree. I’m troubled by ‘the idea that IOPS’s development problems are down to the members’—that’s your idea and absolutely not mine.

      ‘The ICC is ... as the name implies, interim, not optimal, not a model for the future, but suitable for the CURRENT MOMENT’ (my emphasis). This quote makes my point. Hint: when was it written?

      But an approach, a model has been tested. You say only a small percentage has tried to engage ‘despite the fact that "Joining IOPS is saying, yes, I want that to happen. Yes, I want to be part of attaining that new world, and, given my means and circumstances, yes, along with many other responsibilities that I have, I would like to help. Count me in."’ Once again, this only makes my point.

      You say conclusions are being drawn to soon. Saying that doesn’t stop conclusions from being drawn too soon. I’ll try again: chapters have been setting up and realising, ‘hey, wait a minute: we’re a functional activist group that’s unnecessarily beholden to the representations of this near-static organisation which we can’t have a proper say in until some targets that won’t be met for years are met… yeah, there’s not enough time in life.’

      ‘[W]hat we are trying to do here.’ Do you mean ‘we’ as in IOPS? Because what IOPS is trying to do is in the mission statement. Or do you means a different ‘we?’ It is my impression that you don’t understand what we’re doing here as you’ve been one of the staunchest advocates for the continued suspension of our first core value. No, I know you think you’re protecting diversity but as the old saying goes: if you love something, let it go.

      From what I can glean • your explanation of our failure is: most members have been fickle idiots whose support we shouldn’t care about and • your fix is: tell the members they’re not skilled or disciplined enough and if they don’t like it they should leave. Even if this is not exactly what you’d say, can you see that the former explains nothing and the latter would make things much worse, no?

      ‘I have no idea why the San Diego chapter split from IOPS so I cannot comment on that.’ Doesn’t matter, right? They probably just didn’t even understand IOPS. No but there is Will’s comment: http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/what-now#7209 .

    • Mark Evans 24th Jun 2014

      Jason -

      Just to be clear, when I talk of learned helplessness I am not suggesting that members have been fickle idiots - as you seem to think. It seems to me, from my day-to-day life, that the general public have learned helplessness. This is probably mostly due to propaganda and indoctrination, but I think also down to the poor organising skills of the labour movement, and the Left in general. What I am suggesting is that this is spilling over into IOPS.

      Anyway, I am sorry if my comments have upset you - that was not my intention. My feeling is that we need to be able to explore all of the possibilities for why we have failed to meet our interim deadline, and one of those possibilities is us - the membership.

    • LedSuit ' 23rd Jun 2014

      Rather than google it, a small definition of "learned helplessness" could be helpful for our learning!

  • Claire Bruhn 21st Jun 2014

    Thank you for pointing that out. Very alarming and shady.

  • Perry 22nd Jun 2014

    Why not give it some more time. If this was already suggested, thanks for suggesting it and I second!

    • Michael Livingston 22nd Jun 2014

      Even it's been said before, "give it some more time" is an important message right now.

  • Lambert Meertens 22nd Jun 2014

    It is noble to wish the organization to be be sufficiently prefigurative before we declare ourselves "founded". In particular, we should be able to show that we are capable of open, democratic, well-functioning self-management. That would give us some credibility. And yet the lofty aim of prefigurativity appears to hold us back from any form of self-management, however modest. Go prefigure.

    • Michael Livingston 22nd Jun 2014

      Nothing about the "interim" status of IOPS prevents local, or even regional, self-management and initiative." Nor did that status prevent us from achieving the "preconditions" by the June 12th deadline. If you look at the state of most chapters and the number of lapsed projects, 90% of the work to be done is "local," and we don't need to "declare ourselves 'founded'" to do that. Seeing the "interim" phase as a liability is to misunderstand the reason for it -- among other things, the "interim" phase means that IOPS is serious about its values and commitments.

    • LedSuit ' 22nd Jun 2014

      So it's about self management capacity at the international level? So it's really about whether we ditch the ICC or not? Whether we need them for guidance? A group that doesn't itself meat the preconditions needed for a chapter to be considered active, and questionable whether, by some set of criteria, some of its members could not be considered "active".

    • LedSuit ' 22nd Jun 2014

      "Meet"

    • LedSuit ' 22nd Jun 2014

      ...questionable whether, by some set of criteria, some of its members could [even] be considered "active".

    • Michael Livingston 22nd Jun 2014

      Whatever deficiencies the ICC may have, they in no way are responsible for the IOPS organization's failure to meet the "preconditions," and, despite all of the claims that we are ready to declare ourselves "founded," there's no meaningful local, regional, national or international structure for self-management, either in place or proposed by any member.

    • LedSuit ' 22nd Jun 2014

      I have never suggested they were or have been responsible for anything. I am merely trying up understand the positions people are taking, if they are taking any at all, and what it actually is we are supposed to be talking about, and whether or not thus blog is really just some sort of virtual waiting room.

      I am still uncertain whether I truly understand any of this.

      I agree with your assessment of the organisation. So what does that mean? Again I guess we just wait.

    • Lizzie Meade 23rd Jun 2014

      The results of the ICC poll, and the two proposals that they voted on, are now up on the site under the 'poll' section. There is a new poll up there for members to vote on, about what we do going forward.

      I really think we should all discuss this some more before voting. I'll be discussing it at my next chapter meeting in Dublin, before I vote.

      My thinking right now is that I agree with Michael Livingston. We need to put in alot more work before we have the structure necessary to move further. I also think that Michael is right when he says that the interim phase shows that we are serious about our commitments.

      At the very least, right now if we declare ourselves founded we do not have the mechanisms in place to make decisions etc. If we decide to go down that road, I think we need to firstly consider how we would go about that before we vote.

      I can only speak to my experience in the Dublin chapter. We have been working away trying to build the organisation and being 'interim' has caused us no problems at all. We have gotten on grand making decisions for our our chapter at a local level.

      I'm trying to think of what the ICC has actually prevented us from doing, and I can't think of anything.

    • Lizzie Meade 23rd Jun 2014


      I should really have read the questions on the poll before I posted my last comment :-)

      Makes very little sense now that I have actually read the questions in detail. I'm happy to see they are there to generate discussion and to give us more time to reflect before we move forward too quickly.

    • Fred Curran 22nd Jun 2014

      Any deficiencies the ICC may have, are probably not responsible for the failure to meet the preconditions.

      That does not mean the preconditions should not be revisited.

      Who should construct these structures you speak of and when?
      I think we should, now.
      You make a good point in regard to the lack of those structures but they are for the members of IOPS to build. We have the tools.

    • Gregory VanGaya 26th Jun 2014

      thumbs up on that. Meat worked as well as meet. The ICC has had no organization meat on them.

    • Gregory VanGaya 26th Jun 2014

      lol. 'pre-figurative' should only be for structural capacity (including capacity for decision making) that allows for spontaneous organization, imo.

  • LedSuit ' 22nd Jun 2014

    My point above is not to suggest anything shady or even alarming, but that even with the construction of a less than optimal yet seemingly necessary interim committee, it is somewhat striking it itself is less than prefigurative (at least according to our own preconditions for the org as a whole). That that wasn't completely ameliorated after the poll, to extend beyond the 30% target even, or wasn't demanded, could be seen as alarming by some. From the outside it could look disturbing and off putting.

    So considering the Scandanavian attempts at organising over five or so years, the make up of a constructed, necessary yet less than optimal ICC, the lack of or extremely low percentage of women participating on the site and on this blog, the unique way the organisation was conceived and set up and what has transpired over two years and since the first major poll, the idea of becoming truly prefigurative, and adhering to such a principle as a point if difference with other "left" organisations, has become quite problematic.

    The issue of credibility, for me, is not so much of a concern. Credibility is something that comes over time, even after an interim phase and kind of dependent on who's doing the judging and from what perspective. If launching means only to rid ourselves of an interim committee that even members of the interim committee don't want or like, then it is a matter of more time or allowing the organisation to do what the ICC does itself, via representative delegates, selected from already existing chapters and maybe others members of willing participants. The group could easily consist of members of the already existing ICC, but now they would more than likely be members with a greater investment in the the future of the org. Those willing to participate and offer their expertise and experience via the website or on the ground.

    In some sense, and I don't mean to be provocative, this would be to force the ICC's hand by asking, who among them TRULY RULY think IOPS is worth participating in, promoting and helping to organise for. They may not claim to represent anyone or thing, but they are in a way, a less than optimal way, representative of the organisation as a whole because they too signed off on it and chose to be part of it. If an interim committee is needed at all, then why cannot the members of IOPS at the very least, choose who they wish to participate in such activity. In that way we could be seen to be launched and still in interim phase at the sane time ( I meant "same time" but thought I would leave "sane" for fun),able to self-manage and work hard to achieve an optimal balance of diverse membership.

    Determinism may be true and free will an illusion, yet our actions and intuitions tend towards the belief that free will is true or at least we hold to such a belief and cannot tell the difference anyway. Therefore, launch as if we aren't in interim phase by electing an ICC from already existing members, thereby creating the illusion we are off the ground and running so we can slowly build needed membership and garner REAL, not illusory, credibility, and feel good about ourselves as well, possibly!

    Just some thoughts.

    • Michael Livingston 23rd Jun 2014

      JAMES: You write: "If launching means only to rid ourselves of an interim committee that even members of the interim committee don't want or like, then it is a matter of more time or allowing the organisation to do what the ICC does itself, via representative delegates, selected from already existing chapters and maybe others members of willing participants. The group could easily consist of members of the already existing ICC, but now they would more than likely be members with a greater investment in the the future of the org. Those willing to participate and offer their expertise and experience via the website or on the ground."

      I think there's merit in considering the development and implementation of a self-management model as a "project" during this "interim phase." IOPS can/could be self-managing at the chapter and regional levels right now.

    • LedSuit ' 25th Jun 2014

      No, just the ravings of a madman, Michael.

  • Joseph Essertier 22nd Jun 2014

    This was suggested way back, on the 12th, but I just want to say that I like Jon Doe's idea of getting advice, talking etc. through skype calls. I for one would appreciate something like that.

    • Johannes 24th Jun 2014

      I agree, last but not least since «empowering the lives of its members» is one of the core items of the IOPS mission. I think we haven't done a great job at that so far and I think the ideas of giving practical advice as well as creating some kind of toolkit for chapter building could be a start in that direction. Is there currently any activity in Japan?

    • Joseph Essertier 25th Jun 2014

      I cannot speak for the Japan members as a whole, but my impression is that the 5 or so members with whom I've been in contact are just speaking to people that they know. That is, our main method of informing others at this point is word-of-mouth.

      Our main problem, in my opinion, is that we do not have high-quality, in-depth materials in Japanese, so our audience is limited to people truly fluent in English, a small minority. For example, to my knowledge, there aren't yet any translations of Michael Albert's books, and I don't think I'm alone in not being able to find quick and easy Japanese equivalents for concepts like "balanced job complexes." If we had a book like Sean Michael Wilson's *Parecomic* translated into Japanese (*http://www.iopsociety.org/japan/projects/parecomic), how much easier life would be. We can refer people to books about the history of the anti-war movement in the States, books on feminism, and books on "globalization" and capitalism, but not parecon. Not yet.

      I guess we need to work harder on finding translators who will help with the translation work. And of course, as many have said here, to work towards concrete goals that can be accomplished in the short term, something that let's people see what we are about, what our style is.

    • Johannes 25th Jun 2014

      I see. Thanks for the update nonetheless!

      Is there currently any work being done on the Japanese website translation?

    • Joseph Essertier 25th Jun 2014

      I just started working on it again the other day.

  • Maryellen Kurkulos 24th Jun 2014

    Hi folks - I have (admittedly) skimmed these comments so apologies if I offer something that has been mentioned.
    The key word in all of this is "organization". A toolkit for chapter building would be huge! But so is commitment of ICC members and I honestly don't know where that stands bc I'm not plugged into what's going on with even those who answered or abstained - who were they? I'll see if it's posted elsewhere on this site. Internet-based organizing is impossible, without regular on the ground, face to face components. The latter is immensely difficult as I learn more and more every day. Activism is fine but without dedication, without a body of people who get together and plan and work out the kinks regularly they're just sparks in the wind. Is the ICC committed to this? I know a very committed and successful organizer who is on the ICC and strongly promoted IOPS early on. She's confessed to me that she just doesn't have the room for IOPS as it stands. I.e. she can't take the lead without some structure, without some concrete tools and a higher likelihood of success. Local members and potential members I know who were really into it 2 years ago and could have maintained it as a high priority feel that the moment around Boston has passed. I don't want to believe the latter and could commit to staying on board if there were proof to the contrary, but I fear they're right. Some critical pieces are missing - here in MA even on the eastern half we are so spread out and so consumed with our lives (that in my case is split between leading local movements that are really promising and have 'legs' so to speak and being the primary caregiver for an elderly parent) that we necessarily must move IOPS much lower on our priority without such critical pieces.
    I'd like to devote more time to it but as it stands, the structure is eroding and I believe that the responsibility falls on the ICC to step it up, offer some tools, models and even networking convention(s) for others to follow. How can we possibly create such an auspicious organization that redefines civilization without significantly more involved planning??
    OK, I've said a bit of what's on my mind and will go answer the poll within a day or two.

  • Antonio Carty 25th Jun 2014

    Hi,

    I also don't see how the interim stage is obstructing us from growing. I think we're learning, we're growing, but we need to grow much more in members and work together more before we go to all the trouble and external attention of a founding convention.

    We made the founding pre conditions obviously before we started meeting in our areas and discussing and working together for IOPS. Now that we have for a while I think a 10 or even 5 members figure to decide if an areas chapter is considered a part of a working IOPS is an unnecessary obstruction to useful reality. I now think that even if one person in an area is working for IOPS then that is a working chapter in effect, why not? Who cares what an external imagined survey might consider credible, the efforts of one or two or however many people is real and valid. Recognizing, counting and connecting with all peoples efforts is to me what IOPS values!

    So at this point I think the precondition for a working chapter should be if its awake and working then it is! I'd like these ideas to be options in our poll. I don't feel I can be happy with the presented options on the poll so far. But thank you all that have been giving time and effort working on it.

    Antonio

  • Lambert Meertens 25th Jun 2014

    Quote from Johannes:

     "I think we haven't done a great job at that so far and I think the ideas of giving practical advice as well as creating some kind of toolkit for chapter building could be a start in that direction."

    Quote from Maryellen Kurkulos:
     "A toolkit for chapter building would be huge!"

    When I proposed to start working collectively on an IOPS Handbook the proposal met with much acclaim, but the Handbook subproject subsequently created for this purpose failed to get any traction. Does anyone have a clue why this might be so?

    • Michael Livingston 25th Jun 2014

      Regardless of the reason(s) this project proposal "failed to get any traction" before, it certainly is worth the effort now. Building the organizational skills of IOPS members is a more rational response to our current circumstances than abandoning the "preconditions" and our commitment to build an organization that prefigures the participatory society that we seek.

    • Jon Doe 30th Jun 2014

      We in IOPS-NYC also have an out line of a chapter building toolkit that we posted part of in the resources section of the website. In asking other NYC-IOPS people about why they didn't get involved in the early handbook subproject, many of them don't feel that the website is very conductive to their participation (ie, they don't understand how it is laid out) and the few that checked out the Handbook project felt that it hadn't been commented on in a year, so was not worth putting our effort into now. I think we could now combine them and attempt to put the result in an accessible form on the front page of the website?

    • Fred Curran 30th Jun 2014

      That sounds like a great idea Jon. Anything to draw more participants to effective projects. Few look through the projects. Outside of refiguring the website or projects section, for more people to be aware of these efforts they should be posted as blogs on the front page. There are a lot of resources available for us to review in the resources section, that could be streamlined and/or updated to be more accessible and applicable for IOPS organizing.