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Why Some People Say No to Joining IOPS…

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Updated- April 17

In trying to bring IOPS to the attention of Z Sustainers I write to, and along with urging them to visit the site, I have asked that those who haven't gone to the site, or who have gone and decided against joining, drop me a line saying why, so those involved could try to do better.

Understandably, not many replied - though others did join - and people's lack of offering or perhaps even having communicable reasons for being put off is, I suspect, on of the largest problem we face. How do you address silence? But, among those who didn't join or even visit, but who did reply with an explanation, the results were interesting - for people's continuing recruting efforts.


You might think folks would say, well, I read the visionary section and the structure program section, and I decided that IOPS wasn't for me. And you might expect they might then briefly indicate what put them off. But that simply did not happen. At least not this time around.


The reasons given were varied but, truly, not about IOPS itself. Some said they were dealing with health or family problems and just couldn't give it their attention, but would look, in time eventually. One for example, said, they were behind on email and could look in mid June and would do so. Others said - and this was most prevalent - just, I don't have time. No more than that. One, for example, said he was about to join, but realized it might mean extra emails arriving, and so decided not to. Many said they were way behind dealing with their emails, and so hadn't seen the notices - of course now they had seen it, and in some cases still hadn't joined, or even visited, but didn't explain that, other than, too busy - they said. One said she wasn't a joiner. And it went on like that, but not too many, because not too many replied. A few literally said, nothing against IOPS - I love it, and they had clearly visited - but there is no chance to win anything, so why bother? For myself, I think that last group was being quite honest - and my own feeling is it explains most of the others, too.


For a person who visits and doesn't like what they see, for one reason or another, no issue of further explanation arises. But for someone who likes what they see but doesn't join, or who doesn't visit in the first place, an issue does arise. Is it simply that they are too busy? I think they most often believe that is the reason, I think most who would hear it given by someone would believe it of that person, too. I have to say, I don't. For me, saying "I am too busy, there isn't enough time, I am doing too much else," is virtually never a full explanation of why someone isn't doing something - myself, or others. 


Why do I say that? Because to be the real reason saying "I am too busy" has to include a follow-up phrase - I am very busy, my time is short - AND - this option, which would take time, is less important to me than everything I am now doing." Of course, the latter part goes unsaid, but without it, the former part doesn't mean much.


So our real issue is to determine why those who don't even look at the site, don't look at the organizational description, probably ignore the growing membership - feel it is of so little importance. It can not be explained as they are just too busy. Without even noting that one can join in ten minutes, and before that one is reading online which people do a lot of, in any case, and then one can obviously give as much more time as they find themselves wanting and able to give, but no more.


So to me, to recruit really effectively, we have to figure out, at least for a large audience beyond those we really know well, and perhaps even there, why a person with politics very akin to those of IOPS and organizational preferences very akin to it, would decide - consciously or by reflex, before paying any close attention to its features - that it is not worth their time, that it is less important that everything else they currently do for more than, say, an hour?


My guess is, there are four kinds of gut expectations/reasons for this reaction.


(1) It is really worthy, but others won't relate, so it will fail, and so I won't relate and look dumb for having done so.


(2) It seems really worthy, but it will devolve into junk - all such efforts do.


(3) It may grow, keeping its fine features, but it won't win - winning is impossible.


(4) I am worried that it will grow, that it will suck me in, and that I will wind up giving it a lot of time - crowding out other activities. 


I think it ought to be possible to deal with these, at least so that we have done so as best we can, in initial communications with people. Can we?


And I convey this wondering if people are having other experiences. In particular, are people encountering opposition to anything that is actually an IOPS feature - as compared to very general comments like those above, which would block joining it no matter what its features were? And do people have other ideas on the kinds of information and arguments we need if we are to communicate to grow.


And yes, I know that the main thing is visible signs of success - but that part is a Catch 22. We need more people if we are to have successes, though yes, having more people is also a kind of precondition for having many successes. That is why outreach is so critical, and hard, especially now. That, and because, there is a natural tendency to not want to talk to people, many or most of whom will be dismissive or even hostile - whether with or without reason. That isn't easy, fun, or often even pleasant - but it is necessary. 


So, has anyone got any ideas for dealing with the obstacles that people feel, those mentioned above, and any others?



Discussion 46 Comments

  • Stephen Roblin 16th Apr 2012

    I've confronted some of the same obstacles. I think it's worthwhile to reflect for a moment on the "I don't have time" objection. Caveat: I'm only referring to those I've spoken with - activists and non-activists alike - who largely agree with the IOPS values and vision.

    Based on my experience talking to activists, the "I don't have time" objection is really "I don't have time to participate in another political group. My activist plate is full." Quite clearly I think, the burden of proof is ultimately on us. We'll need to make clear, rather decisively, that IOPS offers a more fruitful model, in practice, than other organizations. Why replace one effort for another that is equivalent (or worse) in terms of efficacy? I don't think the call to "Keep doing what you're doing and commit to IOPS too" will bear much fruit. We're making the case for sympathetic activists to stop some of what they're doing so that they can participate meaningfully in IOPS.

    Another variation of the "I don't have time" objection, which I've come across more from non-activists, is: "I don't have time to participate in a political organization because of work and family. There's not enough room on my plate for activism." Asking for participation from these individuals means asking them to make an additional concrete sacrifice. This predicament raises the potential need for IOPS to provide internal, concrete support for members -- mutual aid if you will.

    On this note, it may be of interest to others for me to relay a conversation I had with a co-worker sympathetic to IOPS. I asked him if he'd be more likely to join a local IOPS chapter if its members established a quasi "consumer collective," whereby all contribute money to purchase necessities in bulk such that there is an absolute gain in terms of cheaper goods for all. (I added the qualification that the chapter would purchase the goods from other collectives.) He said that he'd be much more inclined to join.

    The inspiration for the question came from me reading reading an article by Robin Hahnel posted on the resources page ("A Proposal for Coops by Robin Hahnel," http://www.iopsociety.org/resources) that day at lunch. I wonder if the IOPS members finding ways to provide internal material support in a way that creates absolute advantage for all in progressive redistributive manner could help reduce the sacrifice obstacle.

    • 20th May 2012

      The argument for why IOPS is more important goes something like this, don't you think? It's a broad effort of the Left which can include many locally and internationally. The power that so many can have is greater/more relevant than any small, local groups or big single issue groups when it comes to regional, national, international struggles. The unification of Leftists locally can improve local struggles through aid and sharing of lessons and sustainment and community.

    • Stephen Roblin 22nd May 2012

      @ John "The unification of Leftists locally can improve local struggles through aid and sharing of lessons and sustainment and community." Agreed. It's one thing to argue, it's another to show in action. It'll be interesting to see how local chapters attempt to accomplish what you describe.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 16th Apr 2012

    I agree with Stephen that activists will need to stop some of their current work. That's one problem I'm seeing in my local Occupy group - spending too much time "saving babies" (to use Cynthia's analogy) as opposed to addressing the circumstances causing the babies to be thrown. I was talking about this with my brother, who is involved with the UCLA Occupy - same thing, they are focusing very, very passionately about a specific issue and goal (democratizing the Regents) but they don't want to openly endorse a specific system (parsoc, socialism, anarchism, etc). Not sure if this is consistent with Occupies in other cities.

    As for my particular circumstance, I don't think anyone has mentioned IOPS yet to San Diego Occupy. I am just now getting involved with them so I am waiting until I get a feel of things before I start putting myself out there, but as I am completely obsessed with IOPS, I certainly plan to mention it.

    • Elise A 12th May 2012

      This is what brought me to IOPS to learn about their mission, vision, structure and program:

      '...my local Occupy group - spending too much time "saving babies" (to use Cynthia's analogy) as opposed to addressing the circumstances causing the babies to be thrown.'

      Perhaps reach out to former Occupiers...that's one of my plans.

      Re-Education was a non-issue as well. How can we make change if we are ignorant of the past, and, especially, what the meaning of words are?

  • Johannes 17th Apr 2012

    some objections I encountered off the top of my head…

    1. IOPS supports freedom of speech: I think this is particularly an issue here in Austria, maybe also in Germany. Most people on the Left here are very determined to forbid freedom of speech to neo-nazis.

    2. IOPS is elitist: people with physical or intellectual disabilities cannot participate (people who cannot write, people who cannot use a computer), people with financial restrictions cannot participate (people who have no computer, people who do not have internet access), people without education cannot participate (people who are not familiar with some of the terminology being used aroud here…), young people and old people cannot participate, …

    3. IOPS is dishonest: Looking at the pasted biographies on the pages of some of the members of the interim committee it seems like they have only lended their names.

    4. IOPS is nothing new: there already is so much I could do.

    • Elise A 12th May 2012

      I too saw #3.

      I looked at the Interim Consultative Committee and saw Noam Chomsky, joined and later clicked his profile - cut and paste written in the 3rd person: http://www.iopsociety.org/profile/noam-chomsky .

      I then thought...ah, another false front...hmmmm.

      I am still cautious. I am watching, reading and learning in the mean time.

  • Fabio Sallustro 17th Apr 2012

    About time: if being part of IOPS is a full time job it's not for all.
    Are we activists?
    Is IOPS a space for activists and not passive readers?

    I do agree with Stephen when he says, quoting others: "I don't have time to participate in another political group. My activist plate is full"
    I feel the same.

    This is what I wrote 2 weeks ago exactly about time and IOPS:

    Evans wrote in that thread: "To make this work we do need members to make IOPS one of their life priorities"
    So I'm changing some priorities. But all this makes me understand that we do not have all the same amount of time to spend over this project.

    I have other "face-to-face" local group, I have a job not connected with this reality, I have ordinary stuff to do.
    And I need time to read every single post written on this site.

    So back to the second question: Is IOPS a space for activists and not passive readers?

    No need to answer because, I believe, there is no clear answer.
    We do the best we can with the time we have.

    @ Johannes
    You've received interesting objections!!

    point 1: this is going to be a long discussion. Just remember "the Faurisson affaire" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Faurisson
    Free of speech, but 'till what point?

    point 2: I am afraid I agree: in this very moment IOPS IS elitist. It's up to us to change this attitude. We can be anti-elitist but we need to make practical step to create an open space to all and a community capable to speak on different level.

    point 3: nothing to say, it's a bull****

    point 4: IOPS is becoming...something! It is a work in progress. IOPS is what we want it to be (according to some core values)

  • Kim Keyser 17th Apr 2012

    Those I've talked with and who've not joined (yet ;) ) broadly fall into two – somewhat overlapping – categories:

    1. They're positive, but they don't know that much about Parecon, and haven't heard of the organization before, and they feel they're already participating in meaningful activism. It's basically a lack of education coupled with a wait-and-see attitude.
    2. They're positive about the general goals, but feel that IOPS is just an empty shell, because IOPS lacks concrete strategies on current politics (like what is IOPS' opinion on the war in Libya, on the next US election, on specific trade unions, so on and so forth...). It's basically a wait-and-see attitude as well.

    I don't think it's a good strategy to try to convince these people – especially not the last category of people – to join now, by using theoretical arguments. A lot of them will join if we're able to establish IOPS as an organization with a meaningful prefigurative practice. Through my historical studies of participants in social movements this a major observation: Most people don't become active in this or that revolutionary organizations due to its specific politics (sadly perhaps, but that's how it is), but through being attracted by the activism of the organization. I hope we will become such an organization in the years to come, but I think we need to understand that it'll take a couple of years to really get there.

    Concerning the first group I mentioned, they'll be offered some introductions (presentations, study groups, texts), in the year to come, here in Norway. :)

    I'm sure other have other experiences. I have these experiences because most of my friends are activists. People who're not already activists usually have quite other reasons for not joining.

    One last thing: I think it's that the question is being asked, but I'd like to point out that it's AWESOME that so many people have already joined! More that 1000 interim members in more than 80 countries, and that in just a couple of months... WOW! :)

    • Michael Albert 17th Apr 2012

      Kim - more later - but it is more than 1300 I think now, in two weeks, not two months...

  • Kim Keyser 17th Apr 2012

    This sentence lacked a word: "I think it's GOOD that the question is being asked, (…)"

  • 17th Apr 2012

    This exact issue is what I hope to touch on in the project Beyond Translation, Beyond Empire - how do we avoid being seen as a hegemonic imperialist movement?

  • LedSuit ' 17th Apr 2012

    Most of my friends are not activists. With no progressive tendencies. When I talk to them about Parecon, Parpolity or IOPS they usually roll there eyes or just laugh and say , "Yeah, good onya mate". Some friends , eh!

    If someone WANTS to join they may. If they DO NOT, then they probably won't. For all the reasons above. I can't club 'em over the head.

    Trying to get this anarchist to answer my emails is driving me insane but the same person has a Direct Democracy Not Parliamentary Rule website . It needs 550 members before the party can get on the ballot.It has 121 and I may be 122 if I pull my finger out, get my 60 cent stamps and send off the form! The site has been up for 133 weeks!! Just sittin'there. Not movin'. Doin' nothin'. How long has IOPS been up? And at least it moves.

    I agree with Kim. 1200 members. I now know there are at least 61 members in australia probably with a similar mindset to me. I did not know they existed before this initiative.

    Maybe I'll turn out to be a passive reader. Maybe I will surprise myself and get more heavily involved. I don't know and some part of me doesn't care. I work six days, and have family pressures so I'll involve myself the way I can. Sometimes just simple awareness of things is important. Like, there is someone in Bentleigh, Melbourne who joined!! Bentleigh's down the road. There's someone in Brighton. I was born in Brighton. Shit, I would not have known this but for IOPS.

    Joan Jara's book about her husband, Victor- An Unfinished Song, crushed me when I read it 30 odd years ago. Broke my heart and I remember telling someone at a party that that was it. The human race could get f***! I retreated into music. Just stumbling upon Parecon, 20 odd years later, kind of rekindled something. IOPS makes me feel good if merely for the fact that it exists. I'm pretty simpleminded.

    I mean, shit, I'm talking to some people I have never met before, in an organisation designed to help make the world a better place. Some even seasoned activists. I aint got those credentials. Maybe I won't be any more than I am now and I'm sure there are others who have joined and are uncertain as to what their commitment and contribution will be.

    Getting others to join is hard work. Changing the world is much harder. It's a big rock we live on. IOPS is trying to embrace it. Stay firm .

    PS. I am curious about the elitist tag- just don't see it.

  • Johannes 17th Apr 2012

    @Stephen, I think what you addressed is quite important. It's not like people don't have enough time, it's more like they have different priorities, but we've already talked about that in my blog post.

    @Michael, I think (1) can be dealt with if we focus on face-to-face relations. If there is actually somebody who I know in real life, who I have spoken to and spent time with I will probably not feel alienated if I join. I just think it is easier to relate to a project if it involves relationships with real people in real life (if that makes any sense). Also, especially for those types I think it makes sense to address the Catch 22 you mentioned.

    Concerning (2) I'm curious what such a person would consider as similar efforts. I personally think that IOPS is quite unique, honestly I cannot think of anything similar. Comparisons have been made to the four earlier left internationals and also the WSF but I think it would be easy to point out the differences (as I believe you already did to some extent online).

    I've heard people arguing along the lines of (3) and responded by questioning if they are certain that winning is impossible. Because only if they are (which in my experience they are not at all) they can really try to use that argument. From my experience that might be the first thing you hear from someone but it is never the real reason. So, if someone brings that up, I think we should dig deeper towards the real reasons.

    (4) is rather difficult I think because if you try to argue about it I think you will always end up saying something like «I think it would be beneficial for our society if you would have different priorities», and I think that's really none of our business. I mean the person might, in fact, be absolutely right – but I think the question which things deserve which amount of attention is really up to the that person.

    @Fabio, in case 1. I primarily argue that it is always better to win an argument than to try to suppress it, which in that case I think is easy and it's also smarter, not only from a moral point of view, but also in terms of tactics.

    I think 3. should not be ridiculed. If that is really the only thing that deters someone from joining I think we should do something about it, last but not least because it would be very easy in that case.

    @Kim, if by 1. you mean that there are people who do not join IOPS simply because they are passive and are not educated enough I think this is a rather obstructive approach towards the people you may want to address. What do you think?

    2. I think is an advantage actually. We don't have top-down blue print solutions and it is good that way. I think it should be pointed out to such people why that's a good thing.

    @James, I've got the criticism concerning elitism from someone who worked with physically and intellectually disabled people and now works with children. Countering her argument I said that our website is not the organization itself and that the organization itself is based on face-to-face contacts. So even without a computer or the skills to use one and so on you have a chance to be part of IOPS. But it is clearly beneficial to have a computer and be able to use it at this stage and I think this barrier (among others) should be taken very seriously.

  • Stephen Roblin 17th Apr 2012

    @ Michael Albert, "has anyone got any ideas for dealing with the obstacles that people feel, those mentioned above, and any others?"

    I've come across a lot of good ideas. But many are not actionable at this point due to the lack of organizational structure necessary to implement them. So what can we do at this current stage in IOPS?

    One idea is to continue to refine the online component, which is the primary focus at this moment. Improving this component, with the goal of becoming an online "model," may have a recruitment effect. For those who check out the site, seeing some things they really like may make the difference.

    I have a few ideas:

    1. Members can cultivate better online communication norms, where "better" may mean staying on topic, clear discourse, avoid skimming (thus, careful reading of others' responses), avoid redundancy, and so on.

    One technical means of reducing needless redundancy is to have a "Agree" button next, maybe underneath the date of response. That way, if say Johannes puts forth comments with which I'm entirely in agreement, I can simply click "Agree," instead of saying the same thing only in different words or posting "Snaps" underneath (an Occupy convention). If my memory serves me correctly, I believe this idea has been raised before.

    Also, some members are using simple conventions that have helped me as a reader. For example, the use of "@" symbol and numbering points of argument. While it's not wise to become overly formulaic, simple conventions can help.

    In short, I see no reason not to discuss/evaluate our internal communication conventions and norms, with the intention of improving them. The result may lead to something attractive to outside viewers, which, again, could have a recruitment effect.

    2. Develop IOPS video and audio promotional and educational materials. This is already under-way with various IOPS projects (http://www.iopsociety.org/projects). Presenting IOPS in a clear, coherent, and interesting/artistic manner will have a recruitment effect I suspect.

  • Michael Albert 17th Apr 2012

    I guess, having raised questions, I should briefly indicate at least elements of my own answers - but - I would also like to note something. It is good the people who commented above did so. BUT - already, there is a set of people commenting - and others may already be feeling, others are commenting, so I needn't. It is precisely the opposite. We all need to hear from those who are highly "Vocal" - less than we need to hear from others, from other places, with other backgrounds... and it applies to me too, of course.

    On the four points - note, I am assuming discussion of the definition of iops, and people liking it...

    (1) It is really worthy, but others won't relate, so it will fail, and so I won't relate and look dumb for having done so.

    My answer would be - maybe. But, if you and others take that view all the time, then isn't it clear that nothing can succeed. It is self fulfilling. So someone, sometime, has to step out from the stance, however reasonable, and take a chance. If you think iops is really worthy, and given how important it might be - just read the comments about it - maybe this is the time for you to take a chance. If you don't think so, yet, okay, fair enough. Maybe there will be more reason, as time passes.

    (2) It seems really worthy, but it will devolve into junk - all such efforts do.

    Once again, if everyone who wants effort to not devolve into junk avoids involvement, only those people who don't care about junk or who seek it, will be involved, and junk is what we will get. So the same applies as above. If it seems really worthy, maybe this is the time for you to work to ensure this effort doesn't devolve, or at least to lend your name and whatever limited support you can, to it. If not this time, when?

    (3) It may grow, keeping its fine features, but it won't win - winning is impossible.

    If you really believe this, okay, go to the beach, or try to make a million, or whatever. Seriously. Don't talk about changing the world - if it is impossible, it is like talking about not aging - merely whining and depressing. But never in history has it been true that the social pains and harms - however horrible - of the day, could not, in time, and with effort, be overcome. And it is not true, now, either.

    People living during slavery, as but one example, in my country, had easily as much reason to feel fatalistic - but the abolitionists persevered, as did the black and white fighters for a new condition - and it was won. Now we have to win a fully liberated society. The stakes are high, agreed. The difficulty will be great, agreed. But, is there some better goal... something more worthy to be doing? When we see a movie about abolitionists, about slaves who fought for liberty, we admire them. Should we do what we admit, at least as we are able?

    That said, I suspect the only way to overcome fatalism, for people who feel it, is to show them the calm and deliberate manners and actions of someone who really does believe we can win, without silly posturing. There is a sense in which becoming an effective member of iops may be far more about cultivating such a personal attitude in oneself, and others, and about bringing it to bear in recruiting - than almost anything else we can list, at least at the moment.

    (4) I am worried that it will grow, that it will suck me in, and that I will wind up giving it a lot of time - crowding out other activities.

    Why is this worrisome at all? If it grows and if options arise for you to do lots - and you choose to do them, then you chose to do them. It is a good outcome you accepted and favored. If in the same situation, whatever else is competing for your time seems to you more important or essential, so you opt to do less new things with iops, fine. That is perfectly reasonable.

    And on this last point - I would like to add that I think it is incredibly important that IOPS be an organization open to people with very different circumstances and responsibilities and priorities. This is not a cadre organization - even if many in it over time, become highly involved. To pose it as members must sacrifice their other commitments to be in IOPS, is not just tactically unwise and morally unsound, at least in my view - but also wrong. There is no such necessity. In fact, by and large, the opposite is very much the case. What IOPS is likely to need most is people whose time is quite diversely spent - in families, in communities, in diverse movements and in activist endeavors, in cultural undertakings, and so on - because such people will bring a wealth of insights and be in touch with wide constituencies without which full time or nearly full time activists/revolutionaries will simply not be remotely rooted in the real world, and in real world needs and possibilities.

    No one should even begin to think that his or her way of participating is the right way, or only way, or a necessary way...not even regarding hours spent.

    If you can, because of your unique circumstances, give 20 hours a week, or say 50 - should I then feel everyone needs to? No. Not at all...

    Put differently - if 1500 members who really are highly supportive of and understanding of iops could give an average of one hour per day, spread over the week - one tv show duration - then that would mean over 10,000 hours a week. Suppose for a month, that went, calmly and creatively, to recruiting people the member knows, in some capacity, and thinks open to the ideas. In a month, how many members would we have? So one would would have to give up other activism - in fact, doing it would greatly facilitate finding folks to talk with. Ditto other activities. And iops would grow dramatically.

  • LedSuit ' 17th Apr 2012

    Johannes, I didn't say it wasn't a problem, I said I do not think that it is elitism.The ticketing system for public transport in this country is a disaster. Frightening people off using it, hard for the disabled, elderly, people with babies and young children etc. That doesn't make public transport elitist because people can't or won't use it. And the ticketing system's not elitist, it's just rooted! Not designed for people, but profit. That's capitalism.

    Stephen. Some people like myself, may want to write, talk whatever. I would not want to just click an agree button. If one is being repetitive, off topic or whatever then they should/ought be allowed. I find any form of controlling the communication skills, or trying to direct them in a particular way difficult to deal with just in face to face communication. It usually leads me to shut up and not talk about anything. Sometimes I'm not sure if I am off topic or not. One has to develop communication skills, like what I am doing right now. With that development, slowly comes confidence, I hope!

    Michael. I couldn't agree more.For people outside of activism or left intellectual circles or people with no knowledge of progressive ideas/theories/models, such as Parecon, IOPS and such organisations are incredibly daunting things. This is not easy for me. I feel I have to just jump in and possibly feel like an idiot( which has already happened by the way) and communicating is my only option at the moment. I was worried about your point 4. But I'm in now and it's making me think and do some things like spar with an anarchist radio host who has a goddamn radio program and a large audience. I have some bent idea that getting the word Parecon and perhaps even more out into the ether and the public's awareness may be of benefit.

    By the way, my wife feels things like IOPS and Parecon are elitist!!! This can make things difficult at times.

    I don't for the life of me see how my passive reading, writing, thoughts or ideas could possibly hinder or interfere with someone with more their feet on the ground and with local activist grunt.I am immediately reminded of Raphael's painting with Plato looking to the sky and Aristotle's hand facing to the ground. Now, I sound elitist!!!!

  • Kim Keyser 17th Apr 2012

    In this comment, I'll address questions which have been addressed to me specifically.

    Johannes: "@Kim, if by 1. you mean that there are people who do not join IOPS simply because they are passive and are not educated enough I think this is a rather obstructive approach towards the people you may want to address. What do you think?"

    Hmm... It seems I may not have communicated clearly. I was not talking about people in general, and I wasn't – and is not – dismissing people in general because I think they're passive and uneducated (it seems like that was what you think I said?). That would not be constructive, I think we can agree on that.

    The people I were talking about are certainly not passive – indeed they're very much active. And in general they're very much educated too (in this context I use this term in the wide sense, not only formal university education, though often that's the case too). They just don't know that much about /Parecon/ specifically, and haven't heard of IOPS before – understandably.

    Most of the people I was talking about have either persevered through different organizations which have failed, or heard warning stories about these, and are thus reluctant to join another new organization, as long as the one they're in already feels stable and meaningful, and as long as they've not been educated about IOPS specifically and as long as IOPS has not yet proved to be a viable organization. (To be specific about the people I'm talking about, it's mostly members of local union chapters and members of a libertarian socialist organization here in Norway.) I hope this was more understandable?

    By education – study groups, one-to-one discussions and so on – some of these will join. However, the majority won't join before IOPS is a viable prefigurative activist organization. That's ok. I want to contribute to IOPS becoming such an organization, and I think the chances are much better than what most people think, although one needs to understand that it'll take some time.

    Johannes: "2. [lack of concrete strategies on current politics] I think is an advantage actually. We don't have top-down blue print solutions and it is good that way. I think it should be pointed out to such people why that's a good thing."

    It's a good way to /start/ such an organization, I agree. But not having elaborated strategy documents /in itself/, is a weakness, of course. Thus the wait-and-see-attitude. Through many years of activism, I've learned that it's a pretty bad priority to try to convince such people by the strength of theoretical arguments. My experience is that by leading by example – doing practical things which makes the organization dynamic, interesting and worthwhile – such people hop on board, one by one. But like I said, these are a certain type of people who're activists. People who're not already activists usually have quite other reasons for not joining.

  • LedSuit ' 17th Apr 2012

    I meant, "...with their feet on the ground and MORE local activist grunt".

  • Kim Keyser 17th Apr 2012

    Michael: "already, there is a set of people commenting - and others may already be feeling, others are commenting, so I needn't. It is precisely the opposite. We all need to hear from those who are highly "Vocal" - less than we need to hear from others, from other places, with other backgrounds..."

    Indeed. People should not be afraid to comment on anything here. I feel people by and large are friendly and supportive here, and also appreciative of the fact that we come from different countries with different cultures, education, experience in activism, command of written English language and so on.

    However, I'd like to say this though: Cultivating a prefigurative, particatory, directly democratic organizational culture is – in my experience – best done by small, empowering step-by-step tasks in a setting of small group dynamics (unlike the internet, where everyone can "hear/see" you). Supporting and encouraging people online is both good and necessary, but this arena is – in my experience – not were the most important work for unlearning the passive and authoritarian culture which has become materialized in people's bodies. That happens IRL (in real life) in small groups, face to face.

    And just to make things clear: Guilt tripping – either because one "contributes" (i.e. talks) too much or too little – is seldom constructive. Challenging oneself in a tempo that suits one's current personality, is though.

    Michael: "and it applies to me too, of course."

    Hehe... Yes, perhaps it applies most to you of all, but that's fine for now. We'll live with that, and in time to come we must have built a participatory organizational culture from the ground up, where such differences has been minimized.

    But all this is – albeit interesting – perhaps a bit off topic? Or maybe not? Since a lot of people – most people – are so alienated that they feel they cannot do anything about all the bad things in society (and thus certainly won't think about joining such an organization such as ours, even though they might like its goals). I'd like to finish this comment with an anonymous quote I've seen on the internet recently:

    "I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about all the bad things in the world, then I realized that I am somebody."

  • Stephen Roblin 17th Apr 2012

    "To pose it as members must sacrifice their other commitments to be in IOPS, is not just tactically unwise and morally unsound, at least in my view - but also wrong. There is no such necessity. In fact, by and large, the opposite is very much the case."


    The phrase "must sacrifice" can be interpreted as a command. Interpreted this way, I agree with you that the argument is morally wrong.

    We are, however, making the following argument to individuals: "We believe IOPS to be so worthwhile that we'd like you to consider learning more about it and perhaps participating." We then give specific reasons why it's worthwhile. For an individual to participate, she would have to sacrifice time doing something else, whether it be one less hour of TV a week or whatever. Time is a scarce resource; therefore competing choices are unavoidable.

    Many of the activists I know are already deprived of much needed sleep, fun, family, etc. I suspect this fairly common. For such people, the reality is that IOPS would compete against other activist initiatives. And making the case for IOPS has been interpreted as such by some I've spoken to. I think you're right; it's wrong to go tit-for-tat with someone over the merits of specific activist initiatives.

    You offer one potentially constructive route: Explain how IOPS can accommodate diverse lifestyles, circumstances, etc. Another route is to make the case that participating in IOPS has the potential to enrich one's involvement in other activist initiatives.

    • Michael Albert 17th Apr 2012

      Suppose joe is incredibly strapped...and if he were to give time to iops now it would have to come from other activism. To be in iops, does joe need to make that trade? No. Why would he?

      Joe believes the activism he is doing is more valuable, then, say, currently attending iops gatherings, or trying to recruit folks to iops, or whatever. So he doesn't make that trade. Of course the work Joe is doing, the activism, is politically worthy...and so why is doing it somehow falling short as an iops member?. It isn't. In fact it is one of the key ways a person can contribute, by their activism in diverse venues. That is what I am trying to say. And if and when joe does participate more in specifically iops activities, great, and iops will be better for joes experiences in his other activism.

      Take a different case. Suppose some iops member has, heretofore, spent what hours she has available for political work, writing. She feels that is her most productive and/or best thing to be doing. The same thing applies. Iops should certainly say, okay, that's your estimate, and you by far know best your situation, options, capacities, so great...and, again, iops is better for her being in it than not.

      Do I hope iops grows so powerful that most folks in it feel that contributing effort to it will be really effective? Yes. But not evermine will, nor will it be true for everyone, and that is fine.

      Do I think an organization like iops, as it grows, can benefit people's other activities. Of course...partly by mutual aid from other members, partly by having an inspiring and constructive model of multi issue and multi tactic activism, and so on.

    • Stephen Roblin 19th Apr 2012

      Ultimately, what I take away from the entire conversation is that when reaching out to others about IOPS we should state explicitely that agreement with IOPS values, mission and vision is the basis for interim membership, nothing else. While we certainly welcome members giving time to the project, members are not obliged to make any time commitment. Thus, IOPS is purposefully designed to accommodate diverse lifestyles, circumstances, levels of commitment, and so on.

      From here, I think it's important to make a case why it is valuable to bring people together who agree with IOPS foundations.

      These points should be made in our outreach materials, in my view.

    • 20th May 2012

      I want to ask you about what you said below: "From here, I think it's important to make a case why it is valuable to bring people together who agree with IOPS foundations."

      What's your idea on how to make this case?

      My guess is that because they may be able to teach each other and learn from each other. They may be able to coordinate local, regional, national, or international programs better than if they had not come together. They may come up with even better ideas than I am right now. They might be able to help each other.

    • Stephen Roblin 22nd May 2012

      @ John "What's your idea on how to make this case?"

      There are sorts of ways to do this. One is to consider the consequences of a fractured left. Take the US as an example. The last thirty-five or so years the majority population has been subject to neoliberal economic policies. The consequences have been disastrous--skyrocketing of income/wealth inequality, stagnant or declining weages, dramatic rise of household debt, etc. Well, what if during this time there was a more cohesive and unified left with broad public appeal? Would it have helped stall or prevent altogether the rise of neoliberalism, or even lead society down a new, more democratic and sustainable economic development path? Of course, we can never know for sure. But I think we can assume that with a more unified and strategically sound left possibilities could have opened, which if taken advantage of could have shifted the historical trajectory in a more progressive direction. We can't go back in time rebuild a unified left, but we can start building now. The future may be brighter for it.

      That's one approach; there are others. Thoughts?

  • Shirley Jane Hobbs 17th Apr 2012

    Here listening. Wondering where I fit in this participatory society. I have no resistance, IOPS is way high on my list of priorities, and I have time. I can spend an hour a week inviting people I know to join. I am looking to see who might join in my area so that I might be a part of a face-to-face group. What else?

    Here's an idea for you.

    I am a life coach. I do know that what inspires people is celebration. I always start my conversations asking for the the celebrations--Life is GOOD. And then out of that conversation comes "what else do you want"? Most people ultimately want what IOPS wants--a just society for all. The 'how' to get there is only important after the awareness of how badly you want it is there.

    That said, ask people starting with the possibility that you see for the vision of IOPS. With your enthusiasm for it, your confidence that it will make a difference. Ask people what they want for themselves and the world. See if you can get some agreement.

    People want to belong, contribute, and celebrate.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 17th Apr 2012

      Yes! A nice positive note, well-struck.

    • Michael Albert 17th Apr 2012


      Hello. I am putting this under your comment, it as the last one i see in the list,it is more general...

      Tou i happen to agree a lot with your view, There is a sense, also, in which I agree with Stephen and others. It is not that I thnk to be in iops one has to devote lots of time, always, to iops. I dont think that.

      But, I do think one should very clearly understand iops commitments...vision, structure, erc., and believe in them. So, a person who says, I want a better world, I hunger for an organization of other people who do too, where do I sign up...should not yet sign up. They should, instead, seriously and closely consider the organizational description until they get it, and then only join if they really do like it.

      That much coherence/agreement is what interim iops requires, lots of people wanting change but also very consciously agreeing on an array of aims and methods...as per the description. I imagine you would agree, but, when recruiting it is pretty natural for all of us to try to shortcut getting people to join based on broad desire, but not close attention to the defining features. And we shouldn't...we should seek agreement...as part of joining. Levels of work are for later determination and will no doubt vary from person to person for countless reasons.

    • Shirley Jane Hobbs 18th Apr 2012


      I agree with you entirely that people should not join IOPS without a clear understanding and alignment with the vision as outlined by the organization.

      The most valuable thing that IOPS brings to this evolutionary process is a very clear statement of the vision. Clearly defined goals are important to getting 'exactly' what we want. This organization can hold these tightly and dearly and add great value to the more distracted, immediate goals other groups may be focusing on at the same time.

      This means that IOPS is not for everyone. Which does not mean that IOPS is 'elite'

  • 18th Apr 2012

    Although a lot of the rhetoric above invites detailed discussion, one point that is essential here is: Join IOPS to do what? Why should I join today? What should I be doing? In essence - what is my motivation?

    Michael's points are interesting, both in his initial question and in responses. However, they do not help charges of elitism. @Fabio, above, is the only one honest enough to state this: IOPS as it stands is an organization representing the good intentions of largely bourgeois, well educated, and above all privileged minority elite. Going live before the site was translated is just one glaring reminder of this - in the rush for (what, primacy?), you create a base which will, inherently, be perceived as arrogant.

    That's not to say that old white men vs. a heterogeneous multiplicity are inherently at fault, inherently 'wrong' - even when the same proposals are generated. But they are inherently suspect.

    If you are blessed with privilege, joining an organization whose demands on you are unknown, whose end state is unclear, whose very purpose in soliciting my membership is not stated in as many words - why, it poses no risk at all. Of course! But if you are not, what then?

    IOPS must understand and position itself as a positive addition to the unprivileged, rather than a negative (volunteer work for emotional gain) addition to the privileged if it is to succeed.

    • Michael Albert 18th Apr 2012

      In the absence of chapters locally, and branches nationally, there are no campaigns, other than, perhaps, recruiting and trying to get together with others, and trying to become able at describing the politics of iops and applying it, etc. So your motivation to join is to develop a structure and be part of and enlarge a group - to in time self manage its way into programmatic work aimed to contribute to reaching the iops vision...

      Joining an organization that will self manage means the organization doesn't decide, before many others with diverse backgrounds are part of it, what people ought to be doing. Elitist is some relatively small and narrow group thinking it ought to set out a program, for others, in other places and times, who will carry it out - and thinking that, and doing that, without even trying to reach further. Not elitist is creating a mechanism for people to come together and develop their views and desires, and to carry out programs that collectively emerge from their serious deliberations and self managed decisions.

      IOPS is interim, at creation stage. If, post convention, it still has no program, no more developed conceptions and practices, then it would be much less than, I suspect, most of it hope it will be. BUT - if when there were ten people, involved, or 100, or even 2,000, it formalized itself from interim to actual, and moved from just having a defining vision and broad commitments to having more specific program - then, at least for my taste, if would have done that prematurely in a rush for specificity that would usurp a broader membership, from more places and with more backgrounds, being responsible for the initial program.

      More generally, there is a sense in which people tend to report seeing elitism, arrogance, etc., around every corner. Sometimes these ills are there, sometimes not. In this case, IOPS is about two weeks old. Desires for it are as old as tree in your yard, and older, at least in my view. Yet, no doubt, you will encounter people saying such things about it, not having given it any attention at all.

      IOPS is trying to create something. If you examine its defining documents I think you will see they are virtually the opposite of elitist. IOPS does think its commitments, are worthy - and to be a member, one has to think that, too - but that is not arrogance. It doesn't impose those views on others, but, hopefully, makes a case for them. It doesn't claim to represent or speak for anyone - not even for its own members - it is interim.

      As but one example, IOPS doesn't say, and even believe, we are the 99%, or we are anything other than some people, with some views, working to enlarging our numbers and developing means for us, and for others, to better seek a new world with certain attributes - our vision - and true to certain values and structural priorities.

      If we describe what we are doing that way - accurately - i have no doubt many will nonetheless say it is elitist, it is arrogant, it is old, it is juvenile, it is sexist, it is racist, it is colonial, it is adventurist, and any other descriptors one can come up with to denigrate it. Whether anyone will say, this commitment that they have is elitist, or this view is whatever other negative claim is applied - I rather doubt... We will see.

      But, in recruiting, yes, we will encounter such formulations - and should calmly answer, and, if we cannot make headway, okay, move on - and time will adjudicate.

    • 18th Apr 2012

      Michael - there are a couple of threads to your response, and at least one can be dealt with rather quickly; of course some people tend to see the spectre of empire, or indeed of the elite, at all turns. That's only natural. The question is, which people, and with what frequency? To discard such concerns with 'time will ajudicate' is akin to a Christian telling me (as an atheist) that, well, time will ajudicate whether or not there is a heaven or - importantly - a hell.

      The concern is not whether some people can consider the work as elitist, nor whether some people can consider that they or not. Unfortunately, the issue is not even the intention with which the Vision etc. have been formed. The issue with which it appears we are not yet ready to engage is that - as it stands - IOPS appears to fall at the very least into your rather narrow characterisation of elitism. How can we break through that? What ought we be doing?

      I am not concerned about my motivation. As a white, moderately successful male I feel at ease to join a program that is all potential. The vagaries of the job market have left me with time on my hands, and I am working to further the cause of IOPS. But (again) what of those who are not as privileged as you & I? How can IOPS appear actionable beyond its initial parameters?

    • Kim Keyser 18th Apr 2012

      Oliver: "IOPS as it stands is an organization representing the good intentions of largely bourgeois, well educated, and above all privileged minority elite."

      I must say that I don't agree with this at all. "Largely bourgeios". Where do you get that from Luker? There's no statistics on this, right? So the only source can have been the self-description of our members and looking up info on them, right? If you do so, I think you'll find out that very few are bourgeois. (Or perhaps we mean something different by that term? By that term I think of the about 10% who own and run businesses with employees and thos that are at the top of politics and military.)

      "Minority elite"? Well, if you want to make the average person – incl. the roughly half of the world's population that live under absolute, severe poverty – join an organization directly, without representatives, perhaps... But that's not a very constructive criticism, because doing so implies replacing capitalism.

      Oliver: "(...) Going live before the site was translated is just one glaring reminder of this - in the rush for (what, primacy?), you create a base which will, inherently, be perceived as arrogant."

      It would've been very nice if this site had been translated even before it went live, of course, but claiming it's elitist because it was not is not meaningful, IMO. There's a thousand things that had to be done to make an organization non-elitist – if non-elitist means engaging the average world citizen – incl (but not limited to):

      * Getting rid of dictatorships (so people in for instance China and Vietnam could participate on an equal footing);
      * Getting rid of poverty (so people from poor countries could participate on an equal footing);
      * Implementing an universal language (so non-English speakers won't dominate);
      * So on and so forth...

      But all this is not constructive. To do this one needs to have replaced capitalism before even starting to fight against it. One gotta start somewhere, grow, fail, learn, and in time, hopefully succeed, don't you think?

  • Michael Albert 18th Apr 2012

    When you say iops appears that way - to whom, is a good question, to ask, and for what reason, where the latter is especially important? If someone reads the descriptive documents and feels, this is elitist, or this is arrogant, and asks about it, and discusses it, and still feels that way - or this is something else bad - okay - they should not join. And if they prove right, well then iops at a minimum has a big problem to correct. Maybe they will change their mind later or maybe iops will be doomed, etc.

    BUT - if someone says iops is elitist or arrogant or whatever and they haven't even looked at the defining documents, or, say, at the icc, or say, at the discussion of history, or for that matter even at the site itself - or talked to anyone in it - then what they are really saying is, I don't have to look, I know it is bad these ways, because everything is bad these ways, or will be. In that case, all you can do is offer those items as evidence for your contrary belief... and probably move on.

    When you say there are folks with heavy time constraints who can't try to help as you now can, or I now can - of course. So they join and do less, given those constraints and also other priorities they may have. This is not a problem. In the little time they have to give they can recruit, or think about the future, or try to become better able to communicate about the issues and matters, and so on. And actually, I believe, in our great available time, that is also what pretty much all that we can do.

    I didn't dismiss their charges - or any charges someone might make. I said, this is two weeks old - the only honest answer, assuming it is so for you, is that as best you can see, everything about the conception and desire is contrary to their fears, and, if enough people with good values and aims are part of it, and maintain those commitments, then so will the practice be, as it unfolds, under the self managing control of the emerging membership, good.

    That's what I would say. I might add, depending on the person, that what they are really saying - is that they think iops, despite good structure, despite good values and vision, despite a commitment to self management, will inevitably be elitist, racist, or whatever they might be claiming/worrying about. In essence, its membership, because, presumably, of their baggage, will impose these ills even against a structure and vision that point entirely differently. Well, if the person feels that, then what do they do? Give up? Or try to be one among many, who patiently and calmly work to get something better, without prejudging...

    Defeatism often underlies what people claim or feel, regarding prospects, in my view. If you dig deep enough, assuming shared values, it often tends to be there...especially when the person has no reasons based on the features of the actual thing under consideration, in this case iops.

  • 18th Apr 2012

    @Michael, @Kim - some great points made by both.

    My concern here is not to lay a charge of 'not having fixed inequality first' at the door of IOPS. This is an overall thread that deals with why some folks don't join IOPS, not one dealing with 'why IOPS isn't the panacea we dream of'.

    Michael mentions defeatism. Is it not our ethical duty to identify how people who are already defeated (not in some abstract linguistic sense, but actually, really) can benefit? Those who do not have the privilege to be able to do what we are doing right now?

    So I come back to the point - what can we do, in IOPS, to avoid this perception? @Michael - I get it, there are some folks who judge IOPS (or other movements) as problematic before having become informed. Point taken - but there are a number of people I know personally who are passionate activists, who are informed about IOPS, and who still ask these questions, raise these concerns. Are we just to dismiss them as defeatist, or suggest they wait and see?

    It is my firm belief that what has been created here is very powerful, but that its presentation (and debates like this) only serve to further the perception that it is exclusionary by its very nature. Framing such a debate in terms of 'elites' is misleading - we are talking about privilege. This belief is not a hunch, a gut sense, but instead an informed, questioned, perception.

    Have we really done all that we can to find messages, voices, approaches that can be heard by the very people we want to hear us? And when they have heard us, have we done all we can to ensure they get ready visibility to the importance of being a part of this, for each and for all?

    • Michael Albert 18th Apr 2012

      I think maybe you and I have had our say with each other - I am not sure we are making progress. Again the site has been online two weeks... iops is interim. It doesn't have a program, because there is nowhere near enough members, nor means, to arrive at one much less implement one, in an inclusionary way, effectively, especially for people who would later enact the program but not now have any input. Serious self management means more people need to be involved...more diversity, more numbers.

      Who doesn't have the privilege. I wonder, of being able to think about iops definitions, should they decide they want to, become well able to present them, to recruit others, and to think, if he or she wishes to do so, what he or she might like to see from a local chapter once there are sufficient people where he or she lives for one to exist? Some people, no doubt. But there are a few billion others...and among them, we can reach out. And then when there are more, and local chapters, the reaching can go still further.

      I doubt anyone on here has reached past the audience who could certainly do everything and anything that I, for one, think it makes sense for people to be doing for and with IOPS now - other than that they feel it isn't worth their time. If someone works a sixty hour week, they cannot do as much, for sure, even if they are incredibly eager... Okay. So? They will choose to do whatever they choose to do. Same for me or you.

      Again, if someone looks at iops and says I like the vision, I like the definition, etc. - but I don't want to become involved, or even just join, because it doesn't have a program, or a chapter where I am, or things that it lists for me to do, etc., or because I don't have time to give, well, okay. That is not a disaster. Maybe later they will feel differently.

      When an organization starts, it is not yet well developed. To say it isn't developed, is true. It is also nothing one can do anything about other than to further develop, or, step aside, and look back later.

      What I have said is there are a lot of people out there. Even just in the U.S., my country, easily a hundred thousand who could reasonably relate given their values, etc. - probably many more. To recruit among those who reject iops without looking at it is probably not a great use of time. Not impossible, but not most likely to be effective, either. Some will do it, some won't. To recruit among those who like everything they see about iops, but still resist - for reasons I have mentioned earlier - makes sense, perhaps to a point. We try to make a case that it can have impact, etc. And that we can win...albeit not tomorrow, and so on.

      Have we done the best we can at communicating about iops - in two weeks? No. Certainly not. But the way to do better, is, I would guess - to do it. To figure out ways to talk about iops. To try those ways. To see the results. To report what works and what doesn't. If we have trouble, and someone else suggests something else to try - then we try that.

      We have 1300 people in two weeks who belong. To my knowledge perhaps five have indicated serious differences with iops - among thousands I have written and invited to register any doubts they may have - and this is among thousands who have not yet visited, or have done so and decided nay. In that context, we can only truck on...trying to learn how to present the views well, and sharing the lessons. It takes time.

      I hope you won't mind at this point, Oliver, if I suggest that you and I give it a bit of a break for a time, and let other people comment, should they wish to.

  • Shirley Jane Hobbs 18th Apr 2012

    I am one who will patiently, persistently and calmly work to get the world we envision to be the world we live in, without prejudging. I will not give up.

    There are many paths to get to this new world. The first step is to allow the space for people to imagine it, dream it, know it is possible. Then IOPS offers one path to that place. This path will appeal to some and not to others. It will speak to some and not others. The language of the entire document is very academic and at times precise to the point of distraction. It's in English. It cannot and will not speak to everyone. If we can see IOPS as a path for those who re-cognize it and join it, at the same time knowing others will take other paths. One path is not more elite or 'right' than another. Join the path that fits for you and we'll meet at the 'meeting' place we have chosen.

    Human beings are evolving toward a participatory society. Other ways of being will be left behind. There is no doubt in my mind.

    I am left with extreme gratitude that folks have imagined this organization and are joining this organization. And, that I see evidence of common commitment in many other individuals and groups.

  • Kim Keyser 18th Apr 2012

    Oliver: "Have we really done all that we can to find messages, voices, approaches that can be heard by the very people we want to hear us? And when they have heard us, have we done all we can to ensure they get ready visibility to the importance of being a part of this, for each and for all?"

    Of course not, because that's an ongoing /process/, and not – like you frame it – a definite /end result/. But we're working on, and this work has just commenced, so it's not weird we've not come longer than we have, just yet. But for a couple of weeks it's a long way – in fact, unprecedented in my experience as an activist for 10+ years.

    Oliver: "Are we just to dismiss them as defeatist, or suggest they wait and see?"

    I think it can only be destructive to label people as defeatist. But if they're not ready to join *because it's not prefigurative enough yet*, then they ain't ready to join, and will have to wait to it is. Quite simply. Meanwhile we have to put in lots of work to make IOPS as prefigurative as possible, but doing so will take certainly take a significant amount of time.

    I see that you are already contributing to this, by translating to Spanish. Good. A year, or two, or even three – from you, and me, and all of us – and we might be there.

  • Joshua Cordell 18th Apr 2012

    On elitism:

    It is natural to assume that leaders represent an elite - and leaders we are - and perhaps iops is currently available to people with certain skill sets - such as computer literacy - or material advantages - such as access to internet. This does not make one an elite in the same sense that there are is a 'moneyed elite.' Proficiency and opportunity to contribute are not elitisms, in my view. To be honest, I do feel privileged to be a member of iops and share my views and contribute here - this is a privilege I would like to extend to others.

  • Kim Keyser 18th Apr 2012

    That's a good way of putting it Joshua. :)

  • Elise A 12th May 2012

    A few thoughts on 'elitism' and access to the site.

    First, I would like to suggest and encourage that Comments to particular Posts be made directly under the Post. This will allow a flow of thoughts from the Post and reduce the need some may have to go back to find the original Post. My opinion. Keep it together...there is a lot to read at IOPS.

    Which brings me to Elitism; I didn't see 'it' on the site, so far, but I'm still reading. But, I have read every Comment for this Post as of today. I think this 'elitism' may, may, be related to my experiences and perceptions relating to education and what is popular today on the internet, on the TV, cable and Main Street Media, as well as, meeting lots of people when I go to the grocery, in elevators, needing assistance when the car breaks down, and any time I feel like talking with someone on the street, or just making small talk. I love meeting people! Anywhere, everywhere. I love those great one or two minute conversations, its great to remember these moments years later too! Many laughs, giggles and I remember their names too! So, let me assure you, I want to share anything and everything with anyone else who I think may have some sort of benefit or anything else I think may be of interest to someone.

    I have found, in the U.S., that education is NOT looked upon favorably by most. I do believe this is part of the propaganda that has been instilled in our culture. So, this may be the 'elitism' I have read about on this page.

    It could also be related to the short quip that people are like crabs: one crab is at the lip of the basket only to be pulled down by the crab that then attempts to reach the lip of the basket, only to be pulled down by another crab.

    And now, I think, people are going to become even more adverse to educated others - not all people, but some. After all, look at all those PhDs and other who's who who are running the Globe into the sh*^%er! What's an education done for this world? How about that science, eh? What about those great government agencies with the Power to approve medicines, outlaw vitamins, say its ok for Bankers to have Investment Houses? I don't need to go on, right? So, I would expect an even greater whip lash in the days to come.

    But, I think, MOST IMPORTANTLY what gets people's attention and grabs their time for a few minutes or more, are fast, quick videos. These can lead the viewer to other videos and links which can further embellish upon the overview and facts presented.

    For example, I see that there is a new video on the Home Page but I haven't viewed it, because I prefer to read. Link here: http://vimeo.com/39937744 . There are a lot of articles at IOPS that I want to read and I have to set aside time to read them. But videos work.

    As a newbie to IOPS, I came to learn and their are obviously others interested in similar topics who've already Posted. I think I have to learn even more in order to help figure out how to rebuild, or structure our future.

    I have not found anywhere else so far that is looking for solutions. I think IOPS is where I may have an opportunity to assist in creating a new foundation, because the foundation in the U.S. is structurally unsound and biased.

    So, in my fast preview of the site I found there were Programs and Reading Lists, and none were short and sweet from what I saw.

    I think, many individuals may see all this information and know they will not have the time to read all the information, nor will it take an hour or so to grasp enough to feel as though they have accomplished enough.

    These are my thoughts, experiences and perceptions. I have thought my involvement since the 70s were important at the time and I've always been told I spend way too much time on current events, watching the political maneuvers, yelling at the boob tube and, basically, that I rant on-and-on-and-on and I should just turn it all off and enough life...

    Perhaps IOPS can develop and deliver quick, concise information, if possible, in the future for those many other people. As IOPS grows and the resources and abilities of its Members becomes more plentiful.

    As to those without the means to access the internet, when we grow our bases we will be within our local community and reaching out to our neighbors, then our block, and ever increasing our radius on a more personable level.

    In the meantime, perhaps a Dictionary with auto highlighting of terms and definitions may be helpful. For example, though I saw it one day, I forgot what 'parecon' meant and ended up outside IOPS for a definition. Just another project for someone with no-so-much to do....lol.

    By the way, great article and great Posts. Thank you all for participating and reading here at IOPS!

    Time for a break from IOPS...I'll be back...guarannnnteeed!

    • Elise A 12th May 2012

      Typo: My family and friends didn't say, 'I should just turn it all off and enough life...'. They say, 'I should just turn it all off and ENJOY life...' (I could read into that typo, eh?) :)

  • 21st May 2012

    A friend of mine said that they didn't want to join because they didn't want to be implicated in an organization where other members might do something illegal, fearing that she would go to jail. She referred to some case going on regarding a website and terrorism that I'm not familiar with. She mentioned lack of respect of privacy rights by the government.

    I suggested to her that she wasn't joining IOPS because she wanted to give me a protest about privacy rights. This wasn't productive. I then suggested that she was refusing to join an organization that may be able to establish a respect privacy rights. She then said she would join.

    But not yet...

    Right now she lives in a rural town where she doesn't think there is much room for involvement. She says she'll join in a couple months after she moves. I've marked it in my planner to follow up with her after she moves.

  • Gregory VanGaya 27th Jun 2012

    Having organized for a long time, I can say that none of this surprises me at all. Until our local chapters are up and running with events, and local community to offer I don't see very good return on investment for getting people to join a web site. Most people are incredibly despondent when it comes to change. The rest are going through the motions of reformist actions for the sake of feeling engaged or some kind of community around them.

    We need to build real on the ground institutions, that can hope to fill some real human needs. Not be an idea, and just a discussion. There are endless "ideas" out there, and most people will not see through the crowds of smoke to see that we're a complete idea.

    We need to provide food, shelter, community, the chance to meet someone you can fall in love with, to be noticed and taken seriously. It's a high bar, but I'm in this to win a new society.

    This said I am working my contacts and the Parecon FB group, but that's largely because our local (Vancouver) has formed with 10 people, and so we can host a potluck at my house in 2 weeks.

    I would like to see us pay dues or donate to a major fundraising event in a larger, wealthier city where we have a coherent local. Then put the money to either helping somewhere like Spain (where there is participatory culture and true radical community) to form a IOPS resort/model. Fund a base that could spawn a local Federation of Participatory Co-ops, be an international retreat, and our Shangrila model. We need this, or we are merely ideologues talking about some Olympus that no one will ever be able to walk in. So there is no incentive to learn and study paresoc. Unfortunately, the toughest way forward is the main hope for recruiting in my opinion.

  • 22nd Sep 2012


    The most common response that I get after people read the website is that they can't figure out what IOPS is trying to do. Similarly, when I talk to people, they say that they can't picture what they would do.

    I often respond with specific things that I'm doing, like reading the Occupy books, discussing online, sharing and learning from others, but I think this misses the point somehow.

    It seems more like what we're doing is trying to group together people with the same commitments so that we can explore long term vision, empower our lives, build the seeds of the future in the present, and win changes on a sustainable track.

    Okay, that's not specific, but it probably includes everything that people I talk to are interested in.

    It seems like people are used to having specific things to plug into, and that a more general commitment is harder for people to imagine or commit to. It does seem more empowering, flexible, and participatory to agree at a broad level and then decide on programs together. I suppose this is part of the task. I need to convince people of that.

    What do you think?

  • Michael Albert 22nd Sep 2012

    I think you right that is part of the task...but, even more. Consider sometime in the future. There are many chapters and members and the organization has program, projects, and thus very specific things that someone could plug it to working on. Still, even then , to join the organization should not be a matter of liking a single project, but of liking the commitments, the structure, etc.