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How do we get rid of quotas to women?

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Women need no quotas. Women feel too self entitled as it is. Times have changed rapidly because of the internet and so should women. If some women do not want to join iops then that is thier decsion. It shouldn't hold back a revolution, and if it does then there is no chance.

Discussion 71 Comments

  • Johannes 16th Dec 2013

    Obviously, your stated opinion is contrary to IOPS mission, vision, structure and program as well as our recent agreement that in fact we do have a desired quota of at least 30% women in order to proceed to our convention.

  • Lambert Meertens 16th Dec 2013

    A statement like "Women feel too self entitled as it is" is discriminatory and misogynistic. It is also completely contrary to what I see too often, unfortunately, which is women viewing the problems they encounter as their own failures due to personal inadequacies instead of society's failures due to allowing a women-unfriendly (and often human-unfriendly) environment to persist.

    If IOPS appears to be less attractive to women, we should first seek the fault with ourselves.

  • Alex of... 16th Dec 2013

    no dancing, no revolution.

  • Michael Livingston 16th Dec 2013

    This isn't a blog, it's graffiti. If there's thought behind this rant, it's not evident. Please have more respect for IOPS and this website.

    • Mark Evans 17th Dec 2013

      I would like to second Michael Livingston's observations.

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2013

      the other day, someone spray painted on the fence next to my home. it appears rather uninspired, more the work of someone who simply had a can of spray paint. on the other hand, people spray paint for many reasons which are both relevant and disrespectful. i prefer, however, the thoughtful works of Bansky, say.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 17th Dec 2013

    dude...maybe you should just hit all us self-entitled, uppity women over the head with your club and drag us by the hair...force us to see how participation works...
    that’s my initial reaction to your statement...but that said, i understand your frustration...i have my theories as to why women aren’t jumping on the iops bandwagon, (and you just posted one of them...) but i also have a gut feeling that without the other half of the human race on board, a parsoc won’t happen anyway...

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2013

      agree, some kind of parsoc don't happen without said half. kind of negates the whole point. though only working with a small group out of IOPS, haven't found a problem locally with imbalance of gender involvement. in fact, most activist groups i've involved myself with have a heavier degree of female leadership. maybe that's a condition of my region in part, so i don't know what others are experiencing or why, if based on where they live or other, but clearly there is still a major imbalance online with an org like IOPS. even though based on a pretty ridiculous set of comments, it comes up now as more have added comments, and even though it seems most of my local comrades are not interested in online interaction, i'll throw this at them. what i AM even more interested in is your personal theories on why women might be apprehensive to IOPS. there are many articles out there about the difference in female/male participation between say Wikipedia and Facebook, or reasons women don't feel comfortable participating in political forums. a personal friend of mine left IOPS over discomfort with styles of communication. how do you feel?

    • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 21st Dec 2013

      sorry it’s taken me this long to reply alex...i agree...times have changed rapidly...and aside from the multitudes of women that have been damaged by patriarchy and hierarchy, what i’m seeing these days are savvy young women who are finding they can be just as competitive as men in the typically male dominated careers...and some men are truly at a loss as how to deal with this...

      i see other women finding a foothold in the capitalist system thru women supporting women...developing a confidence not based on traditional male acceptance and in many cases, in spite of it...
      in other words...instead of being subjugated by the patriarchal system, women are gaming it to their advantage...so, in neither case, are ideas about values based institutions on their agendas...

      it’s almost like men are starting to see the need for cooperation as women are finding the opportunities to compete...

      it’s my hope we can all get past the competitive issues, see the bigger picture and recognize the planet is in jeopardy....adopt cooperative, participatory systems in time to avoid the worst outcome, regardless of gender...

  • Jason 17th Dec 2013

    “Times have changed rapidly because of the internet and so should women.” From the other blog: “I could say that about any single issue idea such as feminism that his wife loves ardently.” From his profile: “Worked for parecon and free software since the beginning of time.”

    This is either trolling or these comments are genuinely stupid and abusive. Either way both blog entries should be deleted. The corollary to IOPS being ‘open for anyone … who shares the goals, values and visionary commitments laid out in the organizational description’ is that it is closed to everyone else.

    • Mark Evans 17th Dec 2013

      Jason - you are right in pointing out that the idea behind the "shares the goals" approach was that it would act as a kind of filter-in / filter-out mechanism. The hope was that this would lead to a community of people with a common understanding and who therefore could get on with organising without having to discuss all kinds of issues.

      I still think that this is a reasonable way to organise but it does rely on those who are considering joining IOPS to be reasonable - i.e. to read and consider the organisational description - when thinking about signing up. But if people are not prepared to do that then obviously this approach will not work.

      Our basic options, I think, are actually quite narrow - chaos, authority or reason. If people do not act reasonable here then we are going to end up with chaos or authority - and given that IOPS is a libertarian organisation this was clearly not what was intended.

      But what we do about this problem, I do not know.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2013

      Mark - I think "what we do about this problem" is exactly what we're doing here in these responses to the blog -- i.e., engaging in participatory self-management as part of a corrective community.

    • Mark Evans 18th Dec 2013

      Hi Michael - there was always going to be a place for community self- correcting within IOPS but if the approach was working it would not need to be on this level. Organising is hard work but people are making it unnecessarily so.

      I often wonder how the right wingers keep on winning - especially given the lack of credibility their ideology must have in the public mind following the various well known and understood crisis and scandals. I also wonder why, in times of popular revolt, the authoritarian left come to dominate. The only answer that I can think of is that the libertarian left is not interested in serious organising.

    • Michael Livingston 18th Dec 2013

      Mark - To your two points/observations:

      (1) In an earlier comment, you said: "I still think that this is a reasonable way to organise but it does rely on those who are considering joining IOPS to be reasonable - i.e. to read and consider the organisational description - when thinking about signing up." I agree. And, because of the ease with which a person can "click" and join IOPS and -- in most cases -- the absence of any meaningful recruiting/screening conversations with potential members, some folks are going to end up in IOPS with whom those conversations need to take place post hoc, which appears to be the case with the writer of this blog.

      (2) Why does the right wing win so often? That's a big question, but, at least in context of the United States, I think the simple answer is that their task is easier than ours. For example: they are not seeking fundamental changes (which is threatening to folks),but rather, they seek to preserve and further entrench the status quo; they take advantage of existing biases and prejudices (race, gender, religion and unions) to drive wedges between groups that, in reality, have a great deal in common and who, if unified, would be against the status quo and the increasing inequality and oppression that results from it; and they are well-financed and able to influence disproportionately the political process. The left's primary asset are "facts" -- not ideology or the authoritarianism that seems to come with it -- and that's what's so appealing to me about the values-based foundation and framework of IOPS.

    • Mark Evans 18th Dec 2013

      Hi Michael - whilst I recongnise what you describe in your second point (2) I am also not sure why any of the points you highlight should impact on the internal effectiveness of libertarian left organising.

      Members of IOPS and those drawn to it are by definition libertarian leftists and they surely understand the ways in which the Right "take advantage of existing biases" etc. We also understand that this creates challenges with regards to how IOPS members interact with the broader general public who can hold many authoritarian and right-wing beliefs. But that is a different issue and a separate challenge to the one I was discussing - which was more to do with the libertarian left getting its own act together and taking responsibility for its part in helping maintain social injustice and environmental destruction. After all we can not, and should not, blame the Right for our own incompetences.

      So putting aside the people who don't agree with our politics (and shooting them - only kidding!) there must be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, internationally, who share our politics - why can't these people get together and do some serious organising? Or put another way - why isn't the libertarian left taking IOPS more seriously?

    • LedSuit ' 18th Dec 2013


      At the risk of entering this blog far from the initial premise, I second Alex here regarding your question "why isn't the libertarian left taking IOPS more seriously?" A blog on that would be interesting.

    • Michael Livingston 19th Dec 2013

      MARK - Sorry for the confusion; I took your second paragraph two state two separate questions. I agree that, for the most part, the reasons for the right wing's successes do not explain the "libertarian left's" disinterest in "serious organizing." And, I think a candid, focused and non-abstract discussion of that question would be particularly timely as we approach our July 2014 deadline for meeting the preconditions for the IOPS founding convention.

    • Mark Evans 19th Dec 2013

      Hi Michael - you write:

      "And, I think a candid, focused and non-abstract discussion of that question would be particularly timely as we approach our July 2014 deadline for meeting the preconditions for the IOPS founding convention."

      It seems that there are a couple of members expressing an interest in this topic (see other posts on this thread). Perhaps you could get together to discuss doing something together or setting something up.

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2013

      perhaps "the problem" is an opportunity. it's not that i would invite more misogynistic comments about entitlement per se, but IOPS needs tp be resilient in the manner Michael mentions, and IMO further to question its appeal such as Lambert mentions.

      Mark, i find your last paragraph interesting, but it strays me far from the initial premise and is a large conversation. maybe you would even blog on that :)

    • Mark Evans 19th Dec 2013

      Alex / James - I do appreciate the interest / encouragement and would love to oblige but I am busy working on an IOPS related project and doubt that I will have time.

      I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the topic - perhaps you could get together to write something your selves.

    • Alex of... 19th Dec 2013

      oops James, i must have not refreshed my browser at the time, as the paragraph i was referring to was the one on why the right wins, the authoritarian left dominates in popular revolt, and if the libertarian left is not serious about organizing. but, the next-last paragraph is also a further on that, more specifically on why shared lefty politics aint comin together, and also why not IOPS?

      …so still part of the "big question", and i generally agree with Michael's assessment of the right. it's a lot easier for consolidated power to stay organized and control the game than it is to create consensus en masse from the ground, as i believe to be the more 'left' challenge. so, still on the feeling that this a large topic that warrants separate conversation, i'll just say a couple things at least, straying (sorry)…

      one, the majority of lefty activism i see is issue-based, but my attraction to IOPS is also the values-based framework. i have found that while serious about organizing on particular issues, most members of issue-based groups probably share most of the IOPS values, but are not really interested in talking about real structural/revolutionary change. this comes from a huge range of reasoning i've heard or suspect. in large, i think specific reforms are just more tangible and either attainable or seemingly attainable, while utopic visions seem pie in the sky and to some degree unimaginable. of course, it's unimaginable if we don't take the time to imagine, and i would like to see more take that time along side their issue-based activism to discuss it as steps toward a larger vision. many examples that could be given within the range, and the question is then about the proper approaches to further from.

      on the two, there are of course existing groups that do already promote revolutionary change, so there is the opportunity to connect with that. i recently helped out a bit with the Kshama Sawant campaign for Seattle city council. (if not familiar, she ran under Socialist Alternative (SA) against a democrat incumbent and won with much lower campaign funding (not taking from biz), but with a large base of volunteer work.) i've met Sawant a couple times, but don't know her deeply, but do support having her voice on our fairly conservative city council based on her issues. anywho, i'm trying to assess SA a bit better. given some of their articles that justify Lenin, but with more adherence to Trotsky, i'm trying to understand what their actual vision and strategy is, as outside of articles written by various members across, they aren't too publicly specific on their principles, which also may vary from regional groups and individual members. i have been told by someone more familiar that while some "rank & file" members are not interested in creating divides on minor philosophical differences, there are some that associate IOPS with Parecon and look down on Parecon, thus not interested in IOPS. those opinions come from a few places, individualized, and aren't entirely clear (without direct questions yet). one relayed is that Parecon is simply regurgitated Marxism in attempt to put a clean face on the tarnished image of Stalinism and Maoism, while their preference is to simply educate people on the merits of true socialism, rather than rebranding. to cut short (droned on long enough surely), i will be seeking further stances from SA members on their brand of socialism, as well as opinion on IOPS. peace.

      and Mark, as you just responded as i was writing. thanks for the inspiration on a possible topic. obviously i just gave a brief bit (or too long!). i can at least share my further experiences with my exploration of SA. probably weeks out.

    • 21st Dec 2013

      Walk a mile in another mans shoes, there is no try only do.

  • Lori Franko 18th Dec 2013

    I have some thoughts on this blog/statement whatever you want to call it. As a female person, I find it a little odd that there be a quota based on gender. I would like to know how many chapters are being held back from being "working chapters" based on this quota. If parpolity/parecon is truly consensus based, diversity of opinion is guaranteed. It should not matter if there is one woman or a hundred women in a chapter. By saying there must be 30% of "my kind" belonging to a chapter is the same as saying that "my kind" are not equal to "your kind" and that this inequity must be balanced with some type of artificial levelling of the playing field. Given the (albeit unlikely) scenario that there be a chapter composed of 75% women, would there be a quota imposed to raise the number of men in order for it to be a working chapter?

    I think that Jason's choice of words are unfortunate but at the same time, they reflect a frustration with an unfairness that has recently developed in society. It is insulting to both sexes to suggest that either one are preprogrammed to think or act in a particular way. I grew up during the "second wave" of feminism and I think that we made enormous and historic advances towards equity and we are not quite there yet. However, I have also seen an enormous swing towards thinking that women are always somehow victims of something (or everything). Lambert, most women I have encountered do not blame themselves for their situation (and I am not saying that they always should) but they point at patriarchy, their parents, their husband/partner, boss...anyone but themselves. That's not good or healthy either and should not be accepted as the default. It doesn't do any one of us any good nor does it gain anyone any respect. I do not want to be treated as some poor unfortunate because of my sex, thank you.

    If we are to practise the mission and vision of IOPS, I would hope that all people would be treated as having an equal voice in discussions despite their gender. I find the quota offensive and would like to hear a reasonable defence of it.

    • Mark Evans 18th Dec 2013

      Hi Lori - imagine attending a meeting of an organisation that called for a revolution to free all people from social oppression. Now imagine that everyone at this meeting is white, male and coordinator class. Why would that be a problem? One reason might be that the composition of the revolutionary organisation is likely to impact on the outcome of the revolution. This is why, as part of its Structure and Program, IOPS...

      "seeks to incorporate seeds of the future in its present projects at least regarding class, race, gender, sexual, age, and power relations, both in the ways members act as well as by actively building institutions that represent the values of the movement and which the organization can present as liberating alternatives to the status quo it combats."

    • Lori Franko 18th Dec 2013

      Gender, in and of itself, does not determine a person's values or ideas. If the meeting had 70% males and 30% females, all from the coordinator class, then the outcome would still not be in line with the IOPS mission.

      At your imaginary meeting, the membership is also all white. So should IOPS have quotas for class, race, age, sexual orientation, social position as well as gender? By your logic, a membership of 100% white, middle class, middle aged, straight professionals could not represent the values of the movement, even if they were all female.

      How about the idea that peoples values and ideas can represent the movement? What about the idea of consensus and parpolity being the factor that allows minority ideas to be heard and that acts as the equalizer?

    • Mark Evans 19th Dec 2013

      Hi Lori - just a couple of quick points in reply to what you wrote:

      In a parpolity everyone (men and women) would belong to a primary level council, so I am not sure how the thought experiment you suggest helps with, or is relevant to, the issue of gender targets for interim IOPS.

      I agree that at the individual level it is values that count and not gender, class, race. But at the organisational level - especially for an organisation like ours - to have any credibility it is important that we are representative. For obvious reasons we do not want IOPS to be run by rich white men.

      You ask: So should IOPS have quotas for class, race, age, sexual orientation, social position as well as gender?

      First of all IOPS Structure and Program does state:

      "seeks to constantly grow its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to aid."

      So there is, or should be, a drive to address the issue you raise - but that is not the same as a quota for class, race, etc. But there is, I think, a good reason for this.

      Local IOPS chapters are supposed to reflect the communities from which they arise. And we all know that communities vary with regards to race and class - but this is not typically the case for gender.

      The point is that in communities that are predominantly black or white, or working class or coordinator class (for example) we can have local chapters that are legitimately predominantly black or white, or working class or coordinator class.

      The question is: is the same true for gender? Do we get communities that are predominantly male or predominantly female? I think the answer to this question is no. Regardless of class or race communities are typically roughly man-woman balanced.

      This is the reason why we have a specific quota for gender and not for race, class, etc.

      I hope that helps.

    • Lori Franko 19th Dec 2013

      I agree with the IOPS Structure and Program, but I am arguing against the idea that a quota would achieve the goal.

      Of course it's a fact that the human population is roughly half male, half female. It's not realistic to expect that the interest in political participation is proportionate. There are many reasons why a majority of women are not interested and I'm not going to list them all here. A quota is too simplistic a solution and is preventing the growth of a movement whose aim is "..to constantly grow its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to aid." It can't grow if it can't get off the ground.

      Canada has the highest membership per capita in IOPS and there is only 22% female representation.

    • Mark Evans 19th Dec 2013

      Lori -

      For this exchange to move forward I would need to know what your reasons are for thinking that 30% female membership is unrealistic and how having a quota is "preventing" growth. Without that there is not much for me to reply to.

      But one quick point, the interim targets are not a "solution", as you put it. Rather, they are a criteria to be met before we launch IOPS. The interim phase is our opportunity to address issues relating to membership balance in relation to class, race, gender, etc. As I have said above, the idea is to avoid launching a revolutionary organisation dominated by rich white men - the reasons for which should be obvious.

      As for 22% female representation in Canada - I'm not sure what you think that shows...

      Perhaps if the members in Canada (along with the rest of us) decided to really try to achieve 30% by the interim deadline the likelihood of them being successful would increase - just as if they decide not to try at all the likelihood of success would go down. Admittedly that is not very sophisticated but, to me, it is how things seem to work.

    • Lori Franko 19th Dec 2013

      I have been trying for years to engage women in my social circle to talk about broader issues with little to no success. I have tried to get other women to join IOPS with no success. They simply do not want to know. Why this is, is the subject of much study, research and journalistic inquiry. They either feel there is no point do to a lack of empowerment or they just can't be bothered. A goal of 30% female membership is something that I think all of the existing membership would love to see. To require it right off the mark is to ignore the reality that for a variety of reasons, most women resist getting involved in anything political (I use the term broadly). The other group that strongly resists political involvement are the economically deprived. So no matter what you think or try to do at this point, it's going to be mostly well educated men who live above the poverty line that are signing up for IOPS. It's a matter of perspective to think this is an awful starting point or not. If I didn't trust that everyone who signs up for IOPS has the best intentions to uphold its stated values I would be leery of all these "privileged males". But I do trust that the members of all genders have the interest of all humanity in their hearts. I must be very naive, I guess.

      The reason I tallied up the numbers in the Canadian chapter was to illustrate that even in the region with the most interest in IOPS per capita, 22% women signed up. IMO, that's a pretty good turn out and perhaps 20% is a more reasonable expectation for a fledgling organization emerging in an society where women have not historically been politically engaged. I would still be against suggesting a lowered quota. I don't think it's necessarily an incentive for trying. We should all be trying all the time anyway.

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2013

      Lori, i'm reminded of my my former martial art instructor, Rachael. a female run MA school is not the norm so she inevitably dealt with a range of reactions. as she confided in me, many male instructors gave her the "opportunity" to instruct for their (his) schools. and she also shook her head at the local feminist karate school, that didn't allow men. all she wanted was to do martial arts, and if recognized, as a martial artist, not specifically as a female martial artist, as if that's some kind of achievement in itself. it is, unfortunately part of the culture we have to deal with, the gender and racial barriers based on stereotypes rather than the individual.

      so i too, feel the quota aspect is a bit artificial, even if well intended. it's kind of like affirmative action, an attempt to remedy the inherent problems of a system. but if we are seeking a completely new and balanced system, then we should have no need, unless of course we are still dealing with the current obstacles created by the current system. but then, maybe that is just the wrong approach. a problem, i think, might be, if we find that the majority of IOPS members and local groups are predominantly male, there is something wrong. establishing quotas is not the answer, just the indication.

    • Lori Franko 18th Dec 2013

      I think you get where I am coming from, Alex. I also get where Jason is coming from. Being a female anything is not an achievement in itself and this idea is being promoted far too much. It flies in the face of true equality for all people.

      There are many different segments of this broken capitalist society that have been discouraged from political engagement. Women are only one group. The largest group is the economically disadvantaged which is composed of both genders and all races. This group, I suspect, is the most grossly underrepresented in the IOPS membership.

      Our biggest challenge is to get people who feel there is no alternative to become engaged. I think that the key to doing this is to show an example of how people, just like them, can participate in an alternative. How can I demonstrate to other women that there is a way to participate in this alternative when my chapter has been rendered "inactive" due to a quota based on our gender?

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 18th Dec 2013

    Lori, I agree with you wholeheartedly in most everything you say. I agree with your reductio ad absurdum of this issue: "At your imaginary meeting, the membership is also all white. So should IOPS have quotas for class, race, age, sexual orientation, social position as well as gender? By your logic, a membership of 100% white, middle class, middle aged, straight professionals could not represent the values of the movement, even if they were all female."

    And I agree with you, Alex. I've always found the whole quota system extremely artificial, mechanical, non-organic, more 'PC' than the way the world actually works, namely spontaneously. I'm glad your contribution has widened the debate out of the usual, predictably narrow feedback loops of good/bad, female/male etc. The old cliche about the road to hell being paved with good intentions is probably useful regarding most political correctness, affirmative action etc.

    Having said that, Jason, I also find your remark in your other blog: "I could say that about any single issue idea such as feminism that his wife loves ardently” below the belt and quite offensive. A simple apology would really be in order.

    My memory is no longer the best, but if I remember correctly (Lambert, please correct if wrong!,)the result of the very first poll on having various (numbers, gender, countries etc) quotas or not before a first founding conference was that significant majorities (myself included) preferred having NO QUOTAS in most categories and just getting on with having that first founding conference (i.e. they checked the 'non of the above' box). However, for some reason never clear to me, these results were interpreted not to mean we should forget quotas before the founding conference but, strangely, to mean we should be having a second poll with less options, which then led to majorities for the present quotas.

    Again correct me if I'm wrong folks, but another result of the female quota has been some 'creative accounting' (number of women, 'active' or 'not active' etc) on the part of some chapters in terms of being counted a 'working chapter'.

    • Lambert Meertens 19th Dec 2013

      In the first poll generally "No preference" was the most popular choice – but not popular enough to be the majority choice. One (of several) problems of that poll was that there was no clear way for members like myself who opposed setting preconditions to express that position in their voting, and correspondingly that it was not clear how the outcome of the poll and specifically the no-preference votes should be interpreted. For some discussion around the issue, see this blog on the IOPS Founding Convention Poll Results.

      For discussion on accounting for the number of working chapters, see Criteria for a working IOPS chapter.

    • Jason 19th Dec 2013

      Hi Peter, If you were referring to Victoria, Australia’s case in the last paragraph, I have a correction. There was no ‘creative accounting.’ Our Active Members project was instituted before the preconditions for the founding convention. A couple of our (active) members felt the chapter to be defined by those who were actually showing up and in contact, and so they gave gave notice of our activeness—an understandable thing to do given that it was never clarified. (The full discussion.)

      Your mistake here isn’t a big deal—you didn’t name anyone—but still, please take care with accusatory descriptions—IOPS can’t afford excess negativity, man!—yet… Oh, and, while I’ve got you: your last blog was great. That sort of perspective is so important to movement consciousness. Lookin’ forward to your next.

      The quotas: I’m all for them—though there probably should be allowances for certain regions (China’s 2010 census had it at 1.18 males : 1 female). I’m for political correctness as well. I don’t see the relevance of sexist condescension. And I prefer whatever artificiality may come with these things to the honest prejudices that would otherwise keep certain demographics from participating. Gender ratios have a tendency to become institutionalised. Targets are a simple way to prevent that. They’ll move imbalanced chapters to review what they’re doing and how they do it and through this create the space for—without guaranteeing—more organic, heartfelt relations. But it begins with playing a bit of utopian theater.

    • Syd Fredrickson 19th Dec 2013

      This response, posted by Peter Lach-Newinsky mostly speaks my mind. I'm cis female, and not only do not support the quota on this one aspect of ourselves but I'm offended by IOPS putting a binary gender system imposed on our thinking. What about gender identity? Exploring the social construction of gender?? I'd prefer to say that we who are members and who say we agree with the values and aims of this group would try to join with, recruit and support participation of a variety of people who have a stake in a more participatory, egalitarian future. As Lori said above, "A quota is too simplistic a solution and is preventing the growth of a movement whose aim is '..to constantly grow its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to aid.' It can't grow if it can't get off the ground." SF

    • Syd Fredrickson 19th Dec 2013

      Did my post go just to you Peter? I just tried to "answer" to tag on to your words which seemed most relevant to what I wanted to say, and it disappeared. I'd hoped it would be a new post for all to see.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 19th Dec 2013

      (Oops, clicked wrong place, supposed to be answering Jason C. below. Sorry folks.)

      Thanks for the kind blog comment, Jason. No offence intended for the 'creative accounting' remark, and was not pointing towards any particular chapter. Happy there are any chapters at all, quotas or no quotas. I still think quotas wrong and truth/honesty about them or anything else the best policy.

      Behind the notion of quotas is what I still think is a wrong assumption about IOPS. I still think IOPS needs to give up im- or explicit pretensions about becoming some sort of huge 'representative' Internationale, or THE revolutionary org (whatever that is). At the other extreme, I also hope it's not reduced to some non-committal clicktivist setup (Save the world with a 'Like', then move on to the next distraction...My guess is that that is in fact what most 'members' are). My guess is it's going to remain very largely confined to a very few people of all genders, ages and classes mainly in the Anglophone countries committed to a left libertarian perspective.

      My last paragraph was really just referencing discussions we had about this issue here:


    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 19th Dec 2013

      And now that should be Jason C. ABOVE. I'm lost in cyberspace, help!

  • Dave Jones 18th Dec 2013

    Patriarchy is still very potent. One may experience equality in ones consciousness despite the objective reality of a global gender imbalance of power, and yes,that experience is great, it's liberatory.But it is not real liberation until structures and institutions and ideologies are transformed. And that might take something as imperfect as affirmative action.

    I was against the quotas when they were first proposed but I understand and sympathize with the spirit of their intent. It is a difficult issue obviously, look at what the Socialist Workers Party is going through right now!

    • Lori Franko 19th Dec 2013

      I hope that all members of IOPS would agree that capitalism is the most potent and disempowering ideology. It disenfranchises, impoverishes and pollutes without regard to gender, race, age or geography. Diversity will happen, over time, as we work to chip away at its foundation. I really don't care about the gender of who is holding the hammer and chisel, as long as they are working towards the same goal.

    • Gerry Conroy 19th Dec 2013

      : "...I hope that all members of IOPS would agree that capitalism is the most potent and disempowering ideology. It disenfranchises, impoverishes and pollutes without regard to gender, race, age or geography..."

      Now, this sounds like you're putting a heavy focus on the economy (capitalism) as being the dominant influence in the whole field of social relations? If so, that's a very typical leftist position - and defended most strongly by men and it's what I thought of when I read Jason Loughead's original post. That's a fundamental difference between IOPS and the left more generally.

      From the Mission statement on key goals and priorities: "...[IOPS] centrally addresses economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one focus above the rest..."

      "Without privileging any one focus above the rest". That's a crucial difference and one that puts an awful lot of backs up on the left. It's one we will be constantly raising and defending.

      : "... I really don't care about the gender of who is holding the hammer and chisel, as long as they are working towards the same goal..."

      If it's mostly men you have holding that hammer and chisel, you'll find they simply aren't working towards the same goal you want. Kinship issues are low on the radar of most men. We have a poorly tuned antenna for that whole area of social relations, due to our conditioning in this society. We don't really 'pick up' on the problem, so we think it just can't be that important. Women know this and find it immensely frustrating to be around. Like talking to the wall. The 30% quota is aimed at making inroads on that particular problem right from the start.

      On a more general note to all - I hope people will take the time to look at the thread in the forum about posting in the forums, where this particular 'blog' should have been posted in the first place. There's an ongoing conversation there waiting for more people to post their thoughts on the matter. It's here:


    • Lori Franko 19th Dec 2013

      "From the Mission statement on key goals and priorities: "...[IOPS] centrally addresses economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one focus above the rest..."

      Capitalism is far more than an economy. It is an ideology. It has had a severely damaging effect on all of the above mentioned areas. Above all, it has severely effected the psychology of people living in it. How can we even begin to discuss any of these areas without bringing capitalism into the equation?

      "If it's mostly men you have holding that hammer and chisel, you'll find they simply aren't working towards the same goal you want. Kinship issues are low on the radar of most men. We have a poorly tuned antenna for that whole area of social relations, due to our conditioning in this society. We don't really 'pick up' on the problem, so we think it just can't be that important." This has not been my experience at all. The only people that I have butted heads with are those that presume that the majority of men or women all have the same ideas based on their gender. Yes, socialization has had an influence on many people, but most people in the left have swam against that current.

      "Women know this and find it immensely frustrating to be around. Like talking to the wall. The 30% quota is aimed at making inroads on that particular problem right from the start." So the solution is to create an unattainable quota that prevents men and women who want to participate from doing so?

    • Gerry Conroy 20th Dec 2013

      : "...Capitalism is far more than an economy. It is an ideology. It has had a severely damaging effect on all of the above mentioned areas. Above all, it has severely effected the psychology of people living in it..."

      The other non-economic areas of social relations also have tremendously powerful effects on the economic field, as well as on each other. IOPS recognises that interdependent reality and states that you can't give primacy to any of those fields in terms of how the entire matrix of social relations is generated. You can't extricate any one of them, kinship, economy, culture, polity - and say, this one here, is the dominant factor in generating our social reality. The way they act and interact is just too complex, too inscrutable for any simple, reductive statement like that.

      So, IOPS 'centrally addresses economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one focus above the rest'.

      : ..."How can we even begin to discuss any of these areas without bringing capitalism into the equation?..."

      IOPS does bring capitalism/economy into the equation. It centrally addresses it - but on an equal footing to the others, which contrasts heavily with the economistic approach of the left more generally.

      : "...but most people in the left have swam against that current..."

      Yes but not enough. There's still a heavy bias against feminism on the left, despite denial. That's the IOPS position anyway. The left is very inhospitable for feminists and others who don't centre on economy.

      : "...So the solution is to create an unattainable quota that prevents men and women who want to participate from doing so?..."

      The existence of the quota doesn't prevent people from participating. It's saying that whatever participation goes on, there should be a high priority given to encouraging more women to join.

    • Lori Franko 20th Dec 2013

      I think that you misunderstand me and I misunderstood you, Gerry. I do believe that all of the aspects are very interconnected and economics weighs heavily on all. I thought that you were trying to separate the influence of capitalism as being a purely economic force having a less potent effect than it deserves.

      I also would like some clarity on how you define feminism. From my experience, it has as many different flavours as other broad movements, including the left. There are many feminists that espouse capitalism and who fight for their right to equally oppress economically. I also noticed that you left out "IOPS is anti capitalist........ without privileging any one focus above the rest."

      My understanding of the quota is that chapters who do not meet its requirements are not considered "working chapters" and cannot be represented above their local level. Is this a misinterpretation?

    • Gerry Conroy 20th Dec 2013

      Hi Lori,

      Re feminism, I’m thinking of ‘left’ feminists who see feminism as a part of the overall movement for social justice but who, like many other activists with a non-economic focus, are constantly given to understand by left organizations, that their struggle is of lesser importance than class/economic issues, that kinship issues are largely dependent on the economic order and that they must subordinate their focus to the class struggle.

      Alienating and divisive but that’s what‘s out there on the left, deeply entrenched - and not just in relation to feminism either. It’s going to be very important for IOPS to confront that and question it.

      I didn’t understand what you meant by my leaving out anti-capitalist etc.

      Not sure about the issue of chapters not meeting the basic requirements not being represented above their local level – I can’t remember now…That could well be so. If so, that would be a restriction on participation at a higher level but not at the local level things are mostly at now.

    • Jason 21st Dec 2013

      Hi Lori, A ‘working chapter’ has been defined as one that meets conditions settled upon in the founding convention preconditions poll and can count towards another precondition for a minimum number of working chapters. And that’s all it is.

    • Lori Franko 22nd Dec 2013

      I've looked all over the site for anything that gives a definition of a working chapter. I perhaps jumped to the conclusion that "working" meant functioning and that the function of chapters is to participate locally and at other levels.

    • Lori Franko 21st Dec 2013

      One good reason for posting in the blogs rather than the forums - it gives attention to the issue by it being on the home page. If we are going to win, we have to be a little bit strategic, no?

    • Gerry Conroy 21st Dec 2013

      Ok the front page blogs - but we must have properly working forums too. People interested in IOPS will look for the forums, find them and then won't get a good impression at all by a lack of activity there. So a bit of strategy needed there too. Anyway, the arguments have been set out in the ongoing thread below. People should add their thoughts there:


      Geting back to what you were also talking about:

      What I'm getting at, is the very common leftist position which states that the field of economic relations is primary and that all other relations, whether kinship, cultural or political, necessarily stem from what happens in the economy and that to deal with problems in the latter areas, we must first give most of our attention to class issues.

      So, by that belief, the likes of feminist struggles, anti-racist campaigns, national liberationist struggles, campaigns that focus on ecology and so on, need to give way to the class struggle, because they are a danger to working class unity otherwise. They are seen as taking energy away from the class struggle, keeping us divided.

      In fact, this belief itself is what is truly divisive. It belittles struggles in non-economic areas and alienates those involved in them. Very convenient for ignoring feminists and others too...

      Again, you can see this position clearly in Jason Loughead's reply here.

      As one fella said to me when I put the IOPS position to him, "That's ok for the middle classes, what about the workers".

      Well, there's no evidence of any kind that the economy is the primary field of relations on which all the others are dependent and that giving the class struggle primacy is the key to solving the rest. It's something you can choose to believe, or not.

      The IOPS approach then, is to give equal footing to the struggles in all the main areas of social relations and that, only by taking them all together will we transform society the way we want.

    • Lori Franko 21st Dec 2013

      I don't think that economics in its strict definition should be the primary focus. I do, however, believe that economic systems are pervasive and affect us to make decisions about all of the other aspects mentioned. Capitalism has created a society where competitiveness, selfishness, wasteful consumerism, and a long list of other antisocial behaviour is rewarded. As long as people are being rewarded for bad behaviour, they will continue to behave badly in their social relations.

      I was not intending to invite a debate of comparison of all of the various "isms" of the left, but simply wanted to state that a discussion of any aspect of a society is very closely tied to its economy.

    • Rod 22nd Dec 2013


      On the issue of forums vs blogs: in my view forums are more amenable to ongoing discussions. Once a blog is driven from the homepage, the discussions in the comments section quickly stop and there's no way to get them going again (except to move them to the forums).

      In the forums you can keep them going longer and take more time to respond. I might want to take a while before responding to a point someone else has made, giving myself some time to think it over or to read up on a specific subject matter.

      Also, new people can browse through the threads, find topics they like and pick up the discussion where it left off, weeks, months or even years later.

      The forums could have better visibility though. This is partly a technical matter that could be solved if enough people push for it. You can find a discussion on this here.

    • 21st Dec 2013

      I am not denying patriarchy, but what perceived form it takes in the minds of the mainstream. I think capitalism loves the 99% to fight amongst themselves. Being an old man I have seen capitalism pit oppressed people against other oppressed people. In a way capitalists don't care who fights who so long as their attention doesn't suddenly stray towards them.

      I fully understand the ideology of where this idea comes from, but I know that women make mistakes all the time too just like men do. This blame game keep capitalists laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Syd Fredrickson 19th Dec 2013

    I see that it was added on. What I mean to bring up is who says we agree with a Male/Female categorization and no other options? What about people who are transgender and/or queer (more broad than sexual preference - and pertinent no matter how you define)? what about defying categorization? The more I think on it, the more maddening it is feeling like there's a mandate that we members of IOPS can't meet or be considered an active group, or a valid group unless we have some quotas met. Let's talk about access to wealth, educational backgrounds. What's this "coordinator class" term - I like it, find it provocative but it's new to me. Somewhere between working class and owning class? Some people may think I'd be appropriately categorized as "coordinator class" but I'm 1st generation college educated, 2 generations from full time farmer immigrants, have white privilege and have lived communally (completely shared income) or co-operatively most of my adult life so have been marginal related to income, systems of taxation, and a part of the activist-identified "classless" (a.k.a. Karl Mannheim) observer of society. It would be great to try and TALK about all of the constructs and identities we bring to the table when forming an IOPS chapter, our histories and self-chosen or adopted identities on many fronts are invisible... so I do not wish to judge ourselves and each other before we can even have an affirming conversation about these things, with openness to cultivate diversity, however we can make inroads to connect and inspire.

    • Gerry Conroy 19th Dec 2013

      :"...What I mean to bring up is who says we agree with a Male/Female categorization and no other options?..."

      Nobody says that.

      There's this particular IOPS statement on gender and kin, for example, "IOPS seeks new gender and kin relations that:

      affirm diverse expressions of sexual pleasure, personal identity, and mutual intimacy while ensuring that each person honors the autonomy, humanity, and rights of others..."

      The quota is only intended to start dealing with the most fundamental element of diversity in relation to kinship issues. That clearly doesn't intend to ignore or exclude other elements of diversity - or else we could have people saying they find it maddening that we seem to be ignoring cultural/ethnic/racial/community differences also. A practical start has to be made somewhere.

  • Lambert Meertens 19th Dec 2013

    When I go to trad left meetings (in the Netherlands), including of Trotskyite groups, I see a predominantly – in fact, almost exclusively – male attendance. When I go to meetings of anarchist groups, I see an about 50–50 mix of genders. I have not examined this phenomenon. It is only an observation, and I can only guess why this should be so.

    • Alex of... 20th Dec 2013

      guess away. is IOPS then somewhere between for now?

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Dec 2013

      I could say that your guess is as good as mine, but a very obvious difference between these meetings is that the anarchist meetings tend to be an open discussion that welcomes all contributions and accepts diversity, whereas in trad left meetings there is a speaker who comes to tell you how you should see things, being an authority (or at least aspiring to be one) in the interpretation of the sacred Word of an unassailable authority, such as Marx and Trotsky. I'm exaggerating to accentuate the difference, but the tendency is unmistakable. My guess is that the more open atmosphere makes the less authoritarian approach relatively more attractive to the female potential contingent.

      Where IOPS is now depends on what is happening in the active local chapters, on which I have little sight. The few reports I see, though, are really encouraging in this respect. If we take our own mission and vision seriously and keep practicing what we preach, I'm not anxious about the current underrepresentation of this or that group.

    • Lori Franko 21st Dec 2013

      Thank you, Lambert for your wisdom! I also believe that "if you build it, they will come".

    • Mark Evans 24th Dec 2013

      Just incase it is not as obvious as I thought the danger of formally launching IOPS without us first addressing the issue of representation - at least to some extent - is that it sets a bad precedent that is not easy to undo.

      Put simply the idea is that an IOPS dominated by rich white men would be unattractive to woman, blacks, working class, etc.

      Part of the rationale for the interim phase is to allow for this work to be undertaken so that we can launch with some credibility. Obviously if you think we can launch and address these issues latter then this approach will not make sense to you - but it is what we are trying and it is hoped that members will at least give it a go and get behind it to see if it can work before deciding that it is the wrong approach.

    • Lori Franko 13th Jan 2014

      I will continue to try to recruit women to join, not because they are women, but because I may think that these individuals would be on board with the mission statement and vision of IOPS. I also take the same approach when introducing IOPS to men I know.

      No one has ever asked me "Are the members mostly men?" It has never been cited as a reason they would hesitate from joining. It certainly didn't stop me from signing up. I think the other female members would agree that it didn't put them off. What happens over and over again, however, is an expressed skepticism about joining something that isn't already "established" or something that they may not have heard of before. Maybe more youtube videos are in order.

    • Mark Evans 14th Jan 2014

      I do not understand how a person who wants to help organise for a participatory society (i.e. a society free from racism, sexism, classism, etc) can not be concerned about the domination of organisations (especially their own) by rich white men.

      One of the things that I find very off putting about the Left is that their meetings are typically dominated by the coordinator class. The Left are incredibly classists in this way which, not surprisingly, alienates the working class.

      I think we should be concerned about this and I think we should try to make a conscious effort to address it. But I also think the same about challenging a sexist and racist dynamic. As I have already said, the idea is to address these issues in the interim phase so that we avoid setting up an anti-participatory dynamic within our organisation.

      Whilst I do not think that women should be put off joining IOPS due to the domination of men I do think they should be concerned about it and try to address it. Not wanting to join because they have not heard of us or because we are not up and running is a different issue.

    • Lori Franko 19th Jan 2014

      I would like to address three points that you have made here, Mark.

      1. "I do not understand how a person .... can not be concerned about the domination of organisations (especially their own) by rich white men." It all depends on who these "rich white men" are. If we are in agreement with the ideas and principles of these rich white men, then we are not being dominated by them, are we? After all, Michael Albert, Noam Chomsky, Antti Jauhiainen, yourself and many others are white men and although I don't know, most likely wealthier than I am as well. I am pleased be a member of an organization with such rich white men. If you mean capitalist, racist and sexist people (of either sex, they are just as nasty), I don't think many of them are joining IOPS in a hurry.

      2. "One of the things that I find very off putting about the Left is that their meetings are typically dominated by the coordinator class." I have also observed this. The Left is composed of diverse political philosophies, some of which are very hierarchical. (The left of centre social democrat types are amongst the worst). I joined IOPS because of the principles of non-hierarchy that are stated in the Structure and Policy section of this site, which brings me to the third point.

      3. I have just re-read the Structure and Policy section and I think it addresses the issues of preventing "sexist and racist dynamics" and non-participation very well. Where do you see the problems that you fear arising from?

      I want to be very clear that I agree that having a more balanced representation of society within IOPS is a desirable goal, however the policy of dividing chapters into "working" and "non-working" based on the sexual demographic of their membership still flummoxes me and I fail to see how it can bring about the desired result. I understand the reasons for it, but how, exactly, is this supposed to work?

      I agree with Alex Lewis in that these imbalances can be resolved "organically". We can do this by supporting non-hierarchical policies that defend the rights of minority members to participate and be heard equally. This can be done by adopting consensus based decision making practises which are a very effective way of preventing any group from dominating an organization.

    • Mark Evans 21st Jan 2014

      Hi Lori - just a couple of quick points then Ill probably have to leave it...

      1) I have never understood what leftists mean by "organic" organsing.

      2) I would not want to be part of an organisation full of Noam Chomsky's, Michael Albert's - and certainly not Mark Evans's!

      Anyway, I am also pleased to be a members of an organisation with members like you.

  • Alex of... 20th Dec 2013

    one: the original question was how do we get rid of quotas for women? as there was a poll before, there could also be a new poll, and anyone can create one, generate interest. i didn't, as some others, really agree with the options, so i went minimal for most or abstained in some cases. but i'm not (personally) that interested in polling more on such things. i get the idea that there should be some kind of standard for definition of an org for convention, but i'm more for "organic" relationships to combat the current imbalances we face in what is inherently unjust unless those injustices are by law.

    two: in respect to diversity "local chapters can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs as they choose so long as their choices do not interfere with the shared goals and principles of the organization or with other groups addressing their own situations." so what is a chapter?

  • 20th Dec 2013

    It's very much interim, for sure, these discussions help define how to progress in the future. That's why these debates are so critical.

  • Shuyu 23rd Dec 2013

    Sometimes people will take a part for the whole ,like people are easy to form an ingrained impression and judgement unconsciously to an situation.And the analysis sometimes is only based on the limited contact with related people,limited observation , the so-called common sense or just some hearsay.Someone I know who are easy to draw a conclusion like : Women in the modern society, who have recieved much more social attention , protection and power than before,should become more proud and opinionated and begin to use their privilege to show how distinguished they are.And some women I know who are not that interested in IOPS and significant discussion like this,just simply believe they live in such a peaceful world where they have never recieved things like a real discrimination or sexual assault ,and with the effect of projection ,they assume subconciously all the women around the world lead a life without problems.Apparently,both of these conclusions are not responsible.Something more sarcastic is,some people just refused to see more unfair and dark reality around them only for avoiding undertaking the responsibility that the natural conscience requires them.And sometimes once we have realized the problem and decided to to do something for it, just try to do then,of course in a practicable organization and an achievable plan.Words are much easier than action and nothing is easy in the world .There is no goal of IOPS can be effortless to accomplish and nothing can be perfectly planned with the perfectly previous consideration of all the possibilities.Practice will prove all the assumption that people are discussing here.As for the realistic quota of women and" if the organization is really widely representive in terms of race ,gender,region ",I personally feel one should first ask oneself" what am I doing here?I 'm just want to get attention of people or really want to improve something even if with limited capacity?"To be a real participant is most practical .And people who really want to contribute whole-heartly his or her intellegence or effort to a common cause,no matter men or women,no matter of what race,they are completely equal and welcomed.Maybe just for now white people are the majority here ,but most of them really are constantly doing the positive efforts here;Maybe just for now, women don't have a large proportion here, but i believe more women do will get involved if all of us are sincere enough ,for IOPS and for ourselves.Love to see all the discussion above, quite inspiring,thank you guys ^-^

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 23rd Dec 2013

    Yes, thank you, Shuyu Guo, well said.

  • 31st Dec 2013

    She said social democrat claptrap.

    • Lambert Meertens 31st Dec 2013

      If you disagree, then be specific as to what it is you disagree with and present your point in a respectful way. Hurling invectives is not a constructive contribution. Let us please keep IOPS a place where people can safely say what they think without having to fear vituperative put-downs.

    • Johannes 31st Dec 2013

      I agree with Lamberts and Peters comments and would like to add that it is not easy for me as well to try to make sense of the statements you keep flooding our website with. Much to the contrary I found Shuyus comments thoughtful, considerate and very clear.

      I am very happy that IOPS leaves much room for everyones thoughts and opinions, especially for those which are unusual or even in direct opposition to what this organization is all about. Having said that I personally would appreciate if we could focus on real issues instead, many of which we have already agreed upon in our central documents.