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A future worth striving for

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We can use this website for making plans to do something together. What can we do? There are many things we can choose from – but we can do only so much. We had better choose wisely.  

Most activism today consists of resistance against capitalism and racism. All over the world groups are active, many of them much stronger than IOPS. We should not duplicate their efforts. The question is, what can we add?  

Explaining how terribly wrong many things are is probably not the best way to spend our energy. After all, if people don’t realize the world is on the wrong track, it can only be because they prefer not to see it. And that may be because they see no alternative.  

IOPS combines an internationalist outlook with a broad vision of the direction we want society to take. We believe another world is possible, and we have a pretty good idea of how that world looks. IOPS offers a perspective on a future that is worth striving for. I think we will make the best use of our efforts if we concentrate on presenting our vision of another world as a realistic alternative.

Discussion 7 Comments

  • Rod 20th Oct 2016

    Thanks for the blog. I too see potential in vision as a way of overcoming hopelessness. If you mean by "presenting our vision of another world as a realistic alternative" that we should further develop vision(s) and try to create or find evidence and logic that support the case that it could realistically work then I'm all for it. If you mean to say we already have a complete enough shared vision and we just have to present it to the world, I would be much more on the fence about it. Vision is difficult because you're trying to create something new. There's an inherent problem of lack of feedback from the real world. We have lots of feedback in the sense of things going wrong and often vision is just a reaction to that feedback, trying to go the other way. There's a danger that it becomes a reactionary thing and we fail to see the misconceptions in our own vision.

    What I'm trying to say is that lots of time and effort will be needed in critically looking at our own vision and finding other visions that may have a (slightly) different take, shedding perspective on our own. In other words we should try to get an overview on the full landscape of possibilities and from that basis make our choices. All of this may be way to ambitious though, so compromises will be needed.

    Just some thoughts from an undecided mind, not sure if it makes any sense.

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Oct 2016

      Thanks for the reply. As I see it, the essence of our vision is a society in which power is shared fairly. I believe that all the other nice things will follow from that. For example, gender or race discrimination is only possible if there is some dominant group doing the discriminating. But in our vision no group can be dominant. And theoretically, with shared decision-making power, humanity could collectively decide to destroy the biosphere and thereby commit suigenocide. But I am convinced that the assault on the ecology we are witnessing stems from a system in which a few powerful interests, in their selfish pursuit of profit, are allowed to shift the externalities on everyone. And so on.

      However, merely stating that a fair society is realistically possible will not do much to convince sceptics. If we present our vision of another world as a realistic alternative, but no one believes it is realistic, we will have failed. To make it believable, we need to present more of a case, and much groundwork has already been done by others – for example Rutger Bregman with his book Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-hour Workweek. However, in presenting our case, we should firmly keep in mind that what people find believable is hardly a matter of facts and logic. If it does not resonate with deeply felt convictions, it will not work. That depends very much on how you say it. Getting that right is the hardest part.

      There is a mantra on the Left stating that we must not present blueprints. It also found its way into our Mission statement: “IOPS ... does not advocate or seek to implement detailed blueprints that transcend movement needs and knowledge.” If that means that we should not present one specific detailed vision as the only “correct” vision to aim for, I agree. But if it means we should avoid considering detail (which is how this mantra often appears to be interpreted) I think it is wrong and unhelpful to rallying support. As I wrote some time ago, in the blog post We want blueprints!, “We need detailed blueprints that we and others can discuss, compare, analyze, take apart and combine, the more alternatives the better.”

      The main point I’ve been trying to make here is that, as far as our outward-directed activities are concerned, focusing on the positive side is probably a better way of orienting our efforts than adding to the chorus of doomsayers – however well-founded their ominous alarms are.

    • Rod 21st Oct 2016

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I don't share your optimism regarding our influence on the ecosphere once power is shared fairly. I think most people in the left underestimate what it will take (at least in the short term) to stop the destruction. But I'll leave that for another time.

      I agree with you on blueprints and detail. I'm all for it. To have detailed vision(s) means you need accurate and complete information about how the world works. Plus a good insight into basic principles. We can indeed learn a lot from the work already done by others.

      Regarding your last point, we might attract more people if we have a positive outward message, but it might also do damage because they might get unrealistic expectations. I'm not sure on this, but I lean towards the neutral. In other words, show a bit of both.

  • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

    I've read the book cited, and agree with much of it. It still seems strange to me when people talk of vision and the need for it and rarely offer up just that. More often they offer up vague ideas or ideas/visions that contain a small degree of detail pertaining to smallish things coupled with utopian dreaming of things like the commons, or new ways emerging and self organising etc. Rarely are clear institutional structures offered up and if they are, they are often punch against quite hard for strange reasons, and often criticised as blueprints or even monological blueprints, these words and phrases being pejorative.

    Apparently IOPS has a vision but it isn't anywhere near a detailed one nor a presentable model that may turn heads. I say, as far as the economy goes, Parecon is the only one going around pertaining to the economy, but as soon as you mention it, it being exactly a detailed vision that we can discuss and debate, questions come and doubts arise, and then the conversation dies and nothing better comes along. At least nothing anywhere near as detailed and coherent. And I believe it is coherent and workable and I believe p2p falls well short of the mark, and that much of what pertains to be solidarity economics does the same, and I am dubious in part of the direction the NSP going and the way it is going about it, and that Inclusive Democracy is not as well thought out, particularly its economic system, that voluntary simplicity falls short and is too simple, that I am concerned about notions of a steady state economy and markets, and that Parecon actually is a steady state economy, a solidarity economy, can easily support ideas like p2p etc.

  • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

    This is the stuff that I can't abide. I get sick of it.

    "Michael formulates various concerns and objections, many of which are not new to me. I can’t address all of them fully, for lack of space and because many seem to ask for a blueprint of a future, non-capitalist society, which is not something I can or want to give. The meta-rule of all peer/commons-based institutions is that “you have to find your own rules.” Any successful peer project has a history of trial and error. Finding solutions that work for you is an essential part of the game."

    Trial and error essentially is how we got here. The difference between Parecon and p2p is the institutional structure. Parecon offers it, p2p doesn't. Then Siefkes tries to address this short fall in From Exchange to Contributions. Something even Bauwens backs away from but mainly because it's moving away from this/his sense of or preference for, "emergence" and that Siefkes is "trending" towards a, wait for it, blueprint (now play a C for one and a half beats, then a D, and Eflat on the third and forth beats, rest for a bar, repeat and then end on an Fsharp on the first beat of bar four -walkingish tempo.)

    Michael's just asking for meat on them bones and there isn't much. And Parecon is not a blueprint in any pejorative sense. But if people want a blueprint in the positive sense, a good sense, Parecon is it so far.

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

      It's must be nice to have a "meta-rule"!

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

      The rhythm's all wrong. Hard to do it verbally. C for one and a half beats (or one and three sixteenths). D for the up beat of beat two (or it could be the last sixteenth note if you prefer). Eflat on beat three. C on beat four. Rest for one bar. Repeat first bar and then end on Fsharp on first beat of bar four. Shit.

      See, all this makes IOPS fun, at least for me!