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As anyone can see, IOPS is not working now. Is IOPS truly dead, or merely in a coma? Should we pull the plug or mount an effort at resuscitation?
I'd hate to see IOPS go. I met some terrific people through IOPS, and learned about ideas that I believe are important. If IOPS cannot work, we should let it go. But is this a case of a definitively failed project? Is there no way we, the members, working together, can change things for the better and make IOPS work?
In any case, we should not just let IOPS slip away. We should either disband IOPS, or decide to make some changes. I've started a project with the aim of letting the membership decide on the future of IOPS, here: Deciding the Future of IOPS. Any interested member is welcome to join this project, but if you decide to join, I hope you will actively participate and help to keep the discussions going.
James asks "What discussion?" and I answer: this one, right here. We just need to get the other ten people in this project to chime in a bit. So, what has everybody been up to? Is capitalism in crisis, and if so, what is the nature of it? Accumulation crisis, legitimation crisis, resource and pollution crisis? A change in the structure of experience, a crisis of meaning and imagination, we could go on for quite awhile.
The other thing is, if maintaining this site sucks up too much energy,( we are all busy trying to stay sane) I have several blogs we could hang out in, or we could invade Peter's blog, it's much nicer than mine actually, plenty of beer in the fridge, and he doesn't yell and rant till all hours of the night, like I have a tendency to. Or... we could take over some random blog, someone we DON'T like and just troll the shit out of them.
In my opinion, we are looking at a crisis of jouissance; no one can find their joy anymore. Lame fantasies, cynical laughing, ironic dancing, cognitive maps that show trails into the jungle but when you get there, you find they are grown over, vague and forking off in every direction.
"with jouissance we meet the only ontic to which we may confess." — Lacan.
Ah, Lacan. Now we can have a Real conversation. As someone pointed out recently, Lacanian theory should he judged by its ineffective therapeutic work as evidenced by the high suicide rates of recipients. No jouissance in that! I'd like to see Kevin Tucker and Lacan, and maybe Delude and GutTheory, go head to head about meaning. Rewilding vs jouissance vs shit.
Capitalism doesn't allow for joy, just work. Money. It's civilisation rather than capitalism for Tucker that brings out his death metal rage. Fuck what it is for Lacan. Possibly the anal and shit for Delude and GutTheory.
"Conversely, marred by commodification, artistic practice today is a deformation of the sensuous unfolding of the self that indicates real human community. The reification of human activity into the separate realms of work and play, of aesthetics and politics must be overcome. The aesthetic must be rescued from the ghetto of art and set at the centre of life. That is a politics of art, politics in art and through art." Militant Esthetix
Each time there is a significant correlation, one should be careful not to assume the trajectory of causation that most immediately presents itself, but carefully consider all other connections for all combinations of directions of the arrows of causality. In this specific case, for example, consider that a sufferer would have to have been pretty desperate – may I say suicidally desperate? – before presenting themselves to Lacan for psychoanalytic dissection. Not so severely afflicted patients will most likely survive any not physically violent treatment.
There can be joy and deep satisfaction in work if you have a sense of belonging to a community and contributing to it. What takes the joy out of work is Marxian alienation. I don’t know if it makes sense, though, to keep labeling the dominant neoliberal symbiosis of State and Corporationville with the name “capitalism”. This system is all about exclusion, us and them, with bread and games for us. It may seem firmly lodged and impossible to get rid off, but I believe that history is a chaotic process. If we don’t know what’s ahead, it is because we can’t know.
By the way, I always thought pain is pretty ontic as well.
I know nothing of Lacan (I'm more au fait with Lycan) but the person who said it works in the field.
I agree about estranged labour. Capitalism is easier to say than "neoliberal symbiosis of State and Corporationville."
My point is that we who Desire these big projects for justice need to incorporate an appreciation for the workings of the unconscious in our theory making. The straight up rational class-based analysis just leads into that jungle I was talking about. So yeah, money and work and modernity and estrangement, but also fantasy and the symbolic and that "lack". Hole-istic!
I keep thinking of Michael Albert, hitching himself to Parecon and this Chomskian analysis, and trying all these big projects: Zschool and The International and the always-struggling ZNet, still trying to build a popular Front based on this modified class theory (adding Coordinators to the mix). Well I put a bunch of energy into IOPS and the IWW before that and I can't find those Brave Workers here. And I don't think Occupy said shit about "inequality", contrary to the new dominant narrative. So I want to reflect a bit more (with my affinity folks) and figure out where to put my dwindling energy. I still think climate is key and Participatory Society a good, alternative, post-capitalist vision.
The problem with this inequality narrative is that it focuses narrowly on inequality in the distribution of wealth. I believe the real issue is the inequality in the distribution of power. The wealth disparity is a consequence of that, but even if it was possible to give everyone a fair share of the total wealth without breaking down the power structure, the worst problems humanity faces — of which climate change is one, but by no means the only one – would not be solved. Obviously, a President Sanders is not going to introduce socialism. He would first have to introduce democracy.
How can we change that new dominant narrative into one that is more to the point?
I think Dave has a point. But how is appreciation of the unconscious incorporated? Certainly not by all gathering around and listening to Tom Morello?
I don't think power can exist in isolation from a skewed manipulation of the social pie. I don't think it possible to redistribute wealth or access to the social pie, evenly or equally or as equally as possible, without destroying the current arrangements power base. Those with can walk away those without can't.
"The intelligence of the real begs for attention, break-outs of quotidian vulgarity spotting the fine-spun tissue of rarefied abstraction.
'The faculty of thought...is not accomplished by the intellect itself, but by its connection with the world of truth, its inter-relation with universal existence.'
The materialist analysis of thought should lead to examination of human needs and history of their satisfaction and frustration." (Art,Class and Cleavage -Ben Watson)
"As Hume put the matter, we must keep to the "Newtonian philosophy," with a "modest skepticism to a certain degree, and a fair confession of ignorance in subjects, that exceed all human capacity" - which for Hume includes virtually everything beyond appearances. We must refrain from disquisitions concerning there real nature and operations." (Chomsky, ch2, What Kind of Creatures Are We)
"Material Esthetix is a name for raising these embarrassing issues:to freeze the suave flow of discourse and lift it at right-angles from the page. Intimate exposition of cultural debris, its themes and objects, provides its anchor: a salutory (if cheap and somewhat rancid) buttering up, gratifying its proclivity for obsessional detail and giving the up-puff of grandeur the slip."(Art,Class and Cleavage)
"Comparable concerns are considered to pose serious dilemmas for the study of the first brain and its capacities, human language specifically. This seems to be one instance of a curious tendency to treat mental aspects of the human organism differently from so-called physical aspects, a kind of methodological dualism, which is more pernicious than Cartesian metaphysical dualism." (Chomsky, What Kind of Creatures Are We)
I tend not to find the two approaches incompatible. Like the linguistics of Voloshinov and Chomsky investigating two sides of the same coin. The internal and external. The artist does the same thing but not if the work is captured by the spectacle and bound up in suave bourgeois bundles. The directness of the free improvisation, the coalface of artistic production, or the subjective underpinnings of Zappa's, Baby Take Your Teeth Out, written quickly during a sound check, are far more interesting and fun and as important as any up-puff grandeur.
That Chomsky rejects the subjective in his critique, "art", in order not to confuse or add some kind of unquantifiable data to his narrative, creates the sorts of splits that Ben Watson, in Art, Class and Cleavage, for instance, as epitomised by the phrases Militant Esthetix or Materialist Esthetix, rallies against. Esemplasm, a term derived from Coleridge, meaning "shaping into oneness", is not a form of transcendence. It is the opposite. A materialist dialectic. Delving into the "real" to find all kinds of shit that uncovers further shit. It is open to all the little nasties that rub up abrasively against the bourgeois ideological bundle. Particularly the separation of things into separate fields where they rarely meet and if they do, it is because some anonymous academic has some theory to expound, of course, in a correct and well mannered way. A "suave flow" that avoids the mess.
This is what Zappa did not do, or Bailey or Chadbourne. Perhaps metal, death metal does a similar job. Poetry. The mess is the nitty gritty that just cannot be avoided. The paranoia of Kafka's rodent who has ventured outside its burrow and yet never feels safe even if inside. Perhaps this is why I find IOPS depressing. Everything has to be neat and tidy with clearly defined edges and boundaries and when the "oneness" of everything, the connectivity of all, is acknowledged, the message devolves into some kind of banal and uninteresting moral transcendence and it drives me crazy.
Maybe the above seems naively silly to some, but to me, Chomskian rationality and methodology is not incompatible with a scrap in the street. Reasonable scientific investigations running parallel to the pursuance dirty desires. This is not a matter of one or the other but a matter of working within the bounds of our capacities without getting carried away with the extremes of scientism or transcendence.
The very basic notion of economic equality and opportunity without disadvantage being enlarged due to savage competition, is a first clear step towards real democracy. Without it democracy is like the end of a rainbow, beyond grasp.
Dreams may be impossible to truly and faithfully externalise, but the experience of them should not be subject to fear and anxiety. To the impossibility of their realisation due to arbitrary social arrangements that allow only a few to see them through.
Climate change may be the rallying point, but to what end?
As one armchair philosopher to another, can you explain the basis for your statement that Chomsky rejects the subjective in his critique? It seems to me that his political critique has a highly subjective element in consistently presenting freedom as something worth striving for. While I agree – I too see freedom as highly desirable – I can't think of an objective reason why it should be better than authoritarian dictatorship. That actually holds equally for the survival of the human species.
Oh I ain't no philostopher of any sort Lambert. I'm just makin' shit up. I'm not even sure I understand myself. I'm not sure I even agree with myself. It's just me fucking around really trying to make sense of things. I think I was trying to address Dave talking about this difference between Chomskian rationality and people like Lacan. Also because of some of the shit I'm reading at the moment.
I don't think I'm talking about freedom as the subjective but more like the sort of psycho shit that flows out of my head here for instance on a regular basis that subsequently creates the strong desire I have for the deletion of all my posts.
I think I really am not caring much anymore so I'm just fucking around. I don't hold any hope for any movement or organisation at all. Me thinks it a pipe dream.
The fact is I don't find Chomskian analysis a problem at all but I do find it lacking something. Or it reeks of a sense far too sensible. A matter of factness. Similar to the kind of "left nirvana" that the Fanfare series smells of if only people would behave reasonably amd rationally while trying to build movements. People just aren't and never will be that reasonable all the time and sensible. Shit, look what I write here Lambert! It's tripe but I continue to write. Groups, orgs, or movements just won't hold together like the way presented in the Fanfare series, I feel. Like this place. In fact, anywhere really and in any way.
All I desire is a smilie on my face when I wake tomorrow but know it is unlikely, will be forced, or if there is one, short lived. I'll wake up with the usual, "fuck, another work day. Great!"
Freedom? Yeah, great, whatever it is. Freedom won't come if there isn't equal opportunity or access to the social pie. For me it's simple. All I got is Parecon. Nothing else. Nothing else gets me interested. I think markets and capitalism are fucked. I don't need to keep hearing or reading about that. I think solidarity economics is rooted in some kind of notion of moral goodness or transcendence, smiley faced communities or some such shit, without the institutions and ideas being properly thought through. Not much different in that sense to anarcho-primies like Kevin Tucker. Tiny houses and simple living is not the answer. Nor is social democracy of the Nordic variety. That "non-vision" presented by the Next System Project just made me angry. It's merely stalling. Bullshit. We need a new economic system, period but I feel there will never be consensus on vision, ever, nor strategy. Never. Chomsky says the Next System Project is doing good things. It all helps. Yeah, it does, but I am somehow a little suspicious of it. I'm not so sure about presenting a heap of visions that all seem so institutionally different without serious critique and attempts at finding the positives, negatives, similarities and differences with a view to build a coherent sensible model. It doesn't help, it's actually just confusing and I am uncertain that is the sort of area one wants diversity. Seriously. Diverse economies? What the fuck does that even mean? Many economies? Yeah, and love will keep us together!!!
Dave mentioned all these grand schemes of Albert's. The thing is, ZSocial was a fucking good idea and he gave it a shot. But like this fucking website and it's members, not many really used it or wanted to pay $3 a month. A left facebook isn't possible, not because Albert's idea was a bad one, but because the left, whatever the fuck it is (and even radicals argue about the term the Left, or is it left with a small L, and what it means) just can't hang out with itself. It prefers bickering with itself or organising local action. Just talking, chatting, discussing things, is a waste of time. So many lefties still use Facebook because they can remain separate grom one another. It's a place to go where one can feel part of something while not being a part of anything. ZSocial was too confronting for the left and its crappy social skills. ZNet is always struggling because of how the economy works and people don't want to put in a little for its services or can't. It's not hard to understand.
The truth is Chomsky is reluctant to enter the visionary kitchen. His analysis is usually about existing ills. Pointing them out again and agin. He'll talk about possible future alternatives if pressed or asked but doesn't seem that excited by the subject and leaves his discussion short.
Yeah, just fucking around Lambert because I feel that there is really nothing to revive here. IOPS is a figment of our imagination like the idea of a mass movement. Just using the words dream or hope means nothing.
"I'm just makin' shit up. I'm not even sure I understand myself. I'm not sure I even agree with myself. It's just me fucking around really trying to make sense of things."
All hallmarks of the great philosophers.
Everything we think we know about the world is a figment of our imagination. The authority of nation states to tell us what we may or may not do, see, read, believe, what you call "arbitrary social arrangements", it's all in our heads. Not really different from the Emperors's new clothes. It becomes "reality" by being a widely shared illusion.
One of the problems with ZSocial (and also this website) is that Michael Albert does not believe in commons and open source. The code was proprietary, owned by the programmers. I think we could have made good use of that code.
Lambert, I feel IOPS groups took off but not the networking stuff. I think the London group is doing brilliant things. We're planning a series of events and are active in helping build various radical projects in London.
Are there other active groups? If so, I think the first thing to do is for the groups to talk to each other and see if there is stuff we can work together on? If not, then disband?
As far as I'm aware, the Salem (Oregon) chapter is the only other remaining operational chapter. I think Austria, Dublin and Melbourne, which used to be active, have become quiescent. In any case, I don't see signs of life.
You need a certain critical mass before a local collection of members can establish a more permanent existence. Almost everywhere we never reached the necessary concentration to draw some public attention. I suspect that almost all potential members were (and are) not aware of the existence of IOPS.
The operational chapters used to have a chat on a regular basis until January 2015, but there was not enough interest in continuing them. Since most of these chapters already led a precarious existence locally, I don't think it was a good idea to saddle them with the responsibility for issues at the international level.
Disbanding IOPS and donating the little remaining money to a worthy cause may be the best, but my feeling is that such a decision should be taken by the membership as a whole. But before we do that, why not have a last try to see if enough sparks are left to rekindle the fire?
There were a few IOPS groups David. ''Bout five or so, really. Small. I think they even got together to talk a while back off site. Nothing much happened. Melbourne's dead. No interest. No-one uses the site ''cept for minutes from remaining stragglers, which are usually pretty thin on information, which may or may not be posted on the home page, so "sign ons" probably don't know of existing groups and any activity. But that seems to be the way. The homepage is just clutter. The code is proprietary. And it seems left websites for discussion or chatting are a dead end. If they post a lot of information and have a library, (LibCom) then they seem to get a bit of traffic. It's about organising on the ground and doing stuff. So get on. No need for a website. Email or some open source communication tool is all that's needed. The wider world doesn't need to know about shit as long as people feel good about themselves. Sarcasm? Probably. There's always facebook.
'each something is
a celebration of the nothing
that supports it'
here we are together then
in chaos chipping away
at blocks of meaning
waves of space
walking their silence
picking up shelled
whorls of sound
a polished pebble
a bit of net
from that space
the salt breeze points to
like a poem
its firm nothing
as it fades
back into the sea
it never was, ever
I started reading your wordpress blog. Made me smile and think. Pleasant experience. Thanks.
Thanks Irie, much appreciated. Peter
I think it would be better to start something else and close IOPS. I don't think it's possible for this place to get away from the "What went wrong?" discussion that has to come before any planning, and I think it's kind of toxic.
Keep it simple. Start a subreddit or slack channel. Regroup and make a plan. Use the IOPS mailing list to invite people and put the remaining money into spreading awareness of a new project.
It's a possible approach, but if we do this, it should be by a collective choice of the membership (inasmuch as they are still interested). At least, I feel it would not be proper for a break-away group to use the IOPS mailing list for its own purposes, however noble.
Choosing a new name (as many have advocated before) and migrating to a new site might be parts of a start-over plan. While these would be cosmetic changes, they may help (impressions matter), but some more substantive changes may be in order. I think we should soon start brainstorming on Reimagining IOPS.
Forget corpses. Nuit debout. The next radical movement, en France. Great self-organizing website:
"..,Every day there are thousands to occupy public space to take our place in the Republic. Come join us and decide together on our common future."
And right there at that interface, the problems begin....again.
I've now set up a new project, Reimagining IOPS – The Project, to prepare one or more proposals for changes to IOPS that can be voted on by the membership against the alternative, default proposal to disband.
This project is open to all members who want to help out with this.