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We want blueprints!

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Our Mission document states that we do not advocate or seek to implement detailed blueprints that transcend movement needs and knowledge. I'm not sure how we will determine whether something transcends movement needs and knowledge, but I agree that we as a movement should in general be wary to endorse specific detailed blueprints.

However, the most common objection, not to our vision, but to our aspiration of making that vision come true, is that it is not realistic. We need to be able to show that we have thought this through.

Therefore, I think we should encourage people and projects to draw up detailed blueprints for things that are relevant to our vision and for the transformational transition we seek to achieve, also if they transcend any immediate movement needs. And if the knowledge is lacking, we should develop the necessary knowledge. We need detailed blueprints that we and others can discuss, compare, analyze, take apart and combine, the more alternatives the better. That does not mean we need to select one version to the exclusion of others. In the end, the choice is not up to IOPS anyway, but to the people who succeed in implementing the transformation, and the choice is rightfully theirs.

Discussion 19 Comments

  • Will Henry Lapinel 31st Jul 2012

    Yes - I have often felt the need for a roadmap; is that the same thing?

    "How do we get there from here" is the most glaring question in my mind, when I think of utopian visions. Obviously we have to take the little steps, like protecting what remains of our valuable public institutions, but like in a game of chess, I can only see so many moves in my mind before I get confused. I assume this roadmap/blueprint will be the topic of Occupy Strategy when it comes out?

  • Mark Evans 1st Aug 2012

    The concern about blueprints is with regards to vision. We do not want bluesprints of a future society because that would be claiming to know more than we do and anyway blueprints have a horrible totalitarian quality.

    The development of strategic plans within local chapters / national branches will, of course, need to happen but will vary with place and time and will need to be reviewed as real events unfold.

  • Lambert Meertens 1st Aug 2012

    Imagine that someone invites you to join an effort to build a wonderful new house, one that will not be beset with any of the issues of conventional houses, wouldn't you want to see some detailed plans before you commit yourself to that? What is the totalitarian quality of that? Suppose they say, "We don't need blueprints, we'll start at this corner over here and you just start building at the corner over there." Would that inspire any confidence in the endeavour? How can you discuss the merits of it all and if necessary propose alternatives if you can't go into details? The only thing left then, if you don't want to share in the effort, is to follow orders.

    • Lambert Meertens 1st Aug 2012

      Last sentence should have been: The only thing left then, if you don't want to share in the effort, is to follow orders.

  • Mark Evans 1st Aug 2012

    Lambert - I am not arguing against vision.

    If we were building a house then yes, I would want some details.

    But we are organising for a future society, the details of which should be formulated by the people who actually live in it - a bit like the house I guess.

  • Alex of... 1st Aug 2012

    maybe, we discuss how to build a house, decide some roles, and build one. then, we decide how livable it is, and how we could have better worked together. next time we build a house it's even more livable, plus more efficient and enjoyable to create. piece by piece we learn how to create better communities. (maybe somewhat like wikipedia as well). organize small projects for today's society and learn organically to create a better future through application. and there's plenty of plans on houses for us to start with if we connect with house builders.

  • Lambert Meertens 2nd Aug 2012

    Maybe I have been unclear, but we seem to be talking a bit in different frames. The transition to the kind of society we want cannot be implemented piecemeal, where we have pockets of participatory economy surrounded by capitalism, pockets that flourish and grow and gradually take over. As our ideas and vision gain widespread support, they will encounter forceful opposition from powerful interests, and the reaction may turn to ugly measures. At the scale we need to consider and the frame we need to think and plan ahead, we do not have the luxury that we can try some experiment, conclude that it does not work, and try something else. This is not a matter of imposing a specific solution, but of thinking ahead which solutions may or may not work, and what the issues and risks are. There will be no time for that when we need the answers.

    While the transition to a participatory society cannot be local, there can be stages. Control of the means of production can be nade public while temporarily retaining a largely profit-driven market economy, and this may be a useful stepping-stone towards our goals. But an economic system in which the assignment of inputs and outputs is nominally under public control while the large multinational corporations are still privately owned, is doomed to fail. These are issues we need to think through, both for our strategy and our tactics. Yes, I do not only want to see a vision. I also want to see a path towards it. And I'm not comforted by the assurance that all will work fine once we get there. I also want to know what we can expect to find there and why I should believe it will work.

  • 2nd Aug 2012

    If someone invited me to help build a wonderful new house I’d ask: Who are we building this house for, how many people will live in this house, what do they expect it to look like, how many rooms do they need, will they share a single bath or does everyone need their own, do they want solar panels or a vegetable garden on the roof?

    If I was then told I was going live in this house too with lots of other people, I’d like to get to know those people and find out what they think about the building of this new house. We’d need to determine if the house had to accommodate more people in the future, maybe friends and family. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time and energy helping build this house only to find out after it was completed that it didn’t reasonably satisfy mine and everyone else's needs.

    What if the house we all wanted was too big and expensive to build all at once, and besides, there wasn’t enough time to complete it before the construction season ended, what then? We’d need to decide how much we could build now, determine what was essential and focus on that while developing and maintaining a vision of the completed house. There would likely be some tough choices to be made, but if we plan on working side by side on the building of this house and share its spaces, I guess we’d need to respect each other, learn to collaborate and make the most of it.

    So when are we all getting together to talk about this wonderful new house? What’s that, not everyone is here yet? Got some ideas on how all this might work in the meantime?

  • Alex of... 2nd Aug 2012

    this is a fun conversation. thanks Lambert. perhaps we're building a little shack right in the moment as temporary shelter.

    interesting thoughts around. piecemeal, no, i don't think so either. i think that's what we have currently. there are many forms of current work toward making our society better, but failing to overcome larger problems when acting on their own. so would it then make sense to connect them?

    perhaps it's the time to get the ideas on the table by getting people TO the table. if there is a perfect solution, i'm unaware of it. but perhaps we should be identifying what currently DOES work and what does not, and find the commonality, be it local to international, to extend the analogy of houses and community.

    who is the house for? as John said. ultimately, we need houses for everybody i would think. but different households might function differently. there is commonality in our basic needs (and wants), but much disfunction in our larger cultural reality, and currently we have some castles and ivory towers that are not compatible to anything but a minority. the commons needs an overhaul by those that exist in, sense the need and are willing to make that effort. but we may have different ideas on how to realize that. and that's okay. we should, it's human, and constructive to develop solutions. so again, i might think we need to find not only common households to locally develop with, but internationally as well. so, what is common and what is not? can we accept the minor differences and continue to dine together? what is minor? do we, or where do we draw lines on that? is there a majority of commonality within humanity to help us decide that? what's the process for deciding how we work with that, or who we work with? how do we make it the most inclusive without losing our common principles, while condemning what doesn't work, but still creating what does in others or humanity itself?

    Lambert, you've identified wikipedia as something that does work. i doubt anyone could have predicted just how well, or exactly what path it was going to take until ongoing collaboration revealed. and it's still imperfect, for one- as it relies on donations while working under the current system (which is a pretty horrible one). it has more to go. similar to indy media... avoiding corporate influence by relying on donations allows better media which helps toward undermining corporations, but in itself does not change the system. it does provide better awareness and raised consciousness, which we need more of, i think.

    monsanto doesn't work (well, it works for a few, for short term gain at the expense of others and the future). growing food and selling locally does work. thinking about vision, i would ask what is truly sustainable (a really hard question). 350.org has helped bring some folks together in numerous ways to challenge what i consider to be our biggest threat for survival, climate change, but has been unable to seriously effect the system directly. but, they have brought people from many households to the same table and generated action ON different levels. but, maybe we need a bigger table. one that accommodates them as a group and as individuals, seeking common goals. those same people have other common goals to a better future in varying degrees. and by sitting at the same table, maybe we can figure that out, and have a little patience for the process, even with dire situations. and there are many groups and there will be collisions.

    yes, we need to think through this! and anything i say is just my thoughts at the moment, and not very eloquent at that, and not IOPS as a whole.. just me. the path forward is maybe both a matter of vision then action, then redefining… over and over. it is multi-faceted with much to learn from each other, while having patience for perspectives, and developing organically. we may be facing a very dire time, but we may fail to face the challenge if we lock ourselves into any particular path, as we then remain atomized. strength in numbers. we must network, i think. we must connect existing work that is working, i think. we must be connected, so that as support grows we can support each other, effectively, when forceful opposition turns ugly. we are, at that point, everyday people with common bonds. we are not radicals, we are neighbors. a minority currently finds it's strength in control of consciousness and monetary leverage. so, overcome the consciousness of mental control for one. overcome reliance. and when you try old tactics of force, we are over it at that point. try to pay my neighbor to forcefully control a bonded neighborhood, and 'you' are the anomaly and will not succeed. or you see me as your neighbor now and refuse your orders. win hearts and minds.

    Lambert, what do you think about creating a 'revolutionary' based wiki? your experience would be an amazing asset.

  • Alex of... 2nd Aug 2012

    "overcome the consciousness of mental control"??

    not quite what i meant to write. more... increase consciousness to overcome mental control.

    writing in stream, came back to re-read. wiki edit.

    and.. see me as your neighbor now, rather than a threat to a way of life. so WE share common bonds for what is necessary to sustain quality of living, and it is the "orders" that are the threat. WE are not the minority in this and that has been made publicly transparent.

  • Lambert Meertens 3rd Aug 2012

    Yes I think an IOPS wiki dedicated to our shared revolutionary consciousness is a good idea. I saw this discussed on the forum Making IOPS understandable and Jason Chrysostomou wrote that he had put it on the list of proposals for future features. Also, Brian Cady has started an IOPS example wiki, where the idea is to use it to collect inspiring examples of "things that work" -- clearly a valuable thing to have. More generally, an open wiki can help not only to showcase success stories, but more generally to raise and discuss a variety of issues and share experiences on anything that may be relevant in the common struggle.

  • Alex of... 3rd Aug 2012

    per current site bug (above link won't work with the quote mark)

    http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/the-site/link-issue .

    i did minimal work on brian cady's wikispace, starting with the idea that we could take some of the wikipedia formulas as a starting point to draw from to collaborate on how a wiki would actually work here. but i have little experience in conventions, so my starters were meant to be improved in structure and expanded organically. but you have experience.

    Lambert... have you ever looked at the open source software Tiki Wiki? just been playing with it recently.

    and agree with values to a wiki you state plus other possibilities. part of the creation OF blueprints. would you help facilitate that if it existed?

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Aug 2012

      I haven't looked at Tiki; my only active wiki experiences are with TWiki and Mediawiki. There are more than 20 free and open-source wikis available, and there are many factors to be considered: convenience of use, expressive power, ease of technical maintenance of the site, active maintenance and development of the wiki software, support for localization and multilingualism, scalability, etc.

      My feeling is that this should not be a separate thing from the main IOPS website, which would lead to the same discussions being held in isolation on two sites, but I'd be happy to help if we all agree that eventually the two will merge into a single website.

      Perhaps we should set up a new "Towards a Wiki" project where such issues can all be discussed in more detail, and of course all of this should be done in good cooperation with the valiant IOPS Website Team.

    • Alex of... 5th Aug 2012

      i see that Mediawiki is the software that powers Wikipedia. i've looked at a few. one thing about Tiki is that it has a very user friendly feel, while still pretty powerful.

      it makes sense, the first thing of a Wiki Project might be to examine the available open-source software with a list of questions/factors on what determines the best option to use. i haven't looked at Mediawiki extensively, but it looks pretty developer heavy on first glance. that is, powerful but reliant on those who are really into it. and one factor i would consider, is using something that is accessible as possible.

      accessibility is something that can be created from a more developer end, but we also need a few developers then. so, balance maybe.

      i also had thought it should not be separate, which is one reason why i didn't do too much on Brian Cady's wikipsace, as it seemed like work would be put in that couldn't just be transferred here. one thought has been to use a subdomain. perhaps that could be a way to start that is still hosted here, even if not integrated into the whole of the site. and a project could be used to self-manage the process.

      i could set up a project tomorrow, unless you would rather like to. i would really like the option for multiple project admins so efforts or not under one individual to facilitate. and maybe other roles as well, with commitments rotating and not burdened. i, myself am leaving the day after tomorrow to go out of country for a month so i will have minimal involvement online during that time i think. need to get out to some nature and love for some break.

      so i ask you, how would you like to proceed? talk a little more before creating a project? starter points?

      have a little time tomorrow. peace.

  • Larry Bishop 4th Aug 2012

    I'm going to throw a little monkey wrench into the works here, in that I don't know that the house analogy is quite the right way to frame the kind of society we are seeking to achieve. I say this primarily because 'society" is very complex set of human relationships, many of which have gone dreadfully awry. We are seeking to create a society that is fully participatory and cooperative, yet we currently live in a world where vast number of relationships are expressions of various levels of exploitation (in which we all participate to various degrees). Obviously this is much more complex, but I think if we are going to talk in terms of "blueprints" and "structure" we need to think of this as perhaps the "reframing of relationships".

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Aug 2012

    What you may have missed is that I do not want a single blueprint. As I wrote: "We need detailed blueprints that we and others can discuss, compare, analyze, take apart and combine, the more alternatives the better. That does not mean we need to select one version to the exclusion of others." [Underlining for emphasis] In terms of the house metaphor, I think people should be able to say, "No, we don't like this design so much; that one looks better." If it's all abstract and vague, how can you decide what you want? I also did not mean the house to be a symbol of all of society. Let me give two, rather random, examples of elements of our vision that leave me with questions. I could easily have picked a dozen others.

    It is easy to say that we affirm the right of diverse types of families to have children, but how do we envision that the rights of these children will be ensured? And what rights do we think the children should have in the first place? Should a committed relationship confer the same rights as marriage? There may not be a unique universal answer, but let's at least discuss the possibilities as informed by our overall vision.

    How do we envision the decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs in practice? Who decides on the input/output categories? Such negotiations are in general multilateral; is there some mechanism to reach a resolution when the negotiations fail? Is a year the right time scale for the planning cycle? Shouldn't we have continual adjustments? I know Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel have written about this, both in The Political Economy of Participatory Economics and in Parecon: Life After Capitalism, but to me it all remains terribly abstract, and many questions remain, like how to start a new company in such a system.

    There are many issues of immediate urgency. All around me budgets for social services are being slashed, like further budgets cuts for case workers in Youth Services who already now can only run from one emergency to the next. What is happening is shameful, and that we seem unable, collectively, to stop it from happening is demoralizing. To inspire people, to break through the defeatism, we must be able to translate our abstract vision into concrete images.

  • Larry Bishop 4th Aug 2012

    Thanks Lambert, It wasn't my intent to advocate one particular model over another, indeed in order for us to accomplish our vision it will require a very multifaceted approach and a willingness to think "outside the box" to bring it to life. The road to accomplish this is hardly a well trodden path, and one that is littered with many obstacles,often times I think most prominently in our own thought processes. For myself, face to face engagement has always seemed to bear the most fruit in the exchange of ideas.

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Aug 2012

    I see that I misunderstood the issue you raised.

    People are being exploited, alienated from their labour, pushed to the brink. They have been reduced to cogs in a soulless machine, not only the people on the working floor, but also the bosses. People have debts they can't handle anymore. Honest people see others gaming the system and getting away with it, and wonder, am I a sucker if I don't play that game? All that takes its toll. There are lots of wounded souls. Blueprints by themselves are not going to help healing them. How can you have healthy relations under such conditions?

    What will help is if we can give people hope, making them understand that it is not their fault if they feel dead inside, letting them know that they are not alone. I don't know if we can spread that message, but at least we should try.