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Why join IOPS Q&A

When talking to people seeking that they join IOPS, one presumably first summarizes its mission, visionary, and structural/programmatic commitments. Then one presumably asks people's reactions and invites them to join. A number of responses repeatedly come up. Here we summarize a few, including examples of possible replies. These are organized as thirty questions and answers, in turn broken into eleven broad groups...

International Organization in General
Vision Fetishism?
Socialism, Anarchism, Leninism, Marxism?
Focus and Program, Or Not?
Time Pressure and Other Activism?
Interim or Real?
Decision Making and Sectarianism?
For the Young and Old?
Revolutionary or Not?
Race, Gender, Geography?
Failing or Succeeding?

International Organization in General

1. Why do we need an Organization, any organization at all?
Everyone trying to make the world more humane agrees we have to involve great numbers of highly informed and committed people, and to learn lessons from our actions.
An organization can facilitate sharing inspiration and aspiration. It can help us move from disparate to coherent activities and develop shared insights and mutual aid. An organization is also a means to enjoy the benefits of collectivity. Organization is for attaining continuity, shared values, and collective aims. It is for recruiting, training, and combining energies.
Having many movements, many campaigns, many projects and events, is wonderful. Having means for these to share insights and bring their energies to each other's aid in shared campaigns adds to the mix, strengthening all its aspects.
Of course, an organization has to be worthy to be worth joining - but the idea that no organization can be worthy is horribly pessimistic. Why, if that is so, should anyone think a future society, composed of many organizations, could be good?
To reject authoritarian, racist, sexist, or classist organization is warranted. But to reject organization per se is like giving up eating to avoid harmful food. Not only is some food not harmful, but to give up good food along with what is harmful is biologically suicidal. Not only is some organization not harmful, but to give up worthy organization is politically suicidal.

2. Why should I myself join an organization? I seek action, not organization.
Organization is not anti-action. Organization is a means to give action shared clarity, collective support, informed focus, and the lessons of accumulated wisdom. Organization is about acting collectively in light of insights preserved from past lessons. It is about increasing the number of people prepared to act and facilitating their doing so together.  
To fear that organization might weigh down action with useless bickering or with norms that consign activists to boring self recriminations is warranted. If you look at IOPS and you feel that that is what this organization will do, then of course you should not join. But if you look at IOPS and you feel that it looks like a way to define and pursue organization that can, if we are careful, establish really desirable results, then you should  seriously consider joining.

3. Why shouldn't I just join an organization in my local area? Why should I be in an international organization?
IOPS already has organizations in countries, regions, cities, and even parts of cities all over the world. So joining IOPS is in fact automatically joining (or perhaps beginning to form) organization in your local area. IOPS provides means, motivation and methods for emphasizing local organizing.
However, the difference between IOPS and a purely local organization that has, say, similar visionary and structural definition, isn't that IOPS ignores local effort. It is that IOPS entwines local efforts so they can mutually learn from and aid each other, and includes a national and international dimension so that members can address issues right where they are but also address larger issues that require larger response.

Vision Fetishism?

4. IOPS seems to have a fixation on vision - but why do we need a vision at all? I fear worrying about the future will just limit our pursuits.
It is true one of the things that distinguishes IOPS from many other organizations is that it takes seriously having a broad, flexible, inspiring vision for what we desire in place of patriarchy, racism, authoritarianism, class division, war, and ecological collapse.
First, IOPS members feel that without saying what we want - certainly not a detailed map, but the broad features that make our aims believable and reveal them to be viable and worthy - most people will not relate. Vision is needed to overcome fatalism that nothing better is possible.
Second, IOPS members feel that to formulate effective campaigns, demands, actions, and projects, we need to have a compelling image of institutionally where we want to arrive. How else can we embody the seeds of the future in the present unless it is by having some clarity about at least the core features of the future we seek?
But third, IOPS members also realize that trying to blueprint the future is a fool's errand that exceeds capacity and also violates a spirt of self management. The vision needed is just that set of institutional and social commitments which will permit people of the future to determine their own choices - be required for that end - not for us to make such choices in advance.
However, if you think vision is not valuable - that it won't help clarify current analysis, won't provide inspiration and hope, won't orient strategy by clarifying its aims and can't be kept to the scale and character that is essential - then, indeed, IOPS is probably not for you, at least not now. But if you think being able to answer convincingly when people ask "what do you want,"  and if you think knowing where you are going is necessary to able to travel wisely, and if you think we can handle those requirements without over extending, then perhaps IOPS is for you.

5. Why is this an organization for a "Participatory Society"? What is that?
"Participatory society" names the aims IOPS has for new social institutions. A complete listing of these shared aims is available on the IOPS site - at http://www.iopsociety.org/vision - but the heart of IOPS vision is some key economic, political, cultural, and kinship institutional commitments designed to insure that whatever else is built by future people on these key features, there are no hierarchies of class, power, identity, or gender conveying to some people positions above and to other people positions below in fixed social hierarchies.
Participatory society is a society where all participate with self managing say and with solidarity from and toward others. It is a society where all enjoy diversity of options and outcomes and an equitable share of society's benefits and responsibilities. Participatory society's institutions literally propel and ensure these outcomes. All this is flexibly clarified in IOPS defining features, at the site. If the vision appeals to you, IOPS may already be for you. If not, then IOPS has work to do, if it is to gain your support.

6. How does vision help right now, with what we must do in the present?
In two main ways. First, vision of the key features of a better future provides a significant tool for understanding what is wrong with the present. For example, many worker coops and other projects seeking equitable, democratic relations tend, over time, to devolve from optimistic and hopeful to humdrum routine and finally to alienated doldrums. This leaves people feeling that maybe it is true that no better way of doing production is possible. Despondency replaces hope.
IOPS vision posits, as one of its key elements, a new way of dividing labor so that "each worker enjoys conditions suitable to be sufficiently confident and informed to participate effectively in decision making, including having a socially average share of empowering tasks via suitable new designs of work." This emphasizes the need not only to eliminate owners dominating production, but also to eliminate a group that by monopolizing empowering work, dominates production. Having this conception in mind, the IOPS member realizes that a problem afflicting many coops and movements is that while they institute formal democracy and equity, the coop (or movement) retains the old division of labor, which, in time, subverts and even obliterates sought worthy gains by giving disproportionate influence and reward to the few who monopolize empowering tasks, and in time, influence, income, and status.
Second, by conceiving and sharing the key defining features of a better future we become attuned to achievements that our strategies must attain. This helps us know what kinds of demands and actions, and what kinds of seeds of the future planted now, can actually lead us where we wish to arrive rather than causing us to wind up somewhere we had no intention of going.
The archetype example, of course, is well meaning movements that usher in authoritarian or class divided or still racist and sexist outcomes even against their own aspirations because they operated in ways that, unbeknownst to most involved, led to ends they did not desire.

Socialism, Anarchism, Leninism, Marxism?

7. The IOPS vision troubles me - is it socialist, or anti socialist?
Both. For most people, "socialism" is primarily an economic label that leaves culture, kinship, and politics to reflect economic dictates. A state operates above the populace and "owns" the economy in which about 20% of the workforce does empowering work and 80% obeys dictates from above. This is the old Soviet model and is typical of what have been called market and centrally planned socialism. In this sense of the word "socialism," IOPS is anti socialist because IOPS specifically seeks explicit cultural, kin, and political transformations, not just economic, and because it rejects class division and political domination.
For some people, however, "socialism" means a society in which all citizens control their own lives, enjoy a fair share of social benefits, carry a fair share of social responsibilities, and operate without hierarchies of wealth, power, and status conveying advantages to some and debits to others. In this sense, IOPS is socialist because IOPS seeks institutions that deliver all these benefits and more.
One can thus imagine people in IOPS feeling its name is International Organization for Participatory Society - or feeling its name is International Organization for Participatory Socialism. The first group feels the negative connotations of the word "socialism" make using the term ill advised. The second group feels that the positive connotations of the word "socialism" make using the term wise. IOPS is an interim project seeking to become an established organization. This name question is unlikely to be fully resolved until its founding convention. But the underlying analysis will persist.
So, if you feel socialism has no debits, or has only debits, perhaps IOPS isn't for you. However, if you see two meanings of "socialism," then this concern is about semantics and tactical choice, and not about principled substance that should interfere with joining.

8. The IOPS vision troubles me - is it leninist, or anti leninist?
Both. For most, "leninism" is an approach to social change which revolves around the idea of a vanguard of actors taking responsibility for defining actions and future relations. It is an approach which winds up generating and celebrating a single party state, or even a dictatorship, and which seriously addresses race and gender issues but only insofar as doing so benefits the winning of power by that one party in what is called "class struggle." More, leninism is an approach which highlights and opposes monopolization of ownership by a few but which ignores and in fact abets monopolization of empowering work by a few. As IOPS seeks approaches with essentially opposite implications, it is in that sense anti leninist.
For some, however, "leninism" just means seriously seeking to win. It means examining relations and choosing actions so as to attain a new world. For those with this view, and also with the second equitable view of socialism mentioned above,  "leninism" becomes a synonym for serious seeker of justice. In this very limited sense of the label, which, IOPS members have to report, in our view obscures or ignores the entire history of leninist activity due to preferring to cling to a positive image that doesn't correspond to that history, IOPS is "leninist," meaning it seriously seeks to win.
Unlike with the word "socialism," however, the overwhelming sentiment in IOPS is and will undoubtedly continue to be, given its defining commitments, that to take on the label "leninism" giving it the very general, abstract, and unobjectionable meaning, would fly in the face of what leninist practice has meant historically and what almost all leninists mean by the term. Thus, after the above caveat is taken, noting that IOPS is serious about winning change, still, IOPS is anti-leninist.

9. The IOPS vision troubles me - is it anarchist, or anti anarchist?
Both. Anarchism is a wide and deep stream of beliefs even including mutually contradictory elements. IOPS rejects views that reject organization and institutions. It rejects views that reject lasting structure and favor some kind of return to nature. IOPS, however, is very much not only consistent with but informed by desires for the elimination of hierarchies of power, wealth, and status in all dimensions of life. There are anarchists - sometimes called lifestyle anarchists, anti institutional anarchists, individualist anarchists, or even apocalyptic anarchists who think that only ultimate victory matters and not any gains winnable in the present - whose beliefs are such that IOPS is very likely not for them, at least not yet.
But for the great majority of anarchists who reject a state operating above the populace and who reject class division and class rule and racial and gender oppressions, and who believe in the efficacy of planting the seeds of the future in the present and also of winning a trajectory of changes each short of ultimate victory but each improving people's lives now and conceived and won in a manner that taken together contributes to moving on toward ultimate victory, IOPS should provide a welcoming and familiar home.

10. Why isn't the organization marxist - or is it marxism in disguise?
No, it isn't marxism in disguise, nor is it marxist in the sense that that label typically means. Marxism prioritizes economics and class above kinship, culture, and polity - and class above other social hierarchies. IOPS instead says class and economy are critically important, of course, but so are other areas of life.
But, in addition, regarding even just economy and class, while marxism has many brilliant insights about capitalism, to the extent marxism has a vision for what should replace capitalism, that vision is for most  marxists a variant on market or centrally planned socialism. This leaves out the IOPS rejection of markets and central planning. It also, and even more importantly for contemporary practice, leaves out and/or literally denies the IOPS observation that the monopolization of empowering work, and not just of property, yields class division and oppression.
For these reasons, while of course many insights that many marxists have are shared by people in IOPS, still, IOPS is not marxist, because IOPS rejects certain key marxist commitments and adds various new commitments most marxists don't yet accept.

11. I don't have much political or activist experience. Do I have to have that to belong?
No. You have to go to the site, read the mission, vision, and structural commitments, and if you like all that and want to belong, you join. IOPS doesn't require years of experience. It requires agreement on certain basic shared views. That is all - but that is a lot.

Focus and Program, Or Not?

12. Why should I join an organization that is so scattershot - prioritizing race, gender, class, power, ecology, and peace - instead of an organization focussed on the one most critical realm, or even just the one I most want to personally work on?
It is true that unlike many other organizations, projects, and movements, IOPS doesn't say economics is primary, or gender is primary, or race, or power, or international relations, or ecology. Instead IOPS recognizes and makes it a key aspect of its definition that all these aspects of life are of fundamental importance. All require high priority attention - each itself, and as it entwines with and mutually causes and reinforces the others.
If you have a more narrowly marxist view that class is the ultimate issue and one should understand relations among men and women or among different cultural communities or in the states as arising from and in terms of implications for class - because the goal is simply advancing class struggle - then, yes, IOPS is likely not for you.
And the same holds if you have a more narrowly feminist or nationalist or anti statist view that says that relations in areas other than the one you prioritize arising from and should be understood in terms of implications for the one area you do prioritize - because the goal is simply advancing struggle arising in that area, whether culture, kinship, or state - then, yes, IOPS is likely not for you.
On the other hand, if you have a personal priority for addressing gender, race, class, power, ecology, or war, but you also recognize the need for others prioritizing for themselves the rest of the focuses that you don't center your efforts on and you also recognize the need for an organization to address them all, then your personal view is no problem for IOPS, because the area you prioritize is also prioritized by IOPS, and because the other areas are too, as you agree is necessary. And in that case, perhaps IOPS is for you.

13. What does it mean that IOPS seeks classlessness? Didn't the Bolsheviks say that too, and look what they wrought.
Yes, the Bolsheviks did say that, as have others who have nonetheless brought into existence societies with economic class division and rule.
IOPS proclamations of seeking classlessness are different because IOPS prioritizes not only eliminating a structural basis for domination by 1% or 2% of the population as members of an owner class called capitalists, but also eliminating a structural basis for domination by upwards of 20% of the population as a decision making or "coordinator" class. IOPS rules out not only monopolization of productive property by a few, but also monopolization of empowering work by a few.
The reason this makes the pursuit of classlessness more believable is that IOPS tackles all sources of class division and class rule in society and also in opposition movements and projects. It does not ignore issues of differential empowerment, allowing that class division to persist.

14. I am a lawyer, doctor, accountant... what IOPS members call a member of the coordinator class. Why should I join an organization that is for workers, but is not for me?
Why should a white citizen join the abolitionists or fight against apartheid or any variant of racism? Why should a man fight against misogyny, violence against women, and, indeed, all aspects of patriarchy and sexism? There are two reasons in those cases, and in yours.
One reason is solidarity with those suffering the ills or racism and sexism and, in your case, a coordinator class member should - could - decide to fight against not only private ownership but also against a few monopolizing empowering work out of solidarity with those that suffer most due to these classist features of society.
The second reason is for "personal gain." The existence of racism, sexism, and classism certainly mostly hurts those at the bottom of associated hierarchies. And it also certainly elevates and rewards those above. But it also hurts those above insofar as it distorts their humanity and, as well, makes them targets for critique, and finally, also, victims of the byproduct harm of racism, sexism, and classism - in the last case, for example, of ecological disaster, war, overwork, economic instability, vile alienation, and so on.
So, if you are a lawyer, doctor, or accountant, etc., and your mindset is that the wealth and influence you have is warranted and needs to be protected as your main political agenda - then IOPS is not for you.
You could still do work you believe in and are good at in an IOPS favored society, or in IOPS itself, for that matter, but you would not do only tasks that are empowering but would also have as part of your overall responsibilities a fair share of other tasks giving a balanced overall mix. If you refuse that type of equity and that basis for self management for all, IOPS is not for you.
However, if you are a lawyer, doctor, or accountant, etc., and you feel that what you have is desirable but that all should have elements of it rather than you having too much of it - then IOPS is very likely a very good fit for you.

15. IOPS seems to have no action program. Why should I join an organization that is doing nothing? And once it is doing things, why would it be any different than the way I am already doing those things? What will be gained?
You of course shouldn't join an organization that is doing nothing. But IOPS, even in its very earliest days, isn't doing nothing. There is a mistaken notion that demonstrating is doing something but talking to folks and increasing awareness and even increasing number of members, is not doing anything. That says that the activity which sustains demonstrating and gives it weight and meaning, is not action. Very strange.
IOPS has no international, national, or even city programs in the sense of shared demands and campaigns, as yet, because of two beliefs. First, program like that is meaningful when it has serious participation and energy from large numbers of people. Program without participation is posturing. So, IOPS program, to be real, needs IOPS to be larger.
Second, program like that should emerge from the self managing explorations and decisions of a membership that will be involved in its implementation. To have relatively few initial members, after a few weeks, set a shared program for a year or more, and thus for many many others who are not involved in the deliberations or decision to implement - would violate the spirit of self management.
Decisions about program and about many other aspects of IOPS are now interim, and are being kept to a minimum. The issue of shared program will come alive, however, as soon as IOPS is large enough for it to matter greatly and when IOPS has convened and established decision mechanisms so the issues can be settled in a self managing way.
So, suppose you continue with your pursuits just as now, and you join IOPS. IOPS grows, perhaps with you contributing to that. In time, IOPS arrives at shared program in a self managing manner, and hopefully brings an increased sense of collaboration, collectivity, and mutual aid to diverse campaigns - causing all types of work, such as what you are doing now, to be undertaken in more solidarity with other types of work, and in more awareness of and accord with trying to win not just a specific campaign, but, built on that, and by the way that is done, also new societies.

Time Pressure and Other Activism?

16. IOPS will take time that I could give other pursuits. I am very busy with all kinds of involvements like the Occupy movement, anti war work, immigration work, anti racist work, feminist work, climate change work, peace work, that I consider very important. Why should I diminish my other involvements by adding IOPS to my agenda? For that matter, if I join IOPS but don't participate in its specific creation, my membership is merely symbolic. What is the point of that?
You probably shouldn't diminish other pursuits based on joining IOPS. Nor will you need to. IOPS welcomes and needs its members to be diversely involved in all kinds of activist projects and movements for the intrinsic worth of those involvements and for the lessons that the involvements can bring to IOPS and the connections and alliances it can foster.
So the fact that you have lots of pursuits will enlighten IOPS. More, when you do your "outside" pursuits, hopefully your IOPS connection will help inform what you do outside, allowing you to enlarge the visibility of your concerns to new people via IOPS, gaining their help in those pursuits, as well as to inject into your prior concerns and choices insights that you gain in IOPS.
Yes, if you join IOPS, it is true that you might choose to give growing amounts of time specifically to IOPS. At some point, indeed, that allotment might detract from time that would have gone to some other worthy pursuit. If so, it will have been your choice to make that change. You will have decided it was a better option for you, or a more productive option for you, to give some more time to IOPS and, as a result, some less time elsewhere. Of course, you might also have gotten additional local IOPS people involved in your other efforts, on balance adding energy to those efforts not taking energy away from them.
However, even if you don't grow your direct IOPS involvement, that doesn't preclude being in IOPS nor would it hurt IOPS, nor would it mean your membership is merely symbolic. It would instead only mean that you were giving less time to directly IOPS activities, but more time to other also worthy activities which are also respected by IOPS.
That said, there is another point to be made. The world pummels us with dire emergencies all the time. Specific problems scream for our energies to prevent catastrophes and to ameliorate pains. Some of us are involved in one or more critical campaigns. All this activity is, of course, worthy and needed.
However there does come a time for people to realize that what is ultimately needed is for all such campaigns to engage with one another, and benefit from one another - and to not solider on in isolation. IOPS can help with that. IOPS can inspire and facilitate collective solidarity and mutual aid among diverse campaigns and across borders, as well.
There also comes a time for those who believe that the underlying structures of society produce the ills and who believe that other underlying structures would instead be liberating, to start to alter their approaches to not only address ameliorating or warding off calamities, but to do it in ways that begin to address seeking more systemic change. This doesn't mean ignoring crises and impending disasters. It means, instead, addressing them in context of a broader encompassing desire to deal with defining institutions. This is what IOPS urges as an implication of its definition. It is another way that being in IOPS may benefit your work, and that IOPS can benefit from what you do even if you give virtually all your available time to projects outside IOPS.
So, perhaps the earlier comment about people continuing with their prior works unchanged was oversimplified. In fact, in IOPS, there will be a tone, style, and mindset that says that working in all kinds of projects and movements is essential and desirable, but, that ideally such work by IOPS members should start to take lessons also from IOPS - as well as the reverse. And the lessons from IOPS should center on ways to work in those movements and projects that start to align them with one another and with all other worthy efforts in ways seeing the many pursuits as valuable themselves, of course, but also as part of a larger pursuit of a new society in ways informed by that larger desire, as well as contributing to it. That is why joining IOPS won't conflict with other commitments but will benefit from them, and hopefully in turn provide them benefit as well.

Interim or Real?

17. IOPS is, by its own accounts, interim - why shouldn't I wait for the real thing, if it ever arrives?
That's certainly an option. But there is a Catch-22 in it. If everyone waits - IOPS, the real thing, will never arrive.
More, would you rather wait a year, perhaps two, and then wait for the convention to occur, and then for the organization to become formal - all without you and thus without your input, without your sharing in the development, and without your benefiting from the ties, relations, and mutual aid. Or would you rather contribute to the project, making a convention occur just that much sooner, including having your insights and participation helping shape it.
Depending on your answer, you would join now or you would wait. Hopefully you will opt for now.

Decision Making and Sectarianism

18. IOPS seems to be fixated on self management. Is self management just consensus? I think consensus is usually debilitating, so why should I join?
Self management means that people have a say in decisions proportional to the effect on them. You are more affected, you get more say. You are less affected, you get less say. But this is not mechanical. It realizes that decision making involves flexible social relations, not precision engineering.
Thus self management means different types of decisions are handled in ways that seek to convey, as much as possible and sensible in the context, appropriate proportionate say to everyone involved, and which do not, in any case, give any fixed group recurring excessive say.
Consensus gives everyone a veto and for some particular types of decision that is warranted because a yes outcome affects anyone who dislikes it so greatly, and has such relatively modest implications for those who do like it, that folks deem a veto option the best way to facilitate self management. Other times, and more often, the best approximation is likely to be majority rules, or perhaps some super majority, etc. The idea of self management is for those affected, but not others, to decide. The idea, as well, is to utilize methods of discussion, debate, and exploration of options that promote participation and reveal desires, and in ways which keep minority options alive, and so on, as described in the IOPS definition.
So self management is a principled norm one tries for because attaining it is the truest and fullest kind of participation that treats all with the same respect and say in their own lives. But self management is not always consensus, or always anything else, for that matter. It is a guideline, and what fulfills it best varies from case to case. Disliking the effects of consensus in many instances where it has been used would only be a reason to question joining IOPS if it represented a dislike for self management, rather than a dislike for violating self management by misusing consensus.

19. IOPS seems to be fixated on self management. I like consensus so why should I forego it for something called self management?
See above. Also, it is unlikely you or anyone likes consensus as a matter of binding principle. In your home, do you give you family members a veto over what you wear each day? Do you think every worker in a workplace should have a literal veto over every decision, including your bathroom breaks, say? Suppose there is a plebiscite in a country regarding a proposed change in voting age. Do you think everyone should have a veto?
If so, perhaps IOPS isn't for you. But if your reason for liking consensus and the associated flexible discussion and exploration in some situations but not in others is that you are looking for an approach that conveys to all people affected by choices a say in deciding on those choices in proportion to the effect on them, so that everyone is properly involved and influential as far as we can reasonably approximate that, then IOPS probably is for you.

20. When I read the IOPS structural commitments I like the anti sectarian and growth oriented sound of it, but why should I believe it? Everyone claims to respect and welcome dissent - right before they wipe it out. Why should I think IOPS will be any different?
This is a fair question and, as you imply, the ultimate proof will only be in the actual practice. Tendencies to sectarianism and authoritarianism are rooted deeply in the training that people have had and the habits they have become ingrained in. IOPS emphasizes such matters in its definition precisely because the problems are so detrimental and also such ubiquitous outgrowths of who people are due to having been born and nurtured and still operating in horribly restrictive societies.
A reason to believe IOPS proclamations in these regards is if you feel IOPS structural commitments are stronger and more clear and compelling than usual and that the commitments to specific paths and outcomes, such as IOPS rejecting central committees and what has been called democratic centralism, welcoming dissent and providing means for it to persist internally and to experiment with and explore dissident preferences, are well conceived to ward off bad tendencies. If you believe that, then your participating and bringing your anti sectarian inclinations to the mix will help insure the good results. Your not doing so, won't help.
As in most other issues of worry about possible failures or devolutions - the question arises, do you see a better and more likely to succeed approach arising anywhere in the near future and having nearly the support and momentum IOPS has? If you do, perhaps you should wait for and relate to that. If not, then perhaps you should bring your anti sectarian sensibilities into IOPS.

For the Young and Old?

21. IOPS is an old folks home. I am young, why should I join?
There are certainly numerous older people in IOPS. Some very prominent, from their years of movement activity, others less so. Suppose IOPS really was overly old - like the readerships of some periodicals, or memberships of some types of movement. Well, does IOPS appeal to you? Does it ring worthy and hopeful to you? If it does, and you are young, and you are right that it is overly old (which is certainly not apparent to folks in it) then you should join to begin balancing the situation better.
On the other hand, if you think something about IOPS is ignoring the well being of the young, or is somehow catering to the interests of the elderly while denigrating the young - and you are young - then perhaps IOPS isn't for you.

22. IOPS is a playground for the young. My day is past, why should I join?
IOPS is not for the young or for the old - it is for people, young or old, who wish to be part of a collective undertaking in the conception and application of insights about society and our desires. IOPS is for people who want to transform life - which is certainly not a desire uniquely governed by age. Young and old are welcome and on board.
However, if you think IOPS ignores conditions of interest of the elderly, or will be suited and congenial only to the young, and you are elderly, then maybe IOPS is not for you. But no one in IOPS has these impressions.

Revolutionary or Not?

23. Why "revolutionary" organization? That word scares me. Won't IOPS be just another small, isolated sect, play acting in denial of reality or making reality even worse?
This is a very fair concern. IOPS needs to reach many many people, most of whom currently associate the word revolution with a violent quick convulsion leading to worse relations than preceded. This reaction will obstruct many from even looking at IOPS structure, vision, and program - dismissing IOPS, based solely on the label.
But the solution to this isn't for IOPS to jettison the word revolutionary, unless someone comes up with a better word to encapsulate IOPS desire to replace existing defining institutions of economy, polity, culture, and kinship with new and very different ones, albeit over a long period of sustained, informed, participatory struggle and without horrible violence and of course winding up at the IOPS favored aims, not ends we do not desire.
So far, we don't have such a better word or phrase for these commitments. To participate in IOPS entails that a person be very comfortable with the IOPS vision, which means, in fact, very comfortable with a revolutionary transformation of society. Still, the linguistic worry is a fair concern and we should always try to find ways to communicate that don't cause people to associate misleading images that we do not, in fact, intend to convey.

24. In my country, to favor revolution is to risk jail and torture. How could I possibly join?
You probably cannot, at least not in your own real name - though perhaps you could do so anonymously? It is not obvious there is more to be said than that, other than that your constraint should cause everyone who lives in a country where they can join to feel another reason to do so in solidarity with your desires.

25. In my country, to favor revolution is to be deemed childish, delusional, and moronic. Why should I endure that?
For the same reason abolitionists once did. For the same reason women's activist have. For the same reason anti colonialists have, labor organizers, and so on.
At various times various aspects of society are under siege and elements of media and intelligentsia work hard to establish a climate of denigration of what they consider dangerous views. In the current world situation, what is under siege is not just one or another aspect of current society, but all the defining features. For that reason aspirations for real substantive change in any domain of life, or in all at once, brand one in the eyes of elites as childish, delusional, and moronic.
You should endure being called such names because truth trumps appearance. You should endure it because what elites think of you and trumpet about you is irrelevant to who you really are. You should endure it because today's childish hopes can become tomorrow's reality. Today's delusions can become tomorrow's wisdom. Today's moronic beliefs can become tomorrow's common sense.

Race, Gender, Geography?

26. IOPS seems to have many more men than women. I am a woman. Why should I join and suffer peripheralization?
You shouldn't. You should join and by your presence immediately reduce the problem a little, and, if you have some time for it, by your actions, reduce it more. Unless - if you feel that the reason IOPS has more men is that it caters to men or it denigrates women, then yes, that would be a reason to avoid IOPS. Similarly if you feel its visionary and structural commitments are sexist, or even just blind to dealing with sexism - again, that would be a reason for refusal.
But if you examine IOPS definitions and its sites and so on, and you feel it is very strong on gender focus and strong on organizational commitments that would counteract sexist dynamics, and if you think, therefore, that the relative under representation of women in its membership has to do with suspicions and worries by women that in this particular case are inapplicable, then IOPS is probably for you - and needs you.

27. IOPS has a disproportionate excess of Americans and Brits. Why is that? Why should I join just another colonial project?
IOPS began - in at least its immediate formulation since its roots go way further back - with a poll taken on a web site called ZNet, located in the U.S. The initial formulations were all in English. The audience of the site is two thirds in the U.S., one third in the rest of the world, with a good part of that in the UK, Australia, South Africa, etc. So, early membership is not surprisingly disproportionately Americans and Brits.
But to call IOPS just another colonial project mistakes the situation. Is there anything in the IOPS definition, or in its commitments, that is colonialist? As new languages are added, and in just a few weeks over ten have been, new populations will be reached, and new people will join. Is there reason to think that its point of origin in the west would afford non Americans and non Brits less status or power? To ask the question is really to answer it. Of course not.
If you are anti colonialist, anti imperialist, anti imposition by one country on others in any pattern, you should join because IOPS is all those things as well. More so than any recent organizational effort - and as much as IOPS members can conceive - IOPS is devoted to the widest possible membership and respect for diversity. In five weeks eighty countries are represented.

28.  I am African, I am Asian, where are my fellow citizens? There are way too few. Why should I join without them?
Because some few must go first. IOPS began in English. It started with a lot of prominent people from Europe, the U.S., and to a degree also Latin America. But it is also just getting going. If Asians and Africans join, then the ratios will get better. If not, then not.
Is there something about the idea of federated city and national IOPS units, and of an international that combines all of them together, that warrants Asians and Africans feeling IOPS is not for them. If so, what?
Is there something in the IOPS definition that denigrates or in any way disregards Asians or Africans? If not, then why not join?
IOPS exists in part to overcome the long standing lack of communication, lack of respect, lack of deep and trusting partnership, across borders of all kinds, and particularly from Asia and Africa on the one hand, and Europe and the Americas, on the other hand. The reason to join is to change that history.

29. I am black, brown, yellow, red. There are too many whites, relatively, in IOPS. Why should I join a white dominated organization?
It may sound a bit simplistic - but the reason to join is to contribute like all others who join, and, in your case, also so that the ratio immediately gets just a little bit better, and so that, with your efforts, it improves that much more.
If IOPS has vision or structural commitments that you feel ignore or even underplay your community cultural and other needs and desires, okay, then maybe IOPS isn't for you, and is not worthy of anyone's support, for that matter.
If the failings were modest and just a matter of ignorance, you still might join, to improve things by your insights, and to make IOPS more worthy. But if the failings reflected deep racist or otherwise oppressive commitments, then by all means, you should not join.
Do you think the IOPS definition is insightful and positive regarding issues of race, ethnicity, community identity and cultural relations? Do you think the IOPS structural commitments are consistent with black, brown, yellow, red members having the same respect and responsibilities as all others, as well as taking initiative on issues specially involving them, as self management warrants?
If the answer is yes and if the reason for too many whites, relatively, is that other constituencies are suspicious, understandably - and aloof, understandably - but in this case really do belong - then join. If not, then not.

Failing or Succeeding?

30. I like IOPS, the mission, vision, all of it. But I don't think you will get anywhere. People are too busy, too bought off, too scared, too passive, to individualist in outlook, too this, or too that - to join and participate. So why should I give time or even just emotional allegiance to something I think cannot succeed, regardless of how great it would be if it did?
There is no definitive answer to this. Sometimes such a view makes sense. Some silly undertaking is proposed. A few people get involved. You envision inevitable collapse for some reason you see lurking. You do not get involved. And it is a sensible choice.
Is this a situation like that? Different people will answer differently.
1570 people have joined in just a few weeks. Very prominent people and grassroots people active in all kinds of movements and with all kinds of experience, are involved. Members come from 80 countries. The IOPS site is impressive. The activity of members is escalating. Personal face to face gatherings are commencing.
If you think the visionary and structural commitments are fine and needed, if you think organization is needed, then the question arises: even if you are skeptical about success, is do you see a more likely to be successful endeavor arising anytime soon? If you do, okay, maybe you should wait for it. But if you don't, then why not try to make this one work? Even if you worry that it won't.
If skeptcism and doubts trump need and potential - nothing would ever be established. If you think IOPS has merit and would be good if it did succeed, and you don't think any other effort is more likely to fulfill the same needs - then to be aloof is to give up on those needs. Another way of saying this is the old adage if not now, when? If not us, who?
It is hard to know whether folks initiating the women's movement around the world, various anti war movements,labor movements - or organizations such as the ANC in South Africa - all felt certain that they would inevitably succeed. Some probably felt that way, yes. Most likely did not. But what they all certainly felt is that succeeding would be excellent and this was the best current shot at succeeding, and that its prospects would be better with their sincere involvement than without it. That minimum conception warrants joining, as does, of course, a belief that this effort will work, but will work better with your participation than without it.


If you still have any questions or concerns:

  • Pre-members forum - We have a forum where you can ask questions about IOPS. Visit the forum
  • Survey - We'd like to hear from you what you think of IOPS. When you have read the Mission, Vision, and Structure and Program documents, please participate in a quick survey by clicking the button. Take the survey