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Report from IOPS Austria

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IOPS Austria was founded on 16 February 2012. We had our first face to face meeting on 24 April 2012. Since then we had 37 meetings overall, which means we had roughly one meeting every two weeks.

By now IOPS Austria has 13 members registered on the website. Those members are involved in varying degrees. 6 of them are participating in pretty much every activity we have, 3 participate occasionally and 4 are only registered on the website so far (3 members have already left because of leaving Austria or due to other left activist commitments).

In addition to that there is a number of people who are not registered on the website but are sympathetic towards IOPS and help us every now and then by creating fliers and posters, participating in reading circles, talks, discussions, workshops, documentary screenings, carrying our flags during protests and so on.

Apart from our general meetings in which we typically discuss all matters of organizing, we had a number of special events, including the following:

  • Several protests against the discrimination of refugees in Austria and for equality and borderless solidarity
  • A rally for the Right to the City in Vienna (Austria's capital)
  • A workshop on Participatory Economics (as a part of a bigger left congress in Austria)
  • Talks by experts on Commons, Global Villages and a Universal Basic Income in the European Union, followed by extensive discussions and more casual conversations over a, always highly popular, free vegan buffet
  • Reading circles on Participatory Economics, Peer Production, Slums, Universal Basic Income, Participism and most recently italian Workerism
  • A declaration of solidarity with Austrian workers for their right to decent working conditions
  • A documentary screening with a following discussion on slums
  • An open breakfast in a public park to awaken interest in IOPS

Furthermore we have a roughly quarterly newsletter to which about 40 people have subscribed so far. By now IOPS Austria has an active chapter, Vienna. On an international level our members were involved in translating all kinds of IOPS related materials, social media, and our website, besides engaging in blogs, forums and other projects. We also tried to establish ties with like minded groups and organizations in Vienna, Austria and Europe.

Obviously, all of the above is just an outline of what IOPS Austria really means to its members. For us, IOPS Austria has been a great opportunity to get more active, to educate ourselves, to recognize our social responsibilities and to engage in socially and politically valuable work. Our hope is that, with this blog, we can inspire others to go similar ways and, more importantly, to go far beyond that.

Below are pictures of some of our activities along with some of the materials we created for them.

Discussion 54 Comments

  • Mark Evans 1st Jan 2014

    Impressive - thank you!

    • Johannes 1st Jan 2014

      Thanks! I guess it was about time for a quick report…

    • Mark Evans 2nd Jan 2014

      When trying to set-up an new international using the method adopted by IOPS there is a very real danger that a dynamic of stagnation can set in.

      The problem is that members who are active in different parts of the world don't see what others are doing and can conclude that their efforts are wasted. That is unless they post blogs about what they are doing - hence the importance of blogs like this.

      If others see this and try to emulate it in their country and post about their efforts then we establish a growth dynamic. For this reason writing and posting reports of this kind might be considered a priority for interim chapters. I suspect it will be a crucial factor in the life, or death, of IOPS.

    • Johannes 2nd Jan 2014

      I agree. Actually I was also thinking that maybe it would be good for people outside IOPS to read about what we are actually doing here. Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was ZNet, however, if a no-name author like me posts anything there nobody is going to read it, so that wouldn't really serve the purpose I guess. Would you even agree that it might be beneficial for IOPS if people outside knew more about what it's members are actually doing instead of just knowing what we want to achieve?

    • Mark Evans 2nd Jan 2014

      Absolutely! In fact we have tried very hard to get the left media to publish stuff on IOPS but it has been a real struggle. Don't ask me to explain it because I can't. But I suspect we will have more luck if we get enough numbers and launch then do some good organising. If we do that then they can't ignore us.

      I also agree that ZNet is the obvious place for you and others to post blogs on IOPS activities - I mean if there is real content that is of interest to the broader left - but I don't agree with your assumption that no one will read it. That has not been my experience and, if it is good, Michael will typically highlight blogs that address such issues.

      If you are not confident about what you have written then send it out to other members for feedback and support before posting elsewhere. We need to be talking to each other a lot more. You people in Austria need to be in contact with the people in Ireland who are also doing good organisational work. The same with all the other interim chapters - utilise the facilities we have on the site. Get to know each other, share ideas, build confidence and enthusiasm.

    • Johannes 3rd Jan 2014

      I agree that it is up to us to give the media something to report about. Actually the picture above with the policemen was from one of Austria's bigger newspapers!

      The members of IOPS Austria have pretty much agreed on the above version of the blog. I guess I could ask some ICC members I've been in touch with for suggestions.

      I certainly agree that we need to talk more but is there a particular reason why you referred to IOPS Ireland? I've read about their great initiatives but apparently they haven't got an active chapter yet…

    • Mark Evans 4th Jan 2014

      No particular reason - it is just that Ireland (and others), like you people in Autria, seem to be giving IOPS a real chance. I just thought that, in terms of maintaining motivation, it might help if you get to know each other and support one another's efforts. When you get to that level of organisng others who perhaps feel less convinced at the prospect of success, and therefore do nothing, might start to rethink and see that with effort things can be achieved. In short you motivate each other and inspire others. I'm certainly inspired by what you are doing.

      Imagine if, instead of joining and doing nothing or joining and saying what is wrong with the IOPS approach, people joined and did what you are doing and actually gave IOPS a go. Imagine what that difference in attitude - that openness to experiment and learning - could make. I think we could have easily had an up and running new international with money coming in and campaigns rolling out. But unfortunately many on the left continue to be pessimistic and dogmatic - that is the real problem with this world.

    • Lizzie Meade 4th Jan 2014

      Hi Johannes,

      Thanks for the detailed report. I fully agree with Mark, it is very inspiring to learn about what other chapters are up to. It is great to see that your chapter is so active. Here in Dublin we have been meeting regularly (once a month) for over a year now. Our membership has grown in that time but we have also lost a couple of active members. The reason why we are not registered as a working chapter is because we do not meet the quote of female members as agreed through the poll (at least 30% of members must be female). I am the only active female member, so, in order to be officially considered a working chapter our female membership needs to grow significantly, or decrease significantly I suppose- but we don’t want that 

      Keep up the good work.
      Lizzie

    • Johannes 4th Jan 2014

      Thank you for the clarification Lizzie! I'm also very happy to read that there is so much going on in Ireland! Do you know the reasons why some members have left? How many were they? Were they male or female? Also, do you know of any particular reasons why the female quota could not be reached in Dublin yet? Otherwise I find it really impressive how many members there are in Dublin already!

  • Lambert Meertens 1st Jan 2014

    Johannes, can you give an estimate how many of your members were introduced to IOPS by another member of your chapter, and how many heard of IOPS through some other route?

    • Johannes 1st Jan 2014

      Yes, of those 13 who are still members 6 were introduced to IOPS by other members of our chapter and 7 through other routes.

      If you include former members as well 7 were introduced to IOPS by other members of our chapter and 9 through other routes.

      We have a rather extensive documentation on all of that so please feel free to ask any further questions you might have.

    • Lambert Meertens 1st Jan 2014

      It is a somewhat vague question, but is there a general approach to organizing y'all use? I read your blog "An Organizer's Dilemma", which was written before I joined IOPS. Have you experimentally found that some approaches are more practical than others?

      Most people who I tell about IOPS I don't see regularly; I just happen to meet them and get into a conversation. If they seem interested I refer them to the website, and typically they say they'll have a look, and that is that.

    • Johannes 2nd Jan 2014

      If there are any deeper insights into organizing, I don't know about them. Having said that it also obviously true that what we are doing must at least in part be the right because since I wrote that blog you mentioned there obviously has been some progress.

      Judging from the limited experience I have one thing I can say is that it seems comparatively easy to get peoples attention. Getting, say, 50 people to sit in a room, listen to some left vision and strategy, having them engage in a meaningful discussion about it, and even getting in touch with them more informally over a little buffet it very doable, no questions about that. The harder part from my point of view is how to involve those people in the long term.

      I think that reflects the experiences you had and also the IOPS history overall so far. If you remember we had that poll on ZNet in which roughly 4000 people showed very strong interest in something like IOPS, enthusiasm even. Now, over two years later I think, we still haven't reached those 4000 people.

      Coming back to your question some things to involve people over a longer period of time on a practical level were our reading circles and the newsletter. Those two things certainly helped in keeping people up to date with what we're up to and even engaging them in some of our activities. It did not result in new members however. All the members we have are either here because of other members or because they know IOPS from the usual sources like ZNet, Wikipedia, social media and other local left websites.

      So, as far as I can tell there really is no single right approach. Some might be more practical than others but that strongly depends on the circumstances I think. I guess what it really comes down to in the end is just the effort you put into it. I'm sorry if I couldn't give you a more satisfying answer.

    • Gerry Conroy 2nd Jan 2014

      : "...Getting, say, 50 people to sit in a room, listen to some left vision and strategy, having them engage in a meaningful discussion about it, and even getting in touch with them more informally over a little buffet it very doable, no questions about that. The harder part from my point of view is how to involve those people in the long term..."


      During the nineties, I was involved with an activist group in London with an ecological direct actionist focus, during the period associated with the anti-roads movement and the group held weekly public meetings which regularly brought in considerably more people than those directly involved - sometimes a lot of people, in the lead-up to a planned event. Some of those people would be recognisable from previous meetings but a lot weren't and we sometimes wondered about how to hold onto these 'new people'. That group didn't really have a recruitment policy and the attitude was more that new people wanting to get involved should set up their own groups in their own areas and be part of a network with us, which to some extent (smaller than it could have been in my opinion), did happen.

      I'd roughly divide those outside people at the meeting into two basic groups; people who were already involved in activism elsewhere who wanted to keep up with what we were doing - probably the majority of them - and another group for whom it was more of social interest, an evening out - sympathisers, I suppose you could call them.

      Not that those two groups would be mutually exclusive, or anything, just a rough division but one fairly obvious thought that occurs to me here and that could make a difference in the case of IOPS, in relation to the first group, the activists already engaged elsewhere, would be to emphasise for them that IOPS isn't just another activist group, not just one more like the others, 'competing' for activist attention.

      That IOPS wants them to carry on in their current activities and intends to be a home and a broad platform for those who share its agreements, a way for us to work together though in our separate ways, enabling mutual reinforcement and building a whole society-wide project aiming to take over the whole bakery. The network approach claims to be aiming at that too but the IOPS approach is qualitatively different, a much better defined 'envelope' than the vague, general network.

    • Johannes 3rd Jan 2014

      I agree that we should make it very clear what IOPS is and what it isn't. And I also think that your distinction between a mere network and an actual organization like ours should be highlighted.

      One thing I would like to add to the passage you quoted is that in practice it is actually often even worse. Not only do the people who will come to an event like this not join IOPS or anything the like, they will even get a kind of satisfaction from just coming to that event and will use that as a substitute for any other socially valuable activities. It just appears to be all too easy to pad yourself on the back for what a radical revolutionary you are because you participated in some event once so you can go back to your daily routine with a good conscience. In that sense events like those mentioned above are even counterproductive to some degree. I don't want to sound cynical but I see that as a problem and I don't have a solution for it.

      And what's going on with IOPS in Brazil by the way?

    • Gerry Conroy 3rd Jan 2014

      I'm emailing some of the people here but not been getting any replies. Similar to the results of the general emailing I've done to get people to post even occasionally in the forums. Some have left other social media contacts, twitter, facebook etc. so will try those too, on the offchance. The distances here are so vast that it can be a bit like 36 people in IOPS Europe or something. For the moment, people meeting up would only be at all possible in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, which are very large cities too. I'm a long way from those myself.

      I've also been trying to organise a move back to Ireland but with the complications in that, it seems I may be here a good bit longer than I'd expected now, so am open to suggestions.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      You're efforts are similar to many, many people who've wanted to organize something locally, regionally or nationally – emails are being sent, but close to none answer, and of those few that do answer, not all want to commit to the simplest of things (like an introductory meeting). Still, one needs to keep trying.

      In Brazil there's a growing anarchist organization, which I know as un-dogmatic and positive. However, due to a rather long hiatus (during the former dictatorships and such) they have to build almost from scratch, and since the country is so fucking big, developing a nation wide organization takes time. Still, that's what they're trying to do. Here are the member groups (c+p from a Brazilian contact of mine):

      * Alagoas (Maceió): Coletivo Anarquista Zumbi dos Palmares (CAZP), founded 2002, full member organisation.

      * Ceará (Fortaleza): Organização Resistência Libertária (ORL), founded 2008, full member organisation.

      * Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro): Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro (FARJ), founded 2003, full member organisation.

      * São Paulo (São Paulo): Organização Anarquista Socialismo Libertário (OASL), founded 2009, full member organisation (I think).

      * Paraná (Curitiba): Coletivo Anarquista Luta de Classe (CALC), founded 2010, organisation in articulation.

      * Santa Catarina (Florianopolis and Joinville): Coletivo Anarquista Bandeira Negra (CABN), founded 2011, organisation in articulation.

      * Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre): Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG, site down due to state repression), founded 2005, full member organisation.

      * Mato Grosso (Cuiabá): Rusga Libertária (RL), founded 2006, organisation in articulation (I think).

      * Pernambuco ( Recife): Coletivo Anarquista Núcleo Negro (CANN), founded 2012, organisation in articulation.

      * Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte) – Coletivo Mineiro Popular Anarquista (COMPA), founded ??, linked but not yet in articulation.

      * Bahía (Vitória de Conquista and Salvador, I think) – Coletivo Anarquista Ademir Fernando (CAAF), founded 2012 (?), has recently applied for membership but I don't think it has been approved or embarked on entrance procedure yet.

      They might be interesting to get in touch with. I'll be living there from June to December (more or less), in order to learn Portuguese and in order to learn more about those organizations, and might be able to inform you a bit better then, if you're still there. Ireland would be a much safer bet though, as it has one of the few chapters that meet regularly.

      If you're going to do something in Brazil, you would probably either need to start something from scratch yourself, or move to one of the cities listed above…

    • Gerry Conroy 8th Jan 2014

      Thanks Kim. Yes, I’ve been looking at that group – or at least the parts of it anywhere near me here, with a view to offering to do a talk on IOPS to whoever might be interested. There’s one collective from that list you posted which holds occasional meetings/events in a city about an hour and a half from me, in a bankworkers union building which also offers space to the Free Public Transport movement, so I’ll be following up on those leads and any others I can dig out. I’ll also be very much looking for opportunities to get beyond the anarchist scene too.

      It will take time for me to get a talk in Portuguese sorted out – but that shouldn’t be a real problem. Main pressure is my own work and low income from it which keeps me stuck! I’ve no way to move to a city really, as the costs of rent for living and workshop space are just too high for me but I’ll see what I can do besides that.

      Anyway, I hope to have something sorted out in a few months time and I’ll report back here if anything worthwhile develops.

      Yes, I’ll still be here for another couple of years , it seems now. So, if you need any info about your stay, let me know by email and I’d be glad to help with whatever I can.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      Cool, I'll try to keep it in mind!

      It was coincidental that you mentioned the Free Public Transport movement btw. Fellow Swedish activist has done a lot of good work through Planka, and then http://freepublictransports.com. Planka is an activist assurance for people who use public transport for free. Whenever you get fined you glady pay, send the recite to the activist assurance and get a refund. The monthly membership in the assurance cooperative is of course much, much lower than the cost of the monthly public transportation fare. We even took the initiative for Planka here in Oslo, Norway. :)

      I hope you keep working for what you think is right, and that it in return works out for you.

  • Kim Keyser 1st Jan 2014

    6 core members and 3 occasional participants? That isn't bad for a newly created group. (That was more or less what we had after a year of organizing here in Norway as well, and now – a couple of years later on – we're >50). :) Also, your promo material looks good, and it seems like you have a healthy mix of activities. If you continue organizing consistently, you'll most likely grow. The very best of luck!

    Prefigurative greetings from Oslo :)

    • Johannes 1st Jan 2014

      Thanks! I'm also very happy to hear that there is progress in Norway! But why no active chapter yet?

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      We do have an active chapter! I'd think it is probably the most active chapter in IOPS, even. (Read this: http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/norway-how-we-made-our-local-activist-organization-iops-compatible)

      I intend to post an updated blog post come April/May. :)

    • Johannes 8th Jan 2014

      I'm glad that your local activist organization is compatible with IOPS but what I was wanting to know was whether there is a chapter satisfying the preconditions we agreed upon:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/polls/final-run-off-poll-for-iops-founding-convention-preconditions

      If so, please add it to the list of active chapters on the international page as soon as possible.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      Aaaha. No. In that sense there's no active chapter (as explained in the blog I linked to…).

      Not even if it hadn't been so would we be able to constitute several chapters as of yet, as only one of our chapters have more than 30% female/less than 70% male, as our gender course was temporarily stalled (ironically because the most active female members wanted to use all their resources in the daily administration of the whole organization as such, instead of concentrating on bringing in more female members – I didn't agree, but I nonetheless respect the decision).

      I also voted against the more than 30% female ratio, as we didn't have a concrete campaign or concept which could've resulted in a more balanced organization (if we had I would've voted in favor of 40% female ratio), and predicted it would end up like this… I disagreed with that decision too, but I nonetheless respect it.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Jan 2014

      Kim, does the ">50" refer to IOPS Norway or to Motmakt?

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      Motmakt. IOPS Norway has 31 members, of whose 0 of those who're not members of Motmakt are active, despite a few blog posts, PMs, and so on. :/ Mind you, like I've explained in a former blog, Motmakt is an IOPS compatible organization though: http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/norway-how-we-made-our-local-activist-organization-iops-compatible

      Since 1st Jan we've even got a few more members. The next goal must be 60 members. :)

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Jan 2014

      When I go to http://www.iopsociety.org/norway/members I see "Members (31)", so how does that relate to the ">50"?

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Jan 2014

      Oops, sorry, ignore my last posting.

  • Kim Keyser 1st Jan 2014

    PS: I'd be curious to know, a couple of things:

    1. Do you have a website and/or facebook and/or twitter?
    2. What are those blogs you mentioned?
    3. …and what kind of organizations have you tried to establish contacts with?
    4. Did anyone of you have former organizing experience?

    (Just curious… :) )

    • Johannes 1st Jan 2014

      Happy to answer your questions!

      1. We use the IOPS website as well as Facebook-, Youtube-, Twitter- and Tumblr-pages. Along with our newsletter, several other e-mail distribution lists and websites which put our information online that's really all we need for now.

      2. Just for the record this blog was co-authored by several of our members, not just me. Blogs written by our members can be found here:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/austria/blog

      I also reviewed blogs by Verena Stresing on «Man-Made Climate Change» for example. I don't know if other members did anything the like. Otherwise we were also referring to comments on blogs and engaging in those discussions.

      3. Honestly, with pretty much everyone who is serious about any kind of cooperation. The outcomes have been mixed. Much like the left world wide it is also here in Austria plagued by sectarianism among other issues.

      4. Yes, our members come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some already had experience with other left groups, some with left parties, some with foodcoops, some with student protests, some with development cooperation, … the list goes on.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      Thanks, Johannes. Sounds good. :)

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 1st Jan 2014

    Vielen Dank fuer den Bericht, Johannes. Ihr habt ja bisher schon beeindruckende Arbeit geleistet! Nach dem einen Transparent zu schliessen, nehme ich an, dass die Wiener Veranstaltung 'Right to the City' sich genauer auf das Grundrecht auf Wohnraum (Right to Housing) bezieht? Oder ging das irgendwie weiter? Jedenfalls weiter alles Gute und Freundlich-radikale wuensch ich Euch.

    (Just a little German for that full IOPS international feeling on the international page, folks. Problem of English as necessary lingua franca and yet over-dominant as well....?)

    • Johannes 2nd Jan 2014

      Danke für das Kompliment! Die Recht auf Stadt-Initiative war tatsächlich Teil einer größeren Kampagne. Wir haben versucht uns mit anderen linken Gruppen Wiens zu einem Bündnis («Wilder Wohnen») zusammen zu schließen bzw. auch etwa von Zwangsräumungen betroffene zu involvieren. Leider mit nur mäßigem Erfolg bisher. Das Thema an sich ist natürlich nach wie vor sehr aktuell. Wir werden also sicherlich versuchen dran zu bleiben!

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 2nd Jan 2014

      Dufte! Buendnis 'Wilder Wohnen' klingt toll, leicht utopisch/phantasieerweiternd, und deswegen fuer mich von grossem Interesse. Werd's mal googeln, vielleicht gibt's da was? Vielen Dank fuer die Info, Johannes.

    • Johannes 2nd Jan 2014

      Gerne! Die offizielle Website findest du hier: http://wilderwohnen.blogsport.eu

      Es wäre noch vieles mehr geplant gewesen, konnte aber bisher nicht verwirklicht werden.

  • Sarah Owens 2nd Jan 2014

    Thank you, IOPS Austria, for sharing your successes. More help than it probably feels like.

    • Johannes 2nd Jan 2014

      Thank you Sarah! For me personally one reason for publishing this blog was also to foster discussion and exchange specifically between the active chapters. I'm not sure what the best way to do that would be but I'm certainly interested in any potential lessons from the other active chapters and maybe this blog could be a starting point for a deeper conversation…

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Jan 2014

      I don't want to cut the discussion short, on the contrary, but let me also point out that we have a forum dedicated to the subject of Building Working Chapters. The advantage of holding conversations om our forums instead of in blog space is that blog discussions tend to dissipate once the blog is dropped from the listing on the home page, while forums can sustain discussions over long periods and are easier to use for reference.

    • Johannes 3rd Jan 2014

      Thanks Lambert, I agree! I think an advantage of a blog is that, at least for the time it really is on the front page, people are likely to see it and respond to it, much unlike a forum entry. So, I guess a blog is a better conversation starter while having the obvious shortcomings you mentioned. And on a side note I think we should address issues like this when planing the new website if we're serious about making our conversations and our organizing efforts overall more efficient.

  • Shuyu 4th Jan 2014

    I can see good job has been done in Austria from the considerate and detailed report .I think in some sense, it shows practically both "What is IOPS"and"How is it on earth"and glad to learn many meaningful things from it! Exactly, how to get more people involved to parpicipate in discussion like this as much as possible and to establish long-term and more atttractive discussion areas that can more easily catch people's attention ,arouse their interests of participation just the same as the effect of this blog on the homepage is quite important. And thank you, Johannes!

    • Johannes 6th Jan 2014

      I'm very much looking forward to the first report from IOPS China! At least you won't have an issue with reaching the female quota apparently! ;)

  • G. Svoboda 5th Jan 2014

    hi
    i´m also from iops austria. i think our reading circles are important for the people that come regularly but, depends on the topic, it seems it is not very good to get new people involved. has someone else experienced that differently? i think at least for our chapter we should try to do more activism in the moment. For bigger events for example demonstrations we are not enough people respectively not popular enough. so it will be necessary for us to work together with other local groups. in the moment it is for example the question if we want to participate at a decentralized action week in may that is amongst others supported by the European Left and the Blocupy Network. Maybe this is also interesting for other IOPS members within the european union. More infos you find here https://blockupy-frankfurt.org/en/ For us it would be good when other chapters would also participate so people from other left groups can see that we are really an international organisation. i think that would help iops groups in whole europe because we can do something togehter over the borders of our countries and it would make us more known and maybe attractive.
    Now something completely different. How do you think iops is seen from others? i have the feeling that a lot of people can not classify us somewhere (i refer here to our chapter). some lefties think we are something like attac others think we are a trotzkist group. I have the feeling people do not really know for what we are standing for.

    • Mark Evans 5th Jan 2014

      Hi G.S -

      In terms of "what we are standing for " - if by this you / they mean vision - I would argue that IOPS has a much clearer idea of where it wants to go, what it wants to achieve, than any other left organisation.

      Typically the left has neglected vision and has instead focused on analysis and strategy. We do all three. If people are not clear about what we want refer them to the vision section. If they want further clarification they could look at Fanfare or some other books that deals with participatory vision in more detail.

      If people look at our key documents and conclude that IOPS is a Trotskyists organisation then they don't understand Trotskyism / Marxism-Leninism. That can happen but when it does its tells us something about the persons confusion and nothing about IOPS. In such a situation our job - as organisers - is to clarify the confusion - point out the difference between democratic centralism and self-management, for example, explain why we think we need to share empowering tasks to avoid coordinator class dominance, etc, etc. These kinds of situations can be great opportunities to do important educational work.

    • Lambert Meertens 5th Jan 2014

      I agree that many "lefties" who have heard of us don't know what to make of IOPS. The problem may be that the only classification they understand is a division into anarchist – conservative – reformist – stalinist – trotzkist, and are not really interested in finding out more anyway.

      Most "normal" people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a reformist and a trotzkist, but I have the feeling that most people have never heard of us, so that the question how they place us in the political landscape is moot.

    • Johannes 6th Jan 2014

      I understand where you are coming from Lambert but for our chapter in particular the question is anything but moot. We already have some more or less functioning ways to attract peoples attention. As mentioned above the bigger problem for us appears to be how to get people seriously involved in IOPS. That's not possible if they don't even take the time to closely look at our documents. I, as many others, have not heard one valid criticism of our vision and mission statements yet. I have asked others to consider those documents and they came back to me arguing that IOPS would simply be reformist and does not intent to overcome capitalism altogether for example. Obviously our documents clearly state that we are anti capitalist and actually provide much beyond that including strategy and program. So, I guess I would underline Marks comments and say that we should use this kind of confusion or lack of seriousness to do some educational work.

    • Lambert Meertens 6th Jan 2014

      Our Mission statement starts off with "The International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS) is a revolutionary organization" and under the heading "Key Goals & Priorities" states "IOPS is anti capitalist", so it is indeed somewhat peculiar if people object without further argument that IOPS would simply be reformist and does not intent to overcome capitalism. To me it suggests a closed mind. Although I tend to favour inclusiveness I'm not sure being closed-minded is what we are looking for in new members. But if you think this can be remedied by some educational work, I wish you good luck.

      On the other hand, I do not see that IOPS as an organization has a strategy leading to the overthrow of capitalism (Occupy Strategy is not an IOPS document), so I could understand if people expect IOPS, although revolutionary in spirit and intending to overcome capitalism, to remain another impotent revolutionary anticapitalist organization like there are so many already. But apparently that is not the objection they voice.

      My remark about the mootness referred to "normal" people, who generally wouldn't use words like "reformist" simply because it is not part of their vocabulary. I suspect that, all considered, it is more promising to promote IOPS among such people.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      I think Lambert's second paragraph here, is spot on, and also echoes my own experiences:

      "I do not see that IOPS as an organization has a strategy leading to the overthrow of capitalism (Occupy Strategy is not an IOPS document), so I could understand if people expect IOPS, although revolutionary in spirit and intending to overcome capitalism, to remain another impotent revolutionary anticapitalist organization like there are so many already."

      In general, I agree with the third paragraph as well, although I don't know much about the left in Austria. What I do know is that is has a long social democratic legacy; that none of the three anarchist internationals (Anarkismo, IWA, IFA) have a real presence there; and I suspect it might look a bit like Germany (lots of Autonomen legacy)? If that's the case, I would probably agree with Lambert in the specific case of Austria too.

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      "has someone else experienced that differently?"

      Yeah, study groups are – in my experience – one of /the/ best ways to get involved. (The other great way to get involved is getting to know each other as a group, by traveling to a festival, conference, workshop or even demonstration together. It can never be a substitute for the study group, however, they are possible to combine.) Quite a few members – from the founding members all the way up to the present – of our organization here in Norway, was brought into the organization that way. It all depends on how the study group is organized though…

      Blocupy should be worthwhile for you to participate in, I think. One of the most active groups behind the action – UmsGanze – is a pretty new, pretty open (as in not yet dogmatic) group, with pretty good politics, based in Germany. It does front communism as an economic model though, and my impression is that much of the theoretical part of their work is way too abstract to have the right impact, but like most such groups that position isn't usually well grounded. It's mostly just /not/ capitalism/mutualism/collectivism…

      I didn't think Blocupy sounded that interesting for us Norwegians, so I didn't – and won't – recommend getting active, for our organization here. But if I'd been part of a new group in Austria, I would most likely try getting involved.

      "some lefties think we are something like attac others think we are a trotzkist group"

      In a few countries – Norway included – the trotskyist group was the most active group in Attac. So there wouldn't be much difference. LOL. (Yeah, not much info in this last paragraph of mine. Just an anecdote…)

    • Lambert Meertens 8th Jan 2014

      The program of the Blockupy European Action Conference 2014 in Frankfurt (22nd to 24th November) is here: https://blockupy-frankfurt.org/en/action-conference/conference-program/. I don't know if it has much room for a recognizable IOPS presence, but if it does it would be good to have one.

    • Lambert Meertens 27th Jan 2014

      Oops, that is a conference held in 2013.

  • G. Svoboda 8th Jan 2014

    like lampert said i think one problem is that many people make claffisfication and are not really interested in finding out more. one thing to work against this is to work together with other left and critical political groups togehter and come in contact so they can see what we are really standing for. and for the people, who are not already lefties it is probably not the strategy of the overthrow of capitalism that would get them to be interested in iops, what does not mean we shouldn´t have ideas for the way to come to a post capitalist society.
    the local Ums ganze group in vienna is not very open with working together with other groups and yet not involved in the planning for these action days. also not very informative this last paragraph:)

    • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

      G.: "the local Ums ganze group in vienna is not very open with working together with other groups and yet not involved in the planning for these action days"

      Hah. That was surprising to learn. And also bad.

  • Gerry Conroy 8th Jan 2014

    Johannes wrote:

    "... I have asked others to consider those [IOPS] documents and they came back to me arguing that IOPS would simply be reformist and does not intent to overcome capitalism altogether for example. Obviously our documents clearly state that we are anti capitalist and actually provide much beyond that including strategy and program. So, I guess I would underline Marks comments and say that we should use this kind of confusion or lack of seriousness to do some educational work.

    One thing that causes IOPS to be seen as 'reformist' by the left, is the fundamental IOPS tenet which treats kinship, cultural and political relations as being of equal importance to economic relations. The belief that economic relations are the real base for those others and that those others are of much lesser importance is almost hegemonic on the left and we will come up against this reaction all the time. I've already had this response myself in exchanges on the internet.

    We will be seen as weakening the class struggle, by diverting energy equally into those other areas of social relations. So we'll be called bourgeois, reformist, middle-class and our anti-capitalist credentials will constantly be questioned.

    If we go about this in the right way, I believe we'll generate a lot of angry responses - dismissal, ridicule, etc. That's healthy because the left needs to be fundamentally realigned on this.