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2,650 & Convention Conditions

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This brief blog refines some earlier suggestions in light of discussions that are occuring in the forums, and also in comments under the earlier blog.

New Proposal for how to arrive at a shared campaign:

  • That between now and November 15, in chapters, in blog posts and comments on them, and in the forum system, and particularly, with people in IOPS we know and live near and are building chapters with, we discuss conditions that would need to be met to have a founding convention - and steps to accomplish those goals. Once some clear options emerge, we also do simple polls on each aspect, to get a sense of people's reactions to them - like straw votes. 
  • Based on all that discussion of possibilities and on the survey polls about all the many aspects, those ICC members who have been very actively involved in the discussions are entrusted to distill at least three campaign proposals (more if really needed) that try to embody the best and most favored aspects that have emerged from the exchanges into viable full programs. They aren't deciding anything, they are rather assembling aspects that people have favored in the polling. 
  • The three possible campaigns are posted, etc., and there is another week of discussion, and then the formal proposals are put to a vote of the whole ICC - including first asking them for amendments and incorporating those. This yields three perhaps slightly improved paths, with their levels of support from the ICC. 
  • Then, after another period for deliberation, the entire membership votes among the campaigns. What emerges, becomes our plan.

Features of a Possible Campaign

As a possible draft plan of conditions for a convention and an approach to attaining them, together constituting basis for a campaign, offered for assessement, refinement, etc., for arriving at an actual plan which we would by the above process enact and begin to undertake by November 30:

  1. We all commit to each getting one new member who is aware of and supports the IOPS commitments to join, during the three months December, January, and February. We each try for our new member to be a woman, for purposes of attaining better gender balance.
  2. We all agree to each getting still one more new member, and to making the first round of new members aware that this will be a task for them as well, in the following three months - March, April, and May. If the first member we got was a man, we restrict ourself to signing up a woman as our second, to attain better gender balance. 

  3. We all agree to try to assemble local people in the city where we live and once there are enough such local people near us in IOPS, we agree to respond positively if one among them contacts us seeking to establish a local chapter. In any such chapter, if there is not yet gender balance acceptable to the chapter, we agree to prioritize recruiting to attain balance.
  4. We put on the IOPS top page, starting when the allotted three month period begins, a daily tally of how we are doing at reaching our goals.
  5. When we reach 5,000 members - or half way to whatever our ultimate six month goal is determined to be - we initiate an IOPS project with at most 20 members, to begin to address the features of and how to hold a founding convention. This project is at least half ICC members, so that there are many members in it who the full membership knows. The project generates three plans, trying to embody the preferred ideas of as many people in IOPS as possible, as evidenced in discussions leading to that point, and then, when those plans are ready, the ICC and then the full membership deliberate on, refine, and then vote among them.
  6. If we cannot or do not by our efforts attain at least 7,500 members (or, at any rate, three quarters of whatever our full goal turns out to be) by May 1, 2013 - we strategically reassess the future of IOPS including the possibility that our conception of how to build it is fundamentally flawed. 

Discussion 24 Comments

  • Thomas Hallbert 17th Sep 2012

    Michael, I am not really clear over why you are such a hurry to found IOPS as an institutional organization? What is wrong with the conditions as they are right now? I can understand that after being active for so long time you want to see some results, I guess we all want that. But my experience tells me that by pushing you receive resistance.

    And excuse my ignorance: what is “the ICC members”?

    The nature of self management is opposed to a centralized organization structure. I find that the IOPS platform as it is present today is a good start at communicating our common and different needs and ideas. Out from this forum several different structures can develop, if they are organizations or associations, groups or temporary assemblies are less important. It is up to the participants in the self management movement. Important is to keep an open air between all these events so discussions and sharing of experiences will continue.

    I fully agree that we try to get more people involved in the IOPS network, and encourage them to take active part in the discussions and sharing of their experiences.

    I have for long times been looking for a network that seriously is discussing other economical solutions that are neither capitalist nor authoritarian. And as I see it IOPS as it is today could really develop into a huge construction of bridges between different builders of economical freedom, and as I hope, with a non monetary solution.

    I think that the main issue of concern rather is how to make this International internet network more efficient, as how to develop forums and chat rooms, common virtual workshops, tools for coordinated communication, etc. And HOW to connect members that have no access to internet today!

    I will not today say that I am fully opposed to a founding convention for IOPS, but in my opinion it is premature and there is a long line of other priorities.

    Thanks for evaluating my words.

    • Michael Albert 18th Sep 2012


      I am not sure another six months - that's assuming that the timing isn't extended in a final formulation - is "in a hurry." Rather, I tend to think our approach, which is now I think about five months old, is atypically patient. It would be about a year or more from conception to founding convention, in the outlined scenario...

      At any rate, the benefits of having a convention are that we found an organization, we establish methods of decision making, we initiate dues, we establish international program and likely also national programs, and likely also many local programs that people work on, together, and then there may be many other steps taken, certainly including internal mechanisms to help members deal with time pressures, develop capacities, be more fulfilled, etc. Not to mention that from then on, there is far more reason for new people to consider joining.

      The benefit of having a set of conditions for having a convention - rather than just a desire that it should happen sometime down the road - and a program for trying to fulfill those conditions, are focus, shared effort, etc. We have the vague formulation - we would like to do it in the future - for about five months. Participation has been very modest, among members, I think in part due to vagueness and a feeling that it isn't serious, it isn't moving toward something that is worth people's time, and so on. But whatever the reason, the rate of growth should be escalating and it is, instead, steady or declining. Thus, we need to try a different approach. And this seems like the by far best bet... albeit perhaps with various amendments different features, and maybe other things undertaken, as well.

      You can see the ICC listing on the international page, also history, past decisions, etc.

      Increasing the facilities online is a nice step - but ultimately, iops is not seeking to be some kind of online web system but, instead, a revolutionary organization based on local chapters and national branches, with program at every level, etc. etc. This means that while the online features can be very useful and helpful - and hopefully are - the heart of the matter is going to be local organizing federated and coherent with others.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 18th Sep 2012


    The ICC members are the Interim Consultative Committee members:

    They essentially make the minimum required decisions for the interim organization to function. IOPS is an organization - with a vision, mission, goals, and structure. It is not merely a network or forum as you indicate - though I agree with you - these are essential and I don't think we lose any ability to communicate or network by acting as an organization and holding a founding convention. The purpose of this website, as I understand it, was to bring people from all over the world together under an overarching common purpose and form them into local chapters based on geographical location, creating political power through the sheer numbers of people who have agreed to the cause of creating a participatory society. However, the key to our success or failure will be primarily in face to face interactions, and secondarily in internet interactions. The website aids in communicating and recruiting, and I agree that the site has a lot more work to do, but I do not necessarily think it is our top priority - certainly not at the expense of holding a founding convention. I, for one, would like to get this off the ground - and that means shedding the "Interim" from our description.

  • Thomas Hallbert 18th Sep 2012

    Thanks for your answer William. I also agree that the success or failure is dependent on real life situations.

  • Anders Sandstrom 18th Sep 2012

    One could argue in favor of collective commitments instead of individual ones under p. 1 and 2 OR at least an explicit note under point 4 that the daily tally will focus on such and such geographical level/chapter, so that it is evident that the commitments are to be considered as collective. I can think of two arguments in favor of this:

    1. If formulated as collective commitments for geographical areas or chapters (potential or already existing) instead of individual ones, they could actually function as a major incentive to form chapters in areas where there are enough members but no or limited activity, and to organize face to face meetings with the purpose of coming up with activities to double the membership within three months etc. Even where the circumstances do not allow for chapters to be formed at this very moment, contacts between members within a larger geographical area (even if only via internet) with a specific declared purpose of increasing membership in mind would presumably be stimulated. The task of doubling the membership in a geographical area or within a potential or already existing chapter in three months could be the very first concrete task around which to assemble and to start organize.

    2. All members do not have equal opportunities or the same tools at their disposal to be successful in the recruiting process. Even if recruiting one additional member in three months may sound easy and possible for everyone to achieve, it is not necessarily so depending on a whole range of circumstances. There are members in IOPS that probably could recruit tens, maybe even hundreds of new members with an effort of 15 – 30 minutes and at the same time there are members that could spend week after week without succeeding. With collective commitments these differences are somewhat evened out.

    • Michael Albert 18th Sep 2012

      Hi Anders,

      How would you word, and do, what you are suggesting? If there is a member in some town - alone - also, what is the difference in the person's situation? If there are five members in that town, or big city, again, what is the difference, unless they are already meeting as a chapter? If they aren't, are they free from responsibility during the campaign unless and until they start to meet together?

      It seems like the quite hardest task is creating working chapters - and you seem, I may be getting this wrong - to want to have the campaign put that step first, not in parallel and to be done as people are able - which seems to me to be much much harder and more demanding than saying to everyone, our campaign is to grow by so many members, and, at the same time, hopefully people will convene locally and work toward getting together and then having chapters.

      I agree with your sentiment in general, and that where there are many people, people should do that, and operate together - for example, having events to attract people to talk with. I am just not sure there is a difference in how to formulate the actual campaign description, other than, perhaps, to add to the wording the possibility - but not necessity in order to do anything - of people working in groups locally, trying to double the number of members of the group...

      On the asymmetry of access to means - of course, I would be the last member to question this. I have had enormous means at my disposal, and user them, and in doing so likely "recruited" more than others. But in ANY campaign that has numbers in the organization as one of its key goals, and that has a daily or weekly tally on the way to attaining that goal, any more successful efforts are visible, at least in the collective tally.

      Suppose we did the plan mentioned, suppose you give a talk in Stockholm and sign up ten folks. Suppose I do a big tour, and sign up lots of folks, and so on. This is all visible. In a highly unlikely version, one month into the campaign period suppose we have reached 5,000 members, because some relatively few people were hugely successful or lucky, as well as many others getting one each - but many not having done so - or even people just found the site with no prodding from members at all. Great. We proceed. But, if not, then we all feel continue to feel campaign pressure to do our share in the allotted time.

  • Anders Sandstrom 18th Sep 2012

    As far as my own personal activities goes, I know what I will do as a response to a plan such as the proposed one,regardless of the wording or emphases. But I am just thinking back to when I started advocating parecon. It was always, from the very start my aim to find at least two more people with whom I could start doing stuff together with talks and so on.I was never interested in the "knocking on door" strategy but completely focused on creating a small group of at least three people to plan activities together with. I know it is not exactly the same situation with IOPS but I assume people have different preferences and personalities when it comes to choices like that.
    In any caseI can live with the present wording.

  • Michael Albert 18th Sep 2012

    Maybe the wording should change in line with your intuition here- but that is why I asked how you would change it.

  • John Keeley 19th Sep 2012

    I would like to understand a bit more just what people want IOPS to be.

    Is it a revolutionary organisation, like a party, but not standing in elections, instead trying to influence people & campaigning for a participatory society?

    Or is it the actual building of a participatory society in parallel with the current capitalist system, with the hope that the numbers joining IOPS eventually achieving the end of the capitalist system? Or something else?

    I think many people who have joined IOPS have done so because it isn't like political parties which offer those who love power ego satisfaction. We need to be careful about any moves to making it appear such. Membership fees & therefore a monetary relationship is what we are trying to get away from, isn't it? Or does necessity to achieve anything mean we have to have people paying money to be in IOPS?

    I much prefer IOPS to be the on-line/off-line soviets of the 21st century. A space to enable those who want a better world to meet, organise & socialise. I don't think you had to pay a membership fee to belong to the St. Petersburg Soviet in 1905. You don't have to pay to go to the general assemblies of the Occupy movement. IOPS should be open to all who want to have direct democracy now.

  • Michael Albert 19th Sep 2012

    Hi John,

    Well, IOPS will be what its members make it - a truism, but a relevant one. That said, the initial conception, still guiding, and which will be guiding until a convention and I think in considerable degree probably after, albeit after with modifications, additions, etc., is in the IOPS Commitments.

    My guess is IOPS will never say that nowhere, no time, should members relate to elections. I personally don't believe that, and I believe most will not - but, even more so, most will not believe that others wanting to engage in elections is reason for them to not be involved in IOPS. I do think IOPS will be about trying to influence people and campaigning for a participatory society, as you note, and, that is why, in fact, in come contexts, and some times, it may well be relating to elections and certainly chapters in it may.

    I think the IOPS commitments distinguish between IOPS and other organizations with other conceptions, yes, and yes, I agree that we should avoid choices that suggest those differences are not real. Of course.

    However, the idea that left organizations, including IOPS, should seek to create a system that rejects exchange that involves valuations isn't something I believe, or, again, that I think most will believe - and is counter to the commitments, as well -and, even more so, the idea that left organizations, including IOPS, should avoid having dues so as to avoid having monetary relations, in the present, is, I think, again mistaken. If you said, we should avoid monetizing behavior and choices in the fashion familiar all around us, I would agree with you. But when you say to avoid that type alienation we should simply not spend sums in the course of our campaigns and activities, and therefore we should not generate sums by dues and perhaps other means too, I think that that is basically allowing distaste for aspects of current relations to force us into a stance that is self defeating, rather than, as intended, self empowering. To me it is a bit like our distaste for work units as they now are causing us to think it would be wise to have no work units. I know that may seem stretched to you, but by way of clarifying, to me it is quite similar.

    IOPS isn't open, so to speak, already. One must agree with the commitments to join. It may lay, on top of that, that one must pay dues, to be a member at all, but I myself doubt it. Rather, I suspect IOPS will wind up having a multi-tiered membership in chapters, with most members paying dues, some not wanting to, and some literally not being able to afford to. I can also imagine different roles...

    But to me seriously addressing all of this, while very interesting and very important, is in the future which we have to do a lot to get to. By way of reminder - this blog proposes a procedure and a set of conditions for having a convention - that is, in essence, for making concerns about all manner of issues forefront, rather than distant. The most effective way to yield alternatives to the blog's proposals is to actually propose changes or alternatives, in similarly succinct and clear form. I hope people who would prefer changed procedure and conditions will start to make very specific proposals, soon, attached to blogs posts, or in the forum system.

    • John Keeley 20th Sep 2012


      Where are these commitments then?
      Please provide link.

      All I can find is mission, vision, structure/program, etc.
      If by joining I'm made commitments, then I'm not clear what they are.

      I hope that IOPS can be both an organisation arguing for a participatory society/direct democracy as well as being that embryonic structure.

      To be both a organisation campaigning for change whilst actually providing that change.

      Not taking power to create a better world, but creating a better world by challenging power.

      Without a focus on being that change, being the participatory institutions for a future society, we run the risk of taking a reformist road & becoming something to the left of the Democrats or Labour Party. Just another political organisation trying to reform a system that can't be reformed. We aim to be the new system.

      I know this is a bold assertion. But by placing such a vision centre stage we can live with people standing in elections & remind them that these instutions they stand for are not the future, cannot deliver human freedom, & are merely a vehicle to get the message across.

      It also means that belonging to IOPS isn't about necessarily paying money. It should not be compulsory. It may be needed - & I've happily provided a donation for your UK tour - but all that's needed is a shared vision of a society based upon participation.

      This is what I'll be arguing for, both before & after any founding convention.



    • Michael Albert 20th Sep 2012

      The commitments are what you indicate - the vision, mission, and structural defining statements or commitments. Sorry if that was unclear. That is what new people look at, read, and decide they support as a basis for joining.

      And, yes, they make clear that the organization will strive to organize for and win changes as well as construct alternatives and itself be a model of the change it seeks, exactly so. Seeking gains that accumulate into the new society - seeking to embody the seeds of the future in the present, etc.

      And yes, the vision is center stage, as you say, as is a commitment to respect diversity, win gains now assisting people, and so on, as per the commitments.

      But I don't know - because the commitments don't spell out and therefore members have not agreed, about dues. Perhaps the organization will decide for them, or perhaps not. If yes, and you were part of a tendency that thought that was unwise and continued to agitate for no mandatory dues, fine. If it decided against dues and you were part of a tendency that thought that was a mistake and continued to agitate for mandatory dues, also fine. For that matter, I suspect what actually will happen is that there will be international dues, sliding, and at the low end zero - and then, as well, chapters will have their own approaches.

      But for now, at least in my view, the issue isn't to decide what the full organization will be, once established, based on national branches and local chapters, but to create the skeleton that will allow and facilitate that occuring (the commitments) and a membership base diverse and overall involved enough, to make it happen.

      Look forward to seeing you when I am in London, soon, if you are in the vicinity.

  • Sarah Owens 19th Sep 2012

    Michael Albert,

    On Your Proposal to Arrive at a Shared Campaign, which I understand as this:

    A. Continue discussing conditions that would need to be met to have a founding convention & and steps to bring those conditions about. (Called "plans" for simplicity's sake.)

    B. Beginning 11/15/12, someone(s) examine the various plans, and puts them to the IOPS membership in a straw poll.

    C. Select ICC members (those most involved in the discussions) then assemble the most favored plans into ~3 campaign proposals (more if really needed).

    D. Post the ~3 campaigns & discuss for 1 week.

    E. Whole ICC asked for & agree on any amendments.

    F. Whole ICC votes on campaigns as amended.

    G. Post the ~3 amended campaigns & discuss for __ weeks.

    H. IOPS membership votes to choose one.

    I. IOPS executes the chosen campaign with vigor and enthusiasm.

    If the above distillation not materially incorrect, I support the proposal.

  • Sarah Owens 20th Sep 2012

    Is there another proposal to arrive at a shared campaign to hold a founding convention?

    I know you have a proposal for a campaign. And there is forum discussion on the preconditions to holding a convention, and strategies for achieving them - which seems to me to be designed to develop more campaign proposals.

    But yours is the only proposal for a process by which to arrive at (chose among various campaign proposals) a shared campaign to hold a founding convention.

  • 20th Sep 2012

    And if the member we invite (or we ourselves) elects to become woman I propose that this is also okay.

    Personally, I would like to invite that KM (no known relation), to do their impassioned dragonslaying on the website, one blog comment at a time.

    Anonymous blog comments are good, and once the scathing reviews start coming in from peer reviewed journals you know we are in play.
    It's easy for me to say as I didn't participate in writing the book that had the book thrown at it but lo now there are two books, and perhaps more!

    • Michael Albert 20th Sep 2012

      I don't know what you are referring to...sorry - perhaps I am forgetting something. I like reviews and if they are scathing, no problem. A review of something I have written only bothers me if it is irrational or uncivil and personal, or both - the way it would as a review of anything - for what it reveals about the inability of people to be civil and rational.

  • 20th Sep 2012

    Thanks for your reply. I'd read over the blog where you respond to a blog commenter "KM"'s review of Occupy Theory and Occupy Vision. And finally formed a perspective, two parts snark and one part earnest, all of it good willed.

    It seems that there's always been a shared intention on the part of IOPS as a project to interrogate gendered imbalance (and its effect of replicating patriarchy).

    In addition to numerical representation, I think it could be worthwhile to consider how the literature and communications might better allow for, well, solidiversity.

    On its face, a review like KM's tells us something about how people are differently able or constrained in engaging in public conversation around Occupy or IOPS, especially to give honest critiques.

    I would agree with the idea that all of us share a responsibility to approach a standard of felicitous interaction and knowledge production.

    To that end, how might civility and rationality be commensurable with the language of safer spaces or a project to make everyone feel welcome? My clunky poseur academese isn't helping on this either, granted.

    This could take the form of a companion piece to the Occupy books, where (as others have suggested elsewhere) people essay or make some other expression about their experiences with activism and testing concepts from the books in their lives.

    Thanks for considering, and all the best~

  • Sarah Owens 21st Sep 2012

    Perry Miller, Greetings.

    The subject of this blog is 1) how to arrive at a shared campaign to get where IOPS is ready to hold a founding convention, and 2) Michael Albert's proposal for one such campaign. I am not sure what the subject of your post is, much less what you are trying to say, but I am fairly sure it is off-topic. If I am incorrect about that, please clarify what you are saying. If I am not incorrect, I ask that you be more respectful of those engaged in serious conversations about matters they find important, whether you find them so, or not, and refrain from posting off-topic remarks in blog and forum threads. I hope you understand.

  • 21st Sep 2012

    My comments made the following points:

    1. A proposal for the recruitment drive to be inclusive toward gender-nonconforming in addition to alleviating gender numerical imbalance by recruiting women.

    2. A personal (earnestly cordial, mayday) invitation for a feminist blog commenter, "KM" who wrote a lengthy review of Occupy Vision and Occupy Strategy, somewhere in blogspace, to join IOPS. (And bring friends)

    3. Numerical gender imbalance recreates patriarchy.
    For a convention, or any other form of meetup, it's worth understanding the connection between numerical gendered imbalance (far more men than women) and gendered communication (far more men communicating and publishing than women) and gendered conversational interaction (far more men disagreeing and giving ideas, far more women agreeing and giving support). The response to a feminist blog review is one starting point for analyzing these connections along the way to the plan stated above, which involves intentionally building membership alleviate gendered imbalance.

    I trust that the blog authors and readers can discern for themselves what is the right balance between serious/jesting, relevant or irrelevant, and know that they, as well as Sarah Owens, have my respect and best wishes.

    • 21st Sep 2012

      PS Two more points

      4. A suggestion that notions of civility and rationality be put together with space safening and making everyone feel welcome.

      Emphasis on shared responsibility to approach a standard of felicitous agreeable interaction and knowledge production (e.g. internet communications, books, reviews of books)

      5. An idea for a companion piece to the Occupy books highlighting essays and other expressions of lived experiences, testing out concepts from the books.

  • 26th Sep 2012

    I am writing to apologize to Michael Albert and fellow authors of the Occupy books series, Sarah Owens, and readers for my over-the-top remarks. In hindsight they were alienating, tangential, and rude. The questions/topics I wanted to add could have been introduced in a more congenial and productive way.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the guiding principles of IOPS and trust in its bright future/present. Also, I see the exploration of electronic intercommunalism as a vital contribution to the holist approach.

    In the meantime, I'm feeling a need to stand aside from this particular milieu and self-reflect.

    Best of luck to everyone~

  • Sarah Owens 18th Oct 2012

    Thank you, Perry. I appreciate very much your taking the time to write, and I'm sorry I did not see this until just now to tell you so. All is forgiven.

    One good thing came out of our failure to communicate, and that is, I was reminded of a poem by William Stafford, an Oregon poet laureate, and inspired to post it to the Oregon Chapter page. When you come back, you must tell me what you think about it. http://www.iopsociety.org/united-states/oregon/blog/awake .