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Open Letter About IOPS

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The following is being sent to many people and institutions. Anyone in IOPS can send it, as well, to media yo uappreciate, and it is likely to help a lot.



We the signers of the open letter from Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Boaventura de sousa Santos, John Pilger, and 40 other members of the interim decision body of the new International Organization for a Participatory Society, hope that you will republish our letter, and, even more, that you will publish commentary regarding the organization's purpose, implications, prospects, etc.

Please reply to let us know your personal reaction, and whether you will be recirculating this, or perhaps taking some other related steps.


An Open Message to All Who Seek A New and Better World

We are members of what is called the the Interim Consultative Committee of the International Organization for a Participatory Society - or IOPS for short.

IOPS is actually an interim entity, pending a future founding convention. IOPS was convened just a few months ago and already has over 2,100 members from 85 countries and a ten language site, despite that it is barely known publicly. IOPS is currently building local chapters, which will unite to form national branches that in turn will compose an international organization.

We send this open letter to invite you to please visit the IOPS Site to examine its initial features - including especially and most importantly its Mission and Visionary and Programmatic Commitments.

The IOPS commitments emerged from a long process of discussion and debate. We believe they correspond closely to the most prevalent, advanced, and widely accessible political beliefs on which to build an organization for winning a better world.

We also hope and even believe that if you read and consider the IOPS commitments, you will likely find that they are congenial to your interests and desires and that they provide reason for great hope that IOPS can become a very important organization in the coming years.

If we had to summarize the IOPS commitments, we would note that they emphasize:
that IOPS focuses on cultural, kinship, political, economic, international, and ecological aims without a priori prioritizing any of these over the rest;

  • that IOPS advocates and elaborates key aspects of vision for a sustainable and peaceful world without sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and authoritarianism and with equity, justice, solidarity, diversity, and, in particular, self-management for all people
  • and that IOPS structurally and programmatically emphasizes planting the seeds of the future in the present, winning immediate gains on behalf of suffering constituencies in ways contributing to winning its long term aims as well, developing a caring and nurturing organization and movement, and welcoming and even fostering constructive dissent and diversity within that organization and movement and based on its commitments.
  • We think hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, will, on reading the commitments, overwhelmingly agree with them. We hope that if you look at the commitments and feel that way, you will join and advocate that others join as well. If you instead have problems with the IOPS commitments, we hope you will make your concerns known so a productive discussion can ensue.

On the other hand, we also understand that agreeing with the IOPS commitments will not alone cause those same hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to join IOPS. There are numerous reasons why a person might support the IOPS commitments and even hope that IOPS grows and becomes strong and effective at the grassroots, in every neighborhood, workplace, and social movement, and yet, at the moment, not join. Our best effort to summarize obstacles people may feel to joining even while they like the IOPS commitments, and to address those obstacles also appears on the IOPS site, in a Why Join IOPS Question and Answer format. Essentially we argue: If not now, when? If not us, who?

Asked to provide a succinct summary paragraph for the IOPS site about his involvement, Noam Chomsky wrote: "Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suffering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction that all too often  leads to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening of our understanding of what we hope to achieve… IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, diligence, modesty, and desire, it could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and combining them into a powerful and effective force."

And as Cynthia Peters wrote: "You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don't just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically. More draconian policies with life-threatening consequences, more corporate control, more prisons, more bombs, more funerals. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning and then seeking a better world. Without these elements, we'll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with your presence, you will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others -- across the world -- in the same situation -- up to their necks in the daily fight, and at the same time turning their creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It's the solid beginnings of another world being possible."

We hope you will join us as we try to make it so.


Ezequiel Adamovsky - Argentina
M Adams - U.S.
Michael Albert - U.S.
Jessica Azulay - U.S.
Elaine Bernard - U.S.
Patrick Bond - South Africa
Noam Chomsky - U.S.
Jason Chrysostomou - UK
John Cronan - U.S.
Ben Dangl - U.S.
Denitsa Dimitrova - UK/Bulgaria
Mark Evans - UK
Ann Ferguson - U.S.
Eva Golinger - Venezuela
Andrej Grubacic - Balkans/U.S.
Pervez Hoodbhoy - Pakistan
Antti Jauhiainen - Finland
Ria Julien - U.S./Trinidad
Dimitris Konstanstinou - Greece
Pat Korte - U.S.
Yohan Le Guin - Wales
Mandisi Majavu - South Africa
Yotam Marom - U.S.
David Marty - Spain
Preeti Paul - UK/India
Cynthia Peters - U.S.
John Pilger - UK/Aus
Justin Podur - Canada
Nikos Raptis - Greece
Paulo Rodriguez - Belgium
Charlotte Sáenz - Mexico/U.S.
Anders Sandstrom - Sweden
Boaventura de sousa Santos - Portugal
Lydia Sargent - U.S.
Stephen Shalom - U.S.
Vandana Shiva - India
Chris Spannos - U.S.
Verena Stresing - France/Germany
Elliot Tarver - U.S.
Fernando Ramn Vegas Torrealba - Venezuela
Taylon Tosun - Turkey
Marie Trigona - U.S.
Greg Wilpert - Germany/Venezuela/U.S.
Florian Zollman - Germany

Discussion 17 Comments

  • Olivier Mazeas 23rd Jul 2012

    This is a great initiative! Exactly what we needed!
    And I am so very glad to see Vandana Shiva among us! This is making my day!!!

    Plus, as a member of the translation project, I think it is important to translate this open letter in order to spread the news as widely as possible!

    • Michael Albert 23rd Jul 2012

      People can certainly translate, and then send around in the other languages, of course!

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 24th Jul 2012

      Is Vandana among us or just on the ICC? She does not appear in the members search engine. Just asking. Would love to have her as a member too.

  • 23rd Jul 2012

    Yes thanks, this is a big help in my effort to follow through with your suggestions in the earlier blog.

  • Tom McNamara 23rd Jul 2012

    Dear Michael,

    Sent the letter to everyone I know.

    As the old saying goes, we've got nothing to lose.

    Except our chains.



  • David Adamcik 23rd Jul 2012

    This is helpful. A nice opening or introduction to present to others. Thanks.

  • Maryellen Kurkulos 24th Jul 2012

    So far, I've sent it out to the United for Justice w Peace (Boston) "discuss" list serve prefaced by a short, respectful explanatory note. I think it would be helpful to submit it to the Boston Occupier. I know one of the folks there and I can call him and recommend this - if it's not already been done. As for my small Occupy group where I live (www.occupyfallriver.org), I've been meaning to introduce it at one of our meetings. We are such a fledgling group still without a mission or vision statement (attempts to craft those have been maddeningly unproductive) that I'm waiting to give IOPS the proper context it deserves and that would be most productive. However, I see many opportunities to fold it in to related conversations in the near future, such as our attempts to jump start an Occupy Southcoast NE network with Occupy Providence members. Again, there are so many fundamental issues being dealt with at such preliminary attempts at organizing that we are yet listening to and learning about the work folks are already involved in. Perhaps I am being too hesitant, but from earlier experiences broaching other wider projects (ZCom or Chavez' appeal for a 5th international to which one CISPES members asked "what, the 4th international isn't good enough???") I generally get zero to very modest interest or bemused stares.
    Among the problems I encounter from activists and organizers I work with is that most are so overwhelmed and their time at such a premium that they pay scant attention to things that don't clearly and immediately benefit their projects and consequently dismiss much else. And I also get the impression that of those very committed and active folks, there's a sense that they are authorities on left ideas. I could be wrong (or projecting???) but that's my guess.

    I know it's past time to move past such obstacles. I'll do my best to introduce IOPS to such folks ASAP.
    Tell me whether to proceed with the Boston Occupier. -m.

    • Michael Albert 25th Jul 2012

      For myself, sure, I think what you are doing sounds fine - and the problems familiar, of course. I can't see any reason why a letter signed by 44 people, including many that most in the Boston Occupy efforts relate very positively too, could be anything but reasonable...

  • Mark Evans 24th Jul 2012

    Hi Maryellen - I wouldn't have thought there would be a problem with Left Media / organisations received more than one copy of the letter so I would just go ahead and send it to the Boston Occupier and anywhere else you can think of and not worry about it. That is what I am doing anyway.

    Regarding the problem you mention with activists not paying attention unless it has immediate benefit, well they are just not being serious and you need to work out a way to make them listen.

    Good luck!

  • Anders Sandstrom 25th Jul 2012

    I think the letter turned out very good. There is now a swedish translation uploaded on IOPS Sweden and the letter has been sent out to swedish left media.

  • Poppy Lewis 4th Aug 2012

    Hi all
    I sent a copy of the letter to Oxfam GB in the hope that people would be interested and have a look at the site. I'm going to send it to people I used to work with too as I think they will be interested.
    Here was the response from the media unit:

    Thank you for taking the time to write to Oxfam and to forward us the letter from IOPS. It’s great to see that you are involved in Oxfam's work and are thinking about ideas that could help us to overcome poverty.

    I have discussed this with my colleagues but due to limited time and resources  I'm afraid this isn't something we would be able to take forward for you.  IOPS looks like a very interesting forum but unfortunately it wouldn't fit into a specific remit of our work.

    We work at a grass roots level using culturally sensitive programmes to help people work their way out of poverty; You can read about our values, visions and beliefs here; http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/about-us/our-vision-values-and-goals

    Thank you again for your suggestion and for supporting our work , and please feel free to contact me again if you have any other questions or comments about any aspect of our work. I will be very happy to hear from you again.

    We know that poverty can be overcome if we all play our part, and your support really does make a difference.

    With best wishes

    Charlotte Isles
    Supporter Relations

  • Poppy Lewis 13th Aug 2012

    I've sent the letter to Workers Film Association (WFA) Manchester to be circulated.


  • Ian R. 6th Sep 2012

    Open letter postet in German translation here (my name is in there because I asked for posting it, I claim no authorship):


  • Daniel Hart 18th Sep 2012

    I have linked and reprinted the letter on my new site. I don't have many readers yet though.


  • Ron Ridenour 17th Mar 2013

    I hope that in future communications, the terror wars of the empire are placed as a key evil and priority. Wars-torture are the worst elements of oppression-domination, killing and maiming millions and destroying animals, crops, nature. Naturally racism is a key tool. Far too many people have left the anti-war movement, being coopted by the Obama machine, the ministry of The Progressive Movement, and this pacifity has consumed the anti-war movement in Europe too.

  • Eugenijus Misiunas 22nd Jul 2013

    The letter was published 23rd July 2012 . It was 2100 members a year ago, now we have 3200... It´s not enough, as everyone of us expected.

    • Ismail Ali 26th Aug 2013

      We are going to meet plenty of failure at first, we just need keep pushing, I've recently joined and movements don't start overnight. Don't let apathy set in my friend we just gotta keep pushing I know I will within Glasgow.