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Thoughts on the "Poll on IOPS Future" & The "Interim" Phase

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When we joined IOPS, we didn't join an established organization like Greenpeace or the IWW; we joined a work group engaged in building an organization.  And the organization that we said we would build  -- from the ground up, beginning with chapters -- is unique because:  (a) at all levels, it would "prefigure" the participatory society we seek to establish, and (b) the initial (or "interim") phase of construction would continue until we achieved the degree of diversity and participation required by IOPS values to legitimate decision-making at the international level.  Until then, decisions that are binding at the international level would be made by the ICC and would be limited "to matters that are truly essential or highly desirable to resolve before a [founding] convention," and, consequently, "kept to a minimum."  (Interim Committee)  One way to think about this limitation on decision-making is that it protects the interests of members yet-to-be who are unrepresented by the current participating membership.  However, none of this prevents local or regional self-management and initiative -- to the contrary, the provisions of the IOPS "Structure and program" encourages it.  (Structure and program)


The IOPS "key" documents -- "Mission," "Vision" and "Structure and program" -- describe the "Interim Organization[*]."  (About IOPS)  And, the principle that the interim phase should continue until IOPS achieves the degree of diversity and participation that would legitimate decision-making at the international level is implicit in (if not integral to) the following statements of policy in the “Structure and program” document: (1) the organization "always * * * strives to implement the self management norm that 'each member has decision making say proportional to the degree they are affected'";  (2) the organization "always * * * respects diversity, so that national, regional, city, and local chapters can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs as they choose so long as their choices do not interfere with the shared goals and principles of the organization or with other groups addressing their own situations"; and (3) the organization "always * * * seeks to constantly grow its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to aid." (Structure and program)  


As Sarah Owens explained recently in a comment on the Poll on IOPS Future:


The only way to account for the views of members yet-to-be is by having sufficient diversity and participation levels before making organization-wide decisions. Not making organization-wide decisions until there is sufficient diversity and participation to account for members yet-to-be is the whole point of the interim.


Like all of the values upon which the IOPS "Structure and program" is based, self-management and diversity are not competing values -- they are complementary, and our work and the choices we are making now should give effect to both.


A year ago, the IOPS membership established "preconditions" (minimum standards) for ending the interim phase and holding a founding convention -- i.e., at least 3,500 members (30% of whom are female) and 20 "working" chapters (each with at least 5 members and 30% female membership), distributed among 5 nation states and 3 continents -- and we gave ourselves one year (until June 12, 2014) to achieve these preconditions. The preconditions were not just hoops to jump through to get to the convention.  Instead, they reflected our commitment to build, during the interim phase, a prefigurative organization.  We did not achieve the preconditions by the June 12th deadline.  

If we are serious about the principles and goals we committed to when we joined IOPS, what we do now depends on the answers to two questions:  (1) Does IOPS currently have the degree of diversity and participation that would legitimate decision-making at the international level?   (2) If not, why not, and what's the plan for getting there?  The  answer to the first question is no, and no one has argued otherwise.  The answer to the second question depends on how we assess the current situation, including what happened over the last two years, and the conclusions we draw from that examination.   As the What now? blog reminded us a month ago:


The possibility that we might face the situation we face today was discussed in late 2012, well before the preconditions had been determined. At that time, there seemed to be general agreement that, if we were unable to reach our goals within the set time-frame, we should “strategically reassess the future of IOPS[,] including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed" [3], and “reevaluate the future of IOPS based on this experience." [4]. We did not, and have not since, identified precisely the mechanism for that reevaluation process. We need to do that now.  


We have yet to undertake, much less complete, that reassessment (and data-gathering), and the current  Poll on IOPS Future  is not a substitute for it.  Continuing to base decisions about what IOPS should do now on the unexamined assumptions that we failed to achieve the preconditions because they are too onerous, or because of IOPS' interim status, or because of the ICC, instead of considering and testing the hypothesis that the failure resulted from a lack of effort, mental preparation or organizational skills on the part of the membership and an unrealistic deadline, is like buying a new car, and then, two weeks later when it won't start, deciding to junk it without first checking to see whether the battery is dead, or there is gas in the fuel tank.

Although it is clear that IOPS lacks the requisite degree of diversity and participation, there has been no objective assessment of why that is the case, and there is no evidence that deciding now whether to end the IOPS interim phase is “truly essential or highly desirable.”  "Proposal two" -- favored by the ICC by one vote -- would have us abandon the preconditions and the values that they reflect, thereby erasing what makes IOPS unique -- the commitment to build an organization that prefigures the participatory society we seek to achieve.  In effect, “Proposal two,” reflects an attitude that is not unlike the one expressed in the following comment, which appeared on June 2d in the discussion on the  Future of IOPS poll :


I think it's silly that an organization would slow itself down based on whether enough women join.


Under this view, “whether enough women join,” or whether enough men and women living in places other than North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand join, is like weather -- there’s nothing that we can/should do about it.  Yet, it's clear from the provisions of the "key documents" that an IOPS member's commitment to diversity -- within individual chapters and the participatory society that IOPS seeks to build -- is essential, and, IOPS is not "slowed down" by expecting its members (including the ICC in its proposals) to honor that commitment any more than a parent is “slowed down” by the need to care for his children.


In a comment on the Poll on IOPS Future, Michael Albert says:


We are not voting on proposals for what to do. This is a poll to see how various people who would otherwise likely be completely silent, feel about a very few issues.


Although that may be the intent of the poll, as a practical matter, it is difficult to see this poll as anything other than a “vote” on the two ICC proposals.  That’s certainly how the London IOPS chapter sees it.  Preeti Kaur, commenting on the  Poll on IOPS Future , reports:


IOPS London had a regular meeting yesterday at which this Poll was discussed. I have been asked to report back that members in attendance (14 in total) decided to * * *  unanimously, and as a group, support Proposal Two[.]


And, while we don’t know how representative they are, many other members commenting on the blogs and polls addressing our current circumstances also appear to see this poll as a vote on whether to end the IOPS interim phase.  Indeed, the poll’s first question, "Do you feel that we should remove or retain the conditions we earlier set for holding a founding convention?" amounts to a choice between the two proposals.  More importantly, the poll -- particularly the first two questions -- is not likely to yield the information required for an objective reassessment of our current circumstances and for the kind of focused planning that would address those circumstances.  Essentially, the poll invites participants to choose between staying where we are (whatever that means to the individual) and ignoring what the objective reasons are for our current circumstances and moving on in some new direction.    


Notwithstanding this poll and our failure to achieve the preconditions for a founding convention, there’s no need to rush into anything, or to make important decisions about the future of IOPS on the basis of anecdote and speculation.  The strategic reassessment and the data-gathering that is essential to it can and should proceed.  And, while that goes on, we can work to build and reinvigorate our chapters, as London is doing, through collaboration and mutual support among active and not-yet-active chapters using available resources and ideas.

In so doing, we must continually remind ourselves that we cannot expect to build a society that incorporates the values expressed in the preconditions, or be perceived as an organization with the capacity and vision to create that society, if we abandon those preconditions because we're impatient with our current "interim" status.

Discussion 132 Comments

  • Apple Birne 12th Jul 2014

    I just joined and am re-evaluating IOPS now! I hope my opinions are not too ignorant, and apologize if I say things you consider obvious. (I studied ParSoc years ago. But only now am I in a position where I can begin to participate here. For a couple reasons, I believe IOPS unnecessarily excludes.)

    I hope I've been an effective activist. But there are many people here who've done this waaay longer and are no doubt waaay more effective, and I'd love to learn from them. So why is there even talk about disbanding IOPS? Can't IOPS be a great clearing-house of info and experiences? Mentorship for activists, both online and meatspace?

    Then maybe as a side-effect of success, there can eventually be the Big Meeting.

    And why haven't we built a directory of interesting local groups yet? They're everywhere! Like feminist hackerspaces. [1] And solidarity networks where people pressure bosses and landlords. [2] These are full of experienced people with interesting lessons which could enrich us, who've no doubt hit upon similar conclusions as we have. Clearly, intersectional feminists have, and have gone much further in many respects.

    [1] http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-rise-of-feminist-hackerspaces-and-how-to-make-your-own
    [2] http://seasol.net/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKECEPTJuUw

    • Sarah Owens 12th Jul 2014

      Welcome, Apple Birne. No worries about saying obvious stuff. In fact, we probably could use some plain speaking on this here website. I'll start. First, no one is talking about disbanding IOPS. Second, the only reason "we" haven't done this or that, is because no individual has initiated and followed through on it. I suggest, if you think it might be a good idea to build a directory of interesting local groups, you organize the other 9 members of the Berlin chapter, and do just that! And keep notes on your efforts, write blogs about your successes and failures. The Berlin page doesn't have an admin -- would you be willing to do that? I don't know if you identify as female, but if you do, your chapter is more than 30% female. Wouldn't it be something if through your efforts the Berlin chapter became active and assumed a leadership role in our organizing efforts? I'm just pretty darn sure you could do it if you tried. (A good place to start is completing your profile, uploading a photo or image, and getting the other Berlin members to do the same, then see about getting together for a face to face meeting.) If you want other ideas, just drop me a line.

    • Apple Birne 13th Jul 2014

      Thanks for the encouragement! But it's a bit complicated...

      For one thing, this account doesn't have my real location. I intend to share lessons I've learned, and plan with others. But there can be consequences to both me and my activist work if I'm too transparent. Because I'm here to see if there's really likeminded people.

      If IOPS doesn't recognize this, then it's biased towards privileged people who don't seriously worry about such things. In my world, women (and their children) receive daily death threats for a few tweets. Where desperate people get ridden harder by bosses, who play mindgames, physically intimidate or fire anyone with a backbone.

      IOPS emphasizes meetings with nearby people, probably even face-to-face. But does IOPS carefully educate all members on how to behave properly, with real accountability? Because "radicals" are by no means immune to harassing and oppressing others. In fact, radicals can often be worse than your boss, in terms of being racist/sexist/classist. All the time I see this.

      Here, I'm concerned about being shamed because I refuse to share things like my location. I was unable to join without lying. Any solid activist should see that I don't give enthusiastic consent. (Maybe I shouldn't join then? But Z writes "even if you are far from sure IOPS will succeed, you ought to lend a hand to IOPS?" So here I am.)

      That's a red flag. When acting with people, I carefully ask after people's comfort and risk tolerance. I do not "recruit" people into orgs with such red flags, which don't seem to think through basic stuff.

      (I imagine people are effective because they don't give up. And a necessary part of that is managing risk: you're constantly massaging initial failures to wonderful successes, doing a dozen little things to win. So none of your failures should be disastrous. So I'm pretty preoccupied with risk analysis, foreseeing what can go wrong and who'll fail to have everyone's back. Little details can be important.)

      Hopefully this does not sound confrontational! I'm here because I mentioned IOPS to someone (de facto "recruiting"), and now I'm following up by carefully investigating IOPS, in order not to put this person at risk of disappointment.

    • Apple Birne 13th Jul 2014

      And I do really hope that I don't sound confrontational; I'm used to fighting classist/racist/sexist "radicals" who attack people personally, and whose lack of solidarity leads to their targets suffering violent threats. So I tend to tighten up.

      (And sorry for the wall of text; wish I could edit my post for brevity.)

    • Apple Birne 13th Jul 2014

      Oh, and I see you didn't mention "recruiting", but rather organizing those who already signed up.

      Bad week, sorry.

    • Sarah Owens 13th Jul 2014

      Understood, Apple. I don't think you will be criticized (shamed) for not sharing your location or other personal identifiers, but if anything like that happens, I hope you will message me about it. You are not the only member of IOPS in this position. Some folks don't even sign up, but manage to participate locally anyway. Others communicate outside the website through more secure mediums. All that's fine. Do whatever you need to do, and contribute however you are able, and if you're not able to contribute much right now, then look for opportunities in the future. I appreciate your sharing what you did, by way of explanation. It did not sound confrontational at all, but respectful and honest. Do please let me know if I can be of any assistance. If I don't have an answer, I can probably put you in touch with a member who does.

    • Paulo Rodriguez 13th Jul 2014

      Hello Apple, and welcome!

      I personally understand your concerns regarding the potential consequences of your activities here, and don't believe it will be held against you either, as Sarah stated. It's quite ok to be careful, according to your assessment of your own personal circumstances.

      As for the potential confrontational tone, I for one can say, I didn't notice any! You stated your doubts, in a sensible manner. Nothing wrong with that either. :)

    • Gregory VanGaya 15th Jul 2014

      Thanks Apple for taking the time to bring all those valid concerns to the open discussion, that you mentioned within our 'private' discussion from the welcome message I sent you. People in here have worked diligently to make this a supportive space full of respect and solidarity (I should know as I'm one of the worst offenders and get put right often enough).
      I really think you'll find yourself respected in here.

      I suppose one aspect of your points might be, 'how would we know what diversity composition we have with the membership if us asking people to 'out' themseslves is itself not a safe or respectful question?
      Now there's a real problem!

  • Daniël de Klerk 12th Jul 2014

    As much as I understand your sentiment I feel this is a trivial point of discussion. The focus should be on organizing locally along practical lines and how to expand IOPS beyond it's limitations as Anglophone group.

    Diversity is all great yet there no practical effort to really improve this effectively. Without actual organization and structures of networks between different groups you won't have an shot at diversity that isn't a failed attempt at affirmative action. Trying to hold up the organization as a whole and as separate components to standards is fine and should be done. However any sort of interim phase as it is executed makes no difference in this, there is absolutely nothing it adds to credibility, an organization that is active in real life struggle is.

    If you want IOPS to cover more continents, support chapters from other continents and support translation and organization efforts that facilitate. If you want gender diversity then be active and do not exclude women and transpeople ('not exclude' are the key words), many activist groups have no under representation of women or even have more women than men present. If you want more poor then organize so that IOPS has active groups in poorer regions of a nation. Want more racial diversity make sure the organization spreads to those area's that were minorities are more common, or as said. Etc

    There are many plausible explanations that contribute to the lack of the above. And we can address those issues right now given the right resources. As for women in IOPS, I've haven't counted them but Fred said we were over 30% if I recall correctly in last weeks live talk.

    Now to be quite honest, I disagree with the whole presented notion of excluding international decision making, but then I also disagree with how chapters are structured and much more. Much that is simple a consequence of how IOPS was created and structured from the beginning onward, which accounts for many more issues. Which I think I've said several times before. Groups should be more spontaneously formed and diverse in scope in accordance with the matter of fact of a specific country. And any decision should be made with what ever group or individual it matters to be applied in accordance with their needs. Which is at least in part what I'm in part tying to build up here in the Netherlands and I hope that concept spreads throughout the whole IOPS.

    • Daniël de Klerk 12th Jul 2014

      A correction on the amount of women currently present. According to Fred 'we are at roughly 15% female membership. 20% since june 2012. 10% before that. 1771 new members since june 2012. when we had roughly 1943 members.'

    • Sarah Owens 12th Jul 2014

      Hi, Daniel, if you think the blog is NOT calling for the focus to be on on organizing locally along practical lines and how to expand IOPS beyond it's limitations as Anglophone group, you're misreading it. All the blog is saying is that periodic reassessment of local organizing efforts is a necessary part of that focus. See my response to Lambert, below.

      Speaking of being practical, do you think you could deactivate one of these:



    • Daniël de Klerk 13th Jul 2014

      There is tacit support for something like that. But as I read it, it's mostly a defense of the poll and the interim phase.

    • Michael Livingston 13th Jul 2014

      I think you've misread the blog. It is not a defense of the poll. To the contrary, the blog states: "[T]he poll -- particularly the first two questions -- is not likely to yield the information required for an objective reassessment of our current circumstances and for the kind of focused planning that would address those circumstances." With respect to the interim phase, the blog asks the question whether it is really necessary to abandon the preconditions and the principles upon which the "interim" phase is based in order to fix the IOPS organization's current problem(s). Because that is such a drastic remedy, the "issue" is hardly "trivial."

    • Daniël de Klerk 13th Jul 2014

      Perhaps I did miss the intended message, but I still don't agree with your point. I think it's trivial because I don't see why it make a significant difference if we kept or removed it to the overall ability of IOPS to succeed so to speak. Personally I think were fine with at least keeping the interim goals because it at least gives us something to judge the progress of IOPS by. Which is to say, in answer to your query, removing it won't solve anything unless the interim phase is a psychological or practical obstacle to any progress, which I don't think it is.

    • Michael Livingston 13th Jul 2014

      The blog also favors keeping the "interim goals," if by that you mean the "preconditions." If by "it" you mean the interim status of IOPS, removing that status under the current circumstances means abandoning the principles identified in the blog -- principles that make IOPS unique and which members effectively agreed to when they joined. Abandoning those principles because they appear to be inconvenient, or require more work than folks thought they would is not a trivial matter to me. So, I guess we disagree.

  • Lambert Meertens 12th Jul 2014

    Quote from Michael Livingston:

     "The strategic reassessment and the data-gathering that is essential to it can and should proceed."

    Where can we find out more about this reassessment process, and how can we contribute to it?

    Assuming the reassessment leads to clear conclusions that we should make some changes, doesn't the "interim logic" imply that we must continue unchanged until the conditions arise under which we may have a founding convention that decides on these changes?

    Yet it is clear that if we continue operating the same way as we have been going all the time, we'll never reach a convincing diversity.

    • Daniël de Klerk 12th Jul 2014

      What would be your idea of changing our way of operating?

    • Lambert Meertens 13th Jul 2014

      Quote from Daniël de Klerk:

       "What would be your idea of changing our way of operating?"

      I believe that we can be more effective – in whatever we could or should be doing – if we collectively develop campaigns that are realistically doable given our resources, including the effort members are willing to put in, and then proceed to execute them. Rinse and repeat. Now members offer suggestions, there are some reactions, but a conclusion is never reached – because we have no way of deciding, "this is the conclusion". As one of many examples, take the proposal of Jon Doe for a chapter building tour. It all just peters out. Only where there are active local chapters can members mount shared campaigns, but then the effect is only local and not there where it is needed most.

      I also have specific ideas on what we can and should do, which I've brought forward in blogs and elsewhere, but that's not the point. The point is that in our current way of operating it is futile for members to bring ideas forward, however excellent.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Jul 2014


      What changes would you make "in our current way of operating to take advantage of these good ideas and proposals? What do you think are the current impediments to putting them into action?

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Jul 2014

      The main impediment is the absence of some mechanism that allows us, after a proper discussion, to conclude that we have collectively decided something. Absent such a mechanism we cannot make decisions together – and therefore also no decisions that for now some project should be given a high priority.

      So the main change would be to create some mechanism for us to make collective decisions without having to wait for an ICC initiative.

      I'm not afraid that we will engage in making "organization-wide decisions" abrogating the rights of the zillions of members yet-to-be. I trust the collective wisdom and responsibility of the present members not to somehow change the idea and commitments of IOPS in a dramatic and irreversible way. The purpose is to make practical decisions on what to on the short term given the limited resources we have.

      The risk of continuing the way we have been proceeding until now is much higher – then there may just not be that many yet-to-be members before IOPS takes its last gasp.

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Jul 2014

      --> ... practical decisions on what to do in the short term ...

    • Michael Livingston 22nd Jul 2014

      Is a non-ICC "organization-wide" decision-making process necessary to put good ideas like the chapter-building tour or a members' handbook into action? Why can't local or regional collaboration accomplish that?

    • Lambert Meertens 23rd Jul 2014

      In theory we could produce an East Coast Members' Handbook, a West Coast Members' Handbook, a Greater London Members' Handbook, and so on. But that is pure theory. Efforts along such lines would result in many times nothing. Where we have local concentrations, building local chapters and keeping them alive and well should generally take priority over efforts aiming at a wider reach. Regionally we are nowhere really strong. We have a lot of unused power though in the many dispersed and geographically somewhat isolated members, but no way of accessing it.

    • Sarah Owens 12th Jul 2014

      “Where can we find out more about this reassessment process, and how can we contribute to it?”

      I’m glad you asked that, Lambert, because we need every member who’s in a position to do so help his or her local and regional chapter to develop a process that’s appropriate for them, to gather as much information as is reasonably available about their organizing efforts over the past year (or longer), to analyze it together, decide what worked and what didn’t, and develop strategies to overcome or work around shortcomings. For instance, you and Daniel here are both in the North Holland chapter. Get with each other, find out what’s going on with the other 4 members of your chapter, and the 43 members of the Netherlands. Who are they, what do they want for IOPS? What have they been doing? What would it take to get Amsterdam (5 members) active? Why are there only a couple of Netherlands members willing to act as admins? Do they need encouragement? Information? You get the idea. Then, after all of that’s been thoroughly discussed and digested, post a report. That’s what you can do.

      “Assuming the reassessment leads to clear conclusions that we should make some changes, doesn't the "interim logic" imply that we must continue unchanged until the conditions arise under which we may have a founding convention that decides on these changes?”

      No. Certainly not. The blog doesn’t remotely suggest that “we must continue unchanged.”

    • Lambert Meertens 13th Jul 2014

      Sarah, do you expect other members who are in a position to gather and analyze information with their (nonexistent) chapters to read your answer to my comment on this blog and proceed accordingly?

      Did you see the contribution by Tommy Strange on Michael Albert's "Now what?" blog? That is the reality for many members – how do you suggest they analyze that?

      In my analysis there is something wrong with our website, the point of entry for most not-yet-members, as indicated in some of my early blogs (Our key documents are too difficult, Sending an inviting message). IOPS as seen through the website has no vibe. It does not project a welcoming feel. And to a certain extent that is not merely appearance, unfortunately – new members who do not directly conform to orthodoxy are spoken to sternly and sometimes shooed away. We attract people who agree with our critical views but scare away people who want to do something. This cannot be fixed locally – only a central reassessment effort can have effect.

      Indeed, the blog does not suggest that we must continue unchanged. But that appears, nevertheless, to be the reality, a spell cast over IOPS at its birth by the "interim logic" fairy.

    • Sarah Owens 13th Jul 2014

      “Indeed, the blog does not suggest that we must continue unchanged.”

      Good. Glad we have that cleared up.

      “[D]o you expect other members who are in a position to gather and analyze information with their (nonexistent) chapters to read your answer to my comment on this blog and proceed accordingly?”

      Lambert, Lambert, Lambert. Isn’t the question whether I expect YOU to gather and analyze information? The answer is no, I’ve read too much of your writings to think that. I was simply trying to give a polite response to your question, since you asked it, and I think the least you could do in return is to pretend you’re going to get together with Daniel and work to organize North Holland.

    • Daniël de Klerk 13th Jul 2014

      If it makes you feel better, we are somewhat trying to do that atm.

    • Sarah Owens 13th Jul 2014

      Thanks, Daniel, it does make me feel better. I'll look forward to hearing more.

    • Fred Curran 13th Jul 2014

      I do wonder though how we would decide on a change, how we can coordinate our efforts, voluntarily mind you, to work to institute that change or those changes. And then are those changes not only possible at the national regional and local levels, but not on the international level?

    • Fred Curran 13th Jul 2014

      Let me stress voluntarily again, as Lambert said above, we need to be considering what we can do with what we really have, not what we would like to have, or what it looks like we might have.
      It also seems like a lot of our ideas in general are predicated on the actions of others, which seems to be an invariable recipe for disaster.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Jul 2014

      Given our current circumstances, most, if not all, of the important decisions, actions and collaborations are, or should be, occurring at the local, regional or national level.

    • Fred Curran 18th Jul 2014

      You are not proposing this collaborative effort to exclude people outside of Salem, Oregon, or the US

      Why should we limit ourselves to level of action and collaboration? Local, Regional, National

      How many people do you think will undertake this task?

      How many people do you think we can call on to do any action at the international level?

  • Paulo Rodriguez 13th Jul 2014

    Thanks for your contribution Michael. Clearly written, with reference to other peoples' contributions, in a constructive tone, argumented without being confrontational.

    Two thumbs up, Mike!

    • jaqui eicher 16th Jul 2014

      I concur Paulo! Michael sets the tone for something I'd like to be a part of.

  • Fred Curran 13th Jul 2014

    Don't you think it would be nice for the ICC to be more representative and diverse? I would be interested to know the diversity of voting members, or the members who put together the poll. I think if we decide to hold ourselves to preconditions, we should hold some governing body to some similar level. On the note of preconditions, could it be that these preconditions are simply masking a problem, a more important issue? We seek to reach these preconditions with targeted recruitment, which does nothing to address the issue of why there are so few women, but to pad the rolls so to speak.

    • Michael Livingston 14th Jul 2014

      On the "What Now?" blog, in response to James Wilson's observation that the ICC lacks gender diversity, Mark Evans wrote: "James - perhaps you have forgotten, but there was a recruitment drive to address gender imbalance in the ICC, as there was within IOPS more generally (see the interim targets) - but we were unsuccessful on both counts. What we need to work out is the reasons for these failings." I agree with that, and "work[ing] out * * * the reasons for it" would/should be part of the reassessment called for in this blog.

    • Johannes 14th Jul 2014

      I addressed «the reasons for these failings» two years ago here:


      The reason why the ICC is not diverse is because there was no serious effort to make it diverse. By «serious effort» I mean basically any kind of transparent mechanism beyond merely announcing to have a «recruitment drive to address gender imbalance in the ICC».

      The ICC is invitation only. If one member decides to invite another female member, that will happen. If another ICC member decides to invite ten rich, white males, then that will happen.

      Unless there is a transparent mechanism for deciding who should be on the ICC and who shouldn't, it's diversity will remain random. So, the natural question which follows is: How could such a mechanism look like? Accordingly me, or any one else, could come up with a proposal for that. And, as Lambert pointed out correctly, it would result in absolutely no action whatsoever simply because there is no way for us to make decisions on that level.

      So the only way something like this could happen would be if the ICC itself came up with a transparent mechanism. I think if that mechanism would be in line with our agreed upon preconditions (hopefully reflecting not only desired diversity but also desired activity) I assume this would be uncontroversial and hence no problem.

      However, anyone who knows even the slightest bit about how hard it is to get any of the ICC members to reply to an email knows that this very unlikely to happen. So, we're basically stuck with an ICC which does not at all reflect our «commitment to build an organization that prefigures the participatory society we seek to achieve».

      Another option to solve this issue would be if the ICC members would simply step down. If there is no ICC, there is obviously no need to make it diverse, or at least active for that matter, and no need for making decisions wich cannot be made.

      Having said that, I would like to add that I certainly do agree that we need to have measurable targets in order to progress. I am just not so sure that having the ICC is contributing to that.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Jul 2014

      JOHANNES: I agree with your observation: "So, we're basically stuck with an ICC which does not at all reflect our 'commitment to build an organization that prefigures the participatory society we seek to achieve'." I think that's also evident in ICC member Ann Ferguson's comments posted July 13 and 14 on the "Poll on IOPS Future" about what she had in mind when she came up with and voted for "Proposal two."

  • Lambert Meertens 14th Jul 2014

    If we set measurable targets, it is really important that these are sensible targets. Look at the mess and misery caused by the "measurable targets" of the No Child Left Behind programme and the PISA programme of the OECD. Like "teaching for the test", targets that are measurable get substituted in the practice of teaching for the real targets of education, driving them out. A similar thing has happened with the h-index getting substituted for meaningful notions of academic productivity, leading to a veritable diarrhea of completely uninteresting publications. And think of the effect of using the bottom line as the measurable target of success in the corporate world.

    Having 3500 members and 20 "working" chapters worldwide as a precondition target is actually pretty sad. When the earlier expectations were lowered that much, it was like an admission of failure. If it had been 3500 active members and 20 solid and flourishing chapters in each of Africa, South America, and Asia, then I could have believed that they are not just numbers but reflect something meaningful underlying them.

    But it is even better not to have such formal numerical targets at all. I'd rather have one single truly solid chapter than five marginal ones. I'd rather have one solid chapter in Uganda than five in the Netherlands. And so on and so on.

    • Michael Livingston 15th Jul 2014

      LAMBERT, the observations you've made here are both important and timely.

      (1) "Having 3500 members and 20 'working' chapters worldwide as a precondition target is actually pretty sad."

      Yes, these expectations are quite minimal.

      (2) "If it had been 3500 active members and 20 solid and flourishing chapters in each of Africa, South America, and Asia, then I could have believed that they are not just numbers but reflect something meaningful underlying them."

      Given our current lack of diversity internationally, that's the kind of amendment to the preconditions, among others, that we should/could be considering now -- i.e., "numbers" that "reflect something meaningful underlying them" and a concrete plan for overcoming the impediments to achieving them. And, the fact that we are not is, in large part, a consequence of the ICC's moving forward with these two proposals and this poll without first undertaking, or supporting, the reassessment called for in this blog and in the "What now?" blog.

  • LedSuit ' 15th Jul 2014

    I wasn't going yo say anything but a couple of things are bugging me.

    Johannes talks of some transparent mechanisms for deciding who's on the ICC, but I can't really get around the obvious notion that, if one has been told that some gender target needs to be met, I would assume, any member of the ICC wouldn't decide to invite ten rich white men to join given they are the only group with even modest legitimacy. The fact that the OGWEML was unable to achieve, what perhaps, from my perspective, may have been a simpler task for some already involved in activism, with skills, connections, and maybe a degree of confidence greater than say myself, should elicit a certain amount of eyebrow raising.

    The second thing bugging me is to do with any kind of "...objective reassessment of our current circumstances and for the kind of focused planning that would address those circumstances."

    How is this to be done and by whom? Given that writing comments and posting blogs is really no more than a sign that some members here have a penchant for doing so and nothing much more I don't see how any real "objective" anything could be done via the website, much less "focused planning". Given that so few people can actually be bothered to get on the website and post anything, it would hardly be representative. Given that there are only 6 chapters meeting at rather odd times, some rather infrequently and with fluctuating attendances, that the OGWEML has, it seems, been reduced by half, and no-one much knows whether that has accidentally achieved the gender target, and that they are only to make uncontroversial decision and that only a couple hundred or so will probably vote before the deadline leaving a rather gaping kind of hole in the data gathered, how is any kind of worthy or valuable reassessment going to take place?

    I hope the above is worthy of a posting. I hope they are legitimate questions, observations or whatever they are. I hope I haven't embarrassed anyone on the ICC. I would ask these questions even if I was face to face at some meeting, if I had the courage, and would use the same kind of language. I really didn't want to post anything, as it really doesn't mean much other than I kind of like doing it. Or at least, used to!

    • Fred Curran 15th Jul 2014

      Do you feel it doesn't mean much because what you say may be responded to but there will not be a building developing process that has traction enough to translate our conversations into action?

    • Fred Curran 15th Jul 2014

      Because if that is the reason I will happily commit to participating in a voluntary consensus based decision making structure with any subset of IOPS/non IOPS members to put ideas into action. Please let us just take the time and commit ourselves to developing that.

    • Gregory VanGaya 15th Jul 2014

      James, it seems to me that someone has to take ownership of questioning all the participating members, at least on the web site, about what a. decision making process they see being employed from here, and b. what shared project they see being employed from here. Do this by private messaging, skype, blogging, whatever it takes.
      Then categorize those suggestions and create a blog publishing the preliminary suggestions from the membership, which should illuminate ourselves on what we all actually think would work best to organize ourselves and our communities.
      Tools exist, it's just that someone needs to actually use those tools to canvas the membership in a somewhat structured way. Then use all the broad suggestions to facilitate a conversation that refines what we're all thinking could be usefully done. Then finally, hold a poll that will allow us to make the actual choice of a. a broader decision making structure-process, and b., (imo) gives us an int'l shared project to work on.

    • Gregory VanGaya 15th Jul 2014

      would you be into doing my above James?

    • Michael Livingston 16th Jul 2014

      JAMES: Your post (as always) is indeed "worthy." Can't help much with the ICC concerns, but, I can respond to the reassessment questions(s).

      It begins, I think, with an open mind (I'm dead serious here, and this may be a struggle for some folks.) Then, gleaning & mining data (i.e., numbers) from the information stored in the website -- for example, a breakdown of member numbers and location -- local, regional, national, etc.), gender breakdown (local, regional, etc.), number of chapters with 5 or more members that aren't "working" chapters and where they are, number of chapters with 5 or more members and at least 30% female membership that aren't "working" chapters and where they are, where are there members with no other members nearby and what are they doing, number of members who've left IOPS, the areas/regions that show greatest growth in membership and the least during the past year, and the number of members engaged in active projects -- there's a lot more there. Then, with some hypotheses in mind based on the data, conduct targeted surveys of chapters (regular meetings? projects? impediments to growth? understanding of IOPS principles? degree of organizational skills? who are your recruiting targets?). And, although, as you suggest, opinions posted on the website may not be representative, sometimes, folks post their actual experiences (like the story of the London chapter's recent revival), which, although anecdotal, is very helpful. There are other steps, of course, but it starts with data -- numbers -- showing exactly who and where we are and what we're doing. We need to get conjecture and subjective impressions out of it.

      I'm glad you posted this and hope you'll continue and continue to "kind of like doing it."

    • Kim Keyser 17th Jul 2014

      I thought you might had something like this in mind, but now it's clearer. Thanks. And yes, that should be done. "Someone" should do it. Unfortunately, my name is not Somone and neither do I know Someone tho…

      It seems to me there's a few of the chapters that do meet all the criteria, that are not active (or barely active), and some chapters – or rather local groups – that do not meet all the criteria, who are active (particularly in Scandinavia, maybe other places too, but I do not *think* so). However, I do not have a precise overview of the situation, but it can't be gleamed simply by looking at data – we would have to see who post what, and get in touch them personally.

    • LedSuit ' 18th Jul 2014

      Thank you Michael.

      So sounds like a job for an IFB. In this case an Information Facilitation Board. Perhaps it could even repeat the process. Once all the quantitative objectively neutral "data" is collected, presented to us "consumers" and "producers" and we have ascertained whatever from it, we send it back, appendaged with our "qualitative" thoughts for further processing. Then the IFB becomes both an Information Facilitation Board and an Iteration Facilitation Board!

      Maybe the OGWEML becomes some kind of virtual chapter held together tentatively by email, with no more importance than any other chapter or group. They, and all active chapters, forward their qualitative thoughts on the data back to the IFB, to be processed and spat back out at us again with whatever changes the new data (qualitative thoughts, notions, ideas, bullshit) implies or suggests. You know, proposals and all that jazz!

      Problem is, how to garner the qualitative thoughts of the rest of the membership who aren't in active chapters but want to be, those too busy with other activist work, and those isolated for all sorts of reasons. Actually, the first problem is garnering all that information in the first place. Whoever does it could become the IFB I suppose. Then there's the problem of how it is to be presented and to whom? All of us or just the OGWEML? All would be better perhaps?? What kind of mechanisms would be set up for discussing, debating and absorbing all this information and it's ramafications. Blogs, comments, forums?? How representative would these be considering the possibility that all the posted comments and blogs or whatever, may just be the ramblings of those who like doing that sort of thing, and what of those like Ann Fergusson, who raised the possibility there are some who may not wish to debate with those they've never met before, on a website? How much time do we allow for the process and how is that decided?

      Who wants to be on the IFB? Or does all the data just get mined by whoever has the time, skills and desire and dumped on us all via a blog?
      If it just goes to the OGWEML for their own private perusal what would that mean re prefiguration?

      Or maybe we should just let all this blow over, sweep it under the carpet so to speak and just get on with whatever it is we are supposed to be getting on with, as if nothing has happened, interim targets and everything intact? Possibly, and I say this with the utmost respect, ignoring the OGWEML. As if they don't exist. Kind of like a coup, but far more subtle and less overt. As if they were unnecessary, kind of like Paul McCartney!

      My mind is always pretty open (I think and hope), it's usually the shit that comes out of it that's the problem. Oh, and how it works, which is completely beyond me, although I reckon, like much of my physiological self, has much to do with my genetic endowment and there ain't a lot I can do about that! And whatever glimpses I have had of the inner workings of my mind, have usually left me feeling unimpressed and frankly, a little frightened!

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jul 2014

      JAMES: (1) You've probably already explained it somewhere and I just missed it, but, what's "OGWEML"?

      (2) "maybe we should just let all this blow over, sweep it under the carpet so to speak and just get on with whatever it is we are supposed to be getting on with, as if nothing has happened, interim targets and everything intact" I don't know that this is an option, given the many different views about what IOPS is and what it/we should be doing.

      (3) Yes, I agree; the "first" step/problem is getting the information. But, it's there.

      (4) Re: Ann Ferguson -- there are plenty of options other than abandoning the preconditions and the interim phase and having a convention to have face-to-face communications and debate.

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Jul 2014

      OGWEML = only group with even modest legitimacy (i.e., the ICC).

  • Gregory VanGaya 15th Jul 2014

    There was also the two mass email prompting all members to fill out this poll, which suggests strongly that it is 'attempting' to achieve validity as THE direction the organization will take. I also read that comment by Albert where he said [the poll was simply trying to gather info, not be binding], and I doubt that once it has been taken by 300 members, achieved by using spam messaging to the whole membership, that holding it back as an official decision will be viable.
    It seems there was no discussion to establish the broad issue(s) to poll about, and the issue that was picked for the poll has it's questions designed fairly narrowly within the issue of founding convention and chapters' based decision making.

    Somehow there does need to be a decision made on the future, and something has to be done, but the active, participating members should have been broadly canvassed for a range options on how to advance the org, then suggestions from the broad sampling could've been categorized and a series of polls could have widdled that categorization of broad sampling down.
    As far as I know, Albert's poll should really be just information gathering and not point to much of anything for a decision.

    • Gregory VanGaya 15th Jul 2014

      Correction for my above post: "...once (the poll) has been taken by 300 members, achieved by using spam messaging to the whole membership, that holding the poll back as an official decision will NOT be viable.

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jul 2014

      And, for the reasons outlined in this blog, the "information" gathered by the poll isn't likely to be very meaningful or useful.

  • jaqui eicher 16th Jul 2014

    After reading Michael's original post/blog, I am certain that I understand at least the underlying problem. Why would international decisions be made for a group (IOPS) if an accurate mix of people haven’t been gathered yet? I like the point that Sarah made, quoted by Michael, about keeping future IOPS participants in mind and waiting until the pre-conditions have been met. I am just as eager as many to get moving on a project so that I can feel progress being made, but have learned that progress sometimes means just listening and holding steady and thinking.

    • Fred Curran 16th Jul 2014

      Jaqui you bring up some very good points, but we must understand that decisions have been made, and continue to be made. In light of this, and in light of the need for meaningful reassessment and decisions to be made based on this reassessment, we, the participating members of IOPS, who are the only people who can actually carry any of it out, must begin a collective process to determine a way forward. Without some mechanism for decision making, by consensus or otherwise, we will have no means to address what we find in this reassessment but to bring it as a proposal to the ICC. An ICC who has self reported as being disinterested in remaining in a position to make those decisions. And as I believe Michael has pointed out, the ICC did not sign on to consider deeply all that is going on within IOPS, so again we must then address the issue to those who can and will and have signed on to do just that.

      I do suggest consensus, as all of this is voluntary, so if it isn't by consensus it probably just won't be happening, except of course by those who do reach a consensus.

    • Michael Livingston 16th Jul 2014

      Fred, it's premature -- I think -- to assume that the actions to be taken based on the results of the reassessment will require ICC-level decision-making. We don't know what the reassessment data will show.

    • Michael Livingston 16th Jul 2014

      And, it's important to keep in mind that continuation of the "interim" phase does not mean that chapter-building is on hold, nor does it limit local, regional or national collaboration and work on projects by and among the existing chapters. In short, nothing about the "interim" phase prevents our working to become the prefigurative organization that IOPS set out to be.

  • jaqui eicher 16th Jul 2014

    Fred I think consensus by whom is the question here. The preconditions ask for a particular mix of people in order to be representative of a variety instead of just the ones who first show up. As I understand things, IOPS has not yet reached that pre conditional mix of folks.

  • Fred Curran 16th Jul 2014

    I do question those preconditions, I have participated in plenty of revolutionary activity and not all organizations are lacking women, without preconditions plenty of organizations have plenty more women involved. I think these preconditions are being remedied with targeted recruitment, which won't answer the question of why IOPS even needs to set those preconditions.

    Michael's proposal calls for a reassessment. Who will perform this reassessment? Who will determine what needs to be reassessed? Who would make a decision based on it? How will we implement this reassessment without some mechanism of cooperative decision making? How will we put into action what we discover, who will put it into action?

    • Michael Livingston 17th Jul 2014

      Fred, see my response above to James Wilson's questions(s) about the reassessment process.

    • Fred Curran 18th Jul 2014

      I find your response to James to be wonderful. I posted a few questions up above, which I believe are important to consider. I believe your proposal here is absolutely necessary, and I will assist with it however I can. Still it is in itself proof of the value and importance of international collaboration and action. And hopefully developing from your proposal and the work to come to realize it, we will engage in international cooperative collective creative problem solving with the data we do gather. In order to find a consensus based decision we can all agree on.

    • Michael Livingston 21st Jul 2014

      Yes. The data-gathering and analysis is important because -- hopefully -- we'll have an objective basis for making conclusions about where we stand and (perhaps) how we got here.

  • Michael Livingston 22nd Jul 2014

    Earlier today, Sarah Owens posted the following comment/observation on the "Poll on IOPS Future":

    "Tuesday, July 22, noonish. Poll closes tomorrow. There are 244 votes, ~30 of which appear to have been cast by female members. That's an overall participation of < 7%, something < 1% of which were women."

  • Michael Livingston 24th Jul 2014

    The "Poll on IOPS Future" closed today, and the results provide no meaningful information. It's time to get back to work building the prefigurative organization described in the IOPS "key" documents and supporting each other in that endeavor.

  • Michael Livingston 25th Jul 2014

    In a comment posted today on the "Poll on IOPS Future," Lambert Meertens points out that, now that this poll is closed, the next step ordinarily would be the following:

    "5. After a decision related poll is complete - running for a month - the ICC formulates, in light of the results, an uncontroversial compromise solution/proposal for each feature that the ICC believes will appeal to all. That proposal is pitted against the most popular position for each feature as revealed by the earlier poll, in a final run-off election. The winning stance is decided." (see http://www.iopsociety.org/interim-committee)

    However, because only about 7% of the membership participated in this ill-conceived poll, the results are effectively meaningless for purposes of planning and decision-making about IOPS' future course. The ICC came up with these competing "proposals" without the benefit of an objective assessment our current circumstances. It should not compound that error by attributing significance to the results of the poll and drawing conclusions based on those results.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 26th Jul 2014

    Hi Michael,

    glad we agree that this was an "ill-conceived poll" as you put it. However, does not its 'ill conception' raise some questions for an organization calling itself 'participatory'? For example, one could ask why chapters and online actives (denigrated by some of the 'self-selected' as 'self-selected') had no input into the questions to be polled. Asking such an elementary question about member participation is usually answered with: 'the ICC decides in the interim, there can be no self-management at all now except within chapters.' Some of us, probably a majority as the poll intimates, consider this absurd and demotivating.

    Which may be another reason about 60% (of the 7%) want power to be taken from the ICC and given to chapters and members. About 65% also want the preconditions removed and about 60% would not attend a founding convention if in another country.

    I can't quite see why you would think these results are 'effectively meaningless', unless you simply don't like them (hope I'm not 'jumping to conclusions' here..).

    The key fact once again shown by this poll, namely that 93% of the 'members' didn't think it worth even clicking a button (or that over half the ICC didn't either), THAT seems to me very worthwhile information. Some would say that information should prompt some VERY serious re-thinking of the whole IOPS project and how to salvage its positive aspects and stimulate something like enthusiasm (not just dour, grit-your-teeth 'organizing'). If that does not happen I can see IOPS going nowhere but down and out.

    Of course this is not an 'objective assessment' as you put it, but merely mine. I would really like to know what that actually is: 'objective'...? (won't get into a debate about positivism and the scientistic myth of the objective right now...). All the best, camerado.

    • Fred Curran 26th Jul 2014

      As always Peter who have wonderful things to say.
      I do not care if it is IOPS or not, or if it is called IOPS or not, if IOPS is reliant on signifiers that are not in the interest of revolution then it is getting in the way. I do not care if I work with people from IOPS or from outside IOPS, but what you have been proposing in your blogs is very important, and absolutely not contingent on IOPS, it is something we as interested available participants must begin to do with or without IOPS, and it is something we can do with and without IOPS. We must be determined to actually begin the necessary cooperative 'building' communication, to establish it. Without those very basic elements of beginning to communicate not confrontational or seeking to change something outside of ourselves, but just laying down those necessary lines of collaborative communication we have nothing, and will continue to have nothing. I don't know, it seems like we should have been doing this for years, so why not start now. We have a base of self selected individuals from around the world who might be interested.

    • Michael Livingston 27th Jul 2014

      When I refer to the poll "results," I mean the answers to the poll questions given by the 245 members who participated. Those are the poll "results" as far as the ICC polling process is concerned. (see http://www.iopsociety.org/interim-committee) Those results are essentially meaningless for the reasons I outlined above. Therefore, the fact that 93% of the membership did not participate in the poll is not a poll "result." And, that fact provides no "information" beyond the fact itself, because, without surveying each non-participant, we have no basis for concluding why each of them chose not to answer the poll questions.

      The poll was ill-conceived for a number of reasons, including the following: (1) the poll is no substitute for the objective reassessment and data-gathering that should have preceded it; and (2)the ICC's authority to make decisions is limited "to matters that are truly essential or highly desirable to resolve before a convention," and there is no evidence that the ICC had when it came up with these 2 proposals that demonstrated that ending the IOPS "interim" phase and abandoning the "preconditions" is a "truly essential" and/or "highly desirable" decision to make for the IOPS organization at this time.

    • Jason 28th Jul 2014

      Hi Michael, You say it doesn’t tell us much beyond the fact itself but the fact itself was Peter’s point. The sheer lack of engagement is arguably the most important piece of information we have—the key fact as Peter put it.

      So I don’t think the data will be near as helpful as you seem to suppose. To Peter’s point about objectivity: even when we have the data, it won’t be able to be objectively interpreted. Also, it’s probably not going to mean much because the numbers are just so low. IOPS was intended to be a big organisation. The fact that two years down the track a mere ~230 participate in a short poll intended for all members tells us that the framing and approach of the organisation to date must be all sorts of wrong.

      The preconditions—which there are so many problems with—themselves were arguably not ‘truly essential’ or ‘highly desirable’ when they were set—maybe what’s missing from those clauses are the words ‘in the ICC’s view.’ And the preconditions were framed as being destined to go under review once the deadline hit. There’s also the issue that 46% of the ICC is not the ICC which means the policies you refer aren’t even applicable—but we need not get into that.

      I don’t know… Maybe these differences in perspective aren’t important. I think those still active are united in wanting to get on with the work of reviving IOPS—or, at least, we would be with some clarification.

    • Michael Livingston 28th Jul 2014


      (1) That 93% of the membership did not participate in the poll tells us only that -- not the reasons why the individuals making up that 93% chose not to participate. But, Peter says: "The key fact once again shown by this poll, namely that 93% of the 'members' didn't think it worth even clicking a button." My point is that we have no way of knowing what those individuals were thinking, or not thinking, including whether they thought it was "worth" "it" to participate.

      (2) I don't know what "data" you're referring to in the second paragraph of your comment. If it's the data from the poll, I think it's meaningless for the reasons outlined in my July 25th comment above. On the other hand, as explained in the blog itself, the data the we can get from information on the website and elsewhere in the course of an objective reassessment of IOPS can be very helpful, if not essential, in determining, for example, why we did not meet the preconditions and where we should go from here.

      (3) I certainly agree that there are a number of us who are "still active" and who want to get on with "reviving IOPS." I don't think we have to wait for the ICC to act or decide anything in order to do that. And, for the reasons stated in the blog, we don't have to abandon the principles that make IOPS unique to do that either.

    • Jason 28th Jul 2014

      (1) I know what you were saying, you’re not wrong that we don’t know what people were thinking. I was just pointing out, that by stating that, you seemed to run over Peter’s point that the huge lack of participation—whatever people’s reasons—already tells us what we really need to know.

      (2) I was referring to website data and, again, I disagree that it will be significant (for the reasons given in the 2nd paragraph of my previous comment).

      (3) Unfortunately I think most, due to a lack of process and information, have been left with wrong impressions about how much scope there is for members to make changes.

      IOPS’s principles are articulated in the vision, mission, structure documents—and they do make it unique. But I think the founding convention preconditions—which those documents don’t mention—represent a particular (subjective) idea about how to act on some of those principles. So I very much disagree that to ditch the failed formulation is necessarily to abandon IOPS’s principles. It totally depends on what they’re abandoned for.

    • Michael Livingston 28th Jul 2014

      (1) Again, it doesn't tell us anything, except that 93% didn't participate. That's it. Any inferences folks draw from that are pure speculation.

      (2) The data "won’t be able to be objectively interpreted"? Having seen neither the data, nor any interpretation of it, that conclusion is premature.

      (3) Folks can take steps to correct their wrong impressions and misunderstanding.

      (4) Please read the blog again. It explains that the preconditions reflect those principles. Finally, I'm afraid I don't understand your thinking or terminology here: "So I very much disagree that to ditch the failed formulation is necessarily to abandon IOPS’s principles. It totally depends on what they’re abandoned for."

    • Jason 28th Jul 2014

      (1) Ridiculous. When the organisation is well over two years old and it can only get 7% (never mind the gender balance) of its supposedly 3500 strong membership to take a short poll, it is not purely speculative to conclude that the framework and approach is incoherent.

      (2) It’s actually not premature as any interpretation will be based on assumptions about what should be done.

      (3) Agree. Fuck ’em. It’s totally their fault for not having worked it out.

      (4) I read the blog (not again). It’s your opinion that they reflect the principles. And it’s my opinion that they do not. And in any case, they were always meant to go under review after the deadline.

    • Michael Livingston 28th Jul 2014

      You're certainly entitled to your own opinions, Jason. But, if you see everything -- facts, rational analysis, etc. -- as a matter of opinion and subjective impression, there's not much to be gained by continuing this conversation.

    • Jason 28th Jul 2014

      Well, Michael, when you see whatever you’re own opinion and subjective impression is as a matter of fact and rational analysis, I could say the same to you.

    • Lambert Meertens 29th Jul 2014

      For what it's worth: 11 commenters did not vote – which cannot have been out of laziness. Coincidentally, 11 ICC members did vote, or almost 20% of the ICC, a much higher percentage than attained by the overall membership.

      Why don't we make a list of possible explanations of the low participation and have a poll among the membership which one is their favorite explanation? Here is a start of that list:
      1) IOPS members are lazy and can't be bothered.
      2) Stop navel gazing and get on with doing something real already.

    • Jason 29th Jul 2014

      Hi Lambert, I don’t understand what you’re getting at there. Why do you point out that the ICC had a higher percentage of voters? What are you trying to say with the second paragraph?

    • Lambert Meertens 30th Jul 2014

      Jason, I'm sometimes not sure myself what I'm getting at.

      As you may have noticed I'm actually quite upset by the polls we have had, which I feel were a needless detraction and misdirection of energy. We have been following the prescribed procedures rigidly without heeding the signs that they don't work. I fear that we may soon get yet another meaningless poll in strict obeisance to procedure. Rules are rules and we all agreed to the rules when we signed up for IOPS so the rules must be followed. I further fear that -- unless something special happens soon, something that inspires some confidence that this IOPS experiment is after all not doomed to fail -- members will slowly but steadily begin to seep away.

      The last paragraph is meant to mock the poll craziness. It was serious, though, in this one respect: unlike earlier polls it includes an alternative I could vote for.

      On 7 July I wrote:
      "I can already now say that we should not put much weight to particular interpretations of the outcome of this poll, including its low response rate. Anybody's guess what it all means will be about as unfounded as anybody else's." And yet that is what you (and Peter) appear to be doing: giving a particular interpretation of the low response rate and suggesting it has some obvious validity. You write, "The fact that two years down the track a mere ~230 participate in a short poll intended for all members tells us that...", and you frame it as "[IOPS] can only get 7% ... of its supposedly 3500 strong membership to take a short poll". Thereby you completely ignore the possibility that members who did not take the poll did not do so out of lack of interest, but simply because they couldn't figure out what to vote. I'm not saying that that is the explanation. I'm saying we don't know and can't know, on the basis of the information we have.

      The fact that more than a few members commented but did not vote, however, supports my claim that this way of framing is unfounded.

      I included the data on ICC members participating in this poll because I had them and thought they were interesting. But also here I do not know what they mean, except as a sign of at least a certain amount of commitment to IOPS. I'm also very hesitant to assign meaning to the fact that "only" 42% of the ICC voted for Proposal 1 or Proposal 2. If I had been on the ICC, I probably would have abstained because I think both are a bad idea. And if I was as busy as most ICC members are, I'd probably not have bothered to reply that I was abstaining, since procedurally the difference is immaterial.

    • Jason 30th Jul 2014

      Lambert, Do take more care when commenting—I did not ignore the possibility you say I do. The fact that you were presented with a poll in which you weren’t able to figure out what to vote for means you couldn’t be gotten to take it. My framing accounts for you and others with different reasons for not participating.

      If ICC members abstained but didn’t even bother to say, that’s not acceptable, it would still evidence the ICC’s dysfunction. It’s news to me that it’s possible to be so busy that one wouldn’t even have the time to hit reply on an email and type ‘abstain’—when a vote has been requested. And how absurd to abstain as a member of a consultative committee.

      I very much agree with you about the poll being a serious waste of the membership’s attention. And I actually think you, I and others could do something special soon. There are enough ideas about. I think your and Jane’s report could be an important first step in a revival process.

      Members have probably been seeping away since the beginning. But as you say, the seepage will increase to fatal levels. Anyway, onwards and upwards.

  • LedSuit ' 27th Jul 2014

    So it's the 27th of July. Four days after the poll closed. Still no real sign of activity. A bit of movement on a couple of blogs pertaining to the issue.

    Not many participated. What to make of it I don't know. Is the somewhat diminished OGWEML mulling over the results? I presume they must be.

    It appears some, or perhaps even fewer, don't think the results of the poll meaningful. But of the 7% who participated it seems a majority would like to see the OGWEML and interim targets ditched.
    (If one ditches the interim targets as preconditions to a convention, does that mean one wouldn't work hard towards ameliorating the lack of diversity within the org anyway? Just a thought. I think not perhaps. The "interim targets" would just become "targets", gauges of success or failure at attaining diversity and self-management not necessarily something to "reach" for some purpose like a convention.

    I also wonder, considering a few feel the OGWEML has lost some, most or even all of its modest legitimacy, with 56% not even participating in this whole affair, in what way any decisions made at the top end would be received or considered by most of the membership? Further, if writing blogs and posting comments is considered even less legitimate a means of decision making, as has been intimated, and considering the low turn out of those participating on the website with respect to the overall membership, one may or even could perhaps, maybe, further, ponder the significance of any online communication and it's value, or even "pedal-depressed panchromatic resonance and other highly ambient domains..."

    Perhaps the whole affair could just vanish into the ether (just like highly ambient domains, self erasing music and such) as if nothing has happened. You know, kind of just don't communicate via the international blog much, resisting the temptation of communicating about this whole "problem". Yeah, probably not an option.

    Anyway back to twiddling me thumbs and waiting on number 5 of the OGWEML decision making process to play itself out. I's think.

    Feels kind of Kafkaesque in some ways.

    Some music for your listening pleasure while you wait.

    • Michael Livingston 27th Jul 2014


      (1) See my response above to Peter's comment.

      (2) As dysfunctional, etc., as the ICC (or the Icy Sea) may be, no decision that it made, or failed to make, caused us not to satisfy the "preconditions" by the June 12th deadline.

      (3) Abandoning the "preconditions" means abandoning the core IOPS commitments to diversity and the building of an organization that prefigures the society we seek to achieve. Doing that in order to get rid of the ICC is, as I've said elsewhere, like burning down your house to get rid of some mice you've found in the attic. There are less drastic ways to get rid of mice.

      (4) Grassroots chapter-building and regional collaboration and support among the chapters should be our focus. There's a lot we can learn from each other and from the data we can pull together.

      (5) I really like the music, especially the second piece. Thank you.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 27th Jul 2014

    James: "Further, if writing blogs and posting comments is considered even less legitimate a means of decision making, as has been intimated, and considering the low turn out of those participating on the website with respect to the overall membership, one may or even could perhaps, maybe, further, ponder the significance of any online communication and it's value, or even "pedal-depressed panchromatic resonance and other highly ambient domains..."

    AND "Feels kind of Kafkaesque in some ways." (And that may be an understatement).

    You've put it in a nutshell again, camerado.

    Down in the subway
    lookin for a coin
    all i found
    was three pennies and a joint
    (The Fugs)

    Liked Evelyn too. GMO-cute.

    Self-selected of all countries, unite! You have nothing to lose but your Global International phantasies!

    • kapil bajaj 28th Jul 2014

      Here is my 12 annas worth.

      1. "Global international phantasies" is quite near the mark; I would, however, replace "phantasies" with "delusions".

      2. "Delusions" would also be an apt description for all that talk about "prefiguration". The concept of a "prefigurative" organisation is so presumptuously delusive (and delusively presumptuous)that it feels like the final nail in the coffin of the IOPS.

      I'd connect all the dots - which appear in some of the amazing discussions we've had in this forum over the past many months and our instinct that tells us to look beyond us - and the picture that emerges is that "prefigurative" communities have always existed in the world. One has to be quite screwed up not to see the obvious.

      As for "building a society", that's precisely what the 'Western' project has purportedly been about for the last 500 years. Would IOPS like to continue that imperialist project?

      I believe no one has ever been able to - and no one could ever - "build a society", even of the imperfect kind one is able to fantasize about. (The wholeness of life is just beyond our comprehension.)

      No need to attempt to "build", either. The world already has communities and societies that one can learn from and join with.

      3. I salute Peter Lach-Newinsky for the generosity of spirit and the patience with which he has shared his prodigious knowledge with those from the non-'West' (like myself) who have been uninformed in the 'Western' intellectual traditions.

      His commentaries and the resources he has placed in this forum have been a real and invaluable education for me.

      For me, Peter emerges as the real Guru of this forum. He is one of the most important reasons why I still find it worthwhile to remain a member of IOPS.

      4. I feel the ultimate Revolution describes nothing but a mere circle. We all are to come back to where we started - to find our primordial selves, individually and collectively.

      That's what is to be gained from IOPS, I think. That's why IOPS should continue to exist - to help people complete their individual Revolutions and contribute its mite thus to the remote possibility that the Humanity would be able to complete its collective Revolution.

      5. As for "outer-directed activism" and "mechanical-quantitative mindsets" (as Peter puts them), they are, to me, more nails in the coffin.

      The world needs more "inactivism" than it needs "activism". It needs more to wind down doing a few things that it has been doing than to do an ever growing list of things to desperately counter those few things. We need more "inactivists" than we need "activists".

      6. Working on a blog. Will try to join many dots. I hope IOPS will survive long enough to publish my blog.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 28th Jul 2014

      Thank you, Kapil, I feel honoured. But as Zen might say: 'if you meet a guru on the road, kill him.' I think you are making some very valuable points here, especially in points 1, 4 and 5 and what you say in point 2 about the simplistic folly of 'building' a new society, or even a social movement for that matter (leggo blocks? as if complex human reality can be engineered).

      The 'inactivism' point is a nice one but I fear it will probably be misunderstood by many people to mean literally doing nothing instead of action as 'non-action' (Chan Buddhist/Zen 'wu wei') in the sense of mindful, disinterested, non-instrumental, free action.

      Just re-reading the wonderful Upanishads, by the way, for an essay I'm attempting on Mysticism, Anarchism and Poetry...). Such wonderful Indian texts from 800 BCE to 15th century CE, still so strongly speaking to us today.

      Your proposed blog sounds very interesting, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading it, Kapil. Go for it. Warm regards.

    • Jason 28th Jul 2014

      Peter, Just one question.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 29th Jul 2014

      Bewdy, Jason, one of my fav Zappa tunes! Now why can't I play a sublime blues riff like that first one. (And remember eco-cosmic folks, Don't You Eat That Yellow Snow, either).

    • Michael Livingston 28th Jul 2014

      I think you should read (or read again) the IOPS "key documents" -- "Mission," "Vision," and "Structure and policy" -- which state the principles, values and goals of the current IOPS organization. http://www.iopsociety.org/about

      IOPS -- the organization described in those documents and the organization that you have joined -- is hardly a continuation of any "imperialist project."

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 27th Jul 2014

    All this is so narrow and constricted. Want some fresh air. 'There must be some way outa here said the joker to the organizer/So much confusion, can't get no relief.' (Then the riff).

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 27th Jul 2014

    Fred, thanks for the supportive comment. I think the initiatives you've taken since joining absolutely admirable, the way to go. So more power to you. The fact that only a very few people have taken up your offer to communicate, is again telling. I myself am 65, had a bowel cancer operation 3 years ago, have the beginnings of macular degeneration in my eyes.I was a 'glocal' eco-activist from my 20s to my 50s, and have now decided to concentrate on my writing and maintaining my old apple variety orchard and caring for my grandsons. I don't want to spend too much time online, as I am now doing, actually...I agree with you that IOPS is not all that important at the moment (or even in the near term) to what should really be happening, possibly never will be given its fairly rigid, mechanical-quantitative mindsets, as I read them, among its 'leading lights' (not that we should have them in theory, but in practice we seem to; but I'm only a 'self-selected' blogger and commentator, so what would I know). Let's see what happens now, if anything at all, beyond something 'completely uncontroversial' (aka uninspiring) via the ICC.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 27th Jul 2014

    Oh, and here's nice poem folks might like from the great medieval Sufi mystic and poet Rumi:

    Inside this new love, die.
    Your way begins on the other side.
    Become the sky.
    Take an axe to the prison wall.
    Walk out like someone suddenly born into colour.
    Do it now.
    You’re covered with thick cloud.
    Slide out the side. Die,
    and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
    that you’ve died.
    Your old life was a frantic running
    from silence.
    The speechless full moon
    comes out now.

    - Rumi, ‘Quietness’

    Can too much frenetic, outer-directed activism become 'a frantic running from silence', from oneself, despair etc just like too much fake mystic withdrawal becomes 'a frantic running' from all the suffering in the world, I wonder?

  • LedSuit ' 15th Aug 2014

    So, not sure whether this is right place and whether these are ridiculous questions but I reckon I have waited long enough.

    Is anything actually going to happen re the poll and the OGWEML? Are we going to hear from somebody soon or is that a ridiculous question? Is it up to individual members to ask politely, members of the ICC what's going on?

    Or is what's going on, exactly one of the scenarios I mentioned before?Time just goes on and erases any memory of a poll or whatever it was that happened and the organisation just does whatever it has been doing irrespective of an ICC, preconditions, convention etc., as if nothing had happened.

    I get the impression my questions are either weird or silly. It's as if the OGWEML is just being ignored now, or it is ignoring the org, or both. The poll may not have delivered anything substantial as far as information, but that shouldn't mean we just kind of ignore the whole thing, or not discuss some of the issues that still remain, kind of left up in the air, does it?

    Or doesn't any of that matter. If not, then chapters or members or someone, or groups of someone's should really make this clear or at least a discussion should be had, regardless of who gets involved. In fact, a blog discussion may be interesting just from the perspective of "who" actually does get involved. And let's face it, it could be fun.

    Anyway just some thoughts. I don't really have a big problem with all this stuff just disappearing into the wake of history, but the questions above do pop into my head from occasion, as if something hasn't quite been resolved!

    • Sarah Owens 16th Aug 2014

      Hi, James, Michael's last reported position was here http://fms.ws/Idgxc/52.22457N/131.35425W

      but if he were in range, I'm sure he would say this is as good a place as any to raise questions about what's going on with IOPS, and the questions are not ridiculous. (The situation may be another matter, but I won't speak for Michael on that.)

      Speaking for myself, I don't think the "Time just goes on" scenario is possible, nor is it possible for any or all of us to ignore comfortably our current circumstances. I know it might LOOK like that's what's happening, but that's the nature of waiting, isn't it? Sometimes you wait a long time and it turns out you've been overlooked in the waiting room, but that's not going to happen here. There are too many of us still actively engaged to allow that to happen.

      Of course we need to have a discussion, or continue to have a discussion. No question. Should have started the process a year ago. But, unfortunately, we didn't. We only started it this summer. So, we're really, really, behind in our work. That can't be helped now, nor can it be helped that members are discouraged and disillusioned and divided.

      For what it's worth, in cooperation with other members, Michael and I are working on a blog that looks at data mined from the website and personal accounts of organizing activity since inception. It's taking a lot longer than we would have liked, but we hope when it's completed/posted that it will give some guidance to our ongoing discussion of the best way forward. I also expect we will, eventually, hear from the ICC as to what they, in their collective wisdom, see as as the best way forward.

      I think it's good you've come to terms with the fact that IOPS could disappear, and yet are willing to work to keep it alive. Just know you are not alone.

    • LedSuit ' 28th Aug 2014

      Seems to me that the OGWEML has deserted the process.

      What's the date?

      Does it matter?

      Not being officious, just noticing a kind of 'lack' in the communications area that's all.

      Like, hello, anyone out there.

      Maybe even a recorded message that pops in and lets you know you have advanced in the queue, you know so you don't hang up and miss what you've been waiting for.

      Maybe this whole debacle has shown up a significant flaw in the idea of an interim committee?

      Oh well. I'll just reach for another year old magazine, sit back, relax, and wait I guess.

    • Sarah Owens 30th Aug 2014

      Growing up, we had dogs. Lots of 'em. They were hang-around-the-farm, outside, warn-of-trespasser dogs. There were often puppies. When those puppies got to a certain age, their mother, whom they naturally followed around, would start going further and further into the woods, hoping they would not follow her back. The end.

    • LedSuit ' 30th Aug 2014

      I'm just a suburban boy. No anecdotes of any sort or stories with messages.

      So we are on our own? No OGWEML to talk to, about, with? No interim? The OGWEML has disappeared into the wilderness? The little pups have been set free?

      I wonder whether the hang-around-the-farm-outside-warn-of-trespasser-dogs ever had debates about stuff, polls, preconditions to be met before mum pissed off?

      Not sure about mum "hoping" they would not follow her back. Truth is, she may not have had any clue what or why she was behaving in the manner she was, nor the puppies.

      Language may not have evolved for communication purposes. It may have just been some evolutionary mutation that some poor sod 100,000 or so years ago got stuck with, passing it on to others, while it's externalisation was an accidental consequence born of a confluence of already existing physiological features, not necessarily teleologically designed to accommodate it, but capable of achieving some success in this regard, and the desire, urge, necessity, to get all the non-linear noise, to become known as "thoughts" later, inside the poor sods head out into the ether or she would go mad. So the ability to communicate was born.

      Not sure if barking or wandering off into the woods constitutes the same thing or if instinct is an appropriate substitute.

      Not even sure, being a suburban boy, if I understood the anecdote, all I know or thought was that "they", the glue at the international level, were going to get back to us.

      Life, how you do go on!


    • Sarah Owens 31st Aug 2014

      Dear Life,

      I thought I'd have to answer for the "hoping" anthropomorphism. Fair enough. So, for all you suburban boys out there, puppies get teeth, and those teeth hurt, as evidenced by snarling and snapping, sudden departures after minimum daily nutrition standards have bee satisfied. That, and the absence of backward glances and maternal hovering the previously characterized the relationship, and the strolling into the woods and the galloping back = "Time to find those pups a home." Maybe she didn't have "any clue what or why she was behaving in the manner she was, nor the puppies", and maybe we don't know why we long for word from "the OGWEML" either.

      Say, James, can you help me find out what happened with Sydney? They were a working chapter at one point, but no longer. I've written to Severin Hollander, and then when I got no answer, to the entire Sydney chapter. http://www.iopsociety.org/australia/new-south-wales/sydney

      Do you have any connections there? Or do you know anything about their situation yourself? Here's what I wrote the whole chapter:

      Dear IOPS Sydney,

      I'm working with some other members on a blog about the membership's organizing efforts since inception. We're trying to get as accurate picture as possible, gathering a lot of seemingly boring details, and asking people to be brutally honest about their experiences. Sydney does not even have a chapter admin, but it was listed as an active chapter last August 2013. It was delisted at some point, for reasons no one seems to know. Can any of you tell me what happened? and maybe what you think it would take to get Sydney organized again? Any details you could give me would be most appreciated -- and if you don't have time to write, it's okay just to say that, too. I appreciate any help you can give us.

      In solidarity, Sarah Owens

    • LedSuit ' 31st Aug 2014

      Yeah, still not sure whether I understand the little story, anecdote, metaphor or is it a parable? Not sure either "why" I long to hear from the OGWEML but do have an itch. Am actually interested in how they see the poll results and what it all means and whether they will roll over, hold on, concede, give up, snarl and snap, laugh and smile and hand over the keys. This is the only place I could think posting such longings.

      As far as Sydney goes, Sarah, well, they ended up on top of the ladder. Minor premiers they call it. Finals start next week and we play Fremantle. Got the double chance.

      Now as far as the chapter goes, I have absolutely no idea. I asked others about it here in Melbourne and no one knew anything either. I have no contact with anyone north of Preston here except Peter Lach up in the Blue Mountains and he's a kind of lone wolf. To continue the metaphor, he retreated into the woods. Perhaps the Sydney thing was just some strange error based on the same sort of erroneous email I received that asked whether I belonged to an active chapter, to which I, and apparently Tim, answered yes, regardless of checking the gender balance! Whoops! Perhaps Severin, or some mischievous lark did something similar and they got in with the in crowd?

      Can't help much more than that.

      Suffice to say that when one rereads something like Thinking Forward for about the third time, one starts to notice what a great educational tool it is in understanding what sort of "thinking" or "wood shedding" is required, or at least may be required, to build a new economy that fulfils one's hopes for a better future. It's interesting how the words "vision" and "model" differ. Not just in their spelling but in the degree of detail. Perhaps necessary detail. Visions tend to be dreams or hopes of utopian futures. Much like the vague notion of from each to each. Much like the "vision" of IOPS. I cannot help but feel that if "vision" is to be truly a necessary aspect of any organisation it HAS to go further than even the vision within IOPS's key docs. Parecon, while something that elicits much debate and disagreement among many here and elsewhere, is really the ONLY "model" that can be held up as an answer to the question, "what in capitalisms place?" Inclusive Democracy has its differences, basic and non-basic needs, vouchers and an "artificial market" for and allocation system, but it is essentially a planned economy, not really any different to Parecon, just less clear in its institutional structure. The peer to peer community's ideas from Siefkes and Bauwens in particular are embryonic at best and at times hard to understand. Localism and community economics have great promise, ideas and consist of energetic positive people, but there is no real overall connective quality to the movements. No concise and clear way in which all these semi-autonomous regions or locales interconnect, economically as much as politically, nor clearly defined ways as to how this would happen.

      Without such things, and without more people discussing the NECESSARY alternative models out there now, and Parecon IS the only real complete one, then to get people involved in activism to change things in the way IOPS would like, is just, well almost impossible, because no one TRULY believes there is an alternative other than little pockets here and there of small active local communities who feel good about themselves. And further, such activities tend towards constant work or actions pertaining to obvious reforms or single issues, with never a moments glance up into the Platonic world of real vision because it's just too hard to deal with and causes untold useless going nowhere debate and discussion, I think, that has as it's primary goal, the very idea of pushing such talk into the background so we can get on with getting that children's crossing up and running and then move directly towards state repression.

      Just some thoughts.

      In solidarity too.


      Go Swans.

    • Sarah Owens 31st Aug 2014

      Okay, James, pretend you're a member of the ICC. What would you do right now? Not what would you say, but what you do?

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      The first thing I would have suggested is to let all at IOPS know that things were being discussed and give some sort of time line.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      Yes. Such courtesies are in order when a body is taking a matter under consideration. However, they are usually extended on behalf of the organization by one appointed to the role to handle such things. As far as I am aware, the ICC is not organized. Its only spokespersons are uncomfortably and temporarily self-appointed, and are not, therefore, a source from which one should expect much in the way of courtesy. So would you, do you think, risk speaking on behalf of your unorganized comrades on the ICC in this circumstance? Would you feel confident in saying that things were being discussed and giving a timeline, even a loose one? This is not a rhetorical question, I'm really wanting to know what approach you would take.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      Actually now that I think about it, I would, right now, start talking to the rest of IOPS with and out of goddamn respect because the poll was a shambles and things need to be sorted.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      Agreed that respect is the issue. Agreed the poll was a shambles and things need to be sorted. But, following on my post above, would you start talking to the rest of IOPS, or would you try to organize your comrades on the ICC? It seems to me that respect would require you to begin with your comrades, but what do you think?

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      But then again I might just be too busy. All those goddamn emails! I quit.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      the time line of each of these answers should be inverted.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      And according to a certain member of the OGWEML, I say things I do not mean which could cause some confidence issues in others, so I'm not certain what I write or say here about what I might do would be meaningful in any way.

      But I am only pretending, right?

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      Yes, of course, any time we try to see things from someone else's point of view, we are "pretending." But the fact that we are pretending just means we're trying to relate, not that we, by trying, can say we know what it's like have an experience we haven't had. Pretending requires a sincere effort. Else we are only pretending to pretend, and that would not be very helpful, I agree. But I think trying to see things from another's point of view is always helpful, if not to others, to one's self.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      No seriously (not that some of the things I said before weren't all serious),I might have organised some sort of blog post, group get together for an open discussion with all members of IOPS, a group hug or admit that the whole thing is flawed and that IOPS should shut up shop. But I reckon that last idea would require communication.

      There you go, I would probably try to communicate as I reckon over a month since the poll without ANY word whatsoever is fucking disrespectful and particularly considering some of the "conflict" that all the previous discussions seem to create.

      Jesus, I must be a friggin' idiot. No-one else appears concerned or even a little troubled by the silence of the OGWEML.

      But what would I know, I like Chomsky couldn't organise my way out of a wet paper bag and if I did I'd probably do it in an over-emotional way and piss a whole lot of people off.

      Mark Evans wants to be treated just like any other "normal" member of IOPS. Great. Excellent. But here's the thing. He IS a member of the OGWEML. Is he talking with anyone? Does he know anything? I asked the same question before and he answered me in a rather terse way, in fact in a smart arse sort of way, as if my question, from a pretty "normal" member of IOPS who has tried his fucking damndest to be a part of an actual" chapter, communicate on the site, help others here and there on the site, etc., was stupid and as if he WASN'T a member of the OGWEML.

      So yeah, now you've extracted a rather emotional and I hope honest answer out of me, not that my others weren't honest.

      So, who's the glue at the international level at the moment? And "who" is a very operative word. Where are they and what are they doing?

      Maybe I shouldn't fucking care.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      Now the time line/order of posts, is correct. What a funny site this is.

    • Fred Curran 1st Sep 2014

      The ICC does not exist

    • Fred Curran 1st Sep 2014

      They really do not exist. I have talked to many members of the ICC who say it is not a real thing. Some are interested in IOPS, some are not.

      Why are you waiting for them? I mean that most seriously, I really would like to know, why you wait for them.

    • LedSuit ' 1st Sep 2014

      Jesus Fred. I'm not waiting for them to tell me something amazing or because if they don't say or do anything thing this org or I will fall apart. The org might but I won't. I'm just interested in why even one of them cannot communicate anything. So you've talked to some of them. Fucking great. Good for you. Someone from the supposed OGWEML should say something to the org to inform ALL that as you say they "don't exist" anymore. Confirm it. Just you telling me the ICC doesn't exist doesn't really mean anything.

      You tell me who is the glue now at the international level. Or is the org just a few bunch of isolated small groups floating in a few places around the globe with no "decided" way how to communicate.

      Give me a break. Are we still interim? Preconditions? I'm "waiting" because there was/is a process that hasn't been completed as far as I know and I am wondering why. Human nature dude.

      It shouldn't be up to individual members to ask members of what you now say is now non existent whether the organisation now has a different structure.

      Are chapters now talking and running things at the international level as the poll suggested? Are they? Do all members know this?

      If it doesn't fucking matter then all the talk and polls was just bullshit and it seems things are just disappearing into the wake of history. Being swept under the carpet as if nothing has happened, something I earlier hinted could easily happen.

      I'm just interested.

    • Fred Curran 1st Sep 2014

      A little aggressive, but I will chalk it up to best intentions. I don't mean to offend you, I am talking about why you need them psychologically.
      Why you need the ICC to tell you what to do, or what is. It doesn't seem like a unique perspective, to be needing an authority to tell you what to do, or to tell you how things are going to be. Maybe it is time for people to start organizing amongst themselves in a self-managing way?

    • LedSuit ' 2nd Sep 2014

      I don't need them psychologically. I'm asking, and probably subconsciously not really expecting an answer, a very simple question. The need for the ICC may be disputed and questioned and even hated by some, but for me that' not the point. They are still on the home page. The membership of it hasn't changed and I am wondering whether the process has been deserted. You saying they don't exist is ridiculous. They do or did I miss something?

      "After a decision related poll is complete - running for a month - the ICC formulates, in light of the results, an uncontroversial compromise solution/proposal for each feature that the ICC believes will appeal to all. That proposal is pitted against the most popular position for each feature as revealed by the earlier poll, in a final run-off election. The winning stance is decided."

      I'm just asking is anything happening? Is the process in progress and does the rest of the membership have to wait patiently, in silence for this process to be completed? How long for? So far nothing has actually been decided and from memory there was no real agreement reached among those going hammer and tongs during June and July on the blogs. Not that posting comments and debating things in blogs and such means anything considering the ICC is the OGWEML.

      And if my above response appeared aggressive it was because yours appeared somewhat patronising as does your subsequent post.

      I don't really care whether there is or isn't an ICC to tell you the truth. Whether we are in interim or haven't met preconditions by a certain date. I don't much care about conventions and stuff. If others can convince me one way or another on these issues, then fine. I know local organising just goes on and that that is where the real important stuff happens. But there is a website that still says we are in interim, there is an OGWEML and there is a process. If the process has been deserted, fine. Has it? I probably think not, but a month and one week since the poll and not one word as to what follows...!? So I ask a simple question on a blog, tucked away, kind of rhetorically, kind of knowing that no-one can really answer it, or actually will, but also because I reckon five weeks after a poll is a fair amount of time. If it ain't, and someone wishes to convince me otherwise, then fine. But I do seem to have an interest in what is transpiring at the top end and whether things have broken down. These questions just pop into my head like - "remember that poll that ended a month and a half ago, I wonder what's happening about that? Do you know anything? Perhaps it's better to just forget it ever happened, eh."

      It's not much more than that really. No psychological need for some authoritarian instruction. That's a little condescending and I couldn't care two hoots whether my perspectives are unique or not. They are what they are.

      As far as self-management goes, I'm asking a question and involving myself in the process in ways that come naturally to me. If that is wrong perhaps I should chuck it in like half the OGWEML did. Then my one day off a week would be mine forever and I wouldn't ask such inane useless questions anymore.

      More music, less this crap.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      Hey, Fred, is it quite fair to conclude that because some (how many?) ICC members have told you that the ICC is "not a real thing", and some (how many?) "are interested in IOPS", that the ICC "doesn't exist"? It doesn't strike me that way. In my view, the ICC exists until all the members resign or they otherwise dissolve it.

      Fundamentally, don't you and James agree? That the ICC is quite silent? You say forget about them, get on with organizing, and you're quite right. But James is calling attention to the fact that the ICC are not fulfilling their duties as most would see them. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, I think it's a point that needs to be made, wouldn't you agree?

    • Fred Curran 2nd Sep 2014

      I would not call them "quite silent" but totally illegitimate at this point. In my opinion James' remarks are qualifying the ICC as a legitimate authority.

      If in your view the ICC exists until all the members resign or they otherwise dissolve it, then you would characterize them as still existing.

      Is there no minimum standard you hold the ICC too, other than someone is in it and it self identifies as the ICC?

      Does a point or threshold exist in your minds Sarah and James in which the participating members of IOPS would need to acknowledge that they are the only participating members and for anything to be done or improved or advanced they will need to take it upon themselves to do it? One that would defy the notions of "Interim" "ICC" "preconditions"

      My apologies if I come off as an asshole, I am working on it. I really mean those questions seriously. I think our common tendency, one I am yoked with myself, is to look to a presumed authority for the answers.

    • LedSuit ' 2nd Sep 2014

      Sometimes Fred, people, and they are a diverse bunch, just want or need clarity.

    • Sarah Owens 3rd Sep 2014

      Right, Fred, you see the ICC is as illegitimate. Fine. But that's a different question from whether it exists or not.

      Likewise, whether the ICC lives up to your or my or even their standards is another question. An organizational institution doesn't cease to exist just because it becomes dysfunctional. Do you see what I'm saying?

      What the active members should choose to do about the situation is yet another question. You say organize. Great, fine. I'm with you. James says -- or doesn't "say", he just does -- call attention to the problem with the ICC. Good, no problem. Be worse if no one said anything.

      It is conceivable, to answer your question about a threshold, that IOPS might face a situation that required some kind of time-sensitive action affecting the entire organization. But I don't see that we are anywhere near that point. Despite all the rhetoric and understandable feelings of frustration, the case has yet to be made that the interim structure or ICC are in fact preventing us from growing this organization. We'll either do it or we won't. It's that simple.

      You don't come off as an asshole, but I do think you've misunderstood what James has been saying. You might try to keep in mind that the ICC are also part of this organization, and that they, too, are likely frustrated and disappointed and unsure.

    • Fred Curran 4th Sep 2014

      It is a different question.

      I am glad we can all agree it does not reach the necessary standards of legitimacy.

      I do not feel waiting for answers from an illegitimate authority is necessarily calling attention to the problem. Maybe it is actually exacerbating a problem. I do not mean to be offensive when I say that, though I realize it is not pleasant to hear.

      The ICC is antithetical to a pre-figurative society. That should be enough. But there are also very present logistical issues which can only be properly addressed with member control.

      To the question of an organization "institution" ceasing to exist just because it is dysfunctional, no you are right, that would not mean it no longer existed. But it might lead enough of its parts to not participate, so we are then left with how we are choosing to define the ICC. If we go by the definition offered up, when the ICC is defined in the literature of IOPS, or if we choose to see it as existing as long as some member of it is still involved, and it hasn't dissolved itself..

    • Sarah Owens 4th Sep 2014

      Fred, you've lost me here. If you're concerned about exacerbating the problem, then maybe we should just leave off the discussion.

    • Fred Curran 4th Sep 2014

      No worries, I am not concerned with exacerbating the problem myself. I am concerned this complacency to the situation we are facing is a major problem, that has hurt IOPS already, and threatens to derail the project.

      Your suggestion on what to do in regard to the ICC. Having the inactive ICC members resign and have "active" ICC members invite "active" members into the ICC etc etc. This is moving in the right direction.
      Now just extend it to, members demand the resignation of all the ICC and for it to formally dissolve, and the process continues as we, the active members of IOPS have already begun to implement.

      Examples including your analysis, Lamberts project, the Live Talks, maybe getting behind some of Jon Does ideas. And hopefully some greater internal mechanisms of support will come out of all of it.

      And amongst it we, the interested members of IOPS, work together on low impact decision making processeee, That can be scaled up and remain self managing and flexible.

    • LedSuit ' 5th Sep 2014

      One more time Fred.

      I am not "waiting for [ANSWERS] from an illegitimate authority". (I do not see the ICC as an "authority" anyway. Never did. It was merely an institution initiated by those equally concerned, some maybe more so, about prefiguration as you, to address a real problem of self-management within an org with small membership and few active local chapters across few countries. An institution that would eventually, and with a sigh of relief from most in it, be dissolved when some preconditions had been met. Its existence has always been questioned since the beginning by some members, maybe many for all I know, but that is not my concern here now.)

      I agree when Sarah says that organizing and growing the org is something that can and should go on regardless of the debate surrounding all these issues raised over the past months.

      But there is a draft somewhere. As if someone has left the building and left the backdoor open and no-one told those still inside, some or most it seems, well and truly asleep.

      I am calling attention to something I notice about a process, as opposed to "the" problem.

      I am NOT exacerbating anything, merely pointing to something.

      You may not mean to be offensive but this little gem "though I realize it is not pleasant to hear" is, yet again, a tad patronising.

    • LedSuit ' 2nd Sep 2014

      Actually Sarah, I really don't have a clue what I would do, I don't have any legitimacy let alone a modest amount.

      What would you do?

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      What do you mean you don't have any legitimacy?

    • LedSuit ' 2nd Sep 2014

      Just a joke. Perhaps Michael Albert is right about me?

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      That you say things I do not mean which could cause some confidence issues in others? So the observation isn't about you, really, but about joking in blog posts, where it isn't always apparent when someone is joking. If you're asking whether I agree saying things one doesn't mean could cause some confidence issues in others, I guess I'd have to agree, but I also think it's an unpleasant experience for the person whose joke failed. At least I usually regret having tried when a joke or "witticism" hasn't gone over. Having said that, I think we need more humor here on the website, and I think your writing is very humorous and honest, and I don't mind if I occasionally find I "don't get it." You always let me know if you were just joking, too, so I don't feel disrespected or anything. So, no, I don't think MA's right about you if being right means you should change how you communicate.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      (And you do, too, have a clue; you made some suggestions in your earlier comments.) As for me, if I were on the ICC? The simple answer, not knowing much about how they operate, is, assuming I'm one of those chosen for gender and geographic location (code for, I'm not famous), I would try to organize; find the reliable core of the group, and attempt to sort things. If I found that was not practically possible, I would probably tell my comrades on the ICC I was resigning and why, specifically, and after receiving any feedback from them, publish the letter of resignation on the IOPS website, answer any comments, and then throw my efforts into organizing locally.

    • Sarah Owens 2nd Sep 2014

      For what it's worth, I do think we will eventually hear from the ICC. I've spent a lot of my life in bureaucratic institutions where waiting inordinate amounts of time (or so it seems from those on the receiving end) for a deliberative body to issue a decision is just the way it is. And yeah, it feels disrespectful, and certainly not very prefigurative to have the experience here in IOPS, but we can't expect to escape years and years of training without years and years of practice.

    • LedSuit ' 2nd Sep 2014

      Thank you Sarah for all of the above.

    • Sarah Owens 3rd Sep 2014

      You are my friend, and you are welcome. Thank you for hanging in here.

      On the what would I do question, I should add that I considered the option to demand the resignation of all members of the ICC who are not willing to participate actively, and then to "stack the ICC" with active members, assuming we could find one ICC member willing to invite one of the rabble to become a member (and the rabble would then invite other rabble). But the pressure on such a restructured ICC would be huge. The new members of the ICC wouldn't know each other all that well, and it'd be very difficult, if not impossible, to build sufficient trust and understanding to function. The new ICC could easily end up just like the one we have now. So, I rejected the idea. I still think it's a decent idea, it would just need the right people to pull it off.

  • Simon Carroll 29th Aug 2014

    Is this the last recorded spot where people are asking what is going on with this organization? Just wondering.

    • Sarah Owens 30th Aug 2014


    • Sarah Owens 30th Aug 2014

      Ja ja, just kidding. Say, what's going on in Victoria, Simon? You've got 11 members in your chapter, but no admin, and no activity on the chapter page? Michael Livingston and I are researching the organizing efforts of the more substantial chapters since the early days. You've been a member a long time, would you be willing to help us understand what was going on in Victoria for the last couple of years? I'll send you my email address by PM just in case you'd be willing to help us out.