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Report of Dublin IOPS meeting held 16/10/13

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7 members were in attendance.

An IOPS member from Tramore was hoping to travel up to the meeting but couldn’t make it, as he is very busy running a local radio station – the station is trying to operate on a ParEcon model as much as possible. We briefly discussed the possibility of producing material that relates to IOPS for radio, and online videos etc., and everyone was keen on the idea. We plan on returning to this potential project again.

As was agreed a while back, we are making our way through each section of the interim vision statement, discussing each section, what we agree on, what we don’t, and what we think might be missing from the statement. Given that IOPS is in the interim stage, our discussion is based on the idea that the vision statement will be revisited, and potentially amended, at the founding convention. Although we agree with the vision statement in principle, hence why we are members, we have a few questions around clarity, omissions etc.   

At the meeting we discussed the ‘Economic’ section of the vision statement. Everyone had lots to say, so I’m sure I won’t get everything in, or remember everything. If I do miss any points of importance, do feel free to make additions or comments below. 

Economic

IOPS seeks new economic relations such that:

  • (1) no individuals or groups own productive assets such as natural resources, factories, etc., so ownership doesn’t affect anyone’s decision making influence or share of income.

We discussed ‘ownership’, what does it mean? That some people have some say over some stuff in a particular area?

It is not entirely clear, by this statement alone, what this means in practice. For example, how would it be managed? We think it needs further clarification. One of the questions we discussed was around regions, municipalities, geographical borders- How is a locality defined?

  • (2) there is no payment according to property, bargaining power, or the value of personal output.
  • (3) workers who work longer or harder or at more onerous conditions doing socially valued labor (including training) earn proportionately more for doing so.

The question of money was raised- replace current idea of ‘money’ with non-transferable credit system.

We agree with 2 and 3 but have some questions around what it means in practice and how it would be implemented. We agreed that within the current system there is plenty of pretty useless made up jobs that aren’t necessary, and would be done away with.

How are ‘harder’ or ‘more onerous’ defined and consequently measured? Some people find different tasks harder. Is it physically hard labour, or boring unempowering work? How is 2 and 3 implemented? Some kind of index of desirability would be needed, and could this accommodate all preferences?

We discussed the place of art and self-employment -how remuneration would work? Your work would be balanced, and it would also have to be something that society wants and is willing to pay for. You would also have much more free time, and so you can always pursue other interests such as art and research on your own time.

How do we define ‘social value’? Is it based on what people ‘need’? How would it be decided? 

  • (4) those unable to work receive income nonetheless.

We all believe that when you take point 3 with point 4 there is an undesirable implication (at least undesirable to us). Point 3 outlines that ‘socially valued’ work is paid, and point 4 above states that those ‘unable’ to work receive income nonetheless. What about those who are able to work, but want to do work that does not fall under the ‘socially valued’ category, or do not wish to work at all? Could this be read as the threat of destitution, in order to get people to do ‘socially valued’ worked? And, is that not kind of like the system now? Perhaps ‘unable’ to work covers a wide spectrum of reasons that would cover an unwillingness based on personal preferences, principles, predispositions, character etc.  

(Not that we are saying this is an intentional implication, but it is an implication nonetheless, and so needs to be discussed).

We discussed the idea of a Basic Income, an unconditional basic payment to all, regardless of work done etc. We feel that it should be included in the vision statement and explicitly stated. We feel that all people in society should have a basic standard of living, which is not based on their output and place within the economic sphere. We do not fear that this would lead to a situation where a big proportion of people would then not wish to contribute to society in the form of socially valued work, as we have a much more optimistic view of humanity than that. We feel that each individual should be valued in and of themselves, and not in relation to their contribution to society.   

  • (5) workers have a say in decisions to the extent possible, proportionate to effects on them, sometimes best attained by majority rule, sometimes by consensus or other arrangements.

We felt this was clear, not too prescriptive and we are happy enough with it.

  • (6) there is no corporate division of labor giving about a fifth of workers predominatly empowering tasks and four fifths mainly rote, repetitive, and obedient tasks.

We discussed balanced job complexes and the discussion was mixed. Some people felt that it is absolutely necessary, others didn’t fully agree, although they mostly agreed. They believed some highly skilled work, (the example of a medical professional was used), should concentrate on improving and practicing their skill- they also raised the point that it is highly valued work. This was a very animated portion of our meeting.     

  • (7) each worker enjoys conditions suitable to be sufficiently confident and informed to participate effectively in decision making, including having a socially average share of empowering tasks via suitable new designs of work.

We had no difficulties with this one.  

  • (8) there is neither market competition nor top-down planning, but instead decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs, whether accomplished by workers and consumers councils or some other suitable method.

We had a long and lively discussion about the need to eradicate all forms of the market. Is it necessary to get rid of all market elements? What about a very local level for particular goods, under democratic control? Is it realistic to expect that everyone will know in advance every purchase they will wish to acquire in the future? What about the odd cup of coffee and cake, or you fancy a new pair of shoes? This led to a discussion on the sustainability of the current way that we consume stuff, and whether it is unsustainable and wasteful. We discussed how capitalism as a system is really wasteful- it may be fast, but fast doesn’t equal efficient. Need to consider externalities etc.    

‘Some other suitable method’ does allow for wider discussion. We wish to maintain the spirit of this point without it needing to be so prescriptive.  

Overall we are in agreement but just feel that some things need to be clarified a little further, and discussed more.

___________________________________________________________________________

We decided to discuss ‘Gender and Kin’ at our next meeting,

Lizzie.


Discussion 29 Comments

  • Mark Evans 14th Nov 2013

    Hi Lizzie - it sounds like you had an interesting discussion, thanks for the report.

    I'm tempted to try to address some of the issues you raise but I am not sure if you would be happy engaging here. Let me know and I will happily give some feedback...if you want?

  • Lizzie Meade 14th Nov 2013

    Hi Mark,

    Yeah of course, no bother. Please do. I should have invited comments at the end of the blog.

    I should say that any response I give at this stage can only be my own, and we didn't all agree on every point I outline above, but hopefully other members of IOPS Dublin will respond too, if your comments relate to a point someone else made on the night.

    • Mark Evans 16th Nov 2013

      Hi Lizzie (and IOPS Dublin) - I think it is great that your IOPS chapter is going through and discussing the vision statement systematically. In conjunction to this members might also consider reading Fanfare as many of the issues you raise are addressed in there. You might find that helpful.

      Just a couple of quick points before moving on to the issue you raise that I want to focus on. Point (1) addresses ownership of productive assets as a means of removing the capitalists source of power. Point (6) and (7) addresses the corporate division of labour as a means of disempowering the coordinator class. Combined they are designed to remove the class system. No private ownership, no capitalist class. No corporate division of labour, no coordinator class. If this analysis is correct then the end result should be classlessness.

      So when we are considering the kinds of questions that you raise we need to keep in mind that we are talking about a system that is free from class oppression and economic exploitation. We need to understand that the system of wage slavery - with all of its dehumanising effects - has been abolished. The basic claim being made is that the reasons for not wanting to work - the sources of economic injustice - have been removed.

      If this is the case, then why would anyone in this new economy, who can work, choose not to work? Remember, we are talking about everyone having a job that has a fair share of good and bad tasks and engaging in work that has been collectively identified as socially valuable. What good reasons could someone give for not wanting to work in such conditions? If we can not think of any, or none can be given, then there is no reason - as far as I can see - for considering “unconditional basic pay” or concerns regarding a possible “threat of destitution”.

      It seems to me that people who are not prepared to do their fair share of the collectively identified socially valuable work, but still expect to be supported by the economy, are asking for special treatment - which is a lot like the system that we have now - wouldn’t you agree?

      The idea is to make work desirable by removing economic injustice and by creating conditions where work is both fair and meaningful. Again, why - especially given your “optimistic view of humanity” do you think people, under such conditions, would opt out of work?

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Nov 2013

      The Fanfare trilogy, although written by IOPS members, is not an official IOPS document. The answers it provides to the questions above are not binding to IOPS. They are possible answers, but the founding convention will be free to adopt different answers – or choose to leave some issues open.

      There is no guarantee that the collective decisions of a classless community will be wise decisions. I can imagine situations in which some people, like conscientious objectors now, will refuse to cooperate in what they consider to be unethical work. And some mavericks may feel an overwhelming urge to spend their time on something they believe to be extremely valuable, even if they have not succeeded in convincing others. Opting out of work that others have decided is valuable need not imply you are a slacker.

    • Mark Evans 22nd Nov 2013

      I don’t know what others think, but here are my thoughts in reply to some of Lambert’s comments...

      I agree that in an IOPS style economy there will continue to be much disagreement over many ethical issues (eating meat, for example) - but I am not sure why people think that, in such a system, this will lead to people personally having to do what they consider to be unethical work.

      I can also understand why people might become conscientious objectors in a society that systematically excludes its citizens, like the ones we have today. But I am not sure why such activities would make sense in a truly open and inclusive society - like the one described in the IOPS vision. To my mind an appropriate response to concerns over unethical practice in a participatory society would be to take full advantage of the social institutions that accommodate for meaningful discussion and decision-making. Obviously everyone is not going to get exactly what they want - such is life - but our response to ethical issues should be very different in an inclusive and egalitarian society to what it is in a excluding and elitist society.

      It seems to me that the idea of a revolution should be to remove the obstacles that force people to engage in such desperate acts as consciously objecting by opening society up to equal and meaningful participation. In doing so the feeling of powerlessness that feed such desperate action will have been removed.

      Regarding these so called “mavericks” - I would have to hear an actual argument for why they should get remunerated for doing work that no one else values. The idea that people can just go around declaring themselves a maverick, and in-so-doing exonerating themselves from undesirable tasks, strikes me as rather elitist as well as patently unfair. But maybe it will help if we just keep in mind that, in a participatory society, there should be plenty of spare time - outside of work and the formal economy - for people to pursue their own interests.

    • Mark Evans 25th Nov 2013

      Another thing that might be helpful to keep in mind is...

      Assuming that people are not completely bonkers, given the opportunity to collectively identify our economic priorities - free from elitist distorting effects - we would surely choose something along the lines of:

      > Food
      > Housing
      > Healthcare
      > Education
      > Communications
      > Transportation
      > Art and entertainment

      I may have missed something important off this list, but together we can think of these as the public services which I think would constitute more or less the whole of the economy within a participatory society. And as we can see all of these categories are important for living well and therefore the work that needs to go into delivering these services is meaningful. Everyone can choose to specialise in one of these categories depending on their personal interests. But to make work fair as well as meaningful we also need to make sure that the empowering and desirable tasks / disempowering and undesirable tasks are shared out equally.

      For example, if you choose to work in healthcare (as I do) and you would like to specialise in brain surgery (I work on a neurosurgical ward) and successfully complete the training then that is what you specialise in. However, unlike today, brain surgeons do not just do brain surgery. In addition to this - as part of their job - they would most likely be expected to undertake some less empowering and desirable tasks - for example cleaning the ward / theatre, which is very important for infection control but nevertheless caries less status due to the knowledge base required to undertake such tasks.

      I am sure that people could come up with similar examples for each of the above categories based on their own personal experiences or by just thinking about it - after all the basic idea is quite straightforward.

    • Rod 26th Nov 2013

      I think reasonable people can disagree on the subject of basic income and IOPS shouldn't dictate one or the other.

      The way I read the economic vision document is that, as a minimum, IOPS supports income for those who can't work. This doesn't preclude a basic income for those who, for whatever reason, choose not to work. However, I think the documents should be more explicit and mention this as a possibility to avoid confusion. Or maybe I'm confused and misread the meaning of the document...

    • Mark Evans 28th Nov 2013

      Hi Roderick -

      I certainly agree that reasonable people can disagree about all sorts of matters, including this one. But, reasonable people can also debate important issues in the hope of better understanding where we are coming from and maybe working towards agreement.

      In answer to your comment, it seems to me that in order for a person to “choose not to work” they have to be able to work - otherwise the word “choose” has no meaning. And if they are able to work then they CAN work which is the opposite to “can’t work”. So I do not agree with your reading of the IOPS vision statement.

      That aside, you seem to agree with the idea that, in a just economy (i.e. one that is free from class exploitation and oppression) people who can work, but choose not to work, should still get a basic income. So my question to you (and anyone else who is interested) is this:

      Given that in an IOPS style economy we would have classlessness, why do you think people would still choose not to work? Wouldn’t you agree that what makes work undesirable today are factors like the dehumanising effects of wage slavery (renting ourselves out to capitalists), the sense of powerlessness induced by autocratic decision-making (following coordinator class orders from above) etc? And if so, isn’t it the case that in removing these factors - as the IOPS economic vision does - we also remove the legitimate reasons for why people may choose not to work?

      It seems to me that guaranteeing a basic income to all, regardless of whether people can work or not, only makes sense in an economic system in which workers feel alienated from their labour. But if that were still the case in a post-revolutionary society - if feelings of alienation persisted - then I would say that the revolution had failed in achieving one of its central objectives. Furthermore I would add that, in such a situation, I do not see how guaranteeing everyone a basic wage would even begin to address this issue. So in a sense, it seems to me that to advocate for a basic income for all, sidesteps the real issues of economic injustice.

    • LedSuit ' 28th Nov 2013

      I am also interested in this and tend to agree with Mark. I see a basic income as a stop gap or intermediate measure that attempts to allay some of the horrendous inequities of the current system. A reform albeit worth shooting for but not the end goal. It's guarantee would not address the sorts of issues that IOPS outlines more generally, more specifically dealt with within Parecon as an example of a possible alternate economic system that fits quite well with IOPS's vision.

      I agree with Mark that choosing not to work implies one is able to work and further agree that in a post-revolutionary society, a participatory one, reasons for not wanting to work, if able, would be somewhat delegitimised.

    • Rod 28th Nov 2013

      Hi Mark,

      I'm not really the ideal person to defend a basic income. I support it, but don't think it's a prerequisite for a reasonable society.

      In reply to some of your questions:
      - I don't agree it's safe to assume we would have classlessness (or be free from other kinds of hierarchy) in an IOPS society.
      - Work can also be undesirable because one's idea of valuable work doesn't correspond with society's view (also possible in an IOPS society).
      - The idea of basic income doesn't necessarily preclude making a distinction between 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' reasons for not working. The people that want to, but can't work could receive a subsidy on top of their basic income.

      I think we come at it from different angles. I start from the basic premise that everyone shares the same basic human rights, such as access to food and shelter. It's not a big leap from there to the idea of a basic income.

      This basic income could still be considerably lower than a working wage, so there could still be plenty incentive to do work.

      Now consider the scenario where there's no basic income. We (society) would have to force people to work when they don't want to. And if we can't force them we would still have to give them an income so they can meet their basic needs (I'm assuming you don't want to let them starve or have to live on the streets).

    • Mark Evans 28th Nov 2013

      Roderick -

      The scenario that you ask me to consider ignores virtually everything that I have said above.

      You also ignored my basic question; "in an IOPS style economy ... why do you think people would still choose not to work?"

      However, you do say that you "don't agree it's safe to assume we would have classlessness in an IOPS society" but you don't say why not, which isn't very helpful. If there are sources of class dominance that we have missed in our analysis then we should know about them.

      You say that "work can also be undesirable because one's idea of valuable work doesn't correspond with societies views" but do not give an example so it is difficult for me to reply. However, I did already give a reply to this general objection to someone else on this thread.

      You also seem to assume that I am against a basic income for all in order to maintain an incentive to work. But that is not what I have argued. The incentive to work should not be a fear of zero income. The incentive to work should be a decent job. Full employment, quality jobs and fair remuneration.

      One last point: we should be very clear in our minds about what a revolution is for. The idea should be to remove social injustices such as racism, sexism and classism so that people can live free from such oppression and participate as equals. The idea is NOT to establish a system in which everyone gets their way all the time. So yes, some people might not agree with all of the decisions regarding what constitutes valuable work, for example, but that is life and in a participatory society they could argue their case the same as everyone else - what more do people want?

    • Rod 29th Nov 2013

      Hi Mark,

      I'll try not to ignore your questions this time:

      You also ignored my basic question; "in an IOPS style economy ... why do you think people would still choose not to work?"

      This is really hard to answer for me. I don't presume to know all the reasons why anyone would choose not to work. And I don't think it's always easy to determine if they're legitimate or not, even in a participatory economy.

      However, you do say that you "don't agree it's safe to assume we would have classlessness in an IOPS society" but you don't say why not, which isn't very helpful. If there are sources of class dominance that we have missed in our analysis then we should know about them.

      Having rules and institutions that promote classlessness does not mean we can get rid of all class hierarchy. I see them as powerful, but still rather blunt instruments.

      You say that "work can also be undesirable because one's idea of valuable work doesn't correspond with societies views" but do not give an example so it is difficult for me to reply. However, I did already give a reply to this general objection to someone else on this thread.

      In any society there will be a tendency to ignore the problems of those that aren't part of the decision making process. In an IOPS society these include other species, children and future societies. A person might decide that the most valuable thing they can do is the kind of work that is being undervalued in a society (not being deemed socially valuable work).

      You also seem to assume that I am against a basic income for all in order to maintain an incentive to work. But that is not what I have argued. The incentive to work should not be a fear of zero income. The incentive to work should be a decent job. Full employment, quality jobs and fair remuneration.

      Ok. I misunderstood your argument. I still don't fully understand I think. Would one reason be that you think everyone should contribute to society and therefore do their fair share of what society deems socially valuable? Some of that work will be undesirable and it would be unfair if a person can simply choose not to do it. Other parts will be empowering and we should distribute this empowering work as evenly as possible. A basic income leaves it up to the person to decide and therefore could work against classlessness (if they opt out of the work that society offers them they also partially out of being part of the decision making process). Am I somewhat close to your reasoning here?

      One last point: we should be very clear in our minds about what a revolution is for. The idea should be to remove social injustices such as racism, sexism and classism so that people can live free from such oppression and participate as equals. The idea is NOT to establish a system in which everyone gets their way all the time. So yes, some people might not agree with all of the decisions regarding what constitutes valuable work, for example, but that is life and in a participatory society they could argue their case the same as everyone else - what more do people want?

      Even in a participatory democracy there's a danger of a tyranny of the majority. A basic income could be one of the mechanisms to defend individuals against that, by giving them more personal autonomy.

    • LedSuit ' 29th Nov 2013

      Hi Roderick and Mark,

      It seems to me that a basic income and an alternate post revolutionary economy are not the same thing. A basic income is a safety net that goes much further than "welfare" does now. Within a capitalist system there are all sorts of advantages that could be gained from an unconditional basic income. It could push society towards a more socialistic mind set. It could empower workers, union activity and socialist relations. Within a post rev situation I would see the need for it as a little different. If there was a need for it, a self-managed participatory society may implement it, being a more just and equitable society, but that would in no way militate against the need for an alternate economic system. Parecon, for instance, may not be perfect and was never intended to be that, but it addresses institutional structural change with a view to fostering certain values and to help bring about classlessness. A basic income doesn't get close to doing that but could provide an unconditional safety net for imperfections of any post rev economic system. I think that gets close to the idea Mark expressed that incentives to work should not be fear of zero income. People able to work can change their minds, go through all sorts of things that may place them in a position where they don't work, don't want to work, just can't work, or don't want to do certain types of work and a basic income(agreed on and decided via the appropriate decision making processes) could be of benefit. After all, by the time we get to a situation like that I would imagine that we would be living in a more just and equitable environment, where solidarity, diversity, self-management and equity was the name of the game.

      Perhaps we are missing each other here. There's a phrase to be used in this regard that I just can't think of.

      Perhaps I'm missing it.

    • Mark Evans 30th Nov 2013

      Hi James - my thinking is that even as a short term goal a campaign for a basic guaranteed income does not make much sense. I'd be much more inclined to get behind a campaign for full employment and quality jobs as a means of closing the inequality gap and moving towards economic justice. I also suspect that it would be much easier to gain popular support for such a campaign as compared to one for a guaranteed basic income - especially given the fact that many people do not seem to agree with the idea of unemployment benefit even in a capitalist economy.

      I think that economic democracy, full employment and quality jobs should be considered a natural right - but with rights come responsibilities.

    • LedSuit ' 30th Nov 2013

      Hi Mark,

      Just sitting here and saw your reply pop up. I agree. I was actually thinking today how much hatred exists when it comes to "wealth redistribution" and how the ruling elite is constantly trying to cut back "welfare" of any sort, that the idea of a basic income for all, a monthly stipend of some sort, would be almost impossible to get up. I hear uncontrollable laughter coming from the right!!. A hard sell. Not saying one shouldn't go for it, but the campaign you speak of, for full employment, quality jobs etc. would still need to be done. I can see how a UBI could empower the unempowered in ways they weren't before that could aid in pushing for further demands but then I think how hard it is to get even the minimum wage raised to an adequate level and I have my doubts.

      I still feel it's worth a shot but the substance is in trying to bring about real economic justice and democracy as you say.

    • Gerry Conroy 30th Nov 2013

      It seems to me that basic income in an IOPS style economy wouldn't be a make or break issue. Some economies on these lines (and parecon types) could have it and others not. So Roderick mentioned mavericks above and gave some brief examples, suggesting the possibility of genuine ethical reasons for not wanting to work at what the majority deem to be socially valuable. Ok, there should be many ways of resolving these kind of issues in the kind of economy we imagine and the diversity value should be operative allowing for situations like these too.

      But I think I can also imagine an IOPS economy where everbody gets a basic income, enough for decent survival, and then work income adds to that. We're just assuming a few mavericks here, right? If there's loads of people not working and choosing to live on the basic income instead, then they're not mavericks anymore and you have something seriously wrong somewhere else, assuming genuine motivations.

      However, if the problem is with people not wanting to work in jobs available because those jobs include a fair share of the unpleasant work and expecting others to do that, or people refusing to work because they don't accept the principle of remuneration for effort, people for example, who think they should be able to earn more due to skills acquired and the greater size of their contribution to work output - then you're still in the period of contestation. Maybe they're doing some kind of strike type action, trying to disrupt the system and make it unworkable but that's a transient situation by its nature.

      James, is that phrase you were looking for, "talking past each other"? I've never been sure what that meant exactly but maybe it deals with people with the same basic values but using somewhat different frames of reference, appearing to disagree. The site seems to be working a bit better the past couple of days, or maybe I'm imagining it.

    • LedSuit ' 30th Nov 2013

      That's the phrase Gerry! I think your definition is exactly what I mean.

      I guess it also comes down to energy expended as well. As Mark points out there may be differences as to where it is preferable to concentrate one's focus and energy-towards the things Mark suggests, a basic income, both or are there aspects that may be at odds with each. Nevertheless I don't seem to be in any great disagreement with anyone here, rather just interested in the discussion. Eric Olin Wright has some things to say regarding a basic income as does Prof John Baker who is a member of IOPS.

      http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/investigating_equality/

      http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/investigating_equality_-_part_2/

      http://eprints.nuim.ie/3823/1/ABR_Baker-Ireland-final.pdf

      The book Equality: From Theory to Action is really worth reading. He also posted some stuff in the resources section.

      http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/EOW%20RR%20essay.pdf

      http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Basic%20Income%20as%20a%20Socialist%20Project.pdf

      PS I think you are right about the site. Seems to be working faster now. Good news.

    • Gerry Conroy 1st Dec 2013

      Thanks for those links - I'd read that interesting interview with John Baker on NLP before and noted that action on equality book, from another reference of yours last year! A sister of mine in Dublin offered to send it to me but with the delays in getting stuff here, I told her I'd leave it till I moved back - but the complications around that have tied me in knots for the moment. That pdf account of the BI campaign is a really high quality read for anyone interested in the details of organising something like that and I can see why you've kept it for reference. Will take a look at the rest later.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2013

      Thanks for the links, James.

      Going back to my first comment, the only point I was trying to make is that IOPS should not a priori reject a basic income and in so doing turn away (potential) members.

      I don't think a strong case can be made that a basic income is inherently unfair or unworkable, though in practice it might prove to be.

    • Mark Evans 4th Dec 2013

      Hi Roderick - sorry I did not reply to your comment earlier. I had an important deadline to meet so did mot have the time, unfortunately.

      But I will just make a short reply to one part of your post. You write:

      "Even in a participatory democracy there's a danger of a tyranny of the majority. A basic income could be one of the mechanisms to defend individuals against that, by giving them more personal autonomy."

      This suggest that you envisage an IOPS style economy including a formal - majority rule - vote on the issue of what is produced at the National and / or international levels. However, the IOPS economic vision states:

      "there is neither market competition nor top-down planning, but instead decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs, whether accomplished by workers and consumers councils or some other suitable method."

      Decentralised cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs is democratic in that it is an inclusive process but it is not a formal vote. Furthermore, unlike with the outcome of a formal vote, this inclusive process does not result in an identifiable majority that gets its way over a minority. (ParEcon spells out in some detail one possibility of how this could be done in the participatory planning process.)

      In short, no tyranny of the majority and no victim minority that needs protecting via a basic income.

    • Rod 4th Dec 2013

      No problem Mark, these kinds of discussions are more suitable for the forums than a blog comments section anyway.

      I wasn't talking about a majority rule vote, but about the participatory process. You give a strong argument, though, and perhaps you're right. My understanding of parecon is quite limited, so I don't feel equiped to give an adequate response. I should try to make some time to read more about parecon / IOPS principles...

  • Lambert Meertens 16th Nov 2013

    There was a discussion on Basic Income as a strategic demand here: http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/strategy/basic-income-as-an-empowering-tool-a-strategic-demand.

    If you support the idea of Basic Income and are a EU citizen of 18 years of age or over (16 in Austria), please sign the petition of the Initiative for a Basic Income in Europe before 14 January 2014 here: http://sign.basicincome2013.eu/.
    More information: https://www.facebook.com/ECI.BasicIncome.

    A similar initiative has been started yesterday in the United States: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/establish-basic-income-guarantee-all-americans-similar-what-being-proposed-switzerland/jFbgDZ4h. The goal is 100,000 supporters by 15 December 2013.

    • Antonio Carty 11th Jan 2014

      Thanks for that link Lambert I'm happy I caught sight of it before its to late on 14th January! I have signed in support of a Basic Income above all obligation and beholden to no judgment and need for explanation!

      A happy new year to all in IOPS!

  • Karl Topfer 18th Nov 2013

    You can only change the world by changing yourself, anything else results in dictating others,

    • Mark Evans 19th Nov 2013

      Hi Karl -

      Human relationships are mediated by social institutions. If we want a world in which people can interact with each other as equals then we need to organise to remove elitist institutions. In the economic sphere, which is what is being discussed here, this means removing the institutions that generate the class system - private ownership and the corporate division of labour - and replacing them with alternatives that allow for the production, consumption and allocation of goods and services along classless lines.

      From this you should be able to see that this is a collective endeavour - undertaken by people with shared values - that has nothing to do with dictating to others and which goes far beyond changing oneself.

  • John Baker 14th Jan 2014

    I've been meaning to contribute to this discussion for a while but other things got in the way. It has also raised a large number of complex issues that operate on a number of levels. Here are a few thoughts about some of them.

    First of all there is the question of whether BI should be part of our vision of a just society or only a claim that makes sense within capitalist societies. I think it is both, and indeed, can play a valuable role in moving towards a just society.

    Part of the reason for its having a role in both scenarios has to do with whether we want to subject all forms of work in its broadest sense to a process of collective scrutiny and measurement (which, within capitalism, involves commodifying all work; within a participatory economy, depending on the model, it might still involve measuring how much work a person is doing - if, for example, one believes that pay should be proportional to work). Perhaps there are forms of valuable, contributing human activity for which we should be happier to say 'that is something worth doing, but it is too hard or too intrusive to measure it'. In which case giving everyone a guaranteed income provides some support for those activities. I am inclined to think that some forms of intimate care work fall into this category, which is compatible with saying that that work should be equally shared. I also think that this is a better way to support people who are involved in various forms of formal or informal learning than trying to measure quite how many hours they spend in the library.

    Another aspect of BI has to do with support for people to be able to make changes in their lives or cope with issues in their lives that can involve dropping out of 'productive' work for a while without having to ask anyone's permission for it. So even if you take the optimistic view that for each person, a participatory economy will always have roles available that suit that person's interests and self-realisation, it seems to me exceedingly optimistic (if that's even the right word) to assume that everyone is going to find such a role at the first shot, and that their interests and aspirations are not going to change, both of which may lead to their needing to take some time off to reconsider, rethink, retrain. People also need to take time out to deal with personal issues and the time it takes varies immensely. In (some) capitalist economies, people can do that, but only subject to the bureaucracy of doctors' certificates and bureaucratically defined limits, e.g. to compassionate leave. I think we might aspire to a world that gives people a lot more freedom from scrutiny in this area.

    None of that denies the principle that people should be doing their fair share of what needs to be done, and it does not prevent anyone from challenging someone who does not seem to be doing so, but it makes that challenge the kind of discursive, respectful, and care-full challenge that occurs when people relate to each other democratically, as equals, rather than the blunt, coercive challenge that threatens them with no income if their answer is considered (by the rest of us) unsatisfactory.

    That is related to the issue of collective decision-making, which for sure does not have to be majoritarian, but surely cannot be defined in terms of unanimity,either (see our blog on politics). Perhaps I'm missing something but it seems to me not just unrealistic but kind of scary to suggest that in an IOPS society nobody would persistently disagree on such matters as whether a particular activity is socially worthwhile, and once you accept persistent disagreement, then no amount of talk about collective decision making will overcome the fact that a collective decision will go against some people's strongly held views. If it is a disagreement over the allocation of public resources, that is probably something the people on the losing side should have no alternative but to live with. But if it is a disagreement over what kinds of activities people should be putting their energies into on a daily basis, maybe we should aspire to a system with more freedom?

    This is of course related to another thread in this discussion, which has to do with the gap between principles and institutional outcomes. Even if we aspire in principle to an economy that has a satisfying, self-realising place in it for everyone, that's not to say that we can count on being 100% successful in constructing one. So I think it's right to see one role of BI as having to do with providing a kind of insurance against lack of success in this respect.

    And that relates in a differnt way to the question of why we would need a BI in an economy that provided a satisfying role to everyone. Surely one answer to that is that it would allow us to test whether we'd succeeded, because the better we were doing, the less anyone would choose to live on BI alone over a long period (some of the short-period reasons being the ones I've already talked about).

    At another level, I think one can think of BI as akin to many of the other things that, after long periods of struggle, have come to be seen by many people as matters of basic human rights - e.g. the right to vote, the right to an education, the right to health care, the right to decent housing - none of which even social democrats say should be contingent on whether or not someone is doing socially worthwhile work. BI just that the right to a decent standard of living should be in that list.

    This is already way too long, and some of it repeats or re-frames poitn already made. By (temporary?) conclusion I might just say that no one claims that BI is a panacea. It is just one piece of the answer to how a decent society should work.

    PS Thanks to those of you who have said some encouraging things about our published work.

  • Rick New 3rd Jul 2014

    Thanks for posting your meeting minutes, Elizabeth.

    How do you feel the online comments/discussion was in relation to the in-person meeting? For example: Was there more back and forth exchanges? Were the conversations shorter, but maybe also quicker? Did everyone speak or did some listen? etc...

    How is the local radio station doing? A non-member asked for examples of ParEcon in action(not sure if he was really serious, but he did ask.) Does the station have anything to report back about their experiences?

    Thanks,

    Rick

    • Lizzie Meade 8th Jul 2014

      Hi Rick,

      Thank you for your reply.

      Our face to face discussions at our meetings are always very different from online discussions. Over the time we have spent together we have gotten to know one another, and so the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting. There is usually quite a bit of humor in our exchanges.

      I'm not a big fan of online communication and find it stifling and slow. I must prefer face to face, where people are more free to change their mind, be more flexible, and aren't held to every single word. I don't really personally like the online exchanges as they can be more rigid, and not as free.

      In relation to how we manage the exchange we usually have a discussion facilitator, who makes sure that everyone has a chance to speak, and that no one person dominates etc. It usually works out as a discussion amongst the group, with much back and forth. We each tend to explore ideas together and discuss different possibilities etc. It is much more fluid, open and faster than the online exchange. Everyone has a chance to speak, and eveyone usually does, although some times some people have more to say than others. It usually has a natural rhythm and works out very well.

      The member involved in the local radio station lives very far away from Dublin, and so hasn't been able to make it to meetings. We haven't heard back from him since, but now that you mention it, it would be good for a dublin member to maybe interview him for an IOPS blog. I will brig it up our meeting in a couple of weeks.

      Thanks again Rick,
      Lizzie.

  • Rick New 8th Jul 2014

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your response to my earlier question. Writing is hard and we do sometimes say things we don't exactly mean, but then there it is, speaking forever.

    It could be interesting to talk about limiting the scope of online dialog, find its best mode(s)and see what happens with those for a while. You can't use a bicycle on the freeway, or something like that.

    Hope you do reach the member at the radio station, that could be an interesting interview.

    Regards,

    Rick