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.
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,