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This blog was co-authored by the IOPS chapters of Dublin, Melbourne, Missoula, New York City, Salem and Vienna.

It is not enough to make a plan;

we must evaluate the results of that plan.

Marta Harnecker


A few months ago, we wrote of the need for all of us to engage in a reevaluation process.  We have, since then, taken our own advice.  The question we asked ourselves was, as our title indicates, “What happened?”  Yes, we failed to meet the organizing goals we set ourselves, but, to understand the nature of that failure, we needed to know just what our organizing efforts were.  To that end, we set about a process of data-gathering and analysis, and made findings that we share with you now, in the belief that they should inform all our organizing efforts going forward.  But, before we share those findings, we would like to tell you a little bit about the chapters we represent.      


IOPS (County) Dublin

IOPS Dublin first got together in September 2012, and, after a few stop and starts, have been meeting monthly. We spent the first year working through the mission and vision, getting to know one another, discussing hopes for IOPS, and other educational work. Only very recently have we begun to get involved in public events. We had a stall at the April 2014 Anarchist bookfair, and one of our members gave a talk on IOPS. We also recently attended the opening of a bridge here in Dublin, in solidarity with other activists around Europe, and in collaboration with IOPS Vienna.  We have never been considered an “active” [-- i.e., “working”] chapter, as we do not meet the female quota.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS Melbourne

IOPS Melbourne was founded in a pub in February 2013. We’ve generally met fortnightly ever since. The active membership is currently 12 strong, comprising two pre-existing friendship groups and five individuals. Early meetings were spent getting to know each other and developing meeting processes. Actions so far include hosting bi-monthly screening and discussion events, running stalls and workshops, instituting an English language project for refugees and new immigrants, joining a rent collective for the establishment of the West Papuan independence movement’s campaign office, and organising the inaugural protest against the introduction of anti-protest legislation in the state of Victoria.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS Missoula

IOPS Missoula is a kind of hybrid organization -- of the 19 members that meet monthly as IOPS, 10-16 of those same people meet weekly as a radical "intentional community" for fairly rigorous study, discussion and food.  Membership building to the chapter has thus far been through personal invitation by a core member as we waited to see what became of the "International."  Our hope is to introduce an anti-capitalist critique and IOPS vision into the local climate movement.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS New York City

IOPS NYC began around a tiny kitchen table in 2012 and has grown to bi-weekly meetings. We work in various social movements, including The Participatory Budgeting Project, the Free Chelsea Manning Network, and Justice for Trayvon Martin. We have organized successful events and projects, including music against the TPP, workshops on the IOPS vision at the Left Forum and the NYC anarchist book fair, a contingent at the May 1st March, and production of political music videos. We engage the IOPS platform by discussing Occupy Strategy, and have had an active majority of members of color throughout our history.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS Salem

IOPS Salem began meeting regularly in October 2012.  Like IOPS Missoula, we are first and foremost engaged in “mental preparation for social change.” However, many of us have not been involved in activism through the years. We’re older, more ordinary, less certain. We see study and analysis as necessary for us to understand real existing capitalism and today's social relations. We have attempted to insert ourselves and our critique into existing projects and blogged about our experience, but Salem is the capital of Oregon -- a government town of  socially and intellectually conservative people, although many see themselves as progressive. Just engaging in discussion is extremely challenging.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS Vienna

We founded IOPS Vienna on 16 February 2012 and met roughly every two weeks  since our first meeting. Issues we addressed were Participatory  Economics, Commons, Global Villages, Universal Basic Income, Economic Democracy, Italian Workerism, Workers Rights, Right to the City, Slums,  Discrimination of Refugees, Participism, Organizing and Care. We  addressed them through demonstrations, a rally, a march, workshops, talks, discussions, a documentary screening, declarations of solidarity,  an open breakfast, reading circles, leaflets, posters and newsletters. Lately we began organizing on a European level together with IOPS Dublin and others. Since very recently however, we no longer satisfy the female quota.  (June 2014.)  


IOPS Inter-Chapter Workgroup

Delegates from all of the above, along with a few others, have been working together on IOPS organizational issues since May 2014.  A few months before that, IOPS Vienna and IOPS Dublin began developing a cooperative relationship.  The rest of us came along on the initiative of one of the international admins.  None of us knows “why” we did not make a concerted effort to collaborate earlier, and we can only speculate as to what we might have accomplished had we reached out on our own to other chapters with offers of mutual aid and support in our organizing efforts.  Maybe we thought we “knew” what was happening; we’d seen the blogs and forum discussions claiming that people aren’t joining because the organization isn’t growing fast enough, or not enough is happening, or the website is too “yesterday” or too hard to navigate, or the vision and commitments are not friendly enough, or people are afraid of failing or wasting their time, or they don’t have any time, or they’re too distracted, or too busy trying to make ends meet, or too active elsewhere.  But, even assuming all that were true, it need not have kept us from reaching out to each other.  So, perhaps the best thing to be said about failing to reach our interim goals is that it finally brought us together to share our successes and frustrations and come to understand a little about each other’s circumstances.


Our Process


After due consideration, we decided that the first step to finding out “what happened” would be to determine, as best we could, all the IOPS-focused organizing that occurred between January 2012 and June 2014.  Because the main focus of most of the organizing was the goal of 20 “working chapters,” we needed to understand what that term meant.  So, we went to the ICC’s definition, as set out in poll question #2:  


For purposes of Question 3 [How many working chapters should we have in place and operating before the founding convention?], a chapter is a group of members that meets regularly, develops shared commitments, shares experiences, etc., maintains an IOPS chapter web page, and has a membership of at least: [5, as decided by the second poll.]   


We noted the absence of any discussion, by anybody, of a quorum requirement.  Thus, participatory societal values aside, a chapter of, say, 100, 30% of whom are women, would satisfy the ICC’s definition of “working,” even if only 10 were meeting regularly.  We also noted that, within a few weeks of the poll’s closing, the definition of “working chapter” was being reinterpreted to omit the “maintains an IOPS chapter web page” aspect, and later, to require that only five members regularly attend meetings, and even later, to require that only 30% of those attending meetings be women.  


Next, we ran a bunch of queries of the database.  To a current list of all chapters with chapter page admins, we manually added chapters with five or more members.  To that, we manually added the chapters whose members included a member of the ICC.  Then, we studied the national, regional and local chapter pages of each one on the list and made notes of any sign of organizing activity.  Based on the results of that study, we decided to focus further research on local chapters that had at least one admin and more than five members (our “research criteria”).  Then, we manually divided the list into nine global “areas”:  Nordic Netherlands (Nord-Neth), Northwest Europe (EurNW), United Kingdom and Ireland (UKI), Eastern Europe- Middle- East-Asia (EurE-ME-A) South Africa-Australia-New Zealand (SSAAusNZ), Japan-Western North America (NA-W&J), Mid-North America (NA-M), Northeastern North America (NA-NE), and Southeastern North America (NA-SE) & Central/South America (C/SA).  Note:  the abbreviations appear on tabs at the bottom of the list.  Just select the appropriate tab to examine our data on that area.    


With our list in hand, we wrote to select members of the chapters that fit our research criteria, telling them what we were doing and what their chapter pages told us about their organizing activities since inception and asking them for any additional details they might be able to give us.  Many were slow to respond, did not respond, or provided information that was not particularly helpful.  Those who did respond usually responded to follow up questions, but not always.  We are certainly grateful for those who did respond and for their information and insights.  We would have liked to include many more than we had space for.  Letters like this, for instance.   


Our findings, below, were/are based on all the information that was available through the above process and sources and on reasonable inferences taken therefrom.  Readers in possession of useful additional, or contrary, information are invited to share it by posting the information as a comment or by personal message to any of the authors.  To give the findings context, particularly for the many members who joined in 2013 and 2014 and those that may join hereafter, we begin with a timeline of what we considered relevant “events.”


Please read the rest of this exciting blog here, in its entirety.  We apologize for the brief interruption in your reading. 

Discussion 103 Comments

  • Michael Livingston 22nd Nov 2014

    Pre-publication Comment

    “[A] very big thank you to all concerned for your effort in assembling this comprehensive document. In responding to the crucial 'what happened' question, the document successfully sketches out the tangled history and current status of the IOPS experiment, complete with the necessary complexities and a suitably critical and reflective tone...Hopefully it can generate some reflections, suggestions and actions leading to the creation of new maps charting out directions for our movement to move.”

    “It will be an important record.”

    “I especially liked anonymous letter you linked to.”

    “I really like the blog. I think you did a great job. I emailed it to the [other/former/remaining] core members of IOPS [_________]. One already wrote back [praising the] initiative.”

    “[V]ery impressive and thoughtful.”

    “Shows how hard it is for the uninitiated, or those not used to this stuff, to organise.”

    “Very well researched, I must say. Thanks!”

    “This kind of evaluation is paramount to forward movement...and I think this will stimulate our chapter to do its own internal eval[ualtion].”

  • Michael Livingston 22nd Nov 2014

    Pre-publication Critique

    “The section on IOPS [__________] doesn’t discuss the group’s considerable work in activist events and causes. While I agree that members of IOPS might find our stories of failures more informative, non-members might want to read about our successes.”

    Response: The blog is about efforts to organize for IOPS during a certain period. Its purpose is to provide a basis for evaluating IOPS's organizational capacity, and determining a way forward that makes sense. The efforts we described are neither success nor failure stories -- they are only "what happened" (or what didn't), what may have succeeded for a while or in a given instance, or what might have worked if continued or in other circumstances, but ultimately failed, all for reasons yet to be determined. Yes, if we were writing this blog for non-members (and, necessarily, for another purpose), we might want to include some of the activist successes. But that would be another blog. All the organizing activities were included, successful and unsuccessful, to the best of our research ability.

  • Jon Doe 22nd Nov 2014

    Thanks for the work on the overall "what happened" blog. It is very impressive and thoughtful. It is well worth the full read, and I would like it to be posted in a way that could be easily downloaded, perhaps in the resources section. My only general reflection is on tone and focus for the whole piece. I think there has been an impressive amount of work done on resources and discussions on the site, and actions out in the wide world in general. This includes moving sections of the left to a more integrated analysis in the UK and generally getting a larger focus for vision internationally.

    Though the document must reflect on a IOPS as part of a history of failed meetings, IOPS has also built important track record of discussion, resources, meetings, and actions, many of which were successes, and these also need to be reflected on.

    I know this was not the focus of the "what happened" with chapter organizing, but generally I would like to see emphasis on the activities that have been engaged in on the site and in the world, but I guess that can be seen on the front page of the site, in the "things we've done" and "things we have discussed" on the homepage section.

    Thanks again for your work, and un abrazo fuerte from a bright frigid day in NYC!

    • Sarah Owens 22nd Nov 2014

      Jon Doe, the blog and tables (referred to in the blog as "the list") have been posted to the resources section.

    • Sarah Owens 23rd Nov 2014

      Agree, Jon Doe, our collaborative effort looks pretty impressive at this point. Sometimes wondered if we'd ever arrive at a finished product, but we did! I know you and others of us wanted all the activist activities included, as well as the IOPS-related organizing activities, but, as you point out, that was not our focus, and those sorts of activities --to the extent they are reported -- are consistently featured on the international homepage, which, sadly, receives most members' exclusive attention.

      Unfortunately, though, no activity can be emphasized if it is not reported. For example, you say that we/someone has moved "sections of the left to a more integrated analysis in the UK and generally getting a larger focus for vision internationally." Was that reported (blogged) somewhere? I don't remember it (I don't even know what that would mean, really, to move sections of the left, etc.). Was that initiative related to our interim goals? Could you blog about that, or get someone to blog about that, and relate it to our organizing goals (our interim goals)? That would be awesome, because I agree with you, we definitely need to be reporting (emphasizing) what we're doing more than we are.

      Which brings me to a fond hope for IOPS NYC, that you will take the product of our research, and revisit your Chapter Building Proposal http://www.iopsociety.org/united-states/new-york/blog/chapter-building-tour-contingency-plan-proposal
      asking how the research should inform your interaction with the chapters you propose to help organize, if at all, and collaborating with those chapters in finding paths forward that fit their local circumstances. It will be at least as much work as went into this blog, but a few committed members can do a great deal. Easy for me to say, I know. But I think the "history of failed meetings" is just the first layer of what we could learn from our research. For instance, I'd be interested to have our comrades at OFS review our findings carefully and hear what they might have to say. Is that a possibility, do you think?

      We have a great deal to think about, don't we? I'll leave you to it, then. Thank you for your work, and un abrazo fuerte (that sounds like a good thing, and I trust you) from a cloudy wet day in Salem, Oregon!

  • Kim Keyser 22nd Nov 2014

    The report concurs with my impression of what has happened so far, and I think it is a serious and valuable report, which those who wonder what has happened so far, might be interested in reading.

    Just a short note on the situation in Norway: We're still growing (now we have more than 2000 facebook followers, almost 70 dues paying members, and six groups of people who're active locally, in five different cities). I expect us to continue to do grow.

    We're also still IOPS compatible, and I expect a deeper, more practical understanding of the things we need to understand in order to move forward in a serious manner soon (while 60-70 dues paying members might be more than any of the local/regional IOPS chapters, it's still (almost) nothing, in a country of five million inhabitants!). This is mainly due to *significantly* better internal practical-theoretical education is being developed and proposed.

    In the meanwhile, it might make sense to put more effort into trying to coordinate with IOPS members and chapters, IF there had been more of either, or IF they'd been more active, or IF they had lived more close by, or preferably all of those criteria. And I really wish that was the situation(!). And I know most of you who read this think so, as well.

    But as long as that's not the case, it makes sense to me, for our organization(s) here in Norway (and Sweden and Denmark), to try to nurture more organizational capacity, which in the not too distant future, but neither in the immediate future, can significantly help like-minded people other places to organize. Whether that will materialize or not, I cannot say. I really hope so, I consistently work for it day in and day out, and I truly believe the odds are very good. But it cannot be guaranteed, and even if it will materialize it will take time.

    In the meanwhile, I would encourage those chapters that are active or has been active, to continue to be active, and at least try to uphold a rudimentary form of communication now and then, and I would also encourage those individuals who are, were, or hope to be, active, to keep staying informed both about the development in society at large, as well as checking in here at least now and then (some day – maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after tomorrow, and maybe not even one day in the year to come(?) – there might be significant and solid news about how we can proceed, and then people will need to stay informed!).

    • Sarah Owens 23rd Nov 2014

      Saluton! Kim Keyser, bone, agree that it makes sense, under current circumstances, for your orgs in Norway (and Sweden and Denmark) to try to nurture more organizational capacity so that you may one day "significantly help like-minded people other places to organize." If more members, and most especially our leaders, had heeded your (and others', but mostly yours) consistent and persistent advice to start now, go slow, and don't stop, our story (IOPS's story, that is) likely would be quite different. Never too late to listen, though. Gis!

    • Kim Keyser 23rd Nov 2014

      "If more members, and most especially our leaders, had heeded your (and others', but mostly yours) consistent and persistent advice to start now, go slow, and don't stop, our story (IOPS's story, that is) likely would be quite different."

      That's flattering, I guess, but I'm not so sure about that… I have not had enough good, concrete, constructive advice to offer (I'm not trying to belittle myself, it's just that "start now, go slow, and don't stop", or other advice I have given, has been very far from making a significant impact, and may have been perceived as irrelevant/boring/too difficult/whatever).

      Neither have I had the organizational capacity to offer, where advice takes on a more practical role (i.e. a network of organizers who could help local groups get founded, grow and consolidate, by staying with them for a while, doing workshops, skillsharing the basics of prefigurative organizing and such). The same goes for the missed opportunity of Occupy. But never too late to start building such organizational capacity (in fact, I had a meeting about it, earlier today)! ;)

      Also: We have no leaders. *We are our own leaders.* It's not meant as cheap rhetoric – it's meant honestly and seriously. Look: Where in the urban areas of the OECD-countries do you see truly successful prefigurative movements? Nowhere! It means that we have to create such a movement from scratch. Thus, there are no leaders thus far, and as far as possible, one central aim of such a movement would be to try to create as many leaders as possible and to minimize the difference between leaders and led (although we'll surely start out with people who're more motivated, have more self-confidence, access to more networks and so on, who'll make an above average contribution, in terms of results, but perhaps a below average contribution in terms of pushing themselves to contribute, just as we'll start out with people who're less motivated, have less self-confidence, access to less networks and so on, who'll make a below average contribution, in terms of results, but perhaps an above average contribution in terms of pushing themselves to contribute).

    • Sarah Owens 23rd Nov 2014

      Kim, I think you have misunderstood, or I have not been clear, or something.

      First, with respect to the sentence you quote, we are in agreement: your simple advice did not have a significant impact. My point is, that is too bad. If it approaches flattery to say your simple advice was good, and likely would have made a difference had members heeded it, okay, but I did not intend to flatter, only to say what is so. Consider, for instance, that IOPS Missoula shares your perspective.

      Second, I was not referring to "our leaders" across the globe. I was referring to Michael Albert and the other members of the ICC, to whom the membership tended to give greater attention and deference even as they complained about them, myself included, thereby placing them in a de facto leadership role, notwithstanding a policy position that "we have no leaders" (as if that is a good thing!).

      I don't disagree that "we" on the prefigurative left have a deficit of leaders, both in IOPS, and generally, and that this condition must be addressed.

    • Michael Albert 15th Dec 2014

      Hi again, Sarah - I am not sure what it is you thought I should have done, or listened to. I don't know what going slow would have meant other than what we did? That is, we did go slow, in the sense of not rushing into having program, etc., before it would have any meaning. I don't know what else opting to go slow might mean. As to building and keeping on building - I never applied myself to building a chapter say. I could not hope to do that, successfully, where I live, at my age, and, in event, even if that weren't the case, I couldn't do that plus Z, etc. So, instead, I did what I could do, which probably made more sense in any event. I wrote and tried to spread awareness of the ideas and the organization - and then I also went all over speaking, etc. As to others on the ICC, some did work on chapters, I believe. They were younger, lived in suitable places, etc. But those, who, like me, couldn't possibly do that well, or at all, given their age and location and or their other responsibilities, did not choose to write or do interviews or give talks promoting and making known IOPS. If you look through the ICC list, obviously many could have, but did not do that. And my efforts, while perhaps they did benefit some folks, were far from enough.

      What does this tell us? I am not sure, other than that perhaps there are more people - not ICC members, not well known already, but quite capable of writing and speaking and the like, who might still do so.

      Confidence as has been noted in some other comments above, is indeed an issue. And one of the main things chapters could provide, I would hope, is training, feedback, practice, to help people gain both skills and confidence. In lieu of that, though, before that occurs, honestly, it is hard to see what option there is other than diving in, trying and trying again.

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      I don't know if your question is rhetorical or not. Probably it is, but, in case you're really asking, by "listened to", I meant listened to Kim's and others' advice not to put arbitrary deadlines on meeting preconditions. By "going slow" was meant not encouraging/facilitating the creation of arbitrary deadlines within which to meet preconditions, an arbitrary deadline being one that was not based on a studied and realistic assessment of members capacity to reach the goals. I don't really get the rest of what you're saying. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But, at this point, I probably know too much about our organizational limitations, not to mention how poorly I fit in with the people that are left in the building, so it doesn't really matter.

    • Michael Albert 15th Dec 2014

      Not sure why what I wrote wasn't clear, sorry about that.

      I get now what you were referring to...I wish I could believe that attaching deadlines had some adverse effect. I do doubt it, though...

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      Don't apologize, please. Thanks for all you do.

    • Kim Keyser 16th Dec 2014

      Sarah, there are some people that have been against all deadlines and criteria. I was/am not one of those. Although I think we shouldn't have had a deadline, that wasn't important to me. However, I've disagreed with /some/ of the criteria options (i.e. the poll designs), but even more so with what the registered internet members chose.

      None of those however, has been my main concern, and I think focusing on that aspect is a distraction. My main concern was (and still is) that there wasn't sufficiently many coordinated organizers to start out with, so reaching almost /any/ criteria by /any/ deadline would be difficult.

      I remained hopeful about more organizers joining, and more people joining becoming organizers (by the "learning by doing" method). However, that didn't materialize. So for the next time – /because there needs to be a next time/ – we need to have more organizers that can help kickstart chapters. A handful or two won't do, if they're scattered all over the place, don't know each other from beforehand, and become active/quit activity at different stages of the interim process.

      So, for me at least, that's the focus now: developing organizational capacity, focusing on a core of people with a varied skill set, which could travel around, stay a few days to a few months to help kickstart viable chapters.

    • Sarah Owens 17th Dec 2014

      Hei, Kim, I quite understand/stood the subtleties of your position(s). My point was simply that you did not approve of a deadline; I did not mean to imply you considered it of utmost importance that there not be a deadline. And, I quite agree we need to have more organizers "next time" and need to focus on developing organizational capacity. You wrote below that we need a few dozen organizers. Here you say that ten (two hands' worth) won't do if they're scattered, etc. My question is, are you saying that IOPS needs something like 25 more organizers than we have now? If not, could you please put a number to how many you think we have, and how many more we need for the "next time"?

    • Kim Keyser 18th Dec 2014

      Difficult questions to answer, Sarah, as the answer must necessarily be very relative. Ten organizers studying/working/living in the same university/workplace/neighborhood, at the same time, can achieve a lot(!), fast.

      However, in order to significantly help people establish chapters, I think one person pr. chapter is sufficient. But as an organizer you don't want to spend weeks, or months, at a random place, perhaps not very strategic, with just 2-3 somewhat motivated people. You want to make sure you go to the places where there's a core of motivated people, preferably in a strategic place, so you can actually confidently leave, with assurance that there's now a viable, consolidated chapter, that will be bigger and better the next you visit. So, the number of organizers is much dependent on how many such strategic places with a core of motivated people there are. How many such places have there been in IOPS, thus far? Somewhere between 10 and 30, I'd guess (depending on what you would define as strategic/realistic and not).

      How many such type of chapter catalysts/traveling organizers does IOPS have, right now? 2-3 perhaps. Jon Doe had a suggestion (it was too little, too late, but the initiative it showed was the sort we'd need more of), and I'd be able to do such things. However, Jon and I were the exact type of scattered organizers I was talking about – we don't know each other from before, we haven't organized together before, and we both study, work and live in different /continents/. You'd really want a tighter knit group of coordinated organizers, with practical hands-on experience on running a chapter as a part of a federation, studying, working and living in the same neighborhood (a city is very often a too big unit to quickly achieve critical mass, these days).

      Granted that strategic places are prioritized (based on what we know from member concentration, time zones, economic importance, etc,. that *would have* mainly meant starting out with Germanic speaking north-western Europe and the east and west coast of Germanic speaking north-America, but it can be different the next time the opportunity is there), 10 such organizers in each continent/region, can do a lot of good, in a short time (read: months).

      So, just to reiterate: it depends on quite a few variables, so the answer must necessarily be relative, but no, as many as 25 organizers is not necessary to start out with (but it would be much preferred for a lower number, and is not un-realistic to develop within the next few years).

      I hope that this answer gave you at least some ideas, of what I think could be a way forward?

      The practical conclusion can be quite exciting, and "radical", if you think about it: move to a place where such development is taking place. ;)

    • Kim Keyser 18th Dec 2014

      "So, the number of organizers is much dependent on how many such strategic places with a core of motivated people there are." –> "So, the number of organizers NEEDED is much dependent on how many such strategic places with a core of motivated people there are."

    • Sarah Owens 21st Dec 2014


      Yes, it did (give some idea). Thank you. More by email after all this settles. Happy Christmas, if you like that sort of thing.

  • Carlo Pifferi 23rd Nov 2014

    Hi, I'll soon take seriously IOPS programme and actually tryng do do my best in a local blog where my views about duty and rights of people to partecipate effectively in Township decisions. Considered that latifundism and capitalism are been reintroduced in Tuscany with the endorsement of the (so called) Left and followed by gratitude of peop's, i'm satisfied that, at this moment, my post get approvation 95% of the times by blog's editor. Lack of activity in Italy and Regional section scared me a little bit, but also let me think to take careful and smooth action where there's no consent at all instead to haunt for tons of sectary blogs with one-way opinion. Despite a glorious socialist tradition in Central Italy it seems to stay in a desert with scarce oasis, a lot of dangerous tribes and Timbuctou still far away. On my side have time, patience and a stupid, greedy, self distructive, political class.
    Common goals had been not all missed looking at UKI and Scandinavia, so I don't belive has been a total failure looking at ambitiousness of objectives.

    • Sarah Owens 23rd Nov 2014

      Bonan matenon, Carlo Pifferi, always good to hear a new member say s/he intends to take IOPS seriously! As you prepare to do that, please consider taking on the role of admin of your local chapter page. Also, re-posting one or two of your local-issue blogs to the local (and, if appropriate, regional) page, with a link to the original posting. Although you are by yourself in your local chapter right now (and, as you point out, in Italy generally) others visiting the chapter pages where you've posted may take encouragement when they see your local-issue focus in the native language. If you need/want any help/advice/feedback, you have your IOPS Italy admins Fabio Sallustro http://www.iopsociety.org/profile/fabio-sallustro
      and "ricardo maria rossi" (no post since 2012) Also, feel free to email me. I'll send you my address through the IOPS system -- look for it. I might not be able to help you, but I might be able to find another member who can.

  • Jon Doe 24th Nov 2014

    In NYC we also worked to create 11 IOPS music videos and IOPS Simpson satires which combined have received more than 20,000 unique views:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2WQStVaZpfag8FrhPreyBQ http://vimeo.com/39937744

    and NY folk were part of a music and organizing tour thru the US south with musician Ryan Harvey, see:



    In terms of the way that the early IOPS organizing shifted the debate within the British left, look at the 2013 founding documents for the new Left Unity Party in Britain, they are much more integrated, non-dogmatic, and IOPS-like then prior UK left formations (and early UK IOPS members were in dialogue with UK leftists) :


  • Sarah Owens 10th Dec 2014

    The blog ends with a "To be Continued..." and quotes Kim Keyser, saying "An action is not completed before it's been evaluated." Then it tells the reader,

    "We know that, even though the deadline expired before we reached our interim goals, our action -- our undertaking to reach them -- is not yet complete; finding out “what happened” was just the first step in the evaluation process. The question remains, as ICC member Mark Evans put it recently, “why have we failed to meet our targets within the given time scale? How we answer this question will inform what we think is the best course of action for IOPS post-deadline.” But, those questions require thoughtful consideration of what happened, and must await another day."

    I'd like to ask any of you who've read our findings what they think about completing the evaluation. Does that interest you, personally? Or do you think it's not important for some reason?

    • Lizzie Meade 11th Dec 2014

      In response to your question Sarah, I think it is of vital importance for IOPS going forward that we ask ourselves why 'what happened' happened. I think Mark was spot on in the quotation above, and I think that day has come.

      It is something that I am prepared to work on and it would be great to know if others think it is worth pursuing. In order for us to know how to go forward we need an honest evaluation of what brought us to this point and what we could have done differently on a personal level, at the chapter level and also internationally.

      It stands to reason that the more people willing to contribute to answering such a question the more complete a picture we will achieve.

    • Jason 11th Dec 2014

      Though I’d be supportive of people embarking on that project, I personally couldn’t see my way to answering that question in a lot of detail, so don’t think it’d be a good use of energy. There appears to be plenty in the broad picture to confidently move forward on the basis of. To run through some of the classics…

      • People—think those without confidence, experience, time, or who already do a lot of activist work—joined without being clear about what joining meant, how to relate to the org—so steps are being taken to improve the joining process.
      • The estimations about how many would join, let alone become active, were way off which massively mislead expectations, and made the polls largely inapplicable and (in hindsight) a big waste of energy and attention—so we have to come to terms with being small and build from there or change direction.
      • The ICC stopped functioning a long time ago and is now defunct (I think)—so an alternative body or process needs to be cobbled together to fill that void.
      • Lots of projects were started that didn’t go anywhere showing people’s expectations weren’t properly informed—another joining process issue and maybe one related to inadequate site facilities.
      • People weren’t getting messages because notifications were going into people’s junk folders—a website-control issue.
      • Many (maybe most) seem to have dissociated without removing their accounts. A new website could have an automated annual or bi-annual membership renewal mechanism that gets members who’ve been inactive for more than 6 months to either revoke, change to a ‘supporter’ membership, or, should they not respond, labels their account ‘ex-member’ (still contactable). This would give us a relatively crystal clear picture of our numbers and engagement, and also allow members to each other with confidence that there communications are getting through and are welcome.
      • Distinctions between active and non-active chapters weren’t clear which was probably confusing and off-putting for many (including people visiting the site out of curiosity)—probably a site construction issue.
      • People were encouraged to take charge of web pages without having much sense of how worthwhile up-keep on them are—so page analytics should be made available publicly or to admins.
      • And so on!

      You get the idea: the history is one where basic stuff wasn’t covered. Once it’s rectified, and we have new experience and data under clear conditions, I reckon that’s when detailed analysis and considerations of strategy will become essential.

    • Sarah Owens 12th Dec 2014

      Eh, Jason, did you consult with your comrades at IOPS Melbourne before weighing in? Because, although you may, as you say, feel there is “plenty in the broad picture to confidently move forward on the basis of” (whatever that means), your comrades in this endeavor have taken the position that there is more work to do. If, as you suggest, the answers were obvious, we would have included them in the blog. We did not do so precisely because we knew they were not, your glib “run” through the “classics” notwithstanding.

      No one can dispute that, as you point out, “basic stuff wasn’t covered.” But to put off detailed analysis and strategy considerations until we’ve “rectified” the “basic stuff” that “wasn’t covered”, and “we have new experience and data under clear conditions” would guarantee IOPS slow and undignified demise. We may well be too late as it is.

      As our research showed clearly, IOPS is not increasing its organizational capacity or moving closer to its interim goals; if anything, IOPS is headed in the opposite direction. Those who liked order and understood how to organize were the first to leave. As it stands now, IOPS lacks the organizational capacity to do anything more than keep the website going -- for a couple of years, anyway. The time for wishful thinking is over, comrade. If we are ever to increase our capacity and reach our interim goals, detailed analysis of the barriers to organizing and considerations of strategy are essential, and they must be done now. If that’s not important, to you, so be it. And if others feel the same, then I say we should shut down the website and give the remaining funds to Doctors Without Borders or some other IOPS-worthy organization that is actually making things better for real people.

    • Jason 12th Dec 2014

      Glib‽ Lil’ ol’ me? Kidding… No, thanks for replying, Sarah. I particularly appreciate your heavy use of scare quotes, they don’t come across as rude or condescending or anything.

      IOPS Melbourne… At IOPS Melbourne, we have this amazing dynamic where we have different thoughts and feelings about stuff. Ya might even say we’re unified through our diversity—it’s a beautiful thing.

      The differently-coloured serpents, they talk to each other…

      I didn’t say anything should be put off.

      So the answers aren’t obvious but it’s also indisputable that basic stuff wasn’t covered? Seems contradictory. Or maybe you imply that that answer is not obvious yet indisputable—not sure where that leaves it.

      If those first to leave really knew how to organise, they wouldn’t have left. They’d have organised.

      No wishful thinking over here. I assure you: I’m quite cynical. E.g. You basically say towards the end there that if others don’t feel how you feel about the situation and spend their valuable time and energy doing what you think they ought to do be doing with it, the whole organisation should just be shut down… We shall not mind what others think, shall we, comrade?

    • Sarah Owens 12th Dec 2014

      There are no scare quotes in my comment, comrade. I was quoting you, verbatim. And your interpretation of what I "basically say" is about as accurate as your placement of the Victoria logo.

    • Jason 13th Dec 2014

      Bugger. Here are those obscured bits…

      The differently-coloured serpents, they talk to each other…

      I didn’t say anything should be put off.

      So the answers aren’t obvious but it’s also indisputable that basic stuff wasn’t covered? Seems contradictory. Or maybe you imply that that answer is not obvious yet indisputable—not sure where that leaves it.

      If those first to leave really knew how to organise, they wouldn’t have left. They’d have organised.

      No wishful thinking over here. I assure you…

      We’ve ifferent understandings of scare quotes.

      Inaccurate? I’m so sorry. Just to be sure…

      ‘If we are ever to increase our capacity and reach our interim goals, detailed analysis of the barriers to organizing and considerations of strategy are essential, and they must be done now.’

      So that’s ‘how you feel about the situation’ and ‘what you think [others] ought to do be doing with [their valuable time and energy].’

      ‘If that’s not important, to you, so be it. And if others feel the same…’

      Corresponds to the ‘others don’t feel how you feel’ bit.

      ‘…then I say we should shut down the website and give the remaining funds to Doctors Without Borders or some other IOPS-worthy organization.’

      And doing those things would mean ‘the whole organisation [would] be shut down.’

      Then the connections between those things seem straightforward. So as you can see I tried but, again, if I’ve missed the mark, sorry.

      P.s. Our use of ‘comrade’ is starting to sound like this…

    • Sarah Owens 14th Dec 2014

      “I didn’t say anything should be put off.”

      Really? That’s what “detailed analysis and considerations of strategy will become essential” once the failure to cover “basic stuff” is “rectified, and we have new experience and data under clear conditions” sounded like to me, given none of the named conditions was/is likely to occur any time soon, if ever. Were you not saying there’s no point, or you don’t see any point, in developing a detailed analysis and strategy until some future time?

      “So the answers aren’t obvious but it’s also indisputable that basic stuff wasn’t covered? Seems contradictory.”

      Not at all. To say, as you have, that “basic stuff wasn’t covered” is true as far as it goes, but the statement is hardly an answer at any deep or pragmatic level. What “basic stuff”, specifically? How basic? Is the failure correctable? How? What would it take? Does IOPS presently have the organizational capacity to correct the failures? Answers are also non-obvious when, as now appears to be the case in our inter-chapter work group, there is fundamental disagreement about organizational structure and goals. If comrades disagree about such basic elements, they will inevitably disagree on the answers. That makes them non-obvious.

      "If those first to leave really knew how to organise, they wouldn’t have left. They’d have organised."

      Okay, if you think that, then either IOPS never had any members who knew how to organize, which is contrary to the What Happened findings and the facts as many of us know them, or, the members who knew/know how to organize have not left (and by “left” I mean ceased meaningful participation or deactivated their account or both). But, if that were true, one would expect that evidence of these members’ ongoing efforts would have surfaced during the research on the What Happened blog, but it didn’t. Instead, even the members of the inter-chapter work group, are (still, after six months) struggling unsuccessfully with the most basic organizational problems, and Kim Keyser is helpfully observing that *we need a few dozen organizers.*

      “[I]f I’ve missed the mark, sorry.”

      You have, and your apology is accepted. I think perhaps you take things I write personally, and this leads to misunderstanding, when all there is is disagreement. Maybe if you could first ask me if I mean what you think I mean and allow me to respond, rather than mangling my words and throwing them back at me, we could have a conversation.

    • Jason 15th Dec 2014

      Hello again,

      ‘Were you not saying there’s no point, or you don’t see any point, in developing a detailed analysis and strategy until some future time?’


      ‘What “basic stuff”, specifically?’

      My initial comment listed a few things.

      ‘[E]ither IOPS never had any members who knew how to organize, which is contrary to the What Happened findings and the facts as many of us know them, or, the members who knew/know how to organize have not left.’

      Option 3: what’s thought to be known is not. We have different ideas about what it means for someone to really know how to organise.

      ‘I think perhaps you take things I write personally, and this leads to misunderstanding, when all there is is disagreement.’

      Your words were addressed to me, they were about me and my thoughts, supposed division in my chapter, etc.—they’re personal and it’s fine that they.

      ‘[Y]our apology is accepted.’

      Thank you.

      ‘Maybe if you could first ask me if I mean what you think I mean and allow me to respond, rather than mangling my words and throwing them back at me, we could have a conversation.’

      The lack of self-awareness this betrays is breathtaking.

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      Uhm, Jason, my words were not about you and your thoughts, and the issue is not my self-awareness or lack of it, but about what must be done if we are ever to increase our capacity and reach our interim goals. If you have something to contribute to on that issue, I'd be interested. Otherwise, I suggest we leave off here.

    • Jason 16th Dec 2014

      I think you already know this but it’s been the position of many, including IOPS Melbourne, for sometime now that the pre-conditions be scrapped and a decision-making structure be established to start making needed changes.

      There are many arguments to be made for this position. One being that the interim goals don’t even remotely begin to approximate the kind of representation that would be in-keeping with the principle that IOPS’s membership should reflect the constituencies it seeks to aid before it starts making certain decisions. Peter laid this it out in detail 6 months ago:

      From Peter’s Ditch the Internationale: ‘7. If IOPS were to pursue its IOPS-as-Internationale and correlative 'credibility' delusion, it would, logically, need to become much more 'credible' in terms of 'representation' than the first 'preconditions' poll suggested. I hope people realise that with, say, 4,000 members, it would not only need to be 50% women, but the number of members from Asia would need to be roughly 2,256 and from Africa 496, from Europe about 400, but only 208 North Americans could be admitted (sorry guys, ya gotta go) and 24 Australians and New Zealanders!

      8. It would also need to 'represent' BILLIONS of people and movements, so let's just start with the world's radical peasants for example (Via Campesina with 150 million peasants in 60 countries; the Brasilian MST with 1.5 million members; the Guatamalan CPR, Indian KKRS and Navadanya/DWD, Bangla Deshi Nayakrishi Andolon, South African LPM, Mexican EZLN), or Chinese workers, Cambodian and Bangla Deshi textile workers, 20 million literally enslaved men, women and children etc. IOPS does not quite fit the bill, no?’

      We also have the last poll which mandated their being scrapped.

      From our Structure and Program: ‘The organization’s broad action agenda or program, while of course regularly updated and adapted, nonetheless always: … • seeks to constantly grow its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to aid.’

      If we’re to adhere to this meaningfully, substantial organisation-wide decisions must be able to be made. To reject this is to believe that the substantial organisation-wide decisions that were made for all members to date when IOPS was set up have negligible bearing on the creation of our present mess.

    • Sarah Owens 16th Dec 2014

      @Jason's 16th.

      Right. I understand the scrap-the-preconditions argument and the poll results. But the preconditions haven't been scrapped, and the question is what are we going to do about it, collectively, if anything?

      Speaking for myself, I don't cotton to continuing to argue about whether the IOPS structure should be something other than it is. I think what we need to do is, working together (it's a matter of collective process vs. answers that is needed for success), take a hard look at the situation, determine our strengths and weaknesses, the barriers to organizing a few solid working chapters that we can move and those that we can't, and get as creative, focused and energized as we can to move the barriers that can be moved and start helping members build the skills and abilities they need to organize effectively. Because, though one wouldn't think it from a lot of the comments on the site, I think we do have options. If we as a group can bring ourselves to accept the situation, and stop fighting about whether it should be something that it's not, we can, conceivably, get on with the process of exploring our options, and devising strategy for overcoming our present circumstances. When I say "we", I am thinking about the few of us who are still communicating, beginning with the inter-chapter work group. I acknowledge, however, that presently, for whatever reason, there is no interest/energy/belief in the need for this kind of focused work, and I am prepared to accept that. Certainly, it would require discipline and hard work, with much in the way of reinventing the organizational wheel, and, given IOPS circumstances and makeup, not terribly likely to succeed. But we do have a choice.

    • Jason 16th Dec 2014

      It’s true they haven’t been scrapped but it’s not at all clear that they any longer apply. I too believe we have a choice: we can choose to make their abolition official, and it wouldn’t take that much to do. Once they’re gone, we can remove even more barriers than what you’re talking about there. But to keep ourselves hobbled would just be a waste of much of whatever energy, creativity, focus, and hard-work we invest.

    • Sarah Owens 16th Dec 2014

      "we can choose to make their abolition official, and it wouldn’t take that much to do."

      What do you have in mind?

    • Jason 16th Dec 2014

      The inter-chapter working group could constitute and get a decision-making process up and take a vote to remove, retain, re-poll, or whatever (maybe there are other possibilities).

    • Sarah Owens 17th Dec 2014

      I'm not clear. Is this proposal for abolishing the preconditions coming from you, or all of IOPS Melbourne? Not sure how you can say it wouldn't take that much to do, from either a practical or theoretical standpoint.

      I remember we (the inter-chapter work group) talked about doing that very thing last spring, and even commented on your spokescouncil proposal. But nothing further has been done about it, and, despite months of meeting, there is general agreement that the meetings lack a consistent and coherent process. If the inter-chapter work group (about six regular participants) has been unable to (or just hasn't) developed an effective decision-making process, I wouldn't count on their/our ability to develop one for the entire membership. I mean, if it wouldn't take that much to do, we'd have done it, I think, wouldn't we? Wasn't that the plan at one point? Not pursued because the group wasn't sizable enough to require a spokescouncil or something? So, any process anyone came up with at this point would be unfamiliar and untested as far as the IOPS community is concerned, and so would have to be taught and tested over some reasonable period to prove its viability and gain acceptance. Not to mention, the local chapters all have different ways of making decisions, depending on their individual circumstances and agreements -- if they have any system at all. I mean, you are suggesting the current membership vote to adopt an international-level decision-making process, if I understand you, are you not? But, even assuming you got 100% participation in a poll to adopt the process and abolish the preconditions, with 100% of those voting in favor of both (a virtual impossibility I hope you would agree) how would such a move be consistent with our prefigurativity requirement? Or would the membership vote to abolish that as well? And then, where would we be, if we remove the one element that distinguishes IOPS from similar organizations? Why not just leave now, and join one of those organizations?

      Truly, if this is IOPS Melbourne's proposal for abolishing the preconditions, it needs work.

    • Jason 17th Dec 2014

      It wasn’t a proposal, it was an answer to your question.

      Not true that nothing further was done about the spokescouncil proposal—not meant to be discussed openly but all good, it’s been a fair while.

      Don’t think we’d necessarily have done it.

      Given the ICC’s done, the interim’s arguably already over.

      The pre-conditions for a founding convention aren’t the only thing that makes IOPS distinct. It would be damning if they were given how detached the execution’s has been from the principles they’re supposedly based on—again, Peter’s blog for detail.

    • Sarah Owens 18th Dec 2014

      Okay, it’s not much of a proposal, and it didn’t come from IOPS Melbourne either, I expect. Nor does it support your bare assertion that "we can choose to make their abolition official, and it wouldn’t take that much to do." Equally unsupported are your most recent assertions that the ICC is “done” and that the interim phase is “arguably” over. No matter how much we might wish things were otherwise, the ICC will be “done” only when all members have resigned or IOPS has moved out of its interim phase by means of a founding convention or other legitimate process, and the “Interim Committee” page has been removed from the website.

      Continuing to foment unrest and argumentation about the ICC and the interim will not change anything, and it confuses and disheartens new members, to say nothing of your comrades. That’s why it makes sense to stop all the arguing, accept the situation as it is, and join together in an effort establish diverse and working local chapters and cordial relations between them. That will take us farther, sooner, toward meeting the preconditions and ending the interim phase than we are likely to get with schemes to abolish or subvert the preconditions. It would also be less divisive course.

    • Jason 18th Dec 2014

      It wasn’t a proposal—feel free to ignore that again though.

      The ICC being done isn’t isn’t an unsupported assertion. You may feel it is but that doesn’t make it so.

      From where I sit, it’s you that’s refusing to accept things for how they are. If pointing out important facts about our situation leads to unrest and argumentation, much better that than things being suppressed and letting the actual sources of confusion continue to damage confidence and hold people’s efforts back.

      You’re right: if everyone just agreed with you, things would be a lot less divisive.

    • Sarah Owens 19th Dec 2014

      Ah. Back to personal attacks, are we? Very well. Have it your way. I tried.

    • Jason 19th Dec 2014

      Okay. Thanks, Sarah.

    • Max H 16th Dec 2014

      Jason these are great suggestions in your initial comment, especially about differentiating actual active members from ppl who signed up two years ago and have not been heard from since. There should be a renewal system, no need for dues, though i understand where Alex is coming from with his $1 dollar-dues idea

    • Jason 16th Dec 2014

      Hey Max, Yeah, the idea with that list was just to highlight that issues that may seem small, even petty, taken together, can have big consequences for people’s experience and the fate of the org. I also offer them with a view that fixing basic stuff like that will get us to a place where major considerations can be deliberated over inclusively—democratic infrastructure. The only thing possibly in the way of getting them fixed is a decision-making method—I note you’ve been discussing this.

      On reflection, I was possibly a bit too technocratic in my thinking in the solutions bit. E.g. Better relations between members are preferable to automated interrogations of people’s commitment.

      The general rule with dues is to scale them to income, or maybe disposable income, wherever possible. Even $1—presumably US—is not a non-issue for a great many obviously. Happily—or maybe not—we’ve got a fair way to go before having to go there!

    • Max H 16th Dec 2014

      I think something like simple click once a year (given ample warning and time) should not be compared to interrogation. And wouldn't cost the member any money.
      Yes i agree about the power of all these seemingly small issues when considered collectively. I understand you were trying to contribute, not give the definitive comprehensive analysis of everything wrong. And I appreciate you chipping in. Very good ideas I think, with my apologies to all for making the blog comments "off-topic" or cumbersome.

      I currently see two basic ways to address these problems that can be mixed (not mutually exclusive)
      1. Using current web features to vote
      2. Bein federating all members to make these kinds of seemingly small decisions that nevertheless affect the entire organization

  • Alex of... 11th Dec 2014

    i think IOPS should start charging a dollar a month and see how many people subscribe

  • Alex of... 11th Dec 2014

    and every member of the ICC should offer a personal statement before the end of year on their opinion of the progress of IOPS and what their personal commitment entails

  • Sarah Owens 11th Dec 2014

    Alex, I gather from your off-topic posts that you either did not read the blog, and/or are not interested in completing the evaluation. I would appreciate it if you would not derail my and others' efforts to have a serious discussion with any more posts. Truly. I would take it as a personal favor.

    • Alex of... 11th Dec 2014

      i would one, merely suggest that a meager amount of dues would compel a conversation on commitment and generate data on who is active or desires to be, if part of the concern is failing to meet the numeric goals. it would not even say it should be the outcome.

      and since the ICC members are the “broadly trusted figures” to be final say on minimal interim decision-making, i should think an opinion of what happened, or best course of action should also come from each and all of those members. if they have the time, or have even looked at the site once, or are still active if they were once. since they hold a higher position, shouldn’t they weigh-in?

      but, i will not further derail your more serious discussion, than what i could possibly fathom, with my petty notions. and thank you for your very constructive comment on my own blog. please continue with your queries as you see fit.

    • Sarah Owens 12th Dec 2014

      As you know, Alex, local and regional chapters may choose to have dues provisions in their constitutions. IOPS Salem does so. However, dues may not be required as a condition of membership in the interim organization. Similarly, the members have no influence over the ICC. Therefore, questions of what the ICC should or shouldn't do are at this point little more than a distraction. I hope you mean it when you say you will not further derail this discussion.

    • Alex of... 12th Dec 2014

      yes, got it. forbidden zones.

  • LedSuit ' 12th Dec 2014

    Not sure if any of this is relevant, but I was interested in the evaluation in the sense that it gave a historical outline, as best it could, on the trajectory of this org but I was somewhat more interested in the letter I read, as I knew who the author was, and by the reasons for this persons eventual lack of participation on the site or deeper involvement.

    I joined because Michael Albert prompted me to. I was reticent to do so at first because I was fearful of locking into a commitment I may not be able to maintain. When I joined, I tried to contribute on the website just to get a feeling of involvement as face to face commitment wasn't something I was willing to make early on. Upon founding the Melbourne chapter with four others, one of whom was funnily enough a Yank, I became a little tentative. Now my involvement meant physical time away from my family. I only went once a month, while the chapter met fortnightly. Further, I rarely committed beyond just going to meetings, listening and offering up the odd rant, as I am prone to do, as I really didn't want to increase my physical time away from my family and other things. I am still kind of at that stage. It makes me wonder why it may be held by some that becoming a member of IOPS would not necessarily mean one would have to lessen one's involvement with other commitments, say, belonging to another group or org, or just work.

    Joining this org has been pretty consuming, if just mentally so. Becoming physically consuming is something that someone at my age, not retired and not young and single say, and who hasn't built a life around activism or 'that sort of stuff', finds very difficult to accommodate or adjust to. Involvement in these sorts of serious projects tends to escalate rather than remain at a comfortable level. Guilt can grow very quickly if one isn't committing as much as others. That guilt, coupled with a feeling that organising, activism or actions etcetera, can feel like or actually IS work, when one's time off from work is meant to be just that, NOT work, can seriously test one's metal.

    The fear of escalation from merely signing on as a member to forming or joining a chapter, to help with organising efforts, to commit to actions whether successful or not was right there in the forefront of my mind when I joined. Activism is a sacrifice and can or will become even bigger as time wears on and to be able to absorb the hits, emotionally and physically is not an easy thing. I have noticed that some of those with far greater experience in activism and organising than myself have been unable to form chapters or get people to join. Some of these people are on the ICC. This is not a criticism, just an observation but I would be interested to know why some, who may have been previously committed to other groups or activist work and who signed up as members, were unable to form chapters, whether they really tried or whether their previous commitments actually meant the physical sacrifice was just too much. If the latter were true, why would anyone think that ordinary people with work commitments, lives, friends, families, pets etc., yet with sympathies for what IOPS stands for, WOULD have the time to commit even for the short term, let alone the long?

    Further, I am intrigued by the observation that those who like order and understood how to organise left first! There is some sort of relationship with this and what I have said above, I think. Maybe a tenuous one but I think one nevertheless. If those who know how to organise aren't willing to hang in there because the less skilled or inexperienced are creating disorder or there was just disorder right from the outset, then again, why would anyone expect the less skilled and experienced TO hang in?

    Prefiguring requires confidence and confidence is NOT as easy to build as people think. Particularly if it has been squeezed out of one OR if it is not and has never been part of one's make up.

    Someone, I can't remember who, once mentioned a lack of leadership here at IOPS. Well, I hate that word for good reasons, however, prefiguration doesn't necessarily imply ZERO leadership. The membership may have no influence over the ICC, but perhaps, and I am entering shaky ground I fear, a little more commitment from those who signed on to the ICC (excluding those who obvious involved themselves), to the the cause of IOPS, particularly those with considerable activist or organisational knowledge, could have influenced the less experienced, skilled and ordinary in a more positive way. I'm not sure I really have the background or experience to influence anyone to really commit to any kind of activism like joining IOPS.

    My two bobs worth, but I suspect that I too may be off topic. I am a little confused about that.

    • Sarah Owens 12th Dec 2014

      Not off-topic at all, I think. Your comment shows you are both interested in a deeper analysis of our situation, and willing to attempt to articulate/engage its complexities with honesty and humility. Thank you. If enough of us are willing to do the same, we might be able to agree on a way forward that is within our present capabilities. If not, well, more of the same. And I, for one, do not intend to participate in more of the same.

    • LedSuit ' 12th Dec 2014

      Jeepers, sounds almost like what I was getting at in my recent blog!

      Don't want to push my luck but another example came to mind over night but one I have been thinking about. Peer to peer people work in IT. They sit in front of computers pretty much the whole time they are at work I guess. Funnily enough, when they get home, they continue to do that but in a creative way that is more than likely denied them at work. Or if not, in a way that satiates a creative urge for themselves and not someone else, like a boss or corporation. They are part of the cognitariat I guess. Mind production workers. One might think when they get home and have free time they would want to avoid computers like the plague.

      Someone who organises all day as a job, may not want to do the same outside, unless maybe that work satiated an urge, a creative urge. If one does mindless work, doesn't get great or interesting conversation at work six days a week or whatever, then they may not really want to use precious time discussing how to organise bank accounts, websites, or facilitate a meeting or take minutes, even once a month, even if it is trying to save the world. They may just want to talk about stuff they are interested in.

      Michael Albert for instance used to publish essays he wrote here on Z. I have noticed they have dried up but he still publishes similar stuff on Telesur and Z. Recently I read a good essay by Mark Evans relating economy to mental health, or something, I may be confused, on Telesur, but not as a blog here. Maybe they are not blog type essays but nevertheless maybe not publishing them here as blogs in some form creates a feeling that IOPS, particularly the website, has shortcomings or that they themselves are losing interest. Paul Street likes to write, Albert likes to write, so do many others on the ICC, but not for IOPS. Well, not lately in the case of Albert. Again not a criticism just an observation. We may or may not need a new website, but maybe we do need a facility to publish essays that may not be just the blog type we are used to. Maybe under the heading articles.

      I noticed also that Jason Chrysostomou no longer runs this website but has started something perhaps that brings more fulfilment, around something he enjoys more, I don't know.

      Joining and maintaining an org like IOPS obviously takes commitment and sacrifice, time and effort. WORK. But for many, who haven't built a life around such work, getting involved is a sacrifice they may not want to do beyond signing up, regardless of what's at stake. Maybe this has been the problem with activism all along, throughout it's history. Activism for me is NOT always about everyone doing stuff, getting their hands dirty, organising, etc., it is about raising awareness of the need for change and what that may look like, otherwise for many it is a vague and tenuous groping in the dark without much erotic reward. Or it may just be something that one would have done anyway even if it wasn't activism. Like camping out (see Occupy), growing organic food, starting a co-op, writing or whatever so it doesn't feel like work or a burden. We aren't all people's people.

      Marx wanted us to return to a state of human authenticity. For me that is fulfilling the creative urge, whatever that may be. The prospect of more WORK outside work, or taking time off work to do activist WORK, which may burden many even more, or do things that don't energise people outside of work but make them more tired, or doesn't feed their own creative urges may be one of the reasons why activist organisations or groups remain small and fade away yet again.

    • Michael Livingston 12th Dec 2014


      You've made a number of interesting observations here, including the following:

      "Joining and maintaining an org like IOPS obviously takes commitment and sacrifice, time and effort. WORK. But for many, who haven't built a life around such work, getting involved is a sacrifice they may not want to do beyond signing up, regardless of what's at stake."

      Organizing locally can take many forms, and it need not take all (or even most) of one's time. But, it does require a commitment to do something, if only because IOPS continues to be an "interim" organization -- i.e., it's still under construction. It appears that many have joined IOPS and continue as members with no intention of doing much organizing of any kind.

    • LedSuit ' 13th Dec 2014

      I posted something just before but noticed it didn't take.

      Michael, I feel my observations to be rather unimpressive and obvious really. To me, IOPS has just come up against reality. Kim Keyser's experiences with Motmakt are telling for me. Plus, with IOPS, people join up to a website first and are expected to join or start a face to face chapter second. That's quite a leap.

      Trying yo get four musicians in a room to rehearse without any definitive prospects for paid work at the end is virtually impossible. Getting just two together, who don't care about paid work, more than once a year to make music up on the spot, is difficult enough. Real life kills off many musicians, and good ones. This is significantly different but requires just as much dedication with extremely little pay off. Experienced activists know this. To expect ordinary people to enter this world with energy, confidence and vigour is a big ask. So who are we targeting to recruit? Who do we expect will jump on with the right energy. Those who do other activist stuff don't even have time to do IOPS stuff it seems.

      The website is a ghost site, the forum's dead, and blog posting is drying up. Chapters aren't really communicating on site with each other which is probably really necessary for a sense that there even is an IOPS. I'm still not sure if what I'm posting here is actually relevant to what happened.

      I'm not even sure what a discussion about what happened would actually mean. Would it have any legitimacy? I don't even know what that word means anymore after the considerable discussions around the time of the two polls pertaining to our failure to reach interim targets and subsequent nothingness, which has led to, well, nothing.

    • Michael Livingston 15th Dec 2014


      You write: "[W]ith IOPS, people join up to a website first and are expected to join or start a face to face chapter second. That's quite a leap."

      To me, it would be "quite a leap" for someone to read the IOPS Mission, Vision, and Structure & Program documents and then sign up as a member and conclude, "Well, that's all I need to do." Yet, as the research discussed in this blog shows, many members failed to respond at all to e-mails, IOPS messages and/or chapter-page posts from other IOPS members living in the same area who were attempting make contact. The expectation that a member respond to such efforts to make contact is not unreasonable and is considerably less threatening and involved than starting a chapter or organizing a neighborhood. These repeated failures to respond suggest a deeper and more intractable problem than a lack of confidence in one's organizing skills.

    • LedSuit ' 16th Dec 2014

      Yes Michael, I agree. To me that more intractable problem is reality. The reality of time vs the reality of saving the world or making it a better place. The same reality that Michael Albert suggests could be the reason so many of those notable and visible people on the ICC decided to not get more involved-futility. He talks of the escalation of commitment eating into other commitments incrementally over time etc, something I suggested, something they were perhaps not willing to do based on their own real and undisclosed feelings (guessing so not scientific) that building an org like IOPS can't in fact be built. It would be nice for people to answer emails or acknowledge receipt of them, but my own experience suggests that sometimes even prominent folk, just don't. Members of the ICC, with their incredibly minimal tasks to perform, rarely, which they signed on for, remembering these are visible and notable people, the OGWEML, couldn't or wouldn't even acknowledge receipt of emails.

      Signing up to membership by 'ordinary' folk is a sign of agreement, at the very least, with IOPS principles which is easy to do but the leap to physical involvement carries with it opportunity cost most people are not willing to make. Acknowledging receipt of emails and not following through may carry with it personal feelings of guilt or hypocrisy that remaining anonymous wouldn't. These are feelings I am not unfamiliar with.

    • Michael Albert 15th Dec 2014

      I put pieces here, in the iops blog, that bore on iops, I think, only. Some were literally about iops prospects or policy. My guess is, they ran only here - not on Z. Others were written for Z or elsewhere basically about the need for organization, about iops per se, etc. Those I put here, until recently, I think - so I think you are right. Not sure - don't really remember, but I think so. I put them here to let people know I was talking about or writing about IOPS, trying to promote it, attract folks to it, etc. and - perhaps - to provide some help in others doing so as well. I have done that less, over time, because, honestly, it didn't seem to have any positive effect, here. People weren't writing essays of their own, about iops, or organization, for outlets other than IOPS.

      In general, I think the blog area here should be for reports about members and activities, discussion of policy ideas, lessons for folks, etc. Regarding IOPS, pieces elsewhere should promote the ideas on which it is based, and sometimes, literally the organization itself. I still do both, of course.

    • Max H 16th Dec 2014

      Let me get this straight: you started with 4 others and they did not think arranging meeting times less frequently so that 20% of their membership (you) would be more encouraged to participate?? How was that decision reached? In Dallas, although we are not a chapter, we built concerns about people's busy lives into our bylaws. Actually, we started with a survey before inviting anyone to an IOPS meeting. This survey was to figure out what things have both discouraged and encouraged people's participation in activism. High on the list was too frequent meetings. We wanted to address the results of our survey in our foundational structure so we have commitees meet more frequently but the whole "chapter" only every two months...but that's just a current and local way to minimize that problem. We carefully tried to design our structure to minimize the discouraging aspects and maximize the encouraging ones, and its always being modified by experience and input from new people. We will be having our second meeting ever Jan 3. I only started at the end of this Summer or Fall an extremely occupied by work and personal matters, so in light of that I think we are doing a good job. I guess i should post what we found in our survey and how we tried to deal with it structurally. I have been hesitant to blog about local stuff or even chapter reports since we havr only recently gotten serious and don't even qualify as an active chapter, so maybe all my suggestions will lead to nothing. Until it's been truly effective here not just in gaining local interest but gaining more committed members, i can't say if we are on the right track or will end up falling completely flat.

    • Kim Keyser 18th Dec 2014

      @Max: Good luck!

  • Kim Keyser 13th Dec 2014

    James Wilson: "Prefiguring requires confidence and confidence is NOT as easy to build as people think."

    Indeed. Usually, it takes time, and it can be a cumbersome, painful and lingering process. But it can be done and the rewards are *awesome* – necessary even.

    One example: I have helped a person from the lowest ranks of society (homeless drug abuser with money problems, eating disorders and *serious* psychological problems) develop into an effective organizer with well above average self-confidence (still not *enough* to be a harmonic person and an optimal organizer, but that person should get there soon enough). Such confidence building is done through participatory workshops and by sustained mutual (personal) support by co-activists. It necessitates people living, working and studying together (or at least close enough to each other to offer significant support).

    Step by step, I'm developing scalable systems for successfully raising knowledge, skills and confidence. I'm currently in a test phaze, where a few people participate (so far it's going well beyond expectations, and my expectations were already very high to start with!). I'm very much looking forward to the day when people who've participated in the project and learned how to lead workshops can teach others, who again can teach others, who again can teach others, who again… :)

    Just for the record: I've also come to the understanding that I certainly must have contributed to trashing peoples' self-confidence too, over and over again, by delegating them tasks they've not been up for, and without giving them proper instruction. Some are still active, some are not active due to all sorts of distractions capitalism offers, and I expect some are not active at least partly due to getting their self-confidence trashed. By me.

    What can I say…? It was in a period where I did fucking *everything* in our organization (it was started by me and one other person, and neither of us had much organizing experience, even though we had some, and I had more than him), and it wouldn't have been possible to not try to haphazardly delegate/encourage people to take on tasks. And there's just no way I could've gained the needed organizing experience without learning by doing.

    What should I have done? Participated in the organizing study of a libertarian socialist university? Which one? Where? One that actually knew how to build organizers and could point to their concrete results? No such thing existed (in Norway there wasn't even an active libertarian socialist organization at the time), and still it doesn't exist.

    But now, it's closer than it's ever been.

    PS: A bit off topic perhaps? I do not think so. It relates to what I think must be the main lesson of the IOPS project thus far (see next comment).

  • Kim Keyser 13th Dec 2014

    Jason Chaplin: "If those first to leave really knew how to organise, they wouldn’t have left. They’d have organised."


    (And that also goes for members of the ICC. The fact that a person is used to write, or talk, publicly, doesn't necessarily imply great organizing skills. It's unfair/uninformed to assume it does.)

    In short: *We need to nurture organizational capacity.*

    James Wilson: "Plus, with IOPS, people join up to a website first and are expected to join or start a face to face chapter second. That's quite a leap."

    Indeed. A leap. A void. A void that needs to be filled by organizers. I think that is *the* main lesson, that needs to be learned. There are many lessons, of course, but some are more significant than other, and this is an example of just that: next time we need to have not only good ideas, a good website and a few famous people – *we need a few dozen organizers*.

    Of course, people can become organizers by the "learn by doing" method, and people should try their best to do so! But it's unreasonable to expect thousands of scattered people who are not good organizers to become good organizers, simply by joining a website.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 14th Dec 2014

    I tried to evaluate, i.e. summarise my views on what grandiose illusions IOPS should ditch after its failure to become what most thought it should become last June. Rather than the quantitative fixations of 'organising' (the notion seems like an old mainly US tradition to me?) and chapter building as the main foci (the International concept), I still think we should go more 'qualitative', 'creative' and 'dialogic-catalytic' and focus on the transnational core of planetary and human survival and 'the good life' (but do the 10 or so current 'self-selected' international website participants really want something like this, maybe 2 or 3?):


    I assume, Sarah, that this is not too 'off-topic'?

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      Yeah, Peter, it is, as it's just calling attention to something you wrote last June, but I expect you know that.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 14th Dec 2014

    And also this attempt a month later:


    Maybe the beginning of the above attempt is still relevant given some of the current non-supportive, dismissive, 'critical parent' atmospherics:

    "IOPS is at an impasse. But as the old adage has it, crisis is also another word for opportunity. Can IOPS manage to grasp this opportunity to reflect on itself? Sit a little with the impasse, look at assumptions and visions and drop what needs to be dropped, save what needs to be saved, and move on in a fresh spirit?

    AND, as we do this, can we engage in open, civil discussion without too much aggro, blaming, disparagement, complaint, outright cutting off, curtness, ‘not-good-enough-ism’? (This seems to happen again and again in some IOPS discussions, strangely). Could we be a little more ‘pre-figurative’ of what we are supposedly on about: participatory democracy and a better society? The better society is not just future tense, it starts here. Could we be a little more generous, wide, friendly, magnanimous towards our fellow members? The current vibe is pretty dismal. If we neither ‘pre-figure’ nor actively participate , we should give up right now. A ‘revolutionary’ org without basic solidarity and civility ain’t revolutionary at all from where I’m sitting, just more of the same old competitive shit and ego games. Meanwhile…"

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      "The current vibe is pretty dismal. If we neither ‘pre-figure’ nor actively participate, we should give up right now."

      Yes, I agree. If that's one's assessment, that's what one should do.

  • Michael Albert 15th Dec 2014

    Hi Sarah, and others. Pointed to its existence, I read the blog. It is a very impressive undertaking. In some ways, I was most inspired by the simple fact it exists, and by its being multiply written. I know a lot about how hard that can be.

    I don't know where it points. I will try writing another blog, myself, on that exact issue. But I have to be honest and admit that so far my ideas have either not resonated at all, or have been tried modestly and not worked beyond the few working hard, and I have doubts I can come up with better that would cause more people to engage, now. For myself, I would actually like to hear what the members of the involved and active groups would like to see happen.

  • Dave Jones 15th Dec 2014

    There's something going on here, but I don't know what it is...It is logical that a discussion about what happened with IOPS should morph into "what happened to the Left?" more generally, but I'm going to spare folks that essay (for now). One observation: the decline of the Left has coincided with the rise of the Internet.

    I think this evaluation has been successful, if judged only by what is found between the lines in this comment thread. I have a feeling if we were all able to share food together for a few months in a row we could form a formidable resistance but since that can't happen I'll keep plugging away with those I can sit down with here in Missoula Montana. I'm a pretty good organizer/facilitator and still believe Climate Justice is the way through this impasse and hopefully clear out some of this "ideological rubble."

    • Sarah Owens 15th Dec 2014

      Sounds like a plan. We're still counting on breaking bread, though, here or in MT.

      “[P]atient, articulate, effective organizers are rare, they need to be nurtured and developed and trained in a basic skill set.” Dave Jones, IOPS Missoula, MT

    • Kim Keyser 18th Dec 2014

      Dave, I hope you keep organizing in Missoula. It's really important.

  • Fred Curran 16th Dec 2014

    How about everyone here who is not discussing the fact that the ICC is a figment of our imaginations please refer to the ICC Report blog, located -------------------> http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/icc-report

    and check this out------------------------------------------------------------------>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIw7oeZKpZc

    dopesmoker by sleep, it is really long, but it is awesome. Hope this isn't too off topic ;)


  • Sarah Owens 16th Dec 2014

    Hi, Fred. The ICC is an element of IOPS current structure, and exists separate and apart from the individual members. Its inchoate nature could, I suppose, be said to be a function of one's imagination, but that analysis would apply equally to the IOPS vision and commitments.

    This discussion concerns the WH blog, and whether there is interest/energy/belief in the need for further analysis based on its findings in order to expand organizational capacity and meet interim goals. If you would care to speak to that, your comments would be welcome.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      i will simply point out that that blog has much to do with interim goals.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      and organizational capacity.

    • Sarah Owens 17th Dec 2014

      (Response by email.)

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      have responded to Michael Livington's personal response with multiple questions. why not just go ahead and be honest and open?

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

      (Response by e-mail)

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      not received a response to my questions. should i post yours? again, why not be honest and open? not like your going to hurt my credibility. it's just a conversation.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

      (Response by e-mail)

  • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

    is that the petulance he was talking about?

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

      (Response by e-mail)

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      so another message. thanks. but not open for discussion publicly apparently?

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      anywho, on the way out the door, i'll look back later. wow.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2014

      feel free to share my responses as well

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

      The "public" conversation that you're attempting to provoke here is irrelevant to the subject of this blog, and I won't contribute to that.

    • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

      (Response by e-mail)

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2014

      not really sure what you think i am trying to provoke. i thought i made some fairly simple statements.

    • Alex of... 18th Dec 2014

      but i did get a pretty shitty message

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 20th Dec 2014

      I find all this pretty depressing. (Please no response by email, thank you, and merry merry Xmas/solstice, or whatever rocks yr boat).

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Dec 2014

      What do Xmas/solstice have to do with the subject of this blog? Stick to the topic, please!

    • Alex of... 20th Dec 2014

      anarchistmas lists, at least sticking to the twirling wrists that attach the fists - or get rid of

      to unfurl or further it,

      which is what, which is it, is it worldy yet?

      naughty and nice. spotty and spice.

      on spot on, what ought to be right?

  • Sarah Owens 17th Dec 2014

    Thanks everyone (about 10 of you) for your thoughtful comments.

    To summarize, it is not clear at this point whether there is within the inter-chapter work group sufficient interest/commitment/capacity to conduct the evaluation needed to complete our effort to reach the interim goals. If we don't conduct the evaluation, we harm our chances for success in the future. If we attempt to conduct the evaluation with insufficient participation, our conclusions are likely to lack credibility and fail to influence future decisions. There we must leave it. Other member groups are encouraged to consider and decide for themselves how best to proceed, and to share their conclusions.

    As a reminder, the questions that remain unanswered are these: why did we fail to meet our targets within the given time scale, what are the present barriers to effective organizing, what is required to overcome them, if indeed they can be overcome, does IOPS have the organizational capacity to do what is necessary, and what is the best course of action for IOPS post-deadline.

    • Fred Curran 18th Dec 2014

      One thing to add that I think is of value. Maybe more to do with website improvement though, is the National Page. It is not being curated, maybe you Sarah could ask to be an additional U.S. Admin. I imagine then that that page would be updated more than annually.

    • Sarah Owens 18th Dec 2014

      Hey, Fred, I agree the international page is important, and worth all our attention. (Though what I'd REALLY like is for members to bookmark their local or regional chapter pages and go THERE first, with only the occasional glance at the international page.) But there's only so much an admin can do in terms of content. I'm pretty sure Johannes and Jason before him saw virtually everything that was posted to the site, and do/did their level best to feature content that should most concern members during this very difficult interim phase, where we are trying to build relationships, functional processes, etc.

      I'm afraid the failings of the international page over the last couple of years reflect our own. We know that too few members were trying to build their local chapters, but just as importantly, too few of those who were trying posted the stories of their efforts. Sadly, they may have thought either their efforts were not post-worthy, or that no one would read them or care about their efforts. That needs to change, no question. One place to start would be to curate (like that word) the international page in the way Michael Albert suggested above ("the blog area here should be for reports about members and activities, discussion of policy ideas, lessons for folks, etc."), to honor and encourage in members a focus and a seriousness of purpose that is currently lacking. But, we'd all need to support that effort, and it would take a good deal of discipline. So I encourage you to encourage your members to write about each other, their activities, organizing lessons learned, policy issues that arise as they build the Chicago chapter. Speaking of updating, did you see what Johannes did today? One of Lief Lonne's works features prominently (the one you use for your avatar, if that's the right term), and there are links to IOPS-organizing related projects (your Live Talks is there), IOPS-organizing related discussions, members talking about IOPS, IOPS-related drawings (again, IOPS Chicago is well-represented) -- you get the idea. I certainly could not do better than what Johannes has done there, not to mention I don't have his skill set, which I think one would need. No, I'm afraid it's always going to come back to the membership to "be the change", so let's encourage each other to generate the kind of content Michael Albert was referring to, and I think it will find its way to the international page.

    • Fred Curran 18th Dec 2014

      The National Page, not the international page. Johannes doesn't control our National Page, neither did Jason. Albert is the only one controlling the National Page, and it has not been updated for more than a year. Johannes IS doing a great job. We need someone to do that for the U.S. page, if you are not interested then someone else should do it.

    • Sarah Owens 18th Dec 2014

      I apologize. You did write national page. Have you contacted Brad Lee? Doesn't matter. I'll message you.

  • Michael Livingston 17th Dec 2014

    Thanks to all of you who took the time to read and think about "What Happened." A couple of years ago, during our discussions about “preconditions” for a “founding convention,” IOPS member Thomas Halbert wrote:

    “In my opinion it is not a question of numbers of members that can determine if an organization can be founded or not. It is determined by the level of achieved activity that reflects the entire program of the interim pre-organization. And not represented by just one country or continent if it honestly would call itself an international organization. The day the organization is ready to get founded it will just be a formality that confirms an organizational body that is up and RUNNING.”

  • Alex of... 18th Dec 2014

    “In my opinion it is not a question of numbers of members that can determine if an organization can be founded or not."

    resonate with that

    " It is determined by the level of achieved activity that reflects the entire program of the interim pre-organization."

    have slightly different views

    "The day the organization is ready to get founded it will just be a formality that confirms an organizational body that is up and RUNNING.”

    honestly don't know what that means

  • Sarah Owens 15th Jan 2015

    The statement, "The day the organization is ready to get founded it will just be a formality that confirms an organizational body that is up and RUNNING” was made in the context of discussing our goals as an interim organization. Or, put another way, what the preconditions to a founding convention should be, if IOPS is to be true to its values, mission and vision. The statement cautions against over-reliance on the number of members as a measure of readiness.

    whatever goals we set for ourselves, what matters most is that IOPS

    • Sarah Owens 15th Jan 2015

      plz disregard the sentence fragment