Here I propose answers to four questions that were first asked by Michael Albert on the PP2 course that I participated in at ZSchool. Whilst "attending" PP2 I did try to answer these questions, all be it somewhat indirectly, which I also posted as blogs on my ZSpace. What follows is an attempt to address, what I now see as flaws in my thinking and weakness in these earlier proposals.
The answers I give are based on the assumption that what we are trying to identify is the absolute minimum for organisational identity, structure and membership that we can have before we can claim to be functioning as an international organisation.
Together these answers represent criteria we must reach before we can function as an international and a level to which we cannot fall below and still claim to function as an international organisation. In short, if, one way or another, we fail to meet the criteria presented below there is no international.
But these are just suggested answers that are offered in the hope that we can work towards some collectively agreed criteria for an IOPS as a preliminary step towards creating the real thing.
What do we need in the way of likely international membership?
According to my dictionary the definition of "international" is "existing, involving, or carried on between two or more nations." This means that we could set up and run an IOPS with only two national organisations involved. But for reasons that will become clear later I prefer the idea of a minimum of three national organisations operating together. So I’m going to propose three national organisations as one of our criteria. But this only raises other questions about national membership etc… which leads us to Michael’s next question.
What do we need in the way of likely active regional or local chapters?
In order to have a functioning and credible National organisation (that is eligible to apply for International membership) I’m going to propose that any given Nation first needs a minimum of three regional chapters. Furthermore, I’m going to suggest that regional chapters have to have a minimum of three members before it can be considered for membership of the National organisation.
What do we need in the way of clear ideas about structure?
Our organisation for a participatory society will be made up of three levels – regional, national and international. Each level will have a minimum of three active components. At the regional level this means a minimum of three members. At the national level this means a minimum of three regional chapters. And at the international level this means a minimum of three national organisations.
What do we need in the way of explicitly expressible vision/program?
I’m going to say that as a minimum we need well defined vision in at least one of the four social spheres plus some ideas regarding vision in the other three spheres. I also think that it is necessary that we have some well-defined ideas regarding general strategic considerations.
I would argue that we already meet these requirements.
- All individuals are welcome to apply for membership to their regional IOPS chapter. Individuals will make their application to their regional chapter whereby acceptance of membership is determined by a minimum of 2/3 vote in favour by existing group members. Expulsion from a regional group also depends on a minimum of a 2/3 vote in favour by members of that group.
- All regional chapters will apply for membership to their national organisation where, once again, their acceptance will depend on a minimum of a 2/3 vote in favour by their fellow regional chapters within their national boundaries. Expulsion of regional chapters from the national organisation requires a 2/3 vote in favour by other regional chapters that are existing members of the national organisation.
- All national organisations will apply for membership to the international. Successful application will again depend on a 2/3 acceptance by existing national organisation of the IOPS. As with the other organisational levels, the expulsion of any national organisation from the IOPS requires a 2/3 vote in favour.
IOPS members rights and responsibilities?
IOPS members have the right to vote in all matters concerning the running of their organisation. Each member will have a say in any given decision in proportion to the degree that they are affected by the outcome of that vote. Decisions that only affect a regional chapter will be made with complete autonomy by that chapter. Decisions that affect all regional chapters within a national organisation will involve all regional chapters. Decisions that affect all national organisations will involve all IOPS members.
IOPS members are expected to take an active role within their organisation. This can be in an endless variety of ways. However, it must be in a way that avoids any monopolisation of empowering and desirable tasks within the organisation.
Setting-up a new regional group?
There will no doubt be times when there are individuals who would like to join IOPS but don’t have a regional chapter to make a membership application to. In these circumstances these individuals will need to try to contact others within their region who might be interested in establishing a regional chapter.
Some people may be unable, or happy not to get involved in their regional chapter but would still like to support IOPS. These people can become "friends" of IOPS.
Likewise, for those who are struggling to establish a new regional chapter there is the option of becoming a friend of IOPS. Although friends have no voting rights the IOPS website will have networking facilities to help isolated individuals meet each other in the hope of assisting in the creation of new regional chapters.
IOPS members will make regular payments into a local bank account that has been set-up by their regional chapter. The amount to be paid is set at the national level, which is open to review on an annual basis. The regional funds that this generates will be managed by the members of that region.
National or International projects / campaigns will require funding from the regional level. The amount to be contributed will be determined at the appropriate level.
Loans and gifts can be made between regional chapters on a basis agree by the parties involved.
Friends also make financial contributions. But because they have no chapter to join (or for whatever reason choose not to join their local chapter) their contribution goes into a national bank account for general funds. Decisions on how and when to spend these funds are made at the national level and could go down to regional chapters or up to the international level.
Possible reasons for suspension / expulsion?
Members who persistently exhibit aggressive behaviour.
Members who persistently attempt to monopolise empowering and desirable tasks.
Members who persistently attempt to undermine the confidence of other members.
Members who persistently exhibit racist behaviour.
Members who persistently exhibit sexist behaviour.
Regional chapters who ignore decisions made at the National level.
National organisations that ignore decisions made at the international level.
Members who have been suspended or expelled from their regional chapter for any of the above can make an appeal. The appeal is made directly to the members of the regional chapter who will need to vote 2/3 for or against reinstatement. If unsuccessful and the ex-member feels unfairly dealt with they can make a complaint to the national organisation who will need to investigate.
Regional chapters that have been suspended or expelled for any of the above can make an appeal. The appeal is made directly to other regional chapters within their national borders who will need to vote 2/3 for or against reinstatement.
National organisations that have been suspended or expelled for any of the above can make an appeal. The appeal is made to the representatives of the other national organisations who will need to vote 2/3 for or against reinstatement.
More questions and further refinement?
The above is only a sketch of what I hope will become a collectively worked out document that will serve as an IOPS constitution. There are without doubt many more questions to be answered and the ones that I have touched on will require further refinement.
In addition to working on the creation of an IOPS constitution we can also start to identify who the initial members (or friends) of IOPS will be. Candidates will be those who have demonstrated an understanding of, and commitment to, the development of participatory vision and strategy.
What I would like us to do is to nominate people who we think fit this description (you can not nominate yourself!). Candidates can either accept or reject their nomination. However, once we have a list of nominees that meets the criteria stated above, each candidate will be subject to a further vote of confidence. Each founding nominee will require a minimum of 2/3 votes in favour by their fellow candidates. During this process we would be looking to identify our first three members of our initial three regional chapters within three different nations. In short we would be working to meet our minimum criteria for setting up our international.
But before we can start this process we need to create a context within which the preliminary work can take place.
First of all we need to set up a working group that is interested in writing our IOPS constitution.
Secondly, we will at some point need to build an IOPS website. The site will of course contain our constitution. But it will also have facilities for people to nominate candidates for membership (plus a networking facility for friends). The site will remain private until we meet our minimum criteria for identity, structure and membership as stipulated in our constitution.