(or why my New Years resolution is avoiding a 300 year strategic plan:)
1. If best selling science fiction writers have their way, the next intergalactic might not happen until 2312! 2312, a recent New York times best selling science fiction novel, has articulated what the Los Angeles Times calls “a masterful moving vision” of an intergalactic participatory socialist alliance fighting for a global revolution on Earth 300 years in the future. Author Kim Stanley Robinson has created a “meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological development” (Publishers Weekly) in creating a “hard sci-fi” plausible vision that involves human space settlements on Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and over 19,000 asteroids in the solar system. In his vision, as a result of the increasingly destructive impact of global warming on Earth “a growing network of space settlements used Mondragon as a model for adapting beyond their scientific station origins to a larger economic system. Cooperating as if in a diffuse Mondragon, the individual space settlements, widely scattered, associated for mutual support.” This “Mondragon, was sometimes called the Albert-Hahnel model, or the Spudffordized Soviet cybernetic model…” (Pg 138-139, 2312) I hope that anyone who has been active enough to sign up to IOPS or engage with the vision can see the importance of taking the responsibility of building our global movement to the next level. This means turning our current organization, which has been an interim organization with significant focus on our “virtual” ideological affinity into a permanent organization, built around deep personal relationships that can bring street heat to movements in every corner of our globe. We have set visionary goals for ourselves, can we begin to accomplish them with a 6 month strategic plan, or will we have to fall back to Robinson’s 300 year strategic plan?
2. When building a long-term organization to fight for visionary participatory socialism, we shouldn’t use our lack of evidence to marginalize and exclude extraterrestrials both inside and out side the galaxy.
3. One of the most advanced projects for participatory socialism in the 21st century, IOPS, already has nearly 3500 members in 90 countries and only needs 12 more chapters to have the prerequisites to plan a founding convention in 2014. In terms of actually building the organization, we are nearly half way to the goals set in the member poll taken in 2012. Our goals are 3500 individual members with at least 20 chapters with 5 people each (that breaks down to a minimum of 100 people in the formal chapters), meeting monthly, with 30% female participation, on 3 continents. More then 700 people voted that goal on in 2012, and it was viewed as something that should be achieved by July 2014. The good news it that we currently have 3443 members and 8 chapters on 3 continents with 30% female participation, often with more then 5 members per chapter. However, the goal where we need the most struggle is the chapter goal because we are just under half way to our 20 chapter goal, with 8 chapters. We need to take seriously that we only have 5 months to create 12 more chapters. This is a significant impediment. It has take us nearly 2 years to create the first 8 chapters, and from our local experience in NYC, it can take up to 6 months of meeting in a smaller group of just 3, before getting to the point of having at least 5 folks show up regularly.
4. There are three related ways to approach the problem of creating 12 chapters in 5 months. One way could be to try to convert sympathetic organizations that already exist. This seems to have happened in Norway where an already existing Anarchist network became a formal IOPS chapter. Another way might be to break the larger existing chapters in to smaller geographic units and have them focus their efforts on recruiting from the local areas. Our local area, NYC, is a huge metropolis with more then 9 million people. Our current membership lives in many different area (borough) of the city. Assuming we are able to consistently draw enough people to the meetings, there is no reason not to allow already active chapter members to meet monthly closer to home and form chapters for each of the 5 boroughs of NYC and encourage other chapters in larger cities or regions to do the same. We also could ask that whoever is a member in a unaffiliated area to give what ever time they can to meeting up with someone else to attempt chapter meetings. We can also encourage individual members (or full chapters) who have extra time for the next 5 months to put everything they can into consciously using community organizing skills to develop formal chapters from the thousands of unaffiliated members, starting the areas located closest to them geographically. As an example of how that might be done most accountably, I am bringing a proposal to the NYC-interim chapter that they endorse me in doing more consistent organizing. As a NYC-IOPSer with a community organizing background, who has recently experienced a layoff from a coordinator class position that provides a couple months unemployment, I will be asking for the formal support of NYC-IOPS in order to personally commit to using 10-20 hours a week for the next 3-5 months, to attempt to build 2-4 more chapters in the northeastern US. If 3-6 more people in the other 7 functional chapters internationally commit to a similar strategic plan we will meet the organizational goal of 20 functional chapters. There is also a concerted effort to coordinate the current chapters and active members by having Skype conversations with active people and sharing organizing skills. The more that we reach out to each other on the site, and ask for help from each other the more IOPS may grow.
5. The End is Near! 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880 and 9 of the ten hottest years have occurred in the 21st century. A massive climate related storm devastated the Philippines and global inequality reached new heights with thousands dying from the natural causes of capitalism, poverty, starvation and preventable disease.
6. The Beginning is Near! Global power structures are shaking. Between the Snowden disclosures about surveillance, the mass anti-austerity riots and protests spreading to growing economies like Brazil and Turkey, the reversal of the US Syria attacks due to global dissent, 2013 was a good year for rebellion and dissent. It will almost certainly increase in 2014.
7. Local branches of IOPS are popping up all over! From Montana, to Austria, to Brisbane, to NYC, people are having monthly meetings and discussing the collective texts, democratically self-managing to adapt the principals and visions to their local environment. With a chapter defined as a 5 or more meeting on a monthly basis with at least 30% female participation, 8 chapters are already having regular meetings on 3 continents. If the other 2000 or so unaffiliated people on the website assist these chapters in focusing their energy on building membership, networking with other nearby chapters and encouraging meetings in nearby areas, these 8 should be able to double or triple the amount of chapters in 6 months. There are now extensive resources about how to get a Chapter started, including books (Occupy Strategy is the best to start with in the experience of NYC-IOPS), how to follow up on organizing (For example: A guild to empowering meetings: bit.ly/Lm2Ewu) and what kind of Comic Zines bit.ly/1egDPyN or flyers to print (http://www.iopsociety.org/resources) .
It will be significant defeat to fail to achieve our organizational goal and it will set our political perspective back in terms of its ability to impact world events in the short term. The energy that has currently been expended in the infrastructure and focus of IOPS is significant, and will likely be difficult to reconstruct in the near term. The founding of the interim IOPS in 2011 came out of surge of energy from the Arab Spring and the Global Occupy movements. Though the situation is different in each country, on the whole those movements have been seriously marginalized and repressed. It is hard to see how that energy will be rekindled. The relationships to noted intellectuals and activists like Chomsky, John Pilger, and Vandana Shiva, also may not be recreated in such a coherent form. The Internet infrastructure of a functional website in 10 languages with member participants from over 90 countries will also be very difficult to recreate. The individual relations and connections will go on, but it is likely that without a global sense of connection many individuals will lose energy and go their own way individually, lacking collective coordination and vision. There also are a couple of wildcards in IOPS favor, like Chomsky. It is very likely that his influence on the global political stage will never be recreated and he may not be active for very much longer. Chomsky doesn’t formally join very many organizations, and will be of huge benefit to our efforts if we can achieve a functional bottom up organization before he passes away.
8. IOPS is the first revolutionary Anarchist formation mentioned on the Simpson’s! ( vimeo.com/39937744 ) In the past year multiple artists have collaborated on topical music videos (For example: A Hip-hop Participatory Economic Primer: bit.ly/1aQr7q2) and cultural work to support IOPS (The Situationalists here: bit.ly/1bNv1ur , Noam Chomsky and The Roots: bit.ly/1fxlU5b and 6 music videos with Lonnie Atkinson: bit.ly/1fxjiEv ). In the current media environment cartoons, music video and comedy shows are most likely to have accurate political analysis and news and are great outreach tools for movie nights.
9. It will have to be a 2nd intergalactic because the 1st intergalactic of the 20th century was already held by the Zapatistas in 1996. The Zapatistas are still building global movements, currently educating thousands of internationals twice annually in order to building a vision of “The international of hope. Not the bureaucracy of hope, not the opposite image and, thus the same as that which annihilates us. Not the power with a new sign or new clothing. A breath like the breath of dignity.” (Subcomandante Marcos, From First Declaration of La Realidad for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, 1996.) Can we host a 2nd intergalactic that both assists the Zapatistas in their fight, while learning from their dignified struggles?
10. “What better place then here? What better time then now? All hell can’t stop us now!” – Guerrilla radio, Rage Against The Machine.
Jon Doe is a chapter coordinator for the NYC-IOPS interm chapter