Humanity’s Big Task
At some point a revolution will transform the
In that light, this essay considers the possibility of building an International Organization for a Participatory Society, or IOPS, that would be structured to seek -
· council based self-management in a classless participatory economy,
· a feminist kinship sphere,
· an intercommunalist culture, and
· a participatory polity
- that is, to win a participatory society.
Is it time to explicitly begin, however tentatively, the steps that can lead to eventually creating such an institution? Or, alternatively, must we wait for some more propitious moment at some distant point to even begin laying groundwork?
First, do we confidently know if it is possible now or in the near future to usefully begin laying groundwork for a new organization?
No, we don’t, of course.
Second, can we find out if it is possible now or in the near future by any means other than trying?
I doubt it.
But third, should we even want to find out? Should we even want to have a new organization, sooner, rather than later?
I tend to think if we can begin the process, we should. Even highly preliminary preparatory work could help generate coherence of vision and strategy. It could connect diverse efforts, multiply resources and provide services. Finally, if it carried through to success, the work would contribute to developing a vehicle for the growth and development of positive activism.
Can we do this? Should we be starting to work toward doing it?
Some will say yes. Others will say no.
The former will likely think that it is never too early to begin important tasks. The latter will think it is now too early. We don’t have enough capable folks to participate. There isn’t a broad framework we can start with and expand upon.
To further consider even just the possibility of beginning to lay the groundwork for seeking an new organization, first we might describe main features we might anticipate such an organization having sometime in the future after it stabilizes and is contributing to transforming society.
Second, we might envision a period hopefully just a little in our future where a fledgling International Organization for a Participatory Society, or IOPS, has attributes consistent with getting to the longer-term condition.
Third, from that short-term conception, we might then discern a possible agenda of immediate prerequisite tasks to perhaps tackle now, as first explicit steps in a long journey.
Finally, we can then sensibly ask, can we take these preliminary steps, or must we put them off.
IOPS After Stabilizing
We don’t know how far down the road a well functioning IOPS is – but I think we know it is somewhere, and that creating it is a worthy task, and that to get started with initial precursor work we don’t need a precise future image or timeline. Indeed, we we only need a plausible picture of a possible future whose final details, texture, and timing will of course vary from our initial image.
Also, we aren’t talking about well after a revolution, or even very near one, we are talking about a nearer moment when an organization has been born and grown so it will clearly be a major player in winning a new world system which is, however, yet to be won.
So, looking into this hopefully not too distant future, we can "see," or, if you prefer, we can imagine that there is an International Organization for Participatory Society.
This envisioned IOPS has, as we envision it years down the road, organizations in dozens of countries which together compose regional federations stretching continent wide.
Composing the national organizations, in turn, we see hundreds or perhaps thousands of local chapters that extend all the way down to neighborhoods or even to city blocks or apartment houses. These chapters all focus attention on their own areas, but also federate to constitute town, city, county, state, and national organizations.
In short, this IOPS we envision is an international federation of layers of organization with each unit in the whole addressing some area’s constituency population.
Microscoping our view, what might characterize a chapter?
Roughly, for our exercise, realizing things can change as we learn more, we can plausibly envision that a chapter might be from 10 to 500 people from a local area such as a living group, neighborhood, town, or city. Such a chapter might start, in this picture of possibilities, with 5 to 10 members as a minimum number required to attain chapter status.
Maybe a particular chapter starts in a city. As it grows, however, it begins to have enough members from some encompassed sub-area to spin off a chapter for a smaller local constituency.
For example, a
Perhaps the lower limit for a chapter can cover be an area with a population no less than 500. So you might go from having 10 or 20 people begin a chapter for NYC, to having 20 or more people in dozens or even hundreds of chapters inside NYC, such as in apartment complexes, city blocks, or school dorms with the sum of all the local chapters composing borough chapters, and the sum of those composing the NYC organization.
Telescoping our vision out a bit, what might be a national organization?
Well, it might be at least 5 city or county chapters federated into a countrywide organization.
And what might be a continental?
Well, how about at least 5 nationals federated together across a continent.
And would there be other bases for group organization within IOPS?
Yes, looking ahead, I think we can anticipate or envision that minority cultural communities, women, gays, and perhaps other constituencies within IOPS at many levels, would want to have a means by which they can engage with one another within their constituency without having others not in their constituency present – a room of their own, to use however they decide.
These constituency groupings likely wouldn’t be chapters, since it would make little sense to say some neighborhood’s group, or an apartment complex’s group is a chapter, but so are all women, blacks, gays, or whatever other constituency.
What might make sense, however, looking forward, is that within chapters or larger units like city, country, or national organizations, there could be caucuses of people from the lower positions in society’s social, economic, and power hierarchies, to guard against replication of any of those oppressive relations within the organization as well as to develop related vision, strategy, and program.
So, continuing our hypothetical look at the future, we can plausibly imagine that by the time IOPS has grown into a large, steadily growing, coherent, and lasting player in the effort to build a new world, it has, let’s say, 50,000 members each of whom belongs to a local chapter which federated together compose larger area, town, city, county, national, and continental organizations, and finally, all together, IOPS itself.
Presumably the full membership, given that the organization likely focuses on economy, polity, culture, kinship, ecology, and international relations, would be highly diverse in gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc., with caucuses at every level, though most members would be working class.
Microscoping our view back down, again, what might it mean to be a member?
Keeping in mind that we are flexibly and fluidly hypothesizing this picture pending more experience broadening our views, if this organization ia to help attain and melt into a future participatory society, it will presumably have to nurture members who know that goal and function in accord with it.
One type member, we can predict, might be a person in a chapter, working with fellow chapter members on local program and also contributing to national and international policy and program. Such a member would presumably not only advocate the overall IOPS vision and at least much of its program, but also help support the organization with dues and by fulfilling task responsibilities. To honor and implement equitable remuneration and expenditure, we might anticipate that IOPS dues would be ample, but also account for the means at people’s disposal.
We might also anticipate many people wanting to become members who are, however, not organized together with other folks sufficiently to be in a chapter where they live or work. This, we might guess, would be acceptable, as a way to get started in IOPS, but perhaps it perhaps only for some period of time after which chapter membership would become essential as a means of full involvement and responsibility.
So it might be that there are two levels of sustained involvement over the long haul – being a full member in a chapter or as a temporarily at large member, or being a member without chapter for the long term, where the latter would presumably have fewer responsibilities as well as less voting influence. That’s a reasonable guess, in any case.
But what might IOPS look like, internally?
IOPS, with its participatory society agenda, would, we can reasonably guess, at every level embody seeds of the future in the present. Power over program and policy would arise from the base, which is to say from the local chapters, with large-scale policy representing a sum of local initiatives or arising from national or larger initiative