Announcing/Reporting IOPS

About nine months ago Z put up a poll asking peoples reactions to a hypothetical organization with various aims and other features specified. The response from about 4,000 users, over 95% of whom said they would either join immediately or as soon as they had confidence it was going to be what it claimed, provided motivation and hope, and based on that, those most eager began laying groundwork for a new International Organization based on national branches and local chapters. Below is a recap of that endeavor, plus a report on the current emergence of the project into daylight.  



Settling on a Name 


Calling our goal "the organization" threatened to get clumsy and a bit demoralizing before long, so finding an interim name seemed an essential first task. A message was sent to the Interim Consultative Committee, or ICC, reminding them that of course a name chosen would only be interim – like everything done before there is a membership that can convene and begin deciding structure and policy for itself –  but, that said, the letter asked the committee to consider three options proposed by various folks already building local chapters in the U.S. and UK. The three names were:

  • Interim International Organization for a Free Society – which was then and is still being used by various people in the U.S. building local chapters. 
  • Interim International Organization for a Participatory Society – which was then and is still being used by various people in the UK and a number of other countries building local chapters. 
  • Interim International Organization for Participatory Socialism – which we offered as a possible way to mediate the above two, and perhaps appeal more broadly among some constituencies in Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc., though at risk of miscommunicating to other audiences, such as in the U.S., etc. 

The operational arrangement with the ICC was and remains that its members can ignore email queries about choices, thereby indicating a belief that all the choices being assessed are okay with them, or they can reply with their preferences to guide interim choices in accord with their advice. Regarding the name, about half the ICC replied. 


International Organization for a Participatory Society had a small majority but International Organization for Participatory Socialism had almost as much support. There were, however, nearly no votes for International Organization for a Free Society.

People's comments were what you would expect. Some said, the word "free" is too vague and too identified with free market, neoliberalism, etc. Others noted that the word "socialism" carries negative baggage – or, on the other side, noted that the word "socialism" gives more substance. And finally, some said the word "participatory" is too vague – or, on the other side, said the word "participatory" conjures new and positive aims while avoiding the stigma of past flawed vision and practice.


Since the initials for the two leading options are the same, IOPS, it seemed like an an obvious compromise to call the organization IOPS and note that for some the initials stand for International Organization for Participatory Socialism and for others the initials stand for International Organization for a Participatory Society – where a final determination, or perhaps a complete change, will come only at a founding convention of the organization's initial membership. So that is what we are trying, at least for now. 



Raising Funds and a Web System


There was immediate need for funds to build a flexible web system for the new organization. Why a web system?


The logic of the project was that while the organization we seek, IOPS, needs to be built of local face-to-face groups or chapters, and while it needs to be self managing and certainly not top down, it is also true that getting started in most places has so far been and will no doubt continue to be quite difficult. Momentum matters, solidarity matters, and these come from working in context of many others working as well, not from working in isolation. Establishing an encompassing site as a preliminary step seeks to  provide a means of sharing lessons and experiences, a sense of momentum, a lot of connectivity and mutual aid, and a way for local folks to plug in and to quickly have systems for local sites (otherwise perhaps beyond their means to create), as well as providing access to members. Such an encompassing international site – and the included networked country and city sites – would also permit – once there are, say, 5,000 members internationally – regular dues payments that could then in turn help local organizing, especially where funds would otherwise be in shortest supply.


So the approach was dualistic, one might say. On the one hand, create the interim International site, a step that couldn't happen totally de-centrally. On the other hand, and at the same time, prioritize the local decentralized creation of chapters which could I'm time take over the overarching organization as its self managing components and decision making core. 


Could this dynamic be undertaken without establishing a small group by fiat or even just by the weight of first come first served. Could it be done without having a group established who would then and later determine the nature of the project and dominate its practice? Could it be done consistent with real participation and self management? We thought at the outset and we still think now, that yes, this can be done.


The organization description that defined the initial poll which then spurred the current effort, still guides and will continue guiding interim choices because even before there was any structure at all, that description was "ratified" as desirable by about 4,000 people from around the world. In time, once there is a founding convention, the Interim Consultative Committee will disappear into the organization, with no particular rights or responsibilities, beyond having helped take the interim steps toward establishing a self managing organization. 


Now, what about the money to pay for the site? We raised what was need initially, largely from poll takers, in just a few days. Spontaneous donations in coming days, now that the international site and its sub sites are in place, will probably bring the net donations above past costs – hopefully by a nice cushion. Funds will go to maintain the sites, and especially to finish adding features as they are requested by members, and then, beyond that, to recruitment efforts or to organizational projects decided later, after a convention. 



The Path Forward


What will follow the current creation of the site? Hopefully many thousands of people will visit it, evaluate the descriptive materials, decide that they wish to advocate those ideas and build the organization, and therefore join IOPS. Joining internationally, they will automatically become by their residency members of national and local chapters, which will in time be built not only or even mostly online, but also via direct face to face work, meetings, etc. 


As membership grows, soon digital voting facilities will facilitate arriving at plans for a convention, perhaps a year or so off, to establish actual organizational structure and procedures as well as initial program and campaigns. Beyond this, what will happen once the organization is defined and operating is clearly whatever people then make happen!


What can people do now that would feed into such an unfolding picture? 

  • The obvious step is to sign up. Go to http://www.iopsociety.org/  Examine the descriptions of goals, structure, etc. If you like what you read, consider joining. If you decide to do so, please enter your email, a password you choose, and please also upload a photo and enter a succinct bio as well. 
  • If you join, then you can introduce the organization to friends, workmates, schoolmates, and organizations and movements that you are in, who, in your view, should be receptive to the project. 
  • You could take the organizational description and prepare it in your home language, if it hasn't already been translated, and share it widely in your home countries, cities, etc. 
  • You could send the translation to us, as well, please. And if you wish to, we also need people who will translate the menus and other navigational content, labels, etc, into many languages.
One cannot predict, before the fact, the results of any endeavor like this. Sometimes embarking on creating a new project or organization goes nowhere, or proceeds a bit, and then folds. Other times, lasting structures come into existence that make important contributions for years or even decades. What do we hope for?
The idea of IOPS is simple. IOPS means to be a powerful and important institution working for and facilitating winning a new world. The hope is that IOPS and its branches and chapters will exist and contribute to activism and struggle for as long as it takes to succeed, disbanding as a revolutionary organization only when it melts into the structures of new societies around the world. Joining IOPS is saying, that yes, you want that to happen, you want that new world, and, given your means and circumstances, yes, along with many other responsibilities you have, you would like to help. 

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