Occupy IOPS

June 14th, 2012

Published on ZNet, by Michael Albert, June 07, 2012.

Occupy this and that – by which I mean the Occupy Movement writ large – is still, even after some depletion in some places – quite enormous. It includes countless local manifestations, sometimes around housing, other times around banks, sometimes focusing on media, other times on nukes, and so on. It also includes massive manifestations, as in Greece and Spain, among others, as well as large city gatherings, and then also smaller local town gatherings, reading groups, dinner parties, etc. 

So how many people are actively involved in Occupy (including variants that have their own different names around the world)? Of course, no one knows.

Okay, then, how many people are very supportive, beyond those who are explicitly involved? We have even less information about that – except for a few places, like Spain, where the polls indicate support is upwards of 60 – 70% of the whole population, and Greece where it appears to be similar … //

… I actually think the number of our 700,000 who would say reforms are enough to get rid of our problems is pretty low. I think the number who, whether they would use the term or not, are revolutionary in thinking new institutions are needed if we are to have just societies, is rather high. But, nonetheless, let’s err on the side of underestimating those who stay. Let’s say another 200,000 leave because they feel there is no need to replace underlying institutions to have a new and worthy world; we can get what we want with just reforms. Okay, we are down to 500,000.

We reach one more divide. And it is perhaps the most stressing one so far. Our host says, of the 500,000 still here because we think the many areas mentioned earlier are each comparably central to address, and we think the only way to remove the oppressions that scour dignity and humanity and life from people all over the world is to replace underlying institutions that yield those results with new institutions that have contrary implications, how many think it is possible that we, with others who come to think like us, can actually succeed? Put the opposite way, our host says, how many of you think either that there is no better alternative set of social relations we can aspire to, to replace those we now suffer from; or think that even if there is such an alternative, the enemies who would obstruct attaining it are too strong to overcome; or think we ourselves are so far down a path of mutual destruction and dissolution that we simply have no hope of avoiding sectarianism and authoritarianism in our own endeavors so that anything we attempt will fall far short of digging out of the pit we are in and reaching desirable better institutions? Hands go up, doors open, and the vision deniers leave. Why stay for a futile pursuit, they reason. How many slumped through the doors, depressed that fundamental change is impossible, but honorably and consistently following their beliefs?

It is a guess, like everything above, but I think this is far and away the biggest divider, so let’s say four fifths leave due to denying the possibility of success. We now have 100,000 who, by the logic of their remaining in the room, should be eager to find ways to work cooperatively and continually with others like themselves, both people in the room and people who are outside and also share the agreed views, as well as to demonstrate to even more other people among those who have left the room or were never assembled in the first place – due to not relating to Occupy – that they should come in, sit down, take up a comfortable position, and stay for the duration.

So here is my punchline. Are you in that 100,000? If you are, I claim you should forget about our hypothetical room, it has served its purpose, and you should take a look at the International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS) site. IOPS claims to be a path to having an organization with the features these 100,000 people desire – and to establish anti sectarian operations that will be successfully plant seeds of the future everywhere in the present while also winning gains on a road forward. IOPS even claims to have an agreed vision that includes the minimal but essential features to meet the 100,000’s desires for new institutions that would have liberating results compared to the institutions we now suffer.

Given your views, as hypothetically unearthed by your remaining in the room of 100,000, IOPS may prove congenial for you as a way to pursue the path your attendance in the room implies. There may still be reason for you not to join up – of course – but it is hard to see any reason not to at least take some time to assess IOPS. More, if you have reservations – which probably most who consider IOPS will, at least initially, there is no reason not to hash them out, looking first at the IOPS Q/A about concerns, and then perhaps talking through the issues you feel with others. All of us in the hypothetical room should hope, even if we think it is bucking long odds, that IOPS is an undertaking for us.

But what about the effects on Occupy? What would be the impact on your work in Occupy of your deciding IOPS was a good fit for your inclinations and aspirations, or for your work in other projects and movements that you already relate to? Most likely your other involvements would continue as in the past. Perhaps your involvement in IOPS would cause you to have ideas that you would wish to share with people in your non IOPS activities, just as your non IOPS involvements might generate ideas you would want to share in IOPS. Beyond that spontaneous cross fertilization, your explicit IOPS involvement would of course depend on your evolving relation to its emerging programs, projects, etc.

But what if a considerable number of people in Occupy were to join IOPS? Suppose out of the 100,000 who stayed in our hypothetical assembly meeting, in the coming months 10,000 or 20,000 were to join IOPS. It is optimistic, but if it happened, what difference would it make for Occupy and for IOPS? Well, it would quickly turn IOPS into a very large international revolutionary organization that is a federation of national branches and local chapters, rooted deeply in Occupy, engaged in countless forms of activism in Occupy and outside it as well, developing its own IOPS program, and providing a model of the implementation of the values and institutions of the future in the present.

In this optimistic but quite possible scenario, a subset of Occupy activists and supporters would have spun off a lasting organizational manifestation of the Occupy upsurge that would cause the insights of Occupy to persist and would inform and be informed by the insights of other endeavors all around the world – even as those involved would of course also strongly agitate for more, wider, and deeper Occupy activism. With so many Occupy advocates in IOPS there would be a minority current running within Occupy carrying shared views from IOPS into Occupy’s ethos and operations. There would likewise be a massive influx into IOPS from Occupy, no doubt defining its future in manifold ways.

If the logic above – not the specific guesses about numbers, but the general impression of those who would remain were the hypothetical assembly to gather and the process to unfold – is wrong, my apologies for wasting your time. But if the logic is right, and if you, like me, would be among the folks who would be hunkered down in the room at the end of the thought experiment – then the ball is in our court. (full long text).


International Organization for a Participatory Society … is an interim international nongovernmental, nonprofit organization embracing such values as self-management, egalitarianism, solidarity, diversity, ecological husbandry and internationalism. Founded in January 2012, the organization had 1650 members[1] in 76 countries as of May 2012[2] … on en.wikipedia …

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