The International Organization for Participatory Society (IOPS) website has gone online at www.iopsociety.org. In the first week after IOPS went online, over 1,100 people joined from 75 countries.
IOPS is based on a defining description that mirrors a poll taken on ZNet. Some key elements are its anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-imperialist aims embodied in its statement of vision and its commitment to internal self-management, mutual aid, solidarity, diversity, and respect for dissent, and to developing a very broad program—all available on the website.
IOPS intends to become a powerful international organization composed of branches in countries that are in turn composed of chapters in cities. This organizing process will, hopefully, culminate in a founding convention by 2014.
Z Magazine, from its founding in 1988 to the present, has always felt that its role wasn’t only to provide information to better understand society, but to help find ways to change society. One such way is for people to work together in organizations that share values, aims, and agenda. IOPS seems to be such an organization, one that is in tune with the content that Z has offered all these years. We are participating in it and we hope you will, too. Already many of Z’s familiar writers are part of IOPS. We hope Z’s readers and viewers will be part of it too. Here is what a few people have had to say about IOPS.
Noam Chomsky, U.S.
“Hardly a day goes by when I do not hear appeals—often laments—from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer…. It’s an understandable reaction and can too often lead to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism…. But the formula, while accurate enough, does not respond to the pleas. What is missing are concrete proposals as to how to proceed. IOPS strikes the right chords and, if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and molding them into a powerful and effective force.”
Harpreet Paul, UK/India
“Occupations and protests from London to Madrid, Cairo to New York have rocked the world—challenging conceptions on the Left that we do not have the numbers or support to win a more just and egalitarian world. And, through many creative direct actions, challenging conceptions that we—the globalized youth —are passive, self-interested, consumer citizens as we, instead, highlight the ways in which the seeds of a better future are embodied in the present. IOPS has created a space in which we can all come together, connect, share experiences, and organize together in our joint struggle for a better world. I hope to connect with you on the site as we share our experiences, thoughts, ideas and journey—personal and political.”
John Pilger, UK/Australia
“We’re at a critical stage in modern history with social democracy all but appropriated by something called corporatism. It’s a drab, faceless word but it ideally explains why many of the freedoms won since the end of the second world war have been vandalized, and why so many people are confused…. In the poor world, where the majority of humanity live and corporatism bludgeons its way with a military force of a kind never seen before, people better understand the nature of the beast. Above all, it is urgent we all make sense of it and draw together the strands and build a resistance to the hi-jackers. In signaling the return of political imagination, IOPS is a way of beginning to achieve this.”
Fernando Ramn Vegas Torrealba, Venezuela
“Things go so fast that it seems a few days ago that a rather big group started this whole idea about putting up an internationale to face the power establishment of the world from the political left point of view no matter if it came from partisans of fair social distribution of wealth or defenders of the environment, combatants for a new world multipolar order or champions for the rights of the animals, fighters for social justice or advocates of formal justice for all. Yet, as contradictory as it sounds, somewhere on the road no real progress for the foundations of that internationale happened. This needs to be reversed. Time is now to get IOPS on its feet.…
We have a lot of important and concrete tasks to achieve to defend social human rights, social revolutions that are developing at different stages in Latin American countries, the war theaters that are in progress in the Middle East, the European workers’ rights that are under serious limitations by the savage financial capitalism, the unification of the left in the USA now divided and almost helpless in front of the conservatives. And these are only a few topics. There is a lot to do. Let us do it.”
Denitsa Dimitrova, Bulgaria
“The project of IOPS is to stand as a buffer between the flaws of today and the belief that there is an alternative, that is, an endeavored social organization, in which the notions of global capitalism, imperialism, authoritarianism, and discrimination are omitted from the agenda. IOPS envisages a community of value- sharing individuals, committed to bring change by the consent of their visions, rather than a consensus over a single idea. IOPS will become real if as many people as possible believe in the value of their ideas for change and the power of communicating them. I believe popularizing the idea of IOPS is the best way to demonstrate this.”
Andrej Grubacic, the Balkans
“Many libertarian leftists think that we don’t need revolutionary organizations. I think that we need them more than ever before. We need organizations to focus our energy, to clarify our strategy, and to carefully discuss our tactical choices. Revolutionary organizations are important to maintain a sense of community, to promote solidarity, to build a genuine community of struggle. If we are serious about being revolutionaries and if we still chose to believe in social revolution…then we need participatory organizations…within mass movements. IOPS could not come at a better time.”
Elaine Bernard, Canada/U.S.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it. IOPS offers an opportunity to reach across borders, time zones, organizations, communities, and individual interests and grow solidarity. Solidarity does not just happen. It needs to be developed and it needs to have concrete expression in organization. Hopefully, with IOPS we can move beyond conversation and sharing analysis and experience into coordinated, cooperative democratic action.”
Antti Jauhianinen, Finland
“The new iopsociety.org is a serious, extremely well- thought out service that can, if used widely, work as a network to bring together in a new way various individuals, organizations, and even whole movements from across the world. The site already helps us create local and even national events and discuss them, provides meaningful structures for debate and sharing, and in a way that can expand over time to actual systems of voting and decision making. It’s an ambitious, carefully thought out site that can help us seek a more free, more participatory society. It’s uniquely focused to the needs and goals of people and movements working for social justice. I recommend reading through the carefully crafted IOPS proposal and, if you agree with it as I do, signing up and taking part in the new community of serious people committed to social change. You can share ideas, events, articles, or actions with people that can provide feedback and encouragement quickly. This is an opportunity we don’t want to and can’t afford to miss.”
Bill Fletcher, U.S.
“Without organization, the people have nothing. The forces arrayed against the downtrodden and the dispossessed are immense. Mass actions and spontaneous movements are essential. All forms of progressive resistance to oppression must be embraced. Yet, in the absence of organization these struggles will exhaust themselves. Organization is about education; it is about training; it is about strategy; and tactics. But in this case it is also about building the international ties that are critical in taking on global capitalism and global injustice. No project toward the building of organization comes with any guarantees except one: This will not be easy. That said, if we want to win power for the global dispossessed, I don’t think that we have any alternative but to build radical organizations. IOPS is one such effort.”
Greg Wilpert, Germany/U.S./Venezuela
“Activists who believe in the values and vision of a participatory (socialist) society that opposes all forms of oppression (including gender, racial, ethnic, and class) need to organize, preferably in an organization with like-minded individuals. So far, as far as I know, there are no international multi-issue organizations that fit this bill. There are single-issue organizations or multi-issue local groups or dogmatic international groups that present themselves as being in favor of such a participatory society. This is fine and they have their place. However, I believe that for us participatory (anarcho-socialist?) activists to move forward, we ought to have a non-dogmatic international multi-issue organization. Single issue groups and local groups might occasionally come together in a coalition around particular issues and achieve great things, but for us to have a lasting and more than local impact, we need to organize globally around many issues – not just to talk, but to coordinate and to act. The International Organization for a Participatory Society/Socialism (IOPS) has the potential to be the organization we need. Please join us!”
Cynthia Peters, U.S.
“You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don’t just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically…. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning a better world. Without these elements, we’ll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with our presence, we will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others—across the world—in the same situation, at the same time turning our creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It’s the solid beginnings of another world being possible.”
David Marty, Spain
“IOPS could not come at a better time in the context of Spanish project for a participatory society (PPS-Spain).… There has been an explosion of solidarity, activism, class-consciousness, but also of ideas that another world is possible. These ideas, the big ones—and especially the good ones— need a home to stay, be nurtured, and one day become a reality. IOPS is such a place in my view. Talks around a new model are already happening: what our values are and what institutions we want for our economies, our communities, gender relations, and our political arenas…. Efforts that aspire to become large scale participatory projects are in creation. The role of IOPS in these exciting developments should be obvious to all of us. It will provide a much needed network of national and international solidarity where members can exchange views, share resources, raise funds, elaborate voting systems, and build projects together. On March 31, PPS-Spain was launched in Madrid and Valencia. The webpage for the Madrid chapter was launched on the IOPS site on May 1.
Mandisi Majavu, South Africa/New Zealand
“IOPS has a potential of becoming one of the few emancipatory spaces for internationalists who are opposed to sectarianism and, authoritarian and hierarchical structures My hope for the IOPS is that it will grow and become a forum that truly values and appreciates the contributions of people of colour, as well as women. Far too many leftist organisations fall into the trap of solely celebrating the work of white men thinkers and Western thinkers, while, on the other hand, the work of people of colour and the efforts of people from the “Third World” is either regarded as subpar or held with disdain and contempt.”
Ann Ferguson, U.S.
“We need the International Organization for Participatory Society (IOPS) so that we can bring in young activists such as the ones who are now in the Occupy movements as well as other social movements who are anti-capitalist, but don’t trust any of the left political parties because they have been too authoritarian, top down and usually white male headed. I like the founding statement of the group that emphasizes the equal centrality of capitalism, racism, patriarchy, hetero- sexism and ignorant exploitation of nature (the environment and other living things) as domination structures to fight. I also like the emphasis on finding new models of democratic socialism that don’t repeat the mistakes of the past authoritarian top-down states such as the USSR, Eastern European countries and China. Reclaiming the commons and thinking about our collective values of solidarity, community, and caring as well as equality, economic democracy (workers’ cooperatives and self-management), social democracy (caring for all humans by working to meet their basic needs), and political democracy not just through representative democracy but participatory democracy at all levels is key to this vision….
We certainly don’t have all the answers, but the only way we will get them is to continue to network and to work out our ideas with like-minded radical democrats and socialists around the world, and I hope IOPS can provide us a way to do this and to develop some global political clout as well.”