“A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree or certainty which the evidence warrants.”
– Bertrand Russell
All this we have been over, enough, we hope, to have made the relevant points. So what is left to say by way of conclusion?
We Are Minimalist
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X
The upshot is tactical and strategic minimalism. We try to think carefully. We try to evaluate wisely. We try to account for what matters and not get caught up in trivia. But we know we may err, so we also know it is very wise, whenever possible, to keep alternatives alive, and to experiment with those alternatives even as some other path is currently our main focus. In this way we protect against the possibility that the minority was right and the preferred path was less desirable than anticipated.
We Are Maximalist
“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence,
but an optimist because of will.”
– Antonio Gramsci
Our strategies, tactics, and programs are always part of an overall process, and whatever their proximate aim may be, the ultimate aim is that we want the world, and nothing less. We measure our choices and efforts not in terms of proximate aims only, or mostly, but in terms of the overarching process of winning a new world.
“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.”
– Albert Camus
IOPS Basic Priorities
A proposed organization consistent, we believe, with the broad claims and insights of participatory theory, vision, and strategy, and which is indeed under preliminary construction as we write, and is initially called the International Organization for a Participatory Society, or IOPS, has, as its most general priorities, that it:
- centrally addresses economics/class, politics,culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one above the rest.
- seeks to transcend capitalism, racism, sexism, and authoritarianism, including 20th Century market and centrally planned socialism–called coordinatorism.
- flexibly explores and advocates long-term vision sufficient to inspire and orient current activity.
- rejects seeking detailed blueprints that transcend movement needs and knowledge.
- sees movement program as largely contingent on place and time and therefore continually updates analysis, vision, and strategy in light of new evidence and insights.
IOPS Visionary Commitments
The organization seeks a new type of government or polity that:
- facilitates all citizens deliberating sufficiently to effectively participate in decision-making.
- utilizes transparent mechanisms to carry out and evaluate decisions.
- conveys to all members of society a self-managing say in legislative decisions proportionate to effects on them.
- utilizes grassroots assemblies, councils, or communes, plus direct participation or representation and delegation, plus voting options such as majority rule, other voting algorithms, or consensus, all as needed to attain self-management.
- offers maximum civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and organizing political parties.
- facilitates and protects dissent.
- promotes diversity so individuals and groups can pursue their own goals consistent with not interfering with the same rights for others.
- fairly, peacefully, and constructively adjudicates disputes and violations of laws, seeking both justice and rehabilitation.
- supports all community members contributing to solving problems and exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no political hierarchies that privilege some people over others.
The organization seeks a new type of economy such that:
- no individuals or groups own resources, factories, etc., so ownership doesn’t affect anyone’s decision making influence or share of income.
- workers who work longer or harder or at more onerous conditions doing socially valued labor (including training) earn proportionately more and there is no payment according to property, bargaining power, or the value of personal output.
- those unable to work receive income nonetheless.
- workers have a say in decisions to the extent possible, proportionate to effects on them, sometimes best attained by majority rule, sometimes by consensus or by other arrangements.
- each worker enjoys conditions suitable to be sufficiently confident and informed to participate effectively in decision making, including having a socially average share of empowering tasks via suitable new designs of work and, in any event, there is no corporate division of labor giving some workers predominately empowering tasks and others mainly rote, repetitive, and obedient tasks.
- for allocation there is decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs, whether accomplished by workers and consumers councils or some other suitable method–there is neither market competition nor top-down planning.
The organization seeks a new gender and kin system that:
- does not privilege certain types of family formation over others, but instead actively supports all types of families consistent with society’s other broad norms and practices.
- promotes children’s well-being and affirms society’s responsibility for all its children, including the right of diverse types of families to have children and to provide them with love and a sense of rootedness and belonging.
- minimizes or eliminates age-based permissions, preferring non-arbitrary means for determining when an individual is old or young enough to participate in economic, political or other activities, or to receive benefits/privileges.
- respects marriage and other lasting relations among adults as religious, cultural, or social practices, but rejects marriage as a way to gain financial benefits or social status.
- respects caregiving as a valuable function including making care giving a part of every citizen’s social responsibilities and utilizes other worthy means to ensure equitable burdens and benefits.
- affirms diverse expressions of sexual pleasure, personal identity, and mutual intimacy while ensuring that each person honors the autonomy, humanity, and rights of others.
- provides diverse, empowering sex education including legal prohibition against all non-consensual sex.
The organization seeks a new cultural and community system that:
- ensures that people can have multiple cultural and social identities, by providing the space and resources necessary for people to positively express their identities, while recognizing as well that which identity is most important to any particular person at any particular time will depend on that person’s situation and assessments.
- explicitly recognizes that rights and values exist regardless of cultural identity, so that all people deserve self-management, equity, solidarity, and liberty, and so that while society protects all people’s right to affiliate freely fosters diversity, its core values are universal.
- guarantees free entry and exit to and from all cultural communities in society including affirming that communities that do have free entry and exit can be under the complete self determination of their members, so long as their policies and actions don’t conflict with society’s laws.
The organization seeks new internationalist global and regional institutions that:
- end imperialism in all its forms including colonialism, neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism, etc.
- steadily diminish economic disparities in countries’ relative wealth.
- protect cultural and social patterns interior to each country from external violation.
- facilitate international entwinement as people desire, and thus internationalist globalization in place of corporate globalization.
The organization seeks new ecological relations that:
- recognize the urgency of dealing with diverse ecological trends such as resource depletion, environmental degradation, and global warming, not only for liberation, but for survival, and that therefore facilitate ecologically sound reconstruction of society.
- account for the full ecological (and social/personal) costs and benefits of both short and long term economic and social choices, so that future populations can make informed reconstructive and then day to day choices about levels of production and consumption, duration of work, self reliance, energy use and harvesting, stewardship, pollution, climate policies, conservation, consumption, and other aims and activities as part of their freely made decisions about future policy.
- foster a consciousness of ecological connection and responsibility so that future citizens understand and respect the ecological precautionary principle and are also well prepared to decide policies regarding rights, vegetarianism, or other matters that transcend sustainability, consistently with their ecological preferences and with their broader agendas for other social and economic functions.
IOPS Organization & Program
The organization’s broad program, of course regularly updated and adapted, nonetheless always:
- incorporates seeds of the future in its present projects regarding class, race, gender, and power relations, both in the ways members act as well as by actively building institutions that the organization can present as liberating alternatives to the status quo.
- constantly grows its membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it aids.
- learns from and seeks collaboration with audiences far wider than its own membership, including attracting and empowering younger members and participating in building and aiding diverse social movements and struggles.
- seeks changes in society for citizens to enjoy immediately and also to establish by the terms of its victories and by the means used in its organizing a likelihood that people will pursue and win more change in the future.
- connects efforts, resources, and lessons from country to country, even as it recognizes that strategies suitable to different places often differ.
- seeks short term changes by its actions and programs and by support of larger movements and projects as its members decide, internationally, by country, and also locally, including addressing global warming, arms control, war and peace, the level and composition of economic output, agricultural relations, education, health care, income distribution, duration of work, gender roles, racial relations, media, law, legislation, etc.
- provides financial, legal, employment, and emotional support to its members so they can participate as fully as they wish and negotiate the challenges and difficulties of participating in radical actions.
- substantially improves the life situations of its members, including aiding their feelings of self worth, their knowledge, skills, and confidence, their mental, physical, sexual, and spiritual health, and even their social ties and leisure enjoyments.
- develops, debates, disseminates, and advocates truthful news, analysis, vision, and strategy among its members and in the wider society, including developing and sustaining needed media as well as means of face to face communication.
- uses educational efforts, rallies and marches, demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, and direct actions, to win gains and build movements.
- places a very high burden of proof on utilizing violence, including cultivating a decidedly nonviolent attitude.
- assesses engaging in electoral politics case by case, including cultivating a very cautious electoral attitude.
The organization’s structure and policy though regularly updated and adapted, nonetheless always:
- seeks to be internally classless and self-managing, including structuring itself so that a minority who are initially disproportionately equipped with needed skills, information, and confidence do not form–a formal or informal–decision-making hierarchy, leaving less prepared members to follow orders and/or perform only rote tasks.
- strives to implement the self-management norm that “each member has decision making say proportional to the degree they are effected.”
- guarantees members’ rights to organize dissenting “currents” and guarantees those “currents” full rights of democratic debate.
- celebrates internal debate and dissent, making room, as possible, for contrary views to exist and be tested alongside preferred views.
- respects diversity, so that national, regional, city, and local chapters can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs as they choose so long as their choices do not interfere with the shared goals and principles of the organization or with other groups addressing their own situations.
- provides extensive opportunities for members to participate in organizational decision making, including deliberating with others to arrive at the most well-considered decisions while also implementing mechanisms for assuring decisions have been carried out correctly.
- provides transparency regarding all actions by elected or delegated representatives with a high burden of proof for secreting any agenda to avoid repression or for any other reason.
- provides a mechanism to recall leaders or representatives who members believe are not adequately representing them.
- provides means for fairly, peacefully, and constructively resolving internal disputes.
- apportions empowering and disempowering tasks to ensure that no individuals control the organization by having a relative monopoly on information or levers of daily power.
- expects members to actively participate in the life of the organization including taking collective responsibility for it and presenting a unified voice in action.
- incorporates its members in developing, debating, and deciding on proposals, and treats lack of participation as a serious problem to be addressed whenever it surfaces.
- sets up internal structures that facilitate everyone’s participation including, when possible, offering childcare at meetings and events, finding ways to reach out to those who might be immersed in kinship duties, meeting in spaces accessible to people with disabilities, and aiding those with busy work schedules due to multiple jobs.
- monitors and responds to sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism as they may be manifested internally, including having diverse roles in projects suitable to people with different situations.
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