Why do we need an International Organisation for a Participatory Society? What would its purpose / function be?
Before going on to suggest answers to these questions I would first like to address an underlying presumption that has already been made. Asking these questions presumes that we consider the quality of the ideas that underpin the proposed organisation – our knowledge, vision and strategy of the various social spheres etc – to be well enough developed to justify such efforts. The first point to make here is that we should not wait around until our ideas are fully developed before setting up an International. This is for two reasons –
- It will never happen! We are never going to reach a point in history where we have a set of proposals that everyone agrees on in every detail.
- The further development of participatory vision and strategy should be a central aspect of any IOPS.
So, we have to make a decision to whether or not our ideas are well enough developed at this stage. My feeling is that they are. Obviously we can’t prove this in any way other than to try it out and I suppose that in the end those who think our ideas are well enough developed will join and those who don’t will wait for further development before joining. My guess (based on my experience here in the UK and networking with others internationally) is that there are enough people out there who also feel that our ideas are well enough developed to justify setting up an IOPS.
Now let’s address the questions directly.
One answer to these questions might be that we need to facilitate networking on an international scale if we are to build an international movement. Another related answer could be that the problem is global so the solution has to be international in scope. I don’t think that any advocate of Participatory Society (ParSoc) vision and strategy would disagree with these statements.
However, it is possible to facilitate networking on an international scale without an IOPS. In fact it is already happening between the various participatory projects via the new networking facilities at ZCom as well as between the various projects themselves. It is also (therefore) possible to work towards an international movement without the aid of an IOPS. This simple piece of logic shows that these answers are not satisfactory. So the question becomes – what additional benefits for movement building would be had from setting up of an IOPS? Here are my thoughts –
Optimism, Confidence and Hope – My feeling is that the single most important reason for setting up an IOPS (as opposed to continuing to encourage the various participatory projects developing in different parts of the world) is because of the psychological impact it would have in generating new levels of optimism, confidence and hope. There is something inherently positive about taking the bold step of setting-up an International and if I am right about peoples feeling regarding the level of development of our knowledge, vision and strategy then I believe that such a step will lead to levels of organising and movement building that are otherwise unlikely to develop.
Coherent and Effective – Developing out of a single organisational framework would make the international more coherent and therefore more effective. Whilst it is not impossible for a coherent organisation to develop out of our present efforts I would again argue that it is much more likely to develop if we start with an IOPS. It seems to me that starting with a single organisational framework will avoid problems of consistency that we will otherwise have to deal with in the future. It is important that we try to avoid such problems as they will prove to be very frustrating – taking up a lot of time and energy that we would otherwise have channelled in to ParSoc advocacy.
Faster and Easier – The combined effect of an organisation that makes people feel optimistic, confident and hopeful and that is coherent and effective would make movement building easier and faster. I think that we could reach somewhere in the region of 1000 members within the first year without too much effort and we should expect to reach 10,000 members within the first 5 years. As membership increases so do resources and assuming we employ the right strategies this increase in resources will make it easier to grow faster.
Combined, these factors make the development of an effective international movement for a participatory society much more realistic and this is why we should set up an IOPS.