Suggestion: NEW WAY OF ORGANIZING THE ISM?

Fellow students form all around the Globe, Greetings.

I'm Iva from the Independent Student Movement "Sloboden Index", taking actions in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia.

The International Student Movement made an online meeting today at 3 p.m (GMT). On that meeting, among other things, was discussed the efficiency of the actual way of organization of the ISM. Arguments were brought up that the present way of organizing and coordination between local student movements on a global level is perhaps not the most efficient way of organization, since it involves too many students from too many different parts of the world, speaking too many different languages. ISM is a large and wide-spread movement, and as such, it was proposed that it needs different ways of organization.

In order to coordinate our actions better, we should make a systematic division of the Movement in this suggested manners:

  • Regional divisions - by territory.
    For instance, the Western-European Division (or whatever we agree to call it) would unite students from France, U.K. etc; USA division would unite students from USA; African division would unite students from Senegal etc. ; Balkan Division would unite students from Croatia, Greece etc...
    The point of this is that in order to be better coordinated, we cannot retain to only internet communication, but we need to plan also live meetings, which would be much easier to organize (financially, for starters) if the Movement is divided by regions.
    Selected representatives (delegats) from each Region would then pass the ideas and the decisions on a Global Meeting, that could take place online, or, if the conditions allow it, at some place in the "real" world :)
  • Language divisions - There were other proposals that, since language could be a problem in coordinating the movements, perhaps we should make multiple language options on the site and on the forum, but for this to happen, many volunteers need to participate. (Please someone who attended the meeting explain this idea better.)

The general idea is - we must work hard in the effort to create a strong movement struggling for free emancipatory education everywhere in the world. We only need to organize the Movement better in order to act more efficiently.

Please discuss this idea and feel free to give any new suggestions.

If this idea appeals to most of you, then we should also figure out a way of how are we going to implement it.

Best regards, stay strong!

THE EDUCATION IS NOT FOR SALE!

US status

I would be a bit weary about the US being able to participate in a really meaningful way in this work given our lack of really any financial resources and the fact that we are in the begining process of this struggle. We might be able to participate, ut it really wouldn't be from an authoritative position (meaning we couldn't legitimatley say we speak for all in the struggle here). Given the state of our struggle a heavy commitment to a much more developed ISM would be a bit too ambitious and could draw away some resources from local organizing. If it does not demand to much, it may be more manageable, but we really need to be putting the core of our energy into building here. If the commitment stays a the same level for the time being i think we can participate, but engaging in fundraising work t send someone overseas to in person meetings will start to draw resoures that we really can't spare at the moment.

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I completely understand our lack of finances to travel far in order to attend a meeting, since we're all independent movements and have no funds whatsoever. But that's exactly why we need to organize by regions!

Of course you wouldn't be able to travel overseas, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be a problem to travel withing the States in order to meet other movements from other American States and coordinate your actions. That way you'd be able to build a strong USA movement (allow me to call it "sub-movement" of the ISM), and on those regional meetings you'll be able to gather ideas and bring decisions together, and then pass on those ideas/decisions on a Global Meeting, where you won't have to travel, because, as I said before:

"Selected representatives (delegats) from each Region would then pass the ideas and the decisions on a Global Meeting, that could take place online, or, if the conditions allow it, at some place in the "real" world :)"

Global Meetings don't necessarily have to take place in the real life (although it would be better that way). We could proceed with online global meetings (like we do right now, only hoping to have wider attendance). But regional meetings are important to be held, because that way we'll expand our actions on a regional level and strengthen the movements, so that than we could form many strong regional divisions, sequently forming a stronger International Movement.

Of course, I also understand the fact that you're still new in student activism: but I think there's a way for you to expand faster and act more efficiently, having our experiences to learn from.

clarity on my point

this has nothing to do with me being new or us not engaging in organizing across state lines here in the states. These things are beginning to happen, but really can't happen unless there is a reason for them to happen, a much bigger, broader movement that is based in more powerful day to day campaigns. Right now we have a few places where these have come together, but these efforts have yet to spread to most states. The reality is many have been interested in building one shot demos, but many are not yet prepared to engage in the long term work that is required in order to advance the struggle. Right now, the national network does its best work in helping to spread the narrative of the struggle and provide insights from our successes that can inform in local areas, especially in places that have yet to begin in longer term ventures.

Here in the states, we had a lot of energy going into march 4th because of the inspiration provided from California last fall and the UPR strike, but les of that energy consolidated into national work going into the 7th, despite the fact that there has been definite progress in cross-organizational collaboration among national student movement organizations. Organizers are begining to face the fact that we need to engage in more long term focused work, but its still could be a while before that becomes commonplace among the rank and file student body.

I raise this issue because doing something just for the sake of doing it is not productive. For instance, the national work that has been going on here in the states has played a role, but is not responsible for th biggest successes of this movement. In this sense, I think the ISM also sits. ISM has played a significant role and I believe can continue to do so. I commend the work of Mo and others who have helped informed us about each others struggles and helped us add the international frame into the narrative of our struggles, helping activists realize that they are not alone in this fight. So our best goal is not to develop more organization seemingly just for the sake of it - right now a higher level of organizaitonal development on the national level would not be particularly beneficial for us here in the states for the simple reason that we are still building the character of the national movement and are far behind those in other countries (who have a richer history over the past 30 years of more developed, day to day actions against austerity measures).

For this reason, I don't oppose this persay, but would be clear that our involvement could really only be on the level that can be done without major commitments. I also would find it difficult for us to fairly select someone as a delegate considering the fact that there is still a lack of clarity in organizational terms here. We can't run before we can walk and the fightbacks against austerity will only win if they get thier fuel from rank and file involvement both in the form of students and in the workplace. Here in the states, I would say we have a lot further to go before we could make much of a serious international commitment. Not that we can't participate, support, and encourage our networks to get involved in building global days of solidarity, but we have some serious strategic struggles and discussion that will begin to become the core of our organizing and work and will take a lot of energy, organizing, and focus to push forward.

In terms of learning from folks overseas, I think there are some things to learn, but people are always more informed via struggle than via story, and our focus will be in engaging people in those struggles. International stuff will play a role in bolstering confidence as people know we are not alone in this, but without the continued struggle, turnouts will continue to dwindle and somewhat spontaneous Days of action will become effectually useless. Some of our conversations here in the states have been about how we need to be focusing on how we are to build these long term campaigns on a much higher level where DoAs will play a role, but it would not be the role they have been playing - one where they have been the key focus of organizing in most places. And in terms of Sub-ISM movements, we are all in one struggle, there is no sub of anything. We certainly think it is critical to expand international coordination, but i doubt anyone would feel comfortable saying that we should become dependent on its leadership.

The way things have been going on have been more in line with where things are at here in the US, Im not sure how more organization would improve involvement from here. To be honest, i think there are some serious strategic questions the ISM should be talking about which are much more significant than how it is organized:

How is the ISM relating to other international student formations?

What areas are regularly involved, which ones are active, but not involved, and how do we reach out to and engage those sectors?

What are the goals of the ISM, how do we go about achieving them, and how do we develop a long term picture on share ideas on how we are to confront these austerity measures and involve students in a long term struggle centered on building student, worker and community power.

Building for global solidarity days is critical, but we need to also be having these strategic discussions or things may collapse when the international movement hits its first lull. We need to keep in mind that after the great depression hit, things didn't start turning around under fascists were in power for a few years. This crisis is reflecting that period in many ways so we need to not just think about how we defeat the next tuition hike, austerity measure, etc, but also how we can collectively confront the larger crisis at hand, and begin to engage people in a serious way.

Here in the states, we are organizationally behind other nations that have had stronger student movements in the past 30 years, which is what puts us in the situation we are in.

If others are ready to take this next step, i'd support it and I think most of us here would as well, i just want to make sure there aren't any illusions about the development of this struggle, particularly coming out of the US where I have a pretty exhaustive knowledge of what is going on.

ISM organization

Here is my opinion on
- important ISM tasks and goals
- international communications channels
- how ISM can work effectively without creating too much work

This is meant to be an input for a future concept.

- The ISM is an international coordination and communications platform
- It's primary objectives are to inform the students of what is going on elsewhere and to coordinate local activities
- There are activists in different countries who inform ISM about local politics, plans, actions and activities.
- ISM uses English as it's language, so that all local ISM activists can read all the content being spread, which helps us to overcome the language barrier.
- ISM activists will inform their students about international activities by translating the English content back to their local language and re-publishing on local media.
-The ISM should also document and archive the events and activities., which is already being done.
- The ISM is proclaiming and promoting times-of-action, time-frames, when local protest activities should be happening.
- The ISM should furthermore coordinate local action with a focus "on the big picture": Local protest activities in different countries can be held on the same day, or the wave can be built up over a whole week of coordinated activities.
- To ensure that ISM can work efficiently, there should be at least one contact person for every participating movement. ISM activists need to communicate in English on the international level. For a flat network, it is best, when all participants are in direct contact with each other, because this way, ISMers will become a team over time, an efficient communications network, that informs people around the world of student movement activities.
- In this sense, ISM should not be a "central authority" but a "meeting point" and an "exchange platform" for activists from different countries and movements, a basis for networking beyond borders and for spreading the word about what is going on in different areas and movements.
- There should be a "position paper", a concept, explaining the tasks and goals of ISM, also, if ISM is purely a communications and coordinations platform, or if it intends to enforce regional protest activities (which it already does by calling for international times-of action).