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A Challenging and Exciting Time

I have been to most if not all of the RC World Conferences. This last one, in August 2017, was among the most fascinating.

The level of leadership and intelligence at World Conferences is inspiring—in particular, when we put our minds toward a controversial issue, as we did at the last conference.

We have had controversial discussions in the past, and most often they have been about the qualifications for RC teachers. The teachers of RC are key to our organization. They are the primary communicators of RC theory and practice on a grassroots level. If RC is to grow and be a sound, principled organization, what we stand for and do matter, and teaching is where the “rubber meets the road” [where our theory is tested in practice].

One of the requirements for RC teachers is to be “moving against distress,” and our Guidelines list many distresses to be moving against. Some of them were heatedly debated when first proposed, and others were not.

I don’t remember the broad oppressions—racism, sexism, classism, and so on—being debated. What was controversial were specific, concrete behaviors, such as the use of alcohol and psychiatric drugs. We now ask RC teachers not to defend the use of these substances and to work to free themselves from their use.

I remember distinctly the debate about using psychiatric drugs. Why a Guideline about that? Because psychiatric drugs are harmful in a variety of ways and interfere with discharge and re-evaluation. They are also being promoted and used more and more in the wide world, largely because they bring profits to the pharmaceutical companies. They are an important issue for Co-Counselors and for people wanting to join fundamentals classes. Thank you to Janet Foner (the International Liberation Reference Person for ”Mental Health” Liberation) and many others who have helped so many of us recover from the effects of these drugs (whether we have used them or not).

Four years ago not defending or using pornography became part of the Guidelines, and this year we added not defending or using prostitution. Why? Pornography and prostitution have become two of the biggest addictions and global moneymakers worldwide, and at their center is sexual exploitation, primarily but not exclusively of women by men. They also involve Gay oppression, racism, young people’s oppression, and classism. Their use distorts and corrupts our humanity and our ability to do RC—to stay connected to human beings, to think, and to be principled.

Pornography and prostitution are central to one of the major, and until recently least acknowledged, crises of our times. One only has to read the newspapers, at least in the United States, to see how the corruption and crumbling of our present society is showing in the pervasiveness of sexual exploitation—of women as well as other groups. The idea that men are entitled to dominate via sexism, particularly as it gets tied to sex, is central to the oppressive society. And sexual exploitation is very tied to war and the military. Rape has always been integral to war, colonialism, and imperialism. 

While much needs to be said, right now we need to discharge, discharge, discharge on sexual exploitation—one of our biggest struggles, for both the oppressed and the agents of the oppression.

This is a challenging and exciting time. While it feels scary and hard, as the future of the world and the world’s people are at stake, it is a time of many opportunities.

Diane Balser

International Liberation Reference Person for Women

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2018-01-10 01:56:08+00