Resigning from the Owning Class

Harvey Jackins, addressing the Owning-Class Leaders’ Workshop
, Fellowship Farm, Pennsylvania, USA, July, 1988

All of us have been terribly mistreated, all of us have been oppressed. Owning-class people are oppressed. There’s a systematic one-way mistreatment enforced by the society. The society tells you that you are not oppressed because you get all the benefits from the mistreatment of other people, but in terms of our human goals, this is not really a benefit. You waste your life in miserable activity and feel terrible about yourself. The bribes are not very satisfying in a human sense; you have to be in a pattern to settle for them. Owning-class people are oppressed, not by any other group, but by the society.


You have a particular role, however. Once you accept the fact that you are oppressed and are discharging the first group of patterns—how miserably you have been treated—it’s necessary to move against the second group of patterns (arrogance, condescension, taking charge in all situations). We must face the fact that class oppression is not a side effect of this society; the whole purpose of this society is the economic exploitation of the majority for the benefit of a small minority. This is not a little foible that creeps into this society that we can correct or liberalize or put a band-aid on. It’s what the society is all about. People had to be deeply embedded in patterns to think this system was to their advantage, and the rest of the people had to be convinced that the organization that flowed from an oppressive society would be advantageous, in order to buy into it. No one would stay a slave unless they had submissive patterns installed on them. The rationalization was that the organization accompanying a class society allowed many more children to grow to adulthood. The human population was able to grow beyond scattered bands only with the organization, and the organization was identified with the oppression. I’ve said before that if someone in a flying saucer had visited us at that point and said: “Wait, you don’t need the oppression in order to have the organization!” we could have skipped a terrible systematic accumulation of patterns over the last 8 to 9,000 years or so. But you are the pseudo-beneficiaries of the economic exploitation of the working classes (part of which are called middle class) and the invention of all the other oppressions to divide the working classes against each other in order to short-circuit the rebellions and revolts.


Working on the first group of patterns should not lead you to blind yourselves to the fact that you are the tools of oppression and that you are completely free to resign. Owning-class people can resign from the owning class anytime they want to. You have the complete freedom to give up your oppressive role. You’ll have to fight against patterns. You can become the leaders of the movement against the oppression. Many owning-class people have transcended their owning-class positions brilliantly—there is a tradition. When working-class people are thinking about their liberation, they are aghast at how they have to lead with little information and heavy conditioning to submission and hopelessness. Marx was close to owning class; Engels owned and managed factories all of his life; Fidel has a Doctor of Laws degree; Stalin was educated in a seminary; and Lenin was a lawyer. Mao was a school principal. Many owning-class or close-to-owning-class people have transcended their class positions brilliantly. It is possible for anyone to transcend his or her class position and take the correct position, which we generally equate with a clear-headed, intelligent, informal working-class position. I would like to challenge you to resign from the owning class. I understand that this is difficult. I don’t expect whole-hearted acceptance of the challenge the moment I offer it, but let’s begin to put some thought to the most effective ways to resign.

Last modified: 2016-08-22 09:11:22+00