A New Initiative on Ending Classism

Increasingly on the RC e-mail discussion lists, people are recognizing that capitalism, our current version of the oppressive class society, is a limiting factor in social change. Co-Counselors are also leading an increasing number of classes and workshops on “ending classism” and discharging the hurts we have internalized from our experience in the current capitalist class societies.

I am proposing a new initiative for the RC Communities for what we often call “ending classism.” At its center is the support of working-class liberation in the Communities.

I propose that the RC Community begin an initiative to reach the working class with the insights and practice of RC and that this be the central focus of our “ending classism” work. (For the purpose of this discussion, I define “the working class” as “those people engaged in the direct production of goods or services.”)

Why would this be a strategic move for the Communities?

For one thing, to prioritize putting our resources behind the liberation of the working class would force us to discharge our classism, no matter what subsector of the class society we have been cast into.

Secondly, we working-class people have many strengths—individually, collectively, and strategically—that place us in a particularly powerful position in society—a fact that the oppressive society works hard to suppress. The working class lives in more direct contact with the realities of the economic system than does the middle or the owning class. I like to say, from what I have experienced as a factory worker, that “when capitalism hiccups, we feel it.” When the stock market falls, we experience the layoffs that put us out of work, or if we remain employed our wages and benefits are reduced. The oppression is quick and severe.

We, the working class, see clearly the dysfunction of the current society. We see the quality of our work suffer as production is increasingly organized around profit rather than functionality. We see irrational decisions being made in the name of profit. We see the conditions of our lives deteriorate as wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very few. Compared to the middle and the owning classes, we are in more direct contact with the economic and environmental damage of unregulated growth and consumption. As a result of all this, it is harder to convince us to support policies that are unworkable or that fail to add value to society.

In addition, the way we are in connection with each other through our work is a strategic benefit. It makes it easier for us to think and act collectively and quickly.

These strengths, inherent in the system and in the nature of our oppression (one of the “internal contradictions of capitalism”), give the working class a power that other sectors of the class society do not possess.

In order for us as a Community to end oppression, all of which has class oppression (classism) at its root, it only makes sense that we would prioritize communicating the insights and practice of RC to the working class.

How can we implement this initiative? It is difficult for me to ask people to work harder—we are all working hard. There are things we can do, however, that will not necessarily make more work.

We can first just notice that the working class exists. We, as Community members, teachers, and leaders, can notice which people in our Community are living working-class lives. We can offer them special support to improve their use and teaching of RC. We can make sure that they are invited to workshops and classes and are recognized as central to any movement against oppression. We can give them additional time to speak if they need it to overcome their fear, shame, or humiliation. We can alter when necessary the familiar structures and practices of our Communities to accommodate the living conditions of working-class people. (Recently added wording in the 2013 Guidelines1 supports this flexibility. See section A.4.) We can move working-class people toward leadership as quickly as possible. We can notice and appreciate the ways that they are already leading in their lives, though it may not conform to models of leadership that the oppressive society recognizes or values.

The economic, social, and environmental fabric of the planet is deteriorating so rapidly that we need to act as efficiently and quickly as possible. I have been asked by a group of working-class and other RC leaders to propose this initiative and organize and lead it. Given the fullness of many Regional2 calendars, it is unlikely that I could lead weekend workshops on this initiative before a year from now. Therefore, we propose that I visit RC Communities to lead daylong workshops for working-class people, evening meetings for working-class leaders, and gather-ins for the general Community. I will work with local Communities to solve any financial limitations.

I also propose that the work on discharging class oppression, “ending classism,” and “ending capitalism” be coordinated and done in an organized manner and in consultation with all levels of RC working-class leadership, including me. Where there are no RC working-class “leaders,” I propose that whatever working-class people there are in the Community be gathered and consulted on how to proceed with the work on class.

I believe that we are at the point where, if we don’t support the leadership of the working class on all issues, we greatly blunt our effectiveness in all areas.

I am ready to take on3 this work in a new way. I have the full support of Tim and Diane4 and a core of other RC working-class leaders and leaders on class.

I am eager to help you get the strengths of the working class behind all of the good work you are doing.

Dan Nickerson
International Liberation Reference
Person for Working-Class People
Freeport, Maine, USA

1 The Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities—the policies for the RC Communities.  www.rc.org/publications/guidelines_2013/contents/A04
2 A Region is a subdivision of the International RC Community, usually consisting of several Areas (local RC Communities).
3 “Take on” means undertake.
4 Tim Jackins and Diane Shisk

Last modified: 2014-10-19 07:05:01+00