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September 17-23

Human Liberation [1]

by Harvey Jackins

Oppression and exploitation take many forms in our society. A powerful, technically advanced nation oppresses and exploits weaker nations. One economic class oppresses and exploits another. An ethnic majority oppresses and exploits the ethnic minorities. Men oppress and exploit women. Adults oppress and sometimes exploit children.

These conditioned social processes impose many hurts upon the victims of oppression. Deep distress recordings are installed and repeatedly restimulated and reinforced in the oppressed people, recordings which tend in the direction of submission, self- invalidation, hopelessness or, occasionally, of blind resentment and ineffective resistance. The oppressors, too, are hurt by acting so contrary to their human natures and become full of recorded guilt and shame and fear of those whom they oppress.

In fact, the persistence of oppression is dependent on the installation and continual reinforcement of these distress recordings. Economic and power considerations are obvious motivations for exploitation, but we have had enough clear glimpses of what humans are really like to know that no human could continue to play the role of oppressor or exploiter unless distress recordings were making her/him numb and unaware.

The social rigidity of oppression is enforced blindly upon the members of an oppressive society. Resistance to oppression also arises as a blind social force. Struggles to end oppression in the past have largely been conflicts between two blind social forces, with only occasionally the intervention of intelligence.

The final end of social oppression will be dependent on ending the domination of humans by distress patterns. In this sense Co-Counseling is a profoundly basic, ultimate process. The re-emergence from distress patterns which we Co-Counsel to achieve is the dependably long-range channel for achieving the liberation of humans from all oppression.

I do not think that it is the only channel, however, or that it can work alone. It seems to me that those Co-Counselors who sincerely urge that our program for social change be limited to individual Co-Counseling are being influenced by fears, misinformation and indoctrinated apathy, of which they are usually not yet aware, which an oppressive society has imposed on them against any challenge of its domination.

I think our emerging intelligences must find ways to challenge and halt the baleful, continuing effects of social oppression by direct social action as well as individual re-emergence. We need to be in close contact with all movements for human liberation, helping them shed their rigidities and become effective while we serve as models of intelligent social struggle ourselves.

At the same time, we must look to our own discharge and re-evaluation and place these tools in the hands of all those who struggle for human liberation.

To neglect either front, it seems to me, is to cripple our effectiveness against patterns and against social oppression. A two-pronged attack—direct, intelligent struggle for social change on the one hand and persistent, effective Co-Counseling on the other—will make the total struggle effective and our own freedom a continuing attainment, not postponed to some distant realization of social liberation.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No. 11, April 1973.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00