“I Will Not Be Bribed Anymore”

Seán Ruth1 came from Ireland to New York (USA) to lead us middle-class folks in our liberation. To me, middle-class liberation is about getting to know and trust in our goodness again—and all that our goodness supports, including working for a system with a just distribution of wealth and kind treatment of all “classes” of people.

Middle-class oppression

Middle-class oppression includes the following:

Bribery. We are bribed into doing certain jobs, playing certain roles, and having more (often substantially more) income than working-class folks. We need to give up our patterned attachment to the “comfort” of “having more.”

Threats. We are loved if we clean our room, if we do well on our exam, and so on. We get a promotion if we ­—. We are made to feel that our goodness and whether we are loved are completely conditional and determined by how we perform. (“Be smart.” “Be funny.”)

Misinformation. We are told incorrect things about the world, including about how safe or unsafe it is. We are also told incorrect things about people different from us. For example, “Owning-class people are better than we are and we should strive to be like them,” “Working-class people are less educated and therefore not as good as we are.” We also get misinformation about the middle class.

As a young person I was told to be scared of or in awe of the owning class. This made me agree to serve them. We are made to feel superior to the working class, which has us agreeing to “boss them around.” We assume that we are not in the same situation as they are, so we don’t join them in organizing against the oppressive capitalist system. We’re told that if we don’t behave, some other middle-class person will get our job or a competitor will take “our share” (based on the misinformation and distress recording that there is not enough to go around). 

Denial of reality. Middle-class folks often won’t talk about bad (or good) things that are happening, or even admit they are happening. Someone mentioned how he’d had more toys than the other children he’d played with but that it was never spoken about in his family. 

Seán said he thinks that he’s able to lead middle-class liberation because he grew up with children from a variety of backgrounds and isn’t as confused in certain ways as those of us who were separated from people of other backgrounds. 

Coming into the middle class 

It can be scary for people not raised middle-class to come into the middle class. We middle-class people tend not to show much feeling. Because of how we hesitate to show ourselves, it may seem like “there isn’t anybody there.” Apparently this is one of the hardest parts of being with middle-class people. (Spooky!) A person entering the middle class may be advised to conform to that, to not show emotion.

middle-class liberation

Working on middle-class liberation includes working on the following:

  • Internalized middle-class oppression
  • Classism—the oppressor material2 we direct at working-class people
  • Ending classism. What comes next? What is our role as middle-class RCers in the collapsing and eventually collapsed capitalist society?

For our liberation to succeed, I think we middle-class people also need to be honest with ourselves and not try to “look good” or pretend like we know what we’re doing when we don’t. 

Key to middle-class liberation is getting back our own thinking. Seán encouraged us to always be thinking and not look for a formula for how to do things. I can remind myself that I am discharging so I can think. I’m not being counseled into doing anything.

I need to discharge about giving up physical comforts and going for3 physical contact and aware, regular, joyful human contact and interaction. A sign that I might hold up at a middle-class liberation rally is “I will not be bribed anymore.” A slogan for middle-class liberation might be “A thirty-hour work week!”

Benjamin Altman

Brooklyn, New York, USA

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


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Last modified: 2017-05-31 15:36:03-07