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Growing Up in Leftist Movements

I’m interested in sharing thinking with other people who grew up in revolutionary or left-activist families,1 or who joined leftist social movements as young people or young adults, about the specific patterns we share. I think it’s important for our liberation to discharge about this. Part of the oppression we’ve experienced, because of official and unofficial repression, is that we’ve had to keep silent about the difficulties of this identity, for our own safety and that of others. 

I grew up the child of communists in a time of political repression in the United States and Puerto Rico. I learned not to talk about confidential matters on the phone, in writing, or inside the house, in case of electronic surveillance. We know that the U.S. government practices extensive spying on our phone and Internet communications and uses the information it collects to repress dissent. At the same time, it’s important for us to share our thinking and discharge together. Eliminating the distress patterns of our group contributes more to our security than keeping them secret for fear they will be used against us, or our movements. However, I suggest we not mention specific existing organizations by name and speak only in general terms. 

One experience we probably share is being part of a group of people with a lot of hope and determination, a big vision of human liberation, and a strong commitment to bringing it about.2 We also probably share the pain of watching how people’s patterns got in the way of achieving that vision, and we probably didn’t have information about why that was or what to do about it. Seeing how male domination affected various Latin American liberation movements continues to affect me deeply, but racism interferes with my ability to work on it in my sessions. 

Depending on the time and place, we may share having lived with various intensities of repression, or fear of repression. As a group, we have survived surveillance, threats, arrests, prison, torture, assassination, counterinsurgency, wars and other kinds of attacks, and betrayals by those who couldn’t withstand the repression or gave in to the temptations of accumulating power or wealth. In the culture of the movements I grew up in, we didn’t admit to being scared. We had to hide it and only express pride in our courage. 

One of our strengths is having an identity that crosses borders and is based on sharing a liberatory way of thinking and acting. I grew up with a strong sense of human solidarity and of belonging to a global web of human beings with the same goal of freeing themselves. That was more important to me than any other identity. 

I’d like to know what other people from this constituency have discovered or thought about our strengths and distress patterns. I’m interested in having Skype3 sessions with others from this group, from any part of the world. 

It’s been suggested that participants in this discussion use pseudonyms or write anonymously, given that ours is a group “targeted for destruction.” That seems like a good idea. Here in the United States we’re seeing investigations and arrests of people who were activists thirty or forty years ago. Sometimes we have patterns of exposing ourselves to danger to prove our courage. This doesn’t serve us well. Since we can’t know with any certainty what degree of repression we may face, it’s better to take precautions. 

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members 

1 “Left-activist families” means families active in politically progressive movements.
2 “Bringing it about” means making it happen.
3 Skype is a service that allows users to communicate via the Internet by voice, video, or instant messaging.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00