Overcoming Middle-Class Distress

I attended the Middle-Class Liberation Workshop, led by Seán Ruth, the International Liberation Reference Person for Middle-Class People, this April in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.

Seán began with a historical perspective on our RC work on middle-class oppression. He talked about the fact that we are good. I could take that in more than I usually can, partly because he presented it carefully, with lots of repetition, and because we had lots of mini-sessions.

Seán reminded us that we were systematically hurt into the patterns we carry. Not only did we not choose them, but it’s middle-class (and middle-agent) oppression to be judged for our patterns and encouraged to think “it’s my fault.” I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who was terrified of doing the wrong thing, which helped me see that fear as coming from the oppression. I could see the bind we’re in: If we show our patterns, we’ll get criticized, so we’d better learn all the rules first, “stay within the lines,” and only show “acceptable” behavior. That’s hard on human beings!

It became easier to act while knowing that my limitations were showing at the same time. I called a “No-Blame Addictions” topic table, since I’ve struggled for years with caffeine. We feel like it’s our fault when we don’t overcome addictions and like we have to keep secret our struggle with them. It took courage to show where we are most harsh with ourselves and most worried about others’ criticism.

Another workshop theme was discharging on capitalism and working with others to make our lives bigger and more rational, connected, and visible. Seán shared the following commitment:

Bearing in mind the failure of capitalism to meet the human needs of large and increasing numbers of people and also its degrading and destructive impact on our natural environment, I now decide

1. to have regular sessions on capitalism and its possibly imminent collapse,

2. to reclaim completely my ability to think about capitalism and its unworkability and about possible workable alternatives, and

3. to join with others to take concrete steps for changing the world, including making whatever changes are necessary in my own lifestyle for me to have a big, visible, connected, and rational life.

I have wanted so much to trust that someone else is watching out for me and the planet that I have closed my eyes to the destructiveness of capitalism. This commitment has helped me to look straight at that. I am grieving a frozen need2 for a feeling of safety. I like the challenge of letting myself think and taking my thinking seriously. I have more patience with myself. I’m not automatically accepting the persistent “thought” that “I can’t think about that.”

I reported on the workshop to our Area3 leaders and got an enthusiastic response. One person said that it’s heartening to be called to face this material4 as a group.

Holly Jorgenson
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members

1 “Turns out to be” means is revealed to be.
2 Frozen need is a term used in RC for a hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels the person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.
3 An Area is a local RC Community.
4 “Material” means distress.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00