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Moving Toward Real Power

Harvey Jackins, at the July 1986 Peace and Disarmament Activists' Workshop

Probably real power, when we come to it, will be a sort of gentle, constant thing. However, all our models of power are oppressive at this point. So we’re going to sound like a Mafia1 chieftain in order to contradict the “heh, heh, heh” embarrassed timidity.

(Excerpts from a counseling demonstration with J— follow.)

Harvey: I am in complete charge! (J— repeats) Of absolutely everything! (said with growling finality; J— laughs) From now on, I am in complete charge.

J—: I’m a nice guy. (laughs)

Harvey: You are, but you are not a nice-guy pattern, and I’m going to cure you of that illusion. (J— laughs) What you are discharging is not your nice-guyness. It’s your nice-guy patternness. From now on, I’m in complete charge. (J—repeats) Of absolutely everything! (J— repeats) Including the RC Community!

J—: Including the RC Community.

Harvey: The entire RC Community! And this means . . .

J—: And this means—the first thought was liking myself.

Harvey: Very good. Very good. I’m glad you thought of it. I think you’d better say that about four times. This means liking myself.

J—: But a Mafia Don2 doesn’t like himself.

Harvey: You’re damn right he does (superficially). That’s not their weakness. (laughter) With them we take a different kind of approach. Say it again: This means liking myself.

(Demonstration continues, with much repetition and dischargeby J—.)

J—: And this means liking myself, in spite of what everybody says.

Harvey: Stuff their opinions up their nose! Ha ha! One more crack3 at it: From now on, I am in complete charge of everything, including the entire RC Community. (J— repeats it) And this means . . .

J—: And this means liking myself completely.

Harvey (to the group): General commitments4 are like snowplows—you saw it here a little bit. They bring up the most important issues in anybody’s case. What’s his principal issue? What’s the one he’s got to absolutely discharge completely? Up it came, flying up, boom! Liking himself. The big issue. The general commitment, pushed hard, just digs it all up and lays it out there ready to go.

You could get stuck in thinking that he’s already tired and here you want him to take charge of everything. What an enormous, intolerable, insufferable, additional burden you’re putting on him, even though he is discharging all over. But the twenty-first or twenty-second time that you ram it through, all of a sudden the light breaks: “Oh hell.5 This is nothing additional. I’ve always been in charge of everything. I was just kidding myself. Gee,6 it’s nice to be back in touch with reality.” And the intolerable additional burden, which was all moonshine,7 disappears. You’re just back to the fact that, of course, in your universe you’re in charge of everything all the time. You’ve been kidding yourself and making everything extremely difficult by hiding that fact.

(Harvey has him repeat the commitment and related thoughts several more times.)

Harvey: Enjoy it. Enjoy it. You’ve always wanted to sound like this in front of a whole crowd of people—the sound of power and satisfaction and enjoyment. “They finally left me alone in the candy store! Ha ha ha! (laughter) And this means . . .”

J—: And this means liking myself.

Harvey: Promise? From now on you’re only going to like yourself? No more self-criticism? Promise? Promise?

J—: Okay.

Harvey: Okay. Well done. (applause)


1 The Mafia is a secret criminal organization.
2 A “Mafia Don” is a Mafia boss.
3 “Crack” means attempt.
4 By “general commitments,” Harvey means commitments to act against a general category of distress, such as not taking charge.
5 “Oh hell” is a way of communicating that something isn’t going to stop someone from going ahead.
6 In this context, “gee” is an introductory expression conveying surprise and happiness.
7 “Moonshine” means nonsense.


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