Clarifying the Work on Classism

First, my deep appreciation to the many of you who have begun work on the “New Initiative on Ending Classism” outlined in the July 2014 Present Time.

It has been useful for many people. It brings up feelings for some people, which include confusions about the wording of the initiative. Here are some of the confusions I have seen:

1. People are referring to it as “The New Initiative on Working-Class Liberation.”

That is incorrect. It is “The New Initiative on Ending Classism.” It is for everyone, not just the working class.

2.  Confusion comes up about the definition of “working class” I use in the initiative.

The article must be read carefully. It states, “For the purpose of this discussion, I define ‘the working class’ as ‘those people engaged in the direct production of goods or services.’” This does not change any of the other ways we use the term “working class.” If you have identified as “working class” because you were raised that way, you are not now kicked out of the working class. That is not what the initiative says. It says that this definition is for the purpose of the initiative. We are putting a special focus on this particular sector of the working class because of the strategic role their labor plays in creating the wealth that is the base of our economic system, because they are vastly underrepresented in the RC Communities, and because our internalized classism is attached most strongly to this sector of the working class. If you have previously identified as “working class” based on some other definition of “working class,” you may continue to identify as working class.

That the initiative brings up feelings about “not belonging” to the group that is the focus of the initiative is good. These feelings must be discharged. Many, if not most, people in RC who identify as “working class” have been torn away from their people. This has been painful, and it is good to discharge on it. Harvey1 called the “middle class” the “stolen children of the working class.”

But the initiative is not about feelings; it is suggesting a more strategic approach to a problem than we sometimes take in our Co-Counseling sessions.

3. There is confusion about who is and who is not in the group that is “engaged in the direct production of goods or services.”

I chose the words carefully. A key word is “direct.” The people who are engaged in the direct production of goods or services are the people whose hands are on the product during its creation. Also confusing has been “direct production of . . . services.” The people who are engaged in this are the people who are in direct contact with the customer—over the counter, on the phone, at the restaurant, and so on.

Please memorize the words “A New Initiative on Ending Classism” and “those people engaged in the direct production of goods or services.” Please discharge on them until you understand what they mean and why they are the focus of this initiative, and use them when communicating to people about the initiative.

4. There is a patterned tendency, I think as a result of university education, to focus on the small points of a proposal that are upsetting rather than deal with the more central parts.

Again, thanks for taking on2 this significant issue.

Dan Nickerson
International Liberation Reference Person for Working-Class People
Freeport, Maine, USA


Harvey Jackins
2  “Taking on” means doing something about.

 


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00