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Some of RC’s Contributions to Social Change

The theory of Re-evaluation Counseling has made and will continue to make important contributions to the theory and practice of social change. Among its present achievements are the following:

1. Revealing the distress pattern as the key mechanism for the perpetuation of oppression, for both the oppressor and the oppressed.

This is a tremendous insight. Knowing that people should be good but being unable to understand how they could be so bad, how they could be so oppressive on the one hand and so submissive on the other, was very confusing. We now know how oppression evolved, and, given the resource, we know exactly how to undo it. We know how to help any individual oppressed person stop being submissive and become a tiger. We know how to help anyone in the oppressor role be proud of themselves while they discharge and become a firm ally. This is a tremendous achievement.

2. Clarifying the unworkability of organizing, mobilizing, or appealing for support on the basis of any kind of distress (fear, anger, guilt, shame).

The great organizers have always intuitively done this. Lenin never screamed at his followers. He said something like, “We will now proceed to construct the new society. Ah ha ha!” Mao Tse-tung said something like, “It may take a long time, things may go backwards for fifty years, but the struggle will not be lost.” The great ones spoke like this. However, countless would-be organizers and revolutionaries and social changers got up and exhorted people and yelled at them and blamed them and denounced them. We’re so much easier to listen to and follow if we strike a note of hopeful appreciation and confidence.

3. Enormously extending the breadth of possible alliances by identifying the human ally still resident within each antagonistic and/or oppressor distress pattern.

This is hard for seasoned wide world changers to hear, but we know that there are no oppressor humans. There are only oppressor patterns. And inside each oppressor pattern there is a good human being doing stupid, evil things out of something he or she can’t help. Somebody can reach in from the outside and turn the switch and let them off of it. Just to understand this is to greatly extend how far we can make alliances.

4. Discovering and clarifying the role of internalized oppression in immobilizing and dividing the forces of liberation.

This is a stroke of the greatest importance. It is one of the major contributions that RC will ever have made to realize that the difficulties we confront inside our own movements are exactly the internalized oppression, and that we can scrub it out. Just to have the theory is to lift fears everywhere.

5. Supplying the tools and techniques for removing the patterns of oppression from both oppressor and oppressed individuals.

To know how to do this is a tremendous breakthrough. But it does take doing it.

6. Clarifying the necessity of logical thinking against all addictive pulls and all painful-emotion appeals.

See “The Logic of Being Completely Logical,” in The Human Situation.

7. Clarifying the role of all other oppressions as devices developed for the maintenance of classist oppression and exploitation.

It’s very clear that all the other oppressions—racism, sexism, young people’s oppression, and so on—were invented to divide the fundamental group of the oppressed, those oppressed by classism, whose labor is exploited to take some of the value that they produce. All the other oppressions were developed and extended to serve this one.

This is very important. If it is understood, then the isolation of the different liberation movements has to end. Understanding this, the different national liberation movements will turn to their own members in basic industry and start pushing them for the unity of the industrial workers, getting the locomotive into action as well as the golf cart.

8. Developing the procedures for the intermittent caucusing by themselves and then reporting to each other that permits the establishment of unity among all oppressed groups.

The technique of separate meetings for discussion, coming together to listen to each other with respect, and then developing unity is a powerful tool. It works with all kinds of oppressions.

9. Creating the perpetually-rediscussed-and-revised-draft-policy procedure for assisting each group of oppressed people to work out their own program out of their own experiences.

Writing a first draft, sending it out for revision, bringing it back, redrafting it, sending it out again for revision—as a continual process—is a tremendous tool for allowing the real thinking of people to come forward. It’s very powerful and has tremendous use everywhere.

You never have a finished program. You put together a program for the liberation of each group the best you can and constantly revise it. I’ve written a lot of them, even though I’m not a member of the particular oppressed group. (Here we get a glimpse of how the person outside of the internalized oppression can be helpful.)

10. Realizing the necessarily basic character of one-to-one communication.

You cannot replace it, no matter how much your fears, timidities, and embarrassments would like to write leaflets and scatter them from airplanes. The only thing that works is one-to-one, eyeball-to-eyeball, nose-to-nose, knee-to-knee, discharge-to-discharge communication.

11. A rational theory of leadership.

See the pamphlet The Enjoyment of Leadership.

Harvey Jackins

From Logical Thinking about a Future Society, by Harvey Jackins

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

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