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Let’s Reject Division and Use Our Collective Power

An International RC conference for middle-class leaders took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in June 2016. It was led by Seán Ruth, the International Liberation Reference Person for Middle-Class People and organised by Karen Wishart. Its aim was to build a group of organised international middle-class leaders, from all constituencies, committed to working together to end class oppression.

Up to now the leaders of middle-class liberation in RC have been largely white, Gentile, female (although our leader, Seán, is male), middle aged or elders, raised middle class, and from the countries of the economic North. However, we’ve been in good contact with and working with leaders in other constituencies, and they have been challenging our limitations. The diversity of the middle-class leadership has been increasing over the last two years, and we have come to recognise that our long-term aims can only be achieved if the following conditions are met:

  • If we understand how sexism and male domination, and women’s subordination and unpaid work, are key parts of the class system, and how they are held in place by men’s oppression and Gay oppression.
  • If middle-class leaders back raised-poor and working-class leaders—as an organised group of middle-class people, not only as individuals. This includes figuring out our role in taking RC to people involved in the direct production of goods and services. (It does not mean giving up our own thinking.)
  • If the liberation of Indigenous people and people targeted by racism is put central in the work. Genocide and racism have been used to set up the global class system, and it still depends on them. Unless we back the leadership of these two groups, “assimilate or be excluded” will remain the default position.
  • If we recognise how anti-Jewish oppression is used to keep class oppression in place and, in particular, how the scapegoating of Jews is used to protect other middle agents from being targeted. Only determined unity with Jews will allow Jewish leaders to take their place safely and be fully included in middle-class liberation work.
  • If we welcome the leadership of young people and young adults, who are strongly targeted by middle-class oppression and whose vision is key to a non-oppressive future.

Recognising the above affected how we organised and worked at the conference. We also asked ourselves the following questions:

  • In the context of wide world change, what sort of organisation is RC? What do we need to do to make RC as powerful as it can be? What roles can it play in the context of world change and the trends we have identified?
  • What has middle-class liberation work within RC achieved so far? What have we got right? Where are the gaps? What aspects or issues should we be prioritising? What do we need to do in the coming period to help RC maximise its capabilities? In what ways can we back Dan Nickerson’s initiative to end class oppression* (personally and collectively)?

We know that middle-class oppression robs us of some of our humanness and pushes us into the oppressor role. In JeeYeun Lee’s words, “We have been made to become disconnected from ourselves and from others, with the result that we often don’t know who we are, what we want, or how to connect with others.” We came together in a precious way at the conference, but the connection we achieved is still only a small part of what we were conceived expecting. Let’s continue to reject division, so that we can use our collective power. This is also the biggest possible contradiction to old discouragement.

Caroline New

Bristol, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of middle-class people

(Present Time 186, January 2017)

* See “A New Initiative on Ending Classism,” by Dan Nickerson, the International Liberation Reference Person for Working-Class People, on pages 8 to 9 of the July 2014 Present Time.

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