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Reclaiming Our Intelligence
Marilyn Robb

November 11 & 12

Knowing our

December 2 & 3

Draft Program for Working-Class Unity

Written by Harvey Jackins and reprinted
from pages 3 to 4 of
Working for a Living No. 4

  1. Nothing of economic value has ever been produced without human labor. Only our labor can create economic wealth.
  2. Intelligent human labor fuels the upward trend in the universe (the tendency toward precision, integration, cooperation, mastery of the environment, and improved communication).
  3. Almost all people work for a living. In all past societies and in nearly every society to date, those who work have neither owned the wealth that they produce nor controlled the means of producing it (the factories, shops, land, etc.). Historically, we have received only a small portion of the wealth that we produce—either as subsistence food and shelter (under slavery), as a small portion of the crops or handicrafts (under feudalism), or as wages (under capitalism).
  4. All other oppressions have grown out of the economic exploitation of workers. Sexism, young people’s oppression, anti-Semitism, racism, ageism, and countless other oppressions condition us to oppress each other so that we are diverted from resisting classism, the fundamental oppression, which robs us of the wealth we produce.
  5. The working class includes all of us who earn a living primarily by selling our labor. This is almost all people. It includes nearly all members of other oppressed groups. It includes homemakers, who do the essential work of child-rearing while dependent on their spouse’s income and thus provide two workers for one worker’s wages.
  6. We can reunite with those who have been separated from us. Some people have been separated from production by oppression and hurt. This includes the permanently unemployed, alcoholics, the chronically or “mentally” ill, prisoners, and the elderly. These groups come almost entirely out of the working class.

Some workers have achieved or been granted a few privileges—a supervisory job, a more comfortable income, a better education, an intellectual role. Such workers may be told to consider themselves “middle class.” The idea of a “middle class” is a device to confuse and to divide workers from each other.

  1. It is in the interest of the working class to combat and end all other oppressions. To overcome them successfully, we will need to discharge sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other patterns that keep us divided. To do this, we will need to meet together first as groups that have been victimized by each oppression (a black workers’ caucus, a women workers’ caucus, etc.). We will need as many groups as are necessary to allow the safety and discharge that lead to unity. Each such caucus will then report to the larger group and will be heard with respect.

First we divide for safety; then we listen to each other and unite for strength. Respectful listening, discharge, and correct policies will lead first to unity within each particular group and then to unity among workers of every group. Real solidarity can be built in this manner.

  1. Internalized classism must and can be rejected and eliminated. Distress patterns that tell us to compete instead of unite have been forced upon us. These may take the form of hiding our working-class origins or, conversely, questioning whether somebody else is “really” working class; attacks on our working-class leadership; put-downs or violence among us. The job of discharging the negative feelings about ourselves and each other cannot be avoided or they will keep us ineffective. Such feelings can pull us toward grievancing, alcohol, desperate attempts to “get out of the working class,” anti-unionism, or defending lack of information as a virtue. The real role of the working class is to lead and to act. We are the ruling class of the future.
  2. As a class, we have the power to require fundamental social change. We are the only class with a future as a class. Oppressive societies are no longer even workable, and in any future society we producers will also be the owners. We will all work physically and mentally, and own and manage and create and run society. History is moving inevitably in the direction of a working-class (a classless) society.
  3. Industrial workers, particularly workers in basic industry, hold much of the power of the working class. Objective conditions push this group (in spite of patterns) toward greater communication, unity, organization, and awareness of the reality of the collapse of society. What this group produces (energy, steel, chemicals, transportation, electronics, machine tools, etc.) permits the production of almost everything else. The present highly integrated and coordinated economy depends on the almost total cooperation of everyone involved. Workers in basic industry have the power to require fundamental social change any time a substantial number of them agree, organize, unite, and firmly require such a change.
  4. Unions are basic organizations of wageworkers; they are absolutely crucial to our economic survival. Although many unions are presently being controlled by the owners’ agents, most wageworkers have correctly supported and defended their unions, even when the leadership has been taken over by criminal elements or owners’ representatives. To strengthen our unions, to win union members to liberation policies, and to return the leadership of the unions to the members are a main job for workers who are interested in working-class liberation.
  5. There is no obligation for any wageworkers in RC to become involved in working-class liberation. People are in RC for their own re-emergence and will tend to become interested in liberation issues only as they see that it will accelerate their individual re-emergence.

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