South and North, USA

I recently led a workshop in North Carolina, in the U.S. South, where I was struck afresh by the North-South divide within the United States and how the oppression of the South by the North plays out [is acted out] within and outside of RC.

For the Northerners who attended the workshop, travelling to the South was lengthy and expensive and took time to plan. That trip does not happen often. However, it is commonplace for someone living in the South to take time and do planning to go to the North.

Embedded in U.S. history is the explosion of the cotton industry and the colossal wealth it created for the Western economy in general and the United States in particular. This wealth was based on the unpaid labour of the people brought in bondage from Africa who worked the land that had been wrenched from the Native peoples by an unremitting policy of genocide. 

The cotton was grown in the South. But processing, packing, and shipping it were lucrative undertakings in the North, and African labour was exploited all over the North.

The building of ships designed to carry the maximum number of bodies across the Atlantic brought enormous fortunes to Northern owning-class families. The North was entirely complicit in the slave trade. It is the primary reason that the North became economically dominant. 

The relationship of the North to the South is similar to that of the owning class to the working class. The working class is the source of owning-class wealth, and owning-class oppressor patterns define working-class people as stupid, lazy, slow, and of little value. Similarly, the South was the source of much Northern wealth, and Northerners are contemptuous of Southern speech, culture, and traditions. At the workshop we addressed how these oppressor patterns are alive and well and directed at Southerners within RC. A panel revealed that RC workshops are generally sited in the North and that Southerners often aren’t seen as a resource, particularly when people are setting up sessions at large workshops.

A non-RC Southerner once shared with me how when visiting the North she was struck by the harshness of Northerners toward each other. Even the humour had a cutting edge. I remembered that the culture of the Puritans [early English settlers in North America] was one of rigour to say the least, and that the English set up North American convict settlements when the English prisons overflowed.

England also populated its colonies in Australia with convicts. Australian RCers are well aware of the legacy of that brutal period in which human life counted for almost nothing and the Indigenous people were targeted with genocide. I wonder if a similar legacy of harshness exists in the U.S. North. 

 If we are to take U.S. liberation seriously, we need to address and discharge on the oppression of the South by the North.

Jo Saunders

International Liberation Reference
Person for Owning-Class People

Winchester, Hants, England

Last modified: 2019-05-13 15:12:23+00