One of the principal means used by class societies to maintain their oppression and exploitation of people has been to secure the cooperation of different groups of people in oppressing each other. This has been done by installing and maintaining attitudes of racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and the oppression of young people between the different sections of the oppressed population. Oppression exists universally in present societies. Every person in our societies is locked into both oppressed and oppressor roles.
The basic mechanism for keeping any person in an oppressed condition is the installation upon the person of a distress pattern or recording by hurting him or her in an oppressive and invalidating way. This leads to one or both of two results when the distress pattern is restimulated. The first result is to be forced again into the role the person filled in the original hurt experience. In this case the person is pushed to "accept" or "agree" to be oppressed, to accept the invalidating feelings, to be defeated in the attempt to remain human. The slave "agrees" to be a slave, the serf picks up his hoe and bows his head, the wage-worker feels inferior and "lucky to have a job." The second result occurs when, in an attempt to escape the role described in the first result above, the victim of the restimulation seeks relief by "occupying" a different role in the restimulated distress recording, the role of the oppressor. In this case the male victim may turn the abuse and invalidation originally turned on him on a woman (the basis of sexism), or a white victim may turn it upon a black person or another non-white person (the basis of racism), etc., etc.
Oppression only operates, and can only operate, through distress patterns. No person would ever agree to or submit to being oppressed unless a pattern of oppression had first been installed, in the first place by being oppressed as a young person. The oppressor, the person who functions as an oppressor, has always first been oppressed and then manipulated into the other end of the oppression pattern. The person who functions as an oppressor does so always and only because he or she has first been oppressed, and the pattern of oppression thus installed and has then been manipulated into the other end of the pattern in order to function as an oppressor. If we can help the person acting out an oppressor role in a pattern to discharge that pattern or manipulate the person out of it, that person will gladly cease functioning as an oppressor and will become an ally.
An oppressive society actively reinforces both of the results described above with false "theories," propaganda, discriminatory treatment of all kinds, religious pronouncements, secret societies, etc., etc. Control of communication, mis-education, lies, false propaganda, habits, culture, and religion are reinforced by force in the form of laws, courts, police, prisons, armies, etc. In this way each group's attempts to resist oppression are discouraged and their confidence sapped, and each group is mobilized to cooperate in the invalidation and defeat of every other group.
Most damage done by oppression is done by its internalized form, in which the victims continue to oppress themselves, oppress each other within the group of the oppressed, and, as a group, attempt to oppress other groups and the members of these other groups who are oppressed in a similar way to the way their group is oppressed. The person outside a particular oppression can be powerfully effective against the internalized form of the oppression.