A talk by Tim Jackins, at the Brandywine Regional Workshop in Pennsylvania, USA, November 2010

Many of us are not simply opposed to capitalism continuing forever. Rather, we are against the exploitation of anyone by anybody, by any system. The system we have exploits people, so we’re opposed to it. If we were in feudalism, we would be opposed to that. The drive to exploit others is based in distress recordings, which we are working to remove. The world hasn’t yet had a system that works well, that thinks about everybody and is in everybody’s interest. There have been attempts at such a system, and they haven’t worked. They haven’t worked because the patterns of taking advantage of other people persist and there hasn’t been a way of getting rid of those patterns. So sooner or later the patterns become embedded in the new system—and there you are with a new form of oppression.

The way of getting rid of oppressive patterns was to have a revolution and get rid of the people who most fully acted them out. It turns out,1 of course, that everybody else has those patterns, too. They just haven’t been in a position to act them out. No matter what group gets in the position to run things, enough of them have the oppressive material2 that the exploitative society continues.

It may take years before that material re-establishes itself, and just the momentum of change helps for a while—things do get better—but then things get frozen in the distress material again. Over and over this has happened, and as long as people can’t think because of distress, it’s going to happen. As long as distresses are in there and we can’t discharge them so that we can think better tomorrow than we do today, we get trapped.

What we are trying to do is get enough of us thinking well enough, and overcoming our timidities, that some of us can play a role in helping people figure out the next attempt at a non-exploitative society. Will the next attempt get us to the place where it is really non-exploitative, and people think well enough that it keeps moving forward? I hope so, but who knows?

The more of us there are who can think well about it, and the more we can lead people toward the idea of a non-exploitative, non-distressed society, the nearer to being accomplished it will be. We want to get ourselves out of our timidities so that we will share our thoughts and show people it’s possible to think—not think for them, but show them it’s possible to think and show them good ideas. Part of leadership is showing people the best ideas around. Leadership works, in part, because people recognize good ideas even before they have them. We can see that we wouldn’t have thought of an idea ourselves but will recognize it, and follow it.

You have lots of good ideas, and by and large3 you keep them secret. You still don’t tell anybody your best thinking. You’re going to have to start changing that, for your own good and for everybody else’s. It’s not that you have the right answer. You could be wrong part of the time. But people need to see others thinking and trying things, so that they dare to try, too.

What will a non-distressed system look like? What do we want? We want a system in which it’s not acceptable to exploit or take advantage of anybody, for any reason, period. The economic system is a starting point, but we want this freedom from distress in every other set of relationships as well. If we begin with changing the economic system, we can probably then build a thousand different structures on it and each of them will be a good step forward. I don’t imagine there is only one possibility. I think there will be lots of different possibilities. We want them to not be rigid. We want new possibilities to arise. We don’t want a structure that we have to adhere to until the next revolution.

In RC, I bring you ideas—and if they are good ideas, you adopt them. My job is to collect good ideas, bring them around and show them to everybody, and then see which ones we can make work. Then we refine them, I collect the refined versions, I bring them around again, and the ideas get more and more refined. Communities change not because I tell them to but because people have thought well enough, and communicated good ideas well enough, that things work in practice.

Ideally, in a future society, a new idea will occur—for example, in West Africa. It works. It is communicated elsewhere. Others try it and it works. Things just develop. No longer will anyone’s frozen, distressed, personal economic interest be able to keep things set the way they are. It will be in all of our interests to see things continue to develop all the time. It’s clear that minds can continually think and develop ideas, all the time. Societies are what have stopped this from happening.

In a society in which nobody is exploited, what will our relationships be like? What will it be like to have complete freedom to figure out our own relationships? How well will we communicate our thinking to each other under those conditions? As that happens, develops, and improves, I can’t imagine that we won’t accelerate in our functioning intelligence, our understanding, and our being able to make things happen. We’ll see.

1 It turns out means it is shown to be true.
2 Material means distress.
3 By and large means mostly.

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