The working class are forced to compartmentalize. Friendly banter with wage-stealing bosses, serving cups of coffee to cops, politely talking landlords through their mysterious maintenance charges. In order to be employed, sheltered, fed, surviving, we are required to hide our anger, hurt, resentment. We’re required to dismiss our struggle and oppression.
We end up always hiding, a lot of the time not realizing it.
Some of us hold shame. We won’t talk about anything relating to money, or anything that will point back to our poverty. Many of us are anxious, feeling the dread of capitalism. Much of the working class are silently suffering. Hiding.
I’ve come to notice that at least some people are relieved when they feel they don’t have to hide their struggle. When they don’t have to pretend that they’re okay, and they can be honest about how hard surviving is. I’ve been thinking that we need to seize opportunities where we can relieve the working class of the chains of capitalism, even if temporarily. In these moments, we can grow together in class consciousness and build a sense of shared power from the bottom.
As political groups and organizations, we often do this, calling it agitation. We speak to situations and moments, and then draw out the contradictory and oppressive elements within them. By doing this, we help ground folks in a sense of class consciousness, helping them see that there are real systems built on their exploitation. In small ways, on an individual-to-individual basis, we can also do this. In fact, we need to. We need to normalize expressing discontent, criticizing the systems and powers that are keeping us down. We need to openly talk about working class struggles. With friends, family, even co-workers.
You’re opening up the conversation to a moment of de-compartmentalizing, allowing yourself to rest and be seen, and allowing, not forcing, the possibility of the other to de-compartmentalize as well.
People are complicated, with conflicting values and feelings. Explore those contradictions. Even those with conservative politics may have internalized resentment towards the wealthy. Many have conflicting thoughts and feelings about the police, and authority as a whole. Speak to people’s anti-authoritarianism, and point to how those authorities cause oppression to others. Continually come back to issues of power, and the how oppression functions. Be present to them as their imagination opens up to the possibility of a world without exploitation and oppression. Help them recognize that this requires abolishing capitalism and rebuilding society so that none have any lack.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, or even extremely strategic. These are people, real relationships, after all. Just talk. Just share. Shamelessly, and honestly. And maybe all it will take to start that conversation is a simple, “fuck bosses.”