Psychological Ideas and Practices for Activists
An 8 session class with Juliet Ucelli
It’s hard to survive in this society, both physically (with growing precarity), and as an integrated and authentic human being. It’s even more complicated when you are someone engaged in trying to change the world. We all need as many tools and as much knowledge that is available for our well-being as individuals!
How do we integrate our understandings of how society changes and how individuals and small groups change? How do we recognize when the things getting in the way of our political effectiveness are not just the obvious obstacles but unprocessed past hurt from our own lives? How do racism, anti-Blackness, cis-hetero-patriarchy seep into our individual psychodynamics and group dynamics even as we are trying to overthrow these forms of oppression? Some of us have lost support from our families of origin, which whether or not is better for us in the long term, such a rupture resonates in individuals for years, even decades. As millions of people across the globe face displacement, war, imprisonment, the necessity of immigration—what have we learned about healing practices that can foster recovery from such large-scale historic traumas?
These are some of the questions we will explore in an overview of psychological concepts and practices that are most relevant for progressive activists. Authors and theoretical trends that we will draw from include: Frantz Fanon (internalized oppression and auto-destructive behavior); trauma theory (much of it pioneered by progressive clinicians working with former political prisoners and former military combatants); and feminist relational theory, which explores our bodies, our psyches and our identities in relation to complex social justice issues. We’ll even pull out some nuggets from classical theorists like V. I. Lenin, who was actually being quite psychologically precise when he talked about left-wing communism as “an infantile disorder,” and Marx himself, who described capitalism as “relations of personal independence based on material dependence.”
Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for unions and activists, and writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, and Marxist understandings of human development. She also teaches Marx’s Capital, Volume One with The Marxist Education Project.
Fees are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.