April 5, 2018

Word: Martin Luther King on capitalism

Frank Scott - When he was assassinated King was planning a Poor People’s March on Washington. He advocated a universal basic income that would raise everyone — all of the poor, not only blacks but whites as well — to middle-class level. And this was in the late 1960s, when the American middle class was at its high point, and the rich were taxed at 70 percent. As we celebrate Martin Luther King, let’s not only heed the wonderful things he said about non-violence and racial equality which will be endlessly quoted, but look at some of the things he said challenging capitalism and the social order which are left out of most history books.
If he had only been critical of racism, he might have become our first black president if not a member of the House Negro Caucus. As soon as he began to openly criticize not only the Vietnam war, but the entire social system of war and racism - capitalism - his life was in danger, and ultimately taken.

“We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are too often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent.”

“I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic… Capitalism started out with a noble and high motive… but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness.” – Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952.

“And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…” –Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.” – Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” –Speech to SCLC Board, March 30, 1967.

“…The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” – Where do We Go from Here?, 1967.
“Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”


Anonymous said...

"When I give food to the poor, I am called a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, I am called a Communist".

(Dom Helder Camara)

Anonymous said...

What happens when you ask about the lack of food if you're in a communist country? Because they all seem to have really bad shortages. And few punishments to choose from.

Frances Heutte Schaefer said...

This shows a side of Dr. King that some in the mainstream media are just beginning to figure out. It is worth reading Dr. King's actual writings and listen to the speeches particularly those given late in his career to become aware of the breadth and scope of his activism, philosophy, and vision.

Anonymous said...

What countries would those be? Cuba's not short of food, and I can't think of another country that actually qualifies as Soviet-style Commie.

Anonymous said...

Cuba doesn't have food shortages? That's flat-out wrong. Cuba has food shortages all the time.

You're being deliberately obtuse if you can't think of any examples of communist regimes leading to widespread famine and starvation. Venezuela is an example happening right now. But I suppose that's not true communism, is it?

I think the worst example by sheer numbers was under Mao. We'll never know how many people he starved to death trying to implement communism, but it's in the scores of millions.

The kulaks in Ukraine were an early example of how communism leads to starvation. Have you heard of them? Are you familiar with that story?

You can't think of anyplace that qualifies as "Soviet-style commie" because you're employing a rhetorical trick. Your definition of "soviet-style" allows you to define anyone engaged in communist governing as not really communist. But this has been going on all over the world for a hundred years.

And since you asked, here's a list: Soviet Union (Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan) , China, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, North Korea, Vietnam, and soon to be South Africa. That's off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

I know that the US propaganda puppets claim that Cuba has food shortages. But they'd claim that Fidel was eating everything himself, if only he were still alive. They're not credible.

And the Holodomor was an example of mass murder. A crime, not a crop failure.

How nice that you know how to look up the names of countries. Now supply some evidence from impartial sources and you might have a scrap of credibility. But I won't hold my breath meanwhile.

Anonymous said...

So you're an actual communist, then. Yikes. Have fun with that. Sorry you lost the Soviet Union. You still have North Korea. If you're feeling down, you can take a holiday in Venezuela. They were still welcoming tourists last I heard. And you can get a thrill when the redistribution frenzy gets in full swing down in South Africa.

You deliberately evade the point that the Ukraine story is an example of how Communist governments can and will starve literally millions of people to make a point. Human suffering is of no concern to an ideologue. You're a perfect example of that by hand waiving away the list you asked for. You didn't mention China at all, or North Korea. Do I really have to do a bunch of links to things so you can dismiss the AP or the BBC as impartial? And why doesn't the Soviet Union seem to count to you? Communist atrocities in the 20th century are not up for debate, comrade. The only tricky thing about them is pinning down their death counts within a margin of error better that tens of millions.