Thursday, July 05, 2018

A System That Takes Necessities From The Masses To Give Luxuries To The Classes


ineteconomics |  The Millennial socialists are coming,” declared a June 30 New York Times headline, describing a surprise surge of young female candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America who beat their establishment opponents in primary races in New York and Pennsylvania. No longer is being a socialist considered scary — at least if you came of age after the Fall of the Wall. For many, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Martin Luther King, Jr., if he were around today, would likely be smiling. 

The image of the handsome, be-suited King, looking like a middle-class messenger of the American Dream as he mesmerized the masses on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, has been embraced by everyone from Coca-Cola executives to Donald Trump. It’s part of America’s cultural memory, our political DNA. 

Some may know that there was more to his legacy than the epic fight to end racism, recalling that in the period leading up to his assassination in 1968, King focused on building a multi-racial movement for economic justice with his labor activism and Poor People’s Campaign. 

But even that view, argues Michael Honey in his new book, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, does not capture the whole story. 

Consider King’s words in a letter to Coretta Scott in 1952: “I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic,” he wrote, adding that capitalism had “out-lived its usefulness” because it had “brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.” 

King was 23 years old when he wrote that.