Guest post: On MLK Day

Originally a comment by TheDudeDiogenes on Capitalism thrives on the exploitation of the poor.

Since the USA has a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr, it is good to notice how sanitized and sentimentalized our cultural memory of this great man has become.

Although he no doubt believed “that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God”, that is ultimately a de-fanging and banal understanding of what he was truly about.

This year, remember that what MLK had to tell us should not make us feel comfortable. We ought to be distinctly uncomfortable that we have so greatly failed to achieve what he believed that our country could truly accomplish!

Shortly before he was murdered, Dr. King proclaimed: “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, here and abroad.” (Emphasis mine)

“He went on to boldly declare that, ‘The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and racism. The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.’” (Source)

King also said: “Many white Americans of goodwill have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice. But these two evils have a malignant kinship.”

You certainly won’t often hear quotations of King like this from most of our elected officials, or even from most of our mainstream media.

It is, therefore, all the more imperative to remember the depth and profundity of King’s critique of American society, which is, sadly, perhaps as relevant as when he delivered to us his magnificent oratory.

Audio of the “Three Evils of Society” speech:

Transcript of the speech

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