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Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Time To Return To A King

One of the first two people I read while converting to a political leftist was Martin Luther King Jr. And one of the first lessons I learned from him came from observing his passion for winning people over to his side. Perhaps that passion was one of the reasons why he refrained from verbally attacking opponents--something he would call 'internal violence' or violence of the spirit. Though I don't expect conservatives to share his passion, seeing fellow leftists ignore it can be a source for disillusionment.

Since we are celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday this week, this blog is reviewing a part of a speech made by King. In particular, this blog will for the most part review the latter part of his speech against the Vietnam War made in the Spring of 1967 (click here for text and video/audio link). 

We should note that as King voices his opposition to the Vietnam War, he best shows us how disagree with others. He first does this by trying understand the concerns of those who disagree. He also states his view with humility as he acknowledges the difficulty of having to disagree with his own government about a war it is fighting. And he tries to steer all from using all-or-nothing thinking in how he regard others such as the Viet Cong. All of these lessons have been long forgotten in American political discourse.

However, it is at the 40:34 mark on the YouTube presentation, the text part of the transcription starts with the phrase 'In 1957,' where King starts to broaden the scope of his concerns to that of a world revolution. Here, King first tells us of how suppression of local people in other nations for the sake of our business interests started to require US troop involvement on a consistent basis. He listed nations like Venezuela, Columbia, Guatemala and Peru as places where US troops were being sent for maintaining stability.

After that, King says something that every leftist revolutionary should recite to themselves everyday. That for us to conquer enemies such as racism, militarism, and materialism, materialism was simply one of the sides of a multisided object that included poverty, our society, not just churchgoers, must have a higher regard for people than they do for gadgets, profits, and property rights. We should note that King, in a previous work, had explicitly stated that the trio of racism, militarism, and materialism are inseparable so that we cannot just attack one of these problems. So here, King challenges everyone, since all of us tend to be thing and power oriented, as one friend has said to me, to have a higher regard for people than things. And here, conservatives who claim to honor Martin Luther King should note that King included property rights as one of those items that we should count as less important than people.

In the next paragraph, King attacks American Capitalism. He implicitly refers to it when talking about the need to change our current economic structure because of how it contributes to, as on the road to Jericho during biblical times, robbery and assault and how it is an 'edifice' that creates 'beggars.' He then explicitly criticizes capitalists who invest in continents like Asia, Africa, and South America for the sole purpose of extracting profits while having no interest in bettering the lives of the people who live there. In addition, King reminds us of what arrogance is. Arrogance, as demonstrated by the West, is believing that one has 'everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.' He pronounces such arrogance as being unjust.

Two paragraphs later King tells us that the USSR's Communism will not be defeated through military means, for such does not teach people to abandon it. Rather, King states that promoting Democracy and justice as the way to beat Communism. We should note here that King is contrasting Democracy, not Capitalism, with Communism. And perhaps the reason why is because he had already strongly criticized the dictatorship that existed in the then USSR in a previous work. In addition, his previous criticisms of Capitalism show that its distribution of wealth does not lend itself to contrasting Communism with justice. This theme is continued in the next paragraph.

At this point we should note that today's enemy is now Islamic terrorism and tyranny, not Communism. And though it is difficult for some of us to believe this, one of its primary concerns is justice. If not that, at least the injustices visited on those in the Middle East by the West and its proxies are a driving force in the spread of Islamic terrorism and tyranny--note that most Muslims disavow and oppose ISIS's terrorism and tyranny. So perhaps, what will truly defeat enemies such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda is working for justice more than looking for wars to fight. And we cannot work for justice so long as we are seeking profits over the welfare of people regardless of who the people are.

Following the emphasis on promoting Democrcy and justice in order to beat Communism, King finishes by talking about changing our ultimate allegiances from being based on the tribe, class, race, or nation we belong to the human race first. That these divisions must never erase a higher bond we should have with all people. Such a view would certainly oppose Donald Trump's theme of trying to restore America's greatness. In fact, King's view here would be at odds with the views of all presidential candidates who would rally us around the flag. For why should a person from another country have less importance to us than a fellow citizen. This is King's point.

King finishes with exhortations to love and be active. And when we look at King's whole speech here, we see so many lessons for revolutionaries both in terms of what they should work for as well as how they should struggle. Unfortunately, most of us have shown that not only have we not learned those lessons from King, we are not interested enough in even listening to or reading them. Such will hasten the demise of us all as necessary revolutions further the toxicity of the regimes and systems they seek to replace.





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