Dr. King Spanks Obama: Part 1

It seems ridiculous to speculate about what Dr. King might say to Barack Obama when we have a published record of what King actually did say to his government immediately before they had him assassinated.1

“Humanity is waiting for something other than blind imitation of the past. If we want truly to advance a step further, if we want to turn over a new leaf and really set a new man afoot, we must begin to turn mankind away from the long and desolate night of violence. May it not be that the new man the world needs is a nonviolent man? Longfellow said, “In this world a man must either be an anvil or a hammer.” We must be hammers shaping a new society rather than anvils molded by the old. This not only will make us new men, but will give us a new kind of power. It will not be Lord Acton’s image of power that tends to corrupt or absolute power that corrupts absolutely. It will be power infused with love and justice, that will change dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, and lift us from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. A dark, desperate, confused and sin-sick world waits for this new kind of man and this new kind of power.”2

At the 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Celebration in San Francisco staff members from the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute had an opportunity to participate in the festivities and interact with those in attendance. Along with receiving bookmarks, buttons, pencils and a special note from Dr. King on political participation, attendees were asked to answer the question, “What would Dr. King want to say to Barack Obama?”3

But all speculation aside, Dr. King’s actual comments appear in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? The admonitions from that book seem as well-suited for Barack Obama now as they were for Lyndon Johnson in 1967 regarding war, poverty, racism, apartheid, imperialism and all the associated wastes of human and natural resources. If these typical forms of injustice aren’t entertaining enough, they become even more surreal as Barack Obama now perpetuates them in the name of “Dr. King’s Dream”. Apparently, he thinks he can get away with this morbid and fraudulent strategy because his skin color is roughly the same as Dr. King’s. But somebody needs to draw the line here, and it might as well be me. I don’t see any other volunteers.

According to Dr. King, his dream came in two general phases: 1) abolish racial segregation, particularly in the southern United States, and 2) eradicate poverty worldwide. [2] The first four chapters of his last book discuss the successes, struggles and failures of phase one. The final two chapters and the appendix of his book outline his planned approach toward phase two. Dr. King was an extremely intelligent man, and the preceding is just a rough summary of his well-organized book.

But nowhere in Dr. King’s book is there any suggestion that the fulfillment of his “dream” might be the election of a black President who supports racist wars of economic aggression in the Middle East and the financial interests who sponsor them. He does emphatically insist that blacks must become politically involved, but not to advance the status quo or to “save Capitalism from itself.”4 The status quo doesn’t need any help. It doesn’t need to be “bailed out”. It needs to be challenged and, for the most part, dismissed. I doubt that anyone had a greater understanding of the “deep structural change” necessary to accomplish phase two of his dream than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, recent conclusions indicate he was murdered by his own government for daring to make such recommendations. [1]

Barack Obama is obviously intelligent enough to share Dr. King’s understanding. But he also seems to driven to evade the public responsibility that should accompany that understanding. Is he merely dodging a bullet, or does he honestly believe he can rewrite history to somehow revise “Dr. King’s Dream”? In his first ten weeks of office, when Obama makes decisions that are obviously not in the best interest of the people who elected him, it becomes brutally apparent that those decisions are in deliberate compliance with forces outside the democratic process. There isn’t much question about who or what those corporate forces might be. The question is, why does such an intelligent man continue to lead in the same failed direction as his predecessors after so vehemently denouncing their approach?

Moreover, why does Barack Obama think he can pursue a plunder-for-profit agenda in the name of “Dr. King’s Dream”? This is a sick fantasy that must be debunked and rebuked whether Obama plans to change his approach or not. If you want to lead this herd of stupid sheep to slaughter, Mr. Obama, then by all means do it. I won’t begin to presume I could possibly stop you. But don’t think for a minute that you can get away with blaming this painful fiasco on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or remotely associate yourself with him in the process.

Here’s Dr. King:

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
Excerpts from chapters 1 and 2:

The Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Hyman Bookbinder, in a frank statement on December 29, 1966, declared that the long-range costs of adequately implementing programs to fight poverty, ignorance and slums will reach one trillion dollars. He was not awed or dismayed by this prospect but instead pointed out that the growth of the gross national product during the same period makes this expenditure comfortably possible. It is, he said, as simple as this: “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become rich at a slower rate.” Furthermore, he predicted that unless a “substantial sacrifice is made by the American people,” the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between races and continued disorders in the streets. He asserted that people are not informed enough to give adequate support to anti-poverty programs, and he leveled a share of the blame at the government because it “must do more to get people to understand the size of the problem.”

The legal structures have in practice proved to be neither structures nor law. The sparse and insufficient collection of statutes is not a structure; it is barely a naked framework. Legislation that is evaded, substantially nullified and unenforced is a mockery of law. Significant progress has effectively been barred by equivocations and retreats of government — the same government that was exultant when it sought political credit for enacting the measures.

The hard truth is that neither Negro nor white has yet done enough to expect the dawn of a new day. While much has been done, it has been accomplished by too few and on a scale too limited for the breadth of the goal. Freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. Freedom is won by a struggle against suffering.

No great victories are won in a war for the transformation of a whole people without total participation. Less than this will not create a new society; it will only evoke more sophisticated token amelioration. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention. There is no other answer. Constructive social change will bring certain tranquility; evasions will merely encourage turmoil.

Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love.

What is needed is a realization that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed. It is [the] collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.

Before this century, virtually all revolutions had been based on hope and hate. The hope was expressed in the rising expectation of freedom and justice. The hate was an expression of bitterness toward the perpetrators of the old order. It was the hate that made revolutions bloody and violent. What was new about Mahatma Gandhi’s movement in India was that he mounted a revolution on hope and love, hope and nonviolence. This same new emphasis characterized the civil rights movement in our country dating from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 to the Selma movement of 1965. We maintained hope while transforming the hate of traditional revolutions into positive nonviolent power. As long as the hope was fulfilled there was little questioning of nonviolence. But when the hopes were blasted, when people came to see that in spite of progress their conditions were still insufferable, when they looked out and saw more poverty, more school segregation and more slums, despair began to set in.

Unfortunately, when hope diminishes, the hate is often turned most bitterly toward those who originally built up the hope. In all the speaking that I have done in the United States before varied audiences, including some hostile whites, the only time that I have been booed was one night in a Chicago mass meeting by some young members of the Black Power movement. I went home that night with an ugly feeling. Selfishly I thought of my sufferings and sacrifices over the last twelve years. Why would they boo one so close to them?

But as I lay awake thinking, I finally came to myself, and I could not for the life of me have less than patience and understanding for those young people. For twelve years I, and others like me, had held out radiant promises of progress. I had preached to them about my dream. I had lectured to them about the not too distant day when they would have freedom, “all here and now.” I had urged them to have faith in America and in white society. Their hopes had soared. They were now booing because they felt that we were unable to deliver on our promises. They were booing because we had urged them to have faith in people who had too often proved to be unfaithful. They were now hostile because they were watching the dream that they had so readily accepted turn into a frustrating nightmare.

The line of demarcation between defensive violence and aggressive violence is very thin. The minute a program of violence is enunciated, even for self-defense, the atmosphere is filled with talk of violence, and the words falling on unsophisticated ears may be interpreted as an invitation to aggression. If a method is not effective, no matter how much steam it releases, it is an expression of weakness, not strength. When one tries to pin down advocates of violence as to what acts would be effective, the answers are blatantly illogical. This is no time for romantic for romantic illusions and empty philosophical debates about freedom. This is a time for action. What is needed is a strategy for change.

Beyond the pragmatic invalidity of violence is its inability to appeal to conscience. Power and morality must go together, implementing , fulfilling and ennobling each other. In the quest for power I cannot by-pass the concern for morality. Power at its best is the right use of strength. The words of Alfred the Great are still true: “Power is never good unless he who has it is good.”

Nonviolence is power, but it is the right and good use of power. In the guilt and confusion confronting our society, violence only adds to the chaos. It deepens the brutality of the oppressor and increases the bitterness of the oppressed. Violence is the antithesis of creativity and wholeness. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible.

Are we seeking power for power’s sake? Or are we seeking to make the world and our nation better places to live? If we seek the latter, violence can never provide the answer. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, betting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate. In fact, violence merely increases the hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, the hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why the psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” I have seen hate expressed in the countenances of too many Mississippi and Alabama sheriffs to advise the Negro to sink to this miserable level. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Of course, you may say, this is not practical; life is a matter of getting even, of fighting back, of dog eat dog. Maybe in some distant Utopia, you say, that idea will work, but not in the hard, cold world in which we live. My only answer is that mankind has followed the so-called practical way for a long time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of individuals and communities that surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.

Humanity is waiting for something other than blind imitation of the past. If we want truly to advance a step further, if we want to turn over a new leaf and really set a new man afoot, we must begin to turn mankind away from the long and desolate night of violence. May it not be that the new man the world needs is a nonviolent man? Longfellow said, “In this world a man must either be an anvil or a hammer.” We must be hammers shaping a new society rather than anvils molded by the old. This not only will make us new men, but will give us a new kind of power. It will not be Lord Acton’s image of power that tends to corrupt or absolute power that corrupts absolutely. It will be power infused with love and justice, that will change dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, and lift us from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. A dark, desperate, confused and sin-sick world waits for this new kind of man and this new kind of power.5

  1. Douglass, James W. (March 15. 2000). “The King Assassination: After Three Decades, Another Verdict,” Christian Century. []
  2. King, Dr. Martin Luther (1968). Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?. New York, NY: Beacon Press, pgs 3-4, 66. ISBN 0807005711 []
  3. Staff. (February 02, 2009). “What would Dr. King want to say to Barack Obama?,” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. []
  4. Obama, Barack (2006). The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. Crown Publishing Group. pg 155. ISBN 0307237699. []
  5. King, Dr. Martin Luther (1968). Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?. New York, NY: Beacon Press, excerpts from chapters 1 and 2. ISBN 0807005711 []

David Kendall lives in WA and deeply cares about the future of our world. He can be reached at: davidlkendall@comcast.net. Read other articles by David, or visit David's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on April 25th, 2009 at 4:30pm #

    king, ghandi, jesus, marx, et al left nothing behind save words: words also spoken by many other individuals over millennia.
    none of the new ‘saviors’ have said anything that it hadn’t been said mns of times thruout the world.

    and much of what they have said consist almost solely of explicit/tacit ‘promises’, commands, wishes, etc., but have almost done nothing towards building an more or much more egalitarian society and with greater participation by the low and lower classes in the governance of own business.

    if king wld have gathered people around him and urged them not to allow their children to attend schools; thus avoid indoctrination, it wld have been s’mthing of importance.

    he cld have warned them not to read or buy MSM newspapers. And he cld have told them to beware of the sacrosant constitution as it is an interpretative writ; interpreted by judges appointed by slave owners or corpporate robbers. More cld be said

  2. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 8:02am #

    I would not be that harsh on King. First, he was 39 years old when he died. He lived within the context of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Asking blacks (negros was the label then) to avoid going to school would have been outside his sphere of influence. The Black Muslims and Black Panther Party offered those alternatives.

    But King, as many of us, evolved over time. Perhaps today, he would be grinning with a “black is more important than principle” pride like former Panther Rep. Bobby Rush in Chicago is with the election of a Barack Obama. Who really knows, what Marx would say today. In fact, what did Marx say? We know he wrote books that said things, but if confronted on CNN what would he actually SAY? In order to be asked, he’d probably be mainstream, or viewed as much reduced personage.

    The important frame is the one MLK provides as he approached the last few years of his life. His trajectory was brief and his consciousness was fairly rapid given all the forces at the time and where he came from. It is not so much what MLK would say today, but what the MLK of 1968 said and how that reflects on the state of an imperial war machine nation, headed up by the first black president and commander in chief.

    That MLK and this President would be at complete odds is doubtless. That MLK would find much of Obama’s agenda reprehensible.

  3. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 10:16am #

    to repeat, M.L. King left no legacy or a platform; all he did was to say what had been said over millennia by individuals from ?all cultures.

    and neither have jesus, marx, ghandi, lenin, et al left much anything behind, save the words/ideas.

    such people dreamt a lot and did not talk about nightmares that came after their deaths.

    the least king cld have said to his followers was to ask blacks [whites also] not to attend schools.

    at least until higher education becomes free and public schooling is not run for indoctrination and enserfment of very naive children for the benefit of the plutos. tnx

  4. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 12:24pm #

    No legacy? Then why are we talking talking about him?

    Platform? He wasn’t a politician. I agree that he didn’t build a new nation; but how can you deny his impact. He inspired David Kendall to post here.

    King was what he was. Should he have been someone else? Who? Something else? What?

    Think of the people, the “leaders” we celebrate who are celebrated because they sent young men and women off to be killed. They had platforms, legacies, and more..perhaps they even created a party, started doctrines that haunt us to this day – think Monroe.

  5. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 1:11pm #

    we in canada had a minister who campaigned for healthcare and we obtained it.
    so, being a priest does not occlude one for being a party member or even a founding member of a party.

    max, i beg to differ about king or you, me, or deabeat not being a politician. We all are, except people with brain malfunction.

    for the reason that politics [or even non-politics] is just a facet of reality [one and the only; we don’t have two] among many.
    and you and i part of that reality.

    not being political is just about the worst politics. Once, a woman angrilly demanded that her husband and i stop talking about politics.
    actually, we had not talked much about politics. However, she did not realize that by objecting to our talk, she engaged in politics but one of the worst kind.
    in no way i condemn king; he said what he thought was best for all americans.
    i shld have said to forget about quoting people who are often raised to a savior class of people.

    some people have spoken well but also have done s’mthing. Lenin, nader, pasteur, einstein, faraday, tesla, edison, planck, bohr and numerous others, left us not just words/ideas but also deeds.

    priests as a rule leave nothing of value whatsoever; as a matter of fact most priests retard human understading and brotherhood. tnx

  6. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 1:36pm #

    Are you saying that the Civil Rights bill was, all other considerations aside, delivering nothing?

    Do you think Lenin or Einstein functioned in a vacuum? If Planck is your idea of a person who did something; than what about the Austrian Monk Gregor Mendel?

    If Lenin gave so much, than where is his legacy today?

    Lasting transformations take more than a single person. What King DID is what matters. Not what he did NOT do. If his words can speak to our times, he has in fact DONE something. I worked to build an urban free clinic back in the 60s. It was one of many great Black Panther programs. Bits exist, but today, there is little of the energy which has not be thoroughly coopted by the same system that provokes endless, needless war.

  7. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 2:48pm #

    max,
    yes, you are right about civil rights. it seems to me mns of amers demaneded it. What King’s role or influence amounted to, i do not know.
    but, max, please note, civil rights had not basically changed the structure of governance.

    the ruling class saw it as a valuable tool to further their ends. After all, that is why, think i, ‘schooling’ is a must.

    i have often said that nothing nor any person stands in a vacuum; i.e., in total isolation of all that goes on.

    yes, gregor mendel was a monk and he indeed left us valuable knowledge.
    but had he left us anything behind to help us end the wars/poverty/child abuse/wife beating, etc? i do not know!

    but it is not possible to mention everybody who left us s’mthing. I cld have included newton, copernicus, galileo, pavlov, decartes, et al. But i didn’t because it wasn’t a must; having, i thought, made a point.
    tnx for your input. tnx to the readers.

  8. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 3:44pm #

    bozh,

    First, King played a pivotal role. The man was arrested numerous times and dedicated himself to fundamental change. If we look at S. Africa today, did Mandela achieve fundamental change?

    I’m not sure why you insist that he leave behind ideas about physics. Einstein, while a brilliant thinker and pacifist, provide a link to the A-bomb. Decartes, I would submit, has actually been detrimental to our world view, as his view persists in daily life, which has fueled empire (a topic I won’t elaborate on here).

    Your “argument” about Mendal seems out of place given the same can be said about each of the examples you give of people who DID leave something “behind”.

    I think you’ve painted yourself into a corner, bozh.

    If we are to reel this back and ask what is human, individual, greatness, I would say, “Did the world change at all because that person was amongst us?” In varying degrees the answer is affirmative for all of us.

    But this is beyond the point of the posted essay. If you tear down MLK, then the lesson provided is diminished. I see no point to that.

  9. David Kendall said on April 27th, 2009 at 4:38pm #

    According to Michael Howard, Karl Marx was mainly concerned with understanding and criticizing capitalism and preferred not to prescribe “recipes for the cookbooks of the future”. In this regard, I tend to agree with with Bozh to an extent. It seems pointless to gain so much understanding of a problem unless you intend to actually solve it. In the more than forty volumes that make up the collected works of Marx and Engels the pages devoted to any kind of “solution” could be assembled in a fairly slim volume. Unfortunately, those few ideas, as interpreted and advanced by leaders in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, are all that most of us remember about Karl Marx. But like Bozh, I lay the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Marx himself for being resigned to a mere critique of the existing system without actively challenging it.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, on the other hand, was a man of action — not just words or criticism. He was a man who not only identified and understood the glaring social injustice all around him, or merely devised potential solutions, or delegated others to implement those possible solutions. Dr. King personally jumped head-long into the middle of those problems in an active attempt to resolve them. He was also his own greatest critic in terms of what went right, what went wrong, and what was yet to be done with regard to those struggles. In fact, this is what his last book was all about.

    But Max is correct. King would doubtlessly find Obama’s agendas reprehensible. Recent claims that the election of Barack Obama is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream is a dangerous and childish fantasy. It is in fact racist propaganda advanced by a financial elite, who clearly understand Dr. King’s “dream”, in their effort to placate the millions of angry Americans who obviously do not. Beyond the mere abolishment of racial segregation — which he achieved to some great extent — King’s ultimate aim was racial equality to be achieved through the eradication of poverty. His attempt to organize labor in this regard, combined with his powerful talent for mass organization and his mere suggestion of a Basic Income Guarantee seem the most likely reasons Dr. King was assassinated by his own government.

    What does this tell us about our system? our “governance”? What does this tell us about Dr. King’s approach? Does King’s assassination suggest his ideology and approach was generally effective, or should we abandon all that now and start breaking windows?

    On the other hand, Bozh is correct. Civil rights has not changed the basic structure of governance. It has not changed our system. Legalized voting privileges for blacks, women and workers has not changed the nature of our democratic process. This was, in fact, Dr. King’s greatest criticism of the civil rights movement, of his own work and of the system itself. This was also the next step in his pursuit of eradicating poverty, it was the main reason he was murdered, and it will be a main topic of future installments in this article series.

    Thanks very much for your comments and discussion.

  10. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 4:48pm #

    max,
    i thought that i had been clear about mendel. He was a botanist and had discovered sexes in plants; thus, he left us s’mthing of value. So did Einstein as far as nuclear energy goes.
    einstein, i’ve been told was a zionist; still, he has left us behind a mathematical formula.
    decartes was a mathematician; a great one. But, of course may have been a fascist as the “de” in his name implies.
    i am also distinguishing btwn politico-social and scientific legacies.
    i am not sure whether you are making this distiction?

    many people i have enumerated may have been asocialistic and at least one, Teller, was demented with hatred for USSR. And to praise him for invention of hydrogen bomb is out of the question.

    i have never said that King had to be inventor/scientist before one lauds him or credits him with social change.
    are you sure you’re reading my posts carefully? What is to you “fundamental change” that King helped bring about? I ask you this, because you may have not read the change i spoke of: that basic structure of governance had not changed at all and thus most basic human rights in US are still violated.
    even the right to live, a most basic human right, is not accorded to soldiers who enlisted in order to defend their homeland.
    mandela and mns of people have brought important change. How much? I don’t know! One just can’t study everything! tnx

  11. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 5:56pm #

    bozh,
    Social change is much completely different from science in terms of lasting affect.

    Even though great science comes from a milieu of what could be referred to as a community of practice, breakthrough theoretical science is not what we should expect occurring on a social level.

    For human communities change doesn’t happen because a single human does something. Social change usually comes out of social trauma. Life in the latter part of the 20th century in the US did not provide that level of trauma. Even the tumultuousness of the 60s did not provide the basis for change. The system was able to adapt and incorporte and marginalize through mass media marketing. Today’s depression is not experienced in the same way as was the 1930s version.

    In a word it is not fair to compare a social change agent with a great theortical scientist. Changes on the social level are happening, if imperceptibly throughout the world. Some of these changes will lay the ground work for deep adaptive transformation when a collapse or trauma occurs.

    This is how the human species (and all others, whether plant or animal) emerge and change.

    Ghandi, Lenin, King, Mao, Guevara, Bolivar, and many others symbolize and are a voices of change, but deep social change occurs on another level. Structural change doesn’t happen because a law is passed or a black man is elected president.

    And again, the point of this post was not to debate MLK’s “objective” value. His value emerges because of these and thousands of other references to his legacy. He is what he is. And I think it’s appropriate to reflect on what his life’s work means in today’s context.

  12. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 7:24pm #

    max,
    i have been dwelling on the topic of how much does an individual influence people and also how much we shld credit an individual for any social betterment, only to show/prove that the vast majority of the illuminati or people with verbal brilliancies have done nothing or next to nothing for low and lower classes of human beings.
    clearly, iran, iraq, afgh’n, israel, US, UK, canada and at least another 150 countries prove me [and not just me, but mns of people] correct.

    the structure of governance just about everywhere, in spite of jesus or king, remains the same; i.e., there is aniron grip on power by a minority of people.
    in US, the ruling minority might consist of just a few mn people; in qatar, the ruling class may consist of just a few thousands; while in jordan the ruling class may consist of 100T people.
    proportionately speaking, % might be the same or similar. But even the ruling class may be stratified in excutionary power.

    in any case [and as far as i can see] only cosmetic changes are allowed, which also or mostly benefit the rulers regardless who is an actor/factor in any change.
    centuries ago only priest cld read and write. Only patricians were allowed into priestly ranks. Schools were for a long time restricted only to people with money.
    however, ruling classes espied that they were misssing great tools for enslavement/enserfment; thus, peasants cld be priests and peasant children had to attend school.
    as s’mone had already said, The more things change, the more they stay the same. I cld add that for some people they change even for worse, by the hand of a mad/sad country like US and israel. tnx

  13. Deadbeat said on April 27th, 2009 at 7:37pm #

    Max writes…

    I think you’ve painted yourself into a corner, bozh.

    I concur. Max has made some excellent arguments. King alone could not alter the fundemental aspects of government since the Civil Right movement itself suffered several contradictions. However the issue of Jim Crow Racism had to be dealt with. Actually IMO the Black Panther address the structure of government much more. King did work through establishment channel until he came out forcefully against the VietNam War and spoke about the next stage of the movement. Like Malcolm X, he was assassinated just as he reassessed his political positions to focus on the systemic oppression of the system.

    I agree with much of Max’s argument. King had a tremendous impact and left a huge legacy. I would argue that Marx and even Max’s favorite Henry George all left behind ideas that address the unfairness and injustices of the system.

    (Were we differ are on solution and how to proceed but we definately have to celebrate and respect those who spoke out).

    We are the beneficiaries of their collective wisdom and ideas and it is a testiment of the mis-education of workers that they are unfamilar with the men and women who struggled throughout history against injustice.

  14. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 7:43pm #

    david kendal,
    i did not know that King was critical of own labors and that of the civil rights. He then probably saw what i espied but after decennia of thougt and observation and learning from educators.
    if indeed king saw that, he was ahead of me. I was at that time just begining to learn.
    much or maybe all i evaluate as true comes from elucidators. Strangely enough, i have learned a lot from MSM; in the main, how and why a reporter or editor/newscaster can be so deluded. tnx

  15. bozh said on April 27th, 2009 at 8:09pm #

    deadbeat,
    “king left a huge legacy”. May i ask what does it consist of? I think, [am not sure, tho] he helped stop lynching. But mns of amers demanded it stop. Mns of amers demanded end of segregation. That was positive.
    so, that is his and his supporters’ legacy.
    tacitly you’re saying that that was ?solely or much due to his labors.
    according to what we had seen since king’s death, things for amers, iraqis, afghanis, and palestinians cldn’t be worse.
    in no way i blame king; he did what he thought he cld do. But as david kendal and i say, structure of governance and society has not changed an iota.
    in fact, structure of society had never been worse. Yet, may get even worse. Bailout clearly shows the trend. It signifies socialism/ interdependence for the plutos and rugged fascism/independence for the rest.
    one can have one’s king or one’s jesus but the rich folks get their jesus + money/power. tnx

  16. Max Shields said on April 27th, 2009 at 8:17pm #

    Yes, DB, we are all flesh and blood. It is the tragedy of life (Miguel de Unamuno) and we hold onto the precious authentic moments of truth even when they come packaged in the fagility of human form.

    MLK embodies the deep sense of tragedy that gives birth to those rare moments. It is not about greatness. It is about the human spirit.

    I also agree with David Kendall’s point that Marx, and this can be said of others, was not a man of “action”. He offered a brilliant analysis of the relationship between our social and economic world.

  17. Deadbeat said on April 28th, 2009 at 2:15am #

    To bozh,

    As David Kendell said, King was a man of action and movements since has tried to emulate the Civil Right movement. King legacy is his conscience and the fact that he helped to change racial attitudes in the U.S. Which is HUGE when you consider its history.

    You cannot expect King to resolve the class and race problems that still exist in the U.S. My point is that King help push society in the direction of justice. I respect everyone who engages in the battle against injustice whether they are “men of action” or “intellectuals”. The aggregation of their effects are vital. Ideas are needed just as much as action. Because in the end it is not one man or woman but the movement of the masses and getting the masses in action and awareness of their common interest is not a job that can be achieved by any one individual.

  18. mary said on April 28th, 2009 at 3:45am #

    Martin Luther King Jr would have repeated these words to his black brother but would the advice have been followed?

    Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
    Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
    Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
    But, Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’

    And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

  19. bozhidar or bozh said on April 28th, 2009 at 6:03am #

    deadbeat, right
    i was making the same point: one cannot expect one person to change for better all that much and especially the basics.
    in US it is especially difficult or nigh impossible to institutionalize or enact important change/improvement such as heatlhcare.
    near-utter ‘failure’ by nader/supporters proves it.
    and i dare say that if he/his supporters do not establish a party, the only legacy he wld leave us, is that he/his supporters saved mns of lives.
    which is, of course, great. tnx

  20. Max Shields said on April 28th, 2009 at 6:08am #

    Mary, you are speaking of courage. This is what MLK represents.

    Obama is simply the antithesis of this. And so it is important to let it be known, that Obama is NOT the outcome of the struggle, but a twisted marginalization and coopting of it.

  21. Martha said on April 28th, 2009 at 7:30am #

    Yea, Max! Well said.

  22. mary said on April 28th, 2009 at 3:20pm #

    Max I agree with you.

    Here is John Pilger’s review of Obama’s first 100 days in which he describes the big sell.

    Obama’s 100 days – the mad men did well
    30 Apr 2009

    In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the power of advertising – from the effects of smoking to politics – as he reaches behind the facade of of the first 100 days President Barack Obama.

    http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=530

  23. Andy K & the Nuances said on April 28th, 2009 at 5:49pm #

    Mary — in response to your earlier q. on that other thread: http://www.wrmea.com/us_aid_to_israel/index.htm

    Source is reliable, data may be a cpl years old. Looks like WRMEA may have gone out of biz? MEI/MEIOnline was for yrs one of the best but seems to have gone under.

    Everybody: keep socking it to Obummer, expose expose expose. Send anything good you find to the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper, attn Mary Ratcliff. BV reaches a, maybe THE? key demographic.