Martin Luther King’s Unfinished Second Revolution: Economic Justice

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy, New Delhi. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy, New Delhi. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/

Martin Luther King, Jr, was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived. Every man, woman and child in this nation owes him a great debt of gratitude.

He worked to end segregation, lynching and other crimes against humanity that were committed against black people. That took courage.

He did this through a Christian, distinctly American paradigm. That took greatness.

I’ve read that he modeled his non-violent approach on the revolutionary work of Mahatma Gandhi, who famously said, I admire Christ, I do not admire your Christians, your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

What Martin Luther King, Jr did was turn that on its head and actually put action to words where the Gospels were concerned. Whatever debt he owed to Mahatma Gandhi in terms of tactical planning, his words were pure Christian.

Martin Luther King, Jr was a man of action built on faith. Every speech of his that I have heard or read was a living explication of the Sermon on the Mount.

He linked the profound dignity of every human being before the law to the simple fact that we are, every single on of us, created in the Image and Likeness of God. To defile another human being is, in that way, to defile God Himself.

We possess what Jefferson called “unalienable rights” which are not dependent on laws or treaties. They are inborn in us as our natural right as children of the Living God.

Martin Luther King, Jr, also recognized that racism and oppression go far deeper in our society than Jim Crow laws. He knew that the deepest racism and oppressions are economic.

What he did not foresee was that in the years to come this economic racism would become classism and that the oppressions it uses to bear down on people and destroy their dignity would extend, first to working class Americans of all races, and now, the American middle class, as well.

He also did not see — though he probably would have predicted — that many Christian religious leaders would become the shills for this increasing economic destruction of working people. The America he knew was racist, but it was not deeply and perniciously classist.

The America we know practices a new racism that is based on money and that extends its tentacles of destruction and oppression into the lives of every working-class American. Everything Martin Luther King, Jr said about poor people now applies to poor white people, and poor Hispanic people, as well.

Meanwhile, the people who benefit from this the most keep up a drumbeat of nascent racism and hatred in order to pit poor white people, poor black people and poor Hispanic people against one another. Instead of fighting for justice against their real enemies, who are the money-changers who have control of our government and institutions, they go around putting on KKK capes and Nazi swastikas, waving Black Lives Matter placards and trying, like a bunch of total and absolute idiots, to re-fight the 150-year-old Civil War.

The tactic of pitting poor white, black, Hispanic people against one another so that the disenfranchisement, exploitation and impoverishment of all of them can continue uninterrupted has been magnificently successful. Rather than do what they clearly could to improve life for everyone, they spend their time fighting over the crumbs that are left over after the rich clean the plate.

Martin Luther King, Jr is needed today every bit as much as he was needed during the days he walked the earth. We need leaders who will unite us behind a Christian flag of human dignity and worth and who will lead us together, as children of the living God, to stand up and say “No!” to the continued brain-washing and exploitation coming at us from those who benefit from our self-imposed helplessness.

When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout, is how we’ve been approaching our problems. Hell itself could not contain all the nasty invective people heap on one another in the name of their bizarre false idols of political partisanship.

I do not not blame these people so much as I blame their very bad leaders, in particular the whore-mongering religious leaders who have eschewed the teachings of Jesus Christ to act as apologists and political operatives for one of the political parties or the other. Someone who takes on the great privilege and responsibility of shepherding His flock and then sells both them and the Gospels for political access is beyond my moral ken. I leave their souls to God to judge.

But in a political and pragmatic this-world arena, I have both the experience and the perspicacity to form opinions of their actions, and the damage that they have done and are doing to the witness of Christ in this nation, as well as the damage they are doing to the nation itself. I judge them political operatives. They are not religious leaders. They are false leaders, wolves among the sheep.

Martin Luther King, Jr, was a leader for his time and for ours. His words are just as pertinent in today’s America as they were in the America of the 1960s.

Before he was murdered, he started the second phase of the Civil Rights Movement. He called it The Poor People’s Campaign. He aimed at toward liberating black people from economic oppression. In today’s America, he could and should aim it at uniting black and working-class white people to end the economic oppression that now affects them both.

In the years since Martin Luther King, Jr, the haves have waged a successful and on-going war against working-class white people. In today’s world, white people are just as battered, oppressed and second-class as poor black people. They have been hooked on drugs, shoved into poor schools, impoverished by low wages, loss of benefits, and the destruction of family, and then deprived of any opportunity to better themselves.

There is definitely class warfare in this country. It’s being waged by the uber wealthy against all the rest of us.

Here are a few of Martin Luther Kings speeches about economics and human dignity. They are just as important today as they were when he said them.

 

Radical Revolution of Values

Economic Injustice; the Last Speech He Gave

The Other America Speech

Income Inequality

Poverty in America

MLK on Poverty in America

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