After this weekend’s DC demonstrations and all the shallow talk of King I thought it would be good to hear again King in his own words. Every one of these speeches is worth listening to, several times. His force reaches out with every utterance and makes a lie of the ‘official’ King that allows a charlatan fat-fingered, gold-slogging wannabe Father Coughlin to dare lay his sticky hands on him. It goes entirely without saying that the only thing that Glenn Beck has in common with Martin Luther King is that Beck would have been picketed by King. I doubt very much, had he lived, if King would have been invited today to speak at his own commemorations, so dangerous would his words be considered. See this 2006 article by Paul Street for a refresher on who the real MLK was.
On October 2nd will be a march on Washington much more in the vein of King and the movement he was a part of. Whatever the demands of the march (some good, some not so good) this is an important demonstration, perhaps the most important of the present Administration, to build for. That the AFofL (how I miss you, CIO) is on board is important, but whether they will mobilize their membership is still an open question. I’ll be booking my bus ticket soon, you should as well. It is also an opportunity for the left to raise a profile, if we can organize large numbers of folks. The real left, such as it is, needs a massive intervention into the state of discussion in this country now. If the reactionaries are allowed to frame the debate and set the parameters of the political spectrum we’ve lost more than half the battle. Actually, if Glenn Beck can dare claim the mantle of MLK I think it’s pretty fair to say that we have lost half the battle already. We better get our asses in gear if we’re not to lose the whole thing.
Apologies for some of the editing of these videos; King’s legacy has been tightly controlled, which ironically leaves him open for everyone to remake in their own image.
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Regarding the sanitizing of MLK by bourgeois “public opinion,” remember what Lenin said about their ability to turn dead revolutionaries into harmless and saintly icons compatable with the system they in fact spent their whole life struggling against.
While King was never as radical as Malcolm X or the Black Panther Party were, he was the one figure in the US in the late sixties who had the potential to bring together anti-war and civil rights activists with trade unionists in a common struggle. Indeed, King understood the key role that workers and unions coiuld play in the struggle against injustice and oppression when even an oujtstanding revolutionary like Malcolm X was still writing them off. That’s what his “Poor Peoples movement” aspired to be and that’s why the ruling class made sure to get him out of the way before he could even get started.
Let’s not forget that King died an active opponent of the Vietnam war…when it was still LBJ’s war. Not only was he willing to break with the Democratic White House over this but he cut his ties with the other “civil rights leaders” who placed their own loyalty to the Democratic party and US imperialism before any and every thing else.
The latter argued that by opposing the war in Vietnam, King was endangering LBJ’s support for the “war on poverty.” King, however, knew that the war in Vietnam, in and of itself, was, in fact, what was endangering the limited reforms of the “Great Society.”
Compare King to Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the rest of today’s Black “leadership” which supports (or, at best, turns a blind eye to) Obama’s wars and his welfare for Wall Street. Can you imagine a single one of these house Negroes, as Glenn Ford would call them, openly attacking the US government as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world the way MLK did. To ask the question is to answer it.
I’d like to flag readers attention to an article from j.b.cannon on the Solidarity site ‘A Great Variety of Morbid Symptoms, Seen in the Reflecting Pool Yesterday’ for a closer look at Beck’s rally.