King's socialism

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Lynn Parramore asks the question was ML King a socialist?

Consider King's words in a letter to Coretta Scott in 1952: "I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic," he wrote, adding that capitalism had "out-lived its usefulness" because it had "brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes."

King was 23 years old when he wrote that.

The same year, his future spouse sent him a copy of Edward Bellamy's utopian socialist novel of 1888, Looking Backward. King wrote to her with revolutionary fervor: "Let us continue to hope, work, and pray that in the future we will live to see a warless world, a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood that transcends race or color...This is the gospel that I will preach to the world."

Parramore asks, "if King was an economic radical from the beginning, why don't we know more about it?" and lauds Michael Honey's book To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, although it does not capture the whole story:

He says that the reason MLK's legacy has been misunderstood has to do with political and cultural forces in King's time and in our own.

Honey points out that civil rights leaders who rose to prominence before King, like W.E.B. Du Bois and Ella Baker, explicitly linked racism to economic injustice, but that line of thinking became taboo during the Red Scare. King, explains Honey, was a pragmatist who saw that it would not be possible to make progress on poverty until black people were able to vote and wield political power. So he devoted his efforts to securing civil rights as the first step in a movement to turn America into a place where poor people of all colors would one day be empowered.

Parramore concludes: "If we are not serious about the redistribution of wealth and power, we are not fully honoring MLK."

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 5, 2018 10:44 AM.

liberal win was the previous entry in this blog.

Bayes is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives


  • About
  • Contact
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.031