US House Votes Against Socialism
One of America’s greatest leaders of our time was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He articulated the hope and determination of black Americans to fully participate in the US economic and social expansion of the post war era. And he led a national movement to realize the goals of ending the era of “Jim Crow” discrimination.
Dr. King’s deep study of history enabled him to place the black freedom movement within the context of the struggle of all working people for liberation from the oppressive and limiting shackles of the economic system of capitalism. Dr. King articulated this dynamic to his followers, although these thoughts have been suppressed.
A Harvard-trained black historian, Carter G. Woodson, believed that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization were realized when he and the organization he founded announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
It’s notable that the US House of Representatives passed a resolution with a 328-86 majority condemning socialism at the beginning of Black History Month. According to The Hill, several Democrats who voted against the resolution expressed concerns regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare. They noted that Republicans on the Rules Committee rejected an amendment that sought to clarify that opposition to the implementation of socialist policies in the U.S. does not include federal programs like Medicare and Social Security.
In light of the overwhelming vote by all Republicans and a majority of Democrats in the House for this resolution condemning socialism during Black History month, some of Dr. King’s statements about socialism seem especially relevant. Dr. King’s words should be taken as moral and political justification for the 86 Democrats who voted against the resolution and the 14 who voted present.
I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic… [Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive… but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness.” – Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952.
“In a sense, you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.” – Quote to New York Times reporter, José Igelsias, 1968.
“And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…” – Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.
“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.” – Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.
“We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.”- Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.
Dr. King’s words are prophetic. Today capitalism in the USA is characterized by war, poverty, hunger, homelessness, official murder of African-Americans, abuse of minorities, women, and gender nonconformity, and a climate Armageddon. His statements must be the guiding light for America’s progressive majority.
Democratic socialism must be expanded though social security, public education, and public infrastructure. It must be expanded with Medicare for All, student debt forgiveness, free public transportation, unhindered access to union membership, a full employment program, free education, and many more programs that people living in European democratic socialist countries enjoy.