A note on MLK, jr. in relation to today’s nationwide protest movement:

The thesis of Martin Luther King, Junior’s non-violent tactical intervention was not “make them feel better about us”, it was “these institutions don’t care about human life, they care about material capital, so let’s disrupt the flow of material capital.”

He knew and articulated in some of his own writing that the most powerful of the ruling class—who arguably hold a lion’s share of reality making powers in our collective institutions as they’re made up presently—would never shed their own blood in a physical conflict. Probably, conflict with disenfranchised racist white individuals would not lead to liberation—precisely because the racists and fascistically minded people in power would remain empowered and safe, far away from any such conflict.

Alternatively, starving to death those centers of power accumulation held by the ruling class (transit, freight, retail, governing bodies) would both diminish their power and hurt them in one of the few ways they could still understand, and would have to deal with. After all, you can only use so many bodies as ballast in your proxy war of oppression and, perhaps, King did not realize that Americans would someday so worship consumerism as they do today that they would lay their lives on the line to protect their own oppressors.

(Addendum: Actually, he did predict this. He wrote once about how racism was so virulent that, given the opportunity to see black individuals more oppressed than themselves, many racists would happily ally with their own subjugators.)

It stood to reason, then, that the bodies broken in conflict and the people divested from participating in consumer culture would add up to the loss of a massive market share which would render the ruling class’s power centers insolvent. This was not a risk these people could entertain indefinitely. It was not a risk that they were willing to take. They killed him for it.

Following his death, these same ruling powers did something worse: they essentially reframed King’s “non-violent” anti racist philosophy. They omitted his theories of economic equity, of intelligent conflict, and of power from published collections of his work, knowing that a philosophy of non-violence alone would lack the power—the teeth—necessary to drive any change. They plotted an intentional omission of major aspects of King’s philosophy to, essentially, de-revolutionize him and convince those who might follow in his footsteps to choose tactics that would never move the needle.

What we are seeing now has a significant historical underpinning. If nothing else, this knowledge should help you to understand current events a little bit better.

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