WASHINGTON, January 16, 2017 — On the monumental occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth, let us consider the “economy” of social critique, pondering where we stand in the global village among our fellow human beings, writing from a colored perspective.Writing on economics—both on fiscal policy (community resource planning through taxing regimes) and on monetary policy (the control of money supply and interest rates—is often tedious for younger readers, but still important to the general public.
Politics is more interesting to general audiences, and political writing usually has a philosophical slant. This column favors the Hamiltonian emphasis on fundamentals over Jeffersonian political rhetoric, which often places practicality over principle. And fundamentals include economic principles.
Dr. King’s dream is both economic and political. It is realized on a daily basis, despite the claims of naysayers and race baiters. These are intent on fueling feelings of victimhood. They espouse primitive explanations of human behavior and motivation, rejecting multi-faceted explanations that involve a sense of duty.
There is usually more than one reason driving behavior.
King’s dream was a genuine criticism of slavery and human oppression, a chapter of American history that was still unclosed.
Just as ownership of machinery or of the agencies of distribution was the key to wealth in the North after the coming of the Industrial Revolution, so the ownership of slave labor marked in the South the difference between affluence and poverty. This system, which was to color the whole economic life of the South and leave behind it a permanent racial problem (American Political and Social History, by Harold Underwood Faulkner) *Faulkner notes that the original indentured laborers of America were English criminals.
Since that era, the Negro has migrated from the island of poverty to the stratosphere of global CEO: Merck,Time Warner, Xerox have all enlisted black CEO’s into their ranks. MLK reasoned that America, as a nation, gave every race a check, “a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
People of color have cashed in that check for a stake in the dream that is American prosperity.
King warned: “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
The use of police force to oppress was a reality of black America. But to assume that police force against minorities is oppression is to assume that minorities can’t be victimizers as well as victims. Most people bow to the rule of law, are fueled by malice and reject the standards of civil society; they reject peace among those who wish to promote peace.
Some say every rule has an exception. And every exception has a rule. Everything holds true until something is broken on one side of the social equation: law, trust, or faith in our institutions and fellow citizens. And a balance inevitably reasserts itself.
King also said: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”
You find this sapphire of dignity in those possessing a rational intellect. His dream is fulfilled every time those who opt for a pilgrimage of peace over the wandering recklessness of violence are rewarded with the socio economic reward of tranquility and prosperity, like Kwasi Enin.
Kwasi was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools. The Kwasi Enin’s among us should be applauded for standing against the problems facing all humanity, not concentrating solely on racial differences that divide us in strife. Al Sharpton never praises our civic institutions or looks to them for solutions when he lambasts police for acts of violence against black lives. He focuses on the criminals and never on the Kwasis.
I doubt Kwasi will let that stop him from reaching for the highest level of fulfillment life has to offer. I wish the news were full of Kwasi Erins to show the younger generation of Americans what is possible. Women and men like him should be constant reminders of the power and potential of the black community.
To those who fear that not constantly reliving the atrocities of slavery and the struggles for civil rights will undermine those accomplishments, I suggest that those atrocities should not consume our view of the larger society. The negative is a goad to change, but it cannot inspire the way that stories of success do.
Among those who reach for success is Dr. Cornel West, the ideological brand manager of our time. He views the new Trump administration as a validation of neo-fascism, and in a perverse way, he isn’t far from the truth.
MLK dreamed his dream after the global fight against fascism was won. Fascism is an ideology of superiority, yet demands collaboration among the social classes, strengthened through unwavering dedication to national objectives.
This finds echoes in the notion of victimhood, both a form of selfishness and of group thinking distorted by racial oppression.
America’s international fight against fascism—which was historically birthed by socialism, and is the apogee to the Communism that America continually battled—remade itself domestically in the Black Power movement that King worked to lead us away from through his much more beautiful dreams of unity.
The ideology of victimization is the real neo-fascism. Trump does not play to the internal race conflicts, accepting everyone who accept him. His focus is on national economic expansion. In this movement, the interracial mingling of King’s dream is a dynamic reality. There is no limit to America once you believe in America. Food for thought.