I Have A Nightmare

Martin Luther KingForty-six years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It remains his most famous speech, and the most famous part of the March on Washington – or, as Malcolm X called it, the Farce on Washington.

“I Have A Dream” is the cliché that people immediately remember when they think of Martin Luther King. They forget his profound disapproval of the capitalist system, his opposition to war, his fight against poverty, or the way he was vilified by the press for suggesting that nonviolence was not only necessary for black people, but for the whole world. They forget that only a few years later, he would be saying this:

In 1963… in Washington, D.C., … I tried to talk to the nation about a dream that I had had, and I must confess… that not long after talking about that dream, I started seeing it turn into a nightmare.

[…]

I watched that dream turn into a nightmare as I moved through the ghettos of the nation and saw black brothers and sisters perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity, and saw the nation doing nothing to grapple with the Negroes’ problem of poverty.

[…]

I saw the dream turn into a nightmare as I watched the war in Vietnam escalating… Yes, I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes.

And so I prefer to remember this great man by the words that are much closer to what he believed, to what he fought for, in the years in which his wisdom and understanding had reached the highest point they were allowed, before those who feared him made sure to remove his influence.

We’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which producers beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. “Who owns the oil?“… “Who owns the iron ore?“ … “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?

And as a reminder that true Christians have walked this Earth, and that the degenerate hatemongers who call for war against the enemies of Christ are not everything that Christianity has ever produced:

Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with justice and it seems I can hear God saying to America “you are too arrogant, and if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God. Men will beat their swords into plowshafts and their spears into pruning hooks, and nations shall not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore.” I don’t know about you, I ain’t going to study war anymore.

President Obama likes to talk about change, but this is what change means:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

And finally, as President Obama continues the butchery in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the liberal press continues to have orgasms over the fact that a black man is president, perhaps people should remember these words:

This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

Amen, Dr. King. I hope one day the people of this planet will finally understand what you were talking about, and put an end to the immoral and illogical madness of our political and economic system and the misery and hatred that it produces.

That is a dream worth fighting for.

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13 Comments

  1. J.H.

     /  September 1, 2009

    Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?

    I seem to be experiencing deja vu here, Mr Kyratzes.

    I replied to a post you made a long time ago concerning this very subject. Allow me to recap:

    Yes, the world is indeed two-thirds water. Pity that most of it’ll kill you if you try to drink it. Unless of course someone, somewhere, purifies and/or disinfects it. Clean drinking water isn’t a natural phenomenon. It’s not like picking an apple off a tree, nor should it be taken for granted. That work has to be undertaken by people. People who will want compensation of some sort. They won’t do it for free or simply for the sake of doing it. Not for any length of time, anyway.

    I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people,

    I’m afraid this is the whole problem with the worldview; it’s machines, computers, profit motives and property rights that benefit people. It’s all this that’s putting food on people’s plates, keeping people informed, educated and doing it well, despite attempts to tear them down. Moral crusades and baby kissing won’t feed anyone. Sentiments and gestures don’t educate or clothe. And there won’t be anything produced unless there’s an incentive to produce it, which rarely occurs under the threat of violence or when people can just take whatever they want; sharing is of little value when there’s nothing to share.

    People can’t exist without “things”; a “thing” orientated society is a necessity.

    the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

    What has racism got to do with of this? Racism, I suspect, is a leftover from our evolutionary past – the fear of that which is different, which some people incorrectly regard as evidence of an existential threat. Economic conditions and the presence of computers etc. doesn’t somehow turn people into racists, nor will it stop people from being racist or displaying any other form of bigotry. Property rights? Generally, the whole purpose of one group initiating a war is to steamroll over property rights of another group, which has usually only ever been to the detriment of that other group. This has been the case throughtout history. The spreading of religion is usually the other reason, but I digress.

  2. I seem to be experiencing deja vu here, Mr Kyratzes.

    I’m very sorry. Does it bother you that I have posted the same quote more than once over the years?

    Yes, the world is indeed two-thirds water. Pity that most of it’ll kill you if you try to drink it. Unless of course someone, somewhere, purifies and/or disinfects it. Clean drinking water isn’t a natural phenomenon. It’s not like picking an apple off a tree, nor should it be taken for granted. That work has to be undertaken by people. People who will want compensation of some sort. They won’t do it for free or simply for the sake of doing it. Not for any length of time, anyway.

    You’re entirely missing the point of the quote, again. No-one has ever said people should not be compensated for their work. In fact, one of the main points of both King’s late activism and of socialism in general is fair compensation. The point of the quote is to question the way we share and commercialize resources. It’s a question of ownership and property rights, of the way society and the economic system organize the use and distribution of resources. After all, water isn’t purified by a couple of individuals sitting by the sea by their own personal choice and selling clean water at the side of the road. It’s an organized venture.

    I’m afraid this is the whole problem with the worldview; it’s machines, computers, profit motives and property rights that benefit people.

    I’ll agree on machines and computers.

    It’s all this that’s putting food on people’s plates, keeping people informed, educated and doing it well, despite attempts to tear them down. Moral crusades and baby kissing won’t feed anyone. Sentiments and gestures don’t educate or clothe.

    Ah, but this isn’t about technophobia. It’s about what our society should focus on in terms of morality and law. The problem isn’t that we have technology, it’s that our system values property rights over human rights and profit motives over human life. That’s what’s wrong.
    In fact, this also leads to an absurd usage of technology, where instead of making human life simpler and requiring humans to work less, technology leads to poverty and job losses. This would be entirely unnecessary in a more rationally organized system.

    And there won’t be anything produced unless there’s an incentive to produce it, which rarely occurs under the threat of violence or when people can just take whatever they want; sharing is of little value when there’s nothing to share.

    No-one suggested either scenario. Violence and anarchy are not the only alternatives to a greed-based system.

    People can’t exist without “things”; a “thing” orientated society is a necessity.

    Since we require material things to live and to maintain quality of life, that is obviously true. But that doesn’t mean that our society’s values must hold that a company’s profits are more important than the individuals working for that company, or the rest of humanity. And yet that is how our system functions, because profit is our central motive.

    What has racism got to do with of this? Racism, I suspect, is a leftover from our evolutionary past – the fear of that which is different, which some people incorrectly regard as evidence of an existential threat.
    Economic conditions and the presence of computers etc. doesn’t somehow turn people into racists, nor will it stop people from being racist or displaying any other form of bigotry.

    No, obviously computers will not do that, and that’s not the point. Economic conditions? Of course they will turn people into racists. Observe the history of racism in the last 100 years. Observe the rise of racism right now, as the economy fails again and people’s lives become harder. Racism comes to be in times of economic hardship because it allows the powers that be to deflect blame about their role in the creation of poverty to a scapegoat. “The evil foreigners are taking away our jobs!” Read up a bit on Hungary and Romania and what’s happening to the Roma people right now. Or about all the racist campaigns in Britain.

    Property rights? Generally, the whole purpose of one group initiating a war is to steamroll over property rights of another group

    Otherwise known as profit. See the Iraq war, the Aghanistan war, and so on, for further information. Profit over humanity.

  3. J.H.

     /  September 1, 2009

    Ah, but this isn’t about technophobia. It’s about what our society should focus on in terms of morality and law. The problem isn’t that we have technology, it’s that our system values property rights over human rights and profit motives over
    human life. That’s what’s wrong.

    Property rights are human rights. There’s no point arguing for fair compensation and then allow that compensation to then be confiscated. That’s just slavery by proxy.

    In fact, this also leads to an absurd usage of technology, where instead of making human life simpler and requiring humans to work less, technology leads to poverty and job losses.

    When that ever been the case?

    No-one suggested either scenario. Violence and anarchy are not the only alternatives to a greed-based system.

    Greed doesn’t come into it. The only alterntive to trade is invariably violence.

    Economic conditions? Of course they will turn people into racists. Observe the history of racism in the last 100 years. Observe the rise of racism right now, as the economy fails again and people’s lives become harder. Racism comes to be in times of economic hardship because it allows the powers that be to deflect blame about their role in the creation of poverty to a scapegoat.

    That doesn’t mean that economic failure causes racism, or even that propaganda does so. All the hate speeches and economic failures in the world won’t make me racist and suspect it wouldn’t affect you, either.

    “The evil foreigners are taking away our jobs!”

    I’ve heard this cry non-stop, regardless of economic conditions or the state of the job market. That’s what idiots who are already racist think, not what certain economic conditions make people think.

    Or about all the racist campaigns in Britain.

    I live in Britain and racist groups are nothing like as prolific as they used to be. The recent rise in the BNP is most likely due to terrorism and the lack of any viable political opposition.

    Otherwise known as profit. See the Iraq war, the Aghanistan war, and so on, for further information. Profit over humanity.

    In what way does profit entail a violation of property rights?

  4. Property rights are human rights. There’s no point arguing for fair compensation and then allow that compensation to then be confiscated. That’s just slavery by proxy.

    No, money is a social construct that has no actual value. Besides, I don’t see how this makes any sense. It’s unfair to pay workers for the work they do and tax giant corporations a part of their profits for the good of society, but it’s fair for a giant corporation to pay workers next to nothing in the name of profit?

    When that ever been the case?

    Ummm… the last 300 years or so? Don’t tell me that the mechanization of labour has not led to job losses. That’s not Marxism, it’s history. More efficiency and robotisation in industry has always meant job losses. Anyone who can be replaced is replaced.

    Greed doesn’t come into it. The only alterntive to trade is invariably violence.

    That’s a religious statement, not a statement of logic. Besides, no-one one wants to completely abolish trade. This about creating a logical and fair environment, and putting democratic restrictions on certain things.

    That doesn’t mean that economic failure causes racism, or even that propaganda does so. All the hate speeches and economic failures in the world won’t make me racist and suspect it wouldn’t affect you, either.

    And everyone in the world is like that? Everyone in the world was lucky enough to grow up in an environment where this kind of thinking was taught? And hell, I suspect that both you and I are well-off by the standards of a lot of people. And I’m anything but rich.

    I’ve heard this cry non-stop, regardless of economic conditions or the state of the job market. That’s what idiots who are already racist think, not what certain economic conditions make people think.

    And you honestly believe that this is not used by governments and other groups to create scapegoats for the economic situation? Cause, you know, there is a lot of examples, from Germany to Italy to Romania.

    I live in Britain and racist groups are nothing like as prolific as they used to be. The recent rise in the BNP is most likely due to terrorism and the lack of any viable political opposition.

    Racism takes many shapes. Look at all the “local homes for local people” nonsense.

    In what way does profit entail a violation of property rights?

    I was responding to what you said about war.
    Profit is achieved by the violation of other people’s rights, as in Iraq, or in South America, or a thousand other places in the world where corporations have made significant profits by stampeding over other people’s rights.

  5. J.H.

     /  September 2, 2009

    No, money is a social construct that has no actual value.

    Indeed, it’s only a means of exchange, it’s actual value is subjective though, not zero.

    Besides, I don’t see how this makes any sense. It’s unfair to pay workers for the work they do

    As far as I’m aware, everyone gets paid for the work they do. Labour, like money, is also subjective in value.

    and tax giant corporations a part of their profits for the good of society,

    Taxation is a different kettle of fish. This is what we call robbery when done privately, as force is initiated. But the government can get away with it, which opens a whole can of worms. Initiating force for the good of society is not a good thing and this example is particularly bad because the ‘good of society’ is almost impossible to objectively measure.

    but it’s fair for a giant corporation to pay workers next to nothing in the name of profit?

    What’s fair and what isn’t is also subjective.

    Ummm… the last 300 years or so? Don’t tell me that the mechanization of labour has not led to job losses.

    Guess what: Mechanisation has not lead to job losses. Something like 90% of the jobs that existed 300 years ago no longer exist today.

    But where’s the 90% unemployment rate?

    More efficiency and robotisation in industry has always meant job losses. Anyone who can be replaced is replaced.

    Then they find alternative employment in other jobs or jobs that didn’t exist before.

    That’s a religious statement, not a statement of logic.

    It’s a statement of logic; the law of the exluded middle. Either a transaction is voluntary or it isn’t. You can’t have a ‘sort-of-voluntary’ transaction.

  6. As far as I’m aware, everyone gets paid for the work they do. Labour, like money, is also subjective in value.

    I don’t know how to argue with you. Certain basic ideas seem to be completely missing here. If one person does 99% of the work and gets 1% of the profit, that is unfair and irrational. That’s pretty obvious.

    Taxation is a different kettle of fish. This is what we call robbery when done privately, as force is initiated. But the government can get away with it, which opens a whole can of worms. Initiating force for the good of society is not a good thing and this example is particularly bad because the ‘good of society’ is almost impossible to objectively measure.

    I’m sorry, but this is absurd, and nothing more than a symptom of a fear of society, of being part of something. Taxation is part of the common agreement that also gives money value in the first place. In a democratic society, it is represenative of the ideas of the community. It is part of living together. Nobody is stealing your private possessions – it is simply a part of how we organize our economy. Why do you feel so threatened by it?
    A robber will take away your private property and keep it to himself – the purpose of taxation is to provide common services for all, not to enrich an individual.

    What’s fair and what isn’t is also subjective.

    It is not totally subjective, unless you use religious or cultural excuses, like “so-and-so does not deserve it.”

    Guess what: Mechanisation has not lead to job losses. Something like 90% of the jobs that existed 300 years ago no longer exist today.

    But where’s the 90% unemployment rate?

    Sophistry. Of course new fields of work have also been created. But you cannot deny the simple objective reality of a great many people are losing their jobs because they can be replaced by machines. And if you think about it, you will see that we could create a society in which less work was needed to maintain the same (or higher) standard of living, if technology were to be used rationally. It all comes down to how we treat work and money – as a means to an end (productivity to guarantee standards of living) or as a self-purpose (work because you have to).

    Then they find alternative employment in other jobs or jobs that didn’t exist before.

    Yeah, go to Detroit and tell people about that.

    It’s a statement of logic; the law of the exluded middle. Either a transaction is voluntary or it isn’t. You can’t have a ’sort-of-voluntary’ transaction.

    So all law and all society are essentially violent? And you see no violence in capitalism? A worker who is not even paid enough to live is “free” whereas a company that has to give away a certain percentage of its profits for the society that it is part of is under threat of violence?
    Besides, the way you bring everything down to “either a transaction is voluntary or it isn’t” is a complete and useless (and absolutist) abstraction when you’re talking about society and economy. You can’t just reduce things to that.

    Furthermore, how does this idea of violence relate to democratic ownership of resources and certain means of production? Are you more free if your water and your electricity are owned by an individual or if they are owned by a democratic government that represents the people?

  7. I’ve linked to this before, and I’ll probably link to it again: Why Socialism?, by Albert Einstein, makes many points about the problems of capitalism more elonquently than I can.

  8. J.H.

     /  September 4, 2009

    I don’t know how to argue with you. Certain basic ideas seem to be completely missing here. If one person does 99% of the work and gets 1% of the profit, that is unfair and irrational.

    It depends on the work involved. And I doubt anyone works, or would work for that kind of profit margin unless the alternative was exceptionally bad.

    I’m sorry, but this is absurd, and nothing more than a symptom of a fear of society, of being part of something.

    Society doesn’t tax people – the government does and you haven’t even addressed the argument I’ve made.

    Your evaluation of me is quite laughable: Because I object to being legally robbed, I’m frightened of society? Complete non-sequitur. Even if I was frightened of the people who rob them, but that’s non-essential to the point I’m trying to make.

    Taxation is part of the common agreement that also gives money value in the first place.

    There was no common agreement. When was the last time you were even consulted on this issue? No one – society or the government have never consulted me on how much I should or shouldn’t be paying or for what.

    Let’s put this scenario in a microcosm: A group of people in one street decide that all houses must be painted a particular colour. This is a democratic street, so everyone is forced to pay towards this, even the ones that don’t like the idea, who grudgingly pay. Someone comes back from holiday to see his house a different colour and people demanding money for painting it. He refuses and says that his house was painted without permission. Those who approve of the painting take the man to court.

    An implied social contract such as this one wouldn’t last a single minute in a court of law; the case would be the thrown straight out.

    In a democratic society, it is represenative of the ideas of the community. It is part of living together. Nobody is stealing your private possessions – it is simply a part of how we organize our economy.

    Claiming that it’s how we organise the economy doesn’t exclude the possibility of the organisation involving theft. Yes, they are stealing my private possessions; I’ve made my case and you haven’t proven otherwise.

    Why do you feel so threatened by it?

    Do you still beat your wife?

    A robber will take away your private property and keep it to himself

    So you see the issue as not whether or not someone is being robbed, but on who the robbery benefits?

    the purpose of taxation is to provide common services for all, not to enrich an individual.

    But other individuals are being enriched. This is often used by governments as a method of “buying” votes. They are still being robbed. You just seem to be trying to sugar-coat the fact.

    So all law and all society are essentially violent?

    All politics is essentially violence. There’s no getting around it.

    And you see no violence in capitalism? A worker who is not even paid enough to live is “free” whereas a company that has to give away a certain percentage of its profits for the society that it is part of is under threat of violence?

    I’m sorry, but that’s not violence and yes every worker /is/ free to seek whatever working deal he or she likes. Employers that pay below the market rate will inevitably lose their employees to those who pay at or above it. Same with countries.

    Besides, the way you bring everything down to “either a transaction is voluntary or it isn’t” is a complete and useless (and absolutist) abstraction when you’re talking about society and economy. You can’t just reduce things to that.

    Is that right? Okay then, try this: I believe that the rich should have the right to force the poor to engage in involuntary transactions (i.e. slavery).

    Feel free to tell me that voluntarism is still meaningless in a economic/societal context.

    Over to you.

    Furthermore, how does this idea of violence relate to democratic ownership of resources and certain means of production?

    It depends how it’s done. If it’s just siezed, under the pretext that everyone should own it, then it is a form of theft. There’s no way that everyone in the entire country contributed towards it. Don’t get me started on the practicallity or effectiveness of democratic descision making, especially when it involves millions of people.

    Are you more free if your water and your electricity are owned by an individual or if they are owned by a democratic government that represents the people?

    The latter implies a monopoly, the former usually doesn’t. I’ll leave it at that.

    I’ve linked to this before, and I’ll probably link to it again: Why Socialism?, by Albert Einstein, makes many points about the problems of capitalism more elonquently than I can.

    Yes, IIRC, you did post that last time aswell. Deja vu. I’m going to call it “The Einstein Card”.

  9. It depends on the work involved. And I doubt anyone works, or would work for that kind of profit margin unless the alternative was exceptionally bad.

    It was an example. Look at the pay for your average executive and your average worker, and then shut up.

    Society doesn’t tax people – the government does and you haven’t even addressed the argument I’ve made.

    In a democratic society… oh wait, you’re afraid of democracy.

    So you see the issue as not whether or not someone is being robbed, but on who the robbery benefits?

    Your obsession with continuing to refer to it as robbery even when it affects everyone and benefits everyone is absurd, so I don’t really have anything to say.

    But other individuals are being enriched. This is often used by governments as a method of “buying” votes. They are still being robbed. You just seem to be trying to sugar-coat the fact.

    In a democratic society, where the money from taxes is used to benefit the community, this is not valid. In the current system, sure, but what’s that got to with anything?

    All politics is essentially violence.

    Yes, in your sociopathic religion.

    I’m sorry, but that’s not violence and yes every worker /is/ free to seek whatever working deal he or she likes.

    Oh, because there is so little unemployment, and so many employment opportunities. And all these millions of people who work three underpaid jobs to stay afloat… they’re doing it for the fun of it!

    Employers that pay below the market rate will inevitably lose their employees to those who pay at or above it. Same with countries.

    I really wish you could spend a few years working in a sweatshop, making t-shirts or something. That might get you in touch with reality.

    Don’t get me started on the practicallity or effectiveness of democratic descision making, especially when it involves millions of people.

    Here’s the heart of the matter: you’re scared of democracy, because you’re scared of society. You have to spend your time yelling about how everyone is stealing your stuff and infringing on your property rights.

    The latter implies a monopoly, the former usually doesn’t. I’ll leave it at that.

    So when almost everything is owned by a giant corporation, that’s not a monopoly? But if it’s owned by the state and thus under the control of the populace… A monopoly isn’t relevant if it’s democratically controlled. I’m not talking about a dictatorship here, I’m talking about your own personal boogeyman: DEMOCRACY. OTHER PEOPLE.

    Yes, IIRC, you did post that last time as well. Deja vu. I’m going to call it “The Einstein Card”.

    So what’s with constantly using the term deva vu? Do you have a problem with people having opinions that remain constant for more than ten seconds? Einstein’s arguments, which you can’t really respond to, were as relevant last time as they are now. Why should I not post them, then?

    Do you still beat your wife?

    Now listen, you sociopathic little shit: I realize you make this kind of comment with the intention of provoking me, and that you will say that I am overreacting to something you said sarcastically, meaning to illustrate the idiocy of my own arguments. But the very fact that you would write something as offensive as that shows just how rude and socially underdeveloped you are. From now on, you can go vent your paranoid fear of other people somewhere else, and indulge in your Randesque fantasies with other unhappy self-centered nutcases. You will not post on this website anymore, and if you do, your posts will be deleted immediately. I have better things to do with my time than to spend it responding to someone whose sense of reality is to twisted and whose knowledge of the world is so limited that every single one of his arguments seems to come from a bad surrealist play. People like you are the reason the world is in the state it’s in, because you are incapable of social thought, incapable of caring about others, and ultimately incapable of living a meaningful life that contributes something to the species that has unfortunately brought you forth. There’s no point talking to people like you; you have to be defeated, not convinced. And if that is violence – intellectual violence, the violence of creating a better world against the wishes of those who prefer to wallow in the misery of their ego – then so be it.
    I’m going to call this “The Fuck You Card”.

  10. Kate

     /  September 5, 2009

    This actually started as an intelligent and interesting debate. On the internet all things turn to trolling.

    The Fuck You Card is a nice touch though.

  11. Sarah

     /  September 16, 2009

    That is the best “Fuck you” I have ever read. It made me feel good inside.

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