As political leaders, celebrities, and civil rights activists descend on the city of Selma, Alabama this weekend to commemorate the famous march that culminated in the brutal assault by local law enforcement that became known as 'Bloody Sunday' on March 7, 1965, both veteran participants and a younger generation of racial justice advocates are making it clear that even after fifty years of struggle—despite monumental victories won by those who marched and died for the cause —the ultimate fight aimed at securing equal rights, economic justice, and shared opportunities is far from over.
A key reason for the widespread curtailment of the ‘gains’ of the Civil Rights Movement is that, as Toure says, “the roots are shallow and feeble.” The movement sought increased access to a patently unjust and corrupt system that was built and predicated upon the debasement and exploitation of the very persons the movement sought to elevate. This was approach was an invitation to piecemeal ‘success’ at best, and to catastrophic failure at worst.
The revolutionary energies that percolated within and alongside the Civil Rights Movement were diverted, co-opted, and squelched; what remained was tepid, reformist striving that resulted in what we have today. If blacks in the US wish to achieve full citizenship in the aggregate-- as opposed to ‘success’ and ‘achievement’ for a relative few-- it will have to be in a country that is fundamentally different than what currently exists.
In the picture I see policemen beating up people with clubs. Haven’t I seen this more recently? Why should a picture of policemen beating up people with clubs seem any more normal than, say, a picture of the entire fire department setting your city’s downtown on fire with flamethrowers?
Amen, SamHolloway. The core structure of civil order is fundamentally corrupt, if not audaciously hypocritical. Call it serfdom, indentured servitude or slavery, the entire economic system influencing society is built on exploitation of the peasant class. The American system of injustice, particularly, is an open hand slap to the principles upon which democracy is predicated. The poorer you are, the more persecution from the wealthy elite and its Cossack enforcers.
The key to any successful progressive agenda is electoral reform. This article highlights the shortcomings of the American Republic since its inception and therefore the next spontaneous progressive uprising (i.e. Occupy) must address some fundamental changes to our broken system.
- Everyone of legal age votes. Make no exceptions including people who are incarcerated. Simply match one vote with each SSN. If you have a SSN, then you must cast a ballot either on election day or up to three months prior to an election by mail, by visiting an elections office or by the internet. A response would be mailed to each voter to confirm their selection.
- Eliminate all political contributions from special interest groups with a penalty of criminal prosecution to those who ignore this law.
- Equal funding from the government to all candidates who participate in an election regardless of political affiliation. Whether you’re Democrat, Tea Party advocate, Communist or Progressive, each candidate would receive equal funding prior to the election.
- Guaranteed access of all candidates to media, public and academic debates.
- Implement government funded political websites describing each candidate in their own words with key political questions asked of each candidate so that voters can determine where they stand on various issues.
- Snap elections called anytime our federal government orders the killing of people abroad. All governments must be held accountable to the public when such a weighty decision such as killing people in our name is made.
Watch how quickly democracy would return to America if these simple, yet highly unlikely amendments were made to our electoral system.
The recent Hilton case proves beyond a shadow of a doubt just how corrupt the system is. Police forces, finance, judiciary, press all bought and paid for. The 1% don’t realize it, but they have volunteered for the Mars expedition.
Clive Bundy proved that Americans can stand up to bullish cops.
Clarence Thomas always seems to vote with the racists. Some rich blacks like Bill Cosby blame their own race for their plight. And black gangstas are killing each other. They all changed their race affiliation to the Green Race (money).
I would add, safe, encrypted online voting in addition to standard less safe methods, to your list. You print and/or save a copy of your ballot for a paper trail and greatly increase voter turnout. Encryption is Snowden’s recommended method of safe online communication. And no paper ballots to be lost or voting machines that get hacked.
You left out my favorite, fundamentally corruption-resistant forms of election. The Single Transferable Vote method of Proportional Representation, (voting for first choice, second choice…) is like that wherever it is tried. Cambridge, MA has tried it for 74 years. No mudslinging, the city council looks like the population, the government’s books are all balanced, Cambridge has all the jobs that the area needs, nice transit,…
It’s impossible to define “racial justice” today, since the term is vague, applies to a broad range of factors, etc. The current discussion has been focused on police violence. What has changed over the past 50 years is that far more of the police are black. Can anyone think of a more workable solution for now than to confine black police to black communities, and white police to white communities?
When you get into “civil rights,” that’s a a different discussion. “Civil rights” means legal rights, and is not race specific. By both our attitudes today AND our laws, we have systematically stripped our poor of a range of human and civil rights. Black Americans are disproportionately poor, and the majority of US poor are white. The fact that we don’t talk about brutality in poor white communities doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – esp. in rural areas.
What truly has changed is that the call for justice and opportunity is now racially-restricted, applying only to black America, while ignoring severe poverty among white Americans. These issues are, of course, far too complex for a post, but they show why the real war in the US today is one of class, not race. The success is this war required pitted the poor against each other by race, and this has been achieved. This was something that Dr. M.L.King had addressed – his economic message that is carefully censored out of today’s MLK Day observances. Dr. King pointed out why it was necessary for the poor of all races to unite to push back – a message that is unacceptable (even by liberals) in today’s Middle Class Only culture.
The key to any successful progressive agenda is to first figure out what that agenda is. Our lib media have spent years merely promoting middle class elitism – albeit with an occasional pat on the head to the working poor. This has been an agenda for stagnation at best, not progress. We had a comparatively progressive agenda from FDR to Reagan, during which policies and programs were implemented that enabled the US to achieve its height of wealth and productivity. With Reagan, we reversed course, phasing out those policies and programs. Results: When Reagan was first elected, launching the long campaign against our poor, the overall quality of life in the US was rated at #1. By the time Obama was elected, this had already plunged to #43. What is the progressive response? Lib media merely waves the banner for the better off, those still in the middle class.
Progressive politics isn’t new. By definition, progressive politics is focused primarily on socioeconomic issues. It is impossible to have a progressive agenda that disregards our poverty crisis (or brushes it back under the carpet with calls for job creation). There are no pols, no candidates today, who call for a progressive agenda. Not one.
The truth of the matter is that the US has never believed in “democracy” from its very inception. That is why ther is an “electoral colege” which actually elects the president and not the collective popular vote. That is why all African Americans (most of whom were slaves living in the states of the confederacy) were “for purposes of apportionment” considered 3/5 of a person and along with all women were not allowed to vote.
This idea of “democracy” has always been anathema to those with wealth and privilege and the power to control others. The “masses” as they would call them, are a troublesome lot whose highest and best purpose is to toil in servitude till they die. These are the people who first settled, eventually founded, and still control the United States of America. When Calvin Coolidge famously said “the business of America is business” he summed up in one short and piquant phrase what the United States was and remains about in this world.
The architects of class struggle have read and applied Caesar’s famous work “Commentaries on the Gallic Campaign” in which he describes how with numerically inferior forces his Roman legions subdued all of Gaul (modern day France, Belgium, and even parts of Switzerland) and conquered it in the name of Rome. Caesar realized that united the Gallic nations would squish his forces, but divided they could be beaten off one at a time. And so he did and so they were.
All of those boarding schools that train the elite’s youth for rule study and apply this work while the “masses” get to read such literary trash as Harry Potter and works about zombies and vampires at public schools. “Class struggle” from the point oif view of the elites is Caesar’s “divide and conquer” campaign writ large throughout history.
America’s class struggle is different. The proverbial masses were divided some years ago. The middle class targeted the poor, and the rich bide their time, waiting to move in the for the kill, finishing off the middle class. It’s not a situation of “the 1% vs. the 99%.”
"The movement sought increased access to a patently unjust and corrupt system that was built and predicated upon the debasement and exploitation of the very persons the movement sought to elevate.
Inotherwords, the only real way to get discernible change is to change our society altogether. Martin Luther King Junior wanted a different kind of a society, but, unfortunately, he was killed before he even got to implement his agenda.
This is exactly what Caesar did in Gaul–only instead of economic class he used ethnic grouping for his strategy. The entire point of divide and conquer is break down a mass of people into managable chunks and demolish the groupings one by one.
When the 99% are subdivided (and made suspicious of and contentious towards one another) they are easy pickings for a determined and united foe to vanquish.
Martin Luther King Jr., however, had no intention of using socioeconomic class in order to get a divide and conquer strategy. On the contrary, he was into uniting people together.
Just asking: Why in the hell was George Bush allowed to march? George Bush is an insult to all the brave people that died on the infamous bloody Sunday march 50 years ago.