On April 16, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered this wisdom: “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’”
These words from King still hold true nearly 60 years later. Our world is on the edge of disaster. This is not news, but it is worth repeating. The world as it is now is not suitable for long-term existence for humans and many other species currently living on this planet. Obviously, climate change is the most pressing and existential threat. The UN released a report on the climate and what would be required by 2030 to avoid the worst forecasted damage from climate change, but, according to a summary by Emma Newburger, the report indicates “that global climate pledges for 2030 must be four times higher to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and seven times higher to get on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Our capitalist system, which prioritizes profit for those in possession of capital, is unable to meet these demands. We all know that the oil lobby runs deep in the United States. It has led us into wars and numerous other geopolitical showdowns. This massive lobbying group of financiers, cartels and international monopolies is not going to willingly give up its power.
Getting more to the point, capitalism is not sustainable. This is not an argument; rather, this is a fact. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income for American millennials is $71,556. This sounds good, as this is more than twice the median income of the United States, which is $31,133. That is until you realize the same report shows that the median millennial expenses are $70,146.72. This gives only $1,400 of emergency income for retirement, medical care and other unforeseen issues. The middle class of America is being slowly starved into submission, and this is not a one-party issue.
Republicans under Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, and Democrats under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama instituted probusiness legislation to the vast detriment of the majority of society. This included mass austerity and privatization from the communication sectors to prisons. They also all participated in the police state of America and extended American imperial dominance across the world all in an effort to prolong the life of this collapsing system. Systems end. None last forever. This is natural. We do not live with the slave societies of Ancient Greece and Rome or the feudal societies of the Middle Ages anymore. All systems, even our own, must end.
So when radical activists are out in the streets or conducting actions to create alternate sources of power through things like mutual aid, community policing and other actions, many respond with, “We must work within the system.” These are precisely the people Dr King criticized in his time: People who want solutions on their own terms, with their position intact. The liberal capitalist system led us to this point. It cannot save us from the environmental, economic and social calamities that are engulfing our globe. Do not attack those who are refusing to live under a system actively ruining any prospects of meaningful existence, and who are actively trying to make a sustainable future. Our world needs a revolution — it needs one for its very survival.