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Martin Luther King
We are white mice participating in a great historical experiment.

The idea of completely untrammeled, frictionless capitalism has only been a theoretical construct till now, but we are almost there today.

There are basically two -- untried -- theories of how this would play out.

On one hand the free market liberals believe that, if not interfered with, the markets will bring mankind an endless cornucopia of good things that will lift all boats.

On the other hand Marx believed that left to its own devices, the system would tear itself apart.

Us white mice have front row seats at this experiment, rather like crab lice at the birth of Jesus.

All over the world and increasingly in developed countries like the USA, this metastasizing process of anarcho-capitalism that I call "stateless-imperialism" is producing a hardening mass of misery, which in America is known as the "working poor": an intractable class of unemployed, or underemployed human beings, or if they have work (often needing several jobs to get by) they are invariably overworked, over exploited, always underpaid, socially excluded and in general, politically inert. These are America's untermenschen, living in what is said to be the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world. A place which fills its mouth with phrases like, "all men are created equal" and washes it down with the greatest levels of inequality on the planet... even greater than in India.

Once again Indian metaphors arise, and this is because the Indians have been working on codifying this social stratification for thousands of years. So looking at their caste system will give us a clearer idea of where we are headed.

Everybody has heard of "untouchables", but many people that are unfamiliar with the workings of India's ancient caste system are probably unaware that there are categories way below the untouchables called the "unapproachables" and the "un-seeables". That is to say human beings you cannot share open space with and other human beings you cannot even lay eyes upon without being polluted.These last two categories are most applicable to today's gated-community, America.
"We've got the message. But my college kid, the babysitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just feel like if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't get how it works." (guest at a Romney Hamptons fundraiser hat doonesbury)
And paradoxically, America's affluent usually choose members of this underclass to take care of their children and cook their food.  However, except for that strange intimacy, the wealthy have put as much mental and physical space as they can between themselves and this mass of suffering humanity, denying them even a decent education and healthcare... This in the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world. No high caste Indian could be colder or crueler then then America's wealthy, not even get close. India is our future, nearly our present, not some exotic oddity.

Martin Luther King, America's most successful social activist's greatest influence was Mahatma Gandhi, so, not so indirectly, Gandhi may be one of America's most influential thinkers

King took as his model Gandhi's tactics and more importantly, perhaps, Gandhi's seamless infusion of political activism  with a spirituality that allowed King to connect on a deeply emotional plane with Americans of all colors and creeds just as Gandhi did with Indians.

Today, in great part thanks to Martin Luther King, America's "untouchables" are no longer so rigorously color coded, however these days, many who once sat comfortably at America's groaning table now have become familiar with the humiliation of un-aproachibility and invisibility, to add to their precarious hardscrabble existence without adequate healthcare or education.

In many ways Dr. King was more successful than Gandhi, that an African-American sits in the Oval Office today is the living proof of his success.

Today what is missing from the left is the emotional energy that came from MLK's Gandhian infusing of activism with spirituality.

In his 2008 campaign Barack Obama showed that Americans are still moved by the beauty of our English language when it invokes social justice... That there was little practical follow up to the "soaring rhetoric" in no way invalidates the revelation that many Americans are hungry for another social leader like Martin Luther King. For me that is the challenge that faces the American left in defending what should be its natural constituency, America's working poor.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

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