Monday, January 19, 2009

Poor People’s Campaign

A brief post on this historic day. Shortly before his assassination Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had started what he referred to as the “second phase” of the civil rights movement, which was to confront capitalism head on with a “Poor People’s Campaign.” Reverend Hosea Williams explained the reason for the PPC, “We will never get free by eliminating racism or bringing about integration. If black people were able to eliminate every aspect of racism and integrate every aspect of American life, we would not be free. Black folks will never be free until we have our fair share of the economy. We live not in a political society, nor in a social society, nor a religious society, we live in an economic society. So we had to launch a movement to gain our fair share of the economy.”

We need to honor Dr. King by demanding an economic democracy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The four horsemen of the apocalypse are riding across the heart of Africa. According to the International Rescue Committee malnutrition, war, and disease is killing 45,000 people every month in the Congo. Since the start of the war as many as 5.4 million people have died. All of this death and suffering is largely due to powerful forces (such as Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi) who have tried to dominate and exploit the Congolese natural resources, primarily Columbite-tantalite known as coltain.

While conservatives tend to turn a blind eye to the suffering liberals tend to place too much emphasis on blaming people rather than analyzing the socio-economic relations at play. The Cowardly Lion closes his eyes while Dorothy pays too much attention to the image of the wizard with the noise and the fire and ends up ignoring the man behind the curtain.

The cause of the problem isn’t simply that we buy electronics, such as cell phones, with coltan. While the situation in the Congo is rather complex a large part of the blame for the violence in the Congo belongs to globalized capitalism. As I’ve written before capitalism is a socio-economic system focused on the expansion and protection of capital (i.e. private investment). One of the primary ways of expanding capital in the manufacturing process is to acquire raw materials at the lowest price possible. These cheap resources help increase surplus value (i.e. profit), which the corporations send to their shareholders (i.e. capitalists) in the form of dividends. This perpetual demand by corporations for cheap raw materials, such as coltran, regardless of the human consequences is what drives the violence in the Congo.

Do you want to do something substantial to help the people of the Congo? Get involved in helping to replace capitalism with an economic democracy.