Martin Luther King and Capitalism

Whenever I try to talk about the necessity of rejecting capitalism, people don’t seem to even comprehend what that means. Why it must happen. When I asked Ronnie, my Mutual Aid mentor about this, he said he’s been having that experience for the twenty years he’s been an activist. He said that was because people hadn’t experienced the collapse of capitalism in their lives, yet. I believe he’s right. Unfortunately, that is changing as the capitalist economy is collapsing. Yet another reason to form more Mutual Aid communities.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid

I too have become fully convinced of the evils of capitalism. Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that my faith dictates that I work to replace it.

Fran Quigley, Director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work was as much about economics and poverty, as it was about racial equality.

“I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic,” Martin Luther King admitted to Coretta Scott, concluding that “capitalism has outlived its usefulness.”

Speaking at a staff retreat of the SCLC in 1966, King said that “something is wrong … with capitalism” and “there must be a better distribution of wealth” in the country. “Maybe,” he suggested, “America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

For King, the only solution to America’s crisis of poverty was the redistribution of wealth. In a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, King declared, “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

The Forgotten Socialist History of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Matthew Miles Goodrich, In These Times, January 16, 2023

Again, we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice, the fact is that Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor both black and white, both here and abroad. If Negroes and poor whites do not participate in the free flow of wealth within our economy, they will forever be poor, giving their energies, their talents and their limited funds to the consumer market but reaping few benefits and services in return.”

I wish that I could say that this is just a passing phase in the cycles of our nation’s life; certainly, times of war, times of reaction throughout the society but I suspect that we are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism

The Three Evils of Society – Delivered at the National Conference on New Politics August 31, 1967, Chicago, Ill

“And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…”

Excerpts from King’s speech “Where Do We Go From Here?” delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967

The title for this blog, Quakers and Religious Socialism, came from exchanges of messages with my friend Fran Quigley. The following was in response to my blog post, The Evil of Capitalism.  

This post of yours struck me close to home. I too have become fully convinced of the evils of capitalism. Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that my faith dictates that I work to replace it. Turns out I am far from alone, so I’ve been devoting much of my time this past year to the Religion and Socialism Committee of the DSA, .

And, as part of a book project on religious socialism, I have published several articles profiling activists from different faith and spiritual traditions who feel called to advocate for a socialist society.  (Examples, if you are interested: a Catholic socialist, a Jewish rabbi socialist, a Black Presbyterian minister socialist, a Liberation Theologian Lutheran minister/professor,  Muslim socialists , a Buddhist socialist and a Black Baptist minister socialist.  I also co-wrote with longtime Religion and Socialism activist Maxine Phillips a short, one-stop primer on the argument for Christian socialism: )

I do not know of a definitive guide to Quaker socialism, but I know Bayard Rustin, Staughton Lynd, and AJ Muste (late-in-life switch to being a Friend) at various times identified as socialists, and there is a robust UK Quaker Socialist Society:  Willard Uphaus was a Christian socialist and pacifist Earlham alum, but it’s not clear to me if he was a Quaker:

Fran Quigley, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and a editorial team member

Des Moines Black Lives Matter/ Black Liberation

Early in our lifetimes, industry provided nearly full employment. Nearly every household had someone who was working, and bringing home a paycheck. All commerce was based on capitalism. Money was required for every transaction. Money was the only way to obtain goods and services.

Then with increasing automation, and moving jobs overseas for cheap labor, the unemployment rate began to increase. Soon millions of people no longer had the income needed to pay for goods and services. The numbers of those without jobs has increased dramatically from the economic impact of the COVID pandemic. Those without jobs have to rely on social safety nets, which often means people are living in poverty, at subsistent levels.

As a society we failed to address the loss of wages for millions of people who no longer had money, in a system that required money for everything–food, shelter, healthcare, etc.

It is clear to me that capitalism is an unjust, untenable system, when there is plenty of food in the grocery stores, but men, women and children are going hungry, living on the streets outside the store. There is no justification for this.

Conscientiously Object to Capitalism, Jeff Kisling, 12/4/2020

The Worker’s Summit of the Americas

As often as I think about why we need to move toward Mutual Aid communities and know that Mutual Aid is far from a new idea, I haven’t spent much time learning about the many cultures and countries that live this way, that are not based on capitalism.

Even though there has been little mainstream media coverage in this country, the Summit of the Americas was a dismal failure because so many countries boycotted it when the Biden administration refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The alternative summit, the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers declares they will, “take concrete action to combat the labor and social violence applied to our peoples by the U.S. and Canadian governments.” I don’t yet know what the power of this group is.

More leaders of Latin American countries have announced they will not attend the Summit of the Americas, which is taking place in Los Angeles. The summit has been mired in controversy after the Biden administration refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he would boycott the talks over Biden’s decision. The presidents of Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have also said they will not attend the summit.

Latin American Leaders Boycott Summit of the Americas, Democracy Now, June 8, 2022

Here is the final declaration of the alternative to the Summit of the Americas, the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers.

We, representatives of Trade Union, Peasant, Political and Social organizations, gathered in Tijuana – Mexico, June 10-12, 2022, on the occasion of the realization of the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers, in immediate response to the exclusion of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua imposed by the Government of the United States.

There is a systemic and structural crisis of capitalism in its imperialist phase. It is in itself a civilizational crisis. The capitalist economic model and its political arm neoliberalism, as well as its modern cultural foundation, have put the planet’s life in crisis. If not eliminated, imperialism’s necropolitics leads us to the planetary collective suicide, which is more lacerating in the sectors less favored by the current world system. Our position is a bet for life, and the empire offers us death: it is either life or death!

We are witnessing a process of recolonization over the people. This is expressed in the excessive growth of racism, poverty, unemployment, job insecurity, environmental deterioration of territories, criminalization of migration, and gender and cultural violence. For this reason, we call upon the programmatic unity of the American continent’s workers, peasants, and progressive and popular forces to reflect, debate, and take concrete action to combat the labor and social violence applied to our peoples by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

We consider that the working class of the 21st century will only be able to play an independent and central role if – in addition to fighting for the most heartfelt demands of the labor movement – it assumes the struggle against patriarchy together with the feminist movement, the struggle of the native peoples against climate change and the defense of the biosphere together with the youth and the broad spectrum of professionals and scientists.

We must build articulations and alliances in which we structure our common forces for a unique and global struggle. Globalize the struggles. Build new organic forms of the working class from the political-cultural to the socio-productive to overcome capitalism and build socialism.

A robust internationalism is needed to pay adequate and immediate attention to the dangers of extinction: extinction by nuclear war, climate catastrophe, and social collapse.

In this regard, we agree:

  • To promote active solidarity with the peoples and sovereign nations (Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) and the other peoples of the world “sanctioned” and attacked by economic blockades and unilateral coercive measures imposed by the U.S. and its allies.
  • To hold an annual meeting in Tijuana, Mexico, with the workers and social movements of the Americas to express solidarity with the peoples of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua and their revolutions to repudiate unilateral coercive measures against sovereign governments.
  • To constitute a Committee for the organization of the Meetings to be held annually in the North and South of Mexico, integrated by: Unión del Barrio of the USA, Movimiento Social Por la Tierra de México (MST), Sindicato Mexicano Electricista (SME), Alianza por la Justicia Global of the USA, Central Bolivariana Socialista de Trabajadores de Venezuela, Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo de Nicaragua (ATC), Movimiento Magisterial Popular de Veracruz Mexico, Fire This Time of Canada, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) of the USA, International Action Center (IAC) of the USA, Task Force on the Americas of the USA and the Plataforma de la Clase Obrera Antimperialista (PCOA).
  • Demand the immediate release of Alex Saab. He is a Venezuelan diplomat kidnapped by the U.S. and illegally detained in its territory since October 16, 2021. Saab’s arrest is an action that attacks diplomatic immunity, a right guaranteed by international law to any diplomatic official in the exercise of his duties.
  • Reaffirm the resolutions agreed upon at the Meeting of the Peoples of the Americas, held June 7-8, 2022, in Chiapas, Mexico.
  • To ratify our unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples.
  • Demand that the U.S. Congress immediately cut off military aid funds to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, and Haiti.
  • Promote a campaign to hold an international day of action in solidarity with Cuba to be held when the U.N. General Assembly meets to condemn the blockade against the Caribbean island.
  • Expand the “Bridges of Love” program to other countries and international coordinate days on the last Sunday of each month in the form of caravans or other activities.
  • Demand the immediate release of comrades Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Iman Jamil Abdullah al-Amin and Julian Assange.
  • Demand the immediate release of the social fighter Simón Trinidad from Colombia, who is deprived of liberty in prison in the USA.
  • To promote the regional integration of the anti-imperialist working class of Our America and the participation in the strengthening of ALBA TCP, CELAC, and UNASUR. In this sense, the Bolivarian Socialist Workers Central of Venezuela will call a meeting for the 3rd quarter of 2022.
  • To promote a campaign against the U.S., NATO, and Colombia’s policies of interference and expansionism and to ratify the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace promoted by CELAC.
  • We reaffirm the Mexican Electricians Union workers’ demands for their reinstatement in the Federal Electricity Commission.
  • We stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and their dignified struggle for independence and sovereignty.



Mutually exclusive

Greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of increasing environmental catastrophe, most recently evidenced by days of multiple tornados and severe thunderstorms.

This is an existential crisis. Dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, radically reducing burning fossil fuels is the only way to start to mitigate the environmental chaos

Instead, the Biden administration is bringing more oil into the market.

  • releasing a record-shattering 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and
  • proposing fines on companies that aren’t producing oil on lands they are leasing for that purpose.

Reducing fossil fuel emissions or increasing oil production are mutually exclusive.

Capitalist economic systems are driven by profits regardless of the consequences. Even though the consequences will continue to be rapidly evolving environmental chaos. What choice do you think your children and their children want us to make?

The consequences of increasing gasoline prices need to be dealt with. But there are alternatives to bringing more oil to markets. Greenhouse gas emissions decreased as many worked from home because of the pandemic. Free public transportation would help although capacity would need to be increased significantly, rapidly.

Alternatives to capitalist economic systems need to be developed. Such as Mutual Aid communities.

Even though oil prices have nearly doubled since the end of 2019, US production is down about 10% over that period.

“This is a bridge towards greater supply coming on the market from the United States and elsewhere,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call Thursday.

To encourage US oil companies to ramp up production, the White House said Biden is calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing.

Companies “will have to choose” whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre, the White House said.

What Biden’s shock-and-awe campaign means for high gas prices. Analysis by Matt Egan, CNN, March 31, 2022

Cuba, disaster preparedness, and Mutual Aid

Cuba Prepares for Disaster by Don Fitz caught my attention for several reasons. Reading the article and watching the video below, I’m astonished by what Cuba has been doing for decades related to our changing climate. The work there implements many of the things I’ve been learning from Mutual Aid and Indigenous ways. Cuba is a model for the way I believe we must change to deal with oncoming environmental chaos. And although Cubans might not call it Mutual Aid, what they have done, are doing, is consistent with the concepts of Mutual Aid.

For Cuba to implement global environmental protection and degrowth policies it would need to receive financing both to research new techniques and to train the world’s poor in how to develop their own ways to live better.  Such financial support would include …

  • Reparations for centuries of colonial plunder.
  • Reparations for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, multiple attacks which killed Cuban citizens, hundreds of attempts on Fidel’s life, and decades of slanderous propaganda: and,
  • At least $1 trillion in reparations for losses due to the embargo since 1962.

In the video Cuba’s Life Task, Orlando Rey also observes that “There must be a change in the way of life, in our aspirations.  This is a part of Che Guevara’s ideas on the ‘new man.’  Without forming that new human, it is very difficult to confront the climate issue.”

Cuba Prepares for Disaster BY DON FITZ, COUNTERPUNCH, MARCH 28, 2022

Since Rio de Janeiro [Earth Summit in 1992] the words of our commander-in-chief Fidel Castro provide evidence of the actions and concern for human beings.

An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat: mankind… It must be said that consumer societies are chiefly responsible for this appalling environmental destruction…
They have poisoned the seas and the rivers. They have polluted the air…
The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding…
Third World countries cannot be blamed for all this; yesterday’s colonies and today nations exploited and plundered by an unjust international economic order. The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it the most.
In reality, everything that contributes to underdevelopment and poverty today is a flagrant violation of the environment…
If we want to save humanity from this self-destruction, wealth and available technologies must be distributed better throughout the planet…
Stop transferring to the Third World lifestyles
and consumer habits that ruin the environment…
Pay the ecological debt, not the foreign debt.
Eradicate hunger and not humanity
Tomorrow will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.
Thank you.

Fidel Castro, Earth Summit, 1992

The main value of the speech was to put environmental problems in their socioeconomic context. The environmental issue has been detached from its origins in capitalist development, from the foundations of a system that, based on excessive consumption, on unequal production and consumption patterns, created the present situation.

From the video Cuba’s Life Task: Combatting Climate Change

Cuba has a system of civil protection established since the early 1960s following Hurricane Flora [1963] which caused major losses of human and animal lives, and economic damage.
It is organized so that the moment there is a threat that phenomenon comes under permanent vigilance and various stages are established with mechanisms for protection and evacuation.
Cuban Civil Defense adopts a systemic approach. The function is to protect the population, their resources, the economy, and the environment against natural, technological, and sanitary threats. Not just disasters, but also war, or the consequences of climate change.

The political organizations and organizations of the masses, made up of the population, are part of the Civil Defense system. When there is a situation or event, they join the health brigades activated in the Popular Councils in the defense zones, they support the lineworker – specialists who establish the vital systems related to energy – the neighborhood clean-up, after damage incurred during the event, including to building structures.

They contribute to local efforts. This guarantees several things; first, that there is protection at the neighborhood level, and second, that there is complete knowledge, because those neighbors know where the most vulnerable people and the most unprotected buildings are. That secures the process.

Every year in May before the hurricane season begins, we have an annual exercise, ‘Meteoro’, in which the population practice for disaster situations. Initially it was focused on tropical cyclones and hurricanes, but it has been broadened to prepare the population for droughts and earthquakes.

Recently we had a meeting about climate change in Cuba and Puerto Rico, and we saw that the number of people who died from Hurricane Irma was 10 in Cuba and 3,000 in Puerto Rico.

People die here from meteorological events too, but loss of life is minimal.

This whole process of relocating people who reside in high risk, vulnerable settlements.
is financed by the state. This is one of the complexities to speeding up this process.
It is not dependent on the ability of each citizen, the state assumes that responsibility
and it requires substantial resources that the state has to allocate among its many expenses.
But it is a state priority to carry out these relocations. New settlements and communities have been built, new buildings in existing communities. We have also learned that it is not only a physical issue of rebuilding houses.
You have to relocate a whole way of life, rebuild a setting where people have social services,
medical services, educational services, job opportunities. This is more complex when the community’s work is linked to the coast, as with fishing communities. We have concluded that relocating communities is an extreme measure against natural, technological, and sanitary threats. Not just disasters, but also war, or the consequences of climate change.

We can do it. What is our big problem? The worst problem is the [US] blockade. That is why we cannot advance any faster. Martí, Fidel, Raúl, Díaz-Canel…Long live free Cuba!

It is more than 60 years of the [US] blockade, which was greatly tightened by the Trump administration causing a lot of damage, and Biden, despite what he said in his electoral campaign, has still done nothing to loosen those measures. The country is in a very difficult situation as, although many do not think so, persecution is real. Remove the genocidal blockade against the Cuban people!

It is very difficult in conditions of poverty or deep economic and social inequality to advance a climate agenda.

One problem today is that you cannot convert the world’s energy matrix, with current consumption levels, from fossil fuels to renewable energies. There are not enough resources for the panels and wind turbines, nor the space for them. There are insufficient resources for all this.

If you automatically made all transportation electric tomorrow, you will continue to have the same problems of congestion, parking, highways, heavy consumption of steel and cement.

There must be a change in the way of life, in our aspirations.

This is part of the debate about socialism, part of Che Guevara’s ideas on the ‘new man’.

Without forming that new human, it is very difficult to confront the climate issue. I believe that a plan like Tarea Vida needs to be supported by a socialist system. It requires a vision that not directed towards profit, or self-interest. It must be premised on social equity and rejecting inequality. A plan of this nature requires a different social system, and that is socialism.

Perhaps the three most important lessons learned are: political will, communication to translate results, and training young people. From my point of view, these are the most important achievements in Cuba. My message to this climate change conference is a message of social inclusion

I also place Cuba’s disaster response system in conversation with these emergent practices of mutual aid

With the global and local effects of COVID-19 bearing down on us and without any clear expectation of when it might end, it’s as important as ever to take care of our communities. In this episode, we talk about the importance of mutual aid, the history of these networks, and why – if you haven’t before – now is the time to seriously consider getting involved with them.

…We talked about this in an earlier episode about social work in Cuba and the way that model was really rooted more in community organizing and almost somewhat of a mutual aid, at least from what I understood from what we read at that time of basically the community was supporting each other, but then the social worker’s job was actually to almost be the liaison with the state to get stuff that the community needed in order to facilitate that support.

Decolonize Social Work, Episode 10, What is Mutual Aid?

This research comprises a literature review of both humanitarian organization-oriented and social science-oriented sources. In drawing from both NGO and local analyses, I hope to locate practices that could foster a less colonial approach to disaster response. I also place Cuba’s disaster response system in conversation with these emergent practices of mutual aid: in many ways, what theorists learned in the aftermath of the Haiti disaster was already implemented, in a top-down manner, by the Cuban government, which is highly successful at limiting damage and human casualties from disasters (Castellanos Abella, 2008).


Mutual Aid and Revolution

Mutual Aid and Revolution by Andžejs Jenots is another article in the zine I’ve been writing about, We Gather Here Today in Disservice of the State, from Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA). I think of Mutual Aid as revolutionary because it represents a paradigm shift from capitalism. I recently wrote Mutual Aid is the Quaker way of being in the world.

This article addresses a weakness of Mutual Aid that I’ve been aware of, which is “to the extent that mutual aid is an activity resulting in products and services, financed by groups of workers who exist because they (or a large enough share of them) sell their labor power to the enemy class for a wage, mutual aid is the redistribution of a share of those wages.”

But there is much more to Mutual Aid than providing products and services. As Jenots says below, “one of the central tasks of mutual aid is less about doing something for the sake of doing something, and more about thinking and noticing.” Des Moines Mutual Aid is very skilled at noticing and responding.

At present most of the food we distribute comes from sources that paid for the materials and labor to make it. We got it because its freshness date had expired. I envisioned a time when wheat, for example, was grown by farmers who gave it to those who make bread, which is distributed without charge. The farmers and bakers would be among those who received the bread. This is not as naive as it might seem, because capitalism is collapsing. We need to be thinking about and working toward what we want to replace it.

As Jenots goes on to say, “it is clear what the main weakness in this is: all (class-independent) mutual aid activity is constrained by the wages of its participants and donors.”

Mutual aid is not infrastructure for running away or carving out a small plot of land – literal or figurative, it is infrastructure for driving a spear into the heart of capital and sustaining an effort to do so. Mutual aid is a basis for preparedness for future revolutionary events, including for the allocation of all of the skills and capabilities whose aims will be redirected from profit-making to something else as a result of the widespread clarity gained in a revolutionary situation. Even though we can say little in detail about a coming revolution, we know that it will be a conflict between classes, and that will mean strain on dependencies between those classes. To the extent we now depend on the enemy class for the organization of the production of goods and services (and in many ways, we do), someday we won’t be able to anymore. However, the fight will no longer belong only to `we unhappy few,’ these early-to-consciousness revolutionaries, with our meager skillsets. It will become everyone’s domain…

The task of revolutionary mutual aid is to re-link production with distribution when and where capitalist social relations no longer do….

One of the central tasks of mutual aid is less about doing something for the sake of doing something, and more about thinking and noticing – understanding the trajectory capitalism is taking in order to understand the needs it will create and the means, methods, technique, skills, expertise, etc. which finally become available to us as they are expelled from capitalism.

Andžejs Jenots, Mutual Aid and Revolution

The future we want

I’ve been trying to integrate all that I’ve been learning about Mutual Aid, #LANDBACK, Abolition, Religious Socialism, Ecosocialism, photography, forced assimilation and Indigenous worldview. There are many intersections among these. This is stimulated in part as I reflect on yesterday. It was a spiritual time when I stopped at Easter Lake to take photos there, despite, or because of the bitter cold. Then continuing to be with my Mutual Aid friends as we filled boxes of food to distribute in the neighborhood. To witness people coming together to share stories. Each moving from one friend to another. This is part of the future we (I) want that exists now. That is the wonderful thing about Mutual Aid, as the focus is on addressing survival needs in the present. As my friend Ronnie says, you work intensely for an hour and a half, and when you’re done you feel sweaty, tired and good.

As I hear so many friends expressing feelings of hopelessness and despair, I feel fortunate to be involved in a community that gives us a sense of doing something good together. Which is one reason I’m trying to get more people involved in Mutual Aid.

I heard some of this discouragement when those in the Quakers for Abolition Network met via ZOOM yesterday.

I’ve been working on a new diagram to help me visualize the relationships between the concepts mentioned at the beginning. The root cause of so much suffering is the capitalist economic system. Socialism is an alternative to capitalism. Ecosocialism is about how environmental devastation will be the end of capitalism. Or faith communities can help bring about socialism as an alternative to capitalism from a moral lens. Or both.

Mutual Aid is a framework to replace vertical hierarchies and the unjust power structures they enforce. LANDBACK, returning to Indigenous relationships with the land, and abolition of police and prisons are part of building communities that represent the future we want.


An Epistle to Friends Regarding Religious Socialism

Religious Socialism is fundamentally about the many injustices that are consequences of the capitalist economic system. It is difficult to come to terms with the evils of this system we dwell in. But we must have the moral courage to reject capitalism.

But our moral lag must be redeemed; when scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. When we foolishly maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum we sign the warrant for our own day of doom. It is this moral lag in our thing-oriented society that blinds us to the human reality around us and encourages us in the greed and exploitation which creates the sector of poverty in the midst of wealth. Again, we have diluted ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice, the fact is that Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad. If Negroes and poor whites do not participate in the free flow of wealth within our economy, they will forever be poor, giving their energies, their talents and their limited funds to the consumer market but reaping few benefits and services in return. The way to end poverty is to end the exploitation of the poor, ensure them a fair share of the government services and the nation’s resources. I proposed recently that a national agency be established to provide employment for everyone needing it. Nothing is more socially inexcusable than unemployment in this age. In the 30s when the nation was bankrupt it instituted such an agency, the WPA, in the present conditions of a nation glutted with resources, it is barbarous to condemn people desiring work to soul sapping inactivity and poverty. I am convinced that even this one, massive act of concern will do more than all the state police and armies of the nation to quell riots and still hatreds. The tragedy is our materialistic culture does not possess the statesmanship necessary to do it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. The Three Evils of Society, August 31, 1967, National Conference on New Politics, Chicago

Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor

Martin Luther King, Jr

Following is An Epistle to Friends Regarding Religious Socialism I wrote based upon An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription’

An Epistle to Friends Regarding Religious Socialism

Dear Friends,

The measure of a community is how the needs of its people are met. No one should go hungry, or without shelter or healthcare. Yet in this country known as the United States millions struggle to survive. The capitalist economic system creates hunger, houselessness, illness that is preventable and despair. A system that requires money for goods and services denies basic needs to anyone who does not have money. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected. Systemic racism. The capitalist system that supports the white materialistic lifestyle is built on stolen land and genocide of Indigenous peoples, and the labor of those who were enslaved in the past or are forced to live on poverty wages today.

Capitalism is revealed as an unjust, untenable system, when there is plenty of food in the grocery stores, but men, women and children are going hungry, living on the streets outside. White supremacy violently enforces the will of wealthy white people on the rest of us.

It has become clear to some of us who are called Friends that the colonial capitalist economic system and white supremacy are contrary to the Spirit and we must find a better way. We conscientiously object to and resist capitalism and white supremacy.

capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.

in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices. 

Des Moines Black Liberation Movement

Mutual Aid

How do we resist? We rebuild our communities in ways not based upon money. Such communities thrive all over the world. Indigenous peoples have always lived this way. Generations of white people once did so in this country. Mutual Aid is a framework that can help us do this today.

The concept of Mutual Aid is simple to explain but can result in transformative change. Mutual Aid involves everyone coming together to find a solution for problems we all face. This is a radical departure from “us” helping “them”. Instead, we all work together to find and implement solutions.  To work together means we must be physically present with each other. Mutual Aid cannot be done by a committee or donations. We build Beloved communities as we get to know each other. Build solidarity. An important part of Mutual Aid is creating these networks of people who know and trust each other. When new challenges arise, these networks are in place, ready to meet them.

Another important part of Mutual Aid is the transformation of those involved. This means both those who are providing help, and those receiving it.

With Mutual Aid, people learn to live in a community where there is no vertical hierarchy. A community where everyone has a voice. A model that results in enthusiastic participation. A model that makes the vertical hierarchy required for white supremacy impossible.

Commonly there are several Mutual Aid projects in a community. The initial projects usually relate to survival needs. One might be a food giveaway. Another helping those who need shelter. Many Mutual Aid groups often have a bail fund, to support those arrested for agitating for change. And accompany those arrested when they go to court.


The other component necessary to move away from colonial capitalism and white supremacy is LANDBACK.

But the idea of “landback” — returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous peoples — has existed in different forms since colonial governments seized it in the first place. “Any time an Indigenous person or nation has pushed back against the oppressive state, they are exercising some form of landback,” says Nickita Longman, a community organizer from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The movement goes beyond the transfer of deeds to include respecting Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, and clean air and water. Above all, it is a rallying cry for dismantling white supremacy and the harms of capitalism.

Returning the Land. Four Indigenous leaders share insights about the growing landback movement and what it means for the planet, by Claire Elise Thompson, Grist, February 25, 2020

What will Friends do?

It matters little what people say they believe when their actions are inconsistent with their words.  Thus, we Friends may say there should not be hunger and poverty, but as long as Friends continue to collaborate in a system that leaves many without basic necessities and violently enforces white supremacy, our example will fail to speak to mankind.

Let our lives speak for our convictions.  Let our lives show that we oppose the capitalist system and white supremacy, and the damages that result.  We can engage in efforts, such as Religious Socialism, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK, to build Beloved community. To reach out to our neighbors to join us.

We must begin by changing our own lives if we hope to make a real testimony for peace and justice.

We remain, in love of the Spirit, your Friends and sisters and brothers,