I finally dug out of our boxes my old paperback copy of Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? bought back before they reprinted it. (I had a chance at a signed first edition but didn’t have $6000 to spare at the time…or now.)
It’s a great title and one very apt for our current age.
Alas, I have a busy work day today and I’m recovering from a corneal erosion so not reading too well, but I hope to get through a good bit of it. It’s a wonderful book and a good antidote to the “Teddy Bear MLK” that we’ll see a lot of conservatives trotting out this year, the 50th anniversary of his assassination. But here are some quotes from WDWGFH:
A final challenge that we face as a result of our great dilemma is to be ever mindful of enlarging the whole society and giving it a new sense of values as we seek to solve our particular problems. As we work to get rid of the economic strangulation that we face as a result of poverty, we must not overlook the fact that millions of Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, Indians, and Appalachian whites are also poverty-stricken. Any serious war against poverty must include them. (pg. 138)
The sentiment is right, but it’s hard to see, in the Age of Trump, how to use this commonality to build solidarity.
And just to show that he’s not always right, there’s this quote:
In addition to the development of genuinely independent and representative political leaders, we shall have to master the art of political alliances. Negroes should be the natural allies of many white reform and independent political groups, yet they are more commonly organized by old-line machine politicians. We will have to learn to refuse crumbs from the big city machines and steadfastly demand a fair share of the loaf. When the machine politicians demur, we must be prepared to act in unity and throw our support to such independent parties or reform wings of the major parties as are prepared to take our demands seriously and fight for them vigorously.
Ok, he’s not quite wrong, esp for his time. In today’s age of polarization, there aren’t any useful independent parties, so reform wings it is.
And finally, evidence of his radicalism:
I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
It’s well worth a read. It will make you regret ever more that he was not here through the latter half of the 20th centuries to act, to think, and to write.