“Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes – that is the majority – as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair … The failure of the regime in the Soviet Union was, for me not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism.” (Dalai Lama, 1996, Beyond Dogma: Dialogues and Discourses)
Over 90 years ago, Harry Leslie Smith was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, to a working-class
family. During that time there was no such thing as healthcare for most
people, with hospitals and doctors only available for those who
could afford them. At the age of 7 he lost his eldest sister to tuberculosis.
“Not a day has gone by in the intervening decades when I have not
thought of her miserable death from TB in a workhouse infirmary, or her
ignoble burial in a mass grave for indigents because my parents, being
from the working class, were too poor to afford my sister a doctor’s
“My sister’s tragic end came at a time when Britain was ruled by a
Tory government that had unleashed austerity on the citizens of Britain.
Her death, and the misery I endured from poverty in the 1930s, were
caused by government indifference to the plight of working-class Britain
– and that politicised me to become a socialist.”
W.E.B Du Bois argued that the ideology of white supremacy prevented black and white workers from uniting, to the detriment of both. The result of this was that wages of both could be kept low by the white supremacist capitalist ruling class.
In 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. begun to organize the Poor People’s Campaign.
It was a multiracial effort aimed at alleviating
poverty regardless of race in order to build the network needed to
achieve the goal of redistributing political and economic power. King
had shifted his focus to these issues after observing
that gains in civil rights had not improved the material conditions of
life for many African Americans. Just as King was beginning this
campaign he was assassinated.
In his final speech King stated: “Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give
ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic
than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And
when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your
brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we
go down together.“