Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is being claimed, currently, as a ‘Socialist’ hero. Al Sharpton relatively recently said in reference to King’s I Have a Dream Speech: “The dream was to make everything equal in everybody's house.” This I take to mean economic equality. (Technically that isn’t socialism that’s communism [Which Dr. King was Outspoken Against])
But what did King have to say on the matter? He said “[Communism] should challenge every Christian---as it challenged me—to a growing concern about social justice. With all of its false assumptions and evil methods, communism grew as a protest against the hardships of the underprivileged.”
King concludes “that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth.”
In "Stride" King referred to the twins of racial and economic injustice siting the poor working conditions of blacks working under oppressive whites; this in particular suggests a goal of equal opportunity.
In reading ‘Stride’ and listening to the “I have a dream speech” I can only find a respect and wishing for equal opportunity, and a civil and social racial equality with integration as the goal. A Racial Equality, an equal opportunity Equality not a Govt. redistribution Economic Equality…
But what to him was “Social Justice”? Certainly the only method to “Make everything equal in everybody’s house” is ONLY oppression/dictatorship, which obviously falls under “false assumptions and evil methods”.
In the context of history social justice to King (I Must conclude) meant Equal Justice juxtaposed to Disparate Treatment. Racial Disparate Treatment I must mention, was the law of the land then and although to a lesser extent still is to this day. (I’m talking about the law, not inequitable implementation), Its done Against Whites today.
There was at one time an American Nazi named Father Coughlin who published a Nazi Magazine entitled “Social Justice” meaning advocacy for eugenic racial preference.
Currently the trend is to use the term to mean Govt. Redistribution of wealth (Many Churches advocate it in place of individual charity).
Van Jones (Once Avowed Communist) takes for granted that Redistribution of wealth and Reparations were merely at the time an unattainable “radical kernel” of the civil rights movement. In his radio interview where he describes the difference between “Minimum Goals and Maximum Goals” he says:
“Right after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat if the civil rights leaders had jumped out and said OK now we want Reparations for slavery, We want redistribution of all wealth. And we want to legalize mixed marriages. If they come out with a maximum program the very next day, they would have been laughed at.”
What was “Traditional Capitalism” to Dr. King? The United States has never been fully “Capitalist” in the sense of a market as being as free as it can be Slavery was a deviation from capitalism, Reconstruction was, Trust Busting Was, The Federal Reserve was. Segregation was, The New Deal, the Great Society etc.
We have always had some significant Govt. interference in the economy (which is what socialism IS) as well as equality under the law.
Ghandi advocated for a non-violent populist struggle for a voluntary agrarian socialism. King like
Gandhi, not being an economist, I must say; it seems to me, merely described his [seemingly mild] affinity to an amorphous utopianism which he did not truly understand (nor the alternative); shunning Govt.'s role in bringing any but civic equality.
In any case, it is from his advocacy of Active-Non-Violent Resistance and Christian Love/Agape[latin] in leadership of the struggle for Equal Justice that earns him a place among the Heroes of Classical Liberalism.