My column this week for splicetoday urges the amazing funky protest movement that just emerged not to get co-opted by the Democratic party. Help me spread it around? I think people who protested Saturday, among others, should think about this! My view is that getting annexed by establishment political powers ended the peace and civil rights movements in the early seventies. And yes, I am saying that the civil rights movement has been over for a long time, and has only re-emerged with Black Lives Matter. True, I knock John Lewis.
The real disaster was what happened to the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King was not a Democratic strategist. LBJ tried to control him: to cajole, blackmail, absorb and short-circuit his movement. King was not the sort of person you could do that to, but in the next generation the civil rights movement failed, petering out into people trying to rise in the American political hierarchy. Jesse Jackson ran for President. John Lewis… well, John Lewis sold his soul to the devil, and spent most of his life bashing Republicans and functioning as an emblem or mascot of the goodness of Democratic politicians as they did massive housing projects and mass incarceration, for example.
That’s how the civil rights movement died. It’s an important reason why the racial situation in the country has improved so little since King’s day. Various black politicians rose through the hierarchy, providing the superficial appearance of equality that permitted the racist power structure to engage in continual self-congratulation as it pursued directly repressive and destructive policies.
One thing I want to point out: when King's movement and more militant people drove the passage of the Civil Rights Act, etc, they were pressuring the political system from without. When they got co-opted, the movement died. We have made little progress on race since, I believe. With regard to civil rights, I argued this more elaborately in a series of blog posts last year: