This will likely make me no friends, and especially not at Rick Perlstein's FB page. But, here is what was posted this morning and what I posted in response...I welcome any assistance in clarifying my own thinking and King's as I just don't know enough about it except for speeches that indeed are inspirational...but I'm not sure what else they are.
So, Perlstein posts this:
Realizing that MLK day is the only holiday I REALLY celebrate--striving, every year, to bear witness to my deepest values: that true liberalism is radical, but radicalism is meaningless without pragmatism, and pragmatism meaningless without prophetic vision, and agape is empty if you are powerless--and, above all, that studying history means keeping the past dangerous and alive instead of sentimental and dead.
Then a commenter provides a citation from King:
"It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christi...an theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. Now, we've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. And this is what we must see as we move on.”
Then I posted this:
The Will to "Love-Power" is incoherent as human psychology (and likely as sound philosophy). It is absolutely untenable. What is the idea of a religious community? What core tenets does this kind of community hold? Anyway, "love" is not often part of a real political (not "politics") discussion but rather "the good" or what is "right". One can imagine love as one's guide to the good, but this assumes, to be on offer to all beings, an Absolute belief in a thing called "love". This is a fiction. And really, simply looking at the "application" above creates more questions of perspective and motive than it solves any problem. Power IS LOVE--but only "implementing the demands of justice"? What are the demands of justice and how are those demands arrived at and then how will they be implemented?
These really are great sounding words...but they present a kind of chimera. Love and earthly "power" are incommensurate. Power cannot be "checked" by a sentimental figuration...cannot be checked by a "notion" that is always a variable within communities; cannot be checked by a "higher power" that is authoritarian in its conception.
Love is "demandless". Justice is primarily retribution. Justice has a motive...justice is a perspective.
Equality is also untenable. You all likely think this. We all categorize, we all classify, we all measure and so on. Equality requires the absolute flattening of attributes and values. If this is not done then we begin once more on the road to comparative hierarchical valuation. In this country we do this by wealth only. Even our vaunted brilliant thinkers are not venerated in our communities UNLESS their ideas have brought them wealth and power.
I stand with you...equality is a radical idea. Equality requires absolutely that we all have the same "value". This is impossible. Once this is admitted we must come up with criteria for calculations on how to adjust value appropriately. Again, impossible.
So, what is our political philosophy or governing principle to be? How do we wipe our minds of the absolute urge to categorize and define based on our singular and/or tribal perceptions? What ruling idea did King posit? I have no knowledge of what might replace our current ideologies.
Agape is not the answer. It is an ideal at best.
Rick Perlstein on FB
Told on FB that my point is unclear--I muddy it further:
Love, even considered as "agape"--which is a Greek term that is defined in a variety of ways and probably commonly thought of as meanin...g "God's love" for mankind at least among Christians--is one kind of Ideal. As a "way to be" one might think of it as at best something to work towards, as Rick says, "strive" after, but it is unattainable and so questionable, at least psychologically, as a motivating Ideal.
One could go so far as to argue that there is too much "bound up" in Christianity and its practitioners' "Will to Power" to posit it as a viable mode or "way" of living.
While one might say, Justice needs to be tempered with Love...or that Love IS Power...is a way of communicating particular hopeful ideas that are in essence empty abstractions. We are all in thrall to some idea(s); we are all in thrall to particular personal motivations.
We know that certain folks read "God's love" as Christian Love and Love of what is Christian to the exclusion of all else (things "not to love"). This is NOT likely what King intended here even though he uses Christianity. One can argue that Jesus only argued that "heaven" or the "kingdom" is the respect for persons, the dignity of all beings, "in the moment". I cannot LOVE everyone...but everyone is a worthy being "in the moment" of congress--and that this moment is what we call "becoming". This, while likely a very good and import idea and model to follow--a way of living--, is going to be immensely difficult for ALL humans.
The only way that we "love" one another is, again, biblical, as ourselves. But we do not believe that others are as ourselves. This is to "erase" all differentiation.
Again, wonderful to consider and possibly really about the "truest" thing one might say--we are, all of us, the same.
This is, I assume, what King means (what all wisdom wishes to tell us)--you and I are the same. Hating you is hating me...Loving you is loving me. Why do we not see this? This is our constant error.