Declassified 1977 “Report of the Dept. of Justice Task Force to Review FBI Martin Luther King Jr. Security and Assassination Investigations”

Why is workers revolution necessary to completely overthrow the rule of the capitalist classes of the world and replace it with the rule of the working classes of the world – rather than merely reforming the system?

We publish here yet another expose of the “democratic process” in action.  It relates to how the US capitalist class reacts whenever the wage slaves of the United States – that is, YOU, dear reader – organize yourselves to fight for your rights.  In this case we expose the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s  use of its Counterintelligence Program (a.k.a. COINTELPRO) to destroy the leadership of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  In stark contrast to the mythology that surrounds the US Government’s role which extols how “enlightened liberals” like John F. and Robert F. Kennedy courageously assisted the evolution of democracy and civil rights in the US, we see that in fact the US Government’s most “liberal” regime in the post World War II era – the Kennedy Administration – in fact unleashed the racist FBI of J. Edgar Hoover on the Civil Rights Movement, focusing first and foremost on destroying the credibility and effectiveness of one of the most charismatic leaders of that movement – the apostle of non-violence, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This internal Department of Justice review of the FBI’s “investigation” into the alleged “Communist” brain trust behind Martin Luther King (which was the pretext for FBI harassment, wiretapping and surveillance of Dr. King from 1963 up until his brutal murder in Memphis in April of 1968) proves that no matter how “nonviolent” or “pacifist” or even pro-capitalist a leader of the working class is, she or he will always be seen as a deadly threat to the capitalist class due to the simple calculation that ANYONE who is capable of inspiring the working class with a sense of their power to change the status quo presents a mortal threat to the continued existence of capitalist class rule.  The reaction of the capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for politician-servants will be predictable: infiltrate, disrupt and destroy the threat – no matter how small – to the domination of the numerically tiny capitalist class over the vast working class majority of the population.

In the case of King, he was, like so many black civil rights leaders who had grown up through the massive class struggles of the 1930s and ’40s, not at all averse to working with Communists or ex-Communists.  Black workers from Harlem to Mississippi knew that the Communist Party of the United States of America had produced thousands of self-sacrificing workers who fought racism in the US and many of whom gave their lives in that struggle.  The CP as well as the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party had impressed black workers with their campaigns for full equality for black workers at work, in the military and at every level of society and had fought racist frame ups against blacks like the infamous Scottsboro Boys case.  Communist union organizers braved death threats from the Ku Klux Klan while attempting to organize black workers throughout the South into unions in which black and white workers would fight for their rights as workers together as sisters and brothers.  Martin Luther King Jr., like so many other people of color all over the world was no doubt inspired by the strong anti-racist side of the Communist program and supposedly studied basic Marxist philosophy to some extent – but he never became a Party member.

The basis of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover’s insistence that there existed a plot by the Communist Party of the US to infiltrate and control the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Dr. King was based on the fact that King’s top advisor in the SCLC was an ex-Communist named Stanley_Levison.  Levison was a large part of the reason for the rapid organizing success of the SCLC in the early to mid ’60s.  Levison had learned how to effectively organize mass movements while he was a member of the CP in the ’40s and this experience served Dr. King extremely well throughout his rise to international fame.  Shrewdly advising King as to how to maneuver more skillfully in the treacherous political waters of the US, Levison helped the SCLC leadership create a powerful organization to fight for civil rights for black workers – using non-violent means.  Though Levison appears to have quit the CP in 1957, Hoover used the fact of his former party membership and current role as close advisor to King to justify the launching of the entire suite of COINTELPRO attacks on Martin Luther King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.  Hoover’s anti-Communist paranoia regarding Levison led him to tag Levison as  “secret Communist” – and he forwarded reports to fellow red-hater Robert F. Kennedy linking Dr. King to the CP through Levison that convinced RFK to greenlight the wiretapping of phones in King’s home and the SCLC offices starting in early October of 1963.

The capitalist class had created COINTELPRO originally to fight the rise of the Communist Party in order to keep the Party from gaining a leadership role over the working class of the US, which would threaten to overthrow capitalist class rule and establish a socialist workers state in its place.  One of the most dangerous (to the capitalist class) outcomes of such organization would be the smashing of the segregationist system of the US that divided the working class along racial lines.  The Communist Party’s program called for complete integration of the workers movement, which would neutralize one of the most powerful weapons in the hands of the capitalist class – the domination of its ideology of racial superiority of whites over blacks and Hispanics, which enabled the capitalists to more easily divide and conquer the multiracial US working class.  Levison’s position at the top of the SCLC’s leadership appeared to Hoover to be the harbinger of this capitalist class nightmare.  Hoover unleashed a massive COINTELPRO investigation campaign against Levison – as evidenced by his massive FBI file, the released version of which runs to 190 separate sections!

After John F. Kennedy was murdered in the highly suspicious manner in which he was, a sense arose among the US working class that it was quite possible that sinister forces INSIDE the U.S. Government may have contributed to or even actually planned the murder of the relatively popular Kennedy.  Investigations into his assassination quickly led to the uncovering of many clues as to what elements of the U.S. Government might have had a hand in the Kennedy assassination: was it the C.I.A., which blamed Kennedy for the failure of the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco that attempted to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba?  Was it the Mafia who were angry at the Kennedys, both Bobby and Jack, for unleashing the hounds of the Justice Department against them, in violation of an alleged pact between the Mafia and the Kennedy clan before the 1960 election?  Or was it a combination of the two?  As the sixties wore on and more evidence leaked out of the US government regarding its secret operations to topple governments throughout Central and South America, in Iran and the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, the working class of the United States and the entire world came to doubt the veracity of any official statement coming out of the mouths of the politicians and government officials in Washington.

The police state attacks on the U.S. Civil Rights movement were obvious from the beginning.  Cops all over the United States, north and south attacked black and white civil rights activists wherever they emerged, beating them bloody in front of TV cameras from Birmingham to Chicago and from New York to Los Angeles.  The murder of Medgar Evers; the savage attacks on the Black Panther Party, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in which 4 young Sunday School students were slaughtered – and the lackluster “investigations” of these crimes by the U.S, Government at all levels – all pointed to a sinister racist collaboration between the national, state and local governments to crush the civil rights movement  by any means necessary. (It was later discovered that a paid FBI informant working inside the Klan in Birmingham named Gary Thomas Rowe, Jr. who took part in several Klan attacks on Freedom Riders and who participated in the murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo most likely – at the least –  had advance knowledge of the conspiracy to commit the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing).

The vast amount of police state surveillance and the maelstrom of violence that had enveloped the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and his family and fellow leaders of the Civil Rights movement (in “spite” of that massive surveillance) was obvious to everyone involved in the Civil Rights movement.  So it was that when the Reverend King was murdered in cold blood while carloads of cops sat in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel like scarecrows, the politically conscious workers of the US immediately suspected that there was a conspiracy in US Government circles that aided and abetted this heinous crime against the entire working class.  The US government’s attempts to “investigate” the King assassination were met with incredulity and contempt.  Anger turned into massive uprisings as angry black workers attacked the police and National Guard units sent into black communities to “restore order”.   The US capitalist class, in a desperate attempt to head off what appeared to be a rapid radicalization of the black working class ordered their hired lackeys in the Democratic Party to immediately institute the most thorough APPEARING “investigations” into the murder of Martin Luther King.  From 1968 to 1977, several investigations were launched – internal investigations by the police agencies at the local, state and national levels, as well as Congressional investigations.  As the extent of the FBI’s COINTELPRO was slowly revealed in the late 60s and early 70s, it became clear that, like the Kennedy assassination, there was a very sinister backstory behind the superficial analysis provided by the bourgeois press and the government investigations into the attacks by the FBI on the entire civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movement as well as those inquiries into the possible involvement of the FBI in the murder of Dr. King.

The end of the Vietnam War – made possible by the victory of the Communist Viet Cong over the troops of U.S. imperialism – as well as the death of J. Edgar Hoover in May of 1972 suddenly opened a window of opportunity for the politicians and servants of the bourgeoisie to perform the Herculean task of attempting to con the working class into believing that the “bad old days” of COINTELPRO were over and that the “democracy-loving” liberal Democrats and Republicans would right the ship of state and ensure that such excesses would never again be allowed to happen.  Investigations were launched into the CIA’s assassination of foreign government leaders and their involvement in military coups all over the world.  The Watergate scandal and the investigation into the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation – which most likely could never have taken place so long as J. Edgar Hoover still drew breath – was begun.  The massive effort of the US government to convince the working class that the “excesses” of the Hoover-era COINTELPRO operation would heretofore be eliminated and abolished through reforms at the FBI and other US police state agencies was, after years of strenuous effort, finally largely successful.  The rising tide of worker militancy – especially that of black workers – peaked and rolled back – or rather was driven back by the continued use of COINTELPRO-type police state attacks on activists while the politicians in Washington put on their dog-and-pony shows like the Church Committee  investigation into CIA, NSA and FBI “excesses” from the 1950s through the early ’70s.

The recent exposes of torture programs run by the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, as well as the secret prisons run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the massive global police state espionage operations of the National Security Agency – which make the FBI’s domestic wiretapping efforts against Civil Rights activists and opponents of the Vietnam War of the ’60s look like child’s play – prove that in fact, nothing has changed when it comes to the US capitalist class police state operations against their working class political opponents.  It should be obvious to any intelligent worker that the long, sordid history of US capitalist class rule proves that there is only one way for the 1% to maintain the whip hand over the tens of millions of wage slaves who create all the profits that are systematically stolen by the capitalists.  The class rule of the capitalist class requires the complete suppression of any attempt by the worker-slaves to organize an effective fight for their rights, never mind making an actual bid to overthrow their capitalist masters.  Even those who steadfastly espouse the philosophy of non-violence are set up for harassment, blackmail, long jail sentences on trumped-up charges and – if none of that “cures” the uppity wage slave who dares to stand up to all those attacks – assassination.   What the United States Government did to Martin Luther King must be burned into the consciousness of every working man and woman in this nation.  THIS is why we call for the overthrow of the most murderous ruling class ever to rampage across the face of the planet – the U.S. capitalist class.

11jan77_Report of the DoJ Task Force to Review the FBI MLK Jr. Security and Assassination Investigations

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

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