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The Theories of Protest by Socrates, Dr. King and Malcolm X

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Protest has to do with showing unwillingness to accept or disapprove something. Among the three philosophers, Socrates, Dr. King and Malcolm X, Malcolm X’s stand point of protesting appears to be the most effective. Malcolm X use the any means necessary approach where he claims that, you can do something then, you need to do anything possible in your capacity to obtain your heart desires. His arguments are however different from Socrates who claims persuasion is the effective means to protest while Dr. King argues that, non-violent direct actions is the effective means to protest. For Socrates, persuasion overcomes fear among individuals and eliminate injustices in the society by using words and reason to promote change. Dr King proposed non-violent direct actions create constructed tension and pushes negotiations to promote positive peace. Malcom X proposed any means necessary approach that is the most effective way of dealing with injustice.

This paper will aim at highlighting each part in depth with critical supportive points to back my position. The first part will be about the about Socrates who claims persuasion is the effective means to protest. The second part will be about Dr. King’s argument that non-violent actions are the effective means to protest. Lastly, the third part will be about Malcom X who suggested that any means necessary is the effected means to protest. I argue that, the most effective means to protest is that of Malcolm X’s proposal that “any means necessary” because it uses force and a language that the oppressors can understand clearly in the process of protesting.

According to Socrates, persuasion overcomes fear among individuals and eliminates injustices in the society: “all other actions threaten the existence of law and order”. Thus, Persuasion is the only means to protest an unjust law in the state because that is the only legitimate and just means to fight injustices to promote social change. Not does the use of reason alone preserves the existence of the state but it starts to demonstrate the power of words and reason as an alternative to the power of physical force. If there is ever to be a just state with just laws and leaders, the citizens and leaders must be educated to make decisions based upon reason not physical force. In taking physical direct action against the state, like breaking the law, one is demonstrating the power of physical force which is unacceptable because it teaches nothing but instill fear into people. For if there should be true respect for the law and truly just laws then reason must be applied at all times.

Socrates argue that, breaking the law even when the law is unjust, it is not right but its evil. Socrates also argues that breaking the law will threaten the existence of the state promoting mass destruction of the state. By breaking the law, you won’t be setting good example for others to follow and also one won’t be respectful to the state. Also, Socrates argues that, the state is responsible for one’s life. The states contribute to one’s educational life while instilling values and principle in individuals for them to become better people in life.

For Dr. King non-violent direct action creates constructive tension which promotes growth and positive peace. Here Dr. King claims that by taking harassment form the oppressors that could lead to negotiations to further develop and derive possible solutions to help fix an unjust law as non-violent action doesn’t create new tension but rather bringing the current existing ones into live by appealing the conscience of the people of the state. Non-violent doesn’t only bring about constructive tension but also challenges the oppressors into reevaluating the situation at hand. This means shows a thirst for equality between the opposing opinions through an expected method. He was also promoting this means of protest that showed respect for things that didn’t really show him and his supporters the same. Dr. King and his supporters refused to obey the unjust laws but they willingly accepted the consequences that arose from breaking the unjust laws. Mere persuasion contributes to a negative peace whereas non-violent according to King promotes positive peace. By instilling negative peace, you are allowing just order to prevail instead of justice. By promoting negative peace, you are making way for stability instead of focusing on the values and virtues of humans. However positive peace accepts and preaches justice at all times while refusing to compromise the values and virtues of the individuals. In order for persuasion to be effective, the people must be willing to listen and understand with maximum patience and understanding. However, in instances where there is racism and prejudice, people may not be ready to listen and pay attention to others opinion. Mere persuasion doesn’t address the underlying causes of justice.

Dr. King argues that, violent actions do promote degradation of people and treat the person as less than who or she is. Violent actions are disrespectful to others which doesn’t respect the rights of others and humanity.

Dr. King argues that, violent actions don’t promote love and understanding. Dr. King was known for preaching justice and not war that the non-violent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. I believe that, cutting of the chain of hate can only be done by projecting the ethics of love and understanding to the center of our lives. For king, the power of God worked within us which won’t make us develop hatred for others. When there is non-violent, it will cause any mean of hatred off and instill love which will make people obey the laws but violent actions won’t. Dr king believed that, God will work through us when we use the weapon of non-violent love.

Malcolm X also argues that, any means necessary is the most effective means to protest. He claims, one should be able to bring about some sort of fear and demonstrate power over those who will hold you down. He believed that, if you don’t demonstrate that you are a just person and as powerful that you will bring about change in your situation as your oppressors will continue to see you as weak. By applying any means necessary, it will bring about change faster since you won’t be waiting for others to make decisions for you about your fate anymore but rather taking the situation into your hands by force to change the situation as the way you want it to eliminate any unjust laws that may rise against them. Malcom X thought it was necessary for the blacks to have a feel of freedom and liberation of a new approach to fight racism. Also, any means necessary also speaks the language of the oppressor. With this, the oppressor won’t have any heart but rather listen and pay attention to the language being used to oppressed them. Malcolm X believed that, anyone who deprive you of your right and freedom are not good because they are taking away the opportunity for you to become better in life. Any means necessary demonstrate that you are a person who knows your rights.

Mere persuasion is ineffective according to Malcolm X because it doesn’t have some sort of action or force to protest. He argues by applying persuasion through reasoning, you are contributing to no effect on the fight that was targeting the end of racism within the state. Mere persuasion involves words and reasoning, but if those words are not able to oppress people then you won’t achieve your results of protest. Mere persuasion takes time to convinced since it involves series one expressing yourself to protest.

Malcolm X argues that, non-violent direct action be ineffective because for the case of the blacks, they were being oppressed so non-violent direct action won’t be the best way to fight injustices to bring about social change. He believed that some sort of actions was needed with the help of any possible means to fight for justice. With the blacks being suffering due to oppressed laws, using non-violent will be a waste of time.

I argue that, the most effective means to protest is that of Malcolm X’s proposal, any means necessary because it uses a language that the oppressors can understand clearly in the process of protesting, the very same language of force to prove your opinion since they can work better. In the process of protesting there should be a way to get the attention of the oppressors and by doing so, you should communicate your ideas not to appeal the conscience of the individuals but to make the language clear to their ears.

Also, any means is effective because, I believe that, human rights and justice should be given priority no matter what means you employ. You should be entitled to fight for your rights no matter what ways and means you go about it. Whichever way that will help you in fighting justice should be applied. Any means necessary is effective because, it enables you to apply the right actions on the right situation at the right time. Not all situations are the same and we should have the right to use any means to work around the situation. Any means necessary doesn’t pave way for maltreatment. Others rights are respected in accordingly. No one is denied his or her rights.

Malcolm X’s approach may somehow receive criticisms. Others may argue that, this approach may be too forceful and the use of violent even results in more violence. One may argue that. Malcom X believe we should add a bit of force on oppressors for them to fight their rights but others may think doing that may cause more violence to prevail.

People may also argue that, any means is not a guarantee, as according to persuasion it doesn’t completely change the oppressors mind. Others may say any means necessary is a try and luck situation since you are using any possible means at all to fight injustices.

However, by responding to such criticisms, I will argue that, injustice is so great and might not be in one’s capacity to fight them to better their them so then any means necessary will be the best option to apply the force. Also, any means necessary can change the opinions of the oppressors long enough for changes to occur as soon as possible with the necessary force.

Any means necessary, can be a guarantee as long as the right force is applied at the right time. Even though you are applying any means as possible, it should be done with the right way to produce the desire result preventing any try and luck situation.

All three philosophers believe in one way or the other that, their way of protest is the best. However, any means necessary proposed by Malcolm X is the most effective means to protest. With this method, nothing else can be accepted in any way but rather the focus will be on the freedom and liberation of the oppressors while using considerable force to ensure a smooth way to protest.

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The Theories Of Protest By Socrates, Dr. King and Malcolm X. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from
“The Theories Of Protest By Socrates, Dr. King and Malcolm X.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019,
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