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Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Regional History or Period History
Forum Name: Modern History
Forum Discription: World History from 1918 to the 21st century.
Printed Date: 30-Jun-2022 at 00:35
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Posted By: Jamukha
Date Posted: 18-Dec-2005 at 18:31
This is my first time using this post so and if my topic is not in the right category then I apologize. 

I just wanted to know what everybody thinks of a quote my Martin Luther King Jr: 

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


The problem that I have with this quote of his is that he did not DEMAND FREEDOM for African Americans but instead he ASKED for FREEDOM.  

The quote itself is very simple and is something that everybody understands quite easily. It is one of the lessons that humanity has learned from history, which is freedom never comes easy.  

The reason why I conclude that MLK is CONTRADICTING himself is that he never actually demanded his freedom but simply asked for it which are two different things. Firstly I will try defining what really can constitute asking compared to demanding. Asking is not as harsh nor independent from the reaction of the oppressor as would be demanding. For example, if asking someone the right to execute your constitutional freedoms, you allow them the final decision as to whether you get your freedom or not, because by asking (by default) you give them the authority to make the final decision on whether or not they allow you to execute this right. Thus, by asking the final decision lies in there hands, the one with the power or authority and not the one asking.  

This is exactly what MLK did; he did not demand his freedom but rather asked for it. Anyone who knows about his non-violent, passive resistance theory (which he adopted from Mahatma Gandhi), understands that it is dependent on the natural ability of the oppressor to have compassion for the oppressed. Thus by leaving the power in the hands of the oppressor the oppressed are not DEMANDING FREEDOM but rather ASKING for FREEDOM.  

Since I have tried to exemplify what it means to ask for freedom I would like to exemplify what it entail to demand freedom. Unlike asking, demanding does not depend on the reaction or position of the oppressor. When you demand something you leave the final decision and authority to yourself, by not putting importance on the reaction or stance of the oppressor. For example, in an interview in one of the movies on the life and times of topic, he states in an interview that if Iím poor and standing outside a huge house where I can hear thereís a party going on,  and people are eating to there hearts content..etc..And I knock on the door and ask can I please have some food, and get no response after a while I will get louder and louder. After further time elapsed I might start knocking on the door harder and then finally I will say either give me some food or I'm coming in there and taking it even if I have to take you out. Just as a disclaimer tupac did not use these exact words, but Iím just using it as an example since Iím quoting it out of memory.  

The importance of this is that at the beginning or initial stages the person will ask and then finally start demanding and demanding is a much more aggressive form of achieving something than is asking. 

Demanding gives the other two choices; either you give into what I say or else.

An example would be when Malcolm x said "either the ballot or the bullet" meaning either u give us our freedom and rights to vote etc.. or we will end it with a bullet.  

I might not have been as clear as I wanted to be, but I feel this adequately proves that MRK CONTRADICTS HIMSELF...since he doesnít practice what heís preaching. Anyway, I would appreciate responses by people whether they are by those who disagree with me and those who agree.. 

- Jamukha

Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 18-Dec-2005 at 19:19
You seem to say that King begged for Freedom what seems indeed like a contradiction... but oly as you state it, as you seem to misunderstand it.

I am more familiar with the theory and praxis of Ghandi than with that of the Nordamerican minister, so I will focus in nonviolent resistence as defined by the Indian pioneer.

First, it's not a nonviolent passive resistence. No.

It is nonviolent active resistence. Resistence can't be passive, that's a misconception that is not only erroneous but misleading and insulting. Passivity is shown by those that don't resist: by those that submit to the stabilshed order of things.

Ghandi said that the main difference is not between those that fight with material weapons and those that fight with the satyagraha but between those that fight and those that submit.

Then he pondered the advantages of nonviolent struggle: basically that with simmilar effort gets much more sympathizers, not among the opressors themselves (which may be the case anyhow) but among those on whom the opressors rely, destabilizing their very cimentations and forcing them to cede ground.

Instead violent resistence, while possibly legitimate and occasionally effective, poses normally much larger risks and costs for the party of the resisters.

The main advantage of violent resistence is that it's sort of instinctive: it's a natural canalization of anger, so it's easier, specially in cases of huge abuse, to gather militants.

Yet it is prone to become abusive itself and therefore to damage its own bases.

Violent resistence is more likely to work (partly) when the conditions are unbearable and the opressor has no shame nor balances. In cases like Nazism it would seem like armed struggle was the only option available. I really don't think that any nonviolent activist, as Ghandi, King or so many others could have objected to it.

When there is no public opinion, no (relatively) free media, probably nonviolent struggle has no options. But where the situation is not as bad, surely well organized nonviolent resistence has the upper hand.



Posted By: flyingzone
Date Posted: 18-Dec-2005 at 21:52

Welcome to AE, Jamukha!!! (I am pretty new to here too actually.) What do you think MLK would have done differently if he had DEMANDED, not asked for, freedom? Do you think if he had demanded freedom, he should have embarked on a more violent compaign?

I think Maju's distinctions between violent and non-violent and active and passive were very well-made. Even if MLK had DEMANDED freedom, his tactics would still have been non-violent ACTIVE resistance. And given the social climate of his time, I think he did a wise thing.

Posted By: Jamukha
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 01:01
sorry had sum troubles so cleared the post...reposted it below

Posted By: Jamukha
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 01:31

"For while the non-violent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive towards his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent, that he is wrong. The method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil."   - Essential Writing and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

From the above quote it is reasonable for one to deduct that "non-violent resistance" is not active but passive. The reason why Ipurpose this is that MLK adapted an ideology that demonstrated  'active resistance' in the spiritual and not physical sense. The main focus here should be that if something is passive physically then it is irrelevant what ones conditions are spiritually, since to be active spiritually only is to be inactive physically.  This physical inaction is what makes something passive otherwise it would be active. For example, if someone decides to punch me and I do not physically respond and mentally concoct thoughts pertaining to my desire not to respond and the goodness existing within the aggressor; is passive resistance. Passive since I am not physically resisting but mentally thinking of resistance, non-violent since there is no violent reaction on my part, and resistance since it the resistance takes the form of mental action and not physical which makes the resistance passive and not active.

Instead violent resistance, while possibly legitimate and occasionally effective, poses normally much larger risks and costs for the party of the resisters.

I totally agree with this statement since violent resistance poses more of a threat to the resisters because they are more of a threat to the establishment and have more odds of being successful. The reason for this is that violent resistance is PHSYICALLY ACTIVE. For example, if during a march people allow officers to brutally assault them, the end result will be that they will be left bruised and not having imposed any real damage on the establishment or oppressor. However, if during the march the participants retaliate and try to resist the brutal attack on them, they will have imposed a greater level of damage to the oppressor (compared with not retaliating) at the cost of their own welfare. The reason for this is that the oppressor will react more aggressively and resist the progression of those that are more effective in achieving their objectives than those that are not. Since those who oppose oppression with the option of either using non-violent but also violent means to achieve their ends, have an extra weapon to fight oppression that the non-violent route does not offer. This dual threat makes it more harmful and dangerous to those its opposing. 

I hope this helps to clarify why Martin Luther King adopted a theory that was passive non-violent resistance and not active, since the precondition for it to be active would be physical resistance and not mental or spiritual. Thus, the resistance takes the form of mind and not body.  Although I understand MLK and his advocates argue that it is active non-violent resistance, I feel that conclusion is inaccurate.
The precondition for asking is a question and a precondition for demanding is a statement, which are two distinct characteristics.
Since Kings ideology willingly lets the oppressor execute authority makes it an ideology of asking and not demanding, since an ideology based on demanding would take its freedom and not have it given (not to say that demanded freedom cannot be given, which is a possibility, just one not seen often in history). In terms of more clearly identify the difference between and ideology that asks and one that demands, I have tried to convey those particulars in my initial post.
What do you think MLK would have done differently if he had DEMANDED, not asked for, freedom? Do you think if he had demanded freedom, he should have embarked on a more violent campaign?

 In terms of how I think King could have adopted an ideology that was more demanding than asking would have not required that he be violent or advocate a purely violent resistance, but have the use of physical violence as an option. It simply implies that "if you do not give it I will take it", and not "if you don't give it I will bear it". 
A book definitely worth reading that is relevant to this topic would be Huey P. Newtons "Revolutionary Suicide". One of the key aspects of a revolution that Huey identifies is the need to distinguish between effective use of violence and self-destructive violence. He explains how violence is needed at times but is not need other times depending on the stage and development of that particular revolution. I totally agree with this since violence is not always the answer, but it often times is need as a tool for progression. Depending on the particulars of the situation violence might not be a crucial aspect of the resistance but it inevitably is still apart of the whole ideology governing the resistance.

Btw thanks for the welcome flying.

Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 08:37

Well guess that King's wrong understanding of Satyagraha explains why he is much less famous and quoted than Ghandi.

Nonviolent resistence is definitively active: when resisters go to the beach to publically break the law making salt out of the water, they are being clearly active.

You misunderstand instinct with activity... and it's not the same.

Also you misunderstand physical damage with political damage. Obviously, in most occasions, violent resisters inflict much less political damage to the stabilishment than non-violent resisters. This is becasue nonviolent activists set very much clear that justice and reason is on their side, while the physical damage caused by violent activists actually makes things more unclear.



Posted By: Jamukha
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 12:59
You misunderstand instinct with activity... and it's not the same

I am assuming that you are saying instinct is violence?

Yes I totally agree instinct is not the same as activity, but you seem to relate violence with instinct which is definitely a misunderstanding if that is what you are equating.

Violence is not instinctive since the reality is if it was an instinctive characteristic even in times of danger it would be demonstrated by the masses. To use violence to achieve freedom is something that requires mental training and contentment with the fact that one might end up loosing their life. The whole concept of using violence to cause change is that one must use it in its most effective manner. This requires much calculation, planning and contemplation for it to merely be instinctive.

In terms of the African American population in the United States they have (at least at the time of King) internalized this concept of submission to injustice and oppression.  The reason for this is due to slavery and how the mothers felt the need to raise their children so that they would not gather courage and fight for freedom. As a result it made the next generation more submissive and less ready to react violently to oppression. Its much more complex than what I have tried to summarize but if you get a chance you should try to read Willie lynch's "making of a slave", all you have to do is google it. Some people argue that Willie never existed but there's no doubt his theory or systematic method of enslavement did. This can be substantiated by numerous African Americans who tried to uplift the position of their people in the United States such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, George Jackson, and Huey Newton.

Also you misunderstand physical damage with political damage. Obviously, in most occasions, violent resisters inflict much less political damage to the stabilishment than non-violent resisters. This is becasue nonviolent activists set very much clear that justice and reason is on their side, while the physical damage caused by violent activists actually makes things more unclear.

This is further deviating from my original asking or demanding issue, and definitely could take up a separate topic in the forum.

To really analyze non-violent resistance we would have to look at its historical success and contrast that with violent resistance. This would be a very long discussion so I will quickly summarize what I have to say, which is that Gandhi was a failure and misled his people. This can be also stated about King, but to a much greater extent since at least Gandhi had some good quotes, while King contradicts himself using his own quote.

In terms of it causing more damage I feel that it is an overstatement. Since we have to understand that the political sphere is just one of the many ways in which Capitalism and Democracy distinguish itself from previous ideologies, and claim that change can be achieved through political means. This is a possibility for such trivial matters as environmental support etc, but in terms of the elimination of the oppression and deprivation of a people, the political realm is not very successful. Using this exclusive political sphere is what partially makes it an ASKING ideology.

I think Max Webers theory on change and revolution would definitely be worth stating here, since it might help to explain why the political or bureaucratic sphere would be ineffective. Unlike Marx, Weber believes that change would be brought about by bureaucratic means and not violent protest, but due to this he said that eventually people would lead themselves into an iron cage of bureaucracy. Meaning that this political or bureaucratic form of change and revolt would be the main means the masses would go to display their discontent. However the iron cage exemplifies reality which is that bureaucratic means have no real affect and everything becomes caught in this bureaucratic cage.

Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 14:01

I don't mean that instinct is violence but that the instinctive answer to an agression is to either flee or fight back. Nonviolence reply is obviously not based in instnctive answer but in planned and willing rebellion.

Nonviolence is an active mean of affirmation and self-determination. The main problem is not in its essence but in the way how the system tries to absorb it and sometimes achieves it, deforming the essence of nonviolence: changing action into passivity, resistence into indifference, subversion into nonsense... I've seen that already.

This is because the essence of nonviolence is this: disobedience.

In fact, going into violent struggle without having first the wide support of the population (due to the abuses and ilegitimity of the stabilishment) is the biggest stupidity that anyone can do: it is doomed.



Posted By: Jamukha
Date Posted: 21-Dec-2005 at 16:12
I think the essence of all resistance whether that be violent or non-violent could be classified as disobedience.

In fact, going into violent struggle without having first the wide support of the population (due to the abuses and ilegitimity of the stabilishment) is the biggest stupidity that anyone can do: it is doomed.

Thats definetly the outcome if violent resistance could really be an option without the support of the masses nor could nonviolence pose much of a diplomatic threat if it was not supported by the masses.

The reason why i feel that Kings ideology is flawed from its essence is not only because of how the oppresor absorbs this resistance, but due to its emphasis on compassion as a tool to fight oppression.  Victory nor freedom are realistic outcomes if you dont use aggression to fight oppression.

The nonviolent resister has a setback prior to thier resistance, since they refrain from violence, which has to combined with the nonviolent option depending on the development of the movement and its particular stages.

Posted By: Robinrocks
Date Posted: 28-Jan-2018 at 16:21
Yes, MLK's statements were contradictory and flawed. What matters is that this contradictory and flawed person did great things. Btw, if somebody is interested in MLK's history, there is a wiki tour - map  with places where he lived, studied and worked. 

Posted By: wintermelisa
Date Posted: 13-May-2019 at 07:38
Yeah, it may seem he acted in a different way that he said, but we don't know what was the situation. He expressed his thoughts, namely what he thought was the best. But if the situation doesn't allow to do what you think is the best, you choose from other options. 
He isn't a person who blames essay writing services but pay for - college admission help .

We weren't there, we can't judge him.

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