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Mahnoor ShamsiProfessor Zachary DavisPHI 1000C03/04/2016Paper # 1Throughout history, people have had different beliefs on what is the best and mosteffective way to get justice and gain your rights. Different philosophers have also hadcontrasting beliefs on what is the most effective means of overcoming oppression andprotesting against an unjust law. While Socrates believed that only mere persuasion be usedto change an unjust law, King believed that nonviolent direct action is necessary to changean unjust law. Malcolm X disagreed with both of them and thought that using “any meansnecessary” is the most effective way to change an unfair law. After analyzing these threedifferent beliefs, I believe that King’s nonviolent direct action is the most effective methodof protesting an unjust law because it creates a constructive tension, highlights the issuewell enough and shows that you respect yourself and others and your only purpose is togain justice and overcome oppression.Socrates believed that people should use mere persuasion to overcome oppression.What Socrates means by mere persuasion is to use words and reasoning rather than takingaction to overcome oppression or to change unjust laws. Mere persuasion was the mosteffective way of protesting according to Socrates because when you use reasoning and logicto persuade someone, it is going to have lasting effects because you are not forcingsomeone to accept what you are saying but they are accepting what you are sayingthemselves because it appeals to their mind. Mere persuasion can change people’s mind,unlike violence, which will change their behavior. Another reason why Socrates thinks thatmere persuasion is the most effective means of protest is because persuasion is somethingused among human beings. You cannot persuade an animal or a nonliving thing with words,so when you try to persuade someone, you show others that you think of them as humansand therefore assume that they will most likely take a moral decision. Mere persuasion alsoshows the power of words and as a philosopher and an educator, Socrates needs to showhis students and the world the power of words and show what education can do. Lastly,mere persuasion was also the most effective technique for protesting for Socrates becauseit doesn’t require one to break any law. Socrates believed that a state’s laws should never bebroken and its stability should never be threatened. Taking direct action would require oneto break a state’s law and disrupt its stability, so Socrates believed that taking direct actionwould be ineffective. The reason Socrates believed in preserving the peace and stability ofthe state is because the state has a higher value than an individual, according to him. Theindividual exists due to the existence of the state. The state provided a place for theindividual’s parents to meet, get married and settle down. It also nurtured the individualand provided the individual with education. Socrates also said that even if there are unjustlaws in the state, at least there is law and order, which instills hope for these laws to bechanged because if there is no law and order, there is no justice. If you take away the state,you take away the possibility of ever getting justice because you cannot get justice in chaos.Direct action is also ineffective according Socrates because it shows that you are not a fairperson. A just and fair person doesn’t harm in return. Therefore, Socrates believes that astate’s law should never be broken and direct action should never be taken to change unjustlaws. Only mere persuasion should be used even if that means one has to give up one’s life.Dr. King disagreed with Socrates and believed that non-violent direct action is themost effective means of protest. Non-violent direct action means that you are taking someaction to fight unjust and unfair laws, but you never get violent. One reason King believesthat nonviolent direct action is effective is because it creates such circumstances that thepeople, who had been avoiding the issue, are forced to face it. It brings attention to theissue. King calls this creative tension. The non-violent direct action seeks to expose andaddress the underlying causes of the injustice and unfair treatment. The community whichhad been avoiding to face the issue is now forced to face it and pave the way fornegotiations. Nonviolent direct action is also effective according to King because itpromotes positive peace, which places justice over stability and order of the state ratherthan negative peace, which places the order and stability of the state over justice. A person’slife is valuable and every human being deserves to be treated fairly. Order of the statecannot be given more importance than morals. King states, “Law and order exist for thepurpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become thedangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” If the purpose for theexistence of the law and order is not being fulfilled then one should stop caring about thestability of the state and take a non-violent direct action to eventually make the purpose ofthe existence of the state fulfilled by getting justice. Lastly, changes do not occurthemselves. One has to take an action in order for a change to occur and if one doesn’t takeany action, one would continue to get oppressed.King disagreed with Socrates and said that mere persuasion is an ineffectivetechnique to change unjust and unfair laws. He believed that mere persuasion is ineffectivebecause mere persuasion can require an infinite amount of time. One needs to take actionbecause after a certain time has passed because waiting forever would only lead to moresuffering. Moreover, breaking an unfair law is a duty because obeying the unjust law wouldcontinue to lead to suffering. Another reason is that sometimes the other side is filled withso much hatred, racism, prejudice or bias that they are not willing to listen and will notnegotiate fairly or not negotiate at all. Freedom and justice are not willingly given by theoppressor; one has to take action to get their issue noticed and acknowledged. King alsodisagreed with Malcolm X’s stance of using “any means necessary” to gain justice. “Anymeans necessary” implies that violence may be used to in order to change unfair laws. Kingwas strongly against violence because according to him violence created destructivetension. It will only lead to more violence. He was also against violence because he regardsviolence as degrading. It shows that you do not respect yourself and others enough.Violence also leads to greater tension, hatred and animosity. So, using violence will onlymake the situation worse.As already stated, Malcolm X believed in the philosophy of “any means necessary” tobe the most effective means of protest because It shows that you respect and value yourselfenough to fight for your rights and justice and end the injustices and oppressionsurrounding you. Using “any means necessary” also shows that gaining justice is your firstpriority and your biggest aim. It also shows that you have self-respect and you valueyourself enough to fight for what you deserve. Malcolm X also believed in “any meansnecessary” because history has shown that revolutions have brought significant changesand unfortunately revolutions have been violent so violence or at least threat of violence isnecessary for violence, and therefore, they are necessary for change too. Lastly, the methodof “any means necessary” shows that getting freedom is really important to you becauseyou are doing whatever possible to gain freedom. According to Malcolm X, limiting yourselfto one thing would not effective because the oppressor would think that getting justice andfreedom are not that important for you. Furthermore, no one is going to give you freedom ifyou are not willing to do whatever means necessary to get that.Due to his beliefs and reasoning, Malcolm X thought of mere persuasion andnonviolence to be ineffective means of protest. Mere persuasion was ineffective accordingto Malcolm X because mere persuasion values the stability of the state greater thanindividual’s moral rights. It would give the wrong message to the oppressor that you are notdetermined to get the unjust law changed. He also believed that mere persuasion isineffective because it requires an infinite amount of patience but one cannot wait forforever and needs to take an action when persuasion doesn’t do anything. Furthermore, hereasoned that turning back to the same sources who have already denied to give you yourmoral rights would not help you at all; you need turn to yourself and get justice yourself.Malcolm X believed that nonviolent direct action is ineffective because non-violence doesnot show the true value and worth of a person; it shows that you don’t value and respectyourself enough to overcome oppression. Another reason is that non-violence allows othersto continue to mistreat you and it is a “shame” to be nonviolent if the other side is usingviolence. Lastly, he says that non-violence is easy and anyone can be non-violent. He states,“Anyone can sit. Well, you and I been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to startdoing some standing and some fighting to back that up.”I agree with King’s philosophy of non-violent direct action. Non-violent direct actionis the most effective means of protest because it creates a constructive tension. It creates aconstructive tension because if you were using mere persuasion, a lot of people will not getaware of the issue you were facing with and may not get affected by your issue because itdoesn’t affect them. However, when you use non-violent direct action, you do things like sitins and marches, which can disrupt the daily life of people and will catch attention of peopleand you direct their attention to the issue. If their daily life is disrupted, they are going tohave to solve the issue somehow so their life stops getting distracted. Non-violent directaction is also effective because it shows that you value yourself and others enough to notdisrespect anyone. It is easier to lose temper and get violent but it is harder to keep yourselfcomposed and deal with the situation calmly even when you are getting mistreated.Responding to hatred with hatred will only create more tensions and make the situationworse. Lastly, non-violent direct action is effective because it shows that your only purposeis to gain justice and overcome oppression. It would show people that you are apeacemaker because you are non-violent and the only reason you took direct action is tochange the unjust law. You do not harm anyone by getting violent. The oppressors wouldtake notice of this and can have a change of a heart by seeing that despite beingdisrespected, you are not disrespecting others in return, which is something very hard todo.One objection to my stance can be that non-violence shows that you do not respectyourself enough to overcome oppression and it is shameful to not overcome oppression. Ifyou respect yourself enough, you should do anything necessary to overcome oppression.However, I disagree with the objection because you would actually disrespect yourself bydisrespecting others. It would be more shameful to disrespect others than to not overcomeoppression because disrespecting others would make you the same as oppressor and whatcould be more shameful than being compared to the people who oppressed you. A just andmoral person would never disrespect anyone. Another objection to my stance can be thatviolence will bring more attention to the issue than non-violence can. However, that wouldbe negative attention. Violence will just shift the purpose of the movement and direct actionbecause people will give more attention to the violence you caused rather than why you gotviolent and what compelled you to get violent. Also, the protesters should not stoop to thelevel of the oppressors who do not have respect for the protestors and treat the protestorsin an unfair manner because then there would be no difference between the oppressors andthe ones getting oppressed, therefore, violence should never be used as a tool to overcomeoppression.Being stuck in a situation where you are oppressed and you have to think of ways toovercome it can be challenging. Different philosophers had different beliefs on how toovercome oppression and fight against an unjust law. Socrates believed that merepersuasion should be enough to change an unjust law. He believed that one should bepatient and never break the laws of the state. Malcolm X believed that mere persuasion isnot enough and a non-violent direct action must be taken while Malcolm X believed that“any means necessary” be used to overcome oppression. King’s stance appealed the most tome because you are taking an action against something unjust but at the same time you arepeaceful and non harmful. It has the power to transform hatred into love andunderstanding.ReferencesPlato. (n.d.). Crito. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from, M. L., Jr. (1963, April 16). Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Retrieved March 03, 2016,from X. (1964, April 03). The Ballot or the Bullet. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from