#ezra-klein-show #martin-luther-king

podcast episode

Jan. 25, 2023

Attention conservation notice: Rough notes written up on trains and subways -- personal and cryptic for just about everyone.

Polyannish view of human nature

Nonviolence: How do you have a revolution without the negative after sentiment? How do you avoid the counterrevolution? The Thermidor.

How do you enact destruction without loosing your own dignity? The action transforms the actor. Ultimately, violence corrodes the soul of one making it -- a Christian idea (?)

How to live a virtuous life -- beyond strategy, beyond the revolution -- how to be a decent person? Beyond achieving your goals in your lifetime.

Hate hurts your own soul. How does MLK avoid this?

Sometimes the cause will enable people to act out the worst parts of themselves and do things which are difficult to come back from. Poison the soul.

Can we channel our legitimate rage into a practice that preserves our self respect? Because self-respect is precisely what they want to take away on racism and other forms of oppression.

MLK's speech against the Vietnam war -- sympathizing with "the enemy" -- going through the history that led us to this point and understanding the truth that we are all connected. Cheesy but true.

Why does it matter that Sy marched with MLK? Because actually, he learned some of these principles and brought them into his own life, and also shared them with others.

The economy should serve the community, not the other way around. Democratic socialism, is primarily about democracy! Whereas most people focus on the socialism part.

The origin of nonviolence is in part in the union strike. Interesting.

MLK died when he was only 39!

Class to race argument, i.e. by helping class we help race, lacks how to help upper class blacks => always side with the most disadvantaged and use the wedge that empowers them the most -- to lead themselves, to gain dignity

Improving the life circumstances of the least well-off.

Identify the causal causes of inequity -- black power is just one conclusion, as a result, it overemphasizes the one thing, the racial, whereas the truth is more complicated and always changing. As a result, the focus winds up being on better representation (in media, in the academy, in politics) and in education, rather than actually aiming to dismantle systemic injustices.

Stick it to whitey, stick it to the libs.

Some forms or black nationalism are so pessimistic that they essentially give up on real forms of social change. Instead, they express it in public humiliation. There is titillation, satisfaction in this outlet.

People don't actually think that Trump is going to undo the devastation of global capital, instead they just want to get some satisfaction out of humiliating their enemies.

We need to learn from MLK's critique of black power (black nationalism) -- turn people away from their feelings of hostility towards something more productive -- because in the contemporary case, the cancel movement (power to humiliate) has the real potential to do some damage.

"Political emotion"

Nonviolence is a kind of realism because it doesn't operate in the realm of rational politics, instead, it takes very seriously the realm of emotion. We need to understand the political emotions of people, is it fear? What else is it? This is what people want to know when you go down to the south.

Fear of black people's revenge -- an old political emotion in the USA -- we need to disarm this fear if we are to make progress.

Anger: It's not enough to provoke something toxic in the culture. Elicit emotions that can be channeled into a step towards justice. Anger is the principle affect of American politics now. How do we transform this anger into something constructive? How do we should that some of this anger is not justified.

This seems impossible.

Humiliating someone in an argument by winning, the result is to drive them even closer to the people that make them feel good -- and away from whatever you supposedly convinced them of.

Black power people mourned his death because even in disagreement, they felt that MLK loved them.

We are in a moment of extraordinary cynicism. Try to have demonstrations of authenticity and humility which put us at some risk, the way that MLK did. Get out of death spiral of mutual reinforcing cynicism.

Agape love


Where do we go from here? Chaos of community.

Panel Joseph, the sword and the shield

More beautiful and terrible history

Tommy Shelby, Dark Ghettos

And MLK's critique/writings of the black power movement