Political Theory 50 (2):305-336 (2022)

Authors
Meena Krishnamurthy
Queen's University
Abstract
This essay develops an account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s justification for and use of what I will call “democratic propaganda”—truthful propaganda that is aimed at promoting and fostering democratic political action by stirring readers’ emotions. I interpret King’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in the broader context of his work and argue that it is a piece of democratic propaganda. I give an account of what led King to support the use of democratic propaganda and why he hoped it would help to overcome a central problem in the civil rights movement: the political inaction of the white moderates. King emphasizes shame in the Letter, and I argue that this concept offers us a new way of thinking about the efficacy of democratic propaganda. I close by considering the relevance of King’s approach for today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the innovativeness of King’s use of shame, I suggest it may be time for a new approach to Black politics and activism.
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DOI 10.1177/00905917211021796
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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
White Ignorance.Charles Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.

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