Anger and Revolutionary Justice

Lessons for Our Era from Three Parts of the Globe

When there is great injustice, it is very tempting to think that righteous anger is the best response, and even a necessary response. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the three most successful revolutionary freedom movements in the past century have been conducted in a spirit of non-anger (distinct from, though sometimes joined to, non-violence): Gandhi’s independence movement; Martin Luther King, Jr.’s role in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement; and Nelson Mandela’s freedom movement in South Africa.

In this year's Berkley Center Lecture, the University of Chicago's Martha C. Nussbaum provided a philosophical analysis of the emotion of anger and, through studying the thought and practice of Gandhi, King, and Mandela, she argued that non-anger is both normatively and practically superior to anger.

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