Abstract

The religious and political thought of Malcolm X underscores a radical politico-ethical tradition that speaks to a fundamental but neglected aspect of American democracy: the idea that democracy cannot flourish without a radical (individual and collective) ethics. Malcolm X's speeches, particularly in his late career, illustrate the degree to which American democracy is unrealizable unless it can give an account of human finitude in a social context of anti-Black racism. I contend that Malcolm X's move toward human rights activism during his mature political development is contingent on a radical ethics at the individual and group level. It is an ethical practice based on reflective intentionality and creative exchange. I call this vision of radical praxis abolition ethics.

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