On a day this week, December 6, 1961, the writer and revolutionary-marxist Frantz Fanon, author of the ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ (among other works of philosophy and biting critiques of colonialism), died from leukemia
On a day this week, December 6, 1961, the writer and revolutionary-marxist Frantz Fanon, author of the ‘The Wretched of the Earth‘ (among other works of philosophy and biting critiques of colonialism), died from leukemia in a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, northwest of the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C….
“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity” he wrote in ‘Les Damnés de la Terre’, his last work, dictated to his wife Josie, between April and July of 1961, as he was dying.
Fanon, now recognised as a “fearless critic of colonialism” (Anthony C. Alessandrini), was born in Fort-de-France, in the French colony of Martinique on July 20, 1925. Martinique was also home to Aimé Césaire (26 June 1913 – 17 April 2008, poet, radical thinker and one-time member of the French Communist Party) who would exert considerable influence on the younger Fanon. Césaire, whose ‘Discourse on Colonialism’ was first published in 1955, worked in the Lycée Schoelcher, then the most prestigious high school in Martinique, where Fanon would have him as one of his teachers. “Césaire’s passionate denouncement of colonial racism had a major influence on the impressionable Fanon…” (Ziauddin Sardar) He grew up in Fort-de-France, the island’s capital. Opposed to the collaborationist Vichy regime, he left the island at 17 and served in the French army during World War II, and following the war, returned to France with the original intention of studying dentistry on a scholarship for veterans, but instead, he studied medicine and psychiatry from 1945 to 1950 in Lyons.
“What, fundamentally, is colonization? To agree on what it is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. To admit once for all, without flinching at the consequences, that the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies.” (‘Discourse on Colonialism’)
Writing in ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ Fanon himself quotes: “Dr. Carothers practiced in Central and East Africa but his findings match those of the North African school. For the international expert, ‘The African uses his frontal lobes very little. All the peculiarities of African psychiatry can be envisaged in terms of frontal idleness.’
In order to make his point clear Dr. Carothers establishes a very vivid comparison. He puts forward the idea that the normal African is a lobotomized European.”
Between his own experience of racism as a ‘black person’ (“The black man is not. No more than the white man.”) both at the end of the war and during his studies in Lyons, along with the climate of radical thinking then taking place in France, (including writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Octave Mannoni, the French psychoanalyst who wrote the ‘Psychology of Colonization‘) Fanon was encouraged to identify and explore what he saw as a “psychology of oppression”, and driven to see how it could be turned into a “psychology of liberation”. This, both in theory and in practice, would define his work in the short number of years he would have left to him.
While studying in France he also attended courses taught by Merleau-Ponty and André Leroi-Gourhan. An intellectual with a broad range of interests, he read Lévi-Strauss, Mauss, Heidegger, Hegel, Lenin, the young Marx, as well as the works of Leon Trotsky and was heavily influenced by Marxist and existentialist ideas which he would adapt soon in his own writings. Moving beyond his early mentor Césaire’s concept of négritude: “…far more fruitful, in Fanon’s view, were his studies in France of Hegel, Marx, and Husserl. From these sources he developed the view that dialectic could be the process through which the othered/alienated self can respond to racist trauma in a healthy way, a sensitivity to the social and economic forces that shape human beings, and an appreciation for the pre-conscious construction of self that phenomenology can reveal. ” (IEP)
“And for me bourgeois society is any society that becomes ossified in a predetermined mold, stifling any development, progress, or discovery. For me bourgeois society is a closed society where it’s not good to be alive, where the air is rotten and ideas and people are putrefying. And I believe that a man who takes a stand against this living death is in a way a revolutionary.” (‘Black Skin, White Masks’)
In this first book: “Black Skin, White Masks” (which was originally his rejected university dissertation at Lyons), published in 1952, he examined the social and psychological processes by which colonisation by whites alienated the colonised blacks from any indigenous black culture, in other words how: “black people must wear ‘white masks’ in order to get by in a white world”. He wrote this while completing his residency in psychiatry at Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole.
He also found Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism a helpful resource for “theorizing the process of self construction by which each of us chooses to become the persons we are.” (“When I look for man in European lifestyles and technology I see a constant denial of man, an avalanche of murders…Let us endeavor to invent a man in full, something which Europe has been incapable of achieving.” ‘The Wretched of The Earth‘) “This relation with Jean-Paul Sartre appears to have been particularly mutually beneficial; Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism permeates Peau Noire and in turn, Jean-Paul Sartre’s heartfelt and radical commitment to decolonization suggests that Fanon had quite an influence on him”.
Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan:
“In short, the psychology of oppression is a topic of pivotal significance to which Fanon made seminal and pioneering contributions. At the kernel of this psychology are the facts of pervasive violence, a Manichean view of the world, an ambiguity of the self, and various forms of death. If in fact recorded history is the history of the victor, establishment psychology is also an elaborated system of rationalizations for the status quo and a refined instrument of social control. We have seen how much violence is unleashed in the name of scholarship, science, and healing. A psychology of liberation would give primacy to the empowerment of the oppressed through organized and socialized activity with the aim of restoring individual biographies and a collective history derailed, stunted, and/or made appendage to those of others. Life indeed takes on morbid qualities and sanity becomes tenuous so long as one’s space, time, energy, mobility, bonding, and identity are usurped by dint of violence.”
Fanon ends his “Black Skin White Masks” with this eloquent plea, as relevant to us today, probably, in the barren landscape we find ourselves confronted with at the present impasse in the struggle for social democracy:
“The black man is not. No more than the white man.
Both have to move away from the inhuman voices of their respective ancestors so that a genuine communication can be born. Before embarking on a positive voice, freedom needs to make an effort at disalienation. At the start of his life, a man is always congested, drowned in contingency. The misfortune of man is that he was once a child.
It is through self-consciousness and renunciation, through a permanent tension of his freedom, that man can create the ideal conditions of existence for a human world.
Why not simply try to touch the other, feel the other, discover each other?
Was my freedom not given me to build the world of you, man?
At the end of this book we would like the reader to feel with us the open dimension of every consciousness.
My final prayer:
O my body, always make me a man who questions!”
After qualifying as a psychiatrist in 1951 he travelled to Algeria, securing an appointment at Blida-Joinville Psychiatric Hospital, the largest psychiatric facility in the capital Algiers in November 1953. He also married the same year. “He radicalized his methods of treatment, particularly beginning socio-therapy to connect with his patients’ cultural backgrounds. He also trained nurses and interns… He was undoubtedly responsible for initiating radical changes in the practice of colonial psychiatry in Algeria.” (Anthony C. Alessadrini)
“He was appalled by the racist treatment of Algerians and the disparity he witnessed between the living standards of the European colonizers and the indigenous Arab population. He developed a close rapport with the Algerian poor and used group therapy to help, as well as study, his patients. There was intellectual ferment too. A major event of 1954 was the publication of Vacation de l’Islam by the Algerian social philosopher Malek Bennabi.”
On November I, 1954, the Algerian Revolution broke out, the uprising directed by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), which was immediately brutally repressed by French armed force. “The French response to the 1954 Algerian revolt was brutal, involving torture, killing, physical abuse and barbaric repression.” (Ziauddin Sardar)
Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan:
“Life indeed takes on morbid qualities and sanity becomes tenuous so long as one’s space, time, energy, mobility, bonding, and identity are usurped by dint of violence. To transform a situation of oppression requires at once a relentless confrontation of oppressors without, who are often impervious to appeals to reason or compassion, and an equally determined confrontation of the oppressor within, whose violence can unleash a vicious cycle of autodestruction to the self as well as to the group. For without this dual confrontation, the search for personal harmony remains illusive, madness becomes rampant even through sanctioned normalcy, interpersonal violence persists even among loved ones, and death in its various forms remains pervasive. Apart from a conscious and determined struggle, there is no quick fix, no mental exorcism, no struggle for private salvation that can herald a restoration of usurped biography and history. ”
Having seen the Chinese communists succeed in their Revolution in 1949 (as well as sending hundreds of thousands of volunteers to support the Korean revolution in 1951), in 1954, the defeat of the French army in Vietnam at the battle of Dien Bien Phu (which took place between March and May that year), marked the end of French domination in Indo-China. (“When we recall how the old colonial hands in 1938 described Indochina as the land of piastres and rickshaws, of houseboys and cheap women, we understand only too well the fury of the Vietminh’s struggle.” ‘The Wretched of the Earth’) “This was the signal for Algeria to launch her struggle.”
Fanon would write:
“A friend of mine, who had fought alongside me during the last war, recently came back from Indochina. He enlightened me on many things—for example, on the serenity with which the sixteen- or seventeen-year-old Vietnamese fell in front of the firing squad. Once, he told me, we had to kneel down to fire: the soldiers, confronted with such young “fanatics” were shaking. To sum up, he added: “The war we fought together was child’s play compared with what is going on out there.” Seen from Europe, such things are incomprehensible. Some people claim there is a so-called Asian attitude toward death. But nobody is convinced by these third-rate philosophers. It wasn’t so long ago that this Asian serenity could be seen in the “vandals” of Vercors and the “terrorists” of the Resistance. The Vietnamese who die in front of a firing squad don’t expect their sacrifice to revive a forgotten past. They accept death for ‘the sake of the present and the future.’” (‘Black Skin, White Masks’)
He now became committed to the Algerian cause in its fight for full independence, part and parcel of a larger and more complex liberation struggle…
Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan:
“The struggle for justice through violence must, of course, be a last resort not only because such means exact untold miseries for all involved, particularly the oppressed, but also because they leave behind a legacy of wrecked psyches and antidemocratic tendencies. Yet, consideration of these dangers should not justify inaction or imply that lost rights can be reclaimed without a persistent demand.
The organized activity and the organized institutions of the oppressor must be countered with the reorganized activity and the reorganized institutions of the oppressed. Goals must be defined, programs to fulfill them developed, and the oppressed shaken to organized action within a structure of human values imbued with a clarity of what truly is “prosocial” from the “antisocial” and of what constitute human needs apart from superficial needs. The true meaning of violence, crime, accountability, and liberty are deliberately so confounded by the oppressor that the oppressed are readily ensnared in a web of confusions and internalized prohibitions that are as defeating as the array of external controls. We have seen how, in consequence, the oppressed are made captives to a vicious cycle of social, psychological, and physical death…”
“We would not be so naive as to believe that the appeals for reason or respect for human dignity can change reality. For the Antillean working in the sugarcane plantations in Le Robert, to fight is the only solution. And he will undertake and carry out this struggle not as the result of a Marxist or idealistic analysis but because quite simply he cannot conceive his life otherwise than as a kind of combat against exploitation, poverty, and hunger.” (‘Black Skin, White Masks’ )
By 1955 the FLN had brought the war to the urban centres, most notable being the ‘Battle of Algiers’ which began in September 1956 with a bombing campaign dramatised by the 1966 Italian-Algerian historical war film (of the same name) co-written and directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. The French retaliated using their customary brutality, with neighborhood raids, arrests, and torture, in particular focused on the Casbah slum, (then with a population of 80,000 Algerians), killing thousands, both civilans and FLN combatants. “What is the status of Algeria? A systematized de-humanization…The function of a social structure is to set up institutions to serve man’s needs. A society that drives its members to desperate solutions is a non-viable society, a society to be replaced. ” (‘Letter to the Resident Minister, 1956’)
“How come he cannot recognize his own cruelty now turned against him? How come he can’t see his own savagery as a colonist in the savagery of these oppressed peasants who have absorbed it through every pore and for which they can find no cure? The answer is simple: this arrogant individual, whose power of authority and fear of losing it has gone to his head, has difficulty remembering he was once a man; he thinks he is a whip or a gun; he is convinced that the domestication of the “inferior races” is obtained by governing their reflexes.”
“Once their rage explodes, they recover their lost coherence, they experience self-knowledge through reconstruction of themselves; from afar we see their war as the triumph of barbarity; but it proceeds on its own to gradually emancipate the fighter and progressively eliminates the colonial darkness inside and out. As soon as it begins it is merciless. Either one must remain terrified or become terrifying—which means surrendering to the dissociations of a fabricated life or conquering the unity of one’s native soil. When the peasants lay hands on a gun, the old myths fade, and one by one the taboos are overturned: a fighter’s weapon is his humanity. For in the first phase of the revolt killing is a necessity: killing a European is killing two birds with one stone, eliminating in one go oppressor and oppressed: leaving one man dead and the other man free…” (‘The Wretched of the Earth‘)
Fanon joins the Front de Libération Nationale, while at the same time working as a doctor to treat the psychological distress of the French soldiers and officers who carried out torture in order to suppress anti-colonial resistance. (“…today the all-out national war of liberation waged by the Algerian people for seven years has become a breeding ground for mental disorders. We include here cases of Algerian and French patients under our care which we think particularly meaningful.” ‘The Wretched of the Earth’) Eventually realising that he could no longer work in such an intolerable situation he resigned from his position at the hospital in the summer of 1956.
Anthony C. Alessandrini:
“But it was precisely the problem of practicing psychiatry in a colonial situation that began to have its effect upon Fanon. The struggle for national liberation in Algeria had become more conspicuous, partly because French repression had become more brutal since the end of World War II. Fanon had, of course, already experienced the effects of French racism, but in Algeria this experience took on new kinds of meanings. After a period of treating both Algerians fighting for independence and French police officers, the tortured and the torturers … Fanon came to the realization that “[i]t was an absurd gamble to undertake…to bring into existence a certain number of values, when the lawlessness, the inequality, the multi-daily murder of man were raised to the status of legislative principles.” “The social structure in Algeria,” he concluded, “was hostile to any attempt to put the individual back where he belonged…”
Having resigned from his post at Blida-Joinville he wrote his “Letter to the Resident Minister, Gouverneur General de l’Algerie, Alger” (later published in ‘Pour la Révolution Africaine‘):
“For nearly three years I have placed myself wholly at the service of this country and of the men who inhabit it. I have spared neither my efforts nor my enthusiasm. But what can a man’s enthusiasm and devotion achieve if everyday reality is a tissue of lies, of cowardice, of contempt for man?… If psychiatry is the medical technique that aims to enable man no longer to be a stranger to his environment, I owe it to myself to affirm that the Arab, permanently an alien in his own country, lives in a state of absolute depersonalization….
For many months my conscience has been the seat of unpardonable debates. And their conclusion is the determination not to despair of man, in other words, of myself.”
In January 1957, Fanon, now working with the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), received a letter of expulsion from the French government and a warning to leave Algeria within forty-eight hours.
After his expulsion, he travelled to the FLN headquarters in Tunis and served in a number of capacities, becoming editor of the movement’s newspaper, El Moudjahid, (for which he wrote until the end of his life), working as a doctor in FLN health centers (including the Manouba Clinic and Neuropsychiatric Center), and acting as ambassador to several African nations. He also lectured at the University of Tunis. He attended conferences in Accra, Conakry, Addis Ababa, Leopoldville, Cairo and Tripoli. It was during this time that he wrote ‘L’An V de la Révolution Algérienne‘ (later translated as ‘A Dying Colonialism’), a sociological study of the Algerian liberation struggle which details how the oppressed in Algeria organised themselves into a revolutionary fighting force, published in 1959. “Written from within the struggle with a manifesto-like intensity, it received enough attention in France for the government to ban the book and prohibit further printing of it six months after its publication.” (Alessandrini) Many of his shorter writings from this period were collected posthumously in the book ‘Toward the African Revolution’. “In this book Fanon reveals war tactical strategies; in one chapter he discusses how to open a southern front to the war and how to run the supply lines.”
Anthony C. Alessandrini:
“As Fanon’s reputation as a revolutionary theorist grew over the next four years, he would become the target of assassination attempts by French Algerian settlers and one of the most wanted persons of the French secret police. He survived several attempts on his life, including one in which his jeep was blown up by a land mine near the border of Algeria and Tunisia, leaving him with twelve fractured spinal vertebrae.”
However by December 1960: it became apparent that something was wrong medically. Traveling in Mali as an FLN representative, Fanon had suddenly been taken ill and was shortly after diagnosed with the leukemia that would take his life within 12 months. He travelled to the USSR for treatment where his disease went into remission. When the disease returned and knowing he was dying, in a period of approximately ten weeks (between April and July 1961) Fanon produced his last and most famous book, ‘Les Damnés de la Terre’ (‘The Wretched of the Earth’).
“In The Wretched of the Earth, published shortly before Fanon’s death, the writer defends the right of a colonized people to use violence to gain independence. In addition, he delineated the processes and forces leading to national independence or neocolonialism during the decolonization movement that engulfed much of the world after World War II. In defence of the use of violence by colonized peoples, Fanon argued that human beings who are not considered as such (by the colonizer) shall not be bound by principles that apply to humanity in their attitude towards the colonizer. His book was censored by the French government.” Wikipedia
“It is commonly thought with criminal flippancy that to politicize the masses means from time to time haranguing them with a major political speech. It is thought that for a leader or head of state to speak on major current issues in a pedantic tone of voice is sufficient as obligation to politicize the masses. But political education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world. It is as Césaire said: “To invent the souls of men.” To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone. In order to achieve such things, in order to actually embody them, we must, as we have already mentioned, decentralize to the utmost. The flow of ideas from the upper echelons to the rank and file and vice versa must be an unwavering principle, not for merely formal reasons but quite simply because adherence to this principle is the guarantee of salvation. It is the forces from the rank and file which rise up to energize the leadership and permit it dialectically to make a new leap forward…”
December, 1961, Fanon was eventually forced to travel to Washington, DC, for treatment. “…Persistent rumors have suggested that the CIA arranged for him to be left alone in a hotel room for eight days so that he could be interrogated rather than admitting him immediately to a hospital. In any event, by the time he finally entered the hospital, it was too late.” (Alessandrini) His wife and 6 year old son had come to join him; Josie Fanon reading him the first reviews of ‘The Wretched of the Earth’.
Frantz Fanon died on December 6, 1961. He was 36 years old. His body was taken to Tunisia, then smuggled across the border to Algeria to be buried on Algerian soil. He was buried in an FLN cemetery with full military honors.
In 1962: Algeria achieved its independence from France. It is estimated that around 1.5 million Algerians and 25,000 French people died in the seven and half year conflict.
Jean-Paul Sartre (in the preface to ‘Les Damnés de la Terre’):
“…aside from Sorel’s fascist chatter, you will find that Fanon is the first since Engels to focus again on the midwife of history. And don’t be led into believing that hotheadedness or an unhappy childhood gave him some odd liking for violence. He has made himself spokesman for the situation, nothing more. But that is all he needs to do in order to constitute, step by step, the dialectic that liberal hypocrisy hides from you and that has produced us just as much as it has produced him.”
“By the end of The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon has left us in no doubt whatsoever that he knows the history of the West, the experience of the postcolonial world, and the collective story of humanity much too well to speak blithely of human universals, even as sheer possibilities. A troika of terror, these intertwined histories had, for him, conspired to fashion a record from which the humanity of human beings could hardly be recollected in the tranquillity of ontological descriptions. How could he fail to be instructed by this record of humanity without a human face? How could he fail to be enlightened by the dehumanizing consequences of the humanist mission of the Enlightenment – consequences endured in their gravest forms by those peoples who, because they were decreed stunted or deviant, bore witness to the full and unrestrained violence of the modern Western project? Yet Fanon could not quite bring himself to embrace the indiscriminate misanthropy of those who only know of this violence either by hearsay or in the vastly chastened versions visited upon the bodies and souls of kith and kin. History’s unsparing pathologist, trained as he was to listen with suspicion to all professions of transcendental knowledge of human essences, Fanon would nevertheless have stopped short of assenting to the post-Foucauldian dogma – the new agnostic’s creed-according to which the good is inexpressible. For educated yet undaunted by the recurrent record of humanity without a human face, Fanon seems to say to us that without remembering the possibility of that human face, we are condemned to renounce our capacity to make the most compelling distinctions, beginning with the distinction between true and false decolonization, the distinction between what is and what might have been.”
Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan:
“What Fanon committed himself to was not a search for elegance in paradigms shorn of lived experiences nor the sterile monologues of intellectuals cut off from the travails, aspirations, and struggles of people. Rather, his was a commitment to living beings and to any action-clinical practice, writing, and revolutionary violence that restored the integrity of people and basic human values. It so happens that those who attack his person and ideas forget that there is a violent history to be reckoned with, that generations have been denied an authentic biography and history, and that this attack on Fanon is not unrelated to that historical violence on people of color. For when Europe unleashed its avarice upon the rest of the world, it globalized human bondage and drastically changed the character of oppression. Europe’s encroachment and self-aggrandizement brought forth slavery, colonialism, apartheid, racism, and, in Fanon’s words, “…an avalanche of murders.” Through plunder of land and labor, with bayonets and the Bible, Europe developed itself and simultaneously underdeveloped people of color. Europe’s stubborn wish to own and control transformed various peoples into the owned and controlled. Europe’s greed to have more also forced many into being less.”
Anthony C. Alessadrini:
“It was not long after his death that debates over Fanon’s work began in earnest. Those that followed most closely upon his death involved his engagements with revolutionary Marxism; particularly controversial were his opinions (or, in many cases, what were seen as his opinions) on violence, the need to rethink class struggles in the colonial situation, and the relative revolutionary potential of colonized agricultural workers and the proletariat. As Immanuel Wallerstein has suggested, the aspects of Fanon’s work that “shocked the most, and were meant to shock the most” were those that posited the need for a total, violent break with colonialism. The popular image that began to arise was Fanon as a prophet of violence, a figure who was denounced by Marxist critics like Jack Woddis (1972) and liberal critics like Hannah Arendt (1969) and Lewis Coser (1970), but had a particular kind of value for leaders of the Black Panther Party in the US such as Huey Newton and Bobby Seale…”
There has to be much we can still learn from the life and work of this seminal thinker of the 20th century revolutionary social struggle – revolution, here, in our context, meaning the often-violent struggle for a voice for those who have been silenced within the historical project and excluded from our social-being as subjects (as opposed to objects)…
What surely still needs to be learned (from this sharp and often bitter criticism of our ‘developed’ and so-called ‘civilised’ world) is our need to return to a radical and fundamental questioning of what the goals of our struggles for social transformation are for; what they mean, who they serve..? And, then, arguably, if they are not to mean the creation of a new man and woman, we need to ask what is the point in constantly reproducing this nightmare, over and over?
A new man or woman? It seems now we are back at the drawing board … and without the certainty of an Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (“We will make the human being of the 21st century — we, ourselves. We will forge ourselves in daily action, creating a new man and woman with a new technology…” ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba‘), without the certainty those periods of revolutionary upsurge promised … No less than a black person whose being is defined by an alien identity and culture, the ‘human being’ of the 21st century needs now to deconstruct the facade of this consumer addicted monstrosity we are currently calling ‘civilisation’ and in the space left when all the shopping malls are closed or (for those condemned to survive in the Third-rather-than -First worlds) when enough corpses have been piled on top of each other as a testament to the unravelling of the lies perpetrated on humankind by so-called ‘progress’ … we need to committ to this project of “the new man and woman“… a project still waiting, once again, to be articulated and defined, (let alone implemented or realised) … which will need to be the outcome of a culture of liberation … as well as promising the survival of our fragile planet into a future … of philosophy realised and materialised … (“The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.” Marx, 1845, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’) … of an ending to this endless “sigh of the oppressed creature” called “history” … And, ultimately, beyond all violence, the making real of a heart now “for this heartless world” … (“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Marx, 1843) … constructing, building, developing, transforming and surviving a world fit for human hearts and minds … fit for a genuinely (and still-to-be-defined) human race – or better still: humanity – rather than the current fiasco of tribes, tribal chieftans, cartels, gangs, tyrants and seductive and oppressive regimes whose only distinction is a profound contempt for all life, human and not-human, alike …?
Anthony C. Alessandrini:
“…If Fanon’s legacy, which I consider to be absolutely crucial, is to have any meaning for us today, it will be only insofar as we are able to apply his work—with all of its insights and all of its limitations—to the pressing issues of contemporary cultural politics.”
“Fanon was a socialist; an enemy of capitalism, colonialism and neo-colonialism; a revolutionary; an antiracist who believed in the efficacy and humanist value of violent counter-assertion; an opponent of authoritarian and elitist government, whatever its nominal label; and a champion of the poorest men on earth, the peasants of the third world. Although his experiences, the agonies and humiliations of his own life, undoubtable “belong” to the black people his social philosophy is available to black and white people alike…”
Fanon ends ‘Les Damnés de la Terre’:
“Now, comrades, now is the time to decide to change sides. We must shake off the great mantle of night which has enveloped us, and reach for the light. The new day which is dawning must find us determined, enlightened and resolute.
We must abandon our dreams and say farewell to our old beliefs and former friendships. Let us not lose time in useless laments or sickening mimicry. Let us leave this Europe which never stops talking of man yet massacres him at every one of its street corners, at every corner of the world.
For centuries Europe has brought the progress of other men to a halt and enslaved them for its own purposes and glory; for centuries it has stifled virtually the whole of humanity in the name of a so-called “spiritual adventure.” Look at it now teetering between atomic destruction and spiritual disintegration.
And yet nobody can deny its achievements at home have not been crowned with success.
Europe has taken over leadership of the world with fervor, cynicism, and violence. And look how the shadow of its monuments spreads and multiplies. Every movement Europe makes bursts the boundaries of space and thought. Europe has declined all humility and all modesty; but she has also set her face against all solicitude and all tenderness.
She has only shown herself parsimonious and niggardly where men are concerned; it is only men that she has killed and devoured. Its only show of miserliness has been toward man, only toward man has it shown itself to be niggardly and murderously carnivorous.
So, my brothers, how could we fail to understand that we have better things to do than follow in that Europe’s footsteps?
This Europe, which never stopped talking of man, which never stopped proclaiming its sole concern was man, we now know the price of suffering humanity has paid for every one of its spiritual victories.
Come, comrades, the European game is finally over, we must look for something else.”
His body lies in Aïn Kerma, a town and commune in El Taref Province, Algeria. According to the 1998 census Aïn Kerma has a population of 12,182.
“Come, comrades, the European game is finally over, we must look for something else…
For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.”
REFERENCES, SOURCES & Links (thanks to)
By Pacha J. Willka (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rudy Shepherd, “The Healers: Frantz Fanon,” 2009
[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ via flickr.com
By El Moudjahid – El-Moudjahid, vol. 1 (nos 1-29), vol. 2 (nos 30-60), vol. 3 (nos 61-91), Yougoslavie, Front de libération nationale, 1962, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58596850
Frantz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks” Translated from the French by Richard Philcox, Grove Press, 1967
Frantz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks” Translated by Charles Lam Markmann
Forewords by Ziauddin Sardar and Homi K. Bhabha, Pluto Press, 1986, 2008
Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan, “Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression”, Plenum Press, 1985
Ato Sekyi-Otu, “Fanon’s Dialectic of Experience”, Harvard University Press, 1996
Anthony C.Alessandrini, Ed., “Frantz Fanon, Critical Perspectives”, Routledge, 1999
David Caute, “Frantz Fanon”, Grove Press, 1970
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, full text of “Concerning Violence”
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Chapter 6. Conclusion
Frantz Fanon, Toward the African Revolution-Political Essays, Grove Press, 1964, PDF
Che Guevara, Socialism and man in Cuba
Karl Marx, Theses On Feuerbach, PDF
Karl Marx, Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, translated by Clayton Eshleman & Annette Smith, PDF
Also see Anna Bostock & John Berger’s translation, 1968
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, translated by Joan Pinkham, PDF
Yousef Khalil, ‘The Algerian Revolution 55 years later’ (Essay/March 19, 2017)
Joan Mellen, ‘Interview with Gillo Pontecorvo’, 1972, PDF
Mumia Abu Jamal on Franz Fanon’s Books
‘Concerning Violence’, Fanon documentary confronts fallacies about anti-colonial philosopher
The Battle of Algiers (English Subtitles)
“The fact is that the so-called European civilization – “Western” civilization – as it has been shaped by two centuries of bourgeois rule, is incapable of solving the two major problems to which its existence has given rise: the problem of the proletariat and the colonial problem; that Europe is unable to justify itself either before the bar of “reason” or before the bar of “conscience”; and that, increasingly, it takes refuge in a hypocrisy which is all the more odious because it is less and less likely to deceive.” (Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism)