Fanon and the Modern World
Observant would react on the ideas of Fanon of decolonization of the Third Worlds since the world is heading toward globalization. The foreword stated, “it must seem ironic, even absurd at first to search for associations and intersections between decolonization and globalization – parallels would be pushing the analogy – when decolonization had the dream of a Third World of free, postcolonial nations firmly on its horizon, whereas globalization gazes at the nation through the back mirror, as it speeds toward the strategic denationalization of state sovereignty” (Fanon, Philcox, & Sartre p. xi).
Fanon’s ideology for others seems irrelevant as far as today’s problems are concerned. Globalization brings equal opportunity to all nations to grow economically and politically under one system. It actually denies colonization per se; however, the set up looks the same because the market is governed by developed and rich countries that were before the colonizers. The only difference is that, there are rules and laws that govern the system and the rights of the people are recognized. Third world countries can participate whether as consumers or producers of products in the system.
However, it is still clear, that Fanon’s view has a corresponding impact especially that powerful nations practice control over weak yet potential nations like that of Africa and some Arab countries for their own benefit. Fanon’s book Wretched of the Earth was a very controversial illustration of the nature of conflicts brought by colonial oppression. Fanon had presented the theory that in this kind of connection, there is no way that colonizer and the colonized will be reconciled due to the conflict of interest.
Sartre as the co-author of the book presented the view of French theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau that colonization “was degradation not only of the poor but of the powerful as well” (ME Sartre). Sartre also claimed that colonizers in general carry the “awareness of its own hypocrisy which requires the constantly sustainance of an elaborate network of illusion and self-delusion to maintain the status quo (ME Sartre). Thus, both support the idea that colonialism is a form of exploitation and domination for the benefit of the master, which could be brought to an end through violence.
Sartre, in his analysis of Fanon’s idea has seen its connection to the western world. Violence for Fanon is the ultimate solution to end up oppression by rich countries; however, its impact has also penetrated other members of colonial powers and has triggered Arab movements to carry on arms against powerful nations that manipulate them. (Thesis statement) Frantz Fanon’s life and his political ideology Frantz Fanon who lived from 1925 to 1961 was a psychiatrist by profession, a writer, a freedom fighter and a journalist (Adi & Sherwood, p. 64). He used up his life explaining the consequences of colonialism on people and nations.
He was among those who struggled for the independence of Algeria from France that colonized his country. He became part in the promotion of violent struggle and in the extolling the necessity for African unity. The last year of his life was spent in reorienting many countries about his ideology about revolutionary socialism contrary to pacifism, which was popular during that period. His experiences being born to middle class family in Fort-de-France in Martinique, which was a French colony, had contributed to his views against racism and colonialism.
However, his work in Algeria where he witnessed the oppression that led to the killing of tens of thousands of people had prompted him to stand on his political consciousness. The racial stereotyping and denigration being exercised on his people especially during the war in 1954 where many Algerians had been killed, machine gunned, and tortured had heightened his endeavor to see freedom for these people and other people living in the Third World and bring back their sovereignty and national identity.
As he personally witnessed the dehumanized terror inflicted on the people he escaped and worked as agent for social change by writing political philosophy and sociological analysis of current issues. The main subject of his writing was about liberation from colonial bondage through a united effort to fight colonialism and their colonizers. Fanon then, propagated the idea that violence is very essential for the oppressed people of the third world in order to gain national freedom from colonizers through revolutionary activities.
Fanon’s contribution of this period was the “turning point in the history of the development of colonial consciousness, according to Sartre (MS Sartre). The Conditions of Colonial Algeria Prior to the colonization Algeria had been an empty space deprived of civilization. It was the resourcefulness of the French settlers that transformed the Algerian arid landscape by draining plains and by introducing new agricultural techniques. However, it was not very long that the Algerians became under the dominance of the western values.
Realizing that they were under attack from the inside, Islamic Algerian leaders call for a reassertion of true Islamic values (Phillips, & Evans 2007, p. 7). Thus, the three hundred year of colonization to Algeria by French was marked by series of revolts and rebellion, of which the climax was the 1954 Algerian war. Fanon stated that the main reasons for the Algerian uprising against colonial France was conflict between “political and legal assimilation and the respect for, and recognition of, Muslim ethical and cultural affiliations (Fanon 2005, p.
xxii). This socio-political conflict is clearly a strong motivation for the Algerian struggle not primarily for independence but for recognition of the Islamic culture. However, France approach to colonialism made their stand against this issue clear and firm. Fanon pointed out that French “phenomenological approach to colonialism and decolonization lies in its awareness of the abiding instability of the system” (p. xxii).
This reveals French colonial view of Algeria which was merely a civilizing mission grounded is a profound sense of instability. With this colonial view, it appears that Algeria was not really intended to be colonized by the French, but out of their ‘awareness of the abiding instability’ they exported French citizens to Algeria to help the natives transform their idle resources to become productive. In other words these agriculture and economic experts who became the dominant settlers in Algeria were there for the development of the country.
The implications of this view are that Algeria had owed a lot to the French regarding their developments. Furthermore, it gave settlers the notion that since they were the ones who tamed such a harsh environment, they and not the local population had a right to own the land (Evans & Phillips, p. 4). The French had not only introduced new agriculture technology but also western culture and values that had to swift the Islamic cultural and religious values throughout the period of colonization.
The natives’ reaction to this subtle intrusion was also very clear, the organization of the national liberation movement. The Algerian Islamic struggle for independence is quite justifiable in view of the French colonial policy and its implication on the Algerian Muslims. They are a nation devoid of cultural identity and dispossessed of their own land by settlers, yet their mother country insists that their mission in Algeria is based on the awareness of instability.
Their racial prejudices deny Islamic Algerians of citizenship to those who are willing to embrace French cultural and national values, unless they are willing to divest themselves of the Islamic cultural and religious values, and manipulated the Algerian assembly by insuring that limited Muslims can participate in the electoral system giving them control of the Algerian electoral system. These policies had not only angered native Algerians but it serve as a catalyst for the unification of groups previously for and against assimilation to French colonial society.
Fanon wrote, “Gradually, those who for decades sought assimilation into French society and the traditional nationalists joined forces in the FLN” (Fanon, p. xxiii). With this development, the colonial period was marred by series of rebellion that that saw its final victory in 1954 in the so called war of independence. Fanon’s position in the Algerian colonization Frantz Fanon position on the Algerian colonization is that it was essentially materialist and exploitative economic motive.
His view of colonization is associated with race rather ideology (Sartre). He argued that ultimately, the identifiable trait of the ruling class is the association of whiteness with wealth and power. Fanon believes that it was not ideology that sustained the Algerian colonial hierarchy but race, the same with any liberation movement. He believes that the future of a colonize world can only start by emerging with a new history of man, that is, an indignity that wanted to forge a new humanity in the world by means of a militant anti-colonialism.
This can be achieved by resisting the “peremptory and polarizing choices that the superpowers impose on their client states” (p. xiv). In this aspect, Fanon sees violence as the ultimate solution to end up oppression by rich countries; however, its impact has also penetrated other members of colonial powers and has triggered Arab movements to carry on arms against powerful nations that manipulate them. Fanon saw the peasantry as potentially violent revolutionary forces that could be an effective means to crush the colonial aristocracy; hence, the wounds that were inflicted can be healed by violence.
Although Fanon’s analysis of the colonization was anchored on political opposition, his position on colonization is based on a fair observation of the reality that colonization is anchored with race rather than ideology. It is apparent that in the course of Algerian colonization, the native intellectuals were intentionally marginalized in order to ensure dominance and control by the white race. The motive of colonization is not for the development of the colony but to amass the colony’s wealth and to exploit its resources. Lewis Gordon, T. Denean Sharpley- Whiting and Renee T.
White cited Fanon’s statement, they wrote, “Fanon said” “The problem of colonialism includes not only the interrelation of objective historical conditions but also human attitudes towards these conditions” (p. 92). Obviously, what they are referring of the ‘human attitudes’ are the motives produced by the colonizers which Fanon identified in his Wretched of Earth as the exploitation of the colony’s resources as the relationship between the colony and the colonizer enables the latter to live a life that they so wished, a life which is lucrative and creates privilege.
Fanon believes that along with exploitations is racism which is the highest expression of the colonial system. Fanon thought that a social revolution is needed to accomplish decolonization. Fanon said, “Only the complete liquidation of colonization permits the colonized to be free, but this liquidation was nothing but a prelude to complete liberation, to self recovery” (p. 92). It is perhaps this thought that the only way according to Fanon to achieve independence from colonization is through revolution.
The economic benefit gained by the colonizer cannot simply be given up through negotiations as the colonizer relies on their superiority. Sartre’s Coverage of Fanon Sartre’s coverage of Fanon placed him in the same shoes with Fanon particularly in the issue of oppression. However, in his preface to the Fanon’s book he made a devastating evaluation that the negritude ‘is the root of its own destruction’ Hussein Abdelahi Bulhan stated, “Thus, negritude Sartre wrote, is the root of its own destruction, it is transition and not a conclusion, a means and not an ultimate end” (p.
31). According to Bulhan, Sartre’s conclusion that negritude was merely relative and only a minor term of a dialectical process “struck a final and tormenting blow” (p. 31), had Fanon admitted “robbed him of a last chance to find a secure anchorage” (p. 31). For the sake of the beauty of Fanon’s statement, I deemed it important to include in full the statement as cited by Bulhan. Fanon stated: Thus my unreason was countered with reason, my reason with “real reason” Every hand was a losing hand for me.
I analyzed my heredity. I made a complete audit of my ailment. I wanted to be typically Negro—it was no longer possible. I wanted to be white—that was a joke. And when I tried, on the level of ideas and intellectual activity’ to reclaim my negritude, it was snatched away from me. Proof was presented that my effort was only a term in the dialectic” (p. 31). Bulhan noted that prior to writing the preface on Negritude, Sartre and Fanon has been a close friend.
Sartre even made an interesting remark on Fanon in which Sartre stated, “with a razor-sharp intelligence, intensely alive, endowed with a grim sense of humor, he explained things, made jokes, questioned us, gave limitations, told stories, everything he talked about seemed alive again before our eyes” (p. 31). The main issue in the Sartre’s coverage of Fanon is the Negritude in which Fanon angrily resisted and even retaliated to Sartre’s conclusion. But in the end, Fanon conceded. There is however, potential reason for Fanon to concede in his intellectual arguments with Sartre.
First, Fanon had a deep respect and admiration for Sartre. Impact of Fanon’s Ideology Fanon had created great impact on Algeria and other part of the world. The liberation of Algeria which was not seen personally by Fanon took place a year after his death. Also, many French philosophers including Sartre made critiques regarding Fanon’s view, although he weighted the arguments which most of them presented his disapproval of colonialism. Sartre himself noted that Fanon’s critiques are seen as a possible means of ending colonization through violent action.
He stated, “ From Paris Sartre sees Fanon’s critique of the West and the endorsement of violence as a possible means for not only the colonized to break with the elitist power interests of a bourgeois society divided into classes, but also for those so called privileged citizens of the home countries themselves to rise up in a fit of consciousness and to liberate themselves from the petty and dehumanizing experience that Sartre witnessed to be a key aspect of Western soullessness, shallowness, alienation and avarice “ (ME Sartre).
From this statement, Sartre was fully convinced that at some point, colonization will have its end once the colonies would struggle to fight for their freedom. On the other hand, Sartre also recognized that this would bring consciousness and awareness to the “privileged people of the home countries” to seek liberation from dehumanizing and discrimination. Its impact would lead to the break up of the “hypocritical and Eurocentric Western humanism,” which according to Sartre was a contradiction of humanism. Though France preached humanism or the equality of men, yet in practice they never recognized that they themselves were hypocrite.
Thus, Sartre certainly recognized that Revolutionary actions (with its root in Marx’s writing) had ended the “class society… [and implied] a radical form of egalitarianism” (MS Sartre). Furthermore, violence according to Fanon “illuminates the consciousness of the people and directs them against any pacification. It unifies. In this way, a certain violence not only frees the colonized from their inferiority complex, but is supposed to justify the rhetoric of a new humanity” (Bertens, Bertens, & Natoli, p. 133). According to Johannes W.
Bertens, Hans Bertens, and Joseph P. Natoli, Frantz Fanon is the best known in the United States as the philosopher of violence and decolonization (p. 130). That, in the perspective of postmodernism, Fanon was appreciated because he “interrogated subject-formation and promoted radical difference in the face of the universalizing tendencies of phenomenology and psychoanalysis” (p. 130). Fanon argued about racism that was going on as a result of psychoanalysis theory of the colonizers that they misconstrued the black people.
This psychoanalysis was basically patterned after Aristotelian’s notion of the natural slave and natural ruler “as a result of the priority of reason over the passions. ” In this view, the master must treat the colonies properly to make them well productive. On the other hand, Fanon opposed this view in such a way that colonies have the right to govern themselves and be freed from the bondage of colonialism. The impact therefore of this ideology led to the break down of colonialism of this period.
The decolonizing movements of the 1960s by Fanon were the startling point. Charles Lemert noted, “The decolonizing movements of the 1960s to grow into an acute heaviness in the world revolutions of 1968, after which, all the king’s men of the modernist dream could not put their humpty back together again” (p. 6). The concept of terrorism as linked to decolonization by Fanon was scrutinized as something interrelated because of the similarities in some aspects. First, liberation from oppression can be possible through the application of violence.
For Fanon, the oppressed had no other weapon or machinery to use to fight against their oppressor except violence supported by their moral superiority- the readiness to sacrifice their own lives for their liberation. This line of thought also embodied in the ideology of terrorism that self-sacrifice is necessary in order to be free from oppression; this is especially important to support terrorist activities of today. Thus terrorist attack as seen in the September 11 is a clear description of violence and self-sacrifice of people who want liberation.
Second, Fanon’s view on violence is associated to terrorism in terms of war tactics. Fanon explained that the oppressed may not have armed force to sustain the revolution; and the only way to take offensive attack is through waging guerilla warfare against the oppressors. This war tactic is very effective because the oppression done on the people is not equal to the amount of oppression that should be given to the oppressors. Some of the activities that may seem for terrorists the appropriate means to inflict violence could be through the death of wives, children, and loved ones.
Similarly, the terrorists inflict hurt to their oppressors through killing of many people as they can. They continuously spread threat of killing many more people, which for them the price for their oppression by the powerful. Fanon may not have the idea of coming to this point of the proliferation of terrorism to many parts of the world. But, because many people especially the Moslems who experienced oppression have idolized his viewed came up to this the idea of terrorism. Conclusion The year of oppression brought about by colonialism has come to an end.
People who were oppressed finally struggled hard to obtain the dreamed freedom and liberation. Fanon probably is the last person of his time who struggled hard to fight colonialism in Algeria and other part of the world. However, the discriminating thoughts of racism that he found himself helpless still full of life as ever. The colonialism that brought so much injustice, oppression, and violence among the colonized people is truly over because of the efforts of men such as Fanon and others who have unselfishly risk their lives for the sake of the oppressed people.
We, who are beneficiaries of their efforts, must be thankful to them and appreciate them. Nevertheless, the fangs of poverty, racial discrimination, racism, alcoholism and other ills of society are as oppressive as colonialism. Today society needs men like Fanon who are willing to take the challenge set aside their biases for the sake of the welfare of these affected people; probably, another Fanon who would look into another social issue that ruins the lives of many oppressed people. Work Cited
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Grove Press. Gordon, L. R. , Sharpley, T. D. & White, R. T. Fanon: A Critical Reader. USA: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd. , 1996. Lemert, Charles. Durkheim’s Ghosts: Cultural Logics and Social Things. Cambridge University. http://assets. cambridge. org/97805218/42662/excerpt/9780521842662_excerpt. pdf ME Sartre. http://docs. google. com/Doc? id=djdhthn_72xjk5rfcb Sartre, Jean-Paul. Preface to Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” http://staff. washington. edu/theron/readings%202008%20cyprus/Sarte_preface_to_Wretched. pdfSample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com