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Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) was born in Martinique (in the Caribbean) and served a psychiatrist in Algeria during the Algerian war for liberation from French colonial rule.  He advocated counterviolence as the only way to liberate the people who had been classified as "natives" and treated in gross and subtle ways as inferior by the European colonialists.  According to Jacqueline Trimier, he “celebrates revolutionary violence on two levels.  First, colonialism can only be destroyed through a bloody struggle between the colonizer and the colonized.  Second, violence is a sort of metaphysical ‘cleansing force’ which transforms oppressed, colonized peoples into real human beings with dignity and self-worth.”  The packet selection comes from The Wretched of the Earth translated and published at Grove Press in 1963.

            Be sure not to make generalizations about all of African philosophy simply on the basis of this one example of one of the four types of African philosophy we have studied.  The following questions presuppose that the student has read the packet selection and the Crito.

How was Socrates’ situation different from that of Fanon?

Should we imagine that Socrates would necessarily use the line of reasoning that we see in the Crito if he were in Fanon's situation?

Is there any way to reconcile their two positions?  To what extent is reconciliation possible?  In what way may reconciliation not be possible?

Does Socrates make any good points that should stimulate a person sympathetic to the Algerian rebellion to modify Fanon's position?

What happens to the concept of TRUTH in Frantz Fanon?  It is subordinated to the cause of liberation. 

Consider the proposal of Herbert Marcuse that revolutionary leaders need to give a mythic vision of how radical a transformation the revolution will bring and how wonderful things will be for the people after the revolution.  In fact, they know that things will not be totally transformed, and the new situation will have many difficulties, but the inspiring message will motivate people to do what is necessary to accomplish the revolution.

            Consider the remark by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Goebbels, who said that, in order to be effective, propaganda must be 90% true.

            If Fanon says that “truth is the property of the national cause,” then how much can the reader trust the text?  Is there any reason to believe that Fanon is being ironic, that he is sometimes giving the reader something other than his fullest understanding of a concept (e.g., truth or humanity)?

             Consider this idea from Theophilus Okere (drawing on Hans-Georg Gadamer): no quest for truth can escape the "prejudices" of the seeker's background.  We approach any situation with a background of assumptions, questions, concerns—otherwise we could not interpret anything at all.

 What happens to the concept of HUMANITY in Fanon?  He says that