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.
was Socrates’ situation different from that of Fanon?
we imagine that Socrates would necessarily use the line of reasoning that we see
in the Crito if he were in Fanon's situation?
there any way to reconcile their two positions?
To what extent is reconciliation possible?
In what way may reconciliation not be possible?
Socrates make any good points that should stimulate a person sympathetic to the
Algerian rebellion to modify Fanon's position?
happens to the concept of TRUTH in Frantz Fanon?
It is subordinated to the cause of liberation.
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.
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)?
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.
happens to the concept of HUMANITY in Fanon?
He says that
Western colonialism has already split humankind into two "species" and made its own talk of "humanity" a lie.
is discovered on the path to inverting the colonial hierarchy.