PDF | Abstract: Frantz Fanon's most famous book, published in , was a series of four essays that explored decolonization, a necessarily. THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH Frantz Fanon Translated from the French by Richard Phi/cox with commentary by Jean-Paul Sartre and Homi K Bhabha · •. 'To speak of Fanon today, regardless of how old or young one's interlocutor may be, always entails the risk of entering uncharted territory. Reactions are not.
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Not so very long ago, the earth numbered two thousand million inhabitants: five hundred million men, and one thousand five hundred million natives. The former . Fanon, Frantz, of National Consciousness. [Damnes de la terre. The wretched of the earth / Frantz Fanon ; translated from the French by Richard. File:Fanon Frantz The Wretched of the Earth pdf Fanon_Frantz_The_Wretched_of_the_Earth_pdf (file size: MB, MIME type.
As for treating it, no: The supporters of the nationalist parties are urban voters. Who can claim that dream now? It has no intention of building upon sand. I believe we once knew, and have since forgotten, the truth that no indulgence can erase the marks of violence: The agent does not alleviate oppression or mask domination.
The case of Katanga illustrates this fai rly well. He hides noth ing: In order to revive it the peasants must drive the i r bourgeoisie into the ocean. The reader is sharply warned of the most dangerous types of alienation: Fanon speaks out loud and clear.
We Europeans, we can hear him. The p roof is you are holding this book. Isn't he afraid that the colonial powers will take advantage of his sincerity? He is not afraid of anything. Our methods are outdated: And don't believe we can read j ust our methods: Our Machiavellianism has littl e hold on this worl d , which is wide awake and hot on the tra il of eve ry one of our l i es. The colon ist has but one recourse: The "native" has but one choice: What does Fanon care if you read or don't read his book?
It is to the m he says: Th e moment is right for us. Nothing can happen in Bizerta , Elizabethville, or the Algerian bled without the whole worl d knowing about it.
Let us fight. Failing other weapons, the patience of the knife will suffice. Europeans, open this book, look inside. After taking a short walk in the night you will see strangers gathered around a fire , get closer and l isten. They are discussing the fate reserved for you r trading posts and for the mercenaries defending them. They m ight see you , but they will go on talking am ong thems elves without even lowering the ir voices.
The i r indifference strikes home: The sons ignore you. The fire that warms and enlighte ns them is not yours. You, stand ing at a respectful distance, you now feel eclipsed, nocturnal , and numbed. It's your turn now. In the darkness that will dawn into another day, you have turned into the zombie. Why bother to read it since it is not meant for us?
For two reasons: Take advantage of it to discover your true self as an obj ect. Our victims know us by their wounds and shackles: They only need to know what we have done to the m for us t o realize what we have done to ourselves. Yes , because E urope is doomed. B ut, you will say once again, we l ive in the metropol is, and we disapprove of extre mes.
It's true, you are not colon ists, but you are not much better. They were your pioneers , you sent the m overseas, they made you rich. You who are so liberal, so humane , who take the love of culture to the point of affectation, you pretend to forget that you have colonies where massacres are c o m m i tted i n you r na m e.
Have the co urage to read it, primarily beca use it will make you feel ashamed, and shame, as Marx said, is a revolutionary feeling. You see I, too, cannot lose my subjective illusion. I, too, say to you: Make the most of it. And this is the second reason: And don't be led into believing that hotheadedness or an unhappy c h ildhood gave h i m some odd liking for viole nce. Unless they were men and free, how could they possibly sell their manpower? In France and England humanism claims to be universal.
Forced labor is qu ite the opposite: Our military forces have received orders to change this abstract certain ty into reality: We exhaust them into a mindless state. Ill fed and sick, if they resist, fear will finish the job: If they resist, the soldiers fire, and they are dead men; if they give in and degrade themselves, they are no longer men.
Shame and fear warp their character and dislocate their personality. Such a business is conducted briskly by experts: Nor was brainwashing. And yet despite all their efforts, nowhere have they ach ieved thei: And I a m not saying it is impossibl e to change a man into an animal. That's the problem with servihtde: For this reason the colonists are forced to stop breaking hfm in halfway. The result: Poor colonist: He ought to kill those he plunders, l ike they say the djinns do.
Doesn't he have to exploit them as well? Not right away. First of all the European reigns: What instincts? Those that drive the slaves to massacre thei r masters? How come he cannot recognize his own c ru elty 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: He disregards the human memory, the i ndelible reminders; and th en, above all, there is this that perhaps he never knew: As early as the second, hardly had the sons opened their eyes than they saw their fathers being beaten.
In psychiatric terms, they were "traumatized. After that, when it is their turn to be broken in, when they are taught shame, pain, and hunger, we will only be fueling in their bodies a volcanic fu ry whose power matc hes the pressu re applied to them.
They only understand the language of violence, you were saying? Of course; at first the only violence they understand is the colonist's , and then their own, reflecting back at us like our reflection bouncing back at us from a mirror.
Don't be mistaken; P REFACE Iii it i s through this mad rage , this bile and venom, their constant desire to kill us, and the permanent contraction of powe rful muscles, afraid to relax, that they become men.
It is colonist, through the who wants to tu rn the m i nto beasts of burd e n , and aga i nst h i m. Still blind and abstract, hatred is their onl y asset. The master provokes it because he seeks to deaden their minds; he fa ils to break it because his i nterests stop him halfway. The false "natives," therefore , a re still humans owing to the power and powerlessness of the oppressor that are transformed i nto the natives' stubborn rejection of their animal condition.
As for the rest, the message is clear. They are lazy, of course they arc: Sly and thieving: What did you expect? Their petty thieving marks the sta rt of a still unorganized resistance. They arc shot: Terrified, yes. By that I mean not only the fear they fe el when faced with our l i mitless means of repress ion, but also the fea r that th eir own fury insp ires in th em. For it is not first of all their violence, it is ours, on the rebound, that grows and tears them apart; and the first reaction by these oppressed people is to repress this shameful anger that is morally condemned by them and us, but that is the only refuge they have left for their humanity.
Read Fanon: This repressed rage , never managing to expl ode, goes round in c ircles and wreaks havoc on the oppressed themselves. In order to rid themselves of it they end up massacring each other, tribes P REFACE liii battle one against the other since they cannot confront the real enemy - and you can count on colonial policy to fuel rivalries; the brother raising his knife agai nst his brother bel i eves he is destroying once a nd for all the hated i mage of thei r common debasement.
But these expiatory victims do not satisfy their thirst for blood, and the only way to stop themselves from marching agai nst the machine guns is to become our accomplices: U nder the amused gaze of the colonist, they protect themselves with supernatural safeguards, sometimes reviving awesome old myths, at other times tying themselves to meticulous rituals. Th e colonized, therefore, i n his obsession, shuns his deep desires by infl i cting on h imself odd rites that monopolize him at every mome nt.
They dance: In some regions they usc the last resort: It is a means of defense and the end of their story: For a few rigorously selected unfortunates, there is that other possession I me ntioned earl ier: Not quite, however, because you are not in their shoes. Not yet. Otherwise you'd know they have no choice: Two worlds, that makes two possessions: Day by day the crack widens.
Our enemy betrays his brothers and becomes our accomplice; his brothers do the same. The status of "native" is a neurosis introduced and maintained by the colonist in the colonized with their consent. Demanding yet denying the human condition makes for an explosive contradiction. And explode it does, as you and I know. And we live in an age of conflagration: In Algeria and Angola, Europeans are massacred on sight.
The "liberals" remain stunned: The metropolitan Left is in a quandary: But even so, it thinks, there are limits: Sometimes the Left berates them: As soon as the war began, they real ized the harsh truth: A single duty, a single objective: And the most liberal among us would be prepared to accept this, at a pinch, but they cannot help seeing in this trial of strength a perfectly inhuman method used by subhumans to claim for themselves a charter for humanity: Our noble souls are racist.
They would do well to read Fanon; he shows perfectly clearly that this irrepressible violence is neither a storm in a teacup nor the reemergence of savage instincts nor even a consequence of resentment: I believe we once knew, and have since forgotten, the truth that no indulgence can erase the marks of violence: And the colonized are cured of colonial neurosis by driving the colonist out by force.
As soon as it begins it is merciless. When the peasants lay hands on a gun, the old myths fade, and one by one the taboos are overturned: For in the first phase of the revolt killing is a necessity: In that moment the nation does not forsake him: But after the initial surprise the colonial army responds: Tribal confl icts diminish and tend to disappear: The nation m oves forward: Their brotherly love is the reverse side of the hatred they feel for you: Fanon shows his readers the lim its of "spontaneity, " the need for and the r isks of " organ izati on.
The last complexes are swept away: Freed from his blinkers, the peasan t becomes aware of his needs: The war - if only the question of command and responsibil ities - establ ishes new structu res that will be the first institutions of peac e. H ere then is man instated i n new traditions even, future daughte rs of a horribl e present; here he is legitim ized by a right about to be born or born every day in th e h eat of combat: And this is stil l not enough: He will be killed: But th is weariness of heart is the reason beh ind his incred ibl e courage.
We find our hu manity this side of death and de s pa ir; he finds it on the other side of tortu re and death. We have sown the wind; he is the hurricane. Offspring of violence, he draws every moment of his humanity from it: Another man: Here Fanon stops. He h a s shown the way: He has ac hieved h is purpose. But when we have c losed th e book, it conti nues to haunt u s , in spite of its author: This b o ok had certainly no need for a p reface.
I have written one, however, to carry the dialectic through to its c on c lusi o n: Let's take a good l ook at ourselves, if we have the cou rage, and l et's see what has become of us. First of all we m ust confront an u n expected sight: Not a pretty sight in i ts nakedness: The pac ifists are a fine sight: Come now!
But you can't; there is no way out. Get this i nto your head: You know full well we are exploiters. You know full well we have taken the gold and m inerals and then oil from the "new continents," and shipped them back to the old metropol ises.
Not without excellent results in the shape of palaces, cathedrals , and centers of industry; and then when crisis loomed, the colonial markets were there to cushion the blow or divert it. Stuffed with wealth , Europe granted humanity de jure to all its inhabitants: This pale , bloated continent ended up by lapsing into what Fanon rightly calls "narcissism.
And that super-European monster, North Am erica? What empty chatter: As long as the status of "native" existed, the impostu re remained unmasked. PREFACE lix We saw in the human species an abstract premise of universality that served as a pretext for concealing more concrete practices: In short, we took the human race to mean elite.
Today the "native" un masks his truth; as a result, our exclusive club reveals its weakness: There is worse news: If you need proof, re member those noble words: How generous France is.
And what about Setif'? And what a bout those eight years of fierce fighting that have cost the l ives of over a m illion Algerians? And the torture by electricity?
B ut you must understand we are n ot b e ing blamed for having betrayed some mission or other: It is o u r very generosity that is being chall enged; such a beautiful , melodi ous word means only one thing: Everyone has every right. Over everyth ing. And the day when our human race has fully matured, it will not define itself as the sum of the inhabitants of the globe , but as the infinite unity of their reciprocities.
But at least we have remorse. In the past our continent had other life buoys: We know now what they are worth. And now the only thing they claim can save us from shipwreck is the very C hristian feeling of gu ilt. Qu ite simply this: The power struggle has been reversed , decolon ization is in progress; all our mercenaries can try and do is delay its completi on. But in order to do that, the former metropolises would have to pull out all the stops and commit all their forces to a battle lost in advance.
The troops are dispatched to Algeria where they have held out for seven years with no result. The violence has changed direction; victorious, we enforced it without it ever seeming to affect u s ; it dislocated the othe r , whereas our hu manism a s men remained intact.
Involution begins: Nothing is missing, not even the drums: Not so long ago, Fa non recalls, a congress of psychiatrists deplored Algerian criminality: In Central Africa others established that "the Mrican uses his frontal lobes very l ittle. For we, too, must be affected by frontal idleness for some tim e now: Th is is only the beginning; c ivil war is predicted for autumn or next spring Our lobes, however,.
The fever is mounting in th em, too, as well as spiteful anger. But they're scared stiff! They conceal their rage beh ind myths and compl icated rituals. In order to delay the final reckoning and the hour of truth , they have given us a Grand Magician as our leader whose function is to keep us in the dark at any cost.
Slowly but surely it is our turn to h ead down the road to "native" status. And you will be convinced on reading Fanon's last chapter that it is better to be a "native" in the pit of misery than an erstwhile colonist. It is not right that a police officer should be obliged to torture ten hours a day: Nor for a country with a republ ican tradition to entrust its young men by the hundreds of thousands to putschist officers. At first you had no idea, I a m prepared to believe it, then you suspected, and now yo u know, but you still keep silent.
And in vain: France was o n c e t h e n a m e o f a country; be careful lest it become the name of a neurosis in 1 96 1. Will we recover? Violence, l ike Ach illes' spear, can heal the wounds it has infl icted. Fortunately for us, this is still not enough for the colonialist aristocracy: Every day we shrink back from the fight, but rest assured it will be inevitable. The killers, they need it; they will swoop down on us and lash out haphazardly.
The time for illus ion ists and wizardry is over: This is the last stage of the dialectic: Perhaps, then, with your back to the wall , you will finally unleash th is new violence aroused in you by old, rehashed crimes. But, as they say, that is another story. The h istory of man. At whatever level we study it- individual encounters , a c hange of name for a sports club, the guest l ist at a cocktail party, m embers of a police force or the board of d i rectors of a state or private bank - decolon ization is quite s imply the substitution of one "species" of mankind by another.
But instead we have decided to describe the kind of tabula rasa whic h from th e outset defin es any decolon ization. What is singularly im portant is that it starts from the very firs t day with th e basic claims of th e colonized. The need for th is change exists in a raw, repressed, and rec kless state in the l ives and consciousness of colonized men and women.
But it cannot be accomplished by the wave of a magic wand, a natural cataclysm, or a gentleman's agreem ent. Decolonization , we know, is an historical process: In other words, it can only be understood, it can only find its significance and become self coherent insofar as we can discern the history-making movement which gives it form and substance. The colonist and the colonized are old acquaintances.
And consequently, the colonist is right when he says he "knows" th em. The colonist derives his validity, i.
It infuses a new rhythm, specific to a new generation of men, with a new language and a new humanity. But such a creation cannot be attributed to a supernatu ral power: The "th ing" colonized becomes a man through the very process of liberation.
Its definition can, if we want to describe it accurately, be summed up in the well-known words: At a descriptive level , therefore , any decolonization is a success. This determination to have the last move up to the front, to have them clamber up too quickly, say some the famous echelons of an organized society, can only succeed by resorting to every means, including, of course, violence. You do not disorganize a soc i ety, however prim itive it may b e , with such an agenda if you a re not d etermined from the very sta rt to smash eve ry obstacle encountered.
The colonial world is a compartmentalized world. By penetrating its geographi cal configuration and classification we shall be able to delineate the backbone on which the decolonized society is reorganized. The colonized world is a world divided in two. The dividing line, the border, is represented by the barracks and the police stations. In capitalist cou ntries a multitude of sermonizers, counselors, and "confusion-mongers" intervene between the exploited and the authorities.
In colonial regions, however, the proximity and frequent, d irect intervention by the pol ice and the mil itary ensure th e colonized are kept under close scrutiny, and conta ined by rifle butts and napalm.
We have seen how the governme nt's age nt uses a language of pure violence. The agent does not alleviate oppression or mask domination. He displays and demonstrates them with the clear conscience of the law enforcer, and brings violence into the homes and mi nds of the colon ized sub ject.
The "native" sector is not compleme ntary to the European sec tor. The two confront each other, b u t not in the service of a h igher u n ity. There is no conciliation possible, one of the m is superfluous. The colon ist's sector is a sector built to last, all stone and steel. It's a sector of lights and paved roads, where the trash cans constantly overflow with strange and wonderful garbage , undreamed-of leftovers.
The colonist's feet can never be gl impsed, except perhaps in the sea, but then you can never get close enough. They are protected by solid shoes in a sector where the stre ets are cl ean and smooth , without a pothole, without a stone.
The colonist's sector is a white folks' sector, a sector of foreigners. The colonized's sector, or at least the "native" quarters, the shanty town, the Medina, the reservation, is a disreputable place i nhab i ted by disreputable people. You die anywhere , from anything. It's a world with no space , people are piled one on top of the other, the shacks squeezed tightly together. The colonized's sector is a famished sector, hu ngry for bread, meat, shoes, coal , and l ight.
It's a sector of n igge rs, a se ctor of towel heads. Th e gaze that the colon ized s u b j e c t casts at the col onist's sector is a look of lust, a look of envy. Every type of possession: T h e colonized man is an envious man.
The colonist is aware of this as he catches the furtive glance, and constantly on his guard, realizes bitterly that: Th is compartm entalized world, th is world divided in two, is i nhab ited by diffe rent species. The s ingula rity of the colonial c ontext l ies in the fact that economic reality, inequality, and enormous disparities i n l ifestyl es neve r manage to mask th e human reality.
You are rich because you are wh ite , you are white because you are ric h. This is why a Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretc hed when it comes to addressing the c olonial issue. It is not just the concept of the precapi tal ist society, so effectively studied by Marx, wh ich needs to be reexamined here. The serf is essentially different from the knight, but a reference to divine righ t is needed to j u stify this difference in status.
In the colonies the foreigner imposed himself using his cannons and mac h i nes. To blow the colonial world to sm ithereens is henceforth a clear image within the grasp and imagination of every colonized subject. To dislocate the colonial world does not mean that once the borders have been eliminated there will be a right of way betwe en the two sectors.
Challenging the colonial world i s not a rational confrontation of viewpoints. The colonial world is a Man ichaean world. The colonist is not content with physically lim iting the space of the colonized, i. As if to illustrate the total itarian nature of colonial exploitation, the colon ist turns the colonized into a kind of qu intessence of evil. The colon ist is not content with stating that the colonized world has lost its values or worse neve r possessed any.
He is, dare we say it, the enemy of values. In other words, absolute evil. And Monsieur Meyer could say in all seriousness in the French National Assembly that we l We have demonstrated in this Manichaean world. Val ues are, in fact, i rreversibly poisoned and infected as soon as they come into contact with the colonized.
The decline of yellow fever and the advances made by evangel izing form part of the same balance sheet. But triumpha nt reports by the missions in fact tell us how deep the seeds of alienation have been sown among the colonized. I am talking of Christianity and this should come as no surprise to anybody. The Church in the colonies is a whi te man's Church, a foreigners' Chu rch. It does not call the colonized to the ways of God , but to the ways of the white man, to the ways of the master, the ways of the oppressor.
And as we know, in this story many are called but few are chosen. Sometimes this Manichaean ism reaches its logical conclusion and dehumanizes the colo nized subject. And consequently, when the colon ist speaks of the c olonized he uses zoological terms. In h is e ndeavors at desc ription and fi n d i ng the right word , the colon ist refers constantly to the bestiary. The European seldom has a probl em with figures of speech. But the colon ized , who immediately grasp the i n tention of the c olon ist and the exact c a s e b e i n g made against them, know instantly what he is thi nking.
For they know they are not animals. But every time the issue of Western values crops up, the colon ized grow tense and their muscles seize up. Now it so h appens that when the colonized hear a speech on Western culture they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand. Such an occurrence normally goes unseen because, during decolonization, certain colonized intellectuals have established a dialogue with the bourgeoisie of the colonizing country.
The few "native" personalities whom the colonialist hour- ON VIOLENC E 9 geois have chanced to encounter have had insuffi cient impact to alte r their current perception and nuance the i r th inki ng. But what we should never forget is that the i mmense majority of colonized peoples are i mpervious to such issues. For a co l on ized peopl e, the most essential value, because it is the most m eaningful , is first and foremost the land: But this dignity has nothing to do with "human" d ignity.
The colonized subject has never heard of such an ideal. All he has ever seen on his land is that he can be arrested , beaten, and starved with i mpunity; and no sermonizer on morals, no priest has ever ste ppe d in to bear the blows in h is place or share h is bread. For the colonized , to be a moralist q uite plainly means silencing the arrogance of the colonist, breaking his spiral of violence, in a word ejecting him outright from the picture.
The famous dictum wh ich states that all men are equal will find its ill ustration in th e colonies only wh en the col onized subj ect states he is equal to the colo n ist. Taking it a step further, h e is determined to fight to be more than the colonist. I n fact, he has al re a dy decided to take his place. As we have seen, it is the collapse of an entire moral and material u n iverse.
The intellectual who, for h is pa rt, has adopted the abstract, universal values of the colonizer is p repa r e d to fight so that colonist and colonized can live in peace in a new world. By sticking to the abstract the colon ist is be ing forced to make a very substantial leap into the unknown.
The colonized's revolutionary new assurance stems from this. If, in fact, my life is worth as much as the colonist's, his look can no l onger strike fear into me or nail me to the spot and his voice can no longer petrify me. I am no longer uneasy in his presence. I n real ity, to hell with h i m. Not only does h i s presence no longer bother me, but I am already preparing to waylay him in suc h a way that soon he will have no other solution but to flee.
The colonial context, as we h ave said , is c haracterized by the d i chotomy it inflicts on the world. To quote the biting words of Senegalese patriots on the maneuvers of their president, Senghor: But the colonized intellectual introduces a variation on this demand and in fact, there seems to be no lack of motivation to fill senior positions as administrators, technicians, and expe rts. The colonized i ntellectual acc epted the c ogency of these ideas and there in the back of his m i nd stood a sentinel on duty guard i n g the Greco-Roman pedestal.
B ut during th e struggle for liberation, when the coloniz ed intellectual touches base again with his peopl e, this artific ial sentinel is smashed to smithereens. All the Mediterranean values, the triumph of the individual, of enlightenment and Beauty turn into pale , lifel ess trinkets.
All those discourses appear a jumble of de ad words. Those valu es which seemed to ennoble the soul prove worthless because they have noth ing in common with the real-l ife struggle in which the people are engaged. And first among them is individualism. The colon i al ist bourgeoisie hammered into th e coloni zed m ind the notion of a soc iety of individuals where eac h is locked in his subjectivity, where wealth lies in thought.
But the colonized intellectual who is lucky enough to bunker down with the people during the liberation struggle, will soon discover the falsity of this theory.
Involvement in the organization of the struggle will already introduce him to a different vocabulary. I n a kind of auto-d a-fe , the coloni zed intel l ectual witn esses the destructi on of all his idols: In such a context, the "every m an for himself' concept, the atheist's form of salvation, is prohibited. Self-critic ism has been much talked about recently, but few realize that it was first of all an Mrican institution.
Whether it be in the djemaas of North Mrica or the palavers of West Mrica, tradition has it that disputes wh ich break out in a village are worked out in publ i c. By this I mean collective self-criticism with a touch of humor because everyone is relaxed, because in the end we all want the same thing.
The intellectual sheds all that calculating, all those strange silences, those ulterior motives, that devious thinking and secrecy as h e gradually plunges deeper a mong the people. In this respect then we can genuinely say that the community has already triumphed and exudes its own light, its own reason. Spoiled c h i l d ren of yesterday's colonialism a nd today's govern ing powers, they oversee the looting of the few national resources. Ruthless i n their schem ing and legal pilfering they use the poverty, now nationwide, to work their way to the top through import-export holdings, l i m ited companies, playing the stock market, and nepotism.
In th is barren, national phase, in this so-called period of austerity, their success at plundering the nation swiftly sparks anger and violence from the people. This, the petty individualists will soon find out for themselves. In order to assimilate the culture of the oppressor and venture into h i s fold, the colonized subject has had to pawn some of h is own intellectual possessions. For instance, one of the things he has had to assi milate is the way the colonialist bourgeoisie th inks.
T h i s is apparent i n the c oloni zed intellectual's inaptitude to engage in dialogue. On the other hand, when he operates among the people he is constantly awestruck.
He is literally d isarmed by their good faith and i ntegrity. He is the n constantly at risk of becoming a demagogue. He turns into a kind of mimic man who nods his assent to every word by the people, transformed by h i m into an arbiter of truth.
But the fellah, the unemployed and the starving do not lay claim to truth. They do not say they represent the truth because they are the truth i n their very being. During this period the intellectual behaves obj ectively l ike a vulgar opportunist. His maneuvering, in fact, is still at work. The people would never think of re jecting hi m or cutting the ground from under his feet. What the people want is for everything to be pooled together. The colonized intellectual's insertion into this human tide will find itself on hold because of his curious obsession with detai l.
It is not that th e people are opposed to analysis. But at the start of h is cohabitation with the people the colonized i ntellectual gives priority to detail and tends to forget the very purpose of the struggle - the defeat of colonialism. He does not always see the ove rall picture. The people, on the other hand, take a global stance from the very start. The question of truth must also be taken into consideration.
For the people, only fellow nationals are ever owed the truth. No absolute truth, no discourse on the transparency of the soul can erode this position. In the colonial context there is no truthful behavior.
And good is quite simply what hurts them most. We have seen therefore that the Manichaeanism that first governed colonial society is maintained intact during the period of decolonization.
In fact the colonist never ceases to be the enemy, the antagonist, in plain words public enemy number l. The oppressor, ensconced i n his sector, creates the spiral, the spiral of domination, exploitation and looting. In this petrified zone, not a ripple on the surface, the palm trees sway against the clouds, the waves of the sea lap against the shore, the raw materials come and go, legitimating the colonist's presence, while more dead than alive the colonized subject crouches for ever in the same old dream.
The colonist makes history. His life is an epic, an odyssey. He is invested with the very beginning: The colonist makes history and he knows it. A world compartm e ntali z ed , Manichaean a n d petrified , a world of statues: That is the colonial worl d. The first thing the colonial subject learns is to rema i n in his place and not overstep its l i mits. Hence the dreams of the colonial subject are muscular dreams, dreams of action, d reams of aggressive vital ity.
I dream I am j u mping, swimming, running, and cl i mb ing I dream I burst out laughing, I am leaping across a river and chased by a pack of cars. We shall see later what should be made of this phenomenon. The colonist's world is a hostile world, a world which excludes yet at the same time incites envy. Th is hostile, oppressive and aggressive world, bulldozing the colonized masses, represents not only the hell they would like to escape as quickly as possible but a paradise within arm's reach guarded by ferocious watchdogs.
The colonized sub j ect is constantly on his guard: Confused by the myriad signs of the colonial world h e never knows whether h e is out of line. Confronted with a world configured by the colonizer, the colonized subject is always presumed guilty. The colonized does not accept h is guilt, but rather considers it a kind of curse, a sword of Damocles.
But deep down th e colonized subject acknowledges no authority. H e is domi nated but not domesticated. He patiently waits for the colonist to let h is guard down and th en jumps on h i m. This impulse to take the colonist's place maintains a constant muscular tonus. It is a known fac t that under certa i n emotional circumstances an obstacle achtally escalates action. Th e relationship between colonist and colonized is one of physical mass. Against the greater number the colonist p its his force.
The colonist is an exhibitionist. His safety concerns lead him to rem ind the colonized out loud: The colonized are caught in the tightly knit web of colon ialism. Whereas the colonist or police officer can beat the colonized subj ect day in and day out, insult him and shove him to his knees, it is not u ncommon to see th e colonized subject draw h is knife at the sl ightest hostile or aggressive look fro m a nother colonized subject.
Internecine feuds merely perpetuate age-old grudges entrenched in memory. By throwing himself muscle and soul i nto his blood feuds, the colonized subject e ndeavors to convince h i mself that col onialism has n e ver existed, that everyth i ng is as it used to be a nd history marches on. Such behavior represents a death wish in the face of dan ger, a suicidal conduct which reinforc es the colonist's existence and domi nation and reassures him that such men are not rational.
The colonized subject also ma n age s to lose s ight of the c olonist throu gh rel i gion. The individual thus accepts the devastation decreed by God, grovels in front of the colonist, bows to the hand of fate, a nd mental ly readj u s ts to acquire the serenity of stone.
Anthropolog ists have amply described soc ieties where the man who dreams he has sexual i ntercourse with a woman other than his own must publ icly c onfess his dream and pay the penalty in kind or in several days' work to the husband or the injured fam ily party - which proves, by the way, that so-c alled p rehistoric al soc ieties attach g reat i mpo rta nce to the unconscious.
In scaring me, the atmosphere of m yths and magic operates like an unden iable reality. In terrifying me, it i ncorporates me into the traditions and history of my land and ethnic group, but at the same time I am reassured and granted a civil status, an identification.
The secret sphere in underdev e loped countries is a collective sphere that falls exclusively within the realm of magi c. Zombies, believe me, are more terrifying than colonists. And the problem now is not whether to fall in line with the armor-plated world of colonialism, but to think twice before urinating, spitting, or going out in the dark.
The magical, superna tural powers prove to be surprisingly ego boosting. The colonist's powers are infinitely shrunk, stamped by foreignness.
There is no real reason to fight them because what really matters is that the mythical structures conta i n far more terrifyi ng adversaries. It is evident that everything is reduced to a permanent confrontati on at the level of pha ntasy. In the colonial world , the colonized's affectivity is kept on edge l ike a running sore flinching from a caustic agent.
And the psyche retracts, is obl iterated , and fi nds an outl et th rough muscular spasms that have caused many an expert to classify the colonized as hysterical. Th is overexc ited affectivity, spied on by invisible guardi ans who consta ntly communicate with the core of the personality, takes an erotic delight in the muscular deflation of the c risis. Another aspect of the colonized's affectivity can be seen when it is drained of energy by the ecstasy of dance.
Any study of the colonial world therefore must include an understanding of the phenomena of dance and possession. The colonized's way of relaxing is prec isely th is musc ular orgy duri ng wh ich the most brutal aggressiveness and impulsive viol e n c e are channeled, transformed, a nd spi rited away. It protects and empowers. Everything is permitted in the dance c i rc l e. The hillock, which has been climbed as if to get closer to th e moon, the river bank, which has been descended whenever the dance symbol izes ablution, washing, and purification, a re sacred places.
Sym bolic killings, figu rative cavalcades, and imagi ned multiple murders, everyth ing has to come out. The ill humors seep out, tumultuous as lava flows. One step further and we find ourselves in deep possession.
On the way there these men and women were stamping impatiently, their nerves "on edge. During the struggl e for l i be ration the re is a si ngular l oss of interest in these rituals. With h is back to the wall, the knife at his throat, or to be more exact the electrode on h is genitals, the colonized subj ect is bound to stop telling stories. And the young colonized subject who grows up in a n atmosphere of fire and brimstone has no scruples mocking zombie ancestors, two-headed horses, corpses woken from the ON VIOLENCE 21 dead, and dj inns who, taking advantage o f a yawn, slip inside the body.
The colonized subject disc overs reality and tra nsforms it through his praxis, his deployme nt of violence and his agenda for liberation.
We have seen that this violence throughout the colonial period, although c onstantly on edge, runs on empty. We have seen it channeled through the emotional release of dance or possession. We have seen it exhaust itself in fratric idal struggl es.
Whereas it once reveled in myths and contrived ways to commit collective suicide, a fresh set of c i rcumstances will now enable it to change directions. When can it be sa id that the situation is ripe for a national liberation movement? What should be the first line of action? Because decolonization comes in many shapes, reason wavers and abstains from declaring what is a true decolonization and what is not.
Anyth ing else is but blind voluntarism with the terribly reactionary risks this implies. What are the forces in the c olonial period which offer new channels, new agents of empowe rment for the violence of the colonized? However, what is characteristic of ce rtain pol itical groups is that they are strong on principles but abstain from issuing marching orders. During the colonial period the.
They a re violent in their words and reform ist in their attitu des. While the bourgeois nationalist political leaders say one thing, they make it q uite clear it is not what they are really thinking.
Th is characteristic of the national ist pol itical parties must be attributed to the nature of their leaders and their supporters. The supporters of the nationalist parties are urban voters. The dialogue betwee n these political parties and colon ialism has continued uninterrupted. Discussions focus on improvements, electoral representation, freedom of the p ress, and freedom of association.
Reforms a re discussed. The colonized i ntell ectual has invested his aggress ion in his barely veiled wish to be assimilated to the colonize r's world. He has placed his aggression at the service of his own interests, his interests as an individual. The result is the ready emergence of a kind of class of individually liberated slaves, of freed slaves. The intellectual calls for ways of freeing more and more slaves and ways of organizing a genuine class of the emancipate d. In thei r immense m a j ority the colon ized want the colonist's farm.
There is no question for them of competing with the colonist. They want to take his place. But it is obvious that in colon ial countries only the peasantry is revolutionary. The underprivileged and starving peasant is the exploited who very soon discovers that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possib ility of concession. The exploited realize that their l iberation implies using every means available, and force is the first. When Monsieur Guy Mollet capitulated to the French settlers in Algeria in 1 9 5 6, the Front de la Liberation Nationale FLN in a famous tract stated that colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.
No Algerian really thought these terms too violent. The tra ct m erely expressed what every Algerian felt deep down: At the critical, deciding moment the colonialist bourgeois ie, wh ich had remained silent up till then, ente rs the fray.
They introduce a new notion, in actual fact a creation of the colonial situation: Nonviolence is an attempt to settle the ,colonial problem around the negotiating tab l e before the i rreparable is done, before any bloodshed or regrettable act is comm itted. Goodness knows how it will all end. We must find an answer, we must find a compromise. Compromise is also on the agenda for the national bourgeoisie who, unable to foresee the possible consequences of such a whirlwind, fear in fact they will be swept away, and hasten to reassure the colonists: He loudly claims he has nothing to do with these Mau-Mau, with these terrorists, these butchers.
Before holding negotiations, most of the nationalist parties are content in the best of cases to explain and excuse this "savagery. Their preocc upation with objectivity constitutes the legitimate excuse for their failure to act. But th is classic attitude of the colonized intellectual and the leaders of the nationalist parties is by no means ob jective.
In fact they are not sure that this reckless violence is the most effective way of defending their own interests. Another thing is that they a re convinced violent methods are ineffective. For them , there can be no doubt, any attempt to smash colonial oppression by force is an act of despair, a.
Because the colonizer's tanks and fighter planes are constantly on their minds. When they are told we must act, they imagine bombs being dropped, a rmored c ars rumbling through the streets, a hail of bullets, the pol ice - and they stay put. They are losers from the start. Their incapacity to triumph by violence needs no demonstration; they prove it in their daily l ife and the ir maneuvering.
They have remained in the puerile position which Engels adopted in his famous argument with that mountain of pueril ity, Monsieur Diihring: Friday commands and it is C rusoe who has to drudge. So, then, the revolver triumphs over the sword; and this will probably make even the most childish axi omatician comprehend that force is n o mere act of the will , but requires very real preliminary conditions before it can come into operatio n , that is to say, instruments, the more perfect of which vanquish the less perfect; moreover, that these instruments have to be produced , which also implies that the producer of more perfect i nstruments of force , vulgo arms , vanquishes the producer of the less perfect instrument, and that, in a word, the triumph of force is based on the production of arms, and this in turn on production in general - therefore on 'economic power' , on the 'economic order', on the material means which force has at its disposal.
With your knives? With your shotguns? But in this respect it so happens that the l iberation of colonial territories sheds new l ight on the matter. Yet the French army's instruments of war, the bravery of its soldiers, and the military genius of its leaders made the whole of Europe tremble.
At the start of colonization, a single mil itary column could occupy a vast amount of territory - from the Congo and Nigeria to the Ivory C oast, etc.
But today the national struggle of the colonized is part and parcel of an entirely new situation. After a phase of cap ital accumulation, capitalism has now modified its notion of profitability. Consequently, if the colony has to be constantly garrisoned, if trade slumps , in other words if manufactured and industrial goods can no longer be exported, this is proof that the military solution must be ruled out. A bl ind domination on the model of slavery is not economically profitable for the metropolis.
Capita l ism therefore objectively coll udes with the forces of violence that erupt in colon ial territories. There is, of cours e , the pol itical and d i plomatic aid of the progressive countries and their peoples.
The Conference of Berl i n was able to carve up a mutilated Mrica among three or four European fl ags. C urrently, the issue is not whether an Mrican region is under French or Belgian sovereignty but whether the economic zones are safeguarded.
The crackdown against a rebel sultan is a th ing of the past. Matters have become more subtle, less bloody; plans are quietly made to eliminate the Castro regime. Guinea is held in a stra nglehold, Mossadegh is l iquidated. The national leader who is afraid of violence is very much m istaken if he thinks colonialism will "slaughter us all. All the sai nts who turned the other cheek, who forgave those who trespassed aga inst them , who, without flinching, were spat upon and i nsulted, are championed and shown as an example.
The el ite of the colon ized countri es, those emancipated slaves , once they are at the head of the movement, inevitably end up producing an ersatz struggl e. Never in fact do they actually appeal to the slaves, never do they actually mobilize them.
On the contrary, at the moment of truth - for them, the l ie - they brandish the threat of mass mobilization as a decisive weapon that would as if by magic put "an end to the colonial regime. But the i r speeches, their initiatives, and their angry outb ursts very soon antagonize th e party machine. These factions are gradually isol ated, then removed altogeth er.
At the same time, as i f there were a d i a l ectical concom i tance, the colonial pol ice swoops down upon them. For the time being our attention should focus on the pol itical parties in order to demonstrate the nevertheless progressive nature of their action. In the ir speeches, the political l eaders "name" the nation. The demands of the colon ized are thus formul ated. But there is no substa nce, there is no political and social agenda.
There is a vague form of national framework, what might be termed a m i nimal demand. The pol iticians who make the speeches, who write in the national ist press, raise the peopl e's hopes.
Often the national or ethnic langu age is used. Outline prepared and presented by: The colony is a private company; Only Economic interests matter. The Black colonial world description 1. Black Underclass perception of Black bourgeoisie 2. The white fear of a black centralized party 3. How do other nationalist parties react after the occupier has endorsed one particular nationalist party? Section 4. The Process for black revolution 5.
Stage B - The Alienated individuals meet, merge, and retreat to the Villages 5. The re-entrenchment of Colonialism via the Black Bourgeois Section 7. The Role of the intellectual Section 8. But such a creation cannot be attributed to a supernatural power: The "thing" colonized becomes a man through the very process of liberation. The agent does not alleviate oppression or mask domination. But today the national struggle of the colonized is part and parcel of an entirely new situation.
The colonial population is a consumer market. Consequently, if the colony has to be constantly garrisoned, if trade slumps, in other words if manufactured and industrial goods can no longer be exported, this is proof that the military solution must be ruled out.
The local police station is taken over, the ofcers hacked to pieces, the elementary school teacher murdered, the doctor gets away with his life only because he is absent, etc, etc. But the rural masses of the interior remain unafected by this confrontation. But here again the interior is excluded. As a kind of brute force. The white fear of a black centralized party How do colonizers use tribal divisions to avert one centralized black party? Why does the white colonial regime delay the power-transfer to the black party that it has chosen for leadership?
Once a party has achieved national unanimity and has emerged as the sole negotiator, the occupier begins his maneuvering and delays negotiations as long as possible. The nationalist parties, which were excluded from the negotiations. It exploits the obscurantist tendencies of the rural masses. The process for black revolution What are two scenarios whereby the Black Underclass can be guided to lead the revolution and who is responsible for this guiding?
For the under-developed countries this phenomenon is of fundamental importance, and this is the reason why we propose to study it. The Tortured Liberation Soldiers move to launch an armed struggle. Then they are hunted and exiled from the towns. Section 5. They realize that precious time has been wasted on futile discussion about the colonial regime. Faced with the extent of the damage, colonialism begins to have second thoughts. It is the national territory, the entire colony which enters into a trance.
The problem is clear-cut: The foreigners must leave. The militant becomes the fghter. To wage war and to engage in politics are one and the same thing. Reconciliations abound. Deep-buried, traditional hatreds are dug up, the better to root them out. Every villages becomes a free agent and a relay point. Every new group, every new volley of cannon fre signals that everybody is hunting the enemy, everybody is taking a stand. The people from the north march toward the west, those on the plains struggle up to the mountains.
No strategic position is given preference. The questions which the organizations asks the militant bear the mark of this vision of things: With whom? What have you accomplished? Everyone was therefore personally responsible for the death of the victim. To its brutal policy of repression it adds a judicious and spectacular combination of. As we have seen, the peasant masses, steeped in a never-changing routine, continue to revere their religious leaders, descendants of illustrious families.
Hatred is not a national agenda. The peasants were especially eager to join the rebellion because they had constantly clung to a virtually anti-colonial way of life. Hatred is not an agenda: There is no end to the politeness and consideration. In fact the colonized get the feeling that things are changing. Our people are happier. They are respected. A daily routine sets in, and the colonized engaged in the struggle, the people who must continue to give it their support, cannot aford to give in.
They must not think the objective has already been achieved. Stage E — Power without Knowledge is self-destructive The signifcance of educating the masses, who is responsible? Example of what the role of the political commissioner entails: The silence of the towns and the continuation of the daily routine give the peasant the bitter impression that an entire sector of the nation is content to sit back and watch.
Such observations disgust the peasants and reinforce their tendency to despise and generally condemn the townsfolk. The people then realize that national independence brings to light multiple realities which in some cases are divergent and conficting. Summary of section 5. First there is decolonization, then there is independence. Then there is reparations. First there is the colonial reality. He will be killed: This walking dead man has lost his wife and his sons; he has seen so much agony he prefers victory to survival; others will proft from the victory, not him; he is too weary.
But this weariness of heart is the reason behind his incredible courage. There is decolonization. Then there is independence. Then there is the Decolonization.