Sunday, February 12, 2012


Theoretical weekends sort of continues with this...


Fanon's ideas are not the product of armchair reflection, then. Nor were they entirely original. No man's are. But the synthesis was very much his, and his views on violence and on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat, which I discuss below, reopened issues which had not received much attention since the era of Bakunin. He acquired most of his intellectual stock of ideas, however, from two well-developed traditions with which, as a French colonial subject, he inevitably came into contact: the tradition of Black protest in the form of nLgritude, and the existentialist and Marxist traditions.

It is not merely to understand the genesis of his thought that we need to locate him in these traditions, however. Fanon would have been the first to insist that the validity of his theories could never be established simply by cognitive tests, by the yardstick of their internal consistency or logical rigour. He would have argued that not even the extent to which they constituted adequate analyses or explanations of the condition of life in the Third World, as purely intellectual exercises, would have constituted an adequate test, either. For he was not just trying to understand the Third World, he was trying to change it. He would have asked that his theories be evalu- ated in the light of revolutionary practice.

The successive formative components in his thinking were, firstly, his discovery of Black consciousness; secondly, his revolt against racist colonialism embodied in his theory of violence; thirdly, the incorporation of existentialist and Marxist influences; and, finally, his ideas on the transformation of society via revolution in the Third World. But it is his ideas on the agencies and sources of this trans- formation- the revolutionary party, the peasantry and the so-called lumpenproletariat- that we wish to pay special attention to. Because this last is the most underemphasized element in his thinking, and because it is his most original notion, it will receive most attention here, but we should remember that party and peasantry are the other two key elements.

There are 32 more pages to go...if interested click 

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