The Wretched Of The Earth: A ReviewFanon’s book, “The Wretched Of The Earth” like Foucault’s “Disciplineand Punish” question the basic assumptions that underlie society. Both bookswriters come from vastly different perspectives and this shapes what bothauthors see as the technologies that keep the populace in line. Foucault comingout of the French intellectual class sees technologies as prisons, family,mental institutions, and other institutions and cultural traits of Frenchsociety. In contrast Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) born in Martinique into a lowermiddle class family of mixed race ancestry and receiving a conventional colonialeducation sees the technologies of control as being the white colonists of thethird world. Fanon at first was a assimilationist thinking colonists andcolonized should try to build a future together. But quickly Fanon’sassimilationist illusions were destroyed by the gaze of metropolitan racism bothin France and in the colonized world. He responded to the shattering of his neo-colonial identity, his white mask, with his first book, Black Skin, White Mask,written in 1952 at the age of twenty-seven and originally titled “An Essay forthe Disalienation of Blacks.
” Fanon defined the colonial relationship as one ofthe non recognition of the colonized’s humanity, his subjecthood, by thecolonizer in order to justify his exploitation.Fanon’s next novel, “The Wretched Of The ` “Earth” views the colonizedworld from the perspective of the colonized. Like Foucault’s questioning of adisciplinary society Fanon questions the basic assumptions of colonialism. Hequestions whether violence is a tactic that should be employed to eliminatecolonialism. He questions whether native intellectuals who have adopted westernmethods of thought and urge slow decolonization are in fact part of the sametechnology of control that the white world employs to exploit the colonized. Hequestions whether the colonized world should copy the west or develop a wholenew set of values and ideas. In all these questionings of basic assumptions ofcolonialism Fanon exposes the methods of control the white world uses to holddown the colonies.
Fanon calls for a radical break with colonial culture,rejecting a hypocritical European humanism for a pure revolutionaryconsciousness. He exalts violence as a necessary pre-condition for this rupture.Fanon supported the most extreme wing of the FLN, even opposing a negotiatedtransition to power.His book though sees the relationship and methods of control in asimplistic light; he classifies whites, and native intellectuals who haveadopted western values and tactics as enemies. He fails to see how these nativesand even the white world are also victims who in what Foucault calls the streamof power and control are forced into their roles by a society which itself isforced into a role.
Fanon also classifies many colonized people as mentally ill.In his last chapter he brings up countless cases of children, adults, and theelderly who have been driven mad by colonialism. In one instance he classifiestwo children who kill their white playmate with a knife as insane. In isolatingthese children classifying there disorders as insanity caused by colonialism heironically is using the very thought systems and technologies that Foucaultpoints out are symptomatic of the western disciplinary society.Fanon’s book filled with his anger at colonial oppression wasinfluential to Black Panther members Newton and Seale .
As students at MerritCollege, in Oakland, they had organized a Soul Students’ Advisory Council, whichwas the first group to demand that what became known as African-American studiesbe included in the school curriculum. They parted ways with the council whentheir proposal to bring a drilled and armed squad of ghetto youths onto campus,in commemoration of Malcolm X’s birthday, the year after his assassination, wasrejected. Seale and Newton’s unwillingness to acquiesce to more moderate viewswas in large part influenced by Fanon’s ideas of a true revolutionaryconsciousness. In retrospect Fanon’s efforts to expose the colonial society weresuccessful in eliminating colonialism but not in eliminating the oppressiontaking place in the colonized world.
Today the oppression of French colonialismin Algeria has been replaced by the violence of the civil war in Algeria, andthe dictator of Algeria who has annulled popular elections, a the emergence ofradical Islam which seeks to replace colonial repression with religiousoppression. But this violence might be one of the lasting symptoms of Francescolonial brutality which scared the lives of Algerians and Algerian society;perverting peoples sense of right and wrong freedom and discipline.