Summary (Ethics (Ready Reference series))
Fanon indicted colonialist countries for using force to exploit raw materials and labor from colonized countries. Attempting to justify their actions, colonialists stereotyped natives as savages and referred to natives’ “precolonial barbarism.” Colonialists proclaimed that European culture was the ideal for natives to emulate and used violence and divide-and-conquer strategies to keep the natives down. Fanon advocated violence against the settlers as the way for colonized people to regain their sense of self-respect. Although he was a psychiatrist, Fanon did not show that such violence would be psycholog- ically liberating. Instead, he cited cases in which such violence led to psychological degeneration. Even if anticolonial violence were the only way to regain a sense of self-respect, however, such violence would not be automatically justifiable. Rape is not justifiable even if it appears to be the only way for a person to gain a feeling of self-respect. Thus, it is a mistake to think that Fanon has adequately justified terrorist attacks on the innocent. Fanon encouraged the colonized to reject the dehumanizing domination of Western culture. He claimed that Western culture corrupted the leaders of the decolonized state, making them put their own interests above the interests of the people. He urged ex-colonial powers to compensate their former colonies instead of continuing to exploit them.
(The entire section is 214 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth treats many of the central ideas concerning the struggle for liberation against colonialism. Fanon, who was a psychiatrist, worked in a hospital in Algeria during the war for independence from France, and many of the essay’s ideas are based on his observations and experiences in Algeria. He wrote during the era that would ultimately lead to the collapse of most colonialism in Africa; his ideas, however, are about liberation in general. Fanon sets forth the idea that Marxist notions of history and of the progression toward freedom need to be adapted to the struggle for independence. Analyzing the movement from colonization to independence, he modifies Marxist ideas. For example, Fanon notes that workers, far from being revolutionary, sometimes have an interest in colonialism and in the maintenance of a colonial economy. In sum, in The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon offers ideas that are central to literature on colonialism and on revolution.
The chapter titled “Concerning Violence” lays the groundwork for many of the ideas to come in the rest of the book. Essential in this chapter is Fanon’s assertion that decolonization is always a violent process. Decolonization is also the process of creating a “new person.” The struggle for independence necessarily entails the destruction of the image of the oppressed that the colonizers have set forth in an attempt to define the colonized. There is...
(The entire section is 1947 words.)