Please explaın Frantz Fanon's "The Pitfalls of National Consciousness" in The Wretched of the Earth.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this chapter of The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon argues that in the aftermath of independence, the native bourgeoisie of former colonies are unfit to do the nation-building necessary to benefit all the people in the country. They are not genuine visionaries but bureaucrats and technocrats. They are anxious to obtain for themselves the wealth and prestige that once went to the colonial overlords. They commandeer the bulk of the country's wealth for themselves, leaving most of the people as badly off as before. As Fanon puts it:

The national bourgeoisies, however, who, in region after region, are in a hurry to stash away a tidy sum for themselves and establish a national system of exploitation, multiply the obstacles for achieving . . . "utopia." The national bourgeoisies, perfectly clear on their objectives, are determined to bar the way to this unity, this coordinated effort by 250 million people to triumph over stupidity, hunger, and inhumanity.

To do genuine nation-building, Fanon contends, revolutionaries and other people truly dedicated to the country as a whole need to reach out to the masses in the villages outside of the capital cities and educate them to understand that the political system needs to work in their interest and through them. Parades and speeches are not enough to build a viable economy. Fanon states:

To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible . . .

He further states:

The masses must realize that the government and the party are at their service. A people worthy of esteem, i.e., conscious of their dignity, is a people who never forget this obvious fact.

True change will come only when the common people take power.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Wretched of the Earth is a highly ideological study of decolonization, which Fanon saw occurring around the world. He hoped not just to promote the end of colonialism, but to help shape the course that decolonization would take. In the chapter entitled "The Pitfalls of National Consciousness," Fanon argues that colonization tends to exacerbate, or even create, class divisions within the colonial society, even as it also creates a revolutionary national consciousness. Colonialism created a bourgeoisie that was a sort of false bourgeoisie in a Marxist sense because it lacked capital to generate productivity. Moreover, this bourgeois class tends to run the government for its own benefit, and in a way that does not promote the development of local industry:

To them, nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period.

Typically these cash-strapped leaders would invite in European capital, leaving the decolonized nations to remain simply producers of raw materials. Then, Fanon says, this middle class becomes "intermediaries" for capital. As the only educated people, they become lawyers and bureaucrats, securing for themselves the best possible positions to accumulate wealth. As such, they go from being the agents of a national consciousness to being the "transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the masque of neocolonialism." Like their colonial predecessors, their very raison d'être would be the exploitation of the lower classes, who will remain poor, backward agricultural laborers.

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The Wretched of the Earth

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