Ahmad Jaradat : Alternative Information Center-Palestine

Frantz Fanon, the activist and the intellectual against the colonization, 50 years after the publication of « The wretched of the earth » and 50 years after his death

While colonization is roosting, “The wretched of the earth” still resist

“For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most

concrete, is first and foremost the land : the land which will bring them bread

and above all dignity”. (The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon).

In the 50th year of his publication « The wretched of the earth » and in the

50th year of the death of Frantz Fanon, a great struggler and revolutionary

thinker, the current importance of his work is in front of us : he fixed his

experience taking part in the real struggle against the colonization

movement, in the middle of the last century. Concretely, he inspired his life

with the grassroots resistance, through a deep analysis of the Algerian

liberation movement against the French long-term colonization. The core of

Fanon’s value is the direct participation on the struggle, recording his

humanity experience on behalf of Algerian people and against his own

country : Fanon didn’t confine his studies inside a room or a university, he

decided to be directly involved in the resistance against the colonizers who

usurped the independence and the freedom of Algerian people. This is the

main reason to understand why Fanon’s thinking is still alive today : in his

mind, humanity and revolutionary values can’t accept any solution in the

middle, any compromise or weak balance. Such an experience, concrete on

the ground and theoretical on his thinking, was able to reach the academic

debate and to push the intellectual world to face the issues of colonization

and struggle for the liberation.

The Fanon’s critical vision has the aim to clarify the strict relation

between the colonization and the nation under occupation, underlining the

contradictions based on this connection. The colonization violence creates the

revolutionary violence, the only way in the hands of the occupied people to

reach the final liberation. Fanon is deeply convinced that the colonizer’s

presence is the reason for the uprising and the armed resistance : any kind of

struggle against the colonization has to be violent, because violence is the

only language the colonialism can understand. In Fanon’s view, a coexistence

is not possible at all : each side should defeat the other, the enemy.

“It is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are

revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The

starving peasant, outside the class system is the first among the exploited to

discover that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possible

coming to terms ; colonization and decolonization a simply a question of

relative strength” (The wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon)”.

This thinking can’t accept any discussion or equivocation : the original

nation has the right to be involved in the struggle against colonization. This

kind of struggle is a right of a people under occupation, according to the

international law that allows an occupied country to fight the colonizer power

with any kinds of instruments, armed or not armed resistance.

The central points of Fanon’s analysis are raised and clarified in his most

famous book, “The wretched of the Earth”, where the thinker is dealing with

the Algerian experience against the French occupation. In the 50th anniversary

of his death, our aim is to enlighten the core of Fanon’s thinking, considered a

backbone of the concrete and theoretical analysis of the concepts of

colonization and liberation. This book is a beacon that can guide the freedom

strugglers toward the emancipation and spaces of wider life : the struggle

should be directed to the destruction of all the constraints imposed by the

colonialism, in order to achieve dignity and freedom from misery and slavery.

As a psychiatrist, Fanon analyzed the psychological effect of colonization on

the individual mind and on the collective mind, the psyche of the nation. In

Fanon’s view, the indirect colonization continues after the end of the direct

one in the cultural and psychological levels.

Such an analysis becomes actual and present now, here, during the Arab

springs and inside Palestine : Fanon’s view is able to uncover and reveal the

similarity between the traditional kind of colonization, in all its old forms, and

the new and current one. Where are the similarities ? The analogy can be

found in the forms that the resistance assumes against the colonization

power and in the essence of the conflict between the two sides and their

internal contradictions. In this path, the traditional colonization and the new

one control the capabilities of the occupied people regardless on the form of

this occupation, direct or indirect. The latter is the new form the colonization

assumes now, after the end of the traditional colonialisms and the obtaining

of the independence by the States in Africa and Middle East. Using Fanon’s

analysis, that considered the struggle still alive, we can underline the change

occurred in the last decades : the physical colonization turned into a cultural


“The claim to a national culture in the past does not only rehabilitate

that nation and serve as a justification for the hope of a future national

culture. In the sphere of psycho-affective equilibrium it is responsible for an

important change in the native. Perhaps we haven’t sufficiently demonstrated

that colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and

emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted

logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures,

and destroys it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes on a

dialectical significance today”. (The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon)

This is the mainly heritage of Fanon’s thinking : he predicted this change

and the fake end of colonialism. Even if the occupied powers left their

colonies, the indirect colonization is still going on through maintaining their

culture, their model of institutions and social classes, their local bodies and

groups. The real independence is never reached, the cultural and

psychological dependence is resisting into the entire society. The Fanon’s

prediction about the no-end of the colonization and the emphasizing of the

cultural and social occupation is the greatest value of his analysis : the

colonization roosts and exists through local bodies and classes.

In this meaning, the colonization resists controlling and taking over the

resources of the occupied nation and creating its system of intellectual and

cultural tools in order to develop and support its interests and needs. The

same aim was reaching in the past, during the traditional colonialism, through

domination, exploitation, military control and repression. It’s easy to find in

the war against terrorism launched by United States after 11th September

2001 and supported by Western countries this new kind of colonization, a war

and a occupation justified by the security needs and the development of the

Western democracy. Fanon’s view leads us to deeply understand the features

of the modern colonization, in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan : hundreds

of thousands of deaths, high rates of unemployment, high levels of poverty

and misery, lack of infrastructures, water, electricity, schools and health

service and loss of the control of natural resources. If Iraq and Afghanistan are

facing a direct occupation, the indirect one is affecting the rest of the

countries in the same region.

As Fanon explained in his book, the indirect colonization is going on

through political and cultural tools and is perpetrated by local lobbies and

groups, grown up during the colonialism era and allowed now to preserve the

people in poverty, ignorance, alienation. As result, this people feel themselves

as stranger inside their own country and try to get out of the situation using

the tool of immigration, even if it can cause suffers, sorrows and risks of

deaths. This is the birth of a new reality, where people are forced to face hard

conditions of life, looking for daily food, moving to the big cities, working in

harsh and dangerous environment. The new reality inside those countries is in

contradiction of a health and balanced development : around the big cities,

blocks of new and poor constructions grow and pile up on each other,

without space for privacy and normal life, in miserable conditions and harsh

alienation. Those people become invisible to the colonialism and capitalism

eyes, that control the country and its resources, usurped by the legitimate

owners. The international capitalism finds in the local neo-liberalism and in

the transnational companies the main tool to maintain its hands on those

countries, under the shadow of globalization and open market policy.

The conclusions reached by Fanon more than fifty years ago are actual

until now : we can easily apply them to the current situation in the Arab world.

The ongoing Arab reality is the perfect pattern to understand Fanon’s

prospective and to realize how our countries are stuck under the capitalism

and colonization powers. Among the pages of his book, we can find the

answer to the current situation in order to clarify the contradictions faced by

the revolutionary movements. Movements that are representing the struggle

for justice and freedom, to satisfy the needs of the Arab people. The struggle

is necessary in order to rescue the Arab world from the compulsions of the

political, economical and cultural neo-colonialism. In the impossible

coexistence between the two sides and in the inevitability of the conflict, we

can understand the deep value of Fanon’s thinking : the role of the struggle in

order to defeat the colonialism power in its direct and indirect forms. The

struggle is the only way to obtain a concrete decolonization, to free the

individual and collective minds from the cultural and psychological


Since the beginning and the outbreak of the struggle, the central issues

in Fanon’s view are the aim and the tools of the resistance : to smash the

colonization and liberate people under oppression through collective

movements. Emancipation and freedom can be reached just with the final

victory on the colonialism power. This kind of movements is not random and

unconscious, but solid and balanced. They are dependent on the deep

reading and understanding of the current conditions : there isn’t alternative

for the struggle in its sense of tool of liberation. The main value in Fanon’s

analysis is the importance of the decision of a nation or a people to fight in

order to defeat the colonization and to gain freedom. The direction chosen by

oppressed people is evident in the newborn movements and in their aim : to

move from the situation imposed by the long term colonization to a new one.

This is the struggle dialectic that Fanon underlined in his thinking, the

confrontation faced by the revolutionary movement in order to obtain a

concrete change.

And the change will be visible in the rebuilding of the nation and in the

birth of new human beings from the ruins of the colonization. This kind of

transformation will lead to remove misery, ignorance, suffering. So, the

struggle will be the necessary tool to produce a new efficiency. In Fanon’s

view, this step isn’t only possible, but it’s essential to produce the new

humanity through the struggle for the liberation. The new human beings born

from the past, achieving themselves from a bad past : the future will be built

on the ashes of what happened before, as a phoenix.

Such an analysis should be applied to the present of the Arabic

countries, especially Palestine. As Fanon explained, there isn’t liberation

without sovereignty : the freedom of the people is dependent on the freedom

of their country, the collective liberation passes for the independence of the

State. In Fanon’s view, it should be the core of the path to freedom : he

predicted the new future State after colonization as a dependent country,

dependent from the cultural and political colonialism. The concrete

colonization power leaves physically the colony, but still resists through social

and cultural instruments. The consequence is visible on the continuation of

the struggle, in a different form.

In the Arab world and in North Africa, where Fanon spent his life and

formed his prospective, closed to the reality on the ground, it’s possible to

find the concrete features of the Fanon’s theoretical model : after several

decades from the end of the direct colonization, the cultural and social

instruments are still working on the ground, the people dignity is still under

control, while poverty, ignorance and oppression are affecting daily life. And

after decades, the Arab world has finally raised, in a new form of the struggle.

Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen are some of the examples of this new uprising. The

slogans chanted in Tunisia and in Tahrir Square in Cairo are talking about

dignity, liberation and independence from humiliation, misery and control.

Those slogan represent the answer not only to the regimes, but also to the

Western countries that for years maintained their strict control through

diplomatic, economical and political relations with the dictatorships.

Further, the Fanon’s analysis is found on the Palestinian cause. Here, the

colonization is still concrete. It didn’t change on an indirect form : the

occupation is touchable, it’s daily life. In Palestine, the grassroots struggle is

going on against the Zionist project and settlements expansion in West Bank.

As observer and expert of the settlers violence all around West Bank, I am

facing every day the concrete consequences of the ongoing Israel

colonization : violence perpetrated by settlers and by the Army, land

confiscations, exploitation of the natural resources for the settlements project,

deportation policy, quiet transfer of Palestinian people. A transfer that is still

working, every Palestinian is a potential new refugee. The peak of the

deportation was reached in 1948, the Nakba, the catastrophe for the

Palestine : collective transfers and massacres ripped people from their own

lands, their own villages, their own cities. The final destinations were the

refugee camps, all around the Arab world : Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq. For

more than 750.000 Palestinian the independence of Israel became the loss of

their life.

But the transfer isn’t finished. It’s still going on, changed into a silent

transfer : confiscations of lands and demolitions of houses are the new tools in

the Zionist hands to push Palestinian people to move from their country. The

oppression and colonization policy is damaging our dignity and our

humanity : the Israel occupation makes us feel that we aren’t anymore human

beings. We aren’t human beings in the checkpoint, piled in long queue,

waiting for hours to cross the barrier, as chicken in a cage. We aren’t human

beings when we are forced to face guns and rifles of the soldiers on the road

checkpoint, along West Bank. We are not human beings when we aren’t

allowed to use Shuhada street in the hearth of Hebron, closed by electronic

and iron gates. We aren’t human beings when we are forced to walk for

kilometers to reach our schools, our houses, our shops because the main road

is reserved for the Israeli settlers. We aren’t human beings when the settlers

attack our shepherds and our children, in their way for work or for school. We

aren’t human beings when the Israeli Army enters our fields and uproots

hundreds of our olive trees, our ancient and present wealth. By Struggle we

will get back our humanity and achieve out self.

Walking in West Bank, we can face the occupation, visible concretely in

more than two hundred Israeli settlements, spots in our lands that spread like

a cancer. And beside the rich settlements, with their gardens and swimming

pools, we see the misery of the Palestinian villages, without water and

electricity, facing the lack of schools and health services. As the settlers are

living on the top of the hills, the Army control Palestinians from the top of

barriers and walls : the occupation and the colonization look at Palestine from

above, to underlined their superiority : “You don’t deserve to be at my same

level”, this the message of the Zionist project.

In this kind of reality, it’s easy to discover Fanon’s analysis : meanwhile

the colonization is going on, the struggle resists on the ground, on the daily

life. The diplomatic and political process to reach the peace failed, unable to

end the occupation. And after 50 years, meanwhile his analysis influenced

anti-colonial and national liberation movements all over the world (especially

leaders like Ali Shariati in Iran, Steve Biko in South Africa, Malcolm X and

Ernesto Che Guevara in Cuba) we can understand again the value of Fanon’s

thinking, that became during the time an inspiration for the Palestinian

popular resistance. Among Palestinian people his name is familiar, his name is

respected. Inside and outside the universities, students and professors discuss

about his analysis and apply his prospective to the Palestinian case. His

speech is still alive inside the Israeli prisons, where the Palestinian political

prisoners compare their ideas about oppression and liberation from the

pages of his books.

The real value of Fanon’s experience is the capacity to mix the

theoretical analysis to the concrete life. Frantz Fanon was an intellectual and a

freedom fighter. He took part on the Algerian struggle for liberation, side by

side with Algerian people and against his own country. Fanon was activist and

thinker at the same time. And this feature makes his prospective deep and

concrete : he analyzed the structure of the colonization and the characters of

the popular struggle on the ground, and not from a desk in a room far from

the people.

With his speech, Frantz Fanon took hope from the people involved on

the resistance against the occupation and the colonization, in its direct or

indirect form.

hile liberation, freedom and human dignity will be fulfilled.

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