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Review of Franz Fanon's argument on violence


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Review of Franz Fanon's argument on violence

  1. 1. 3/10/11
  2. 2. Revolutions in the Third World— The Causes Violence as a tool of political struggle — When is it legitimately Justified? The aftermath: Can democracy be born in violence?3/10/11
  3. 3. Revolution • Theda Skocpol’s definition – “Rapid, basic transformation of a society’s state and class structures; and they are accompanied and in part carried through by class-based revolts from below…… occur through intense socio-political conflicts in which class struggles play a key role” • How “rapid”? • What counts as “basic transformation”3/10/11
  4. 4. Causes of revolutions • Economic Theory - Marx – Exploitation of labour causes alienation and dehumanization of labour – At certain point, existing economic superstructure can no longer sustain – The exploited working class will revolt to start a new economic order3/10/11
  5. 5. Psychological theory – Ted Gurr and James Davies– “Relative deprivation”, “J- Curve”: The disparity between expected satisfaction and reality– Leading to stress, frustration and in some cases, participation in mass movements and revolutions 3/10/11
  6. 6. Social-structural theory: Theda Skocpol– A study of Russia, France and China BUT…– Several factors together sufficient – Too much emphasis on for revolution certain classes? • Emergence of state crises (e.g. war) – Applicable to the Third • Weak state World? • Sociopolitical structure conducive to • The dynamics of dependent peasant revolts socieities • Role of state-making elites • Rural population or urban actors? 3/10/11
  7. 7. John Foran – Five interrelated causal factors Political culture of opposition Repressive, exclusionary Culture and ability to mobilize government: Repression of mass participation (Cultural lower class force and exclusion factor) of middle class and elites from government World-systemic opening Combination of all 5 “a powerful conjuncture factors make revolution arises for revolutionary successful movements to succeed” Dependant development The internal and external dynamics of core- Economic downturn peripherial relationship3/10/11
  8. 8. Application of the model• Case study: Angola – Dependant economy: Agricultural and mineral riches exploited by Portuguese colonial masters “Portugal’s African Jewel”; weak and undercapitalized local economy – Repressive state: Typical “separate society” colonial state – Culture of opposition: Long history of resistance to Portuguese rule – Economic Downturn + World-systematic opening: Internal revolution within Portugal; Failure of post-Salazar government; Simultaneous colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde Result: Independence of Angola (though quickly lapse into civil war)3/10/11
  9. 9. Frantz Fanon – Dehumanization Thesis– Colonial master’s rule by violence– Segregation between colonizers and natives: “The Manichean society”– Native society dehumanized and de-culturized– Violent revolution necessary for the native to start a new humane society– Successful examples from abroad: Dien Bien Phu of Vietnam– Tactics of guerrilla warfare
  10. 10. “My intimate knowledge of many central African tribes has everywhere convinced me of the necessity that the Negro does not respect treaties but only brute force.”• General Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha on German South West Africa “At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction, it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 74 3/10/11
  11. 11. The justification of violence3/10/11
  12. 12. Frantz Fanons “concerning Violence”• Context of Algerian occupation— the violence in the act of occupation at the first place •A Psychological dimension into the sufferings of the natives •The role of violence in remedying the sufferings, and facilitating the course of decolonization3/10/11
  13. 13. definitionsNotions of “violence”: Compelling demands against oneswill with threats of using forceThe 2 dimensions of “Decolonizing” Psychologically freeing the Physically freeing a consciousness of the territory from the native from the effects of external control of colonization, being the the settlers. state of alienation and dehumanization3/10/11
  14. 14. Premises:P1: The colonization was not legitimate and is rooted from violent sourcesP2: The suppressed is entitled to 2 things: physical reclamation of sovereignty + liberation and/or remedy from psychological suffering of colonizationP3: No non-violent options available to serve the ends of remedy nor driving away of settlerscon. “Violence is not only justified, it is required”
  15. 15. The violent nature of colonization  An “implantation” of an irrelevant society –Fanon  the natives’ identity, sovereign right and “humanity” cleanly stripped by the ruling settlers.  Any demand for such non-recognised rights constitutes to violation of the settler’s law, and equates to violent punishment, systems of torture, etc.  Segregated schools; army barracks and police stations3/10/11
  16. 16. Stakeholder analysisPolitical parties Urban intellectuals with certain interests incolonial system. They desire reform of system, not its removal.Colonialist bourgeoisie They promote compromise andnon-violence. e.g. “Bus boycotts” “these are solutions in the form of ‘sleep cures’, they work people off energy, but not to bring about real change.”--Fanon
  17. 17. Psychological Profile of the NativeUnder Fanon’s diagnosis, the natives are found toengage in “mechanisms of avoidance” to suppress“urges of violence”Dreams — Native avoids realities of coloniallimits/boundaries with dreams full of action.Redirection of aggressionTowards fellow native - tribal warfare, quarrels, etc.In terrifying myths - malefic spirits, zombies, fatalism.Use to facilitate mental avoidance from reality3/10/11
  18. 18. Remedial effects of violence • Immediate relief through natural response to the colonial violence …Do •they disprove the possibility of Liberating the consciousness of the native from the effects of alienation and dehumanization available alternatives? • Facilitates the building of solidarity in the struggle for freedom • Structurally bringing down the social institutions of the colonial community3/10/11
  19. 19. Premises:P1: The colonization was not legitimate and is rooted from violent sourcesP2: The suppressed is entitled to 2 things: physical reclamation of sovereignty + liberation and/or remedy from psychological suffering of colonizationP3: No non-violent options available to serve the ends of remedy nor driving away of settlerscon. “Violence is not only justified, it is required”
  20. 20. Common CritiquesASSUMED that use of violence as the only means ofRELEVANT remedyAutomatic regaining of Provision of sovereignty +monetary remedy?The non-violent movement by GhandiThe morality of “An eye for an eye”?3/10/11
  21. 21. By-products of violence Build-up of tensions, and induce the Colonial gov. to “engage” with force. more uncertainty—”Guns go off by themselves”What if violence fail?Would it lead to more insecurity?Allowing violence for the sake of itor the means to the end of ultimatesecurity?
  22. 22. Our opinion“you can use violence to achieve certain politicalgoals””to the point where the repressed society lostcontrol, and that it just so happened thatviolence broke out, the suppressed society is notto be blamed.”3/10/11
  23. 23. Violence = an option to consider?Does Fanons justification extends to otherother contexts?e.g. Capitalist regimesforms of political struggle?e.g. fight of ideologies?e.g. Religious freedom?3/10/11
  24. 24. So… Can democracy be birthed in violence?3/10/11
  25. 25. Mohammed Ayoob on state building– It takes hundreds of years and tremendous violence for Western European states to develop into modern democracies, now the Third World is required to complete state-building under a very tight schedule and lots of external interference– In the Third World, mass politics come before formation of strong states– Colonialism distorts state-making – e.g. Inherited colonial border houses distinct and sometimes hostile ethnic groups (e.g former Yugoslavia); difficulty in forming a common identity; delayed development of economies– Further destabilization by accelerated modernization3/10/11
  26. 26. • Some reservations:  Extent of violence  Exploitation of solidarity by Religious extremists and military coups  “What” violence is necessary? – Consider the case of Sinn Fein and the IRA of the Republic of Ireland 3/10/11
  27. 27. “Violence used in specific ways at the moment of the struggle for freedom does not magically disappear after the ceremony of trooping the national colours” (Fanon, p. 59) When will violence stop?“The atmosphere of violence, after having coloured all the colonial phase, continues to dominate national life” (Fanon, p. 60)3/10/11