Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist and anticolonialist intellectual; The Wretched of the Earth
is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country's national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes, "[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."
Although socialism has seemingly collapsed in the years since Fanon's work was first published, there is much in his look into the political, racial, and social psyche of the ever-emerging Third World that still rings true at the cusp of a new century. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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Frantz Fanon, the distinguished Algerian psychiatrist, presented in The Wretched of the Earth a challenging inquiry into the dehumanizing nature of colonial oppression, and draws up an exciting inventory of the possibilities of eventual freedom for the world's subject peoples. For his audience in the Third World, and for us who listen in, Fanon conducts, for perhaps the first time since Engels and Sorel, a brilliant examination of the role of violence as the most efficient midwife of historical change. He demonstrates how violence in the colonized countries of today's cold-war world reflects the violent relations that obtain between capitalism and socialism, and shows how violence affords a colonialized people its first sense of community. Outlining the complex play of polarized, "Manichean" relations which both unite and oppose European colonists and native populations, he shows the limits of spontaneous individual action, and points out the necessity and dangers of organized action. He traces, in short, the historical dialectic that leads from slavery to statehood-from a period of chauvinism, racism, tribalism, and religious rivalries, through the armed struggle for liberation, to full nationhood.
Writing in the name of an ideal Third World unity yet to be forged, Fanon has here provided for leaders in under-developed countries a veritable handbook of revolutionary practice and social reorganization. He warns the Third World-and us against dangerous forms of alienation that lie in wait for newly liberated peoples: the perilous cult of the leader, untimely pseudo-nationalism, the nostalgic desire to return to an earlier tribal stage of culture. And from his own practice as a psychiatrist in Algeria during her struggle for independence he presents case histories of what he calls the "colonial neurosis." Fanon impresses upon his African brothers, finally, the necessity of inventing-for themselves and for humanity-new ways of thought, new forms of social leadership, and a new image of man.
To read Fanon is to read the passionate revolutionary bible of a latter-day Machiavelli, urging us all to bring the colonial period of world history to an end by all possible means, including violence. As Jean-Paul Sartre points out in his now-famous preface to this book, we must have the courage to read this speaker for the Third World, for he will make us ashamed, and shame is itself a revolutionary sentiment.
"Have the courage to read this book."--Jean-Paul Sartre
"It must be read by all who wish to understand what it means to fight for freedom, equality and dignity."--Alex Quaison-Sackey, former president of the United Nations General Assembly
"The value of The Wretched of the Earth lie[s] in its relation to direct experience, in the perspective of the Algerian revolution.... Fanon forces his readers to see the Algerian revolution--and by analogy other contemporary revolutions--from the viewpoint of the rebels."--The Nation
"This is not so much a book as a rock thrown through the windows of the West. It is the Communist Manifesto or the Mein Kampf of the anticolonial revolution, and as such it is highly important for any reader who wants to understand the emotional force behind that revolution."--Time
"The Wretched of the Earth is an explosion. Readers owe it to their education to study the whole of it."--Emile Capouya, Saturday Review
Frantz Fanon was born in 1925 in Fort-de-France, on the island of Martinique. He studied medicine in France, and later specialized in psychiatry. When he was twenty-seven, he published his first book, a remarkable personal narrative of his life as a black man in a white world, entitled Peau Noire Masques Blancs (Black Skin White, Masks), published in 1967 by Grove Press.
During the French-Algerian war, Fanon was assigned to a hospital in Algeria, and soon found his sympathies with the lot of the rebels. He subsequently joined the revolution and became one its most articulate spokesmen. Out of that experience came two further works, L'An V de la Revolution Algerienne (Year V of the Algerian Rev
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