Commenting Frantz Fanon — THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH — Chapter 1
I find myself with a new text by Franz Fanon. I’m curious to read it because I love to find in the text a subjective experience that I usually don’t explore in my rumination.
I am curious to read the text from the perspective of ME. What will I discover about myself? About my alienation as a worker daughter? How do I am/I was excluded? How am I a “wretched of the earth”, too?
The theme of violence is immediate. I didn’t expect it. The author quickly gets to the point, on the urgent need for life and death (his death — since he will die a few days/months after finishing the book). Fanon leaves no room for introductions.
Here some points I noticed in reading:
• The settler is always envious of the master. Envy is the basis of the process. I too have always grown up with an attitude of envy for the bourgeois “class” of my context. Why has the theme of violence as an act of rebellion (even if only symbolic) never come to my conscience? Why did I develop this passive reverence for “others”, “intellectuals”, the teacher, the authority, the priest of the village? Why have I not developed/self-generated or out-generated tools to question my servility and deference to authority (male, white, and dominant)? What power strategies weighed on me as a children/teenager to learn passivity?
• I grew up spending afternoons with my mother in the waiting room of the union in my village. The role of the trade union in small countries (so far) is to compile the tax documentation — the application for the “tax return” at the end of the year. It was a service necessary considering that many were illiterate. This help was done in exchange for an annual membership. The large painting of “The fourth estate” was displayed in the room. The painting evoked a grandiose, inexorable march, not armed but courageous against us spectators in the waiting room. My mother and I, together with workers, housewives, minor children, were sitting there, almost sleepy, waiting for the turn in the hall of unionism, to complete a necessary, inevitable dossier. The fight stopped on the wall and it did not affect daily life. Our was a waiting time without rebellion.
Il quarto stato
Il quarto stato è un dipinto a olio su tela (293×545 cm) del pittore italiano Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, realizzato…
- Transporting the topic to the educational dimension, “The governing race is first and foremost those who come from elsewhere, those who are unlike the original inhabitants,” the others. The authority that a teacher receives from a child — which is gratified because he/she is right, good and passive — is it ethically proper behaviour by an adult? Shouldn’t be the adult’s responsibility to question the authority received, put it into perspective, justify it to himself and in the educational relationship with students? In particular, with the most passive? The silent ones? Those who don’t rebel? Those who explore imaginary roads within themselves, not knowing how to find a space and a voice in reality?
- Transposing Favon’s words into actuality, I could say that it is almost prophetic in announcing current news: The poor will enter with violence into the luxury shops of the streets to try to appropriate, symbolically and materially, a denied and forbidden belonging.
For the colonized people, the only values that matter is those of the earth, which alone ensures bread and therefore dignity. The poor people have never heard — and don’t care at all - of the human dignity of the ideal human.
“Disons-le, le colon sait parfaitement qu’aucune phraséologie ne se substitue au réel”.
So, I admire Favon, I admire the process of decolonization, which is itself an “intrapsychological” and “interpsychological” process.
I can retrace four steps in the process of decolonization, in a personal and collective journey from alienation to partecipation:
- The first thing you learn (even at school) is to remain in place, not to exceed the limits, in a contest organized by others / by the authority / by the curriculum:
«C’est pourquoi les rêves de indigène sont des rêves musculaires, des rêves d’action, des rêves agressifs. Je rêve que je saute, que je nage, que je cours, que je grim-pe. Je rêve que j’éclate de rire, que je franchis le fleuve d’une enjambée, que je suis poursuivi par des meutes de voitures qui ne me rattra-pent jamais. Pendant la colonization, le colonisé n’arrête pas de se libérer between neuf heures du soir et six heures du matin “.
«Face au monde arrangé par le colonialiste, le colonisé est toujours présumé coupable. The culpabilité du colonisé n’est pas une culpabilité assumée, c’est plutôt une sorte de malédic-tion, d’épée de Damoclès. Or, au plus prof de lui-même le colonisé ne reconnaît aucune instance “.
2. Then, the colonized can escape into myth/fantasy (like children in the post-traumatic experiences) or violence (internal, against him/her or his/her fellows).
“L’atmosphère de mythe et de magie, en me faisant peur, se comporte comme une réalité indubitable”.
3) One day, the colonized discovers that own skin is worth the same as that of the master. The physiological processes are the same. Similarly, in education, the teacher is protected in his role by social construction, imposed by an elsewhere that does not belong to lived reality. As a child, the schooling process completely trapped me: the teacher is “superior” to the unschooled father. It was, therefore, the duty of the teacher to challenge an intellectualized representation of reality and to restore dignity to those excluded from the schooling process.
“Son regard ne me foudroie plus, ne m’immobilise plus, sa voix ne me pétrifie plus. Je ne me trouble plus en sa présence. Pratiquement, je l’emmerde”.
“His gaze no longer stuns me, no longer immobilizes me, his voice no longer petrifies me. I no longer get confused in his presence. Practically, I fuck him”.
4) Then finally, the violence, as an agentive and symbolic act:
“Au niveau des individus, la violence désintoxique. Elle débarrasse le colonisé de son complexe d’infériorité, de ses attitudes contemplatives ou désespérées. Elle le rend intrépide, le réhabilite à ses propres yeux ”