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Fanon considered in this sense that violence can be used by those people least attached to the values of the colonial society and with the fewest connections with the foreign settlers, as change can take place only "from the bottom up. The extraordinary importance of this change is that it is willed, called for, demanded," therefore felt at the lowest levels of the society, the peasantry. (Fanon, 1963, 35)
On a similar note is Sartre's approach to the role of the peasant in conducting the revolutionary movement. Unlike Marx, Sartre is keen in underlining the importance of the peasantry to the revolutionary effort. However, in Fanon's consideration of the peasants as the moving force of the revolution, there is a certain lack of coherence. In this sense, it can be noticed the fact that despite acknowledging the role of the least affected people in the society in terms of colonial pressure, he does propose the peasantry, who are deeply attached to the land they posses, as the initiators of the revolution.
In the first essay of his book, "The Wretched of the Earth" he deals with certain aspect of violence, and, more importantly he discusses the relevance of the violent act in reestablishing the pre-colonial order. However, in his attempt, and taking into account his studies in psychology, he considers violence expressed by the colonists as having both a physical component and a psychological one. Against this complex theorized system a revolution must break out.
The physical component of the colonial violence is seen as the actual expression of their rule and political dominance. In the case of Algeria, this dominance was exercised by the French who had established their reign over the country. In many instances, the French intervention in Africa was seen as neo-colonial pressure which influenced the proper evolution of both Algeria and the continent as a whole. In this sense, Robert Mortimer argues that "for Algeria, neo-colonial intervention was a grave reality retarding the independent development of the country. These attitudes placed Algeria squarely among the revolutionary states; much of Algeria's African policy can be understood as a campaign to stimulate the political consciousness of moderate Africa" (1970, 1). Therefore, the Algerian case can be considered to be the example advocated by Fanon in his debate over the use of violence as the means to create a revolution and eventually a change in the political status quo. The historical experience of the French in the African country proved most of Fanon's considerations, as they were forced to withdraw from the territory in 1962 following one of the most important decolonization wars in history.
The use of violence in the Algerian struggle for independence took many forms, from guerilla warfare, to the torturing of the French enemies. It represents a practical example for the precepts of Fanon's theoretical approach on violence. Nonetheless, the Algerian case taken in its entirety can be considered as a larger scale adoption of the idea considered by Fanon in relation to the forces that must start a revolution in order to achieve chance. More precisely, according to most scholars, the African continent was unofficially divided between countries that were willing to take on the risks of revolutionary change and those that were reluctant to take drastic measures against their colonial rulers (Mortimer, 1970, 2) Algeria, by initiating the fight against the French, proved to belong to the revolutionary side. In this way, from the perspective of the turn the events took in the French-Algerian war, the confrontation subscribes to Fanon's notion of the need for violence. It can therefore be used with the purpose of throwing from power the colonial rule and, at the same time, it can be an example of revolutionary attitude which would trigger the emancipation of the African continent, not by peaceful means as promoted by the Negritude adepts, but rather through an active attitude which can take the form of violence. Despite the wide coverage received by the Algerian war, it was not the sole example of independence struggle seen in Africa at the time. Ghana gained its independence in 1957, while Guinea achieved an independent status in 1958. These successes could have been seen as results of the nationalistic movements that came to symbolize the rebirth of a continent. Nonetheless, it is the Algerian case that stands out as the best example to portray Fanon's beliefs on violence.
The other side of the violent presence of the colonists is according to Fanon, the psychological violence which was exercised on the African continent. He considers that a certain type of violence was used by colonists to impose their law on the natives, "the violence which has ruled over the ordering of the colonial world, which has ceaselessly drummed the rhythm for the destruction of native social forms and broken up without reserve the systems of reference of the economy, the customs of dress and external life" (1963, 40). This attack on the core values of the African societies is considered to be most representative and important for the motivation of the struggle for freedom.
In the context of the liberation movements which became obvious after the end of the Second World War, there was an increasing need for the reestablishment of a cultural identity, both at the national level, as well as at the continental level for Africa. While moderate approaches to this question suggested a rebirth of the cultural history of the continent, Fanon considered that revolution would bring African together and thus would reunite under a single common identity. However, in his view, violence played a major role. He considered that violence and the frustrations and anger felt by the Africans would become inceptives for a continental organization of forces against the colonists. This perspective is due to his overall image of violence as a tool of destroying the evil in the colonized society and of annulling the influence colonists had on the cultural framework of the African nations. He concludes that "All values, in fact, are irrevocably poisoned and diseased as soon as they are allowed in contact with the colonized race. The customs of the colonized people, their traditions, their myths -- above all, their myths -- are the very sign of that poverty of spirit and of their constitutional depravity" (1963, 46) Therefore he offers violence an additional role in recreating the African identity other considered to be a peaceful and moderate process.
Overall, it can be stated the Franz Fanon, as one of the most important theorists of his time, in his attempt to offer a comprehensive approach on the process of decolonization, tried to underline the use of violence as a tool for achieving a completely changed political system. In this sense, he considers that not only is the action of decolonization just, but also necessary from the point-of-view of the African continent because it offers the means to achieve cultural independence as well. From this double perspective, he views the distinctive nature between the physical and psychological violence applied by the colonists on the native, the type of violence which the revolutionaries must also use. In this sense, the Algerian decolonization experience can be seen as relevant for exemplifying the ways in which violence was used in order to force the French troops to withdraw.
Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1963.
Mortimer, Robert. "The Algerian revolution in search of the African Revolution." The Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol. 8, no 3. 1970.
Perinbam, B. Marie. "Fanon and the Revolutionary Peasantry -…[continue]
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