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Nigel C Gibson: "A Wholly Other Time? Fanon, the Revolutionary, and the Question of Organization"

Nigel C Gibson: "A Wholly Other Time? Fanon, the Revolutionary, and the Question of Organization"

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Published by puzzelle

Frantz Fanon, Algerian revolution, V.I. Lenin

Frantz Fanon, Algerian revolution, V.I. Lenin

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Published by: puzzelle on Feb 09, 2013
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The South Atlantic Quarterly
112:1, Wnter 2013doi 10.1215/00382876-1891224 © 2013 Duke Unversty Press
Nigel C. Gibson
A Whlly Other Tme?Fann, the Revlutnary,an the Questn f Organzatn
T
he fitieth year ater the publication o 
TheWretched o the Earth
and its author’s death wasmarked by seemingly autonomous and spontane-ous rebellions across the world that immediatelymade concrete some Fanonian concerns. Fromthe Arab Spring that began in Tunisia and spreadto create a new orm o social organization inCairo’s Tahrir Square, to the revolts by the Span-ish
indignados
and the Greek
aganaktismenoi
 spurred by eurozone structural adjustment, to theChilean student movements and “Occupy,” theserebellions raised the problem o spontaneity andorganization. At stake was not the old letistidea o raising the consciousness o the so-calledbackward masses but how these new orms o organization and their theorizations can main-tain an ongoing liberation. Without providing anyanswers,
The Wretched 
leaves us with a series o warnings.
1
This essay, through a conversationwith Fanon, gestures to a meditation on the dia-lectic o organization as a contribution to the pres-ent problematic.Fanon (1967a: 15) insisted that he belonged“irreducibly” to his time. We can wonder whethermuch has changed, but perhaps more important,the enduring Fanonian question is how to sustain
 
40
The South Atlantic Quarterly
 
Wnter 2013
social transormation over time. In another register, colonialism means theend o time or the colonized.
2
Having been expelled rom history, the colo-nized, Fanon argues, rediscover themselves as temporal beings in the strug-gle against colonialism (in a Marxian sense, as Fanon puts it, “the thing”becomes human “during the same process by which it rees itsel” [1968:37]), and thus it is in that struggle against colonialism that lost time is recov-ered. And Fanon insists on rebuilding “the new reality o the nation” (hisfirst title or
A Dying Colonialism 
) in the praxis o the struggle, which soundsakin to the discourse o todays “movement o movements.” But while refect-ing on practical experience might solve immediate problems, it tends to gen-erate new theoretical issues. What I mean is suggested in Fanons seeminglybanal example o lentil production during the liberation struggle. Writing o the creation o production/consumption committees among the peasantsand the National Liberation Front (FLN), an action that he says encouragedtheoretical questions about the accumulation o capital, he argues: “In theregions where we were able to conduct these enlightening experiments,where we witnessed the edification o man through revolutionary begin-nings,” people began to realize that “one works more with one’s brain andone’s heart than with muscles and sweat” (Fanon 2004: 133). Talking o thepolitical economy o ood he adds,
We did not have any technicians or planners coming rom big Western uni-versities; but in these liberated regions, the daily ration went up to the hith-erto unheard-o figure o 3,200 calories. [But] the people were not contentwith [this]. . . . They started asking themselves theoretical questions: orexample, why did certain districts never see an orange beore the war o lib-eration, while thousands o tons are exported every year abroad? Why weregrapes unknown to a great many Algerians whereas the European peoplesenjoyed them by the million? Today, the people have a very clear notion o what belongs to them. (Fanon 1968: 192)
Thus it is through practice and experience (that is, social experience in amovement) that new issues and ambiguities are revealed and can becomethe starting point or new theoretical points o departure. This is the essenceo Fanon’s plea to work out new concepts, made at the conclusion o 
TheWretched 
.
Practice
Like Vladimir Lenin, Fanon aced the problem not o starting the revolutionbut o continuing it. For both, the destruction o the old and the creation o 
 
Gibson
 
A Whlly Other Tme?
41
the new were not separate processes; as Lenin puts it, “
Living 
, creative social-ism is the product o the masses themselves” (1963: 16:289; my emphasis).The problem was how to make sure that the most oppressed, the “wretchedo the earth,” direct “the everyday administration o the state” and the deci-sion making o the new society (Lenin 1964b: 25:494). This is ar rom easy.Indeed, despite such awareness, Lenin ailed. To his dismay, he viewed thegrowing bureaucratization o the party, the increase o Russian nationalchauvinism, and an “administrative mentality” o the party leaders as thegreat threat to the revolution (Dunayevskaya 1989: 119). In the context o thecountry reeling rom civil war, imperialist blockade, and amine, what wasto be done? The libertarian Lenin (i.e., the Lenin o a “living, creative social-ism”) was trumped by the pragmatic organization man who put his trust inthe party leaders, a “thin layer” o principled Bolsheviks who would some-how hold on or another revolution “i not through Berlin, then throughPeking” (quoted in Dunayevskaya 1989: 126).
3
The problem was that the con-tradiction was
internal 
to the revolution. The problem was that the partybecame the problem and Lenin could not break with the vanguard party con-cept. Unlike Fanon, he could not imagine how the party o liberation couldbecome the “modern orm o the dictatorship o the bourgeoisie” (Fanon1968: 165). Like Lenin, Fanon vigorously criticized the rise o national chau-vinism and the laziness and conceit o intellectuals;
4
in addition, he pointedto the inherent contradictions and “pitalls” in the anticolonial movements,that is, the arrogance o the party o liberation and the etish o leadership,and to the absence o a liberatory ideology. By “liberatory,” I mean ideologynot simply as critique o other ideologies but what he also called developinga social and political “new humanism” within “the structure o a people”(Fanon 1968: 143), gesturing toward a more inclusive working out o theuture rom the bottom up. Coming as Fanon did as an insider critic, his cri-tique o the anticolonial movements was one o his great contributions.Fanon remained a loyal member o the FLN even ater RamdaneAbane’s assassination in December 1957.
5
Though Fanon despised the mili-tarists, narrow nationalists, and anti-intellectuals and was marginalized inTunis, he kept working on the periodical
El Moudjahid 
. On the revolution-ary wing o the organization, he nevertheless remained vital as a diplomator the Algerian provisional government in West Arica, meeting PatriceLumumba, Felix Moumié, and Kwame Nkrumah, among others. From theseexperiences he developed a critique o national consciousness that would bepresented in discussions and lectures at the National Liberation Army’s(ALN) headquarters in Ghardimaou on the Tunisian border.
6
By 1961, he wascertain that colonialism would be deeated, but at the same time, he oresaw

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