There was a discourse of violence of power structure and political violence in the past between coloniser and colonised during colonial times.
Let’s understand it through the insights of Frantz Fanon’s (philosopher and intellectual, 1925-1961) seminal work The Wretched of the Earth (1961) under the postwar decolonisation movement with a focus on Africa, especially Algeria.
His idea comes from how and why the colonialism process should be halted, also about the national and cultural consciousness of newly independent countries, and the impact of colonialism on the psychology of colonised people and nation.
Colonisation and Decolonisation: Use of Violence
Fanon postulates colonial world is divided into two half the colonist (of pride/perfect) and the colonised (shame/clumsy); where the colonist world (of ruling ‘species’) is considered a place of wealth (with light) while colonised (of others) is a place considered to he “inhabited by disrupt-able people” and poor (with darkness).
This division reflects the exploitation of colonised people. There is always a fear of decolonizing in the mind of colonist and the desire for decolonisation is present in the mind of colonised.
Coloniser used violence to dominate over the natives and the same violence is used by natives to rebel against the coloniser; stating, “Decolonisation is always violent” and it cannot to achieve through “gentleman’s agreement” or handshake.
Colonisers used soldier barracks and police stations (use of violence, power and ammunition) to separate from the colonised world. The identities are formulated by the colonist in order to establish their superiority. The injustices of colonialism are revolted by the national awakeness usually coming from rural areas.
Decolonization through violence eradicates colonial government and liberates the colonised from the mindset imposed by the coloniser. He demonstrates that colonising powers have benefited from the colonised, so they owe reparations payments to their former colonies.
In the international context, Europe’s claim of wealth was criticised by Fanon, as he believed this wealth was exploited by Europe from third-world countries. The distribution of wealth was not fairly distributed around the world. Then he talks about conflict/violence between colonialism against anti-colonialism; after liberation, this conflict was converted into capitalism against socialism, as per Fanon. Capital exploitation is the biggest enemy of a nation.
At the stage of decolonisation, the urban colonised elites like intellectuals and owners of businesses form political parties but they ignore the rights of rural colonised people. The colonised bourgeoisie influences the colonised intellectuals and business elites to accept non-violence means but in fact, that is insufficient for decolonization.
Whereas, peasants (who lived in an undeveloped country, usually live traditional lives) are revolutionary as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, in comparison to the national bourgeoisie (white-collar people) shall be the last to use violence against the colonial rule.
In a similar manner, it is stated that colonised workers in cities also form unions and protest to improve their own conditions that also do not raise the demands of rural peoples. These rural people act spontaneously against the oppression as they believe in rebellion. Fanon claims in the decolonised nation, the national bourgeoisie is self-centred and should not be allowed to establish dominance in a newly independent nation-state.
The argument is postulated as fear of returning from old means of domination and oppression by the bourgeoisie class if they become powerful in the post-colonial period. This can be avoided by decentralizing in the extreme where the hinterlands would be merged with the region.
He suggested both peasants and urbanised intellectuals should wage war before independence. In the post-colonial period, neo-colonisation can be neutralised by decentralisation, where government should be run by peasants and removal of the national bourgeoisie from power is recommended by Fanon. He also states the need to educate people so that they can rationally discuss the future issues of the nation.
Colonialism had destroyed the colonised past and culture. Thus native intellectuals should revive the glorious history. He signifies the culture should be national and suggest not to imitate European culture, not regional or racial, identity.
He elaborated on the psychological disorders that were created by colonialism over the colonised, as the colonised are taught to demean without identity, so they try to question the colonialism that results in disorders like depression and anxiety. Moreover, the colonised feel number of post-traumatic disorders that result in psychotic breakdowns.
The only recipe for these disorders was to overthrow colonialism and making a call to his fellow man to fight for the emancipation of colonised populations would ultimately help all of mankind.
Critics: Glorify Violence or Alarms the use of Violence
Critics of Fanon like Hannah Arendt accused him of ‘glorifying violence for violence sake’ (1970). Many conservative writers have reacted against his views on violence, and leftist intellectuals have dismissed his revolutionary statements as outdated and naïve.
Some support Fanon that despite his ideas as on centrality of violence on decolonisation, but “he does not advocate arbitrary violence, but rather recognises the dangers, physical and psychological, of violence without a cause” (Singler, 2016).
Fanon target audience is colonisers and tried to explain the concepts of colonialism and decolonisation through philosophical, cultural, historical, political, and cultural perspectives. This does not mean that violence used in colonised time is justified in post-colonial times.
Without taking a position of either side of using violence occurred in the Israel-Palestine conflict, my grave concerns stand to more significant questions of who will heal the gaps of lost human life, recover national resources and reduce the international tension?
Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science at Fiji National University
Disclaimer: The views expressed are his own and not of The Australia Today or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. [email protected]