Sunday, 26 June 2011

A wholly other time? The revolutionary and the revolution

by Nigel Gibson, Seminar Presentation, School of Development Studies, UKZN, Durban, 2011

Fifty years is a very long time in the after-life of a revolutionary. Imagine 1933, fifty years after Marx’s death, when Marxism, which Marx had developed as a theory of liberation and life, had become associated with Stalin’s counter-revolution and death, forced collectivization and the gulag. Fanon is fortunate not to be associated with a state power though his thought has often been reduced to what states do best: violence.

Things have certainly changed since the post World War II epoch of anti-colonial struggles when the “whirlpool” of the Cold War between “Communism” and capitalism was often fought as a hot-war in the former colonies (Fanon 1968:76). After structural adjustment and neoliberal globalization, the question is not only what is there about Fanon’s thought that transcends its time but what of Fanon haunts our time? And while we cannot join Fanon “on the trenches of the anticolonial struggle” (Scott 1999:204), we can, following Scott’s logic, situate Fanon on the trenches not simply as a cry for action but to help re-situate The Wretched of the Earth in its problematic and shift the discussion toward more practical concerns of revolutionary will (Hallward) and revolutionary humanism (Turner and Alan 1986, Gibson 2003) in the context of the dialectics of organization.

Click here to download this paper in pdf.