Archive for Fanon

All cultures are not equal

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by Umer

by Kenan Malik

‘I denounce European colonialism’, wrote CLR James, ‘but I respect the learning and profound discoveries of Western civilisation.’ (1)

James was one of the great radicals of the twentieth century, an anti-imperialist, a superb historian of black struggles, a Marxist who remained one even when it was no longer fashionable to be so. But today, James’ defence of ‘Western civilisation’ would probably be dismissed as Eurocentric, even racist.

To be radical today is to display disenchantment with all that is ‘Western’ – by which most mean modernism and the ideas of the Enlightenment – in the name of ‘diversity’ and ‘difference’. The modernist project of pursuing a rational, scientific understanding of the natural and social world – a project that James unashamedly championed – is now widely regarded as a dangerous fantasy, even as oppressive.

‘Subjugation’, according to the philosopher David Goldberg, ‘defines the order of the Enlightenment: subjugation of nature by human intellect, colonial control through physical and cultural domination, and economic superiority through mastery of the laws of the market’ (2). The mastery of nature and the rational organisation of society, which were once seen as the basis of human emancipation, have now become the sources of human enslavement.

Enlightenment universalism, such critics argue, is racist because it seeks to impose Euro-American ideas of rationality and objectivity on other peoples. ‘The universalising discourses of modern Europe and the United States’, argues Edward Said, ‘assume the silence, willing or otherwise, of the non-European world.’ (3)

Not just for radicals, but for many mainstream liberals too, the road that began in the Enlightenment ends in savagery, even genocide. As the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues: ‘Every ingredient of the Holocaust… was normal… in the sense of being fully in keeping with everything we know about our civilisation, its guiding spirits, its priorities, its immanent vision of the world – and of the proper ways to pursue human happiness together with a perfect society.’ (4)

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On the Burkinabe Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by Umer

by Ahmed Khan

“It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.” –

-Thomas Sankara, 1985

In august 2008 when ex-Liberian warlord Prince Johnson (now a `respectable’ senator in Liberia’s U.S-modeled congress) testified in front of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation commission investigating the horrors of its 14-year long civil war, that former ally Charles Taylor, under trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity was complicit in the overthrow of the Sankara regime in Burkina Faso, it scarcely caught the attention of anybody outside the African continent. This led me to read up on the brief period (1983-87) that was the Burkinabe Revolution, what confronted me was a glorious period in the history of a truly great people, tragically cut short thanks to imperialist intrigue and the complicity of neo-colonial regimes, in a fashion all too familiar on the African continent.

As a representative of a party that follows Marxism-Leninism, that is heir to all the revolutionary struggles of mankind, I believe this episode carries poignant lessons for our society, and I daresay, coming revolution as well.

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