In his master work, The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon once quipped that, “History teaches us the anti-colonialist struggle is not automatically written from a nationalist perspective.”
Fanon’s observation sixty years ago mirrors the dismissive reception Black and African “nationalist perspectives" encounter these days among scholars, historians, and political activists. The downgrading of Fanon’s theories on nationalism and nation-building was spearheaded by a coterie of post-structuralist academics freelancing on the night shifts in post-colonial and cultural studies departments.
The tip of the spear was none other than Henry Louis Gates Jr., who commenced the philippics in 1991, with the publication of a paper called "Critical Fanonism." The venerated Harvard professor derisively posed this question;
"Do we need global imperial theory--in this case [Fanon] a grand unified theory of oppression; or indeed even the whole universalizing model of Theory that it presupposes?"
Like barristers petitioning the court as amicus curiae before a landmark decision hearing, poststructuralist luminaries Houston Baker Jr., Paul Gilroy, Michelle M. Wright, and Achille Mbembe lined up to submit briefs on behalf of the plaintiff. From a myriad of launch points they argued that financial, cultural, human, and technical mobility in the era of globalization had rendered race, nationalism, nation-states, and grand narratives superfluous.
Despite post-modern reductionists' efforts to dissolve Fanon's writings on nationalism and nation-building into subsidiary constructs, the Martinican philosopher's legacy as first architect of Decolonial Theory and avatar of Third World revolution continued to grow.
The slogan "I can't breathe," taken from Eric Garner's dying words and Fanon's metaphor that anti-colonial revolts occur when it becomes “impossible to breathe,” appeared on protest signs from Australia's Aboriginal outback to Brazilian favelas. In the hot summer of 2020, the specter of Fanon's Global South insurgency hovered ubiquitously over the Black Lives Matter 2.0 Lavender Revolution following George Floyd's public police execution.
This Fanonian Predicament, if you will, and the contested intellectual space surrounding his works on nationalism, revolution, and nation-building can be attributed to four developments.
First, Fanon's popular theories on transformative violence, New Humanism, and psychoanalysis of the colonized, rivaled if not overshadowed his writings on nationalism. In addition, Fanon’s theories on women in liberation struggles, Hegelian dialectics, phenomenology, and culture elevated him to iconic status among Black Diaspora, Third World, and revolutionary internationalist thinkers.
Second, the long train of failed post-colonial independence and armed liberation movements in Africa and the Black Diaspora, raised legitimate questions about the viability of Fanon’s nationalist constructs.
Third, the absence of Fanonian-based critiques of revisionist theories like Achille Mbembe's Afropolitanism and Frank Wilderson’s Afropessimism, which invoked the authority of Fanon’s name while rejecting nationalism and revolution, muddled his body of work.
Fourth, there has been considerable reluctance to consider the totality of Fanon works as a logical, coherent, and unified philosophical system. This has unfortunately resulted in cherry picking his constructs, too often in support of short-term passions and political expediency. In this context, Fanon's writings on nationalism and nation-building were not only diminished but their relationship to his other works were distorted or pigeonholed to conform to episodic circumstances.
In February, 2021, New Black Nationalists separated from this corrosive trend: NBN adopted Fanon's corpus of works as its guiding philosophical system. Our review of Fanon's writings on nationalism and nation-building are now part of an external one-year critical reading in conjunction with Fanonists and interested parties around the globe.
The argument presented here in “ A Quarter to Nation Time [QNT],” was drafted as a framework to clarify, redress, and augment Fanon’s writings on nationalism and nation-building. Its purpose is to create a matrix that re-directs Black Nationalists onto the strategic path to create a Black-nation-state in the 2020s.
The accelerating confluence of events--domestically and internationally--requires the urgent retooling of Black Nationalist and Fanonian theory from its current analog configuration to a 5-G architecture.
Over the next eight months, QNT will issue a series of papers that renovate Fanon’s first principles of nationalism and nation-building. The series will also explore Fanon's impact on the 1960s Black Power experience in America's settler state. And finally, New Black Nationalists will identify the congruencies between Fanon's theories and emerging revolutionary opportunities arising out American Empire's spiraling decline.
A final statement will be issued at the end of February 2022, in conjunction with a comprehensive report marking the formal adoption of Fanonism as the New Black Nationalist Movement's guiding philosophy.
As adherents to “the long apprenticeship,” New Black Nationalists are confident that grappling with the victories, defeats, and mishaps of the national liberation experience over the past fifty years will illuminate new paths to liquidate the diseased state of American Empire.
Accordingly, our interrogation of Fanon’s texts has been divided into three phases: 1) the struggle to win political power, 2) establishing a non-heteropatriarchal Black-led nation-state, 3) and post-liberation efforts to eliminate economic exploitation and create new social relations marking the New Humanist journey beyond nationalist and racial identities.
QNT' s calculus addresses five dimensions of Fanon’s theories on nationalism and nation-building that are essential to fabricating a revolutionary model to win power. Our task is to recalibrate these touchstones of the revolutionary process and align them with domestic and international developments that are spiraling towards American Empire's existential collapse. The five strategic pillars dictating the road to nationhood are,
• The role of violence in winning a national liberation war.
• Building nationalist consciousness
• Developing a class analysis of the Black nation
• The role of the state
• Transitioning to a Nationalist-Humanist state
What follows is a listing of 18 bullet points that summarizes the emphasis and direction of our critical reading of Fanon. Each bullet point contains a Fanon citing as a reference point, and a short comment at the conclusion of the each strategic pillar.
By utilizing this format and method, we hope our readers are presented with specific points of discussion that are sequenced to lend coherency and logic to the critical reading process. We also invite you to visit the Fanon Forum and Fanon Global sections of the website for additional articles, references, and background materials.
Ghanaian theorist and Fanon scholar Sekyi-Otu once said, “I read Fanon as an African exercised first and foremost by the disasters of the post-independence experience.” This New Black Nationalist reading reflects the lived experience of Blacks in America's settler state. At the same time, we are mindful that Fanon's writings on nationalism and nation- building in Wretched of the Earth, A Dying Colonialism, and The African Revolution, are drawn primarily from Fanon’s experience as part of the Algeria's nationalist revolution and his role as Ambassador to Sub-Saharan Africa from the mid-1950s to his tragic death in December 1961.
The stateless maroons in the New Black Nationalist Movement invite you to review and comment of the matrix below on Fanon's theories on nationalism. Tweet us @WBBrooksIII
Fanon Argument No. 4 / On Nationalism and Nation-Building 06.26.2021 "A Quarter to Nation Time"
"A Quarter to Nation Time" Summary
Document Purpose - “ A Quarter to Nation Time [QNT],” was drafted as a framework to clarify, redress, and augment Fanon’s writings on nationalism and nation-building.
Its purpose is to create a matrix that re-directs Black Nationalists in America's settler state, onto a strategic path to create a Black nation-state in the 2020s.
to Nation Time"
Fanon on Nationalism, and
National liberation, national awakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event. When it is achieved during a war of liberation the mobilization of the masses introduces the notion of common cause, national destiny and collective history into every consciousness.
The Fanon Arguments No. 4
Five Strategic Dimensions of Fanon's Theory on Nationalism and Nation-Building
• The role of violence in winning a national liberation war.
• Building nationalist consciousness
• Developing a class analysis of the Black nation
• Seizing power and the role of the state
• Transitioning to a Nationalist- Humanist state
The role of violence in winning a national liberation war.
1. National liberation is an act of violence
2. In fighting a national war for independence, the participation and mobilization of the masses imbue them with a higher level of national consciousness.
3. The revolutionary violence of the oppressed to win its liberation initiates a psychological transformation in which the stigma of inferiority complexes, the sense of non-being, and alienation from their own nation, land, labor, and brothers and sisters is cast off.
4. The Black Panther Party reading of Fanon called for armed self-defense of Black communities as oppressed colonies in the United States.
Building nationalist consciousness
1. To win national liberation and create a nation capable of overcoming its legacy of colonial dependency, Fanon posited that the colonized must build a national consciousness in which the national interests take priority over loyalties to tribe, ethnicity, race, religion, and traditional practices on gender.
2. Fanon warned that creating nationalist consciousness required the rejection of African continental identities, in particular the Negritude trend of his time.
3. Fanon anticipated that forging national consciousness and a national culture would be a lengthy process that could not be truncated. The 1884 Berlin Conference, and the imperialist partition of Africa created a patchwork of territories combining different tribes, ethnic groups, language groups, and cultures.
Developing a class analysis of the nation
1. Frantz Fanon warned that a catastrophe would befall Africa if the national bourgeoisie led the struggle for independence and nation-building. The failure of independence movements to heed Fanon's warning resulted in aborted independence movements and near total neo-colonial domination of the African continent and the Caribbean today.
2. Fanon calls the working class (proletariat) the most bourgeois fraction of the colonized population.
3. Fanon expresses grave skepticism about the petty-bourgeoisie playing a progressive role in the revolutionary struggle for power.
4. Fanon recognizes the peasants as the leading revolutionary force in Third World and colonial countries, and secondarily cites the revolutionary potential of the lumpen-proletariat.
5. The Black Panther Party reading of Fanon and contributed to their analysis that the Black lumpenproletariat was the leading revolutionary force for revolution in the United States.
Seizing power and the role of the state
1. Fanon was unequivocal in his support for giving top priority to land reform for the peasantry.
2 Fanon was distrustful of the concentration of state power in the hands of the national bourgeoisie. He believed in local and regional initiatives that mobilized the energy, participation, and ideas of the masses. Fanon modeled a national state apparatus attaching primacy to nationalizing the "Tertiary State."
3. Fanon’s advocated restricting the growth of an autonomous “professional standing army.” Instead, he favored empowering civically conscious local militia units. consequences. To Fanon, and idle autonomous army was a coup in waiting--a disease that gravely infected the planet.
On "Transcendent Nationalism" and the transition to a New Humanist State
1. Fanon’s New Humanism envisioned a transitional period in which full subjectivity is reached in the nation's social relations, full national consciousness, and national destiny is attained by its citizens. Thus, the door is opened to moving beyond Blackness and nationality as the highest expression of its humanity to a new era of interactions with other peoples on a reciprocal basis. New Black Nationalists identify this transitional period as "Transcendent Nationalism. "
2. Fanon calls for revolutionary forces to moving humanity beyond the failures of European Enlightenment to a New Humanism.
Fanon on Nationalism and
5. On "Transcendent Nationalism" and the Transition to a New Humanist State
• Fanon’s New Humanism envisions a transitional period in which full subjectivity is reached in the nation's social relations, full national consciousness, and national destiny is attained by its citizens. Thus the door is open to move beyond Blackness and nationality as the highest expression of its humanity to a new era of interactions with other peoples on a reciprocal basis. New Black Nationalist identify this transitional period as "Transcendent Nationalism. "
"The liberation struggle does not restore to national culture its former values and configurations. This struggle, which aims at a fundamental redistribution of relations between men, cannot leave intact either the form or substance of the people’s culture. After the struggle is over, there is not only the demise of colonization, but also the demise of the colonized. This new humanity, for itself and for others, inevitably defines a new humanism. This new humanism is written into the objectives and methods of the struggle. There can be no such thing as rigorously identical cultures. To believe one can create a black culture is to forget oddly enough that Negroes are in the process of disappearing, since those who created them are witnessing the demise of their economic and cultural superiority. There will be no such thing as a black culture. The ultimate aim of the national revolution is not to secure a home for blackness but to abolish the conditions of its very existence. The death of race is indeed the goal of the national liberation struggle. – as the death of class is the ultimate goal of Marxism.” [Fanon]
• Moving humanity beyond Europe
"But if we want humanity to take one step forward, if we want to take it to another level than the one where Europe has placed it, then we must innovate, we must be pioneers. If we want to respond to the expectations of our peoples, we must look elsewhere besides Europe. Moreover if we want to respond to the expectations of Europeans we must not sent them bac a reflection, however ideal, of their society and their thought that periodically sickens even them. For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must make a new start, develop a new way of thinking, and endeavor to create a new man."
A movement is “Fanonian,” not because it Black-led or consists of workers, or peasants, or low-income service workers, or students, of LGTBQ . A movement is Fanonian when it continues to explore building, revitalizing and realizing new human relations. Societies or countries, nations lose their way. That lose its collective sense of meaning and destiny.
Fanon argued that that citizenship in a new Algeria should not be based on race, ethnicity, tribe, or religion but on commitment to the independence of Algerian from France and reconstructing a new society. In the same way, New Black Nationalists are committed to creating a majority Black-led non-heteropatriarchal nation-state in which all are welcomed--a state in which all individuals are fully-invested subjects, but the state exist to support the collective interests and destiny of the nation.
Bourgeois ideology always proclaimed the essential equality of man. The difference between the old humanism and the new humanism or Fanonian humanism is the liberation of the colonizer and colonized.
"For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man."
Five Strategic Dimensions of Fanon's Theory on Nationalism and Nation-Building
1. On the role of violence in winning a national liberation war
• National liberation is an act of violence
National liberation, national awakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event. At whatever level we study it--individual encounters, a change of name for a sports club, the guest list at a cocktail party, members of a police force or the board of directors of a state or private bank--decolonization is quite simply the substitution of one "species" of mankind by another. [Fanon]
• In fighting a national war for independence, the participation and mobilization of the masses imbue them with a higher level of national consciousness.
“The armed struggle mobilizes the masses of the people, i.e., it pitches them in a single direction, from which there is no turning back. When it is achieved during a war of liberation the mobilization of the masses introduces the notion of common cause, national destiny and collective history into every consciousness. Consequently, the second phase, i.e., nation building, is facilitated by the existence of this mortar kneaded with blood and rage.” [Fanon]
• The revolutionary violence of the oppressed to win its liberation initiates a psychological transformation in which the stigma of inferiority complexes, the sense of non-being, and alienation from their own nation, land, labor, and brothers and sisters is cast off.
“Decolonization never goes unnoticed, for it focuses on and fundamentally alters being, and transforms the spectator…It infuses, a new rhythm, specific to a new generation of men, with a new language and a new humanity. The thing colonized becomes a man through the very process of liberation.” [Fanon]
Like Fanon, New Black Nationalists support armed national liberation struggles and civil wars of oppressed and working people to topple unjust and exploitative regimes. Armed struggle in most instances is necessary to seize political power, dismantle and replace the old state political apparatus, military, police, judicial, and carceral systems.
The refusal of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to dismantle the national army and police after taking control of the government from ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2012, was a monumental tragedy. In 2013, the duly elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government was toppled in a military coup, its leaders were imprisoned, the organization was banned, and its assets seized.
Frantz Fanon was clear on the necessity for the violent overthrow of African settler-state governments like Algeria, South Africa, Madagascar, and Angola. As an Algerian National Liberation Front [NLF] leader, Fanon called for accelerating the armed struggle in Algeria to short-circuit the maneuvering room of NLF leaders who sought a compromise agreement with France to end the liberation war.
New Black Nationalists primary interest in Fanon’s writing on violence in this paper is how he linked violence to creating national consciousness, and its role in transforming the psychological state of the revolting masses from fear and inferiority complexes to a new experience of full humanity. This transformative process prepares the people with a new mindset to not only seize power but instills them with confidence to build an alternative society based on their own national characteristics.
• The Black Panther Party's call for Armed Self-Defense and identification of Black people as an Oppressed Colonies in the United States.
‘‘We developed from just plain nationalists or separatist nationalists into revolutionary nationalists. We said that we joined with all the other people in the world struggling for decolonization and nationhood, and called ourselves a ‘dispersed colony’ because we did not have the geographical concentration that other so-called colonies had.’’ [Huey Newton]
‘‘Community imperialism is manifested or is readily seen with respect to the domestic colonization of Black, Chicano, Indian, and other non-White peoples being cooped up in wretched ghettos and/or on Southern plantations and reservations with the murdering, fascist, brutalizing pig, occupying the communities and areas just like a foreign troop occupies territory. [Bobby Seale]
‘By standing up to the police as equals, even holding them off, and yet remaining within the law, we had demonstrated Black pride to the community in a concrete way and created a feeling of solidarity. [Huey Newton]
Black Panthers leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale were both serious students of Wretched of the Earth. They sought to transform the struggle for control over the Black communities' space to a larger arena. They also envisioned armed self-defense as a way to build pride and Black solidary for the community to overcome its fear of the state-sanctioned anti-Black violence Their shift from cultural nationalism to revolutionary nationalism was in part predicated on the view of the Black ghetto as a colonized territory. Social justice, self-liberation, and self-determination of all oppressed peoples were to be achieved through a process of decolonization, whose starting point was armed self-defense.
2. On National Consciousness:
• To win national liberation and create a nation capable of overcoming its legacy of colonial dependency, Fanon posited that the colonized must build a national consciousness in which the national interests take priority over loyalties to tribe, ethnicity, race, religion, and traditional practices on gender.
“If nationalism is not explained, enriched, and deepened, if it does not turn very quickly into a social and political consciousness, into humanism, then it will lead to a dead end. We will have switched from nationalism to ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, and racism....The underdeveloped country must take precautions not to perpetuate feudal traditions that gives priority to man over woman.” [Fanon]
Fanon's admonition "not to perpetuate feudal traditions that give priority to man over woman," is a most critical statement that deserves serious reflection. New Black Nationalists addressed this issue in The Fanon Arguments No. 3. Gender poses one of the most consequential challenges to building Black national consciousness. Black Feminist and LGBTQ communities have built a powerful following over the last fifty years inside and outside Black communities.
Black Feminists are also deeply skeptical of Black Nationalists capacity for inclusiveness based on the sexist, masculinist, and demeaning treatment they experienced with Black Nationalists in the 1960s. A central tenant of Black feminist criticism is also that the nation-state itself, is a heteropatriarchal construct. Moreover, Black Nationalists' tendencies to deny Black female subjectivity validates their conclusion that we support a heteropatriarchal republic, if not consciously, then by default. It is not being melodramatic to state that the prospects of winning nationhood could hinge on the negotiated support or friendly neutrality of Black Feminists forces.
• Fanon warned that creating nationalist consciousness required the rejection of African continental identities, in particular the Negritude trend of his time.
“Colonialism did not think it worth its while to deny one national culture after the other. Consequently, the colonized response was immediately continental in scope. In Africa, colonized literature over the last twenty years has not been a national literature but a negro literature. The concept of negritude for example was the effective if not logical antithesis of that insult which the white man had leveled at the rest of humanity.” [Fanon]
In America’s settler state, the phenomenon African continental identities that Fanon criticizes were espoused by a variety of forces incorrectly associated with nation-state Black Nationalists. These forces included Ron Karenga’s US Organization and various strands of African Socialists, and Pan Africanists. In the post-Black Power era, Afrocentrism emerged as definitive school of thought among Black academics particularly in Black and African Studies programs. New Black Nationalists regard these trends as strategic allies. At the same time, we have clarified our ideological differences with them and do not regard them as part of the ideological house of Black Nationalism.
• Fanon anticipated the process of forging a national consciousness and culture as a lengthy process that could not be truncated. The 1884 Berlin Conference and its imperialist partition of Africa created a patchwork of territories combining different tribes, ethnic groups, language groups, and cultures. Absent common organic threads of historical development, the newly independent nations that emerged of faced a daunting challenge to develop a national consciousness and identity.
"And now the moment has come to denounce certain Pharisees. Humanity, some say, has got past the stage of nationalist claims. We believe on the contrary that the mistake, heavy with consequences, would be to miss out on the national stage. If culture is the expression of the national consciousness, I shall have no hesitation in saying, in the case in point, that national consciousness is the highest form of culture." [Fanon]
The present-day Black nation in America’s settler state is not confronted with tribal, ethnic, and religious barriers to achieving national conscious as Algeria and African nations were in Fanon’s time.
Blacks in America’s settler state possess a sophisticated degree of racial consciousness--from urban centers to small towns to the halls of Black academia. Nevertheless, Black racial consciousness that is not transformed into nationalist consciousness will ultimately default to militant anti-blackness struggles for democratic rights and reforms to end racial discrimination.
Racial consciousness is also more susceptible to chauvinist manipulation against immigrants, Latinx people, Asian Americans as we witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and against Arabs and Muslims particularly in times of imperial wars of aggression. New Black Nationalists condemn all these campaigns of hatred and division.
3. Developing a Class Analysis of the Structure of the Black Nation
• Frantz Fanon warned of the catastrophe that would befall Africa if the national bourgeoisie led the struggle for independence and nation-building. The failure of independence movements to heed Fanon's warning resulted in mass abortions of the independence movements and the near total neo-colonial domination of the African continent and the Caribbean today.
"The national bourgeoise lacked capital, command of the constituent elements of a national economy, a connection to the organic masses of the country, a national vision apart from the metropolitan ideology of their neocolonial masters. The national bourgeoisie also proves incompetent in domestic politics and institutionally. In an undeveloped country, the imperative duty of an authentic national bourgeoisie is to betray the vocation to which it is destined, to learn from the people, and make available to them the intellectual and technical capital it culled from its time in colonial universities. [Fanon]
• Fanon calls the working class (proletariat) the most bourgeois fraction of the colonized population.
"The great mistake, the inherent flaw of most of the political parties in the underdeveloped regions has been traditionally to address first and foremost the most politically conscious elements: the urban proletariat, the small tradesmen, and the civil servants, i.e., a tiny section of the population which represents barely more than one percent. In capitalist countries, the proletariat has everything to lose and everything to gain. In the colonized countries, the proletariat has everything to lose. These elements make up the most loyal clientele of the nationalist parties and by the privileged position they occupy in the colonial system represent the "bourgeois" fraction of the colonized population. [Fanon]
• Fanon was highly skeptical about the petty-bourgeoisie playing a progressive role in the revolutionary struggle for power.
"The supporters of nationalist parties are urban voters. These workers, elementary school teachers, small tradesmen, and shopkeepers who have begun to profit from the colonial situation—in a pitiful sort of way of course—have their own interest in mind. " [Fanon]
• Fanon calls the revolutionary peasants the leading force in Third World and colonial countries.
"The peasantry is systematically left out of most of the nationalist parties’ propaganda. But it is obvious that in colonial countries only the peasantry is revolutionary. It has everything to lose and nothing to gain. The underprivileged and starving peasant is the exploited who very soon discovers that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possibility of concession. There is no question for them of competing with the colonist. They want to take his place" [Fanon]
Just as Karl Marx believed workers were Europe's most exploited and alienated class with nothing to lose but their chains, Fanon pivoted to Algeria and the Third World's peasant majority as the most impoverished, alienated, and revolutionary class for change. Beyond their economic circumstances, Fanon believed their tendency to possess a historically developed organic culture, shared language, and social cohesion provided a center of gravity for their vanguard role.
Fanon also advanced the notion that in a colonial context the persistent underdevelopment of the lumpenproletariat—that is, expropriated (ex-)peasants--who were unable to find stable employment in either town or country, and forced into a precarious existence of oscillating between the two, could be mobilized as a potential revolutionary force.
Fanon's views on the role of the peasantry as the leading revolutionary force in colonial and neo-colonial countries, and the revolutionary potential of lumpenproletariat elements were heresies among the Marxist and Socialist movements that dominated Third World liberation theory in his times. In the mid-1960s, the Black Panther modified and adapted Fanon's construct to the circumstances of the Black liberation movement in the United States.
• The Black Panther Party Reading of Fanon and the role of the Lumproletarian
"The Black lumpenproletariat, will lead the revolution and that will occur in the streets because unlike the working class the lumpenproletariat does not have access to work sites, such as factories or unions. Hence, it's very important to recognize that the streets belong to the Lumpen and that it is in the streets that the Lumpen will make their rebellion.” [Huey Newton]
"In this country the Black Panther Party, taking careful note of the dialectical method, social trends and the ever-changing nature of things, sees that while the lumpen proletarians are the minority and the proletarians are the majority, technology is developing at such a rapid rate that automation will progress to cybernation, and cybernation probably to technocracy. If the ruling circle remains in power the proletarian working class will definitely be on the decline because they will be unemployables and therefore swell the ranks of the lumpens, who are the present unemployables. Every worker is in jeopardy because of the ruling class, which is why we say that the lumpen proletarians have the potential for revolution, will probably carry out the revolution, and in the near future will be the popular majority ." [Huey Newton]
Black Panther Party leaders Bobby Seale and Huey Newton's reading of Fanon and Wretched of the Earth, led them to base the party among the Black lumpenproletariat. The term was originally coined by Marx and Engels to refer to the lowest strata of unorganized workers, with a modicum of class-consciousness. The lumpenproletariat was regarded as being prone to petty-crime, potential mercenary fodder for reactionary movements, and police informers. Included in these elements, the BPP tested the potential to convert urban Black street gangs into its ranks and underground network of its Black Liberation Army.
This tension between criminality and Black radicalism has long been recognized as a live issue among Black activists. Most famously, Malcolm X's ascent from hustler and pimp to revolutionary leaders embodies this potential. These contradictions were also at play within the Hip Hop universe. The potential to form working alliances with elements on the fringe of criminal activity is not an issue than can nor should be ignored when assessing forces within the revolutionary force structure within Black communities.
4. On the consolidation of the state and its role in the nation-building process.
• Fanon, was unequivocal in his support for giving top priority to land reform for the peasantry.
"For a colonized people, the most essential value, because it the most meaningful, is first and foremost the land; the land, which must provide bread and, naturally, dignity. " [Fanon]
• Fanon was distrustful of the concentration of state power in the hands of the national bourgeoisie. He believed in local and regional initiatives that mobilized the energy, participation, and ideas of the masses. Fanon modeled a national state apparatus that attaches primacy to nationalizing the "Tertiary State" i.e. governing functions mobilized at the village, local and regional level combined with democratically run economic cooperatives.
The national bourgeoisie never stops calling for the nationalization of the economy and the commercial sector. In its thinking, to nationalize does not mean placing the entire economy at the service of the nation or satisfying all its requirement. To nationalize does not mean organizing the state on the basis of a new program of social relations. For the bourgeoisie, nationalization signifies very precisely, the transfer into indigenous hands of privileges inherited from the colonial period. Fanon]
"If the authorities want to lift the country out of stagnation and take great strides toward development and progress, they first and foremost must nationalize the tertiary sector. For the sake of progress the decision to nationalize this sector must be made in the first few hours. To nationalize the tertiary sector means organizing democratically the cooperatives for buying and selling. It means decentralizing these cooperatives by involving the masses in the management of public affairs. All this cannot succeed unless the people are politically educated. "[Fanon]
• "Fanon’s view of restricting the growth of an autonomous “professional standing army” and empowering civically conscious local militia units reflected this same outlook but with more ominous consequences. To Fanon and idle autonomous army was a coup in waiting. "
“We should avoid transforming the army into an autonomous body that sooner or later, idle and aimless, will “go into politics” and threaten the authorities. By dint of haunting the corridors of power, armchair generals dream of pronunciamientos. The only way of avoiding this is to politicize the army, i.e., nationalize it.” [Fanon]
To politicize and nationalize the army was to imbue it with civic activism and involve the army in nation building projects.
• Rejecting a One-Party state and the promotion of people’s democracy .
"Economically powerless, unable to establish coherent social relations based on the principle of class domination, the bourgeoisie chooses what seems to be the easiest solution, the single-party system.” [Fanon]
The role of the state in a new Black republic is going to be one of the most contested challenges that will confront a new Black republic. Fanon viewed the state as a revolutionary instrument wielded by peasants, workers, and the marginalized of society to shape the collective national destiny. We concur. Emerging out of a society whose so-called highest principle is upholding the rights of the individual, the struggle to re-orient the masses to a multi-party democratic governing structure that prioritizes the collective interest of the people will be difficult.
The state’s highest function will not be guaranteeing individual rights, the unfettered pursuit of individual wealth, property, or happiness. The state will not be a “neutral arbiter” negotiating compromises between competing interests groups or corporate entities. The state will exist to keep foreign enemies at bay, and serve the collective national interests of the majority of its people.
Fanon (Center) and staff at Blida-Joinville Psychiatric Hospital in Algeria