Frantz Fanon's New Humanism and the Florentine Republic : The Hand Grenade

Frantz Fanon's New Humanism and the Florentine Republic

by W. Bernell Brooks lll on 03/12/22

Frantz Fanon was the radical exponent of a novel idea: a global insurgency of Black, brown, and yellow peasants purging the Third World of its European winter of colonial despotism.

Fanon's circulating concern was a replacement theory for the post-European colonial world. What then would constitute an alternative social arrangement capable of rupturing with Western imperialism he described as "teetering on the brink of atomic destruction and spiritual disintegration?"  How could a new social model avoid the suffocating enclosure of Soviet-style statist socialism and kleptocracy?"  

"Let us endeavor to invent a man in full," said Fanon, "something which Europe has been incapable of achieving." The genetic coding of the Fanonian Project was the philosophy of "New Humanism."  

In Frantz Fanon's New Humanism and the Florentine Republic, New Black Nationalists trace the genealogy of Humanism's ascent. Its philosophical underpinnings that evolved over six-hundred-years leading to Fanon's construct of New Humanism is excavated. 

The republican filaments of Fanon's nation-building model in Algeria's liberation war and Africa's newly independent nations are contrasted with the dominant themes of the Florentine variant of city-state Civic Humanism. Thus, the condominium of theory and praxis so vital to the synthesis of Fanon's oeuvre is preserved in this analysis.  

New Humanist Philosophy

New Humanism and the Florentine Republic argues that secular humanism as a philosophical concept was consistent with Fanon's materialist, existential, and phenomenological world view.  New Humanism flowed
to the rhythms of Fanon's of analysis that rejected Leopold Senghor's ancient African theories of Vitalism and Animist cosmologies that asserted the existence of a single Black diasporic personality. 

Humanism's originalist articulation during the 1300s of Italy's Early Renaissance period attached primacy to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Its first thinkers emphasized the value and goodness of human beings in a manner reminiscent of Fanon's maxim that "Man is a 'yes' resounding from cosmic harmonies...Man is propelled toward the world and his kind. We want to touch the other, feel the other, discover each other."  

The first humanists were invested in solving problems through reason, scientific inquiry and contemplating Greek and Roman classics in philosophy and rhetoric. The explosion of Mediterranean trade in the late 1300s, along with the rise of merchants, bankers, and guilds as transformative social actors, infected Italy with the contagion of social change. Constantinople's fall to the Ottomans in 1453 sent Eastern scholars scurrying to Italy and Spain with their libraries of ancient Greek classics. Plato's Republic was translated from Greek to Latin by no less a luminary than Florentine banker Cosimo de Medici.   

Resurrecting ancient Greek and Roman republican government archives, Civic Humanism emerged as the subversive language of Florence and Venice, two of Italy's most powerful city-states. These urban centers sought to sever the umbilical cord yoking them to the Dark Ages of Rome and Milan, the Pope, atavistic nobles, and the hierarchal Medieval order. 

It will be argued here that although Fanon's philosophical engagement with humanism is not directly connected to Florentine historical antecedents, his political vison of a New Humanist Republic is embedded with numerous concepts consonant with Florentine Civic Humanism of the early 1400's.  

?Fanon's philosophical attachment to humanism is linked to two variants that emerged in the late 1940s and 1950's. French philosopher-playwright Jean Paul Sartre's 1945 "Existentialism and Humanism" lecture was a seminal work debated across Europe among left-wing radicals, academics, and progressive artists. However, New Black Nationalists' reading suggests French Trotskyite humanists led by Reya Dunayevskaya--founder of the Marxist- Humanism school--had a significant impact on Fanon's theoretical migration to humanist thought.  


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