The Origins of Frantz Fanon's Philosophical System : The Hand Grenade

The Origins of Frantz Fanon's Philosophical System

by W. Bernell Brooks lll on 12/12/21


In February 2021, New Black Nationalists [NBN] adopted Martinican psychiatrist Frantz Fanon’s corpus of theories as its guiding philosophical system. As we approach the 60th anniversary of his death on December 6, 2021,"Fanonism," has come to embody the authoritative text undergirding originalist Decolonial Theory.  

Notions of a Fanonian philosophical system may unsettle deconstructionists,' who long ago proclaimed the death of the Nationalist-Humanist project and grand theory. Others will decry a “cult of personality” or insist there is nothing more to learn about Fanon that hasn’t already been written.  

But with intensifying anti-Black violence, the rise of Necropolitics,  and war as the sacraments to forestall American Empire’s imminent collapse in the 2020's, Fanon's canon grows increasingly relevant. As a network generating analytical products to support creating a Black-led nation-state, NBN is compelled to make the argument affirming the existence of a Fanonian philosophical system. 

Recalibrating Fanon’s philosophical coordinates to match the extraordinary contemporary moment and envisioning a national destiny for a prospective Black republic is New Black Nationalists’ urgent writ.  

As Frantz Fanon's philosophical writings center our adoption of his compendium of works, NBN is releasing this opening paper, “The Origins of Fanon’s Philosophy” and the following thought documents to interrogate the boundaries of his philosophical universe.  

* Fanon's Quarrel with Negritude  
* Fanon's Philosophical Bricolage: Existential Phenomenology 
* Fanon's Liberation Philosophy and Black Nationalism in American Empire. 

“Origins,” frames the argument that a Fanonian philosophical system exist and outlines a matrix containing its essential elements. “Origins” concludes with a brief narrative concerning the importance of locating the genesis of Fanon's philosophical system in the Afro-Caribbean intellectual tradition.  

Philosophy asks the celestial questions that elevate the human project: Who are we? How do we understand fundamental truths about ourselves and our relationships with others? How do we comprehend the world we live in, and does mankind have the capacity to change society for the greater good?

The Argument

New Black Nationalists assert that Frantz Fanon engaged these profound philosophical questions and crafted an interlocking assemblage of concepts on existentialism, ontology, ethics, phenomenology, and epistemology that constitute the touchstones of a Fanonian philosophical system. These constructs were largely enumerated in his publication of Black Skin, White Masks (1952).  

In author Lewis R. Gordon's words, the vexing question compelling Fanon to summon the weapons of philosophy to service was simple: How to explain the Black? 

As exploring Black subjectivity and identity is the locus of Fanon's philosophical work, it's imperative that New Black Nationalists provide its working definition of Blackness as a baseline to underpin our analytical framework.  

New Black Nationalists Definition of Blackness

New Black Nationalists concept of Blackness builds on the scholarly work of feminist author Michelle Wright in “The Physics of Blackness.” We assert that Blackness operates as a construct implicitly and explicitly, defined by phenotype and behavioral characteristics. Blackness exists phenomenologically as a collective and individual identity, defined by perceptions and performance at any given time. Thus, Blackness is subject to interpretation in the past, present, or future tense. The phenomenology of Blackness focuses on the why, when, and where it is being interpreted. Blackness as a collective identity intersects with other identities, inclusive of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, and performance. 

While New Black Nationalists embrace the cornerstone of Fanon’s widely accepted philosophical condominium of “existential-phenomenology,” our analysis bends toward epiphenomenalism that incorporates a broader concept of time and space and departs from the enclosures of the linear progress narratives marking Black Atlantic thought.  

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January 28, 2022

The Origins of Fanon's Philosophy
December 12, 2021

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