Transcript: 107. Lewis Gordon on Frantz Fanon

We're joined by a leading Fanon expert to talk about a range of themes in his work: Negritude, psychiatry, and violence.

Note: this transcription was produced by automatic voice recognition software. It has been corrected by hand, but may still contain errors. We are very grateful to Tim Wittenborg for his production of the automated transcripts and for the efforts of a team of volunteer listeners who corrected the texts. 


Peter Adamson: So we're going to be talking about Franz Fanon, who's a figure you've written about a lot. And we've already covered him in a couple of episodes. So the audience should have a pretty good idea of who he is or was. But just to remind them, can you give us a very quick sketch of his career and his major works?

Lewis Gordon: Sure. Franz Fanon was one of the great revolutionary psychiatrists and philosophers of the 20th century. He was born in the island of Martinique in 1925. And he died in Bethesda, Maryland on December 6, 1961, between 5 and 530 p.m. Franz Fanon is one of these majestic heroic characters. But what the others may have spoken about him already. So the short version is he was not only part of the Algerian Revolution and also quite a number of independence movements on the African continent, but also his books are classic works in philosophy, psychiatry, social thought, political thought, et cetera. His first published book, Black Skin, White Mask, is celebrating his 70th anniversary this year, 2022. It was published, as we know, that means 1952. And his final book was published in 1961. It was Les Damnés de la Terre. Most people know it as ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, but I prefer to call it ‘The Damned of the Earth’ for a variety of reasons. He also published a book called Year Five of the Algerian Revolution, which is available in English as Sociology of a Revolution. And his collection of essays were put together by his widow, Josie Dublé, under the title Towards the African Revolution. And Year Five of the Algerian Revolution is also available as A Dying Colonialism. But in addition to A Dying Colonialism, there's also a wonderful collection of psychiatric writings, plays, and other materials under the title Alienation Freedom. So right now, there's quite a bit out there about Fanon. But there's also still a set of letters and other things available. But that's the short version for people to know about him. One thing people should also know about Fanon is just influence so many across the globe. And when I say so many, I mean not only in terms of radical revolutionary intellectuals. Among those who would look at his work in a very important critical way included conservatives such as Robert Nisbet in his excellent volume, The Social Philosophers. And this is a crucial thing to understand because it means the quality of his thought was such that addressing it, whether you dislike it or love it, is always productive.

PA: Great. Thank you. Yes. He is clearly one of the pivotal figures of 20th century philosophy and not just philosophy, as you said, also in other fields as well. Maybe we can start to talk about him by thinking about how he grows out of earlier Africana thought. How is he responding to, for example, the Negritude movements or other occurrence in the global Africana philosophical world? 

LG: Well, the thing with Fanon to bear in mind is he was first and foremost a humanist. But Fanon was also a person who took social reality very seriously. So whenever he would talk about Black thought or Africana thought, it was always first and fundamentally about Black people or African diasporic people as human beings. And this understanding of them as human beings meant he did not want to raise us above, I say us, I'm also a Black person and many other things, but not above the rest of humanity nor below. And Fanon was critical of anything that would try to place any category of human beings above or below. So for him, whether one is talking about, for instance, white people as superior, that's problematic. If you can talk about white people as inferior, it's problematic. You talk about Asians as inferior, superior, problematic. For Fanon, the fundamental question was to address how communities are dealing with the struggle for their humanity. And this basically comes through in a rather interesting way if we talk about how he looks at Negritude. Because as we know, Negritude really came out of movements by Black communist writers in France in the late 30s and, well, not the late 30s, a little earlier. But the main thing is the two people that most people think about, there are quite a number of them, but the two most people think about are Léopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire. And the thing about Negritude is that Negritude was trying to articulate a unique Black response to Black dehumanization. And within that framework, it required articulating a new relationship to things associated with Blackness, such as the continent of Africa. Now Negritude is often misunderstood precisely because there is an extent to which a form of Manichaeanism or just reductive Black and Whiteness is imposed upon it. But the Negritude writers weren't exactly that way. If you look at someone like Léopold Sédar Senghor, his argument was actually being critical of people like Arthur de Gobineau in the 19th century, known as the father of Euro-modern racism, though pretty much a whole bunch of people who build Euro-modern racism. But basically, what Gobineau argued was that emotion was negro or negros, as they would say in French, and reason and rationality was Greek or white. And unfortunately, Seymour was misunderstood in terms of how he responded to that, because what Seymour actually argued is that there's no such thing as a human being that's pure rationality or pure emotion, that human beings are actually the intersection, the convergence or the manifestation of affective and reflective rational life. So what Fanon basically in his relationship to Negritude struggled with was the misreadings of Negritude. He at first wanted Negritude to function as a redemptive narrative. And at first, he overinvested the idea of, yo, you know, the white man got no rhythm, so I'm Black. I got some rhythm, baby. Or he would write, white man got no soul. We Black folks got soul. You know, in other words, all Manichean opposition. But as he says in Peau noire, masques blancs or Black Skin White Masks, he realized that that was problematic, because it ultimately is reactive, It's reactionary. Because in the end, it's enabling a reductive view of whiteness to set the conditions that you oppose for your own authenticity. What he began to realize is that was a fraud. And he says it. And in fact, he says it in a very powerful way Peau noire, masques blancs in Black Skin White Masks, because at the end of the chapter where he reflected on this, he said he experienced being robbed of his last chance and began to weep. And it's very interesting. You don't find many philosophers talk about weeping, and especially revolutionary philosophers who are twice decorated war heroes. What he was trying to convey is that he realized the form of desperation, but weeping was also a form of catharsis, because as we know, often when we cry, particularly in therapy, or if we're struggling with a profound loss, we find ourselves after tears, being able to straighten ourselves up, look out and face reality. And what Fanon basically began to face as reality is that one has to deal with the responsibility of living beyond essentialistic reductionism of what we are. He does come back to Negritude later on, because the text I'm talking about is 1952 and written in 1951. He returns to it in 1959 in Year five of the Algerian Revolution. And he says something intriguing there. And he says this part also in Black Skin, White Masks, he says it was the white who created the Negro. And that is true, because there was no reason for people in Africa to call themselves Negroes. There was no reason for the enslaved people brought over to call themselves Negroes. There was no reason also for the many people who were called N-words. A lot of people don't realize that in the high period of 19th century British colonialism, that there were a lot of people the N-word referred to, not only Africans, it referred to Indigenous people of North America and South America. It referred to the people in the Indus Valley, the East Indian populations. It referred to the Indigenous peoples of Australia. And again, none of those people had any reason to call themselves Black or Negro or any of that, right? So Australia could be Kuri, if you're in New Zealand could be Maori, you could be Tamil or, you know, within the Varnas, which is because of Portuguese called caste system. You could be called anything, you know, from Brahmin to Shudra, all the way through to two different groups. So Fanon point out, although it was the white who created the Negro, he added this interesting observation, but it was the Negro who created Negritude.

PA: Sédar Senghor and Césaire.

LG: Yeah, and Damas and, you know, there are quite a few of the others. All the way through, even to, you know, if we think of Brazilian forms of Negritude from Nacimento all the way through, there are many others who have. But here's the crucial thing. His point here is that it is a form of semiological or epistemological or just simply knowledge agency. It is important, even if you formulate how you are going to take on how you're defined, it doesn't have to be perfect because human beings don't create perfect things. We create human things, which can always be improved. And this was his way of saying, although he was critical of Negritude in his earlier thought, what he understood at this point is that it was a profound act of agency. And you can build on that. And what would make it a more human activity is for it to be open to metacritique, for the practitioners to be able to be critical of what they're producing and to communicate with each other and the rest of the world in the spirit of critical, spirited, respectful dialogue and intellectual reflection. 

PA: Can I go back to something that you said is part of that answer, which is the rejection of essentialism? Because I think sometimes Fanon gives the impression that he's gone completely the other direction and that he's a kind of skeptic about race or blackness and maybe sees it as something like false consciousness. So for example, in this book, you were talking about Black Skin, White Mass. One of the things he says is the black man is not no more than the white man. And you were just saying that there's a way in which the black man or so-called Negro is constructed by the white man as a kind of negative image of whiteness. Does that mean that he just kind of rejects it as a category and wants to get rid of it as it were?

LG: Fanon was not a racial eliminativist in the sense that he was thinking that if you simply stop using the word race, you have solved the problem. Fanon took the position that we lived in a social world. And what we need to understand was how our identities are parts of social reality. And this is very important because he says, for instance, in Black Skin, White Mass, that we must remember that society, unlike biochemical processes, require human actions to change and to come into being. So what he wants us to understand is whatever identities we embrace or we attempt to build, we should understand that we are doing that. And so what he means when he says the black is not no more than the white, what he means is it's not ontological. It is not an absolute reality. It's not there in the way we would think of heat and matter or the way we think of H2O. But it is real in the sense of social real. But we have to understand that the socially real is about meaning. And just as we understand that our meaning can change over the years, you can produce blackness as negative, but you could also transform the negative into something positive. For instance, the way he talked about Negritude. You can have blackness as an agent of history. And in that regard, we can understand that the black as an agent of history, and this is something I use in my own writing as well, when he looks at the essentialized reductive view of black, it's a lowercase b. But the uppercase B is an agent of history, is an actor. And this is crucial because if you treat black as ontological, then there's nowhere to go. That's just what it is. 

PA: Just given by nature, so to speak. 

LG: Yeah. 

PA: Whereas, so the thought would be that if blackness is socially constructed, that doesn't mean it's not real. It's just real in a different way than something like hydrogen.

LG: Correct. But it's also real in a way that is a political responsible real. It means what its future will be and how it's lived today depends on us. 

PA: It's malleable, so to speak. Let's actually turn to something else you mentioned before, which is the role of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in his work. So here we have two very big fields that are intersecting in Fanon in a way that I think is pretty unfamiliar for many readers. So there's not too many philosophers who are practicing psychiatrists. And of course, there'd be a lot to say about this, but can you give us some idea of how these two fields intersect in his work? So how does the fact that he's a practicing psychiatrist affect the way he does philosophy?

LG: One of the things to remember is Fanon actually studied philosophy with Merleau-Ponty, and he studied psychiatry in two stages. The first stage was to get his medical degree, and that was with psychophysiologists who were very reductive. In fact, he had originally written Peau noire, masques blancs, Black Skin White Masks, as his doctoral dissertation, and they rejected it because they were psychophysiologists. They wanted things to be very reductive. Two weeks later, he submitted another dissertation. It was on Friedreich's ataxia. 

PA: Two weeks. So all you doctoral students out there, that's the bar that you have to measure up to if you want to compete with Fanon. 

LG: Well, one of the things I always remind people of is actually throughout his medical studies, he was actually keeping data on people suffering from that illness. And so he was planning to do that as a postdoctoral project. So that's why he was able to do it right away for his dissertation.

PA: So he had it in the door, ready to go. 

LG: He had it ready to go. But why this was important is because you see, both texts are critical of the reductive view that mental illness is physiologically caused. So there are people who look for neurological causes of mental illness. What Fanon argued is that neurological illness and mental illness are not identical. And in fact, Black Skin White Masks was written for a variety of reasons. But among the reasons it was written was for a response to a basic insight. Fanon made a distinction between clients and patients. A client may come in and say, Doctor, help me. What's wrong? I'm suffering. What are you suffering from? And when they describe it, Fanon began to notice there was a category of people are suffering because they're healthy. In other words, it's healthy to be pissed off if you're a Black person in a racist society. It's healthy to be pissed off if you're a woman in misogynist society. And what Fanon would point out is the response shouldn't be to drug you, shouldn't be to try to make you happy at your degradation. The response should be to encourage you to be politically active, to be an agent, because you would respect yourself more if you're doing something about it. So he separated those people, people who are actually suffering because they're healthy, from people who may have an actual mental illness. And now even there, it's more complicated because Fanon did the varieties of mental illness. But Fanon made a distinction. What he noticed, rather, was that a lot of mental illness in the Euro modern colonial world were narcissistically induced. In fact, this is very explicit. Narcissism, much of mental illness, when you really dig into it, points roads to forms of narcissism. And so if we back up, Fanon studied to be two kinds of psychiatrists. He had studied to be a forensic psychiatrist, a medical detective. And we have a short time together, but in my book, What Fanon Says, I talk more about that, and I talk about it elsewhere. And he studied to be a clinical psychiatrist, the therapist, the person who's going to help you get better. But Fanon, given his critique of neurological reductionism, he knew that one has to get to the lived meaning of mental illness. And that's why he embraced psychoanalysis. And later on, when he did his chef de service work, his postdoctoral work to become basically the head of Psychiatric Institute, he worked with Tosquelles, François Tosquelles. It was a weird, I don’t have time time to get into him, but he's a brilliant psychiatrist who basically worked in associational psychiatry, social psychiatry, et cetera. And together, they began to look at social elements, the social meaning of forms of mental illness. And Fanon brought psychoanalysis to the table. Now, there's some people are critical because they said Fanon and Seltzer undergo psychoanalysis. And I often have to remind them that neither did Freud. Freud was his psychoanalyst. Fanon developed a unique approach. And again, this is a short conversation. But I argue he developed a form of Fanonian psychoanalysis. And within that framework, he was well adept not only in the writings of Freud, Anna Freud, but he also looked through Hume, but he also looked through other psychiatric movements such as Carl Jaspers, et cetera. He also worked through Adler, others. So he was, it's amazing that this young man who died by the age of 36, just his technical medical papers on these issues were just absolutely extraordinary. But that would require a conversation on its own. 

PA: You know, what you were just saying about the separation between physical disorders and psychological disorders or psychological conditions, to use a less pejorative term, I find that very helpful because I think it explains or helps explain why he describes the situation of being a colonized person in these psychiatric terms. So for example, he says that the colonized is an arsenal of complexes that germinated in a colonial situation. And if you think about that word complexes, which is obviously a psychiatric term, it would be very strange to say that all of the colonized people in Algeria, for example, are suffering from a physically-induced mental illness, right? Like, how could that happen? But it would make a lot of sense to say that it's a complex that arises from a certain social situation and political situation. Is that the right way to think about it? 

LG: Yes. And he was very explicit. The term he used was sociogenesis. He saw quite a number of the aberrations of racism and dehumanizing practices on colonialism as sociogenetic. In other words, they're socially caused. One thing to bear in mind as well, and this is where Fanon's existentialism comes in, Fanon doesn't take the position of a kind of crass-imposed structuralism. He took the position of a kind of relational-lived structuralism. Now, what is the difference? The crass version is the American structuralism, which basically says, this is your language, this is the only way you could think. This is your culture, this is what you think. That's crass. The more existential structuralism says then meaning is produced through your communicative practices with other human beings and languages, et cetera. And that the decisions you make within those relations can put you in many directions. As a consequence, there is no such thing as complete colonization. There's no such thing as a complete colonizer. You know, the kind of completeness notions, the absolutist stuff? No. Because there are always people who respond to the situation differently. And there are always people, even among colonizers, who would say, what the hell are we doing? Are you out of your mind? This is a human being. And so, Fanon took that very seriously. What Fanon also did, and this is where he becomes very philosophical, he took the position that there was a form of colonization of knowledge and science that aimed to ontologize or to make absolute the human scientific claims. Now, what this means in ordinary language is that if you took the context of colonialism or mass murder or genocide or ongoing inequalities out of the equation, you would not be able to explain why a person is suffering. It would seem like something's wrong with that person. But if you were to bring those elements in, you would find you've reached the limits of that science's ability to describe the situation on its own. And in fact, the book Black Skin, White Mask, every chapter is a chapter of failure. And it's not just failure of an individual. It's failure of a certain philosophical or scientific claim. And it fails because it wants to be able to talk about reality without actually looking at reality in its richness, namely social reality. 

PA: And all these factors are kind of coming together to create what it means to be colonized. 

LG: Correct. And a short example of this in psychoanalysis is that some readers fail to see that he's giving a critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Lacanian psychoanalysis says language becomes the authoritative scheme of males. And so males become males through offering legitimacy to females with their language. And the language here could take the form of words like I love you. But what racism and colonialism do, especially in interracial settings, is to make a white man who says the words I love you to a black woman become if that woman buys into the system, no, no, I don't like black people. So if I love you, you must not really be a black person. So I'm loving you as a whiteness giving you legitimacy. Similarly, if it's a black male, he's supposed to say I'm a male. If I love a white female, I got my words. But suddenly what happens, and Fanon does this in the book, he examines how a black male in the book dumps this white female and gets the white male brother first to write him a letter that basically tells him he's not like other blacks. So in effect, in that female example and the male example, what Fanon is saying is you cannot account for that in purely Lacanian terms. It means you have to say, wait a minute, both that black woman, well, in this case, they were mixed, but this black woman and this black man are looking for their legitimacy through not words of love, but words of whiteness. And you could only make sense of that if you understand how Euro modern colonialism constructed whiteness as the source of legitimacy in the society.

PA: Can we talk about another sort of notorious feature of Fanon's thought now, which is violence as a response to the colonialized situation? And this is something that always comes up when people talk about Fanon. So some people, I think maybe even the thing they most associate with Fanon is they think of him as a kind of apologist for violence and critique him on that basis. So I'm wondering what you would say to people who read Fanon in that way. I mean, obviously it's a kind of reductive way to read Fanon, given everything you've already said. But what role do you think violence plays in his thought? 

LG: Okay. Very quickly, Fanon hated violence, in a nutshell. He detested violence so much that he even suffered trauma as a medical student conducting autopsies because he could not separate the person from the cadaver. That's how much he detested violence. But here's the problem. The way I just described colonial societies, Fanon argued that colonial societies are ongoing structures and practices of violence. So for Fanon, if you witness violence happening, but you detest violence, to do nothing is going to make you complicit with the continuation of violence. But there's a paradox. There's a problem to intervene, the person who's conducting the violence presupposes that he or she or they are conducting it legitimately. So if you intervene to stop the violence, you are going to be constructed as violent. So you see the problem. If you're going to be spending time with that person to convince them you're not violent, the only way you could do it is not to intervene while they're pummeling the crap out of another person. So what Fanon argues is it is better to be actual and actually suffer through being called violent than to do nothing about violence. And that is something very different. Now, of course, in anti-black racist societies, it freaks them out even if black people are standing up tall with dignity. They call that violence. So in effect, then, Fanon is saying black people, you're wasting your time if you're going to try to prove to white people you're not violent. In other words, cut out that crap, get stuff done, do something. Because from a settler's point of view, and this is not just about black people. If you think about indigenous peoples, from the settler's point of view, their settlement is legitimate. And so that means that anything that's going to take them off of what they deem legitimate is going to be a violation of them. And it would be violence. So what are indigenous people supposed to do? Just sit back and just say, OK, I'm going to do nothing. Ultimately, what Fanon is saying is that if we're going to deal with dehumanization, injustice, degradation, all of these things, we have to bear in mind that it's a political reality that requires actions that may make those who are trying to maintain those systems construct the actors who are trying to change them as violent. 

PA: It actually goes together with a lot of what you've already said in our conversation that just like blackness, for example, or what it means to be colonized, you need to understand the nature of violence as something that's embedded within a social context that construes certain things to be violent and other things not. So for example, a policeman beating an Algerian citizen to keep him in line, that's not violence because legitimate, whereas the same person fighting back against the policeman would count as violence. Is that a good way of thinking about it? 

LG: Sure. There are just so many examples of this. I mean, today we look at it very differently. But when you look at those footages of the civil rights movement, those people who are doing nonviolent protest at the time were being berated as violent. Even though they were being attacked by police dogs, hit with batons, fire hoses, spraying the skin off of them, they were being called violent. Then you look at another thing. You look at South Africa. South Africa is praised for having a nonviolent transition. That is absolutely false. Black people were being massacred, were being killed left and right. So you begin to see a little problem, right? Violence exists if white people are harmed. You can kill as many black people as you like. Nonviolent struggle. So what Fanon is saying is that's the point, right? I mean, we haven't seen the discourse now. I mean, the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, there are just some people who are incapable of seeing what those people were doing as violent. And it was just so blatantly so. Yet there are people who are looking at Black Lives Matter people marching in the street while they're being tear gassed, attacked. The Black Lives Matter protesters were being called violent. But that requires a longer discussion about the phenomenological appearance of violence. The short answer to that is this. If your very existence is treated as illicit, your very existing is treated as wrong, then your appearing in a public sphere is considered a violent act. 

PA: Let's talk a little bit finally about what Fanon wanted to see happen in the future from his point of view. So he says something pretty dramatic about this in this book that's usually called The Wretched of the Earth, but as you said, you prefer to translate ‘the Damned of the Earth’. He says decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is clearly an agenda for total disorder. And that makes it decolonization sound like a negative or even destructive project. But I think maybe the previous answer you gave already helps us see that that might not be the case, because if total disorder is defined relative to the order that has been imposed by the settling power, the colonizer, then maybe what he means is something more like, well, we're going to replace this order with something new, which by definition would be disorder. But how would that actually look according to him? Again, it can't just be defined as the negative absence of what the settlers were doing. 

LG: The thing to bear in mind is that Fanon was a dialectical thinker, and his argument is dialectical, but there is a crass form of dialecticism, which still is locked in absolutes. And there's another kind of dialectical thinking, which is the kind Fanon was involved in, which was premised upon possibility. In other words, when you are engaged in dialectical thinking, you don't know the outcome before the performance. The problem with colonialism is that colonialism imposes upon the human world non-dialectical relations. In other words, it imposes the logic of contraries. The logic of contraries is when something is, say, a universal, then all things that are not within it are universally negative. Contraries. So they're two universals. Absolutely not, absolutely is. And that's segregation, apartheid, all of those things. OK? But the human reality is interactive. It's communicative. So when people actually meet, it negates those universals, those absolutes, but it starts a process of something that transcends them, which is a universalizing that is never closed. It's open. So to put it, if we come back to what you just said, decolonization, the one that Fanon was talking about, is simply negating of a universal. That's all it is. OK? But the problem is, if it stays within the logic of contraries, then it's simply replacing one universal with another universal. And so it has not changed the system. So for Fanon, those who simply want to take the place of the colonizer are still locked in a colonial mentality. However, if one thinks dialectically, what Fanon is saying is that now you have the obligation, the onus, or the challenge of actually negating the idea that you're replacing someone and you're opening up opportunity that will transcend even yourself. And that's why in Les Damnés de la Terre, The Damned of the Earth, Fanon argues that the problem with many of the people who fight for independence is they just replace colonizers and keep the system intact. And that's why the subsequent generations have to negate them. And so if one goes for something different and think creatively, then you have a society that is beginning to build new forms of meaning. We don't have to stick with the old models of how states are structured or the old models of how we think of power or the old models of how we think of everything from voting to music to how we are going to think of the economy. We can be open creatively to listening to each other. And he was a radical Democrat, by the way. He believed in radical democracy. And this means that if we can learn from each other, almost like the way jazz musicians listen to each other when they perform, we can build a society that's the equivalent of really, really great music. 

PA: Yeah, you don't get rid of oppression by just becoming the oppressor and replacing the old oppressor. So, as you said at the beginning, he died already in 1961 and he was only 36 years old. So he didn't get any chance really to see the impact of his own works. What do you think that at least the short-term impact of Fanon was? I mean, you already said something earlier about how influential he's been across a very wide spectrum of thinkers. But how did things work like just in the 60s, let's say, what was the sort of immediate reaction to Fanon's thought and how did it actually impact the process of decolonization in Africa and elsewhere?

LG: Fanon was already having an impact on quite a number of people even while he was alive. He had an impact on Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, et cetera. But in terms of what happened in the 60s, his impact on Black revolutionary movements, South Asian revolutionary movements was immediate. There were people who began to think through this complicated question of trying to build something different. Now, there were also those who hated him in the global South because they were those who were reductive Marxists. For them, there was a singular way to fight for communism or socialism. And because Fanon actually argued that it was an open story, not a closed one, that meant he was willing to work with people who would be called the lump of proletariat or the people or the peasantry. He wasn't dealing with a neat formula of you've got to be an urban industrial working class and then you fight a revolution. For him, the Haitian Revolution was a revolution because in the end, it not only transformed the question of the humanity of the people in Haiti at the time, but it also began to raise the question of thinking beyond the French Revolution about how to think about freedom. So for Fanon, his impact, you could see it in books written by people like Renate Zahar. You could even see the reaction to him by people like Hannah Arendt. And he was already part of a robust political theoretical debate. But that debate took many stages. And in my writings, I argue that there are six stages, but that would take a while to go through. The initial stage, just reaction to him. Another stage is how he's read. Some people want to say what he is. Is he a political theorist? Is a philosopher? Is he a what? Then there's another stage in which certain people began to look through and try to create this area of post-colonial studies, et cetera. And then there's another stage where people begin to say, you know what, if he's a real contributor to thought, then let's stop talking so much about his biography and try to see how his ideas work or don't. And this is where there are people who are building thought, where you bring in Fanon the way you would bring in whether it's Hegel, Marx, or whether it's going to be Syriac, or Bindo, or Nishitani, or Plato, or Aristotle, whoever. You know what I mean? You know, Rousseau, Simon de Beauvoir, you just bring in the ideas. And then there's a new stage. Right now, there is full-fledged Fanon studies. There are people who study Fanon. They specialize in Fanon. But for Fanon himself, there are two things I think he would react to the present. A lot of the things that he thought that were just very negative, he hoped he was wrong. And it's hard for people to understand that. But he loved humanity so much that his negative diagnoses, he would prefer to have been wrong. He would have loved us laughing at him and saying he was wrong. So he would be very disappointed, the extent to which he was right. 

PA: I was going to say, I don't think he would now conclude that he was wrong. 

LG: Correct. He would be very disappointed. However, I think Fanon would actually also be very happy at the fact that there are all kinds of human beings taking agency over their possibility. I don't think Fanon would be against the rise of trans communities. I don't think Fanon would be against the transformations of how women discourses, different forms of First Nation and Indigenous discourses are there. I think Fanon would be right on board with the contemporary discussion of climate change because what we're learning is that we live on a really tiny planet and that global humanity, we got to cut this BS and start really communicating with each other. If we are going to have any kind of future, he would take that very seriously. He would be disappointed at how privatization is trying to lock us in outmoded ways of organizing economies and power because there's no way you can deal with the problems of the world today through privatization. We need to have a transformed public, a transformed global understanding of what humanity can do and work with each other to achieve. I do think that he would be pleased at the possibilities, but he would say proverbially that there's a lot of work to be done. 


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