Back To The Future: Fanon and the New Colonialism

If you, a group of people – leaders – can convince a group of folks who barely have a pot to piss in, that the rich shouldn’t be taxed, THAT is leadership.” – Lewis Black, “In God We Rust” 2012

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon

I can’t help but think that Frantz Fanon, for all his cries for violent revolution, still had his finger on the pulse of the people and truly had insight into the machinations of the great political machine. As I work my way through his writings, certain observations strike me as eerily similar to our current American situation as a nation revolting against its own statehood or lack thereof. The way we are so easily rallied to fight bitterly with one another while refusing to truly hold any of our officials to any true standard of service is mind numbingly brilliant in its application despite its tendency to make me wretch and shiver on lonely nights when the wine runs out. In particular, Fanon’s statements on the exploitation of the rural and peasant classes by political parties reach into the depths of my Twilight Zone paranoia. He states, “It [the party in question] attempts to stir up the rural masses against the ‘mercenaries of the coast and the corrupt elements in the capital.’ Any excuse is good enough – from religious arguments to the tradition-breaking innovations introduced by the new national authority. It exploits the obscurantist tendencies of the rural masses. Its so-called revolutionary doctrine is in fact based on the reactionary, heated, and spontaneous nature of the peasantry (Fanon pg.73).” The parallels to our partisan politicking in this country are frightening. It is almost as if they read Fanon’s work and decided to copy the history books.

How often do we hear about the “liberal elites from the coast” or how the policies of the left are seeking to destroy our “traditional American values” while the right is killing the “American dream” through their pandering to the wealthy? And the ways in which the working class is stirred up into frenzy specifically targets the sorest sentiments and beliefs in an attempt to mobilize them speedily and move them to act most virulently. The reaction to these hysterical fits of patriotism and powdered wig adorned impersonations is easily predicted. The opposition to the movement begins to focus on the “progressive elements” of the “labor unions” and the youth rather than the rural or impoverished masses. But quickly, as Fanon expertly observes, “the government [party in power] calls upon the masses to resist the worker’s demands, calling them rash, anti-traditionalist maneuvers (Fanon pg.74).” One need only take a short review of Scott Walker and his Wisconsin neo-con cadre to see how very real Fanon’s assessment can become.

I am amazed that we, as a people free to learn and grow, have chosen to be so easily led astray, lead to battles and arguments as distractions from the true war being waged on our minds. We are being turned on one another in a tribal warfare akin to the colonized of Fanon’s Algeria. We are made a marketplace, a depository for pulp in the place of substance. One base is encouraged to be “progressive and elite” while the other is convinced to wage a war on intellectualism. Neither is ever groomed to meet one another on any stage that is not also a battlefield. And while we protest and spit and condescend upon one another for taking away the America we fallaciously propose as “real,” those with the power to do so continue to usurp the one we should have been holding onto all along. We have become simulations, running social-engineering programs ad nauseam, colonized by ourselves. And piece by piece, inch by inch, dollar by dollar, life by life, they buy and sell the real world while we dream of electric sheep.

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