Quotes from The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon.

I think this book is not just interesting because of what it says about colonization, but also on how it reflects the way colonization within our own societies work- the dynamic between marginalized groups (say, women or POC) and the State, for example.


“The colonized world is a world divided in two. The dividing line, the border, is represented by the barracks and the police stations. In the colonies, the official, legitimate agent, the spokesperson for the colonizer and the regime of oppression, is the police officer or the soldier. In capitalist societies, education, whether secular or religious, the teaching of moral reflexes handed down from father to son, the exemplary integrity of workers decorated after fifth years of loyal and faithful service, the fostering of love for harmony and wisdom, those aesthetic forms of respect for the status quo, instill in the exploited a mood of submission and inhibition which considerably eases the task of the agents of law and order.”

“Challenging the colonial world is not a rational confrontation of viewpoints. It is not a discourse on the universal, but the impassioned claim by the colonized that their world is fundamentally different. The colonial world is a Manichean world. The colonist is not content with physically limiting the space of the colonized, i.e. with the help of his agents of law and order. As if to illustrate the totalitarian nature of colonial exploitation, the colonist turns the colonized into a kind of quintessence of evil. Colonized society is not merely portrayed as a society without values. The colonist is not content with stating that the colonized world has lost its values or worse never possessed any. The “native” is declared impervious to ethics, representing not only the absence of values but also the negation of values. He is, dare we say it, the enemy of values. In other words, absolute evil.”

“For the colonized subject’s last resort is to defend his personality against his fellow countryman. Internecine feuds merely perpetuate age-old grudges entrenched in memory. By throwing himself muscle and soul into his blood feuds, the colonized subject endeavors to convince himself that colonialism has never existed, that everything is as it used to be and history marches on. Here we grasp the full significance of the all too familiar ‘head-in-the-sand’ behavior at a collective level, as if this collective immersion in a fratricidal bloodbath suffices to mask the obstacle and postpone the inevitable alternative, the inevitable emergence of the armed struggle against colonialism. So one of the ways the colonized subject releases his muscular tension is through the very real collective self-destruction of these internecine feuds. Such behavior represents a death wish in the face of danger, a suicidal conduct which reinforces the colonist’s existence and domination and reassures him that such men are not rational.”

“The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anticolonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance. What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be.”

“Experts and sociologists are guiding force behind these colonialist maneuvers and conduct numerous studies on the subject of complexes- the complex of frustration, the complex of aggressiveness, and the complex of colonizability. The colonized subject is upgraded, and attempts are made to disarm him psychologically and, naturally, with a few coins. These paltry measures and clever window dressing manage to achieve some success. The colonized subject is so starved of anything that humanizes him, even if it is third rate, that these trivial handouts in some cases manage to impress him.”

“The colonized must be made to see that colonialism never gives away anything for nothing. Whatever gains the colonized make through armed or political struggle, they are not the result of the colonizer’s good will or goodness of heart but to the fact that he can no longer postpone such concessions. Moreover, the colonized subject must be aware that it is not colonialism which makes the concessions but him.”

“Violence alone, perpetrated by the people, violence organized and guided by the leadership, provides the key for the masses to decipher social reality. Without this struggle, without this praxis there is nothing but a carnival parade and a lot of hot air.”

“When we consider the resources deployed to achieve the cultural alienation so typical of the colonial period, we realize that nothing was left to change and that the final aim of colonization was to convince the indigenous population it would save them from darkness. The result was to hammer into the heads of the indigenous population that if the colonist were to leave they would regress into barbarism, degradation, and bestiality. At the level of the unconscious, therefore, colonialism was not seeking to be perceived by the indigenous population as a sweet, kind-hearted mother who protects her child from a hostile environment, but rather a mother who constantly prevents her basically perverse child from committing suicide or giving free rein to its malevolent instincts. The colonial mother is protecting the child from itself, from its ego, its physiology, its biology, and its ontological misfortune.”

2 thoughts on “Quotes from The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon.

  1. Amanda April 5, 2017 at 09:29

    Thank God for this blog. Keep up the good work. Sometimes your words are the only words of common sense that I encounter on a given day.

    • Francois Tremblay April 5, 2017 at 14:36

      Glad I can provide the public service of making sense. :)

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