Fanon, The Arab Spring and the Myth of Liberation
Keywords: Colonialism, the Arab Spring, Frantz Fanon, stretched Marxism, false consciousness, liberalism, decolonization, Socialist alternative
AbstractIn the foreword to The Wretched of the Earth, Homi Bhabha asserts that Fanon’s work and his vision for decolonization toward a common African culture provide a blueprint for the conceptualization of social inequalities that have proliferated under global aspirations and impositions in the 21st century. Accordingly, in this paper I highlight the complexity and contradiction inherent in colonial systems as put forth by Fanon by posing the following questions: what is nationalism according to Fanon, and can it be an avenue to promote primordialism? And, in what ways can an engagement with Fanon’s work illicit insight into the nature of colonial, post-colonial and neo-colonial exploitation today? I look to a set of recent revolutionary events that have occurred in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other nations in the Arab-speaking world – the Arab Spring – to serve as a useful starting point from which to understand and gain a critical examination of Fanon’s work. I demonstrate, however, that both Fanon’s appeal to the formation of a common African culture at the end of The Wretched of the Earth and the calls for democracy that have surfaced in the Arab world are embedded in mythical conceptions of ‘race,’ ‘equality,’ and ‘freedom.’ Importantly, both Fanon and the revolting citizens participating in these rebellions disregard any reference to exploitation and/or group cohesion rooted in class solidarity for itself, and as a consequence, remain in a state of false consciousness.
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