Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Fanon: National Culture, National Liberation, 1959 Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

Franz Fanon, who was born in Martinique and educated in France, joined the Algerian National Liberation struggle and became a leader in the struggle against racism and for national liberation.

In his speech to the Congress of Black African Writers in 1959, he shows that to achieve national liberation, revolutionaries must start to recreate the national culture that colonialism has systematically destroyed. The speech is included in his book Wretched of the Earth.

As Fanon describes, colonialism systemically destroys national culture. "Colonial domination, because it is total and tends to over-simplify, very soon manages to disrupt in spectacular fashion the cultural life of a conquered people. This cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality, by new legal relations introduced by the occupying power, by the banishment of the natives and their customs to outlying districts by colonial society, by expropriation, and by the systematic enslaving of men and women."

This has powerful psychological effects on the people who have been conquered. Dynamism is destroyed. Defence mechanisms are established. "Every effort is made to bring the colonised person to admit the inferiority of his culture which has been transformed into instinctive patterns of behaviour, to recognise the unreality of his 'nation', and, in the last extreme, the confused and imperfect character of his own biological structure." In summary, a powerful form of racism is instilled into the thinking of the victims as well as the oppressors.

The movement for national liberation turns this around. "... the native intellectual used to produce his work to be read exclusively by the oppressor ... now the native writer progressively takes on the habit of addressing his own people. It is only from that moment that we can speak of a national literature. Here there is, at the level of literary creation, the taking up and clarification of themes which are typically nationalist. This may be properly called a literature of combat, in the sense that it calls on the whole people to fight for their existence as a nation.

Fanon describes from his own experience in Algeria how this change was reflected by the storytellers. "From 1952-3 on, the storytellers, who were before that time stereotyped and tedious to listen to, completely overturned their traditional methods of storytelling and the contents of their tales. Their public, which was formerly scattered, became compact. The epic, with its typified categories, reappeared; it became an authentic form of entertainment which took on once more a cultural value. Colonialism made no mistake when from 1955 on it proceeded to arrest these storytellers systematically. The contact of the people with the new movement gives rise to a new rhythm of life and to forgotten muscular tensions, and develops the imagination. Every time the storyteller relates a fresh episode to his public, he presides over a real invocation. The existence of a new type of man is revealed to the public."

Similar changes take place in the handicrats of woodworkers and potters, in music and jazz, in singing, and traditional rites and ceremonies. "We have noted the appearance of the movement in cultural forms and we have seen that this movement and these new forms are linked to the state of maturity of the national consciousness."

This cultural transformation cannot be fulfilled under colonial occupation, but only through national liberation. Fanon believes that national liberation is not necessarily in contradiction to internationalism. "It is national liberation which leads the nation to play its part on the stage of history. It is at the heart of national consciousness that international consciousness lives and grows. And this two-fold emerging is ultimately the source of all culture."

Fanon's analysis is important for the unity and strength of revolutionary struggle. Effective revolutionary organization requires a full appreciation and support for all the complex aspects of national culture.

In the conclusion of Wretched of the Earth, Fanon calls for the development of a "new man" that is not based on the model of "Man" from Europe and the United States: "Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction. Let us try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth. Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions ... It is a question of the Third World starting a new history of Man."

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on National Liberation:
discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

- - -

More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism