Philosophy Faculty Publications

Title

The Rehabilitation of Violence and the Violence of Rehabilitation: Fanon and Colonialism

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2001

Publication Source

Journal of Black Studies

Abstract

It is generally admitted that in the specific case of self-defense involving persons or nations, recourse to violence is a legitimate choice. Outside such cases of self-defense, only the state has the legitimate power to use violence, it being assumed that the monopoly of violence by the state is precisely how individuals give up their own right to violence and agree to come under a political authority. However, theories, such as Marxism, have also approved violence as a legitimate expression of revolutionary movements. They identify violence as a midwife of history whereby emerging higher social demands overthrow outdated and reactionary social systems.

Frantz Fanon provided us with a new legitimation of violence issuing from the specific case of colonial oppression. Arguing that colonialism is qualitatively different from previous forms of conquest and subjugation, Fanon recommended violence for reasons surpassing the necessity of self-defense or the removal of a rotten social system. He sees violence as a necessary therapy for a cultural disease brought about by colonial subjugation. The mere departure of the colonizer is not enough; liberation and dignity cannot be recovered unless the colonized get involved in violent performances. This article first examines the reasons and experiences that led Fanon to endow violence with a curative effect and then evaluates the consistency of his interpretation.

Inclusive pages

539-562

ISBN/ISSN

0021-9347

Comments

Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

Sage Publications

Volume

31

Issue

5

Peer Reviewed

yes