Frantz Fanon

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When the native hears a speech about Western culture he pulls out his knife—or at least he makes sure it is within reach. The violence with which the supremacy of white values is affirmed and the aggressiveness which has permeated the victory of these values over the ways of life and of thought of the native mean that, in revenge, the native laughs in mockery when Western values are mentioned in front of him.

Frantz Omar Fanon (20 July 19256 December 1961) was a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionist and author from Martinique. He was influential in the field of post-colonial studies and was perhaps the pre-eminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades.


  • We are nothing on earth if we are not in the first place the slaves of a cause, the cause of the peoples, the cause of justice and liberty.
    • Letter to Roger Tayeb, December 1961, as cited in Peter Geismar, Fanon (1971), p. 185.

Black Skin, White Masks (1952)[edit]

Peau noire, masques blancs

  • At risk of arousing the resentment of my colored brothers, I will say that the black is not a man. There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinary sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born. In most cases, the black man lacks the advantage of being able to accomplish this descent into real hell.
    • Introduction,page 8
  • The black is a black man;that is, as the result of a series of aberrations of affect, he is rooted at the core of a universe from which he must be extricated.
    • Introduction,Page 8
  • Fervor is the weapon of choice of the impotent.
    • Introduction,Page 9
  • The black man wants to be white. The white man slaves to reach a human level.
    • Introduction,Page 9
  • By refusing to multiply our element, we take the risk of not setting a limit to our field ; for it is essential to convey to the black man that an attitude of rupture has never saved anyone.
    • p. 28
  • What is there to say? Purely and simply this: When a bachelor of philosophy from Antilles refuses to apply for certification as a teacher on the ground of his color. I say that philosophy has never saved anyone. Wren one else strives and strains to prove to me that black men are as intelligent as white men, I say that intelligence has never saved anyone; and that is true, for, if philosophy and intelligence are invoked to proclaim the equality of men, they have also been employed to justify the extermination of men .
    • p. 28-29
  • A white man addressing a Negro behaves exactly like an adult with a child and starts smirking, whispering, patronizing, cozening. It is not one white man I have watched, but hundreds; and I have not limited my investigation to any one class but, if I may claim an essentially objective position, I have made a point of observing such behavior in physician, policemen, employers.
    • pp. 31
  • To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.
    • pp. 38
  • Man is motion toward the world and toward his like. A movement of aggression, which leads to enslavement or to conquest; a movement of love, a gift of self, the ultimate stage of what by common accord is called ethical orientation. Every consciousness seems to have the capacity to demonstrate these two components, simultaneously or alternatively. The person I love will strengthen me by endorsing my assumption of my manhood, while the need to earn the admiration or the love of others will erect a value-making superstructure on my whole vision of the world.
    • Chapter 2, "The Woman of Color and the White Man", p. 41
  • I am black: I am the incarnation of a complete fusion with the world, an intuitive understanding of the earth, an abandonment of my ego in the heart of the cosmos, and no white man, no matter how intelligent he may be , can ever understand Louis Armstrong and the music of the Congo. If I am black, it is not the result of a curse, but it is because, having offered my skin, I have been anle to absorb all the cosmic efflucia. I am truly a ray of sunlight under the earth...
    • Ch. 2
  • The Negro enslaved by his inferiority, the white man enslaved by his superiority alike behave in accordance with a neurotic orientation.
    • Ch.2, p. 60
  • In no way should my color be regarded as a flaw. From the comment the Negro accepts the separation imposed by the European he has no further respite, and "is it not understandable that thenceforward he will try to elevate himself to the white man's level? to elevate himself in the range of colors to which he attributes a kid of hierarchy.
    We shall see that another solution is possible. It implies a restructuring of the world.
    • Ch.3, p. 81-82
  • What is South Africa? A boiler into which thirteen million blacks are clubbed and penned in by two and a half million whites. If the poor whites hate the Negroes, it is not, as M. Mannoni would have us believe, because "racialism is the work of petty officials, small traders, and colonials who have toiled much without great success." No; it is because the structure of South Africa is a racist structure.
    • Ch.4, p.87
  • All forms of exploitation resemble one another. They all seek the source of their necessity in some edict of a Biblical nature. All forms of exploitation are identical because all of them are applied against the same "object": man.
    • Ch.4, p. 88
  • Every one of my acts commits me as a man. Every one of my silences, every one of my cowardices reveals me as a man.
    • Ch.4 p.89
  • Yes, European civilization and its best representatives are responsible for colonial racism.
    • Ch.4, p. 90
  • I said just above that South Africa has a racist structure. Now I shall go farther and say that Europe has a racist structure.
    • Ch.4, p. 92
  • The landing of the white man on Madagascar inflicted injury without measure. The consequences of that irruption of Europeans onto Madagascar were not psychological alone, since, as every authority has observed, there are inner relationships between consciousness and the social context.
    • p. 97
  • In the magazines the Wolf, the Devil, the Evil Spirit, the Bad Man, the Savage are always symbolized by Negroes or Indians; sinc there is always identification with the citor, the little negro, quite as easily as the little white boy, becomes an explorer, an adventurer, a missionary " who faces the danger of being eaten by the wicked Negroes."
    • p. 146
  • The Negro is a toy in the white man's hands; so, in order to shatter the hellish cycle, he explodes.
    • Ch.5, p. 140
  • In every society, in every collectivity, exists - a channel, an outlet through which the forces accumulated in the form of aggression.
    • p.144
  • "Dirty nigger!" or simply "Look! A Negro!"
    • opening line of chapter 5: "The Lived Experience of the Black Man" (also translated as "The Fact of Blackness" in some editions of the book).
  • I came into this world anxious to uncover the meaning of things, my soul desirous to be at origin of the world, and here I am an object among other objects.
    • "The Lived Experience of the Black Man"/"The Fact of Blackness"
  • Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief. [page and translation citation?]
  • There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.
  • The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anti-colonialism, 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.
  • Negrophobes exist. It is not hatred of the Negro, however, that motivates them; they lack the courage for that, or they have lost it. Hate is not inborn; it has to be constantly cultivated, to be brought into being, in conflict with more or less recognized guilt complexes. Hate demands existence and he who hates has to show his hate in appropriate actions and behavior; in a sense, he has to become hate. That is why Americans have substituted discrimination for lynching. Each to his own side of the street.

The Wretched of the Earth (1961)[edit]

as translated by Richard Philcox (2004)
  • When the colonized hear a speech on Western culture they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand. The supremacy of white values is stated with such violence, the victorious confrontation of these values with the lifestyle and beliefs of the colonized is so impregnated with aggressiveness, that as a counter measure the colonized rightly make a mockery of them whenever they are mentioned.
    • p. 8
  • The famous dictum which states that all men are equal will find its illustration in the colonies only when the colonized subject states he is equal to the colonist.
    • p. 9
  • The serf is in essence different from the knight, but a reference to divine right is necessary to legitimize this statutory defense.
    • p. 40
  • The destruction of the colonial world is no more and no less that the abolition of one zone, its burial in the depths of the earth or its expulsion from the country.
    • p. 41
  • From birth it is clear to him that this narrow world, strewn with prohibitions, can only be called in question by absolute violence.
    • p. 37.
  • The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor.
    • p. 42.
  • When the native hears a speech about Western culture he pulls out his knife—or at least he makes sure it is within reach. The violence with which the supremacy of white values is affirmed and the aggressiveness which has permeated the victory of these values over the ways of life and of thought of the native mean that, in revenge, the native laughs in mockery when Western values are mentioned in front of him.
    • p. 43.
  • The living expression of the nation is the collective consciousness in motion of the entire people.

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