The Wretched of the Earthby Frantz Fanon Translated from French by Richard Philcox Preface by Homi K. Bhabha Introduction by Cornel West
“This century’s most compelling theorist of racism and colonialism.”—Angela Davis
The sixtieth anniversary edition of Frantz Fanon’s landmark text, now with a new introduction by Cornel West
First published in 1961, and reissued in this sixtieth anniversary edition with a powerful new introduction by Cornel West, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth is a masterful and timeless interrogation of race, colonialism, psychological trauma, and revolutionary struggle, and a continuing influence on movements from Black Lives Matter to decolonization.
A landmark text for revolutionaries and activists, The Wretched of the Earth is an eternal touchstone for civil rights, anti-colonialism, psychiatric studies, and Black consciousness movements around the world. Alongside Cornel West’s introduction, the book features critical essays by Jean-Paul Sartre and Homi K. Bhabha. This sixtieth anniversary edition of Fanon’s most famous text stands proudly alongside such pillars of anti-colonialism and anti-racism as Edward Said’s Orientalism and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
“The writing of Malcolm X or Eldridge Cleaver or Amiri Baraka or the Black Panther leaders reveals how profoundly they have been moved by the thoughts of Frantz Fanon.” —The Boston Globe
“Have the courage to read this book.” —Jean-Paul Sartre
“This century’s most compelling theorist of racism and colonialism.” —Angela Davis
“The value of The Wretched of the Earth [lies] in its relation to direct experience, in the perspective of the Algerian revolution. . . . Fanon forces his readers to see the Algerian revolution—and by analogy other contemporary revolutions—from the viewpoint of the rebels.” —Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Nation
“The Wretched of the Earth is an explosion.” —Emile Capouya, Saturday Review
“This is not so much a book as a rock thrown through the window of the West. It is the Communist Manifesto or the Mein Kampf of the anti-colonial revolution, and as such it is highly important for any Western reader who wants to understand the emotional force behind that revolution.” —Time
A Finalist for the French-American Foundation Translation Award
National liberation, national reawakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event. At whatever level we study it—individual encounters, a change of name for a sports club, the guest list at a cocktail party, members of a police force or the board of directors of a state or private bank—decolonization is quite simply the substitution of one “species” of mankind by another. The substitution is unconditional, absolute, total, and seamless. We could go on to portray the rise of a new nation, the establishment of a new state, its diplomatic relations and its economic and political orientation. But instead we have decided to describe the kind of tabula rasa which from the outset defines any decolonization. What is singularly important is that it starts from the very first day with the basic claims of the colonized. In actual fact, proof of success lies in a social fabric that has been changed inside out. This change is extraordinarily important because it is desired, clamored for, and demanded.
The need for this change exists in a raw, repressed, and reckless state in the lives and consciousness of colonized men and women. But the eventuality of such a change is also experienced as a terrifying future in the consciousness of another “species” of men and women: the colons, the colonists.
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Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is clearly an agenda for total disorder. But it cannot be accomplished by the wave of a magic wand, a natural cataclysm, or a gentleman’s agreement. Decolonization, we know, is an historical process: In other words, it can only be understood, it can only find its significance and become self coherent insofar as we can discern the history-making movement which gives it form and substance. Decolonization is the encounter between two congenitally antagonistic forces that in fact owe their singularity to the kind of reification secreted and nurtured by the colonial situation. Their first confrontation was colored by violence and their cohabitation—or rather the exploitation of the colonized by the colonizer—continued at the point of the bayonet and under cannon fire. The colonist and the colonized are old acquaintances. And consequently, the colonist is right when he says he “knows” them. It is the colonist who fabricated and continues to fabricate the colonized subject. The colonist derives his validity, i.e., his wealth, from the colonial system.
Decolonization never goes unnoticed, for it focuses on and fundamentally alters being, and transforms the spectator crushed to a nonessential state into a privileged actor, captured in a virtually grandiose fashion by the spotlight of History. It infuses a new rhythm, specific to a new generation of men, with a new language and a new humanity. Decolonization is truly the creation of new men. But such a creation cannot be attributed to a supernatural power: The “thing” colonized becomes a man through the very process of liberation.
Decolonization, therefore, implies the urgent need to thoroughly challenge the colonial situation. Its definition can, if we want to describe it accurately, be summed up in the well-known words: “The last shall be first.” Decolonization is verification of this. At a descriptive level, therefore, any decolonization is a success.