The Wretched of the Earth – Frantz Fanon’s words echo across the decades


Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their own streets, in all the corners of the globe. For centuries they have stifled almost the whole of humanity in the name of a so-called spiritual experience. Look at them today swaying between atomic and spiritual disintegration.

These words form part of the conclusion to Frantz Fanon’s book, ‘Wretched of the Earth’, written in 1961. At one time the book was on some youth and community work reading lists, alongside his 1952 pioneering ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ – perhaps not so today.  Yesterday was Fanon’s 90th birthday. Thanks to Verso you can read the conclusion in full at “No, we do not want to catch up with anyone”.

The book ends withe cry.

Moreover, if we wish to reply to the expectations of the people of Europe, it is no good sending them back a reflection, even an ideal reflection, of their society and their thought with which from time to time they feel immeasurably sickened.

For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.

If you can forgive the use of Man – he was criticised by feminists – Fanon’s concerns resonate contradictorily down the decades.

White Masks

For a thoughtful introduction to Fanon’s life and work, see Frantz Fanon (1925—1961)

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