Fidel the Saviour, Castro the Monster

Fidel Castro visits Washington, DC shortly after seizing power in 1959.

As a historical figure, Fidel Castro presents some juicy conundrums: justice and injustice, revolution and state power, citizens’ rights and state authority, artistic freedom and restriction, high literacy rates and censorship, communist economics and private enterprise, socialism and tourism. The news of his death at the age of 90 brings many of these thorny questions to mind. And there are many anecdotes to illustrate them. I would like to draw on one in particular – the case of Jean-Paul Sartre and his observations of the Cuban leader as they toured Cuba in the back of Castro’s car in the spring … Continue reading

Fanon defends revolutionary violence

The naked truth of decolonisation evokes for us the searing bullets and bloodstained knives which emanate from it. For if the last shall be first, this will only come to pass after a murderous and decisive struggle between the two protagonists. That affirmed intention to place the last at the head of things, and to make them climb at a pace (too quickly, some say) the well-known steps which characterize an organized society, can only triumph if we use all means to turn the scale, including, of course, that of violence (Fanon, 1963: 37). Frantz Fanon used his lived experience … Continue reading

Did Fanon defend violence?

Decolonization is the veritable creation of new men. But this creation owes nothing of its legitimacy to any supernatural power; the “thing” which has been colonized becomes man during the same process by which it frees itself (Fanon 1963: 36-37). Frantz Fanon’s approach to violence and its effects on the individual is uniquely guided by his lived experience. Fanon was born and raised as a colonial subject in the Antilles. He then undertook medical school and psychiatric training in France. Fanon was later an employed psychiatrist in Algeria, where he later eventually joined the revolution against the French. Fanon’s outlines … Continue reading