Reading Summary about Fanon
According to Fanon, nationalist parties aim at mobilizing people in the spirit of independence (97). These parties do not have economic agendas for the nation because of their lack of an idea about their country’s economic status. Nationalist parties always operate on academic and approximate knowledge of the country’s present and potential resources; thus, they can only talk about the economy in the abstract sense. After independence, bourgeoisies undergo considerable stagnation due to the lack of capital and inability to adapt to the road to revolution. Scarce managerial talent and precarious resources force bourgeoisies to focus on local cottage industries (Fanon 99). The inability to invent new outlets also reflects the entrenchment of national bourgeoisies into agricultural production, same as in the colonial era.
Independence barely brings change due to the fact that the same old olive harvest, cocoa harvest, and groundnut harvest continue in the post-independence era. Still the country cannot establish industries; it continues to ship raw materials and to grow produce for Europe. Nevertheless, nationalist bourgeoisies still continue to advocate for nationalization of the economy and commerce. Bourgeoisies view nationalization as the transfer of privileges inherited in the colonial era into indigenous hands, rather than the literal meaning of organizing the state in line with new programs of social relations. They are, however, unable to take over industries previously held by colonial masters due to limited material and intellectual resources. National bourgeoisies fear competition from foreign companies; thus, allow them to operate only through the bourgeoisies, if they want to establish trade or remain the country. Thus, they act as agents in their dealings with the Western bourgeoisies. The national bourgeoisie has psychological incapacity to properly represent the interests of its country due to its mimicry of the colonial bourgeoisie’s negative and decadent aspects. The national bourgeoisie gets help from colonial bourgeoisie, and they are tied towards entertaining their colonial masters in order to continue obtaining help, thus turning the ‘country virtually into a bordello for Europe.”
National landowners also behave in the same manner as urban bourgeoisies. They assume control over agricultural land, but do not make any attempts to ensure diversification and improvement of production or integration of agriculture into a genuinely national economy. The new agricultural economy suffers from lack of modernization, development plans and initiatives due to the refusal of landowners to take the slightest risk. On the other hand, landowners persist in exploitation of farm workers. Landed bourgeoisies amass enormous profits that are larger than the gross domestic product, even though they are not reinvested. These bourgeoisies use the profits to boost their prestige by investing in all ostentious goods.
After independence, colonized bourgeoisies aggressively grabbed jobs, which were previously held by foreigners. These bourgeoisies engage insulting high-ranking civil servants, landowners, tradespeople, doctors and lawyers in the name of upholding national dignity. The bourgeoisie encourages Africanization and nationalization of managerial classes, with its actions increasingly becoming racist. The urban unemployed masses also support the nationalistic efforts for revolution, although they do not enjoy the ultimate outcome. While national bourgeoisies compete with Europeans, the small traders and artisans compete with Africans of other nationalists (Fanon 103). Underdeveloped nations shift from nationalism to racism, chauvinism and ultra-nationalism, as reflected in the efforts of the Senegalese to get rid of the Sudanese. The incapacity of national bourgeoisies to expand the world vision in their country results in the triumph of ethnic tensions. This explains the adoption of federalism in some young independent countries. Due to the fact that colonialism gave preference to certain regions, economic development is not integrated from a national perspective; it is still interpreted along metropolis lines. Nationals living in prosperous regions try to bar the rest of the nation from sharing their fortune. Thus, it becomes difficult to achieve unity and build the nation on a strong, constructive foundation, since the national front that fought the colonial regime falls back and begins to lick its wounds (Fanon 106).
The aftermath of colonialism also divides nationals along religious lines. The religious ideologies introduced by colonialists still play an important role in dividing colonized countries. In countries dominated by Catholic or Protestants, Muslim minorities tend to be oppressed, and vice versa. In other African countries, blacks are discriminated as a result of the western culture. In countries of West Africa, there is great distrust between whites and blacks (Fanon 108).
National bourgeoisies are unable to match Western bourgeoisies in the sense that Western bourgeoisies have regard to human dignity in all its magnanimity, whereas national bourgeoisies are self-centered, stupid, hungry and inhuman. National bourgeoisies cannot think beyond their noses; they are not politically and institutionally competent. The governments are flawed; they flaunt their authority and harass the people; thus, making citizens always afraid of imminent danger. This causes the countries to sink deeper into stagnation. Bourgeoisies mask the regression by erecting imposing edifices in the capital and spending money on prestigious projects. Whereas bourgeoisie’s dictatorship in developed countries is drawn from their economic power, bourgeoisies in underdeveloped countries live in ignorance and greed. New states stagnate, causing their heads of state to persistently seek loans and donations from foreigners in order to fund government operations. According to Fanon, this causes citizens to wallow in poverty, as they slowly become cognizant of the “unspeakable treason of their leaders” (113). The patriotic leaders who aggressively fought for independence are the same leaders who harass and mistreat fellow citizens. The nationalist party no longer addresses the interests of the people; its current mission is to cause a barrier between the leadership and the people. Militants who were proactive in fighting for liberation have now sunk into a profound lethargy, as they pave the way for bourgeoisies to amass power.
The current regime is characterized by decline in morals and the triumph of corruption. In poor countries, the police force and the army are the foundation for the regime, who operate in accordance with foreign expertise. The opposition is more aggressive and citizens quickly latch onto its propaganda. There is manifested hostility towards bourgeoisies, but the bourgeoisies are little troubled by such hostilities.
Responsible leadership involves the ability to embrace political education in order to awaken the consciousness of the masses (Fanon 138). It is important for the masses to understand and appreciate that the government and the political parties are intended to serve them. Revolutionary elites in underdeveloped countries are attributed to empowerment of the masses to correct historical injustices. The nation must stage a fight against marginalization of youth and women and aim at building social and political consciousness. Responsive leadership should aim at restoring the dignity of the citizens, furnishing their minds and promoting humanity. Otherwise, bourgeoisie leadership breeds anarchy, repression, tribalism and federalism.
Fanon’s arguments relate well with Kenya’s situation. Kenya is an African country, which was colonized by the British. The country gained independence in 1963, following a wave of national consciousness that was expressed through nationalist parties. During the colonial era, Kenyans were aggrieved because whites had alienated them from their land; they subjected Kenyans to forced labor; and they discriminated against Kenyans in all spheres of life. White settlers owned large pieces of lands and they operated all businesses in the country. Following Kenya’s independence, the country came under one nationalist party. The few elites in the society took over the lands, jobs and businesses that were left behind by white settlers. These few elites took up the bourgeoisie title in the country. Although they did not have political and institutional competency, these bourgeoisies significantly influenced the government. They advocated for nationalization of the economy and commerce. The wealth of the country lay in the few bourgeoisies, while the masses languished in poverty and ignorance.
The one-party state promoted oppression of the people, as the government operated in an undemocratic manner. Different regions felt disillusioned in national leadership, as it was believed that the nationalist party was only serving a few tribes that were well represented, but not the whole nation. The government misused taxpayers funds and kept seeking loans and funds from foreign countries. Even after independence, marginalization of minority groups, youth and women was prevalent. Bourgeoisies, the police and politicians enriched themselves with prestigious lives while the rest of the population suffered from poverty and illiteracy.
Through the awakening of masses by a few elite leaders, a wave of revolution occurred. In fact, in 1982, there was an attempted coup d’état to overthrow the government. The wave of national awakening resulted to the making of Kenya a multi-party state. However, there are regions that still felt they were being sidelined in governance. There was overwhelming rural-urban migration in search for greener pastures. Tribal politics still play an important role in Kenya’s politics. In 2010, a new constitution was passed, which provides for a devolved system of governance. The constitution also upholds the right to human dignity and promotes the rights of women, youth, people with disability and marginalized groups. However, as Fanon puts it, change is a gradual process. The passing of the new constitution in Kenya was just one step towards achievement of human dignity and equality, although this is yet to be fully realized.
Fanon, Frantz. “The Trials and Tribulations of National Consciousness.” The Wretched of the Earth. Grove/Atlantic Inc., 2007. 97-144. Print.