Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 7, No 1 (2011)

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Fanon and Political Will

Peter Hallward

Abstract


The categories that defined the immediate context of Fanon's last years and publications – decolonisation, nationalism, redemptive violence – belong primarily to an historical era that ended, in the 1970s, with the last victorious wars of national liberation. The central notion at work in these categories, however, is both much older than this historical sequence and no doubt much 'younger' than its still-limited set of political consequences. Although its opponents had already sought to consign this notion to the dustbin of conceptual history well before Fanon himself came to rework it, its real significance is still oriented towards the future.

What is this familiar notion that has become almost unrecognisable in our ultra-capitalist age, an age marked by absolute commodification and 'humanitarian' imperialism? It is the notion of autonomous political will. More precisely, it is the theory and practice of an emancipatory 'will of the people' conceived in terms that enable it to be both decisive and inclusive.


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