It’s interesting to read Fanon after having read the cultural studies writers, Hall and Williams. Here are two contrasting and sometimes contradictory views on a lot of Marxist concepts. I liked reading Fanon because it helped me to recognize where the cultural theorists have entirely ceased to respond to classical ideas of Marxism. First there’s the idea of class consciousness in contrast to the cultural studies concept, continually being altered, of ideology. It is interesting to note that neither Fanon nor the cultural theorists readily accept the concept of class consciousness. Fanon offers this somewhat cryptic passage: “[African labor union leaders] have not had to deal with the bourgeois bulldozer, they have not developed a consciousnesss from the class struggle, but perhaps this is not required. Perhaps. We shall see that this totalizing determination which often becomes a caricature of internationalism is one of the most basic characteristics of underdeveloped countries” (44). The consciousness of the masses of the recently decolonized countries, or of their representatives is not yet that of “class”. In fact, Fanon denies that this consciousness is even required in a developed country, perhaps hinting that the burgeoning nation does not have to pass through the phase of abject capitalism at all. Fanon’s idea of consciousness is what I would call, because it rhymes, a “mass consciousness” based on and around violence. He pays special attention to the vocabulary of the leader of this newly freed nation: “The vocabulary he uses is that of a chief of staff. “Mobilization of the masses,” “the agricultural front,” “the illiteracy front,” “defeats suffered,” “victories won”. During its early years the young independent nation evolves in the atmosphere of a battleground. This is because the political leader of an undeveloped country is terror-stricken at the prospect of the long road that lies ahead” (52). Unlike the cultural theorists, Fanon does seem at some level to accept the idea of class consciousness in capitalist, developed societies.
The second idea, which it seems to me that cultural theorists have ceased to discuss, and which is absolutely key to Fanon is violent revolution. The reason violent revolution exists within Fanon’s thought and not within that of the cultural theorists is that the contradiction between what the dominant, colonizer class wants and what the dominated, colonized class wants is altogether stronger and more explicit than the contradiction between the State and the lower classes in a developed, classical society. Further, classes themselves are much more easily identifiable in a colonial country.
I think it’s interesting how Fanon’s polemic tone fits much better with this rigid system, whereas a polemic tone does not make sense when analyzing developed, hegemonic culture, where contradictions manifest themselves in nuances and different sectors of society.