Does Fanon’s Argument still apply? The cases of Algeria, South Africa and Palestine, by Adel Samara

Arguments, analysis and critique on the settler colonial entities – either the defeated ones in Algeria and South Africa, or the imperialist ones, such the United States or the most brutal one the Zionist Ashkenazi Regime (ZAR) in Occupied Palestine – did not end.

Those entities are unique in many aspects, such as their inability to breed a real socialist/communist movements, while it is not the case of their metropolitan countries, despite the fact that even those metropolitan centers themselves did not breed a genuine communist movements in the real revolutionary Marxist concept, if we follow the positions of many communist parties in Europe which support their bourgeois regimes from the First Western Imperialist war (1914-1918)  through 1956 Tripartite aggression against Egypt, the aggression against Iraq 1991, the support of ZAR and in more recent years, the wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The question is: did the Settler Colonial Regimes (SCR) fail to breed socialist movements, despite the fact that they are developed countries that contain mature contradictory classes -the bourgeois and the proletariat – where one class exploits the other and even the rest of other classes. While Marx’s argument that socialism will start in industrial developed countries in Western Europe, it did not took place until today, the SCR, especially the United States is another example which contradicts Marx’s analysis and that of Fanon as well (see below).

In fact, here is not the space to discuss this issue or to discuss even the developments that took place in the structure of working classes in the capitalist center itself including the SCR, for instance, the structure which contains the traditional industrial workers, the service workers and the workers of the new economy[1]. This raises the question: will these various sections of the proletariat be able to unite in a joint class struggle, or how to unite them in that class struggle?

The SCR failure to breed strong communist movement might be illuminated by recalling the experience of the expelled French members of Paris Commune (PC) to Algeria who became ardent colonialists despite of the fact that the French bourgeois is the joint enemy for both the Arabs of Algeria and the expelled PC members. From a logical point view the expelled PC members must struggle jointly with the colonized Arabs. Even if the deportees were not socialists, they shouldn’t stand against the native people. So, why they became enemy against the colonized Arabs!

The new settlers who were deported to Algeria stand in the service of colonialism as Jeffry Byres noted and they were a strong tool in strengthening the victory of colonial France after 1870 and that Algeria continued resisting for ten years after the defeat of the revolutionary Emir Abdulkader i. e. until the arrival of white PC settlers who played a decisive role in colonial victory[2].

I am questioning again, did the new settlers, the PC, fight against Algeria for self- defense as in the case of a soldier who fight because if he did not he will be killed taking into consideration that the expelled settlers of PC lost the chance to go back to France? Or because they were genuinely white racists and supremacists who came from an industrialized society which might encourage them to consider the Arabs as inferior human beings?

It is not easy to know if the French bourgeois deduce that those new deported settlers will for sure became a colonial tool and this is what happened.

Far from finding a concrete answer, it is clear that all white settler colonial capitalist social formations can’t to be a progressive and its internal social fabric is in contradiction with socialism. It seems that their culture as aggressors and thieves reminds them all the time that they are criminals and in absolute contradiction with the natives who will never gave up.

This is what Fanon believes in.

But, what makes the answer more complicated is F. Engel’s support of French colonialism against Arabs of Algeria.

Engels “called the revolution of Abdulqader in Algeria against French colonialism a struggle of the desperate case of barbarian society and he praised the French invasion as “an important and happy fact in the progress of civilization”.[3] 

“Upon the whole it is, in our opinion, very fortunate that the Arabian chief [Abd-el-Kader] has been taken. The struggle of the Beduins was a hopeless one, and though the manner in which brutal soldiers, like Bugeaud, have carried on the war is highly blamable, the conquest of Algeria is an important and fortunate fact for the progress of civilization. .. And the conquest of Algeria has already forced the Beys of Tunis and Tripoli, and even the Emperor of Morocco, to enter the road of civilization”[4].

Where does Engels’ discourse stand here?  The great socialist thinker admires the white capitalist brutal “civilization” and believes that it will transfer the Arabs to “civilization”. Is he influenced by Marx’s position on India? In this fault, he was a white racist.

Engels wasn’t fortunate to stay alive to follow the Algerian revolution and Fanon’s genuine understanding of the relationship between the colonialist and colonizer.

It is Frantz Fanon who grasped this great fact. Fanon’s theory stems from his deep believe in humanity’s insistence on revolution. His argument is based into two components:

First: that the contradiction between colonialist and colonized is antagonistic and will be solved only by violence, and

Second: this violence will lead to the defeat of the colonizer and recreate from the ashes of the two enemies new human beings of both the colonized and the colonizer. While Fanon was optimistic concerning the new man from both the colonized and the colonizer, is seems that his prophecy did not crystallized.

Fanon was right in the first part of his argument or expectation which is only violence will defeat the colonizer and free the colonized. But the creation of a new man from both who is different from the former both the colonized and the colonizer, never took place. It was the ambition of Fanon, it is the logical result of a human philosopher and engaged fighter in a different and savage real world ruled by bourgeois classes under capitalist order. In fact, Fanon as the pioneer on writing on post-colonialism, failed to develop his theory on post-colonialism to socialism. That is why, may be, his new man was never born[5].

I am not sure if Fanon followed the developments in the USSR after Lenin, and was influenced by Sartre’s critique of Marxism especially his argument that the castle of Marxism needs the block of freedom and he is completing it?

Neither France nor Algeria transcends capitalism. France maintained its imperial bloody role, even the French communist party and its’ prominent philosopher Louis Pierre Althusser stands against the Algerian revolution. Algeria itself failed to embark on a socialist trajectory, and ended as a corrupt peripheral capitalist regime.

The irony is that both regimes reconciled at the cost of the sacrifices of the Algerian people to the extent that France never apologized for its’ brutal colonial history in Algeria and even returned smoothly, but covered, by the same ruling class in Algeria.

Following the victory of the Algeria revolution, the settlers could not bear to stay and decided to leave Algeria. This might be mainly because of their racist culture more than being afraid of violence.

While the birth of new man did not take place in Algeria and France, many expected that following fall of apartheid in South Africa will allow the natives to restore their land and free their stolen wealth.

Unfortunately, the ruling black bourgeois failed to execute any of it’s promises to the natives, but even created a corrupt black bourgeois especially at the top of the system, while the white man maintain his economic dominance[6].

Again, the second part of Fanon’s argument also failed in the experience of South Africa due to the fact that both blacks and whites did not breed a strong and real communist movement. Accordingly, Fanon’s dream did not have the chance to be realized. 

The Case of ZAR

All white settler colonial regimes were of white capitalist culture including Eurocentricists, and the deported PC settles to Algeria were semi-socialists, but the Zionist Jewish settlers in Palestine are different since they pretend that they are Marxists who occupied Palestine to build a socialist regime on the land of other people.

Ber Borochov is a striking example of a unique collection of Judaism, Zionism, Marxism, and white racism[7].

Borochov (1881-1917) argued from a strange “proletariat” perspective which justifies stealing the land and lives of another people. This is a criminal proletarianzation. The racist core of Borochov’s argument is that he want to steal someone’s else land to build a state for Jews so as to enable them to breed proletariat aiming to reach socialism!

Borochov’s rude and racist idea stems from the Jewish myth of “the chosen people”, but so what if there will be no Jewish proletariat?  Borochov, like all Zionist “left” and right escapes from the fact that Jews in all countries must continue as part of their national societies all over the world.

In fact, this is not the only difference between the ZAR and other SCR:

  • The Zionist settlers were in advance and deliberately motivated by the goal of creating a state.
  • While other SCR entities either wiped all or most of the natives (USA, Australia, Canada), or exploited the native cheap labor, the case of South Africa, the ZAR practiced all forms of settlers’ crimes and add the phenomenon of refugees.
  • For each SCR case there was one metropolitan state except the ZAR whose metropolitan was and still is the world capitalist system.
  • The Zionists uses religious myths to justify their occupation and building a state in Palestine, while other SCR cases use religion to justify their stealing, exploitation and superiority over the natives.

But the greatest lie of the ZAR is its’ socialist pretence. In addition to the fact that the ex-socialist camp accepted, rudely, bluntly and shamefully, that pretence despite the fact that the Jews are settlers occupying the land of others!

The part of Jewish settlers in Palestine who pretend that they are Marxists and/or socialists are the same as other SCR especially in its’ failure to breed a real communist movement. In fact, the left in ZAR is the same as the right in all practical events.

While the Algerians gained their political and national independence, the South Africans bourgeois gained political authority, Palestinians still didn’t gain their minimum rights except their insistence to struggle.

Historical experience confirms that settlers:

  • Never change their racist attitude
  • Are not ready to allow natives restore and control their stolen wealth
  • are unable to breed a real communist movement

Then, why most of the Palestinian left supports either two or one state solution with ZAR which even recently declare so-called “Israeli Nationality Law” which considers that all of Palestine belong exclusively to Jewish settlers?

Moreover, the Zionist settlers did not absorb only the racist experience of the French settlers in Algeria, but even adopt the most racist white capitalist experience which imposed over them by the Nazis! They repeat the intensive Nazi Holocaust against Jews by a ZAR extended Holocaust against the Palestinian people. This might explain why within the ZAR, the left is a Zionist current.

Palestinian leftists who while departing from liberation of Palestine did in fact depart Fanon’s theory of violent struggle against the settlers.

The issue is not that Fanon’s argument is not applicable, but it is the problem of all Palestinians, left and right who internalize defeat.


[1]  Adel samara, Epidemic of Globalization, 2001.

[2] Jeffrey James Byrne, Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization and the Third World Order, New York Oxford University Pres. 2016, p. 51.

[3] Feuer Lewis, (ed), Marx and Engels: Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy (London, Fontana Books, 1971 p. 489), Quoted in Terner, Brian, Marx and the End of Orientalism, Arabic, Arabic Research association, Beirut, 1981, p. 12. See also this article written NY Engels, as correspondent for the English Chartist newspaper Northern Star, Vol .XI, January 22, 1848, No. 535, p.7-Ed.

[4] Marx & Engels, Basic Workings on Politics and Philosophy, ed by Lewis S. Feuer, Anchor Books, 1989, p.p. 450-51.

[5] Che Guevara devoted his life for the creation of the socialist man, but on the opposite and racist side the Zionist David bin Gurion argues for a New Jew as a settler! This might show the total difference between Socialist Cuba and the Nazi ZAR.

[6] In my visit to South Africa 1994, I wrote an article “South Africa: A White Reality covered by Black Adorn” “Dawlah baida’ buwushah Aswad”, published in Kanaan Magazine,  No. 54, July 1994, pp. 17-19.

[7] See Terrorist Orientalism in a State Form: Using Marxism, Christianity and Islam to Dismantle Arab Homeland, Adel Samara,  Kana’an e-Bulletin Volume XV – Issues 3781- 3782. 24 March 2015.

 The opinions and views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Kana’an’s Editorial Board.