Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Beyond Europe

Franz Fanon - Black Skin, White Masks

Key Points:
We all have a history but that isn’t what forms us as people, it is time to get past that history and create our own lives.  Are there contemporary white men who have put black men on slave ships?  No, it isn’t the world we live in anymore.  

We have to work to create a new society, and why take the blueprints from Europe.  America did and they turned out to be tyrants.  If we want a European society then we should just let a European run it for us.  But we owe it to ourselves and to humanity to create a better society that isn’t founded on the alienation of people.  

I think Fanon has a point about recognizing the pastness of the past.  It isn’t forgetting it is getting on with life.  We can’t change the world if we are too broken by the past to do anything.  The slaving has stopped, the effects live on psychologically.  Just think what it would be like if people came out of the sea and started dragging off people, raping and killing on the way.  Then it all stopped because they decided it wasn’t a good thing to do.  I would have lost all sense of security and control over the world I live in.  The question of whether they would change their mind and come back to take me and my loved ones away would haunt me.  I would want the power they have so I could sleep at night.  That would color any decision I made for years afterwards; the need for power and security.  

All this propagates is violence because people will be driven to find security and power.  Just thinking about South Africa, it becomes very easy to confuse the grand picture with my subjective picture.  I would begin to suspect the people around me.  Especially where indirect rule was used, for example, places like Rwanda.  The violence is about searching for a sense of self-determination and security.  

Colonialism still lives on; it has just changed its name to economic globalization.  It is supported by the IMF and World Bank which help developing nations catch up to Europe using European blue prints.  I think these blue prints are so attractive because they are the ones that offered the Europeans the power they exercised when they raped Africa.  

What Fanon is saying is that Africa should find a different path than Europe because they know all to well where the European path ends.  He is asking them to transcend security for a life that is based on something better than a need for power.  

The second evil of European society is the middle-class.  “I call middle-class society in which life has no taste, I which the air is tainted, in which ideas and men are corrupt.  And I think that a man who takes a stand against this death is in a sense a revolutionary.” (509)  He raises the question of whether middle-class life is life at all.  The conclusion is that Europe has nothing to offer when it comes to ideas of how to live.  

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