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Fanon and Amry : Theory, Torture and the Prospect of Humanism


Paul Gilroy Theory Culture Society 2010 27: 16 DOI: 10.1177/0263276410383716 The online version of this article can be found at: http://tcs.sagepub.com/content/27/7-8/16

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Fanon and Ame ry


Theory, Torture and the Prospect of Humanism

Paul Gilroy

Abstract This article examines the different ways in which torture can be seen to have shaped the political and theoretical outlook of Frantz Fanon and that of his ry. Building on enthusiastic reader, the former Auschwitz prisoner Jean Ame the latters suggestion that torture was the essence of the Third Reich, the reader is asked to apply that insight to an unconventional interpretation of the routinization of torture in contemporary statecraft. Key words ry j Fanon Ame

postcolonial

torture

WANT to explore the fluctuating fortunes of Frantz Fanon as an analyst of social and political relations. The distinctive humanist orientation of his thought should help it to mesh with contemporary arguments about universal human rights and related debates concerning military (but avowedly humanitarian) intervention and belligerent, postcolonial statemaking. However, the strongly anti-humanist cast of much contemporary social theory and, in particular, of postcolonial studies, makes his views difficult to assimilate and easy to misread. These problems have been compounded by the geo-politics of circulating and validating theory, in particular by the dominance of US educational institutions, which establish and often police the broader trends governing how academic work travels and gets politically translated. Even in these uncomfortable times, scholastic users process their theory at a brisk tempo. The rapid pace of this throughput has been set by
Theory, Culture & Society 2010 (SAGE, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Singapore), Vol. 27(7- 8): 16^32 DOI: 10.1177/0263276410383716

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academic cultures rooted in the United States. Those influential educational formations enjoy a long reach and comprise a significant but largely overlooked element in their countrys global power. They share, for example, the restlessness and insatiability of its consumer culture. The transnational public sphere they create has registered the impact of the profound social, cultural and political transformations that followed September 11, 2001. The character of what passes for critical, dissident scholarship has been altered as the war on terror and its various successor projects have shifted the direction and quality of institutional life across the overdeveloped zones. Academic freedoms have been circumscribed. Self-censorship, and the attendant longing for a return to business as usual, abound among the tenured professoriat. A complex process which saw questions of civilization and war, culture and rights assume much greater importance, has been augmented by the uneven effects of protracted economic crisis, as well as the impact of technological innovations: networked statecraft, social media and the rise and rise of the security industrial complex (Statewatch, 2009). The result of these shifts is felt even in the academically marginal and predominantly literary enterprise of postcolonial studies. It was reasonable to suppose that its intellectual leadership might have had more to say as the state of emergency became routine, and also that postcolonial theory might endeavour to preserve the 20th-century critique of imperialism. If that worthy initiative had lived up to its radical, tricontinentalist heritage (Prashad, 2007; Young, 2001), it might also have been expected to express critical and incisive things about present circumstances, in which imperialism is being advocated once again and neocolonial structures quietly put in place (Cooper, 2003). Instead, there was a turning away from the possibility that an encounter with colonial and imperial history could guide analysis of present conditions. The dominant mood established by inuential work ^ mostly conducted in north American universities, where critical scholarship is now very much on the defensive ^ suggests that the vogue for Frantz Fanons work which was evident a short time ago has passed. This is true even where a focus on questions of identity with which he became associated has been maintained. Fanons insights have been devoured and tamed by timid, often parochial fields like critical race theory and postcolonial theory, which are now moving on to new pastures from which US racial technologies can be exported worldwide as part of a modernizing enterprise measurable through the government of diversity. The Obama presidency lends its multicultural lustre to the fantasy that the United States is still somehow ahead of the rest of the world. In that glittering context, there is apparently little more to learn from Dr Fanon. The Fanon who fleetingly proved a popular presence in the campus conversations of US high theory can safely be derided for his na| ve humanism and juvenile existentialism, while being awarded two cheers for his phenomenology and his interest in the relationship between power, psychiatry and social psychology. Once the significance of transgressive sexual desire to the colonial situation has been fully
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appreciated, and we grasp his disappointing inability to shift from a critique of colonial psychiatry (McCulloch, 1995; Mahone and Vaughan, 2007) into the more sophisticated theoretical problematics of a properly organized Lacanian approach, the Martiniquean revolutionary becomes old hat ^ just like the outdated ideas of anti-colonial insurgency and national liberation. The still incomplete history of decolonization and the consolidation of neocolonial relations suggest dierent verdicts. Against any damning, simplifying judgement, I want to argue that, rather than Fanons insights being redundant or anachronistic, the full impact of his political and philosophical writing has not so far been appreciated. Despite the emphasis he placed on violence, Fanon has been separated from the unsettling topics of war and torture, which are of growing rather than diminishing relevance today. The war on terror and the global counter-insurgency campaign that has followed it have created novel contexts for reading his work ^ particularly while the ISAF generals sit watching Battle of Algiers, and the distant suffering of human beings who, only a short time ago, were reduced to doomed infrahumanity, has come into conflict with aggressive, armoured humanitarianism. New things can be learned from approaching his contributions in the context of securitocracy fostered by the neocolonial aspirations of the West (Bonnett, 2004). The geopolitical adventure begun by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq has resulted in the declaration of a global counter-insurgency campaign radiating outwards from the AfPak border zone. Military operations and avowedly benign developmental interventions have increasingly been articulated together in what David Kilcullen, an important ideological architect of the resulting transnational conflict, describes as a programme of armed social work (Kilcullen, 2009; see also Kilcullen, 2006). Making and re-making failed states is once again judged both possible and necessary. Fanon Behind the Wire At the other end of the neocolonial chain, inside the fortifications of the overdeveloped world, inequality is growing amidst chronic economic crisis. There, postcolonial relationships provide complex foundations for a volatile politics of race and nationality, culture and religion. Layers of social, spatial, juridical and political life resemble the distinctive patterns Fanon had found in earlier, colonial settings. These postcolonial societies are, for example, being compartmentalized in an antagonistic pattern that refuses dialectical resolution and promotes what he called the principle of reciprocal homogeneity (Fanon, 1967: 69, new trans. 2004: 46). Initially, that constitutive division was made intelligible by appeals to the idea of race. It is now usually rationalized by civilizationist discourse articulated in the idiom that Mahmood Mamdani (2000) has insightfully identied as culture talk . In the formerly colonizing countries, the Cold War campaigns of counter-insurgency warfare waged in Kenya, Malaya, Aden, Ireland, as well as Algeria and even Vietnam, have largely been excised from popular memory.
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However, the latest low-intensity conflicts bear those imprints. Indeed, the new wars under way in conditions where colonial history is repressed and forgotten suggest that Fanons observations and analyses might be revisited and productively recycled, even though the cultural and technological environment in which the conflicts unfold is quite different from the one he knew. The radio which had engaged his political imagination (in what we should regard as the emergent stage of an infowar that is now in its dominant mode) has been succeeded by mobile telephony, laptops and a host of other digitalia fuelled by the mineral fruits of ongoing conflict in Congo (Devlin, 2007; Glenny, 2009), a special place that Fanon had identied as a key site where all our futures would be at stake. Even where telecommunications infrastructure is patchy, the prospect of a single, unified, authoritative voice of anticolonial resistance has been replaced by a profusion of divergent communicative channels. SMS, Bluetooth, social media and the growing power of cloud computing have been networked in a digital public sphere as elaborate as it is contested by occupiers, insurgents and their various global proxies and affiliates. Facebook diplomacy is now the order of the day. These obvious changes, and the security industrial complex they create and feed on, should not obscure important points of continuity between Fanons diagnosis of decolonization and the Cold War, and the conditions we face today. First, he helps us to grasp that the civilizationist effusions of Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis et al. recapitulate elements of older racial theory. This has become more than a scholastic issue because the freedom to speculate raciologically on the psychological character, temperament and supposedly closed cultures of Islam and the Arab has been put to military use in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Second, Fanon explains how the obsessive focus on veiled women, which has for so long characterized the foundational script of military orientalism, has not only been maintained but also significantly amplified (Wallach Scott, 2007; Ware 2006).Third, his work unlocks the depth and bitterness of the cultural conicts which have been elaborated by military investments in specialized anthropological knowledge and human terrain systems . These techniques no longer stand outside the operation of kinetic war but have become integral to its counter-insurgency mode. The militarization of anthropology challenges the ethics of contemporary social science and raises dicult questions about the future of the university in a neoliberal era. Lastly, Fanons observations on colonial statecraft address the distinctive form of government that results from the possibility of democracy transformed into securitocracy. Nasser Hussain is one of several writers who have endowed that possibility with a cosmopolitan history. He demonstrates that colonial governance never distinguished between civil and military powers (Hussain, 2003; see also Evelegh, 1978; Newsinger, 2002). Its characteristic blurring of army and police functions, of inside and outside, suggests forms of law, technology and violence which have lately migrated from the experimental settings provided by the colonial laboratory and moved toward the mainstream of the neo-con-opticon (Statewatch, 2009). Tracking those
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developments raises the uncomfortable possibility that the colonial space is not, after all, an atavistic location but a rather futuristic one. In that necropolitical space (Mbembe, 2003), a variety of technologies ^ deadly, juridical, biometric ^ can be implemented and rened prior to their importation into the walled but declining metropolitan hubs of the old imperial web ^ just as they were during Europes colonial phase (Browne, 2010; Headrick, 1981; Sengoopta, 2003; Thomas, 2008). Today, Fanons work also resonates with the political currency of Christendoms recent reinvention. He speaks to conflicts over race, Islam, civilization and multiculture evident inside Europe, to the ongoing resistance against neocolonial projects and, perhaps most importantly, to the issue of torture, which has surfaced repeatedly to compromise humanitarian interventions and cast doubt upon their expedient fusion of military, political, legal and economic objectives. His uncompromising analysis helps to expose the hierarchical and race-friendly conception of alienated, amputated and epidermalized humanity that lies at their Manichaean core. Fanons writing highlighted the evolving articulation of colony and postcolony so that, away from the torrid and sandy killing zones, there is also a sense he may be of help in explaining aspects of the social and psychological conflict being discovered inside the postcolonial metropolis. The increasingly segregated social world of the black, brown, migrant-descended and postcolonial poor is being contained in that unhappy space. Denizens, pseudo-citizens, illegals and sans papiers dwell inside the citadels of overdevelopment, alongside the refugees, the disposable and the excluded. The psychological and cultural character of that risky agglomeration of human waste ^ which is linked directly to the global war on terror via the complex process which produces home-grown terrorists ^ might also be understood better with his assistance. In Britain, the social and political formations born from postcolonial immigration have changed markedly in the decades since postwar settlers joined with their locally born children to oppose the wholesale criminalization of the young and challenge other quotidian manifestations of state (institutional) racism. Like the resulting sequence of historic battles against discrimination, for citizenship, equitable employment and better education, that refusal had been infused with a militant spirit. It resonated with unique moral energy drawn from the anti-racist impetus behind the Second World War, in which so many of the countrys post-1945 incomers had, exactly like Fanon himself, served with distinction. It was then strengthened by the Cold War pursuit of national liberation, which had conspicuous effects ^ especially where transnational solidarity against Apartheid took wing. A cosmopolitan consciousness, unified by opposition to all forms of racial hierarchy and colonial domination, was then concentrated by the global impact of black Americas televised battles against white supremacy and for civil and human rights. The result was a worldly, self-consciously black solidarity, that mobilized potent interpretative resources. At that point, Fanons work became a touchstone for
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apprehending racial oppression and injustice in a comparative frame. Aspects of postcolonial life in some core metropolitan zones began to be understood via a demotic version of colonial counter-history. In some circumstances, experience was described and then approached politically as if it resulted from the dynamics of internal or endocolonialism (NCCL, 1979). Freedom ghters who aspired to follow the bold and fearless example set by Malcolm and Martin, Biko and Mandela, started to appear everywhere. All of them cultivated a dialogue with the political agenda Fanon had established: the limits of nationalism and national liberation, the necessity for and the cost of violence, the relationship between spatial segregation and colonial power, the moral and governmental resources from which postcolonial orders could be assembled. Today in the overdeveloped countries, inequality has grown and racism has assumed new configurations. Conflicts around race are as likely to be waged over issues of cultural recognition and human dignity as over immediate economic exploitation and injustice. Across Europe, different black communities are being made and brought to political life by newer waves of heterogeneous migrants, settlers and fugitives for whom the post-slavery poetics of Ethiopianism or pan-Africanism and the history of armed decolonization can hold no special appeal. These new black communities have their own complicated relationships to the colonial past and the neocolonial present. Again, Fanons insights can assist us in the process of understanding what these actors are bringing to Europes political cultures. As far as Britain is concerned, some years ago, the radical poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (1975, 1976) articulated a sharply Fanonian analysis of the bran new breed of blacks that he had observed creating a sometimes nihilistic, lumpen vanguard in the political battles which opposed black youth to the police. In Johnsons epochal narration of that historic situation, implosive, fratricidal violence born from the habitual oppression of this second generation would be only an initial phase in their political becoming. In time, their hopelessness and nihilism would yield to a potentially revolutionary rage that was directed at more serious and substantive foes. Those hopes, which were counterpointed and qualied in some of the most daring and insightful academic writing from the same era (Hall, 1979; Hall et al., 1978), have been thwarted (Gilroy, 2010). However, the value of Fanons analysis did not evaporate. It may be even greater if his ideas can be reapplied carefully to managing the challenges that are tied up in the lives of the often traumatized incomers who are expected to bring the global insurgency alive on the fertile soil of their racialized exclusion from the dreamscapes of indentured consumerism. His insights can illuminate the experience of damaged and disoriented young people whose internecine, postcode bellicosity has been placed at the centre of todays moral panic over gun and knife crime:
you will see the native reaching for his knife at the slightest hostile or aggressive glance cast upon him by another native; for the last resort of the
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Theory, Culture & Society 27(7-8) native is to defend his personality vis-a-vis his brother . . . by throwing himself with all his force into the vendetta the native tries to persuade himself that colonialism does not exist, that everything is going on as before, that history continues . . . collective autodestruction in a very concrete form is one of the ways in which the natives muscular tension is set free. (Fanon, 1967: 42)

These brutal options can appear as attractive solutions to the necropolitical pressures of poverty and inequality, as well as to a deep hopelessness that goes beyond any problem of social cohesion. Instead of addressing those circumstances, contemporary discussion has been misled by the spectacular mainstreaming of black cultures. That very visible change signifies, comfortingly and wrongly, that racism has ceased and can now be placed in the cold storage of history. We are confronted instead by rational-choice gangsterism and other pathological manifestations of gang and gun crime. They encompass varieties of pointless yet often spectacular violence that cannot be adequately understood as the incidental result of hip hop, bling bling and violent computer games, or masculinist braggadacio imported from the US. Fascinating tales of gangs, murder and mayhem become part of insisting that culture is once again the key to seeing how blacks have been the primary authors of their own urban misfortune. As individuals, they must now be pressured into the responsibilities involved in both collective rehabilitation and personal salvation. Mass incarceration is apparently the favoured means to accomplish this regressive reform . Racism, however, remains, and aspects of its stubborn institutionalization can be readily detected in comparisons of how similar, violent crimes are presented to a public more eager than ever to know the full extent of the horrors involved. One small example suffices. Michael Alleyne, Juress Kika and Jade Braithwaite, the teenage murderers of Ben Kinsella, were, in the reporting of their misdeeds, expelled from the human species in the traditional tabloid manner. They became Ignorant Animals on the front page of The Sun (13 June 2009). When, a few days earlier, the trial of Daniel Sonnex and Nigel Farmer, the killers of two young French students, Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, had resulted in a similar prominence and an equivalent disgust, the principal issue reported was how government failure could have left intoxicated torturers free to walk the streets of south-east London (The Sun, 5 June 2009). The language of ontology was altogether absent. This persistent difference marks the enduring power of popular racism. Yet it becomes intelligible only when we understand how the explanatory power that previously derived from seeing racism as a social and political phenomenon closely connected to economic inequality, rather than as a natural or primordial division, has been squandered. That perspective was banalized by the official, managerial versions of anti-racism. It has been replaced by a calculus of race and risk in which the greatest danger to young black people is said to come from each other, and the governmental
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goals that devolved from cultural plurality have been replaced by the imperatives of security and cohesion. In contrast, Fanon insisted upon what he termed the sociogeny of racial orders. That emphasis shows how his work can still illuminate the predicament of young people who have also been judged vulnerable to the seductions of political Islam ^ an ascetic and morally exhilarating path that is often encountered in the closed environment of the prison system.

Humanism The feature of Fanons work least palatable to the appetite of contemporary social and political theory seems to be his insistent, revolutionary humanism. The consistency of his advocacy for it is dismissed and a restorative, compensatory attention falls upon other problems: his supposed reworking of nationalism, his attention to the body or his promising if frustrating excursions into the psychosexual dimensions of colonial domination. His humanism is either judged embarrassing or, more usually, passed over in silence, presumably as a residual, bourgeois excrescence (Macey, 2000).1 In this scholastic scenario, metaphysics supplies the proof of humanisms perdy but we are supposed to imagine that nothing more needs to be said about humanism than the ritual Heideggerian acknowledgement that Nazism was a humanism ^ a gesture which refuses any specic engagement with racialized and race-producing varieties of political ontology. All subsequent forms of humanistic thinking become the residuum of Enlightenment anthropology overlaid by various Cold War and liberal mystications. The vexed, enthralling history of how all the major voices of 20th-century anti- and postcolonial thought turned eventually towards the problem of the human is set aside (Wynter, 2000). Humanism lives on only where it supplies a timely cipher for militant secularism (Malik, 2009). In response to this orthodoxy, which is often casual in its deployment of terms like trans- and post-human (Anderson 2007; Soper, 1986), I want to spotlight the humanist commitment that is overlooked by most commentators on Fanon. It was licensed on one side by his non-immanent critique of racial ontologies and on the other by a practical sense of the relationship between race-thinking and the instantiation of the colonial nomos. In unravelling the contemporary signicance of this stance, it becomes helpful to draw upon the work of Jean Ame ry, the Austrian-born philosopher who endured the Auschwitz lager and was one of Fanons most enthusiastic and careful post-war readers. Ame rys work is somewhat unusual among the writings of Holocaust survivors for addressing the issue of racism directly and repeatedly (Ame ry, 1984). If he is remembered at all these days, Ame ry serves the institutional eld of Holocaust Studies primarily as a curmudgeonly interlocutor in the analysis of their common experience that was developed by his fellow inmate Primo Levi.
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Two aspects of Ame rys lucid and deeply disturbing arguments are particularly relevant. The first is his sense that Fanon spoke for him uniquely in grasping the philosophical and political meanings of what he had endured in the concentrationary universe. The second is that Ame ry, like Fanon himself, was a combative proponent of radical humanism . He had discovered both his juridical and his ontological Jewishness through the impact of Nazi violence but was delivered to an understanding of its deeper personal and philosophical significance as a result of having been tortured by the Gestapo. In their hands, he had acquired a stake in the politics of dignity which could answer the governmental action that brought racial hierarchy so disastrously to life, shattered the social world of his inter-cultural childhood in Vienna and then hung him up by his dislocated arms from a ceiling hook in the business room of the Breendonk fortress between Brussels and Antwerp. The resulting injuries conditioned Ame rys support for the state of Israel, which was also intertwined both with his politics of personal authenticity and with his appropriation of Fanons view of the reparative and healing effects of counterviolence for individuals who had themselves suffered systematic brutality. Ame ry developed his argument about the relationship between torture, fascism and evil as an angry response to Hannah Arendt and her notion of the banality of evil. She had found elemental and irreducible evil to be banal, he says, because she knew the enemy of mankind only from hearsay, [and] saw him only through the glass cage (Ame ry, 1980: 25). Ame ry was motivated not just to explain the lingering eects of brutalization on his own personality and his political, psychological and moral outlook, but also to substantiate what he understood to be the dicult and contentious claim that torture was not an accidental quality of this Third Reich but its essence . Today that argument, exactly like those of Fanon, delivers critical analysis of securitocracy and its states of exception to an uncomfortable position from which sophistry over the denition of torture and a related enthusiasm for ticking-bomb scenarios will not deliver us. Reading Fanons work after the war against Hitlerism was over led Ame ry to conclude that the lived experience of the black man . . . corresponded in many respects to my own formative and indelible experience as a Jewish inmate of a concentration camp . He continued:
I too suffered repressive violence without buffering or mitigating mediation. The world of the concentration camp too was a Manichaean one: virtue was housed in the SS blocks, profligacy, stupidity, malignance and laziness in the inmates barracks. Our gaze onto the SS-city was one of envy and lust as well. As with the colonized Fanon, each of us fantasized at least once a day of taking the place of the oppressor. In the concentration camp too, just as in the native city, envy ahistorically transformed itself into aggression against fellow inmates with whom one fought over a bowl of soup while the whip of the oppressor lashed at us with no need to conceal its force and power. (Ame ry, 2005: 13, 18)
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Both thinkers wanted to extract a humanist perspective from the extremity of experience that they identified with the operations of the racial nomos inside and outside of its colonial staging. They also shared an outraged response to the foundational absurdity of those varieties of suffering that were warranted by racial science or legitimized by raciology and then registered in the body. For Fanon, as I have said, this critique departed from the concept of sociogenesis. The racial epidermal schema and its colonial traumas were counterposed to a properly disalienated mode of being in the world, which he felt could initiate the real dialectic between the body and the world which arose with the slow composition of the self outside of the colonial and postcolonial habits that brought race to life. He contrasted the amputated humanity involved in merely racialized existence with the implicit knowledge that was lived out even in the simple, everyday instance of finding a cigarette and smoking it:
I know that if I want to smoke, I shall have to reach out my right arm and take the pack of cigarettes lying at the other end of the table. The matches, however, are in the drawer on the left, and I shall have to lean back slightly. And all these movements are made not out of habit but out of implicit knowledge. A slow composition of my self as a body in the middle of a spatial and temporal world ^ such seems to be the schema. It does not impose itself on me; it is, rather, a definitive structuring of the self and of the world ^ definitive because it creates a real dialectic between my body and the world. (Fanon, 1986: 83, new trans. 2004: 91)

Ame ry and Fanon also converged in their attempts to employ the techniques and approaches of phenomenology to illuminate the workings of power. Amerys unsettling consideration of his own torture merits an extended treatment that I cannot provide here but it must be acknowledged nonetheless. In being tortured, the healthier possibilities that Fanon saw as an antidote to the effects of epidermalization were terminated. The world disappeared. And as it vanished, to the sound of a cracking and splintering in Ame rys shoulders that he tells us he could never forget, we begin to comprehend that the humanism these thinkers found and defended came not from a wilfully innocent account of some sacred, intersubjective encounter with Otherness, but from profane acts in which the cruelty done by one to another disclosed the urgent obligation to seek an alternative way of being in the world. Ame ry described this transformation in a patient, instructive manner:
At the first blow . . . trust in the world breaks down. The other person, opposite whom I exist physically in the world and with whom I can only exist as long as he does not touch my skin surface as border, forces his own corporeality on me with the first blow. He is on me and thereby destroys me. It is like a rape, a sexual act without the consent of one of the two partners. Certainly, if there is even a minimal prospect of successful resistance, a mechanism is set in place that allows me to rectify the border violation by
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Theory, Culture & Society 27(7-8) another person. For my part, I can expand in urgent self defense, objectify my own corporeality, restore the trust in my continued existence. The social contract then has another text and other clauses: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. You can also regulate your life according to that. You cannot do it when it is the other one who knocks out the tooth, sinks the eye into a swollen mass, and you yourself suffer on your body the counter-man that your fellow man became . . . only in torture does the transformation of the person into flesh become complete. Frail in the face of violence, yelling out in pain, awaiting no help, capable of no resistance, the tortured person is only a body and nothing else beside that. (Ame ry, 1980: 28^33)

Both men opposed the injunctions of Heideggers Nazi philosophy, which had been influential in post-war France (Bourdieu, 1991). For Fanon, that decision meant using the non-immanent critique of the political ontology of race to ground a humanism which would, as a result, be entirely novel. This would be a post-anthropological, postcolonial and post-exotic humanism that distinguished itself from the contending liberal and Cold War varieties of that creed by being self-consciously articulated as an acknowledgement of racisms debasement of humanity. That decisive pronouncement could only be delivered with credibility after the death of Man had been noted ^ a perilous project that would eventually be elaborated in the later work of another Caribbean political philosopher, Sylvia Wynter (2000), a Jamaican. A further insight can be drawn from the dialogue between Fanon and Ame ry. Rather like the better-known arguments of Ce saire in Discourse on Colonialism (1972), their view of race and torture disrupts the settlement that had fixed the meaning of Europes Fascist period. In the process, they unsettle our sense of how that past and its horrors ^ whether sublime or historical ^ should enter into our own time. How, in short, the Fascist revolution of the 20th century might still be thought to be with us, shaping our relationship to law and to power, orchestrating contemporary experiences of freedom and unfreedom (Wolf, 2007). Fanon was not tortured but he was ^ in his medical role ^ occasionally charged with what Ame ry would have described as the impossible task of attempting to clean up tortures after-effects. At one point, his psychiatric expertise was solicited as part of the war effort in the sense that he had been asked to treat a patient who was being affected negatively by his activities as a torturer and asked the doctor to help him manage the counterproductive effects of his brutal, unsavoury work upon his conscience. Torture thus provided a final heuristic tool with which Fanon considered the violence characteristic of the colonial order in general and colonial war in particular. The geo-political conditions of the war on terror have made it both urgent and worthwhile to revisit this aspect of Fanons thought. We can gain entry to it via his notorious assertion that: At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force . . . [that] frees the native from his inferiority
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complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self respect (Fanon, 1967: 74). As we have already seen, Ame ry transposed this controversial insight away from the colonial world, where it had proved oensive and controversial, and relocated it in the dierent setting provided by the concentrationary universe, where it could appear quite reasonable if not righteously necessary:
I had grasped well that there are situations in life in which our body is our entire self and our entire fate. I was my body and nothing else: in hunger, in the blow that I suffered, in the blow that I dealt. My body, debilitated and crusted with filth, was my calamity. My body when it tensed to strike, was my physical and metaphysical dignity. In situations like mine, physical violence is the sole means for restoring a disjointed personality. In the punch I was myself ^ for myself and for my opponent. What I later read in s de la terre, in a theoretical analysis of the behavFrantz Fanons Les Damne iour of colonised peoples, I anticipated back then when I gave concrete form to my dignity by punching a human face. To be a Jew meant the acceptance of the death sentence imposed by the world as a world verdict. To flee before it by withdrawing into oneself would have been nothing but a disgrace, whereas acceptance was simultaneously the physical revolt against it. I became a person not by subjectively appealing to my abstract humanity but by discovering myself within the given social reality as a rebelling Jew and by realising myself as one. (Ame ry, 1980: 91)

Ame rys experience accorded with this Fanonian theme. As the distance from his wartime experiences increased, he linked it to an incontrovertible defence of the values of European Enlightenment and to his enthusiasm (Likuds national-theocracy aside) for the state of Israel as the just outcome of a national liberation struggle (Ame ry, 1984: 42). I draw attention to this convergence for several reasons. The issue of where the history of the state of Israel and of Palestinian demands for justice are going to be placed in the context of a US-based, postcolonial studies is at this point far from clear. These questions are alive once again in debating the situation in Gaza and the continuing occupation of land seized in 1967. Postcolonial studies certainly needs to consider the ways in which a range of Jewish intellectual opinion has reflected on these issues. However, other related questions are still pending: where does the history of the Third Reich stand in relation to Europes past colonial crimes? Can analysis of racism and racial orders conducted along Fanonian lines provide an opportunity to link those conflicts historically and sociologically? Waving the wand of theory at a world that does not defer to its power is absurd. Whatever resonance Fanons writing may have had in the past, his disalienating humanism and his grasp of tortures fundamental importance now speak to the political circumstances of our time: to questions of race, culture and multiculture, to the ubiquitous projection of racialized phantoms, to the integrity and cohesion of contending civilizations and, above all, to the vexed question of the human in the contested discourse of human rights.
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We must return to the fact that Fanon insisted upon seeing the epiphany of racial hierarchy historically, socially, culturally and pyschologically. Our own sociodiagnostic analyses of it can commence, as his did, after we appreciate the impact of economic inequalities. From that point on, we must do more than create a filter through which we consider the problem of globalization as Americanization that had been signalled initially in the celebrity of superhuman 20th-century athletes like Joe Louis and Jessie Owens. Fanon had seen the global Negro looming out of advertisement hoardings and leering from commodity packaging as a timely creation which was tied not only to colonial domination but to the growing global impact of racial americana. The prestige of Negro athletes and musicians confirmed the US in its historic role as the patron of international capitalism, loudly trumpeting a commitment to European decolonization and the goal of Africa for the Africans (Fanon, 1967: 62). Turning towards Africa, Fanon described the US plunging in everywhere, dollars in the vanguard with [Louis] Armstrong as herald and American Negro diplomats, scholarships, the emissaries of the Voice of America (Fanon, 1964: 178). Understanding these geopolitical developments sociogenetically prompts a final disturbing possibility: the grinning global Negro was a mirage that corresponded to the particular historical circumstances in which it appeared and was then picked up, acted on, internalized and fleshed out with disastrous consequences for all parties involved in the resulting catastrophic transaction. Though Fanons views of war and torture attract little contemporary commentary, he is better remembered for his enduring ^ if perennially unfashionable ^ insights into the workings of racialized identity and, in particular, into the costs for both victims and perpetrators of operating in an epidermalized social and political environment where their common humanity was amputated and authentic interaction between people became almost impossible. His account of these social processes saw human beings estranged from ourselves, our fellows and our species life, but unlike the Marxist tradition, here alienations appearance was associated specifically with the power of colonial conquest and configured in an arrested or suspended dialectic of progress and catastrophe that produced the petrified, motionless world of colonization (Fanon, 1967, new trans. 2004: 37). Fanon answers the conspicuous power of that bloody formation with audacious commitments to curiousity, creativity and humanity, something that does not endear his contributions to todays scholastic practitioners of facile anti-humanism. His words at the end of Black Skin, White Masks amount to an admonition directed at that comfortable, complacent constituency and its imploded identity-politics: the real leap consists in introducing invention into existence. . . . I am a part of Being to the degree that I go beyond it (1986: 179). The assault on Manichaeanism was complete. In spite of its obvious limitations, his medical and psychiatric training seems to have taught him that suffering was just suffering. He had no
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patience with those who would invoke the armour of incorrigibility around either national liberation struggles or the absolutely ethnic cultures that will be specified and disciplined by an untrustworthy, elite leadership. Both were vulnerable to class conflicts and to new types of exploitation. The anxious argument in which he acknowledged these complexities of the revolutionary transformation merits a lengthy quotation:
It was once all so simple with the bad on one side and the good on the other. The idyllic, unreal clarity of the early days is replaced by a penumbra which dislocates the consciousness. The people discover that the iniquitous phenomenon of exploitation can assume a black or Arab face. They cry treason, but in fact the treason is not national but social and they need to be taught to cry thief. On their arduous path to rationality the people must also learn to give up their simplistic perception of the oppressor. The species is splitting up before their very eyes. They realize that certain colonists do not succumb to the ambient climate of criminal hysteria and remain apart from the rest of their species. Such men, who were automatically relegated to the monolithic bloc of the foreign presence, condemn the colonial war. The scandal really erupts when pioneers of the species change sides, go native, and volunteer to undergo suffering, torture, and death. . . .The colonist is no longer simply public enemy number one. Some members of the colonialist population prove to be closer to the nationalist struggle than certain native sons. The racial and racist dimension is transcended on both sides. Not every black or Muslim is automatically given a vote of confidence. One no longer grabs a gun or a machete every time a colonist approaches. Consciousness stumbles upon partial, finite, and shifting truths. All this is, one can guess, extremely difficult. (Fanon, 1967: 95)

Fanon had begun his first book by warning his readers that its truths were not timeless. From the start, he emphasized that the racial order of the colony would bring out the very worst in anyone whose life was distorted by its founding mirage. All of the shadowy actors populating the epidermalized world stood to lose something precious, because racial hierarchy delimited their humanity and depleted the psychological well-being of perpetrator and victim alike. Of course, those different parties (dominant and subordinate, colonizer and colonized) were not affected in exactly the same ways, but the damage done to both of them appeared in complementary, relational forms. It always involved significant losses at the human level, where the decay of species life that had been prompted by imperialism opened up a path towards authentic, human history. I hope that the unfashionable, reparative (Gobodo-Madikezela, 2010) humanity armed by Fanon and Ame ry might start to appear less facile in the context of global emergencies arising outside of the historic dualities of colonial power reconstituted as the foundation for contemporary securitocracy. Fanon remains important because the whole signicance of Europes colonial dominance of the world has been grossly underestimated by social and political theory. The extent of that system ^ which saw, at the
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start of the 20th century, some 55 percent of the worlds population under the colonial yoke ^ is not appreciated as a historical phenomenon with contemporary consequences. W|thout that acknowledgement, the theory of globalization becomes incomplete. More than that, the ways in which the undoing of the colonial system transformed the global order remain essentially unexamined at the metahistorical level that they demand.
Note 1. Maceys wonderful biography of Fanon makes no acknowledgement of Fanons humanism. References Ame ry, Jean (1980) At the Minds Limits, trans. Sidney Rosenfeld and Stella Rosenfeld. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Ame ry, Jean (1984) Being a Jew: A Personal Account, in Radical Humanism: Selected Essays, ed. and trans. Sidney Rosenfeld and Stella Rosenfeld. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Ame ry, Jean (2005) The Birth of Man from the Spirit of Violence: Frantz Fanon the Revolutionary, trans. Adrian Daub. Wasafiri 44(spring): 13^18. Anderson, Kay (2007) Race and the Crisis of Humanism. London: Routledge. Bonnett, Alastair (2004) The Idea of the West. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Bourdieu, Pierre (1991) The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger. Cambridge: Polity. Browne, Simone (2010) Digital Epidermalization: Race, Identity and Biometrics, Critical Sociology 36(1): 131^150. Ce saire, Aime (1972) Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Cooper, Robert (2003) The Breaking of Nations. New York: Atlantic Books. Devlin, Larry (2007) Chief of Station: Congo. New York: Public Affairs. Evelegh, Robin (1978) Peace-keeping in a Democratic Society: The Lessons of Northern Ireland. London: Hurst. Fanon, Frantz (1964) Toward the African Revolution. New York: Monthly Review. Fanon, Frantz (1967) On Violence, in The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books (new trans. by Richard Philcox, New York: Grove Press, 2004). Fanon, Frantz (1986) Black Skin White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markmann. London: Pluto Press (new trans. by Richard Philcox, New York: Grove Press, 2004). Gilroy, Paul (2010) Darker than Blue. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Glenny, Misha (2009) McMafia. New York: Vintage. Gobodo-Madikezela, Pumla (2010) Reconciliation: A Call to Reparative Humanism, in Fanie du Toit and Erik Doxtader (eds) In the Balance: South Africans Debate Reconciliation. Auckland Park, SA: Jacana Press. Hall, Stuart (1979) Drifting into a Law and Order Society. London: Cobden Trust.
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Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John N. Clarke and Brian Roberts (1978) Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London: Macmillan. Headrick, Daniel (1981) The Tools of Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hussain, Nasser (2003) The Jurisprudence of Emergency: Colonialism and the Rule of Law. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Johnson, Linton Kwesi (1975) Dread Beat and Blood. London: Bogle LOuverture. Johnson, Linton Kwesi (1976) Jamaican Rebel Music, Race and Class 17: 398^400. Kilcullen, David (2006) Twenty-eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counter-insurgency, URL (consulted November 2010): http://usacac.army.mil/ cac2/COIN/repository/28_Articles_of_COIN-Kilcullen(Mar06).pdf. Kilcullen, David (2009) The Accidental Guerrilla. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Macey, David (2000) Frantz Fanon: A Life. Oxford: Granta. Mahone, Sloane and Megan Vaughan (eds) (2007) Psychiatry and Empire. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Malik, Kenan (2009) From Fatwa to Jihad. London: Atlantic Books. Mamdani, Mahmood (ed.) (2000) Beyond Rights Talk and Culture Talk. New York: St Martins Press. Mbembe, Achille (2003) Necropolitics, Public Culture 15(1): 11^40. McCulloch, Jock (1995) Colonial Pyschiatry and the African Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. National Council for Civil Liberties (1979) Southall, 23rd April 1979. London: NCCL. Newsinger, John (2002) British Counterinsurgency: From Palestine to Northern Ireland. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Prashad, Vi jay (2007) The Darker Nations: A Peoples History of the Third World. New York: The New Press. Sengoopta, Chandak (2003) The Imprint of the Raj: How Fingerprinting Was Born in Colonial India. London: Macmillan. Soper, Kate (1986) Humanism and Antihumanism. London: Hutchinson. Statewatch (2009) NeoConOpticon ^ The EU Security^Industrial Complex. Amsterdam: Transnational Institute, URL (consulted October 2010): http:// www.statewatch.org/analyses/neoconopticon-report.pdf. Thomas, Martin (2008) Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder after 1914. Berkeley: University of California Press. Wallach Scott, Joan (2007) The Politics of the Veil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Ware, Vron (2006) Infowar and the Politics of Feminist Curiosity, Cultural Studies 20(6): 526^551. Wolf, Naomi (2007) The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.
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32 Theory, Culture & Society 27(7-8) Wynter, Sylvia (2000) The Re-enchantment of Humanism: An Interview with Sylvia Wynter, interviewer, David Scott, Small Axe 8(September): 119^207. Young, Robert J.F.C. (2001) Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Paul Gilroy teaches at the LSE. Before that, he taught at Yale. [email: p.gilroy@lse.ac.uk]

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