Freedom and development in historical context: a comparison of Gandhi and Fanon's approaches to liberation.
|Abstract:||This paper will explore and compare the Fanonian and Ghandian approaches to liberation. Whilst traditional discussions of either man tend to be reduced to an excursus on the role and value of violence in the cause of freedom, this paper addresses and goes beyond the traditional paradigms to engage with their deeper, more holistic concepts of liberation. In so doing it will highlight what I believe to be their overriding similarities and their particularly resonant takes on liberation as the expansion of complementary freedoms. I will focus on the political-national, cultural, economic and social liberation of those they fought for, and will highlight the constant and crucial interplay between the individual and the collective in their writings.|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
Philosophers (Comparative analysis)
Political activists (Comparative analysis)
Reformers (Comparative analysis)
Social reformers (Comparative analysis)
|Publication:||Name: Journal of Pan African Studies Publisher: Journal of Pan African Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Journal of Pan African Studies ISSN: 0888-6601|
|Issue:||Date: Nov, 2011 Source Volume: 4 Source Issue: 7|
|Topic:||Event Code: 290 Public affairs|
|Product:||Product Code: 8524101 Philosophers NAICS Code: 54172 Research and Development in the Social Sciences and Humanities|
|Persons:||Named Person: Fanon, Frantz; Gandhi, Mahatma|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom|
The concept of 'development' has undergone serious revision over the past sixty years. From the largely ethnocentric, positivist focus on industrialisation and GDP growth to the primacy of 'basic needs', the debate has shifted towards the vague yet germane ground of 'development as freedom.' Centred largely on the work of Amartya Sen, it is argued that the "expansion of freedom [should be] viewed as both the primary end and principal means" of this process. (1) To be free is therefore both the desired state of being and the necessary precondition for such a state. Development must then be seen as a great deal more than the (rarely evenly distributed) collective material progress embodied in orthodox GDP measures, whilst freedom should be understood as a multi-faceted, plural condition, attainable by both individuals and groups and comprising the inter-related economic, social, cultural and political realms. When conceived of in such terms, development ceases to be a vehicle for the Western capitalisation of the global South and becomes more a holistic project of liberation.
Encouraging though this intellectual evolution is, it would be naive to characterise it as a wholly revolutionary departure, particularly considering the legacy of the post-colonial thinkers that map Sen's scholarly landscape. Freedom as a desired state and liberation as an essential process are concepts of immense historical importance to the field of 'development.' 'Third World' leaders and academics have contributed immeasurably to broadening our understanding of the theories of social change and the role of freedom has consistently been at their core. What I intend to do in this essay, therefore, is engage in an analysis of this concept through two of the Twentieth Century's greatest and most influential thinkers, Mohandas Gandhi and Frantz Fanon.
Whilst traditional discussions of either man tend to be reduced to an excursus on the role and value of violence in the cause of freedom, I intend to address and yet go beyond the traditional paradigms and engage with their deeper, more holistic concepts of liberation. In so doing I will highlight what I believe to be their overriding similarities and their particularly resonant takes on liberation as the expansion of complementary freedoms. I will focus on the political-national, cultural, economic and social liberation of those they fought for, and will highlight the constant and crucial interplay between the individual and the collective in their writings.
Political-National Liberation and the Role of Violence
Both Gandhi and Fanon played major roles in the independence movements to which they dedicated their lives. Gandhi was instrumental in a theoretical and practical sense in securing the liberation of India from British rule and thus was at the vanguard of decolonisation in Asia. Similarly, Fanon, in his adoptive Algeria, occupied a central role in the FLN and wrote copiously about the process of decolonisation in Africa, of which he too was at the forefront. For both men, colonialism was akin to 'slavery', an image neither was shy of invoking and the two eventually came to see the colonial state as little more than a structural facilitator for capitalist surplus extraction.
It is important to realise that what forged this view was the uncompromisingly racist, totalitarian and stifling nature of the colonial state and the society it engendered. Fanon's experience as a Black man in metropolitan France and then a foreign ex-pat in Algeria mirrored Gandhi's during his time in London and South Africa and the sense of exclusion and inferiority that they were made to feel greatly influenced their work. (2) Although they both openly conceived of freedom in broader and more inclusive terms than those of simple political independence from the White man, they did nonetheless believe that political independence constituted at once the apex of, and key to, a wider struggle against oppression. (3) The all-pervasive superiority of the European's self-perception (relative to the colonised) tended to play out on many levels but most provocatively in the former's continuing denial to the latter of the right to self-determination.
The constant viceregal rejection of Congress demands for Indian dominion status on par with Britain's White settler colonies was mirrored by what Fanon saw as the French obsession with clinging onto 'Algerie francaise', despite the apparently overwhelming clamour for self-determination on the part of the Algerian people. (4) In truth, for Gandhi and Fanon, what this political intransigence manifested was the deep, structural discrimination of the colonial authority, itself comprised of the very individuals whose racism the two had felt so keenly elsewhere.
The personal, social and cultural oppression that so concerned Gandhi and Fanon was at once underpinned by, and inherently intertwined with, the structure of colonial authority itself. Until the colonies could represent themselves at the governmental level, the oppressed masses of the colonised world would never be free in the same way as their counterparts in the West. "The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs [and] Indians," writes Fanon. (5) As such, "The Algerian Revolution...is aimed at the death of this configuration and the creation of a new society. The liberation of the Algerian national territory is a defeat for racism and the exploitation of men; it inaugurates the unconditional reign of Justice." (6) In a passage that presages this by over four decades, Gandhi himself writes "We are challenging the might of this government because we consider its activity to be wholly evil. We want to compel its submission to serve the people, not the people the government." (7) Freedom of the nation then, becomes in Gandhi and Fanon the pre-requisite for all freedom and for any personal or national (re)construction.
Although they agreed on the ultimate goal, however, it is often highlighted that their ideas on just how this 'formal independence' was to be achieved differed significantly, particularly with respect to the use of force. (8) Whilst they both favoured direct action, for Gandhi, independence could, and indeed should, only be achieved by strict adherence to the doctrine of ahimsa, or non-violence, whereas Fanon saw violence itself as the essential component in the process of liberation.
Resistance, for Gandhi, was embodied in the theory of satyagraha, from the Hindi sat (or 'truth') and agraha ('firmness' or 'force'). As a form of peaceful, collective, civil protest, it was seen as a great deal more than the reductive English term, 'passive resistance.' Crucial though the moral and philosophical dimensions of this stance are, though, the essential point is that Gandhi conceived of it in largely instrumental terms. The moral and social high-ground he was able to adopt underpinned his mediatory skills to provide a pragmatic method for opposing a more powerful, defensive and antagonistic colonial authority, which, he argued, simply would not yield to violent revolution. Satyagraha was Gandhi's 'sovereign remedy' precisely because in the Indian context, he believed, violence would be futile. (9) Furthermore, he realised satyagraha's "paradoxical reliance on violence." (10) Indeed, his peaceful civil disobedience campaigns demonstrated a continual, symbiotic and functional relationship with the use of force.
As David Arnold highlights, "Non-violence in a non-violent world might achieve little, but in a society ruled through sporadic violence its impact could be immense." (11) It was precisely by publicly adopting the moral stance of pacifism in the face of the truncheon that Gandhi was able to attract international support to his cause and build a position of invulnerability from which to take on the might of the British Empire. As such, to characterise his views as instrumentally un-ambivalent is largely naive. Indeed, when pushed on the matter during the turbulent period of Quit India in 1942, he even declared "I would rather see India resort to arms to defend her honour than be dishonoured." (12)
Similarly, Fanon's view of violence in the name of national liberation is much more ambiguous than is often assumed. Although he believed that only violent rebellion could liberate the masses from total oppression, he was in no way an advocate of violence per se. (13) For Fanon it was just a tragic fact that violence was unavoidable in the face of such deep and intransigent political and psychological oppression. "Decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon," he explains, for "Colonialism is violence in its natural state and will only yield when confronted with greater violence." (14) Although often obscured by the forceful zeal of his language, a careful reading of his work actually demonstrates Fanon's own refusal to see violence in anything other than instrumental terms. Just as Gandhi believed that the imperial government would necessarily crumble under the united moral and passive resistance of the people, then, so Fanon thought that in the context of the Cold War, the colonial establishment would no longer be able to sustain a long-term military repression in the face of all-out rebellion.
Underpinning this national resistance was a crucial process of giving agency back to the colonised. At the collective level this agency was of course symbolised by national self-determination but, for Gandhi and Fanon, it was equally important at the level of the individual, himself constitutive of the nation. Fanon writes that "the colonized man finds his freedom" in and through "the violence of liberation," that "the thing which has been colonised becomes man during the process by which it frees itself," that the process of violence "disintoxifies" the colonised of the subjugating inferiority complex that his situation breeds. (15) As Bulhan puts it: "In fighting [the oppressor], the oppressed is collectively and individually 'disintoxified.' In other words, the recovery of the alcoholic begins in his detoxification; the cure of the phobic in confronting the object of his fears; and the self-rehabilitation of the oppressed in directly confronting the source of his dehumanisation." (16) The key point is that the process of violence is as liberatory for the individual as it ends up being on the political level for the nation, specifically because it returns the individual to a position of agency. The same could be said of Gandhi, for whom "non-cooperation was not only a practical political programme but a moral crusade, a means by which Indians could purify themselves from the corrupting taint of foreign rule." (17) As such, the process of liberation could not really be separated from the event of liberation itself as it is this active process that specifically gives both the individual and the nation back the individuality, identity and freedom that had been stripped by colonialism.
Raghavan Iyer says that "For Gandhi, the relationship between means and ends is organic, the moral quality of the latter being causally dependent on the former." If applied to Fanon, one would perhaps replace the word 'moral' with 'existential', but the fundamental point remains the same--despite their apparent differences in methodology, Gandhi and Fanon were both of the opinion that crucial though formal independence was, it represented only the apex of a much broader struggle against a more total domination. National and individual cultural liberation through individual agency (violent or not) was equally central to the whole project of genuine independence, and thus will be discussed in further detail below.
Agency and the (Re)formation of National Culture
Both men saw cultural supremacy as absolutely integral to the structure of colonial society and believed it to be manifested and prevalent at every level, from the use of the coloniser's language to the imposition of Western medicine, the introduction of Western education and even the destructive role of the Church. Whereas Gandhi saw liberation from all this in largely spiritual terms, Fanon was preoccupied with the psychological implications of suppression. (18) The two were equally aware however, of the individual mental effects of cultural submission on the masses of indigenous people, and each noticed the facilitative role this played in sustaining the colonial project itself. Thus, Fanon writes: "Because it is a systematic negation of the other person and a furious determination to deny [him] all attributes of humanity, colonialism forces the people it dominates to ask themselves the question 'In reality, who am I?'" (19) The "inferiority complex" this generates consistently forces the Black man to objectify himself in relation to the settler, a tragedy that culminates in the native's apparent desire to be White. (20) This description is strikingly resonant of Gandhi's own warning in Hind Swaraj that Indians needed to stop trying to emulate the British if they wanted to attain 'genuine freedom,' and that what must then be avoided was the creation of an "Englishstan" or "English rule without Englishmen." (21)
If culture was so crucial to the very essence of colonialism then, crucial too for the liberatory project was the regaining of individual self-awareness and thereby an indigenous cultural identity. At the personal level this meant, for Gandhi, casting off "the tinsel of civilisation." (22) As David Arnold explains, "On the 21st December 1913, Gandhi appeared at a meeting in Durban, barefoot, in 'coolie' dress with his moustache shaven off... By thus decolonising his body, he was symbolically ridding himself physically, as well as mentally, of dependence on the West." (23) It is in this context that we can best understand the personal, micro-implications of Gandhi's swaraj. The term meant much more than either the 'home-rule' or 'self-determination' of English translations. Swaraj for Gandhi implied more the fuller, moral and positive 'freedom' than the negative 'independence' that it entailed for men like Tilak. It meant freedom of the will from any coercion, either overt or subconscious, "freedom to err or even to sin." For Gandhi, this freedom involved the awakening of the individual, placing an emphasis on both regaining and exercising personal agency, in moral and cultural terms.
It was "founded on the moral autonomy of the individual" able to "claim" his freedom on the basis of culturally and spiritually liberated "self-awareness" and "earned through a self-effort" that demanded participation in the shedding of personal and national cultural oppression, including the use of the coloniser's language, science and law. (24) In this sense it meant moving away from the fragmentary and individualistic yet stultifyingly somnambulant materialist society of the coloniser, in favour of the 'purity' that Gandhi thought belonged to 'ancient civilisation.' (25)
Moreover, it is precisely when the individual has achieved this that the collective will also achieve its own freedom: "The first step to swaraj lies in the individual. The great truth: 'As with the individual so with the universe' is applicable here as elsewhere." (26) Gandhi saw the development of an ideal, free society as one in which each individual was free to pursue his own ends, each adhering to universal principles such as ahimsa, and each willfully choosing to serve society as a whole. "Self-evolution is wholly consistent with a nation's evolution," he said, because the moral and cultural freedom of the nation's component individuals will lead irrevocably to the freedom of the nation itself. (27) So, as the individual throws off what Gandhi saw as the often negative, rationalistic, even violent trappings of Western modernity, he thought that a truer, more essential Indian nation and national culture based on the genuine and timeless Indian tradition of 'harmony and spiritual virtue' could emerge. (28)
Though his conception of the ideal culture to emerge from the liberating process of decolonisation was substantively different to Gandhi's, Fanon also believed that the role of the individual was central to its construction. "The native intellectual must seek his culture anywhere.must get away from White culture...must give expression to this consciousness which is in the process of being liberated," he writes. In Black Skin, White Masks, he explains that the aim is to "release man" from his cultural chains, "to do no less than free the Black man from himself," from the sublimated desire to transcend his skin colour and assimilate into the dominant structures of the White man.
With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that the young Fanon should have taken refuge in the development of "Negritude" as an alternative and liberating Black culture. Men like Cesaire sought through Negritude to give the Black man a voice, to make him a subject and free him from the objectifying gaze of the coloniser. It was therefore both a cultural and political project of giving agency back to a people who had only known oppression and whose greatest experience of liberation--the freedom from the bondage of official slavery--had been one of total passivity. "The Negro was acted upon," complains Fanon, in a way that did not recall his beloved and triumphant Hegelian Master-Slave Paradigm. (29) With the rediscovery of individual agency and cultural pride, then, Negritude was seen as an emancipatory movement capable of building a culture free (and able to free people) from Western oppression.
However, crucially for Fanon, escaping Western culture did not mean crawling into the shell of the past and fleeing the White man's modernity. In a passage that might almost ironically recall Gandhi, Fanon laments that the quest for an authentic 'indigenous' culture "seems only to be a banal search for exoticism." He continues, "The sari becomes sacred...while suddenly the language of the ruling power burn[s] your lips." Fanon shuns this. "Culture has not the translucidity of custom," he says, to "bring abandoned traditions to life again does not only mean going against the current of history but also opposing one's own people." Finding refuge in the past of one's 'race' goes against "the realities" of the day. This is cowardice and reactionary for Fanon. Although he celebrates the achievements of Negritude, he still sees it as anachronistic and ultimately reductive, arguing that "the colonized man who writes for his people ought to use the past with the intention of opening the future, as an invitation to action and a basis for hope." (30) Fanon is thus inherently progressive and sees Negritude as instrumental in rebuilding individual and collective Black consciousness whilst recognising it as a cultural direction in need of extension.
As ever, this extension comes through 'the fighting phase,' because unlike Gandhi, Fanon believed real cultural regeneration must happen in a situation of antagonism. "To fight for national culture means to fight for the liberation of the nation" he explains. (31) Finding a true national culture means building a nation precisely through liberation from tyranny. In this respect, Fanon demonstrates his Marxist tendencies and his belief in the unifying and edifying power of revolutionary socialism. In gaining freedom, he writes, "the community triumphs" by becoming part of "the sacred unity of the struggle for liberation." (32) In fact, in this struggle "individualism is the first to disappear" as "the individual stands aside in favour of the community." (33) The beauty of the anti-colonial battle, then, is for Fanon precisely its creative, unifying power. He in fact describes violent rebellion as "a positive, creative process." "The practice of violence binds [people] together as a whole, since each individual forms a violent link in the great chain of violence which has surged upwards in reaction to the settler's violence." "The mobilization of the masses," he continues, "when it arises out of the war of liberation, introduces into each man's consciousness the ideas of a common cause, a national destiny, a collective history." (34) Crucially then, where Gandhi sees personal spiritual/cultural liberation as the generating force behind both political-national liberation and national spiritual/cultural regeneration, Fanon sees the very (destructive) process of liberating as the generative and creative force behind personal and national cultural liberation and rebirth. The spiritual for him is anything but individual in the Gandhian sense; rather it is derived from the communal experience that is collective liberation itself.
Economic Liberation, Post-Colonial State Structure and the Goal of Social Emancipation
Intrinsically linked to both the Gandhian and Fanonian notion of cultural liberation was the need for a more structural and underlying economic revolution, to free the people and nation from the economic subjugation by, and future dependence on, the colonial or post-colonial power. For Fanon, the colonies had been reduced to a 'market' where settlers owned all the produce and earned all the profits, while natives blindly provided all the labour and played the role of 'customer'. Equally, for Gandhi, the injustice of measures like the Salt Tax led him to believe that colonial rule "had drained India's wealth, ruined its industries, imposed unfair trading arrangements and subordinated its economic development to British interests. (35) Crucially though, they both realised that economic freedom would not automatically accompany political-national independence and their respective analyses appear extraordinarily far-sighted in the context of subsequent discussions on the nature of economic dependence and 'underdevelopment.' (36) After liberation, writes Fanon, "the former dominated country becomes an economically dependent country." (37) "We go on sending out raw materials [and] being Europe's small farmers who specialise in unfinished products," a state of affairs that Fanon blames largely on the betrayal of the native bourgeoisie who find their Marxian 'historic mission' to be no more than becoming compradors for Western capital. (38) Equally, Gandhi shows himself to be fearful of this comprador state. In his autobiography, he in fact laments that "We in India have become commission agents of English merchants," (39) and he is gravely concerned to remedy this in the drive for real freedom.
What was needed then, and what Gandhi and Fanon each developed, was a full-scale developmental programme for national economic and social reconstruction in order to cut loose the anchor of dependency. Though the details of their plans differ markedly and display different views on the value of 'modern civilization,' their essential aims remain similar and look to create independent, self-sufficient countries. For Gandhi this was articulated in his concept of swadeshi and the Constructive Programme he designed to help develop it. Swadeshi, or self-reliance, had more than one level and entailed at once the obtaining of formal economic independence from Britain and the establishment of a politico-economic structure that would underpin and maintain this independence in future years.
The former was a course of action intimately bound up with satyagraha and was designed to break the chains of British economic domination, through the boycotting of British goods, the flouting of laws designed to benefit British business and the return to 'traditional' methods of production in order to make best use of the productive factor in which India was most abundant--labour. "In this ideal," he declared, "there is no room for machines that displace human labour and concentrate power in a few hands... It is necessary to realise that machinery is bad. We shall then be able to gradually do away with it." (40)
Thus Gandhi went to considerable pains to revive the practice of spinning on the handlooms to provide an indigenous alternative to that icon of Western industrialisation, the mill. As such, the handloom became a key symbolic and genuine practical economic attempt to start on the road away from dependence. Though its success may have been limited, its implications were clear.
Paralleling this attempt was Gandhi's theorising about the ideal political structure for the swadeshi state. For Gandhi, "Independence [comes] from the bottom up. Thus every village will be a republic ... self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs." Each village was to be a self-governing and self-reliant sort of rural co-operative, with locally elected representatives and officials. In this structure, all villages are organically joined in "an oceanic circle" of "concentric circles," instead of being subsumed under a "pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom." (41) This 'enlightened anarchy' was the perfectly decentralised and individual-focused state that Gandhi thought should be central to all morally and spiritually pure societies capable of emancipating the oppressed and breaking free from the economic and spiritual chains of Western materialism. Moreover, it provided the (infra)structure for properly educating and caring for a perpetually neglected and downtrodden population, all within the empowering context of responsibilisation and the fostering of individual freedom.
Fanon's own model socio-political structure was similar, although it reflected a more orthodox socialist tendency than Gandhi's, with central party officials living among and sensitising the idealised and amorphous rural masses that were so integral to Fanon's project of liberation. 'Political education' was crucial to this and Fanon saw it as the responsibility of party intellectuals to serve and "educate the masses." (42) "We must create a national policy, a policy for the masses," he continues, a truly revolutionary policy which goes beyond the standard elite, urban, bourgeois nationalism prevalent in many emerging nations. Fanon too is an emancipator and, like Gandhi, he advocates bringing power to the people through "decentralisation in the extreme," arguing that "the interior, the back country ought to be the most privileged part of the country," so that this revolutionary nationalism could be made a reality for all citizens. (43)
Crucially however, as with Gandhi, Fanon's programme for national development was not based on the reductive, insular xenophobia that we still see prevalent in much of the world. Rather, it was a process of developing the collective consciousness that he saw as necessary for economic emancipation. "Nationalism is not a political doctrine," he explains, but "an economic program" about building "social consciousness" in "the battle against hunger, ignorance [and] poverty." (44) In what might almost be seen as presaging today's 'capability approach', Fanon advocates the use of the state in highly developmental terms, as a facilitatory power working to free its citizens from unfreedom. So he sees it as being at the heart of "large-scale undertakings in the public interest"--developmental public works designed to bring the underprivileged and downtrodden former colony into the modern world. (45)
Indeed, unlike his Indian predecessor, "Fanon never called the achievements of modernity into question." (46) He believed that industrialisation and economic nationalism were key to making the post-colonial state independent and competitive on the international stage and he saw this competitivity best manifested through self-reliant economic 'autarky.' (47) The resultant closure of what once constituted a colonial market could, when combined with the right foreign policy, ultimately bring about socialist revolution in the Core countries themselves through the destabilisation of the capitalist export economies on which they depended. Like Gandhi, he realised that the primary economic activity of the post-colonial bourgeoisie had been as compradors for Western capital and he consequently believed that this too should be nationalised. For Fanon, decentralisation was key at the political level, but in order to free the people from the underdevelopment embodied in this comprador economy, he believed a central direction in the development of the economy was essential. The modernising tendencies that he here displays are wholly characteristic of his time.
Conclusions and the Development Context
For Gandhi and Fanon, liberation meant much more than political freedom from the 'yoke of colonialism' and their road maps to this Promised Land were infinitely more complex than a simple choice between either branch of the forked path that is violent or non-violent resistance. It is true that much of their work focuses on the need for, and means to, achieve national independence, but to assume that their respective musings stopped here is wholly short-sighted. As Bhikhu Parekh states, "For Gandhi, British Imperialism dominated India at three related but different levels. At the political level, the government oppressed the people and denied their right to run their affairs themselves. At the economic level, it exploited and impoverished them and subordinated their interests to those of the British economy. And at the moral and cultural level, [it] destroyed the identity and integrity of Indian civilisation and turned Indians into brown Englishmen." (48) As such, Gandhi fought for liberation "simultaneously on moral, religious, political, social, economic and cultural fronts." (49)
Similarly, for Fanon, colonial dominance was infinitely broader and deeper than the simple denial of the right to political self-determination. Instead, he believed, it involved a wholesale economic, cultural, psychological and social subjugation of the 'native' to the 'settler.' Colonial exploitation was total and "totalitarian," it was the essence of violence and had divided life and space into two non-reciprocal and diametrically opposed worlds of abundance and want. Furthermore, colonial racism had dehumanised indigenous populations in order to facilitate their exploitation. Indeed, he laments, "it is not possible to enslave men without logically making them inferior." (50) As such then, liberation for Fanon meant completely throwing off all the trappings of inferiority, bringing the 'native' and his society to a point of independent self-realisation and freeing them from the dominance of the settler on every level.
Indeed, both men realised that this liberation was not just a collective imperative. They believed that colonialism dominated man to the very core and, as such, national independence had to be accompanied or indeed preceded by personal, individual liberation. "The liberation of the individual does not follow national liberation. An authentic national liberation exists only to the precise degree to which the individual has irreversibly begun his own liberation," explains Fanon. (51) In the same way, Gandhi argued that individual liberation, and individual swaraj had to be attained in order for the nation as a whole to be free. "The swaraj of a people means the sum total of the swaraj of individuals (52)," he declared.
Unsurprisingly then, these two theorists of freedom moved beyond the myopic conception of liberation as the simple removal of European political power. Rather, they saw it as the systematic freeing of man and his society from all the chains which had formerly held them in bondage. Theirs was a holistic language that transcended the modernising developmental discourse of the day and resonates more with contemporary theories of progress. Their mutual insistence on a broader programme of social and political reform to at once free the nation from economic dependence, to liberate the people from psycho-cultural suppression and to emancipate the oppressed from the control of the oppressors provides a clear and influential context for thinkers like Sen. The view of 'development as freedom' may embody a new intellectual departure for the central development orthodoxy therefore, but it belongs squarely to a tradition of thought that values freedom above all else.
University of Oxford
Notes and References
(1) Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999), Preface p. xii.
(2) As can be attested from reading Gandhi's Hind Swaraj and Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks.
(3) Cf. Fanon's, 'The Pitfalls of National Consciousness' in The Wretched of The Earth, and Gandhi's own writings on swaraj: "I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English yoke. I am bent on freeing India from any yoke whatsoever." Quoted in Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, (Oxford University Press, New York, 1973), p. 356.
(4) As he repeatedly argues in A Dying Colonialism.
(5) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, (Penguin Books, London, 1963) p. 76.
(6) Frantz Fanon, Towards The African Revolution, tr. Haakon Chevalier, (Monthly Review Press, New York, 1967) p. 66.
(7) Quoted in Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 355. Emphasis added.
(8) Gandhi quoted in Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi's Political Philosophy, (The Macmillan Press, London, 1989) p. 56.
(9) Mohandas Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth tr. Mahadev Desai, (Phoenix Press, London, 1944) p. 317.
(10) David Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power, (Pearson Education Limited, Essex, England, 2001) p.112. Emphasis added.
(12) Quoted in Raghavan Iyer, The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1991) p. 244.
(13) In the manner of George Sorel for example, to whom he has been mistakenly compared.
(14) Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, pp. 26-7, 47.
(15) Ibid., p. 66.
(16) Hussein Abdulahi Bulhan, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression, (Plenum Press, New York, 1985), p. 147.
(17) David Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power, p. 118.
(18) So much so that he even termed his Black Skin, White Masks a 'psycho-existential' study. Frantz Fanon, Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, (Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1952) p. 14. All translations from this text are my own.
(19) Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, p. 200.
(20) Fanon, Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, p. 100.
(21) Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power, p. 67.
(22) Mohandas Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, tr. Mahadev Desai, (Phoenix Press, London, 1944) p. 156.
(23) Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power, p. 63.
(24) Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 349-352.
(25) Bhikhu Parekh provides an excellent discussion of this in the first chapter of his book, mentioned above.
(26) Gandhi quoted in Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 352.
(27) Ibid., p. 356.
(28) Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power, p.66.
(29) Fanon, Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, p.196.
(30) Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, pp. 179-80.
(31) Ibid., p.187.
(32) Ibid., pp. 36, 135.
(33) Ibid., p. 36.
(34) Ibid., pp. 74-5.
(35) Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi's Political Philosophy, (The Macmillan Press, London, 1989), p. 18.
(36) Indeed Gandhi seems to presage in many ways the discussion of the Latin American 'dependistas', whilst Fanon is often credited with providing the bridge between them and the African situation.
(37) Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, p. 76.
(38) Ibid., p. 122.
(39) Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, p. 199.
(40) Quoted in Raghavan Iyer, The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1991) p. 348.
(41) Ibid,. p. 347.
(42) Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, p. 157.
(43) Ibid., p. 151-3.
(44) Ibid., p. 153.
(45) Ibid., p. 153.
(46) Alice Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, tr. Nadia Benabib, (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2006), p. 180.
(47) "The underdeveloped people will decide to continue their evolution inside a collective autarky" he writes in The Wretched of The Earth, p. 85.
(48) Parekh, Gandhi's Political Philosophy, p.18.
(49) Ibid., p. 4.
(50) Fanon, Towards The African Revolution, p. 40.
(51) Ibid., p. 105.
(52) Gandhi quoted in Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 355.
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