from Commonwealth / the colonized intellectual

Hardt&Negri p. 103-104

Frantz Fanon’s proposition of the stages of evolution of ”the colonized intellectual” provides an initial guide for how to move from modernity and antimodernity to altermodernity. In Fanon’s first stage the colonized intellectual assimilates as much as possible to European culture and thought, believing that everything modern and good and right originates in Europe, thus devaluing the colonial past and its present culture. Such an assimilated intellectual becomes more modern and more European than the Europeans, save for the dark skin color. A few courageous colonized intellectuals, however, achieve a second stage and rebel against the Eurocentrism o f thought and the coloniality of power. ”In order to secure his salvation,” Fanon explains, ” in order to escape the supremacy of white culture the colonized intellectual feels the need to return to his unknown roots and lose himself, come what may, among his barbaric people.”61
It is easy to recognize too a whole series of parallel forms that antimodern intellectuals take in the dominant countries, seeking to escape and challenge the institutionalized hierarchies of modernity along lines o f race, gender, class, or sexuality and affirm the tradition and identity of the subordinated as foundation and compass. Fanon recognizes the nobility of this antimodern intellectual position but also warns of its pitfalls, in much the same way that he cautions against the dangers o f national consciousness, negritude, and pan-Africanism. The risk is that affirming identity and tradition, whether dedicated to past suffering or past glories, creates a static position, even i n its opposition to modernity’s domination. The intellectual has to avoid getting stuck in antimodernity and pass through it to a third stage.

”Seeking to stick to tradition or reviving neglected traditions is not only going against history, but against one’s people,” Fanon continues. ”When a people support an armed or even political struggle against a merciless colonialism, tradition changes meaning.”62  And neither does identity remain fixed, but rather it must be transformed into a revolutionary becoming. The ultimate result of the revolutionary process for Fanon must be the creation o f a new humanity, which moves beyond the static opposition between modernity and antimodernity and emerges as a dynamic, creative process. The passage from antimodernity to altermodernity is defined not by opposition but by rupture and transformation.

p. 107
Altermodernity thus involves not only insertion i n the long history of antimodern struggles but also rupture with any fixed dialectic between modern sovereignty and antimodern resistance. Inthe passage from antimodernity to altermodernity, just as tradition and identity are transformed, so too resistance takes on a new meaning, dedicated now to the constitution of alternatives. The freedom that forms the base of resistance, as we explained earlier, comes to the fore and constitutes an event to announce a new political project.



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