Who is the modern-day Frantz Fanon?

by on August 19, 2017 at 9:00 am in Books, Current Affairs, Philosophy, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Chris Blattman tweets:

Is there a modern day Fanon or Memmi writing about dvpt & globalizn as they wrote about colonialization? Doesn’t only have to be leftist.

Hardi and Negri come up in the mentions, but I am underwhelmed.  There is the alt right, mostly on the internet rather than in books of note.  To whatever extent they are objectionable, keep in mind Fanon was a Marxist, and in any case agreement is not the metric here.

I also nominate Alexander Dugin.  There is plenty in Islamic theology too, and the environmental movement would be yet another direction.

On the academic and also more liberal side, there is Joe Stiglitz and Dani Rodrik.  Is Roberto Unger going too far back?  Three-quarters of the Bengali intelligentsia?  Arundhati Roy?  Or maybe you think Naomi Klein is not serious enough, but the lower quality of at least some of these answers is itself data.  Does the writer have to be from a developing nation?

Frank Fukuyama would be a subtle answer, as would be “the government of China.”  I am reluctant to categorize Slavoj Žižek, but he is not irrelevant for this question by any means.

And let’s not restrict ourselves to non-fiction.  How about Roberto Bolaño’s 2666?  Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of SinNeill Blomkamp?  Michel Houllebecq of course.

What do you all think? I know I am missing a great deal.  That said, if you look for a very direct parallel and just google “leading Algerian intellectuals,” little of relevance comes up, focus maybe there on rai music and theology.

I would stress that the nature of intellectual fame has changed, and if there are few exact parallels to Fanon it is for that reason.  I do not think there is a more general vacuum in this area of inquiry.

1 Alan Goldhammer August 19, 2017 at 9:18 am

Intriguing post. Although not modern day as he passed away a decade ago, Ryszard Kapucinski was probably the most astute observer of problems afflicting the developing world. He is greatly underrated as a political observer

2 derek August 19, 2017 at 9:56 am

Are there any eastern european writers? Poland seems to be an example where the markers between globalization and national self preservation are being fought out.

3 vigneron August 19, 2017 at 9:57 am

John Halloway
Alain de Benoist
Subcomandante Marcos
Vandana Shiva
Immanuel Wallerstein…

Make your concoction, blend it, shake it, serve it hot…

4 Thiago Ribeiro August 19, 2017 at 9:59 am

Mr. Unger is widely considered one of the most important and accomplished intellectuals the 20 th and 21 th Centuries have seen so far. He has been considered Mr. Obama’s mentor and his ideas have a central role in modern Brazil.

5 Fabiana August 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm

I’d say that Milton Santos, from a Brazilian domestic perspective, is far more influential than Unger, particularly in academia/ intelligentsia circles. Moreover, he is indeed best known for his critique of globalization, however shoddy it may be.

6 Nicholas Weininger August 19, 2017 at 11:02 am

Amartya Sen, perhaps? Or am I misunderstanding what’s wanted here?

7 Mark August 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Given the enormous benefits the emerging market nations have received from globalization, and how those benefits are distributed, I think one will find few intellectuals native to such nations offering a critique of it. If one dispenses with the label “intellectual” but still wants to identify the most prominent voice against globalization who is native to a less-developed region, it’s probably bin Laden.

8 Toquam August 19, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Prof Karl Deutsche, Prague born with first hand experience, addressed Fannon’s bizarre “healing by committing unlimited violence” theory of colonial liberation.

By that theory, the Waffen SS were all saints, healed of any merely worldly sin.

Algeria’s first savage war of peace lead to a kleptocracy, which excluded fighters inside Algeria in favor of units minted with Communist indoctrination, safe from the French on each border.

However healed, the second, purely internal savage war of peace involved Le Pouvoir claiming Islamists who won a fair election might not allow a second.

9 Donald Pretari August 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

10 CD August 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Thing is, development” and “globalization” are much broader terms than colonization. Moreover anti-colonialism was often fiercely developmentalist, and in some respects globalist — a counter-globalization. So it’s not like there is an obvious intellectual continuity. Most antiglobalists are peddling romantic nostalgia to first world audiences.

For Fanon, legatees include postcolonial critics and the subaltern school. Achille Mbembe seems like an obvious figure; you could include novelists like Coetzee and Dangarembga who dramatize psychological conflicts.

11 yo August 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I nominate Blattman.

12 dearieme August 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Why does “colonisation” in Algeria refer to French colonisation rather than, say, Roman or Arab colonisation?

13 yo August 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

By the way, Algeria is a repressive dictatorship. It’s no wonder it doesn’t produce any social scientists of note, and the reason is the same why most oil-rich MENA countries don’t. Any contenders would have to be afraid for their lives. They wouldn’t have influence anyway since, after the first tract, they’d disappear forever.

14 Evans_KY August 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

The Ralph Nader Radio Hour has featured Dean Baker and Robert Pollin, PERI, most recently. Ralph penned “The Case Against Free Trade” in the 1990s. Another frequent guest on his radio program is Noam Chomsky. Intellectual fame is much more difficult when the MSM avoids these men like the plague.




15 Kay Hymowitz August 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Naomi Klein.

16 Anonymous Bosch August 19, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Angus Deaton. His critique of foreign aid is spot on.

17 Enrique August 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm
18 André Sacramento August 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm

From left-wing academia: Gayatri Spivak (although she can be obscure/cryptic a lot of times), David Harvey, Tariq Ali, Achille Mbembe. Seconding Amartya Sen.

19 Tom T. August 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

The fact that Fukuyama keeps getting mentioned in assessments like these really indicates that once you’re tagged as “an intellectual,” you’re in for life, regardless of your actual track record.

20 Nate S. August 19, 2017 at 8:46 pm

I would say maybe Pankaj Mishra, for his numerous articles in Bloomberg View, the Guardian, etc., and his books like “The Age of Anger”.

21 Jaseem Ahmed August 19, 2017 at 11:01 pm

Pankaj Mishra is a good nomination. You can add Hamid Dabashi at Columbia Univeristy to the list. Dont agree with everything they write, but their deeply felt polemics are often thought provoking.


22 Arjun August 19, 2017 at 10:18 pm

I nominate Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesperson/leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), aka the Zapatistas. His writings — not to mention the 1994 Zapatista uprising — have been very influential in not just Latin America but on the global scale, and he and the Zapatistas are tremendously popular among alter-globalization militants. He certainly fits the bill of a modern Fanon better than anybody else, particularly since he combines theoretical elaborations on modern capitalism and development and decolonization with actual practice.

23 Jeff August 20, 2017 at 4:09 am

Michael Parenti

24 J August 20, 2017 at 10:28 am

Objectively, Islamic writers like al-Adnani are having large anti-globalist anti-neocolonialist following. They are no less ferocious than Franz Fanon. Redemption through jihad. Writing in Arabic with an antisecular tint, they are not accessible to Western academic scholars. But they are the inheritors of FF. They are not my people, but I see the continuity.

25 Josh August 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

e. Micheal jones wrote an excellent book on the history of development economics centered around The story of Julius Nyerere.

26 Josh August 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm

It’s called “the broken pump in Tanzania”

27 Jos. S. Laughon August 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Dugin is vastly overpraised in his originality.

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