George Ciccariello-Maher is Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel University and the author of We Created Chávez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution, also published by Duke University Press.
Toward a New Dialectics of Race
Whereas most—notably Hannah Arendt—draw Sorel and Fanon together with the goal of rejecting both, this chapter begins from the opposite gesture. Despite Jean-Paul Sartre’s terse dismissal of Sorel’s “fascist utterances,” Fanon’s formulation of violence and revolutionary dialectics shares much with his predecessor. In the French context, Fanon phenomenologically tracks his own racialization and objectification, an institutionalized form of unreason. With no other choices, Fanon opts for Black identity—in the radically explosive form of self-assertion. Fanon centers this explosion within a reformulated and decolonized Hegelian master-slave dialectic that, due to the existence of a “zone of nonbeing” populated by less-than-humans, lacked the internal basis for dialectical motion. As a result, his decolonized dialectics required one-sided intervention by these disqualified nonbeings to set dialectical oppositions into motion. Through a severe and overlooked critique of Sartre, moreover, Fanon’s decolonized dialectics refuses preemptive closure and remains radically open ended.