Leon Lemmer: Oor ‘vryheidsvegters’ en eksistensialisme (Deel 1)

Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre en die links-revolusionêre held Ché Guevara

In hierdie rubriek skryf ek in deel 1 oor Frantz Fanon se radikale anti-kolonialisme, eintlik anti-blanke rassisme, en Jean-Paul Sartre se ondersteuning van geweld teen blanke koloniste. In deel 2 is daar Claude Lanzmann se verduideliking van die konteks waarin Sartre se uitlatings plaasgevind het en die perspektief wat Sarah Blakewell hieroor in haar onlangse boek oor eksistentialisme verskaf. Hou in gedagte dat Algerië en Suid-Afrika dié twee lande in Afrika was waar bv die stede, dorpe en plase die aanskyn van Europese beskawing gehad het, danksy die aanwesigheid van ‘n substansiële blanke bevolking.

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) is in Martinique, ‘n Franse Windward-eiland in die Karibiese See, gebore. Hy is in Frankryk as mediese dokter opgelei en het later in psigiatrie gespesialiseer. Die bevolking van Martinique is oorwegend swart; slegs sowat 5% is blank. Die eiland geniet ‘n groot mate van politieke selfbeskikking. Die relatiewe voorspoed van die inwoners is te danke aan die finansiële ondersteuning wat Frankryk steeds verleen. ‘n Mens kon verwag dat Fanon en die swart bevolking van Martinique hulle parasitiese bevoordeling, danksy blanke welwillendheid, sou waardeer. Die teenoorgestelde is die geval. Ontevredenheid en agitasie is aan die orde van die dag.

Fanon het sy radikale marxistiese politiek nie in Martinique uitgeleef nie, maar eerder onrus in veral Algerië tydens die stryd om onafhanklikheid (1954-1962) aangeblaas. Sy idees het Steve Biko (1946-1977) beïnvloed, asook sogenaamde swart eksistensialiste soos die Amerikaners Richard Wright (1908-1960), wat hom in 1946 in Frankryk gevestig het, en Lewis Gordon (gebore in 1962), wat die besoekende Nelson Mandela-professor aan Rhodes University in Grahamstad is. ‘n Blanke Brit, Nigel Gibson, skryf deesdae graag in Amerika oor diesulkes. Vir hulle almal gaan dit om die interseksionaliteit van swartheid en eksistensialisme. Opvallend is dat nie een van hulle hulle idees onafhanklik van blanke rolmodelle, soos Karl Marx (1818-1883) se kommunisme en Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) se eksistensialisme, kon ontwikkel nie.

Die bekendste boek van Fanon is The wretched of the earth (London: Penguin Books, 2001, 255p) wat in 1961 in Frans en in 1965 in ‘n Engelse vertaling gepubliseer is. Soos die latere vredesikoon, Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), is Fanon behep met die voortreflikheid van geweld; dat dit glo die enigste doeltreffende manier is waarmee koloniale of blanke politieke beheer omvergewerp kan word. Fanon se idees het as inspirasie gedien vir omtrent almal wat in die vorige eeu Suid-Afrikaanse vryheidsvegters/terroriste was. Vir Fanon is ‘n inheemse/”native” swart en ‘n slaaf terwyl ‘n setlaar blank is. ‘n Blanke word ‘n setlaar/uitheemse/vreemdeling genoem al het blankes hulle sedert 1830 oor geslagte op groot skaal in Algerië gevestig.

Let op hoe ondubbelsinnig en radikaal Fanon geweld in die aanhalings hier onder ophemel. In sy jongste boek, As by fire: The end of the South African university (Cape Town: Tafelberg, 2017), noem Jonathan Jansen dat hy inspirasie uit Fanon se woorde geput het (p 79). Ook dat hy as rektor van die Universiteit Vrystaat (UV) hierdie boek van Fanon, asook ‘n anti-koloniale boek van Albert Menni en ‘n soortgelyke een van Aimé Césaire, aan ‘n (swart) studenteleier geleen het (154). Jansen verwys na ‘n artikel van Ritchard Pithouse waarin Pithouse die verregaande bewering maak dat Fanon verkeerd gelees word as beweer word dat Fanon geweld voorgestaan het (79): “It is his [Fanon’s] commitment to reason … and not violence that lies at the heart of his thought” (Mail & Guardian 7.04.2016).

Fanon val met die deur in die huis. Sy hele eerste hoofstuk is tot lof van geweld. “Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon … the proof of success lies in a whole social structure being changed from the bottom up … Decolonization … is … a programme of complete disorder” (p 27). “A murderous and decisive struggle … can only triumph if we use all means to turn the scale, including, of course, that of violence” (28). “The native … at the moment he realizes his humanity … he begins to sharpen the weapons with which he will secure its victory … when the native hears a speech about Western culture he pulls out his knife” (33). “The native’s muscular tension finds outlet regularly in bloodthirsty explosions” (42). “The peasants … are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain … only violence pays” (47). “Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat … colonialism … is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence” (48).

“This impatient violence of the masses is the most efficient means of defending their own interests” (49). “Between oppressors and oppressed everything can be solved by force” (56). “It is the intuition of the colonized masses that their liberation must, and can only, be achieved by force” (57). “The existence of an armed struggle shows that the people are decided to trust to violent methods only” (66). “For the native, this violence represents the absolute line of action. The militant is also a man who works … To work means to work for the death of the settler” (67). “The native’s work is to imagine all possible methods for destroying the settler … For the native, life can only spring up again out of the rotting corpse of the settler … each individual forms a violent link in the great chain, a part of the great organism of violence … the building-up of the nation, is helped on by the existence of this cement which has been mixed with blood and anger” (73-74).

“Violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect … Illuminated by violence, the consciousness of the people rebels against any pacification” (74). “The mass of the country people have never ceased to think of the problem of their liberation except in terms of violence, in terms of taking back the land from the foreigners” (101). “The settler owes the fact of his very existence, that is to say his property, to the colonial system” (28). “For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land” (34). “The native … is most acutely aware of all the things he does not possess. The masses by a sort of (if we may say so) childlike process of reasoning convince themselves that they have been robbed of all these things” (58).

“All resources should be pooled” (38). “Nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period” (122). Na bewering plunder die setlaar die land: “the history of colonization [is] the history of pillage” (40). “What they [the natives] demand is not the settler’s position or status, but the settler’s place. The immense majority of natives want the settler’s farm. For them, there is no question of entering into competition with the settler. They want to take his place” (47). “The farmers isolated on their land, are the first to become alarmed” (56) – soos in Suid-Afrika.

“European opulance is literally scandalous, for it has been founded on slavery, it has been nourished with the blood of slaves and it comes directly from the soil and from the subsoil of that under-developed world. The well-being and the progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races” (76). “What counts today … is the need for a redistribution of wealth” (78). “Deportations, massacres, forced labour and slavery have been the main methods used by capitalism to increase its wealth … and to establish its power” (80). “The wealth of the imperial countries is our wealth too … Europe is literally the creation of the Third World. The wealth which smothers her is that which was stolen from the under-developed peoples” (81). “The settler was singularly forgetful of the fact that he was growing rich through the death-throes of the slave” (156). ‘n Mens vra jou af: As die Derde Wêreld, die onderontwikkelde lande, werklik Europa geskep het, waarom slaag die meeste sulke lande, bv in Afrika sedert onafhanklikheid ‘n halfeeu en meer gelede, nie daarin om dieselfde welvaart as Europa te ervaar nie?

Die blanke bewind in Suid-Afrika is na 1910 deur “progressiewe” aktiviste as die voortsetting van kolonialisme beskou. Soos oor apartheid beweer is, verkondig Fanon dat kolonialisme swartes verontmenslik; van hulle diere maak. “Decolonization is the veritable creation of new men” (28). “The oppressor … dehumanizes the native … turns him into an animal” (32). “Decolonization unifies … people by the radical decision to remove from it its heterogeneity, and by unifying it on a national, sometimes a racial basis” (35) – soos in Suid-Afrika. “Individualism is the first to disappear;” iedere swarte word ‘n “brother, sister” (36). “In Africa, the movement of men and culture is a movement towards the Negro-African culture or the Arab-Moslem culture. It is not specifically towards a national culture” (175). Dit is waarom die ANC-regering geneig is om voorkeur aan Afrika bo Suid-Afrika se belange te gee. “No one can truly wish for the spread of African culture if he does not give practical support to the creation of the conditions necessary to the existence of that culture; in other words, to the liberation of the whole continent” (189).

“The good [for natives] is quite simply that which is evil for ‘them’ … the settler never ceases to be the enemy, the opponent, the foe that must be overthrown” (39). “Centuries will be needed to humanize this world which has been forced down to animal level by imperial powers” (79). Soos daar deesdae in Suid-Afrika die neiging is om apartheid, dus die blankes, die skuld te gee vir alles wat verkeerd is, doen Fanon dit met verwysing na kolonialisme: “The Algerian’s criminality … [is] the direct product of the colonial situation” (250).

Fanon raak soms dinge kwyt wat die waarheid kan wees. Oor die “setlaar”/blanke skryf hy: “The streets of his town are clean and even, with no holes or stones. The settler’s town … is always full of good things” (30). “The native … is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him” (32). “The masses may destroy everything” (48). “The settler, from the moment that the colonial context disappears, has no longer any interest in remaining or in coexisting” (35). “In under-developed countries a small dose of dictatorship is needed” (94). “A dictatorship of civil servants … quickly showed themselves incapable of thinking in terms of the nation as a whole. These civil servants very soon began to sabotage the national economy and throw its structure out of joint” (145); bekend as bv rommelstatus.

“After a few years, the break-up of the party [for instance the ANC] becomes obvious” (137). “The party is becoming a means of private advancement. There exists inside the new regime, however, an inequality in the acquisition of wealth and in monopolization. Some have a double source of income and demonstrate that they are specialized in opportunism. Privileges multiply and corruption triumphs, while morality declines … scandals are numerous, ministers grow rich, their wives doll themselves up, the members of parliament feather their nests and there is not a soul down to the simple policeman or the customs officer who does not join in the great procession of corruption” (138).

“In under-derveloped countries … no true bourgeoisie exists; there is only a sort of little greedy caste … This get-rich-quick middle class shows itself incapable of great ideas or of inventiveness” (141). “The whole of the ruling class swarms into the towns built by colonialism” (143). “The youth of Africa ought not to be sent to sports stadiums but into the fields and into the schools … The African politician should not be preoccupied with turning out sportsmen, but with turning out fully conscious men, who play games as well … We ought to uplift the people; we must develop their brains, fill them with ideas, change them and make them into human beings” (158-159).

“The native’s laziness is the conscious sabotage of the colonial machine … the nigger is a great worker … Under the colonial regime … they should not lift their little finger nor in the slightest degree help the oppressor to sink his claws deeper into his prey … the slightest gesture has to be torn out of him. This is a very concrete manifestation of non-cooperation, or at least of minimum cooperation. These observations … could equally be applied to the respect the native has for the oppressor’s laws, to the regular payment of rates and taxes and to the relations which the native has with the colonial system” (237-238). Dit is blykbaar A Porot wat in 1918 en 1939 tot ‘n ander gevolgtrekking gekom het: “The hesitation of the colonist in giving responsibility to the native is not racism nor paternalism, but quite simply a scientific appreciation of the biologically limited possibilities of the native” (244).

“Independence is … an indispensable condition for the existence of men and women who are truly liberated” (250). Dit geld egter net vir die swartes in die nuwe Suid-Afrika; nie vir die blankes nie. “If we want to turn Africa into a new Europe, and America into a new Europe, then let us leave the destiny of our countries to Europeans. They will know how to do it better than the most gifted among us” (254). Dit is die absolute waarheid, maar dit is nie wat Fanon wil hê nie. Hy soek ‘n nie-Europese Afrika-oplossing vir Afrika; ‘n “Africa for the Africans” (62). “We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe” (251-252). “Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction … the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions” (252).

Afrikanisering veroorsaak die ontheemding van blankes in die nuwe Suid-Afrika. Soos Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) die blanke Algeryne in 1962 vir die wolwe gegooi het, het FW de Klerk in 1994 dieselfde met die blankes in Suid-Afrika gedoen; met dié groot verskil dat veral die Afrikaners geen koloniale moederland het waarheen hulle kon vlug nie.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre, wie se idees seker in groter mate as enige ander eksistensialis by die publiek bekend is, het die voorwoord by Fanon se boek geskryf. ‘n Mens kon verwag dat hy as blanke Fransman ‘n mate van sensiwiteit vir die belange van mede-blankes en Frankryk sou openbaar; bv dat hy Fanon se buitensporige voorliefde vir geweld ten minste met ‘n beskaafde Westerse aanslag sou bevraagteken. Daar is egter geen sprake hiervan nie. As marxis en selfs Stalinis skaar Sartre hom vierkantig agter die opstandige Moslems (Arabiere en Berbers) in Algerië. Anders as Albert Camus (1913-1960), ‘n gebore Algeryn, gee Sartre nie ‘n flenter om vir die blankes wat sedert 1830 Algerië voortreflik ontwikkel en hulle daar ingeburger het en alles onder ‘n Moslemregering kon verloor nie. Ten spyte daarvan dat Sartre met oorgawe by die Algerynse terroriste gekruip het, het Fanon se weduwee, Josie, sy voorwoord uit die tweede Franse uitgawe gelaat, “because he had … signed a petition supporting Israel” (Lanzmann, bron hier onder, Kindle 5237). In die Engelse vertaling is Sartre se voorwoord egter behou.

Die wysheid om swartes te probeer verwesters kan bevraagteken word, maar kyk hoe formuleer Sartre dit: “The European élite undertook to manufacture a native élite ... they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of Western culture … After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, white-washed. These walking lies had nothing left to say to their brothers” (7). “Everything will be done to wipe out their traditions, to substitute our language for theirs and to destroy their culture without giving them ours” (13). In die kolonies is Sartre ten gunste van “no less than a complete demolishing of all existing structures” (10). “In order to triumph, the national revolution must be socialist … we must achieve revolutionary socialism all together everywhere” (10). Sartre is gekant teen “Western culture, and what is equally to be feared, the withdrawal into the twilight of past African culture” (11), blykbaar omdat Afrikakultuur tradisioneel te gedwee en onderdanig was. “For the only true culture is that of the Revolution; that is to say, it is constantly in the making” (11), wat neerkom op ‘n pleidooi vir Trotskiïstiese permanente revolusie. “The native has only one choice, between servitude or supremacy” (11).

Na watter instinkte by die inboorling verwys die Europeër? “The instincts that urge slaves on to massacre their master? Can he not here recognize his own cruelty turned against himself? In the savagery of these oppressed peasants, does he not find his own settler’s savagery, which they have absorbed through every pore and for which there is no cure?” (14). “You said they understand nothing but violence? Of course; first, the only violence is the settler’s; but soon they will make it their own; that is to say, the same violence is thrown back upon us … they have become men: men because of the settler, who wants to make beasts of burden of them … Hatred, blind hatred which is as yet an abstraction, is their only wealth” (15).

Soos Fanon beskou Sartre die inboorlinge se luiheid as ‘n soort sabotasie. “Others make men of themselves by murdering Europeans” (15). “It is not their violence, it is ours” (16). Geweld is inboorlinge se “last refuge of their humanity … their impulse to murder is the expression of the natives’ collective unconsciousness” (16). Dit is darem ‘n gerieflike posisie om in te wees; dat die inboorlinge so gewelddadig kan wees soos hulle wil, want dit is bloot ‘n spieëlbeeld van die koloniste se gewelddadigheid. Die blankes is daarvolgens die oorsaak van nie-wittes se gewelddadigheid. Gekoloniseerdes gee glo uitdrukking aan hulle menslikheid wanneer hulle gewelddadig is. ‘n Mens kan kwalik ‘n meer absurde standpunt bedink. Maar dieselfde soort redenasie word in Suid-Afrika aangetref: dat apartheid so sleg was dat geen optrede daarteen immoreel kon wees nie.

“There is one duty to be done, one end to achieve: to thrust out colonialism by every means in their power” (18). Fanon “shows clearly that this irrepressible violence is neither sound and fury, nor the resurrection of savage instincts, not even the effect of resentment: it is man re-creating himself … no gentleness can efface the marks of violence; only violence itself can destroy them” (18). “The rebel’s weapon [violence] is the proof of his humanity. For in the first days of the revolt you must kill: to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remain a dead man, and a free man; the survivor, for the first time, feels a nationalsoil under his foot” (19). “Once the last settler is killed, shipped home or assimilated, the minority breed disappears, to be replaced by socialism” (20). Die blankes wat nie uitgemoor is nie het feitlik almal uit Algerië padgegee en sosialisme, asook ‘n Moslem-teokrasie, is ingevoer, met katastrofiese gevolge. Maar Sartre skryf: “The child of violence, at every moment he draws from it his humanity. We were men at his expense, he makes himself man at ours: a different man; of higher quality” (20).

Soos blankes in die nuwe Suid-Afrika oor bv apartheid moet aanhoor, skryf Sartre: “All of us without exception have profited by colonial exploitation” (22). Die blankes verteenwoordig glo “a racist humanism since the European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters” (22). Oor die “new men, freed men,” dus die inboorlinge, sê Sartre: “Each of them has every right, and the right to everything” (22-23). Die vraag is: Sou Sartre dit gesê het as sy eie lewe en eiendom op die spel was? “The only chance of our being saved from shipwreck is the very Christian sentiment of guilt” (23).

Dalk is die volgende ‘n toekomsblik van blankes in Frankryk/Europa en Suid-Afrika: “It’s our turn to tread the path, step by step, which leads down to native level. But to become natives, altogether, our soil must be occupied by a formerly colonized people and we must starve of hunger” (25). Dit lyk tans asof dit presies is wat kan gebeur, al beweer/wens Sartre “this won’t happen” (25). Nadat blankes Fanon se boek gelees het “you will be convinced that it would be better for you to be a native at the uttermost depths of his misery than to be a former settler” (25).

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