Revolutionary in Counter-Revolutionary Times: Elaborating Fanonian National Consciousness into the Twenty-First Century

Jane Anna Gordon


One of the unique challenges of reading Les damnés de la terre (The Wretched of the Earth) today is that while it is an irredeemably revolutionary text, we live in a counter-revolutionary moment or in a global context that has tried very hard to discredit even the possibility of revolution. Fanon’s text does not only narrate the effective undertaking of an anti-colonial struggle—of what is required for people to identify the actual causes of their alienation and unfreedom and together to will their elimination—it also outlines the various, often dialectical challenges of restructuring a society from the bottom up. Guiding and evident in the latter is the flourishing of what Fanon suggestively called national consciousness. Elaborating its meaning and ongoing usefulness is the focus of this essay.


Fanon; Wretched of the Earth; Rousseau; general will; nationalism; national consciousness

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