The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon offers a powerful critique of colonial rule, while at the same time providing a call for violent and revolutionary struggle against European imperialism. Written in 1961 and in the context of the Algerian War of Independence, Fanon extols the virtues of violence as a means to liberate colonial subjects both politically and physiologically. Yet while The Wretched of the Earth is often lauded, or condemned as a revolutionary or dangerous treatise, Fanon’s philosophies on violence cannot and should not be viewed in isolation.
In this respect, it is useful to compare Fanon’s writings, and in particular his theories on violence in de-colonial and revolutionary struggles, with those of Mao Zedong, who I argue provided an equally attractive, and at the time more influential, justification of violence. There are remarkable similarities between both authors, in terms of their analysis of the inherent violence in colonial rule, as well an in their perspective of violence as a cleansing or legitimizing force in revolutionary struggles.