Organic Intellectuals: A short reference to Gramsci & Frantz Fanon


By Sun LiAntonio Gramsci (1891-1937) has introduced the concept of an alternative approach relating to the function of the intellectuals in the oppressive society. He wants to develop the all round mass awareness that is capable of drawing all the oppressed for a powerful struggle to overthrow the existing exploitive order. In such ways, `organic intellectuals` are the main forces of transformation as contrary to `traditional intellectuals`. The functions of `organic intellectuals` can be elaborated through the different times and towards the people struggle for colonialism and neo-colonialism. Gramsci`s approach ignites post-colonial writers and revolutionaries. Franzt Fanon (1925-61) is a theorist Revolutionary who commit a serious role against an exploitive system in Algeria. He joins National Liberation Front (FLN) in Algeria on 1956. He explicates his anti colonial ideology & discourse in his last book `The wretched of the Earth`.
Frantz Fanon enunciates that after the British rule ending the `national bourgeoisie` are emerged as a new exploitive class. They take the same role, function and characteristics of the former subjugative system. Fanon writes `the national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour ; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type`. At the first stage of colonialism or neo-colonialism the oppressed people has witnessed the development programs, financial assistance, education etc. However at the later stage there are human rights violations, wide militarization, balkanization, desensitize, tortures, rape, the dichotomy between `have and have not`s` , unlawful killings etc. During prolonged period of subjugation the control is not essentially maintained with violence, political & economic coercion. Antonio Gramsci once argues that the colonizer also doing ideologically, intellectually or morally through a powerful hegemonic culture. It is under such a hegemonic culture that the ruling class infuses ideas, values, motives & traits of its oppressive system. Thus establishes the complete dominance in none forceful manner. As a result, we have observed cultural deteriorations and grave behavioral changes among many subaltern classes including our people. It is also associated with the mental disorders that oriented from the whole oppressive system. Fanon commits himself to the violent overthrow of this entire super structure.
Fanon elucidates that colonialism is a denial of all culture, history and value outside the colonizer`s frame, `a systematic negation of other person.` `The wretched of the Earth` writes `colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying natives brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes on a dialectical significance today.`
During the stages of the violent opposition the oppressed people requires to construct its national culture and organic ideology. It is in order to protect their pre-colonial history intake. It will also attract the entire oppressed class and intellectuals to the cause of the revolution. Further, it must overthrow the values of the existing exploitive order. In brief, it will establish the `alternative hegemony`. Fanon expounds that the liberation is also the establishment of national culture. Such state can be experience as a return to the source and creation of authenticity. It will be associated with the outcome of an authentic creativity based on the natural genius. The struggle for the self-determination is in another way also a direction to new awakenings and new meaning of the life of the oppressed.
Gramsci has propounds the roles of the intellectuals is to establish `alternative hegemony` in the oppressive society. He writes `all men are intellectual, one could therefore say, but not all men have the function of intellectuals` (SPN). Gramsci particularly defines intellectuals in terms of his function at the different aspects of the society. In such function there are two types of intellectuals i.e. `traditional intellectuals` and `organic intellectuals`. In brief the `traditional intellectuals` are sponsored by the ruling class to maintain its hegemony. On other hand `organic intellectuals` will borne directly out of the oppressed people and who consciously ground their ideas in the struggle of the subaltern classes. While `traditional intellectuals` will remain aloof from the grass root of the struggle and natural genius. Such `organic intellectuals` not only depicting social life scientifically but also articulates with the language of culture, the feelings and experience which the oppressed masses could not express for themselves. It with their active participation in the movement of the oppressed people shaped their intellectual function. The `organic intellectuals` are required to develop by the oppressed people in order to mandate their alternative hegemony. In addition, an opposite situation can be examined as `organic crisis` in Gramscian terms.
Fanon also indicates the exploitive economic policy of the colonialism. He writes `The colony`s economy is not integrated into that of the nation as a whole. It still organized in order to complete the economy of the different mother countries. Colonialism hardly even exploits the whole of a country. It contends itself with bringing to light the natural resources, which its extracts and exploits to meet the needs of the mother country`s industries, thereby allowing certain sectors of the colony to become relatively rich. But the rest of the colony follows its path of under development and poverty or at all even sinks into it more deeply`.
Fanon finds that colonialism is a system of a racial oppression and its impact is mental as well as physical, distorting attitudes and behavior alike. For him genuine liberation could not therefore be achieved by peaceful negotiation as it was attempted in Black Africa in the  1960`s. Fanon truly affirms through active participation that it will only establish as a result  of protracted violence involving direct collective action by the masses in Algeria.
Under a non-exploitive system, the oppressed people will decide their own development. There must be both political and economic freedom. The oppressed no longer live with a sponsored cultural life. Instead, their values, personality, identity & heritage will be nourishing naturally and enlarged with the spirit of freedom. The systematic negation of all culture, history and value will also end. Amilcar Cabral (1924- 1973) writes `one more realize that the chief goal of the liberation movement goes beyond the achievement of political independence to the superior level of complete liberation of the productive forces and the construction of economic, social and cultural progress of the people, the more evident is the necessity of undertaking a selective analysis of the values of the culture within the frame work of the struggle for liberation `.
The traumas and sufferings of the oppressed people reveal that the colonialism is more than political & economic repression. In the struggle, the oppressed requires to set new footings. The task is achievement of the `alternative hegemony` and building up of a national culture. Amilcar Cabral explains `developments of a popular culture and of all positive indigenous cultural values; development of a national culture based upon the history and achievements of the struggle itself; constant promotion of the political and the moral awareness of the people(of all social groups) as well as patriotism, of the spirit of sacrifice and devotion to the cause of independence, of justice, and of progress; developments of technical, technological , and scientific culture, compatible with requirement of progress ; development, on the basis of a critical assimilation of man`s achievement in the domain of art, science, literature etc`.
We observe the successful achievements of violent oppositions in the Algeria, Cuba, China, Vietnam etc. However, certain issues remain with the rule of the authoritarian revolutionary elite. In such way it is reasonable to entertain a prior analysis with the mechanisms of the violent socialist revolution and prevents if it producing another exploitive system. Moreover, the new social formation shall not replicate the former oppressive entity and without the `national bourgeoisie`. Gramscian catharsis of `Organic intellectuals` will crystallize their views and line of actions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here