The world in which we presently live is more complex and in some ways animal-like than any other in the history of the human race. For all of the advances in medicine, technology and other areas, primitive acts such as violence are still commonplace. In fact, the term “violence” is used so often than few people take the time to realize what “violence” actually means.
However, a full understanding of violence is possible by reviewing the words written by author Franz Fanon over 4 decades ago. Generally speaking, Fanon’s theories on violence are based on the idea that all people are fundamentally born to be free, and in the pursuit of that freedom, it is often necessary for human beings to rise up in force against those that would keep them from being free in the first place.
Also, if people are not free, it is both their responsibility and instinct to do whatever it takes to gain freedom, including acts of violence. Specifically, Fanon does not simply use the term “violence” and then leave the term undefined, but takes the time in his writing to clarify what he means by violence, including force, physical or psychological injury, aggression, coercion, and militancy/radical actions.
Violence, in Fanon’s mind, is sorted into these categories because it is his belief that in the quest for cultures and even countries to overtake one another, there is often the combination of both brute force, such as military or police action and more subtle actions such as the control of the minds of impressionable people through re-education, propaganda, deception and a sort of forced persuasion.
Overall, Fanon believed that people could, and should rise up to protect themselves from actual invasion of their homeland and diluting of their culture. Additionally, those who are victims of these violations are entitles to compensation for their losses. Having taken a look at Fanon’s ideas, there is one very interesting point that is worth exploring in more detail- the very idea of providing compensation to the victims of violence as a way of balancing the scales so to speak, in order to make right what went wrong.
While this sounds like a solid idea, being able to decide who the victims are, what they are entitled to, and what form the compensation would take is one of those things which is easier in theory than in practice. To conclude, at the very root of violence, it would seem that there is violence which some use to try to control others, as well as the violence that victims use in order to try to fight back and regain their culture, freedom and destiny.
Also, in the aftermath of victimization, it seems that Fanon’s ideas of compensation to the injured is just too complicated to be realistic, sadly due to the massive numbers of victims of violence that have existed since the dawn of the human race. In closing, it seems that it would make more sense not for the focus to be on the compensation of victims, but to try to raise the level of civility in the world to prevent victims from becoming victims in the first place. Then, and only then, will true justice exist in the world.
Fanon, Franz (1961). The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.