A Dying Colonialism - Zubér Dád Balóc


A Dying Colonialism - Zubér Dád Balóc

A Dying Colonialism (L’An V de la Révolution Algérienneis)  

Author: Frantz Omar Fanon  

By: Zubér Dád Balóc   

A Dying Colonialism (L’An V de la Révolution Algérienneis) is a book written by a Psychiatrist Frantz Omar Fanon also known as Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a French West Indian Psychiatrist, and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique.  

The book was written in 1959 in France language and later translated into English by Haakon Chevalier, and with a introduction by Adlofo Gilly in 1967.   


Revolution is mankind’s way of life today. This is the age of revolution; the “age of indifference” is gone forever. The revolution is changing humanity. In the revolutionary struggle, the immense, oppressed masses of the colonies and semi-colonies feel that they are part of life for the first time. Liberation does not come as a gift from anybody; it is sized by the masses with their own hands. And by seizing it they themselves are transformed; confidence in their own strength soars, and they turn their energy and their experience to the tasks of building, governing and deciding their own lives for themselves.  

Algeria has been, and continues to be, one of the great landmarks in this global battle. And Frantz Fanon’s book bears witness to Algeria’s role. Fanon’s main preoccupation was not to document the facts of exploitation, nor the sufferings of the people, nor the brutality of the imperialist oppressor. But his main interest has been to go to the essentials: the spirit of struggle, of opposition, of initiative of the Algerian masses; their infinite, multiform, interminable resistance; their daily heroism; their capacity to learn in weeks, in days in minutes, all that was necessary for the struggle for liberation; their capacity and decision to make all the sacrifices and all the efforts, among which the greatest was not giving one’s life in combat, perhaps but changing one’s daily life, one’s routines, prejudices, and immemorial customs insofar as these were a hindrance to the revolutionary struggle.  

Frantz Fanon died at 37, in December of 1961, days before the appearance of the first edition of The Wretched of the Earth. He was not a Marxist. But he was approaching Marxism through the same essential door which for many “Marxist” officials and diplomats is closed with seven keys: his concern with what the masses do and say and think, and his belief that it is masses, and not leaders nor systems, who in the final analysis make and determine history.   

The book is divided into five chapters:

Algeria Unveiled:   

Fanon believes that “the way people clothe themselves” is the most distinctive form of a society’s uniqueness. Arab world, the most noticeable item of clothing is the veil worn by women. The veil “demarcates Algerian society and its feminine component” almost like a uniform. To an outsider an Algerian woman is defined as “she who hides behind a veil. “Fanon believes that veils have become a battleground of colonial oppression. The colonialists saw the veil as a symbol of a patriarchal society but Algerians believed that the veil affirmed “the more significant existence of a basic matriarchy.”  

The French occupiers attempted to disempower Algerian society by making women reject the veil. They carried different propaganda and men were made to feel guilty if their wives wore veils. Women were told to reject veil. The colonizer were frustrated by the veiled women as she limits her availability to be fetishized whereas the Algerian man deliberately does not look at the Algerian woman. Colonial history includes the Romanticizing and sexualizing of Algerian women. Removing women’s veils is equated with sexual conquest. Before the1950s the Algerian men were forced to defend a “formerly inert” aspect of their society. Men who had never thought critically about the veil were compelled to defend it as a form of resistance against the French. The French violence created situation for the Algerian to break traditional taboos in pursuit of victory. Unveiled women are useful to the resistance as their lack of a veil suggests an allegiance to the French colonizers.  

Women can remove their veil and hide themselves in the European districts of the cities. They can deliver messages, smuggle guns or money, and provide warnings to any fellow revolutionaries nearby. The Algerian revolutionaries in 1959 realized that they need to employ terrorist tactics to match the terror of their occupiers. Women play a key role in this period as suicide bombers or combatants though care is taken not to target innocent civilians. The removal of the veil is part of an Algerian woman’s preparation process for an attack. This removal now ironically harms the French even though they instigated the removal process. The fathers of these women no longer felt shame for their daughters have rejected their veil. The fathers were now committed to Algeria and so understand the sacrifice.  

The cultural meaning of the veil has been completely changed by the revolution. The removal of the veil has allowed Algerian women to fight back against the colonizers. The French became aware of the Algerian Women’s tactics so the women used wear veils again. This is not an acceptance of patriarchal oppression but a demonstration of the women’s commitment to the revolution. Old cultural norms are abandoned to defeat the colonizers and their meaning is changed even if they return.   

This is the voice of Algerian:   

Fanon describes the cultural impact of the radio in Algeria. Radio-Alger has broadcasted French propaganda for decades but only the Europeans and the Algerian middle classes had access to radios before 1945. Algerian decided that they don’t need radios as radios are symbol of the French colonial presence. Radios make European Colonialists feel connected to their home that make them feel civilized. The radio reminds Algerians that they are a colonized people. French also banned Algerians attempts to set up their own news outlets or contribute to existing media networks. Rumors inflated successes in the war for independence spread in Algerian community. French became aware that lives they have “built on the agony of the colonized people slowly losing assurance.” The rumor spreads through Arab communities: the Arab Telephone. The Europeans begin to think of the Arab telephone as a high-functioning intelligence network that links together disparate revolutionary groups. The local media prompts Algerians to seek objective facts from newspapers imported from mainland France. The purchase of a French newspaper is considered “a nationalist act” and news kiosk owners report Algerians to the police. Radio was the only way Algerians can receive news by 1955. But the cultural meaning of radio changed within times, it was now longer a part of occupiers tool of cultural oppression but a way to bring people closer to nationalist struggle.  

The French realized the importance of radio. And they limited the sales of radio sets and batteries. Algerians were forced to smuggle both into the country. The French started to jam the broadcast of the Algerian radio stations. The more the French try to ban the radio, the more Algerians become invested in it. Before 1954 Algerians who associated radio voices with oppression would hear negative, “highly aggressive” voices during visual images brought about by mental health conditions. After 1945 the radio was viewed less as a tool of oppression and more as a tool of liberation. The radio also helped them to soften the perception of the French language which ceases to be merely a tool of colonial control. Algerians repurpose the French language and make it another revolutionary tool. Radio ceases to be a metaphor for colonial control. This use of radio reflects the Allied forces’ radio broadcasts in World War II (1939–45). Information was broadcast from London to occupied countries to give them a sense of unification, hope, and belonging. By 1957 there are numerous Algerian radio stations all serving the same purpose: to unite Algeria against the colonial occupiers.   

The Algerian Family:  

In this chapter Fanon explains how the Algerian family has been challenged by revolution. The most important change is that the family unit has become to be a single, same nature of entity has broken into separate elements. Rise of political activism caused cracks in the traditional family unit before 1954. Political activists freed themselves of everything that proves unnecessary to the revolutionary situation. The revolution makes people realize that they will need to rebuild Algerian society from top to bottom. The typical Algerian father creep behind the typical Algerian son in terms of national consciousness. Almost every Algerian of every generation has entertained anti-colonial thoughts but these thoughts rarely turned into explicit revolutionary action Sons openly engage in revolutionary action while their fathers remain anxious about the inherent violence of the colonial forces. The sons might push back against their fathers’ anxieties but they do not condemn them. The sons instead attempt to convert their entire families to the cause. Father started to join the cause and leave behind their anxieties and the traditional setup of the Algerian Family Instead of fathers teaching sons, the sons now teach the fathers. When fathers stopped appealing to tradition and being to appeal to their son’s military discipline. This new paradigm has caused problems in cases where the father is a collaborator, an agent for the authorities, or a traitor to the cause. Sons have been forced to condemn their fathers to death in the name of the revolution. Algeria has been traditionally a patriarchal society, fathers considered son’s superior to daughters as sons could help with the family’s agriculture business. Girls in Algeria often marry young due to the traditional society so that the father does not have to think about the new woman in household. Girls were encouraged to accept husbands in arranged marriage. These all traditions were disrupted by the revolution. Unveiled Algerian woman became a central figure in the revolution. Women were no longer only for marriage. Women were now for action. Women now joined the revolution and they were passionate eager revolutionaries. Fanon believes that they to be encouraged to be clam, composed, and firm. In Algerian Traditional society the eldest son as design as father’s successor. Younger sons then model their relationship with older brother. The relation between wives and husbands also changed. A wife might also punish her husband not doing enough for the revolution.  

Wives are no longer subordinate to their husbands. The revolution intellectually affects marriage and divorce. Fathers accept that they cannot object to the marriage of a daughter or son who marries while fighting for the revolution. Any babies born in such arrangements are sent to live with grandparents. Algeria’s female society experiences radical changes in certain patterns of behavior. Women share their experiences of the revolution when grouped together in prison camps. Even women who were not previously involved in the revolution leave the camps with revolutionary ideas. Towns and villages attacked by the French must deal with the loss of the men. The remaining women must grit their teeth, pray in silence, and celebrate those who died for the cause. The French colonialist now started to disperse Algerian society and separate out the Algerian people. Thousands of people were disrupted and thousands of families. Many Algerian were forced to leave the country and many have been killed. Algerian society knows that men are killed, women are raped, and children are orphaned by the French so it must make adjustments to succeed.  

Medicine and Colonialism:  

Fanon explains that the colonialist used medicine to make their strength strong over on their colonies. Colonized people cannot help but view the medicine of the colonizer like every other institution. Hospitals became propaganda tools and it was difficult for a colonized person to be objective about the health benefits they provide. People in a colonized country cannot separate medicine from the presence of the colonizer so they cannot entirely trust their doctors. This lack of trust means that all deaths in Algerian hospitals are treated with suspicion. Stories of French doctors experimenting on Algerian patients make this lack of trust worse. A colonized person visits a doctor in a different manner than does a member of the colonizing society. The colonized person’s body proves to be just as rigid and unhelpful since the patient cannot relax. Sociologists suggest that colonized people expect illnesses to be treated in a single appointment but Fanon believes that colonized people choose to rely on traditional medicines for political and social reasons. The europeanized doctor is no longer considered a member of the colonized society in certain situations; as such a doctor has violate. A native doctor is like a native policeman. Native doctors find themselves between two worlds and caught in a difficult position. European doctors love privileged lives while treating colonial subjects. Doctors have an economic interest in maintaining the colonial order. Fanon argues that colonialist doctors should not be considered part of the medical establishment but as war criminals and tools of colonial oppression. Doctors and pharmacists provide information about patients to the security services. Doctors then provide cover for police brutality in court and provide dangerous drugs to aid brutal interrogations. Doctors have also provided electroshock treatment to aid torturers and interrogators and have let Algerian soldiers die rather than treat them. The condition of colonized people made it difficult to introduce new medical ideas and anti-tetanus drugs were banned by the French. Algerians struggle to treat their wounded while Europeans have no trouble acquiring these drugs. Medicine becomes another weapon in the war for independence. So the Algerian their own health organization and they united Algerian doctors no longer criticize Algerian doctors for being Europeanized. Algerian now more likely starting trusting following Algerian doctors the idea of modern medicine got destroyed.   

Algerian’s European Minority:  

Fanon believes that European intellectuals have “taken over the colonists’ cause” and young French activists offer no assistance to the Algerians. Algeria’s European minority is not a “monolithic block” and many Europeans met with Algerians in the years before the war to discuss ways Algeria could achieve independence. Europeans with sympathy for the Algerian struggle have done little to stop French violence. Democracy is much easier to practice in France than Algeria so there have been demonstrations and contributions to Algeria’s independence in the French political system. Many Europeans have “behaved like an authentic militant” When faced with such violence. The Algerians do not want to overemphasize the role of these Europeans. One-fifth of Algeria’s non-Muslim population is Jewish. Algeria’s Jewish community is split on the question of independence. Jewish population of Algeria in 1956 were addressed by revolutionary people and were asked for their support. Many Jewish committees started to support them. European sympathizers in the cities also provide assistance and support. Doctors and nurses provide illicit medical support. European women and youngsters provide logistical support. And European families shelter “important political leaders.” Europeans’ cars are not searched at roadblocks so they are used to smuggle arms. Europeans fight and die for the cause of Algerian independence. Fanon describes how people come to support the movement for Algerian independence through the stories of Charles Geromini and Bresson Yvon. The use of violence to achieve a political goal was inconceivable to Geromini at first but he was slowly converted to its necessity. Geromini becomes involved in student politics and advocates for Algerian independence. He eventually joins the Algerian Revolution and he is welcomed “like any other Algerian” even though he is French. Bresson Yvon spent his youth in Algeria and studied in France. He joined the Algerian police force after graduation and began to realize that he could not take part in the colonialist domination. He begins to work secretly for the revolution. He was arrested but had no regrets. 


Fanon suggests that Algeria and its people have successfully overcome the psychological effects of 130 years of colonial oppression, breaking free from the mental and emotional burdens imposed by the colonial era. When Fanon mentions that French colonialism in Algeria is “wounded to the death,” he implies that the revolution has severely weakened the grip of colonial rule, making it nearly impossible for the French authorities to maintain control. The revolution has reached a point of no return, indicating that the irreversible changes in Algerian society have disrupted the possibility of returning to pre-1954 or even pre-1958 conditions.

The Idea is that the revolution has fundamentally transformed Algerian society, and Fanon is suggesting that the French authorities must recognize this reality. Attempting to revive the past conditions or regain control as it was before the revolution is futile, according to Fanon’s analysis. The irreversible changes brought about by the revolution have left a lasting impact on the socio-political landscape of Algeria.





Previous Post Next Post