10 thoughts on “Achille Mbembe – Frantz Fanon and the Politics of Viscerality

  1. I came to listen to this viewpoint with a generalized axiom from Human Behavioral Biology (see Sapolsky – Stanford – Primatology) = with regard to a Social Species residing in a territory – the '#1 predictor of illness and disease in the population is social conflict' … P Mbembe suggests a nice parallax view, as if to claim that the #1 predictor of social conflict is illness and disease. these two candidate axioms work pretty well for calculating emerging global social traits. we understand the biology/physiology well enough to track illness and disease (and assign as causal) but not what happens when the 'cause-effect' ratio reaches its limitations
    I just happen to be living in Nicaragua during just such a 'visceral' civil uprising ..
    thanks to Duke for posting

  2. I love hearing different interpretations of Fanon‘ readings. The speaker lost me on Fanon‘s view of violence, Dr. Lewis Gordon explains this more on a socio-psychological way, emphasizing that the black liberation struggle is really a struggle of existentialism at its core, and can be a defining point in history to respond to it. The questions of what is man and his relationship to others is critical for reframing liberty and our misunderstandings of decolonization. Lewis’m gives a dialectical phenomenological approach embellishing upon Fanon’s deep philosophical insights. A true post modern philosophical masterpiece.

  3. This man opened my yes with The PostColony and set me off on a great self-reflective intellectual journey. His wife is an amazing intellectual whom I met at a public lecture in South Africa. Phenomenal minds.

  4. Witness a black woman inserting "Deleuze" into the discourse. Bizarre! The talk went right past her; the Afrocentricity of Mbembe's thought seemingly lost upon her. All she could do was try to puzzle him into a trendy pensée du jour.

  5. Some notes:

    1:50 Achille Mbembe Begins

    3:20 To put on the table, a set of very preliminary sketchy considerations, on what is really an old question.
    3:33 The question of the relationship between violence, of the political, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the question of the psychic, or the mental.

    3:58 How can we characterize this age of ours? It seems to me, this is an age, that resembles that of Fanon, but yet, it is also an age, that to some extent, is, I would argue, thoroughly post Fanonian.

    4:37 The question of madness, or mental disorders, taking up a political form, is still with us, and that was a typical Fanonian question.

    5:24 [Madness] manifests itself, in a political system, that can be given a name, and in his case, the name was colonialism. So, colonialism, as a factory, where madness is manufactured. So that question is still with us, so the age is still Fanonian.

    8:31 [Fanon] believed that political systems have a mental life and as such can be afflicted by mental disorders.

    9:40 But the age is also post Fanonian, in the sense that we now live in the aftermath of the kind of emancipatory wars Fanon himself was part of, was engaged in, in this case, the liberation wars in Algeria. The kinds of wars of decolonization, that aimed at radical change, this if we believe Fanons theory of decolonization, which at its extreme, is almost a beginning, from what he calls a Tabula Rasa
    10:30 Basically, You really have to destroy everything, if indeed, you want to begin anew, if a new species of man is to emerge

    Instead of de-colonialization wars you now have terrorists

    16:30 A different way

    Democracy is a way of suspending what was taken by conquest

    27:20 Viscerality

    32 :00

    33:58 Who is th subject of is kind of politics?

    38:00 disunity


    The violence of the fantasies of destruction People who have been thoroughly dehamunized, and resulting in their attempt at bringing that violence to and end or countering it with other forms of violence.

    46:00 "Violence is the means through which the colonizers became men.
    Question of how is it that you become a man? Since that was the term then,
    You become a man by being able to subject other men to your own will.
    Men who are really not men, as such, although they have the appearance of men.

    The European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters.

    He became a man when he became violent.

    The particular sort of man he became was dependent on this violence.
    This being the case, then how can the colonized become a man? By turning anger into violence.

  6. Prof. Mbembe's theory of "politics of viscerally" ist the first theory I have come across which appears to explain a lot of things (movements) going on at the present day. Developed perhaps first in an area of the extremes – South Africa – it just might be relevant to the whole world. This kind of "pre-lingual" way of "thinking" would among other things – as he mentions at the end – be a consequence of a loss of language. I believe to have observed that people today can't express what they want to express unless they use antiquated language which always is off the mark nor do they wish to read or think in theories formulated in antiquated language, also off the mark (Explaining a general weakness of the Left). Maybe one could also say that that we have "too much language" via numerous media which has led to an inflation of language and meaning. Nothing we can express in language does still cary meaning etc. And there is no doubt that Prof. Mbembe ist right when he says at the end that he actually prefers reason. After all… "visceral thinking" does not (yet) obey e.g. any form of ethics but occurs before this. In other words, while it could be beneficial it could just as well be very destructive, not even being "archetypal" which also has both sides, but "pre-archetypal". This is definitely a theory that should be kept in mind. Maybe Prof. Mbembe will publish a book on this and save me from having to think it out for myself? 😉

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