Journal Article — To Lose Oneself in the Absolute: Revolutionary Subjectivity in Sorel and Fanon — by George Ciccariello-Maher

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Abstract

In this article, I analyze the theories of revolutionary subjectivity that emerge in Sorel’s seminal Reflections on Violence and in the discussion of Négritude in Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and national consciousness in Wretched of the Earth. Both thinkers formulate revolutionary violence in terms of the absoluteness of identity, but an absoluteness which is necessarily transitional: for Sorel, absolute working-class identity is a mechanism which operates on a world-historical scale and transforms everything that it touches, whereas for Fanon–in his critique of Sartre–the limitations of Négritude cannot be skillfully inscribed within a broader and determinist dialectic. Finally, I discuss the degree to which Fanon’s formulation exceeds that of Sorel, resolving a tension which becomes exceptionally acute in the work of the latter: the tension between a non-objective theory of class and an insistent class-centrism. As a result, Fanon’s intervention helps us to realize what is most useful in Sorel’s framework.

Recommended Citation

Ciccariello-Maher, George. 2007. “To Lose Oneself in the Absolute: Revolutionary Subjectivity in Sorel and Fanon.” Pp. 101-112 in Reflections on Fanon: The Violences of Colonialism and Racism, Inner and Global—Conversations with Frantz Fanon on the Meaning of Human Emancipation (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume V, Special Issue, 2007.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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