Some fundamentals on the topic
While discussing the ways Gillo Pontecorvo’s film supports and challenges Frantz Fanon’s perception of violence and Hannah Arendt’s attitude towards the same issue, there is a need to consider some fundamentals of the Battle for Algerian Independence. As far as the topic of the current essay involves a deep analysis of different theories, it is necessary to highlight the key points of the theme in detail.
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First of all, it should be pointed out that Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers reflects the most important aspects of a well-known Algerian struggle against colonialism and imperialism. One of the major questions the film highlights is whether revolutionary violence can be justified or no. A war of national independence in Pontecorvo’s production shows us urban violence, French and Algerian attitudes towards the conflict.
Frantz Fanon vs. Hannah Arendt
While speaking about Frantz Fanon’s perception of violence, one can probably notice that the author’s attitude towards devastating forces is rather rigid. On the one hand, it seems that the author rejects the notion of formal independence as he sees no sense in the so-called peaceful means; on the other hand, his assumption that intimidation and extreme violence are the only ways to obtain power seems to be too authoritarian. Anyway, Fanon’s revolutionary theory is rather objective and well-organized.
The opposite attitude towards violence is represented by Hannah Arendt. Generally, the main idea of her reasoning on violence is that all forms of strategic action are considered to be inappropriate, undesirable and wrong. While comparing the theories reflected by Fanon and Arendt, it becomes evident that the authors’ viewpoints are totally different. It is also necessary to state that the problem of judgment can be regarded as the key point of Arendt’s conclusions.
The analysis of the authors’ works
Both authors consider the problem of violence in their own ways. Fanon’s viewpoint can be best understood by those ”who wish to gain a better understanding of the neo-colonial and bourgeois nature of contemporary politics in the post-colonial era” (McCollum , n. d., p. 116). On the other hand, Hannah Arendt’s reasoning is based on certain philosophical assumptions, which are related to some important political issues. In other words, one can probably conclude that it was an analysis of social and political changes and circumstances, which formed Arendt’s viewpoint.
Violence and its semantic meaning
Generally, it must be noted that the concepts of freedom are regarded by both authors rather ambiguously. Arendt does not consider violence as one of the most effective ways to gain power. However, she gives her readers an opportunity to trace back the major aspects of non-violence philosophy. One is to keep in mind that Arendt also clarifies important aspects of violence propaganda by the modern political groups.
The semantic meaning of the term violence Arendt provides her readers with should be understood in a proper way. Thus, some readers can be confused with the author’s language, as important linguistic specification is one of the peculiarities of Arendt’s philosophical analysis. For this reason, it is extremely important to draw attention to details, as the author distinguishes among the number of terms (i.e. she differentiates between force and violence, power and strength).
Fanon, in his turn, does not appeal to a variety of terms, which can be regarded as synonyms. According to him violence is mostly associated with a variety of problems of decolonization. Thus, he considers uprising of the masses as one of the most effective ways to resolve political or social conflicts. It is also necessary to point out that Fanon does not accept the so-called intermediate issues. Taking into account his viewpoint, one can conclude that there are “the good and the bad; the white and the dark; the rich and the poor; the indigenous and the foreigner”, etc. (McCollum , n. d., p. 113).
The authors’ common theme
Crime against humanity seems to be the common theme both authors highlight. However, while Arendt is perfectly sure that violence is mute, Fanon is of the opposite opinion. While reading Arendt’s works, one can probably notice that her reasoning concerning war and revolution is not related to the political activity, as according to her, if both issues seem to be interdependent on the basis of violence, political life has no sense. In other words, Hannah Arendt considers politics as a matter of words.
Despite the fact that Fanon’s viewpoint on violence is rather rigid; a deep analysis of his works gives readers an opportunity to understand that his anti-colonial revolutionary thoughts and attitude to violence are based not on the importance of revenge, but the desire to end social injustice. The author’s abstract generalizations and absolutism cause numerous contradictions in relation to his propagation of negativeness.
Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers and the authors’ arguments
Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers supports Fanon’s viewpoint concerning an important role of violence in the struggle for social justice. As far as colonization is considered to be a violent process, the struggle for independence is also to be somewhat violent. One of the scenes in the film I drew my attention to was the scene with a woman who hid her bomb and leaved. Further events are known.
In my opinion, the scene proves the importance of the same response in relation to certain actions. Thus, I suppose that the scene supports Fanon’s opinion on a greater violence. In his work The Wretched of the Earth the author states that “The colonizers used force in order to make the “natives” behave properly and they treated them like animals” (Stamatiou, n. d., p. 3).
For this reason, Fanon points out that the only way to demolish the kind of violence is to rely on a greater violence. Of course, under such circumstances the process of decolonization will be regarded as quite destructive; however, the psychological changes the enemies and natives can experience will be rather beneficial.
The perspective seems to be rather attractive; although one is to keep in mind that it is only the violence on the national scale, which can lead to positive consequences. On the other hand, I have to point out that there is the scene in the film, which contradicts the assumption that the use of violence for gaining the humanism is the only way to gain justice.
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In other words, the scene I am going to provide you with supports Hannah Arendt’s viewpoint. So, the scene with a child who was saved by a French policeman, gives us an opportunity to suppose that human principles can probably help resolve conflicts. The fact that a French policeman succeeded in carrying the child to safety reflects the importance of fair play and justice Arendt highlights in her work.
The point of contact
As far as Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers supports some arguments of both authors, one can probably conclude that the works written by Fanon and Arendt contain certain strengths and weaknesses. At first sight it seems that the opinions of the authors seem to be totally opposite; however, a detailed analysis of the authors’ works allowed me to find the so-called point of contact concerning their viewpoints.
For instance, it should be noted that Fanon’s reasoning involves some contradictions. On the one hand, he highlights the importance of the violence of decolonization; on the other one, he understands that the violence does not mean success. So, Fanon accepts the assumption that specific results are not guaranteed by devastating forces. Moreover, another point, which cannot be neglected, is related to Fanon’s reasoning on the psychological disorders.
Thus, the author states that those people, who rely on violence, suffer from various psychological diseases. Of course, it seems to be obvious that the process of killing causes the process of dehumanization. In other words, violence cannot be regarded as the most effective way to establish the principles of humanization.
Violence and humanization are considered to be incompatible issues. That is the point both authors accept. “Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What can never grow out of it is power” (Arendt, 1969). In my opinion, Arendt is right.
Violence and its advantages/disadvantages
In spite of the fact that Fanon’s work contains numerous contradictions, the author prefers to be contradicted rather than to accept violence as inappropriate tool of the struggle for independence. Fanon draws his readers’ attention to the fact that the colonized cannot lose. For this reason, violence can be regarded as the most appropriate way to succeed.
Generally, it must also be noted that Fanon provides readers with both – advantages and disadvantages of violence. For instance, while speaking about advantages, it is necessary to state that freedom and independence can be gained back; however, the psychological disorders seem to be the so-called outcomes of violence.
One is to keep in mind the fact that the author critically evaluates violence; thereby, his assumptions can be regarded as objective: “We know for sure today that in Algeria the test of force was inevitable, but other countries through political action and through the work of clarification undertaken by a party have led their people to the same results” (Fanon, 1963, p. 193).
In my opinion, one of the key issues of Fanon’s work is that the author defines violence as a kind of risk, which consequences are not known. Thus, in the case if decolonization is peaceful, it still impossible to say for sure whether the consequences of non-violent actions will lead to failure or no. On the other hand, the same can be said about violent actions. It is impossible to predict which strategy will be more effective.
Gillo Pontecorvo’s film Battle of Algiers both supports and criticizes the arguments of Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt. Although the authors’ theories seem to be totally opposite, the idea that violence does not guarantee specific results is considered to be the so-called point of contact between the authors. The film supports Fanon’s viewpoint on the importance of a greater violence to demolish colonization; and, on the other hand, shows that fair play and justice are the most powerful tools in the struggle for independence.
Arendt, H., (1969). A Special Supplement: Reflections on Violence. Web.
Fanon, F., (1963). The Wretched of the Earth. Web.
McCollum, J. Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth. Web.
Stamatiou, E. Influence and Significance of Frantz Fanon. Web.