Frantz Fanon, on Diplomacy, Castro’s Uniform, and Khrushchev’s Shoe

Revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon, the leading anti-colonialist marxist thinker, penned his magnum opus The Wretched of the Earth in the last year of his tragically short life, 1961.

In the work, among countless other themes and subjects, Fanon wrote of the contemporaneous nature of diplomacy, Castro’s military uniform, and Khrushchev’s alleged shoe-banging incident at the autumn 1960 902nd Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Diplomacy, as inaugurated by the newly independent peoples, is no longer an affair of nuances, of implications, and of hypnotic passes. For the nation’s spokesmen are responsible at one and the same time for safeguarding the unity of the nation, the progress of the masses toward a state of well-being and the right of all peoples to bread and liberty. Thus it is a diplomacy which never stops moving, a diplomacy which leaps ahead, in strange contrast to the motionless, petrified world of colonization. And when Mr. Khrushchev brandishes his shoe at the United Nations, or thumps the table with it, there’s not a single exnative, nor any representative of an underdeveloped country, who laughs. For what Mr. Khrushchev shows the colonized countries which are looking on is that he, the moujik, who moreover is the possessor of spacerockets, treats these miserable capitalists in the way that they deserve. In the same way, Castro sitting in military uniform in the United Nations Organization does not scandalize the underdeveloped countries. What Castro demonstrates is the consciousness he has of the continuing existence of the rule of violence.