Tagged ‘Colonialism‘

WATCH: The Occupation of the American Mind

The Occupation of the American Mind

Film released December, 2016

“Not only land, but also minds can be colonized. The brilliance of this documentary is that it manages to tell the story of both forms of colonization simultaneously. The first story reveals how Palestinian land was colonized and how the Palestinian people have been struggling for self-determination ever since. The second story uncovers how the American media has colonized the minds of its audiences and inverted the concrete relations of subjugation by transforming Israelis into victims and Palestinians into oppressors. The Occupation of the American Mind is a must see for anyone who is against colonization.”

–Neve Gordon, Professor of Politics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

“I wish every American would watch this powerful documentary. Not only every person of conscience, but every taxpayer, must see it — and then ask themselves if the status quo is acceptable and can continue deep into the 21st century.”

— Gideon Levy, columnist for Haaretz newspaper of Israel

“One of the most compelling and important documentaries in recent years because it helps us make sense of the lies, mayhem, and injustice in the heart of the Middle East: Palestine. Never has propaganda, or ‘public relations,’ been such a lethal weapon as it is in the hands of Israel, its apologists, and manipulators. To reach behind the facade that is ‘news,’ watch this film.”

— John Pilger, Journalist and Filmmaker

“Compelling, revealing, and chilling. Not only demonstrates how hasbara — Israeli propaganda — became American common sense, but it offers one of the best accounts of Israel’s violent dispossession and occupation of Palestinian lands. For over half a century, Americans drank the Kool-Aid concocted by the Israel lobby, the U.S. media, and virtually all elected officials because there were no alternatives. This film — like the movements that inspired it — is the antidote.”

–Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“Over the past few years, Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world — except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S.

Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. media culture, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor. From the U.S.-based public relations campaigns that emerged in the 1980s to today, the film provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people in the face of widening international condemnation of its increasingly right-wing policies.



WATCH: ‘They Call Us Terrorists’: Inside the Palestinian Resistance Forces of Jenin, West Bank

The Real News Network

Nov 13, 2023


Why are so many Westerners reluctant to support armed resistance to defeat Zionism?
Answers on a postcard

–November 13, 2023, NoDealForNature, Twitter/X, ? #StopGreenColonialism #StopGenocide ? [Int’l campaign opposing a genocidal land grab (#NewDealforNature / #NaturePositive / #30×30) marketed as a $olution to “protecting and restoring nature”]

“The resistance will never be crushed… Any people under occupation have the right to resist. This is the case for all colonized people.”

“People in the West think we have no ambition. It’s not true. I was studying computer engineering and I had an invention. All Palestinians have been subjected to the injustice of occupation. We grew up with ambition. We grew up playing in the street. Children around the world may play ordinary games, like PlayStation. Here we are forced to play with stones. There are no conditions for life here. No life… We had ambitions to become scientists, doctors, and engineers, but the occupation opted for violence.”


Israel continues to unleash hell upon the 22-by-5-mile concentrated area of Gaza, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with relentless airstrikes and indiscriminate bombings of hospitals, residential buildings, schools, and other civilian sites. As besieged Palestinians shelter and flee and die within the walls of their cage in Gaza, Resistance forces are mobilizing to rise up against an Occupation that has presided over lives for 75 years.

Where there is occupation, there is resistance, and numerous Palestinian resistance groups exist across the Occupied Territories. These groups consist of occupied subjects turned freedom fighters—those who have been directly targeted by Israel, who have witnessed their friends and families die at the hands of occupying forces, and who have been labeled “terrorists” for resisting their slow extermination. In Jenin, a 1km square ghetto-like refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, and the target of numerous Israeli incursions, there are many who have chosen the path of armed resistance, and many who felt they had no other choice.

For those who suffer under the direct oppression and daily practices of apartheid—including the suspension of human and civil rights, military-imposed blockades and checkpoints restricting people’s movements, the demolition of homes and killing of family members—there comes a breaking point. Generations of Palestinians, born into Occupation and violence, do not live a life of dignity. As they describe, under these conditions, they have nothing to live for and nothing to lose, and they have everything to fight for.

In July of this year, before the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks and Israel’s genocidal retaliatory offensive in Gaza, The Real News Network spoke to members of the community in Jenin refugee camp about their lives under Occupation, the role of the Resistance there, and the fight for freedom.

Produced and edited by Ross Domoney. Filming by Ahmad Al Bazz . Writing, narration, and research by Nadia Péridot.


The Global South is Pro-Palestinian

Middle Nation

October 11, 2023

“The Arab world is with the Palestinians. Africa is with the Palestinians. Latin America is with the Palestinians. Asia is



“Historical Forces” – Stokely Carmichael Lecture at the University of Georgia


Parts 1 & 2

University of Georgia Media Archives

February 1, 1979



“It’s the historical forces.

Once it comes, you have only two alternatives.

Either you are with the people, or you are against the people.

It’s very simple.”


–Stokely Carmichael



Leila Khaled’s Key Note at the International Dilemmas of Humanity Conference

SABC News, Africa

Oct 14, 2023

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, NUMSA is hosting the third International Dilemmas of Humanity conference in Johannesburg. The Dilemmas of Humanity process began in 2004 when popular organizations and movements from all over the world came together to confront the crisis of humanity caused by capitalism with concrete alternatives and solutions. Palestinian activist Leila Khaled delivers the key note address.

The Black Panther Party On Palestine

The Hampton Institute 

May 19, 2021

By Greg Thomas

The following article by Greg Thomas, the curator of “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine,” was published in Ittijah, a new Arabic-language publication by Palestinian youth issued by Nabd, the Palestinian Youth Forum.  Dr. Greg Thomas is Associate Professor of Black Studies & English Literature at Tufts University, who crafted the exhibition, displayed first at the Abu Jihad Museum in occupied Palestine and then in Oakland and in several other US locations. The exhibition “includes drawings, woodcuts, political posters and other art tied to Jackson’s life and the Palestinian and U.S. prisoners’ movements, letters of solidarity between Palestinian and American prisoners, letters from Jackson and coverage of his life and death, photos of Palestinian art from the Apartheid Wall, and other artifacts tying the movements together.” It is named for Black Panther and Soledad Brother George Jackson, murdered in 1971 in a claimed “escape attempt;” poetry by the Palestinian leader and poet, Samih al-Qasim, including “Enemy of the Sun” and “I Defy,” was found in his cell after his death. (Handwritten copies of the poems where originally misattributed to Jackson, in what Thomas refers to as a “magical mistake” born of “radical kinship” between liberation movements.)

Download the original Arabic issue of Ittijah here:

The leader of the Black Panther Party (BPP), Huey P. Newton once wrote, “Israel was created by Western imperialism and is maintained by Western firepower.”  He likewise said that ‘America’ must die so that the world can live.  Neither Zionism nor “Americanism” would escape the wrath of these anti-colonialist/anti-racist/anti-imperialist Black Panthers, an organization founded in 1966 as the “Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” in Oakland, California.

Relatedly, by 1967, when the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began to transform itself from a liberal civil rights organization into a radical Black nationalist organization that would rename itself the Student National Coordinating Committee, it also took a bold position in support of Palestine.  The text of SNCC’s statement was co-drafted by Stokely Carmichael, who would go on to make history as a revolutionary icon of “Black Power” and Pan-African movements for liberation.  But SNCC paid for this position dearly.  Its economic patronage by white liberalism in general and white ‘Jewish’ liberalism in particular came to a screeching halt.  Historically, like all Black people who refuse to support “Jewish” Euro-imperialism, it would be represented as a band of ungrateful savages – “anti-Semitic” and “racist in reverse,” in other words – insofar as it would refused to put white and “Jewish” interests before its own Black nationalist and internationalist interests in North America and the world at large.

Nonetheless, it was a number of ex-SNCC radicals who published Enemy of the Sun: Poetry of Palestinian Resistance in 1970 — after they had formed Drum & Spear Press in Washington D.C., and after that book project co-edited by Naseer Aruri and Edmund Ghareeb had been rejected by a dozen other publishing houses.  This was the same collection of poems seized from the cell of George Jackson (Black Panther Field Marshal), after his assassination by San Quentin prison guards on August 21, 1971: “Enemy of the Sun” by Samih al-Qasim was even mysteriously published in the Black Panther newspaper under “Comrade George’s” name in a magical “mistake” that would cement a certain Black/Palestinian connection for decades to come.

Condemning Zionist imperialism and white colonial liberalism led to no crisis for the Black Panther Party, for it was revolutionary rather than a reformist organization from its inception.  The party issued at least three official statements on Palestine and the “Middle East” in 1970, 1974, and 1980, besides anonymous Black Panther articles promoting Palestinian liberation as well as assorted PLO editorials in The Black Panther Intercommunal New Service, a periodical with a global circulation of several hundred thousand copies weekly in its run from April 25, 1967 to September 1980.

The first official BPP statement in 1970 by proclaimed, “We support the Palestinian’s just struggle for liberation one hundred percent.  We will go on doing this, and we would like for all of the progressive people of the world to join in our ranks in order to make a world in which all people can live.”  The Panthers made a point to mention that they were “in daily contact with the PLO,” provocatively, via the office that they had opened in Algiers as an “international section” of the party.  This statement was made at a press conference in 1970 and republished in 1972 as a part of To Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton.

What’s more, the BPP Minister of Defense put a sharp spin on the Zionist rhetoric of “the right to exist,” mocking its arrogance with a Black revolutionary flair:  “The Jewish people have a right to exist so long as they solely exist to down the reactionary expansionist Israeli government.”

A second statement was issued by Newton in 1974.  It would not budge from the BPP’s automatic support for Palestine.  Yet the push here was now for an Israeli retreat to 1967 borders, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, for a pan-Arab populism that would move toward a “people’s republic of the Middle East.”  This was mostly a rhetorical critique of U.S. puppet regimes in the Arab world, which is to say, their comprador betrayal of Palestine:  Elaine Brown reports that the masses of the party favored a position of complete Palestinian decolonization in any and every case.

A third official BPP statement followed Huey Newton’s trip to Lebanon in 1980.  It is a virtual conversational profile of Yasser Arafat as well.  The PLO Chairman vilified in the West was presented as an icon of peace with anti-imperialist justice in strict contrast to Menachem Begin.  In minute detail, the Panther newspaper recalls Newton’s visit to a Palestinian school, the Red Crescent Society Hospital, and the Palestine Martyrs Works Society (SAMED), suggesting a significant parallel between these PLO programs in Beirut and the “survival pending revolution” programs of the Black Panther Party in North America.  This written portrait of two revolutionary leaders and organizations in contact again conjures up some striking images found elsewhere:  Huey greeting Arafat ecstatically in an airport somewhere and Huey smiling in front of a refugee camp in Lebanon with his arms around two armed Palestinian youth.

The afterlife of the Black Panther Party is noteworthy to be sure.  Elaine Brown would proudly recap its history of Palestinian solidarity in 2015, while Kathleen Cleaver remembered in the same year that Fateh helped them construct their office (or “embassy-without-a-state”) in Algeria.  Safiya Bukhari would continue to recite Palestinian poetry in tribute to “fallen comrades,” long after George Jackson became Samih al-Qasim and Samih al-Qasim became George Jackson thanks to the party’s newspaper.  Lastly, Dhoruba Bin Wahad would be denied entry into Palestine in 2009 and briefly detained by the Israelis in Jordan.  He was en route to a conference on political prisoners and representing the “Jericho Movement to Free Political Prisoners in the U.S.”   And it is difficult to find a more radical or brilliant critic of Zionism, Negrophobia and Islamophobia in the Western Hemisphere today.

Moreover, before Stokely Carmichael moved back to Guinea and changed his name to become Kwame Ture, he was for a time affiliated with the Black Panthers as its “honorary prime minster.”  Despite their subsequent differences, he arguably became the greatest Black giant of anti-Zionism himself.  He described Palestine as “the tip of Africa” and said that he had “two dreams” (which were revolutionary, anti-Apartheid dreams in fact):  “I dream, number one, of having coffee with my wife in South Africa;  and number two, of having mint tea in Palestine.”  This means that the legacy of his as well as SNCC’s historic solidarity with Palestine can be seen as intertwined with the legacy of the Black Panthers, not to mention Malcolm X.

Indeed, when Huey P. Newton referred to the Black Panther Party as the “heirs of Malcolm X,” he could have been talking about their shared anti-Zionist stance against white racism empire.  In 1964, Malcolm made his Hajj and epic political tour of the Afro-Arab world.  He spent two days in Gaza (5-6 September), where he prayed at a local mosque, gave a press conference at the parliament building, met Harun Hashim Rashad (as May Alhassen informs us), and visited several Palestinian refugee camps.  Soon he met the first Chairman of the PLO Chairman, Ahmed Shukeiri, in Cairo – after the second Arab League Summit in Alexandria — and published his blistering polemic against “Zionist Logic” in The Egyptian Gazette (17 September 1964):  “The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is “dollarism,” he wrote:  “The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism….  The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.”  Here Malcolm (or, now, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz) prefigures Fayez Sayegh’s powerful booklet, Zionist Colonialism in Palestine (1965);  and he eerily portends Benjamin Netanyahu’s wretched tour of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia in 2016.  The 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party (for Self-Defense) is thus a great time to remember the whole genealogy of a Black revolutionary tradition of opposition to Zionism and all forms of Western racism, colonialism and imperialism, perhaps especially in this special place that produced Black Panther/Fahd al-Aswad formations of own.



[Dr. Greg Thomas is Associate Professor of Black Studies & English Literature at Tufts University.]

Despite What you Think, Palestinians are Not Celebrating Death

The Diaspora Journal

By Hebn Jamal 

October 9, 2023



The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

– Maya Angelou


Despite what you might think, no Palestinians are not celebrating death. We do not look at the news and rejoice over the number of Israelis killed. We do not salivate at the sight of blood drenched bodies. Despite what you might think we are not well. We do not look at death and feel happiness.

The “joy” you might be seeing is the idea that for the first time in history we might have a chance to reclaim our land. We might have a chance to end the occupation, we might have a chance to open Gaza’s borders, to visit our family without reprisal and to escape from torturous prisons- this time without a spoon in our hand.

Yet, even then, what is it to label it as “joy.”

Yesterday, my cousin-in law: my husband’s first cousin and my mother in law’s nephew was killed by the settler colonial state-Majed. He was beautiful and just graduated tawhiji last year. He was only 20. Now he is gone. We are in a deep phase of mourning, anger and confusion as to how this happened to us so quickly, so soon. Our tears have simply dried on our faces as there weren’t enough tissues to hold them.

Majed Suleibi, 20

My family’s neighbors’ are annihilated. A whole family was wiped out yesterday , the Abu Daqqa family, with 5 beautiful children that were killed. We are now getting reports of 19 members of the same family killed in a single Israeli air strike last night in the besieged strip. Old and young: men, women and children.. all..just gone.

Then this morning we learn that Israel is using white phosphorus gas on Palestinians in Gaza- a dangerous chemical that continues to burns the skin even if met with water. My husband recalls they did the same in 2008 when he was a child, “the gas can only be covered, but once it was uncovered it burned again for days and days” he said.

In the West Bank settlers are being instructed to kill Palestinians on-sight, and we read our Facebook homepages like they are obituaries. Seeing dozens of people we broke bread with disappear in a single moment.

When I read posts shocked at how I am not condemning Palestinian militants in this point in time, I feel once again inferior. My value as a human is not seen the same. While we are in the most traumatic and gut wrenching moments of our lives there are some who believe now it is the time to say that we have to condemn. We have to say that love trumps all.

I wish. I truly Goddamn wish that love trumps all. That it is love that leads revolutions. I wanted for my whole life to believe that by protesting long enough, by supporting BDS long enough, by writing long enough I am actively making a difference.

Well I wasn’t. Not in the way that might save my people’s existence.

In Gaza, despite bombs being dropped overhead, despite us losing tens and tens of our family members right this very second, they know that if it is not now, it will be later. They know this because their whole lives that is all they had to see. They had to see mutilated bodies, they had to see their children dismembered in front of them, and they had to see their futures destroyed.

2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022, 2023..

Each war and assault on Gaza it is the same. Each war the amount dead was dismissed and treated lesser than. Our humanity is not valued. For if it was, so would be our pursuit for liberation.

There has not been success in changing the perception of the Israeli public- to actually see us as humans and to accept we will not live in a cage. Whenever Israelis have an election we brace ourselves , because we know the only way you get polling numbers is by bombing or raiding or arresting us senseless. Usually when they bang the war drums, public support comes running. I am unsure how the colonized mind will decolonize itself to give us our freedom. It has not happened and I don’t think it ever will.

We demand and yell on the streets everywhere in the world “Gaza, gaza don’t you cry..we will never let you die.” We march in front of the Zionist embassies and write to politicians and we demand them to stop sending aid. We make vigils and hand out posters for them to be ripped up in bins. While our family dies we have to watch the apathy of Westerners who will never join our struggle for liberation, who will never see us as humans, who will never allow us to breathe.

I have anti-Zionist Jewish friends who are rightfully scared. Who are conflicted and hate that this has happened. I understand, because for a majority of your life this fear was only an abstract concept. The damage that has transpired was only described theoretically in the past and you worked tirelessly to try and change it. However, at the at the end of the day you can maybe turn your minds off, go to a cafe or enjoy a glass of wine, because it wasn’t your pain.

We couldn’t. We never could.

After we worked together, at the end of the day us Palestinians went back to mourning. Our pain never ended after the protest or the vigil. We had to deconstruct our pain to therapists we couldn’t afford and try to move on from the death..from the tragedies..from the violence because we couldn’t do anything else. At some point, this became too too much.

I pray for the day to walk through Jerusalem or to feel Yafa’s waters, or to sit at Acre’s ports with people of all faiths who see me as a human. I hope for open borders and the destruction of walls and for the ability walk side by side with you all for it is not us who has never seen your humanity.

I do not rejoice over death. I rejoice over the possibility to live.

We are simply tired, and hurt, and grieving and I cannot condemn the militants if I believe even for a second that there might be a possibility of all of this finally coming to an end..

“The Bulldozer” – Palestinian artist Beesan Arafat


[Hebn Jamal writes about the Palestinian cause and diaspora, state sanctioned violence, and Islamophobia.]


The Disastrous Inseparability of Western Science and Capitalism


The following is an exert from Scorched Earth: Beyond the Digital Age to a Post-Capitalist World, by Jonathon Crary. [Verso, 2022]


Any effective imagination of a post-capitalist material culture must confront the inseparability of modern technology from the institutional formations of modern science. We are currently overwhelmed from all sides by reverential exaltations of “science” and of the unimpeachable authority of “the scientists” who will deliver us from the climate crisis. The absurdity of this sanctification of one of the primary agents of biosphere destruction—including global warming—is evident to many, but there is a strict prohibition on openly acknowledging it. Science, in its many powerful institutional manifestations, is now essentialized as an a priori source of truth, existing above economic interests or social determinations and exempt from historical or ideological evaluation. It is the one remaining mirage of legitimacy behind which global capital continues its rampage of planetary looting and destruction. The marginal figures of the altruistic climatologist or oceanographer are foregrounded as camouflage for the structural complicity of most scientific research with corporate and military priorities. In the face of reactionary attacks on all forms of knowledge and learning, our response should not be a mindless celebration of a fairytale account of “science.” Such cowardly obsequiousness is an anti-intellectualism as damaging as the rightwing embrace of ignorance. The voluminous and many-sided critique of the limits and failings of Western science has been rendered invisible and unmentionable. Contributors to this essential body of thought include some of the most discerning philosophers, scientists, feminists, activists, and social thinkers of the last hundred or more years. We’re at a moment when the survival of life on our planet depends on reanimating this critique, and recovering an unequivocal awareness of how most of the foundational paradigms of Western science have brought us to our current disastrous, possibly terminal, situation.

Unlike many on the left, French theorist Jacques Camatte had no such illusions in the early 1970s when he identified science as both servant and divinity of capitalism. He understood that science had become fully configured to be “the study of mechanisms of adaptation which will assimilate human beings and nature into the structure of capitalism’s productive activity.” The full colonization of research by the military and corporations following World War II consummated the disappearance of meaningful distinctions between science and technology. Jean-François Lyotard saw the unconstrained development of capitalist technoscience as the final negation of the emancipatory project of modernity and the extinguishing of any illusions about the beneficent role of human reason. The scientific method had long since become dependent on technology for creating the artificial, deracinated objects on which the method could be deployed. Nature and human beings are reduced and homogenized into techno-scientific abstractions. Indeed, as early as the 1600s, Western science had become one of the most powerful discursive supports for racism, misogyny, and the genocidal colonial projects originating in Europe and then in North America. Alfred North Whitehead detailed some of the historical conditions for the rise of technoscience: he noted that the very nature of what previously had been thought of as “science” changed fundamentally in the nineteenth century. Scientific research became meaningful or valuable primarily for its potential to generate some application, product, or practical technique. “The greatest invention of the nineteenth century,” he wrote caustically, “was the invention of the method of invention.” Science defined itself, not by principles but through results. It became “a storehouse of ideas for utilization,” which clearly meant commercial, profit-making applications. Whitehead noted the late- nineteenth-century emergence of the methods by which abstract knowledge could be connected with technology and with unending sequences of innovations. He singled out Germany as the country where “the boundless possibilities of technological advance” were first realized. Whitehead, presenting these observations in his 1925 Lowell Lectures at Harvard, was too genteel to state the obvious: that “the method of invention” was inseparable from the rise of industrial capitalism and its voracious requirements. The modern state-capitalist vocation of science (which Whitehead, Max Weber, Helmuth Plessner, and others had identified by the 1920s) has clearly brought us to the edge of catastrophe with its ceaseless flood of “utilizations.” Currently, the shrill glorification of “science” is a desperate maneuver of obfuscation, to forestall a wider recognition of the disastrous inseparability of Western science and capitalism while promoting the delusion that “science” will save us from its own calamitous accomplishments, notably the current unravelling of the earth system.

To take one of innumerable examples, the torrent of synthetic chemicals poisoning air, water, soil, oceans, and the bodies of every higher organism is certainly one of the most enduring “accomplishments” of capitalist technoscience. Scientists themselves, not just corporate executives, bear direct responsibility for the terminal wounding of living systems by plastics, herbicides, pesticides, and petrochemical fertilizers, as well as for the toxic impact of the 120,000 compounds (increasing every month) that saturate ourselves and the environment. These compounds have been produced for no other purpose than the facilitating of manufacturing and technical processes, including military applications, and for enhancing, in thousands of ways, the unnecessary “conveniences” of daily life and commerce. The global industrial complex is dependent on a continual stream of new products and is structurally incapable of limiting or regulating itself in any meaningful way. The actuality of a world made into a terminal waste dump by technoscience is not an anomaly that could have been, or might yet be, put right; it is intrinsic to the operations of scorched earth capitalism. When one considers the harmful innovations of synthetic biology, nanotechnology, social robotics, and autonomous weapons systems, to name just a few other areas, the kneejerk veneration of “science” can only be understood as a capitulation to the ongoing assault on the life-world. For philosopher Jean-Pierre Dupuy, “anyone who believes that science and technology will manage to provide a solution to problems created by science and technology, does not believe in the reality of the future.”


Verso: “In this uncompromising essay, Jonathan Crary presents the obvious but unsayable reality: our ‘digital age’ is synonymous with the disastrous terminal stage of global capitalism and its financialization of social existence, mass impoverishment, ecocide, and military terror. Scorched Earth surveys the wrecking of a living world by the internet complex and its devastation of communities and their capacities for mutual support. This polemic by the author of 24/7 dismantles the presumption that social media could be instruments of radical change and contends that the networks and platforms of transnational corporations are intrinsically incompatible with a habitable earth or with the human interdependence needed to build egalitarian post-capitalist forms of life.”


Perpetual War and Permanent Unrest: The Battle of Algiers After 9/11



By Sohail Daulatzai21

December 2016

“The Battle of Algiers, a 1966 film that poetically captures Algerian resistance to French colonial occupation, is widely considered one of the greatest political films of all time. With an artistic defiance that matched the boldness of the anticolonial struggles of the time, it was embraced across the political spectrum—from leftist groups like the Black Panther Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization to right-wing juntas in the 1970s and later, the Pentagon in 2003. With a philosophical nod to Frantz Fanon, Sohail Daulatzai demonstrates that tracing the film’s afterlife reveals a larger story about how dreams of freedom were shared and crushed in the fifty years since its release. As the War on Terror expands and the “threat” of the Muslim looms, The Battle of Algiers is more than an artifact of the past—it’s a prophetic testament to the present and a cautionary tale of an imperial future, as perpetual war has been declared on permanent unrest.”


This essay is excerpted from Sohail Daulatzai’s Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue, published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Though it is both troubling and telling, the screening of the film by the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan is only the latest chapter in the afterlife of The Battle of Algiers. In many ways, the film is a battleground and a microcosm of the enduring struggles between the West and the Rest, whiteness and its others. But in a post- 9/11 moment, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the centrality and omnipresence of the figure of the Muslim and the “War on Terror” have not only coded and shaped every aspect of social life but have also sought to undermine the power and politics of The Battle of Algiers.

In many ways, the “War on Terror” has used the pretense of “antiterrorism” and the haunting figure of the Muslim to garner public support and generate political will to usher in new repressive measures on a global scale. Occupying what Fanon called a “zone of non-being,” the figure of the Muslim has authorized permanent war abroad and repression at home, the expansion of police powers and the deepening of the surveillance state, the undermining of women’s liberation and the criminalization of migrants, indefinite detention and the legitimacy of torture, the silencing of speech, and the disciplining of dissent. But the screening of the film at the Pentagon and its use as a training tool in the “War on Terror” have — through appropriation and revisionism — sought to control the memory of The Battle of Algiers and have also deflected and undermined many of the urgent questions and concerns that decolonization and the Third World Project sought to address. Despite this, the Battle of Algiers in many ways resists this kind of imperial containment, and in nuanced and sophisticated ways, the film provides an opportunity to probe more deeply into the contemporary moment, as many of its central themes still resonate today.


In a moment of profound cinematic reversal, and one that had prophetic echoes across the Tricontinental and the landscape of Bandung, is the scene from The Battle of Algiers when Ben H’midi, the leader of the FLN, is captured and paraded as a spectacle in front of a preening press. Asked about his use of guerrilla war and the FLN’s targeting of civilians, Ben H’midi replied, “Isn’t it even more cowardly to attack defenseless villages with napalm bombs that kill thousands more? Obviously planes would make things easier for us. Give us your bombers and you can have our baskets.”

Ben H’midi’s and, by extension, the film’s sympathetic portrayal of guerrilla warfare targeting colonial occupying forces and settler-civilians resonated across the Third World and shook the colonial and imperial foundations of international law. From France to Israel, South Africa to Brazil, the film was banned precisely because of its ethical endorsement of guerrilla war against occupying forces and repressive, Western-backed dictatorships. In profound ways, this has arguably been the central and enduring legacy of the film, inaugurating a debate within the United Nations and among political theorists and policy makers about what constitutes “terrorism” and legitimate resistance, conventional war and asymmetric guerrilla warfare.

The Battle of Algiers gave ethical sanction to armed struggle and popular resistance to colonial occupation and imperial power. But in the current “War on Terror,” the ruling paradigm of “counter-terrorism” and the language and logic of “terror/- ism/- ist” have created a security logic that not only has served to delegitimize and criminalize armed struggle but also has had a profound chilling effect on speech, dissent, and other forms of political activity. In fact, in an era of the “post-racial,” the language of “terrorism” has been used as a language of racecraft that is a twenty-first-century way of saying “savage,” of rekindling in somewhat stark terms the colonial discourse of “civilization” and “savagery.” As dog whistle terminology for invoking race and Otherness, the logic of “terror” (like “savage” before it) determines who is human (read: White) and who is not by excluding particular ideas, bodies, regions, and collectives from the political community of rights. As subjects who exist outside the law, Muslims, then, are not only not due protection by the law; they are also subject to the full force of the “law” and all manner of “extralegal” force (torture, invasion, warfare, drones, indefinite detention, incarceration, etc.) to protect the rights of those deemed human. By ushering in a new architecture of control, the “War on Terror” has marked “terrorism” as illegitimate speech and activity, creating a legal framework for prosecuting it, policing powers to manage it, and a military response for executing it.

This framing of Muslim being, agency, and resistance outside the bounds of the human and what is deemed legitimate political activity is central to understanding the rewriting of the film and its legacy in the post-9/11 context. The embrace of the film during its release by a broad and diverse group of radicals and revolutionaries — from the IRA to the PLO, Baader-Meinhoff to the Black Panthers, Marxists to nationalists — speaks to its universal appeal. Yes, the film stood for militancy and revolutionary action writ large, one that was only nominally about Muslims per se — as Third World decolonization and international solidarity gave The Battle of Algiers a more universal appeal that was so vital at the time.

But in the post- 9/11 context, with the decimation of the Third World Project and also the viability and visibility of a coherent global Left, this kind of radical universality that was the film’s appeal has been replaced by a more troubling and particularist reading that The Battle of Algiers isn’t simply a film about Muslims resisting the occupation of their lands by the West (in this case, the French); it is a film that sympathetically portrays that resistance. But in a post- 9/11 context, armed struggle — let alone resistance of any kind — by Muslims is seen as dangerous, as worthy of death, and is targeted by the state through legal, political, and military regimes of violence.

During decolonization, the film provided a space for the ways in which the Muslims of Algeria were an entrée into a larger panorama of anticolonial resistance. But in the lingua franca of imperial culture today, the Muslim now stands in for the limits and poverty of armed struggle and radical activity writ large. This overdetermined framing lends itself to a reading of the film where not only is the past rewritten — as Algerian resistance to French colonialism is delegitimized through the contemporary “War on Terror” — but so too is the current project of empire coded as innocent, one where there is a historical continuity between the French of yesterday and the Americans of today.

According to the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict in charge of the screening of The Battle of Algiers at the Pentagon in 2003, “showing the film offers historical insight into the conduct of French operations in Algeria, and was intended to prompt informative discussion of the challenges faced by the French.” The Pentagon’s screening signaled an attempt by the military establishment to reframe the film not as text about decolonization and anti-imperialism but instead as a manual for “how to do counterinsurgency,” not only stripping the film of its radical impulses but also erasing the violent history of colonialism as the determining force for Algerian resistance. This reversal and act of appropriation not only purified the colonial past; it was also an attempt to sanitize and strip away the current moment of U.S. empire and frame contemporary Muslim struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere within the ruling paradigm of “terrorism” that has to be crushed. But this revisionism is only possible because the ideological space available to understand Muslim agency, Muslim subjectivity, and Muslim being has eroded and withered away in the post- 9/11 moment, so that the very thing that made the film so groundbreaking — its ability to dignify Algerian struggles and elicit sympathy from viewers for their cause — is almost unimaginable today: a move that situates French colonialism as just, and the current U.S. imperial footprint as necessary.


The opening scene of The Battle of Algiers plunges the viewer into a kind of complicity. Having just finished torturing Sedek, the French now know where the last cell, which includes the elusive Ali La Pointe — is located. As the viewer, we don’t witness the torture firsthand, but we know it happened. We are left instead with the aftermath. Much like with the torture-porn of Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantánamo, and other “black sites,” we are also witnesses, carrying the burden of knowing.

By opening with a scene of torture, The Battle of Algiers presents the stark violence that has been at the heart of the colonial encounter: not just the violence of the act of torture itself — the electrical shock, the fists, the waterboarding, and the death — but also the violent conditions of colonialism that made a rebellion necessary in the first place. In fact, as Fanon has argued, violence structures the colonial encounter and the relationship between the empire and its Others, and this is brilliantly mirrored in the way the film’s narrative is in fact structured by torture and colonial violence.

The film brilliantly shows Fanon’s ideas about the segregation of colonial space, between “white” Algiers and the Casbah (where the Algerians were confined). Through the film, we see the barricades and the barbed wire, the checkpoints and the surveillance cameras — a space of violence where the police and the military are the enforcers of colonial authority. There is also the prison where Ali La Pointe is radicalized into political consciousness — à la Malcolm X — his eyes peering through the prison bars as a rebel is walked to the guillotine. The blade is dropped but an awareness is raised as chants of “Long Live Algeria!” and “Allah U Akbar!” echo through the prison walls. And there is the torture, shown in almost operatic and elegiac ways that, though brutal, still didn’t reveal the extent of the French torture program, which included the rape and torture of Algerian women, sometimes in their own homes.

But in terms of what it does show, the sense of realism the film conveyed made it seem shocking and unbelievable. To the deniers of empire and apologists of colonialism, The Battle of Algiers was too real, shattering a world of white invincibility and colonial authority that Algerians and the larger Third World had so desperately sought to tear down. Maybe the film was shocking to so many because resistance to colonialism is real and because colonial authority and popular discourse around empire have sanitized and presented a Eurocentric world so bloodlessly, one where the flags of empires — British, French, Dutch, Italian, U.S. — fly so benevolently. The shock, then, shouldn’t have been directed at the means the Algerians used to usurp and throw off the shackles of white colonial power but rather at the centuries-long violence that has been used to keep Algerians, and the larger Global South, subjugated for so long.

Despite the guerrilla actions by the Algerians in the film, the overwhelming violence throughout the history of colonialism in Algeria (1830– 1962) and during the Algerian War of Independence (1954– 62) was committed by the French. To establish their presence in Algeria, the French ushered in policies where mass displacement of Algerians took place as well as dispossession of the land, including the pacification of the country that led to the violent crushing of nationalist uprisings against French rule and death by famine, war, and disease. Robert Stam cites the writer Victor Hugo, who, in his book Choses Vues, discusses a conversation he had with a French general two decades after French colonization of Algeria began. Hugo reports that at that October 16, 1852, meeting, the general told him, “It was not rare, during the French attacks, to see soldiers throwing Algerian children out of the window onto the waiting bayonets of their fellow soldiers. They would rip the earrings off the women, along with the ears, and cut off their hands and fingers to get the rings.

During the War of Independence, the French executed more than three thousand prisoners, and during which time estimates claim that twenty thousand French soldiers and upward of 1.5 million Algerians were killed. The French used helicopters, tanks, and planes; airstrikes on civilians; and advanced rifles and grenades as well as the creation of internment camps and the destruction of thousands of villages, not to mention systematic and routinized forms of torture. But we have to understand violence in more systemic forms as well that don’t include only the bomb, the gun, or the tool of torture. Violence is also the exploitation of the country, the seizing of land and its resources, the legal and political codes that enforced the destruction of Algerian social life, and the wealth accumulation that structured the asymmetries of political, diplomatic, and military power. And then there is the epistemic violence that imposed French history and language within schools, and other institutions of the country that marginalized the varieties of Algerian social and cultural lives to be expressed and to flourish. Colonialism is indeed a violent phenomenon, and we have to be attuned to the myriad forms this violence takes and through which it is routinized and normalized within the everyday functioning of empire. If we do, then we cannot create a moral or ethical equivalence between French violence to crush the national liberation struggle and Algerian resistance to French colonialism. To do so is not just ahistorical; it’s unethical.

On the question of torture, many scholars have pointed out that for the colonial and imperial powers, torture is not an aberration but rather is central to the foundation and maintenance of modern liberal democracy. In France during the Algerian War of Independence, the specter of torture marked the French empire. Two books, Henri Alleg’s The Question (1958) and The Gangrene (1959), were banned by the French government. Alleg was a French Communist, and counter to the official French Communist Party position, which backed colonial control of Algeria, Alleg advocated through his journalism for Algerian independence. His memoir — The Question — was based on his arrest and torture by the French and became a best seller, though it was soon censored by the French government as the Algerian independence struggle intensified. Another searing indictment was the book The Gangrene, which struck a deep chord and was immediately censored, as the French government confiscated all copies by pulling them from the shelves and storming the publishing house. The book told the true story of four Algerians living in Paris who were arrested and brutally tortured by French police for their suspected ties to the Algerian independence struggle. The book revealed the widespread use of torture against Algerians taking place in France, although no French official was ever held responsible. And then, of course, there are the cases of two Algerian women, Djamila Bouhired and Djamila Boupacha. Bouhired, who was captured and tortured by the French, was depicted in The Battle of Algiers as one of the three women bombers, while also being the subject of the 1958 Youssef Chahine film Jamila, the Algerian. Boupacha’s case became a cause célèbre among the intellectual and artistic Left, as figures such as Simone de Beauvoir, Henri Alleg, and Pablo Picasso rallied to her support after her torture and rape while in prison brought attention to the widespread systematic use of sexual violence by the French.

In the film, when he is asked about torture at the press conference, Matthieu claims that “the word torture does not appear in our orders,” a claim that was eerily echoed by U.S. president George W. Bush when the Abu Ghraib tortures were revealed, saying “we do not torture” and instead preferring the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Like Bush, Matthieu also said that he had to “interrogate,” but he went on to say, “And that’s where we find ourselves hindered by a conspiracy of laws and regulations that continue to operate as if Algiers were a holiday resort and not a battleground. . . . Should we remain in Algeria? If you answer yes, then you must accept all the necessary consequences.”

This sentiment was echoed by a U.S. solider when the tortures at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were first revealed: “It’s a little like the French colonel in The Battle of Algiers. You’re all complaining about the tactics I’m using to win the war, but that’s what I’m doing, winning the war.” Not surprisingly, it’s no coincidence that the blueprint for U.S. counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan — the Petraeus Doctrine — is deeply influenced by and borrows heavily from the work of French military specialist David Galula, whose Counterinsurgency Warfare and Pacification in Algeria are central to U.S. policy in the “War on Terror.”

But despite its glorification in films like Zero Dark Thirty (2012), in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, and in the self- righteous “debate” that ensued between those who claimed that “to torture is un-American and betrays our values” and that “torture is a necessary evil to stop an imminent attack,” torture is normalized as an expedient means by which Western democracies constitute and imagine themselves. In fact, torture has been central to U.S. national security, including its use against Black prisoners domestically as a means of social control. According to historian Alfred McCoy, “at the deepest level, the abuse[s] at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Kabul are manifestations of a long history of a distinctive U.S. covert warfare doctrine developed since World War II.” McCoy continues by claiming that the U.S. “torture paradigm can be seen in the recurrence of the same techniques used by American and allied security agencies in Vietnam during the 1960’s, Central America in the 1980’s and Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Across the span of three continents and four decades, there is a striking similarity in U.S. torture techniques — from the C.I.A.’s original Kubark interrogation manual, to the agency’s 1983 Honduras training book, all the way to Ricardo Sanchez’s 2003 orders for interrogation in Iraq.”

In The Battle of Algiers, Matthieu is not presented as evil. Instead, his dispassionate persona and rational, matter-of-fact style suggest that the violence from colonialism and empire is not simply the product of evil men with bad morals and intentions but the product of the workings of a system in which many are complicit. Hanna Arendt referred to this as the “banality of evil” in reference to Nazi Germany, and Matthieu’s comments at his impromptu press conference regarding the need to accept “all necessary consequences” can be seen in a similar light, as he points out the hypocrisies of even the liberal establishment, which criticized the means and methods of war. Matthieu unwittingly held up a mirror to both the Left and the Right of French society, and his comments can also be read as a cautionary tale to future empires, like the United States today, where a series of similar ethical questions might be posed: “If you and your citizens want that lifestyle of comfort, of excess and pleasure, then just know what it takes to get it, and don’t complain or rely on liberal platitudes about how ‘America has lost its way.’ That oil? Those cell phones and laptops? The clothes on your backs? Or even the land you live on? If you value this lifestyle, then don’t complain about the methods needed to maintain it.” The implications are stunning and disturbing, penetrating, and indicting.


Central to the structuring of the Muslim outside the category of the human is the role of gender. In a powerful scene, The Battle of Algiers challenges the racial and gendered logics of colonialism by subverting the “discourse of the veil.” The film’s portrayal of Zohra, Hassiba, and Djamila, three women who “looked” as though they had embraced European values of modernity — only to pass through a checkpoint without being searched and then successfully plant bombs among French settler-civilians — revealed the veil, and, more important, Western feminist values, to be overdetermined and, ultimately, a ruse.

Deeply reflective of what has been called feminist Orientalism, or imperial feminism, First Lady Laura Bush addressed the nation soon after the invasion of Afghanistan, saying, “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” Her comments about the connections between women’s rights and war are a contemporary expression of a centuries-long project of Western colonialism and intervention that privileges not just white feminism but also Western models of liberation. But as Leila Ahmed, Lila Abu-Lughod, and others have pointed out, contemporary debates about women’s rights, freedom, and equality can be traced back to earlier colonial and missionary ideas and rhetorics about Muslim women.

In the current post-9/11 context, the figure of the Muslim woman has been used to make claims about Islam and Muslim societies as the sole and exclusive sites of patriarchy and misogyny, as the question of women’s rights has become the legitimizing discourse for the claims that Islam and Muslim societies are fundamentally illiberal and antimodern. In fact, the figure of the Muslim woman has been central to expanding the logic of the “War on Terror” by further racializing Muslim communities and marshaling support from both feminists and conservatives, liberals and leftists, for military expansion, imperial war, and nation building. As scholar Sherene Razack has argued, the imperiled Muslim woman has become an archetype, one who must be rescued from genital mutilation, forced marriage, and the veil and saved in the West, becoming “a rationale for engaging in the surveillance and disciplining of the Muslim man and of Muslim communities.”

Echoing Fanon’s famous — and controversial — essay “Algeria Unveiled,” the film suggests that the conventional Western logic that the veil is a sign of repression and that its removal means freedom is troubled. In the film, scenes depicted Muslim women with the veil as “dangerous,” for they could hide weapons beneath their clothes. But in the scene where the women “de-veil,” the film suggests that Muslim women without the veil, looking “Western,” are potentially even more dangerous, for they passed as “civilized” and “modern,” no longer enslaved by their traditions and their men, as the colonial logic would dictate. Muslim women now had agency, could speak, and could act on their own accord. And in the turning point of the film, the Muslim woman expresses her “agency” — limited though it is — but not as the French would have liked. Instead, it is her resemblance to the French, or her “aspirations” to be “modern,” that grants her access to “choice.” And because she looks that way, still appealing to the (white) male gaze, she is able to pass through the checkpoint and plant the bombs in the cafés and airport terminals. In this radical moment of subversion, the film suggests the poverty in the “discourse of the veil” and the colonial logic of “saving Muslim women.” For to de-veil and to “look” European or modern is a ruse, for it can seemingly suggest that an embrace of European or Western values about feminism is where “freedom” resides. But as numerous feminist scholars and the film itself suggest, it’s the subjectivities and the embodiment of them that ultimately provide value and meaning and that must be understood in a wider social and political context.

These claims about the veil as oppressive not only present the West as egalitarian and free from patriarchy but also ignore the work of Muslim women both in the West and in Muslim societies struggling and fighting against the structural forces that shape women’s inequality. In doing so, imperial feminism conveniently masks how patriarchy is actually operating and rooted throughout the world, including in the West. For it is often the case that when the patriarchy and misogyny of Muslims is brought up, the women of the West, and their male accomplices, turn away from domination at home, ignoring the structures that subjugate women in the West, while also ignoring how patriarchy in Muslim societies, and the Global South more broadly, is rooted and maintained by institutions and state-building initiatives that are tied to larger political and economic questions about IMF and neoliberal policy, war, and poverty, that are a direct product of the legacies of colonialism and the violent continuation of Western intervention. As Charles Hirschkind and Saba Mahmood ask, “why were conditions of war, militarization, and starvation considered to be less injurious to women than the lack of education, employment, and, most notably, Western dress styles?

It is this continued legacy of colonialism today and the unfinished project of decolonization that continue to haunt the present and make The Battle of Algiers an urgent and prescient film. Though The Battle of Algiers captured the demand for national liberation, one of the more striking moments in the film was the rooftop scene between Ali La Pointe and FLN leader Ben H’midi, who tells the younger Ali, “It’s hard enough to start a revolution, even harder to sustain it, and hardest of all to win it. But it’s only afterwards, once we’ve won, that the real difficulties begin.” Filmed in 1965 just after the military overthrow of Ahmed Ben Bella that brought Houari Boumediene to power and placed Ben Bella under house arrest, this scene is not only a reflection of the internecine fighting of the FLN three years after the end of the war but also a larger cautionary tale about the difficulties of nation building in the postindependence period for the broader Global South. Fanon warned us about this in The Wretched of the Earth, where he expressed a deep skepticism of nationalist elites whom he felt, after independence, would betray the popular will and the project of liberation by continuing to do Europe’s bidding by proxy.

This is why the film is significant today: not because it seemingly captures “terrorists at work,” and thereby provides a kind of voyeurism or even “teaching tool” in the post- 9/11 climate, but because it helps to reveal the continuities between the era of decolonization and the present. That is, the “War on Terror” is not a rupture per se but is rather another chapter in an ongoing campaign of counterinsurgency against the Global South, one that of course started centuries ago with colonialism proper, continued with neocolonial control through Bretton Woods, the IMF, and Third World debt, extended with the Cold War, deepened with “globalization” and neoliberalism, and continues today under the rubric of the “War on Terror.” The Battle of Algiers, then, is relevant precisely because the very issues the film raised about self-determination have yet to be fully contended with.

[Sohail Daulatzai is the author of Fifty Years of “The Battle of Algiers”: Past as Prologue, as well as Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America and co-editor of Born to Use Mics, a literary remix of Nas’s album Illmatic. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of African American Studies, and the Program in Global Middle East Studies at the University of California, Irvine. More of his work can be found at]


WATCH: Concerning Violence

Black Rooted

Nine Scenes From the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense

Black Rooted review, 2018: “Göran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence is the first major film to grapple with the work of the influential Martinican author and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon since Isaac Julien’s biographical documentary Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1995). Whereas the earlier film took a holistic, if esoteric, approach to appraising Fanon’s life and ideas (including his upbringing in Martinique, education in France and work in Algeria), the punchy Concerning Violence focuses on a specific sliver: the opening chapter of Fanon’s classic text The Wretched of the Earth (1961), in which the author posits the act of one nation colonising another as a form of pure, subjugating violence. Fanon also discusses violence – in the context of uprising and rebellion – as a means of liberation and physical, spiritual catharsis for the oppressed.

When Fanon’s book was initially published in France, it was banned almost immediately by the authorities, who saw it as a recklessly incendiary glorification of violence. This negative view was only burnished by the book’s preface, written by Fanon supporter Jean-Paul Sartre, which wholeheartedly endorsed the thesis of violence as a cleansing act and, according to Fanon biographer David Macey, overshadowed the actual work. However, as the academic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak explains in the brief, informative contextual preface that begins Olsson’s film, such a reading fails to appreciate Fanon’s nuance; specifically, it neglects to address his anguish – rooted in the realities of his experiences in French-ruled Algeria – at the cyclical, decidedly non-glamorous tragedy of the very poorest people being reduced, and subjected, to violence.

Concerning Violence, then, represents a welcome attempt to reframe and interrogate an influential but highly contested historical text. As in his previous film, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011), Swedish director Olsson has raided the TV news archives of his home country and emerged with a fount of grainy, absorbing footage, presumably hitherto forgotten. He structures the material into nine chapters of varying length (the film’s subtitle is Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense), and each focuses on a specific struggle for liberation in one of a number of African countries, including Angola, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso; the footage dates from the mid-1960s up to the late 1980s.

Though at first glance Concerning Violence may seem almost utilitarian in its stark, unfussy formalism, Olsson puts his personal stamp on Fanon’s work. Complementary passages from the text are narrated over the images by singer and activist Lauryn Hill, whose delivery – throaty and languid, but also somehow urgent and incantatory – seems designed to evoke the alacrity of the book’s writing: Fanon was terminally ill with leukemia when he set to work, and he composed and dictated it to his wife Josie in a remarkable ten-week spell.

For a further rhetorical, stylishly pedagogical flourish, much of the text is simultaneously imposed on screen in a white serif font. At this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Olsson mentioned that this device was inspired by the music video for Prince’s state-of-the-nation anthem Sign o’ the Times (1987). Also notable is Neo Muyanga’s subtle score of roiling, percussive jazz, augmented by peals of muted trumpet that ring out like warning clarions. This forceful stylistic unity, added to the binding agent of Fanon’s torrentially persuasive and poetic language, ensures that Concerning Violence resounds as a far more cohesive statement than The Black Power Mixtape.

Olsson and his editing team structure Concerning Violence so that the archival passages comment on each other even as they are in dialogue with Fanon’s text. Consider two back-to-back segments near the start. With Fanon’s words, delivered by Hill (“For if the last shall be first, this will only come to pass after a murderous and decisive struggle between the two protagonists”), ringing in our ears, the film picks up with a black journalist, newly released from a five-year jail spell in Rhodesia. He speaks calmly of his realisation that, from slavery to colonialism, and up to the institutionalised racism and state-sanctioned torture in the country that would become Zimbabwe, the “black man is at the bottom of everything”; torture, he says, made him “feel indifferent”.

This disturbing, layered film is mercifully free of pat attempts to bring things up to date: chronologically speaking, it concludes in 1987. Yet there’s no doubt that its final passage – in which Europe is described as “literally the creation of the third world”, and America as a “monstrous” colonial power – is intended to give the viewer plenty to process with regard to contemporary nations still suffering the pronounced after-effects of colonisation. In many cases, Fanon’s astringent words seem as relevant today as ever.”