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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.

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