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By Frantz Fanon
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It does not mean that we can still indulge in the fantasy that words have a simple and definitive meaning, or that there is a privileged vantage point standing above these debates. There is now a fairly global crisis of transformative projects, but these debates are still crucial sites of struggle. We know that the future is open and ‘irreducible to a coherent and harmonious design’ and that ‘our dreams are necessarily inconclusive, always being reformulated’ (Lechner 1991:14). We no longer have the blueprint for an (impossible) alternative society, but we do still need to explore the contradictory meanings of those two vital, sought after but never achieved states, namely, development and democracy.
But, and this is the crucial point, in a world-economy that is in the process of exhausting its reserve labour forces, such a battle would have far more ups than downs. In a sense what I am calling for is a return of the pendulum. The first great strategy in the fight against inequality involved the so-called class struggle. In the nineteenth century this struggle was fought both in the 17 I MMAN U E L WALLE RSTE I N workplace (via the construction of trade unions) and in the political arena (via the construction of socialist parties).
Capitalists fought back in two main ways. They used the state to repress such movements. And they recruited new workers from the national and worldwide pool of reserve (semiproletarianized) households. Since the distribution of proletarian and semi-proletarian households was not random but stratified nationally, ethnically, racially, it was clear that a political strategy that focused on proletarian households missed a good half of the battle. Thus we got the swing, ever more sharply in the twentieth century, to what might be called an ‘anti-imperialist’ focus.