ABSTRACT

The relation of intellectuals to progressive or emancipatory movements, and in particular to proletarian or revolutionary ones, has troubled thinkers at least from the time of Marx and Engels. Many Marxists have been unsure about the nature, or even the possibility, of links between broad sections of the population and that elite group which would seem on the face of it to have little to do with them. While intellectuals could be said properly to belong to the bourgeois revolutions, it was by no means obvious that they could hope for any such relation with working-class ones. Lenin's lack of faith in the utility of bourgeois intellectuals in a proletarian revolutionary situation is mirrored in Fanon's scepticism, in 'Pitfalls of the national consciousness', regarding the role of intellectuals from the national bourgeoisie in the struggle for independence and in the post-colonial situation - 'the bourgeois phase in the history of under-developed countries is a completely useless phase,1 - and to the extent that intellectuals are part of the bourgeoisie then they tend towards a similar uselessness. Fanon does not, however, believe in class determinism, and acknowledges that some intellectuals do manage, against the odds, to adopt an oppositional stance. In the reading included in Part One, 'On national culture', Fanon takes a more nuanced and, we might say, historically aware view of intellectuals in the colonial and post-colonial situation, recognising various stages of assimilation and rejection of the culture of the coloniser, as well as foreseeing a much more active and politicaIiy committed function for the intellectual:

Another important analyst of colonial and post-colonial intellectuals is Edward Said. For a number of reasons, this is no surprise, not least because the two theorists on whom Said, as we saw in Part Two, draws extensively, namely Gramsci and Foucault, are also the most important theorists of the role of the intellectual in twentieth-century Marxism and post-structuralism. Both Gramsci and Foucault

construct a bi-polar model of intellectual types: for Foucault, these are the 'universal' and the 'speci6c' intellectual; for Gramsci, the 'traditional' and the 'organic'. Although these distinctions are typological, they are also developmental and chronological, to the extent that each sees a particular relation - between the (traditional) intellectual and (aristocratic) social class in Gramsci's case, or between the (universal) intellectual and (dominant) regime of truth in Foucault's - and in each case this relation is seen as capable of being superseded or challenged (although, in the case of Foucault, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has voiced her scepticism about the apparent ease with which this transition from universal to specific can supposedly be achieved3). Each considers that intellectuals can emerge from potentially any social class. Foucault's 'speci6c' intellectuals perhaps operate in a more modest sphere - in keeping with his ideas of micro-politics - than Gramsci's organic intellectuals, but for each the new type of intellectual is also an acknowledgement that the mass of the people do not need to have understanding thrust on them from above. Fanon is entirely in agreement: 'we must above all rid ourselves of the very Western, very bourgeois, and therefore contemptuous, attitude that the masses are incapable of governing themselves. In fact, experience proves that the masses understand perfectly the most complicated problems.,4

Said's own position, as set out in articles such as 'Third World intellectuals and metropolitan culture' or 'Intellectuals in the post-colonial world' , explicitly draws on Gramsci and Foucault, but also embraces a number of the writers and thinkers included in this volume: Cesaire, Cabral, Fanon, Ngiigi. For Said, what Marx called 'the weapons of criticism' can be 6rmly grasped by post-colonial intellectuals and turned against the former colonisers (not least with regard to their neo-colonial pretensions). This does not, however, involve any automatic total repudiation of the West: Said describes intellectuals like the Caribbean/exile Marxist C. L. R. James as 6ercely criticising Western domination or excesses, but doing so very much from a position located within the Western cultural tradition. (Something of the same process can be seen in Part Two in the reading where Cesaire - though perhaps in a more radical way - uses Western values as the basis for a critique of the West.) That location within Western traditions disappears, however (according to Said's argument), in the case of a more recent generation of intellectuals such as Ranajit Guha.