Tuesday, April 01, 2014
"Camus is not a reformer"
This is part of an interview with Lou Marin published on the magazine "Le Point" number 15, about Albert Camus. Gustavo's translation.
You affirm that with his measured conception of revolt, Camus is close to the libertarian streams. How so?
There is a strong non-violent and anti-authoritarian stream at the core of the libertarian thought, and Camus is very close to it. He is not a reformer. The revolt, he says, has a relation with the revolution. But this revolution has to be made in favour of life, not against it. That is to say, in advancing History without terror, or without violence. His conception of revolt goes through a moment of total denial of oppression, questioning all domination. A moment when the power is on the streets. We saw that recently at Tahrir Square in Egypt or Taksim Place in Turkey... To Camus, this first moment, non-violent, has to remain the ideal of the revolution. Otherwise it betrays the origin of the revolt. When the revolution is faithful to its original values, Camus supports it.
He fought along with libertarians for the cause of conscientious objectors, those men who refused to take arms. Why does he maintain that so much?
He has always claimed the right to be a conscientious objector. To him, England had shown the excellency of its system by not suppressing this right, even during the war. He brought his support to the pacifist militant Louis Lecoin who, during the 50s, launched a campaign in favour of conscientious objectors. People blame sometimes Camus for being silence on the Algerian question in 1957 and 1958. Therefore we must be aware that at the time, to make one public declaration in favour of conscientious objectors could not not have influence!
"Can we make a party of those who are not sure to be right?", wrote Camus in Défense de l'homme in 1949... Is it not that deep inside, more than a libertarian, he was fundamentally a skeptic?
This was a sentence pronounced against the communist and Marxist ideology which, according to him, seeks to always be right, and has always seen the future in detriment of the present. But to Camus, we cannot sacrifice men to shorten the path towards a dreamed future. He was one of those who did not want to hide a truth in the name of an ideology. And for him, the writer has to speak through the weak, the oppressed, the conquered in History. He himself, because of tuberculosis, always felt near of a certain form of weakness... In his Carnets, he wrote "property is murder". That goes very far!