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Thread: The Rebel, by Albert Camus

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    Default The Rebel, by Albert Camus

    After completing Camus' The Rebel, all of my previous reservations about revolutionary Marxism have been confirmed. I can now say with confidence that I reject the notion of a violent overthrow of the capitalist system. We will never achieve totality, and we will never reach the final culmination of history. To act in the name of a future, in the name of history, is both dangerous and inhumane.

    Faith in bourgeois progress is what drove Marx to conclude that we would one day reach the Garden of Eden at the end of history. This is what leads revolutionaries to justify the sacrifices demanded of humanity in the name of the communist idea.

    Socialism should no longer be thought of as an ends, but as a means. "Instead of killing and dying in order to produce the being that we are not, we have to live and let live in order to create what we are." We must keep the rebellious spirit alive in the name of justice, solidarity and unity, but always be wary that the demand for totality will inevitably lead to the negation of these values.

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    That's a very sophisticated class analysis, but I'm not certain that this is entirely related to the literature forum, which should perhaps feature more discussion of the book. I didn't find it particularly impressive, so I don't have much to say about it.

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    Of course, Camus had no problem calling for the West to invade Hungary in '56; it seems violence is only worth condemning when it involves a vile mob.
    Until now, the left has only managed capital in various ways; the point, however, is to destroy it.

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    aufkleben, what are you talking about? Camus stood with the people of Hungary against the violent repression of the Soviet military machine.

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    He criticised the West for not "defending" the Hungarians from the Soviets through military intervention.
    Until now, the left has only managed capital in various ways; the point, however, is to destroy it.

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    There is absolutely no nuance to your point of view. It is simply a dogmatic and ideologically driven justification for the violent repression of people who were desperately trying to break free from the grip of totalitarianism. It is reprehensible, naive and juvenile. Albert Camus lived through the darkest and most turbulent times in the history of the world, saw the worst of the human condition, and reflected on it honestly and lucidly. Who are you?

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    What are you attempting to convince us of, exactly?

    We all have an idea about Camus and his views on radical politics and revolution.
    What is your argument?

    I reject the notion of a violent overthrow
    Sooo...what are you advocating?
    Peaceful revolution?
    that we give up on the whole she-bang?
    what?

    I understand that you're trying to tell us that we should focus on the means instead of the ends or that the means and the ends are equal (whether literally or in 'value'), which isn't a new idea (i.e. Arguably, it's a common line of thought, in some form, among anarchists somewhat) among the left, but can you elucidate us to the specifics of your Camusian realization?
    "My heart sings for you both. Imagine it singing. la la la la."- Hannah Kay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raúl Duke View Post
    We all have an idea about Camus and his views on radical politics and revolution.
    I don't.
    He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
    -Nietzsche

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    How on Earth could you possibly conclude that I support the Soviet repression of the Hungarian Revolution because I find Camus' calls for Western intervention abhorrent? You see my signature? That's from a book written in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution which beautifully argues in favour of the Hungarian workers, and rightly points out that the Hungarians were revolting against both East and West. If Camus cared for the Hungarian workers and their revolution he would have been calling for them to be supplied with arms. He wasn't. He was calling for the West to invade, and a fat lot of good that would have been for the Hungarian workers.

    Camus is to Hungary as Hitchens is to Iraq.
    Last edited by ed miliband; 9th January 2011 at 20:23.
    Until now, the left has only managed capital in various ways; the point, however, is to destroy it.

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    camus was a black foot racist who thought the algerians were little puppies that needed the care of his white brethen, fuck camus
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    prefer Franz Fanon personally...
    R.I.P Juan Almeida Bosque

    "The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely
    the oppressive situations which we seek to escape,
    but that piece of the oppressor which is
    planted deep within each of us.
    " Audre Lorde

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    aufkleben, show me where Camus ever called on the West to invade Hungary. Read "The Blood of the Hungarians", please.

    maldoror, Camus repeatedly spoke out against racist repression in Algeria throughout his life. Simply labeling him as an indifferent colonialist is completely missing the point. It is you who is being racist for idealizing the Algerian uprisings and assuming any critical stance means that you believe the arabs were "little puppies". Since when does a left-communist such as yourself take the side of a national liberation struggle anyhow?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diello View Post
    I don't.
    well most people have that I know on here, at the very least heard of him and might have heard of the rebel and his falling out with Sartre due to politics.

    maldoror, Camus repeatedly spoke out against racist repression in Algeria throughout his life. Simply labeling him as an indifferent colonialist is completely missing the point.
    that's a good point until...

    It is you who is being racist for idealizing the Algerian uprisings and assuming any critical stance means that you believe the arabs were "little puppies". Since when does a left-communist such as yourself take the side of a national liberation struggle anyhow?
    I don't see that he actually did that in his statement, only that he claims that Camus did and that such an idea he found repugnant.

    But yes, I too would like to see the evidence of racism and/or imperialism on Camus's part than just claims.
    "My heart sings for you both. Imagine it singing. la la la la."- Hannah Kay

    "if you keep calling average working people idiots i am sure they will be more apt to listen to what you have to say. "-bcbm

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    "The ruling class would tremble, and the revolution would be all but assured." -Explosive Situation, on the Revleft Merry Prankster bus

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    Quote Originally Posted by StockholmSyndrome View Post
    aufkleben, show me where Camus ever called on the West to invade Hungary. Read "The Blood of the Hungarians", please.

    maldoror, Camus repeatedly spoke out against racist repression in Algeria throughout his life. Simply labeling him as an indifferent colonialist is completely missing the point. It is you who is being racist for idealizing the Algerian uprisings and assuming any critical stance means that you believe the arabs were "little puppies". Since when does a left-communist such as yourself take the side of a national liberation struggle anyhow?
    it has nothing to do with national liberation in any fucking way. the way he talked about arabs was racist and he opposed national liberation in algeria not from a class point but because he wanted to protect the west from russian machinations and because he felt bad for the overwhelmingly petit bourgeois pied noir community.
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    Camus wanted France to act as a "caretaker" for Algeria, a France that he wanted to be some sort of social democratic type to do so. France not being what he wanted it to be, he largely went silent on Algerian affairs and didn't comment on it. Unlike some of his other peers at the time that lashed out at injustices by the French army and Pied-Noir groups, he took a subdued role.

    As such some of his critics felt that his stance towards Algeria smacked of a "White Man's Burden" outlook towards Algeria, that France had to "civilize" it if Algeria could hope to be free and democratic. This of course presupposes that the Algerians are incapable of doing this with out the paternalism of a French state. Camus blamed France for not implementing freedoms and rights to Arabs and Berbers earlier, which he felt was a central cause of the dissent in the first place.

    AFAIK the main thing he did is that he called for an end of violence between the FLN (Algerian forces) and the French forces to return back to dialogue, and I assume to work towards federalizing Algeria as a part of France, and granting rights to the various Algerian groups that were at this time denied many of the rights enjoyed by French citizens. Basically the Pied-Noirs, Arabs, Berbers, and other groups should all "share" Algeria.

    Naturally he was opposed to Algerian independence but on the other hand could not find company in those pursuing the war to the end of preserving or extending the position of Pied-Noirs in French Algeria.

    I think there was also some other concerns that played into his strong anti-Soviet outlook, namely in the form of Arab Nationalism that began to explode in this time. He felt this served Soviet interests more and would present a threat to the "free" nations.

    Now that I think of it, I think this has some parallels to what some took in Britain to the question of India.
    Last edited by Red Commissar; 9th January 2011 at 19:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Camus
    As far as Algeria is concerned, national independence is a formula driven by nothing other than passion. There has never yet been an Algerian nation. The Jews, Turks, Greeks, Italians, or Berbers would be as entitled to claim the leadership of this potential nation. As things stand, the Arabs alone do not comprise the whole of Algeria. The size and duration of the French settlement, in particular, are enough to create a problem that cannot be compared to anything else in history. The French of Algeria are also natives, in the strong sense of the word. Moreover, a purely Arab Algeria could not achieve that economic independence without which political independence is nothing but an illusion. However inadequate the French effort has been, it is of such proportions that no other country would today agree to take over the responsibility.
    He also came out against Algerian violence;

    Quote Originally Posted by Camus
    At this moment bombs are being planted in the trams in Algiers. My mother could be on one of those trams. If that is justice, I prefer my mother.
    I know Said has used things like this to argue he was in 'outright opposition to Algerian independence', something used in turn to critique the Outsider;
    Quote Originally Posted by Said
    True, Meursault kills an Arab, but this Arab is not named and seems to be without a history, let alone a mother and father; true also, Arabs die in Oran, but they are not named either, whereas Rieux and Tarrou are pushed forward in the action.
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    Regardless, my post is not about Camus' position on the Algeria question; it is about the philosophical work, The Rebel, and the implications it has for the left. To answer your original question, Raul Duke, my "Camusian realization" is threefold:
    1. The Marxist dialectic is flawed in that it posits the end of antagonisms while at the same time saying everything is always changing and in motion and each new synthesis gives rise to a new set of contradictions. You cannot have both at the same time.

    Either you say there will be an end to history, where all of humanity will be equal and free, in which case freedom and humanity can be put off indefinitely and the State apparatus can do anything in deems necessary in order to forcefully try to eliminate any antagonisms in order to bring about this free humanity. This is the revolutionary logic, that freedom can and must be suspended in the name of a future freedom.
    Or you say there will not be an inevitable end to history, which means that humanity is not on some upward trajectory and also that past notions of progress, blind faith in technology and science, and the entire Hegelian dialectic must be scrapped, and, most importantly, no injustice done in the present (mass murder in the name of the revolution, say) can justify a future state of justice. "Suffering is never provisional for the man who does not believe in the future".

    2. That everything cannot be reduced to class. Reducing everything to the master-slave dialectic means that you must accept that the only law is the law of force. Hence the Marxist adoption of the "might is right" scenario and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

    3. There is a difference between rebellion and revolution. Rebellion is passionate dissent in the name of principles. Revolution is the passionate negation of these principles in the name of power. One is creative, the other is destructive. The end of God means that humans are responsible for putting something else in its place, lest we try to become God.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StockholmSyndrome View Post
    Regardless, my post is not about Camus' position on the Algeria question; it is about the philosophical work, The Rebel, and the implications it has for the left. To answer your original question, Raul Duke, my "Camusian realization" is threefold:
    1. The Marxist dialectic is flawed in that it posits the end of antagonisms while at the same time saying everything is always changing and in motion and each new synthesis gives rise to a new set of contradictions. You cannot have both at the same time.

    Either you say there will be an end to history, where all of humanity will be equal and free, in which case freedom and humanity can be put off indefinitely and the State apparatus can do anything in deems necessary in order to forcefully try to eliminate any antagonisms in order to bring about this free humanity. This is the revolutionary logic, that freedom can and must be suspended in the name of a future freedom.
    Or you say there will not be an inevitable end to history, which means that humanity is not on some upward trajectory and also that past notions of progress, blind faith in technology and science, and the entire Hegelian dialectic must be scrapped, and, most importantly, no injustice done in the present (mass murder in the name of the revolution, say) can justify a future state of justice. "Suffering is never provisional for the man who does not believe in the future".

    2. That everything cannot be reduced to class. Reducing everything to the master-slave dialectic means that you must accept that the only law is the law of force. Hence the Marxist adoption of the "might is right" scenario and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

    3. There is a difference between rebellion and revolution. Rebellion is passionate dissent in the name of principles. Revolution is the passionate negation of these principles in the name of power. One is creative, the other is destructive. The end of God means that humans are responsible for putting something else in its place, lest we try to become God.
    And this is why Camus is every non-radical's favorite "radical".

    1.) You can have both at the same time, just like you can say that every race has a finish line.

    2.) Not everything comes down to class...but all aspects of human society are in one way or another rooted in production. Further, Marxism isn't about "might is right", it's about "right needs might". You can have all the nice ideas you want, but if you don't fight for them, if you don't imbue them with power, then you might as well take your ball and go home.

    3.) There are few things more pathetic than an emphasis on "dissent". "Dissent" implies impotence, it implies some romantic concept of eternal opposition instead of advocating something worth fighting for (no surprise that liberals are so fond of "dissent"). To do the latter, one must recognize that some things in this crummy world need to be destroyed...in order for more humane things to be created.

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    1. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    2. Of course I believe in "fighting" for what is right and leveraging power. But what is right is not killing people.

    3. On the contrary, it means "fighting for what is right". It is the opposite of romantic, it is realistic. Perhaps "dissent" was the wrong word choice, but it's just a word, after all.

    "To do the latter, one must recognize that some things in this crummy world need to be destroyed...in order for more humane things to be created."----It is much easier to talk about committing mass murder from your comfortable armchair than to actually go out and do it. Once you do, you will have abandoned that "more humane thing".

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    2.) No one ever said as much...but to be a revolutionary means to know that such things are oftentimes necessary. We do not invite violence, but we must respond to it when others use it against us.

    3.) I'm not talking about mass murder at all (strawman happy, are we?), I'm talking about self-defense of the working class movement for liberation. The "more humane thing" must be defended from its enemies, else progress is nothing but a cute idea and little more. "By any means necessary" has to do with responding to the brutality the ruling class wields...if one is too timid to admit that force is oftentimes necessary for progress then they are rendering themselves irrelevant to the struggles that matter most.

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