Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to have a revolution without the use of terror

Albert Camus and the anarchists October 30th, 2007 by Ed Organise!
Camus himself never made a secret of his attraction towards anarchism. Anarchist ideas occur in his plays and novels, as for example, La Peste, L’Etat de siège or Les Justes. He had known the anarchist Gaston Leval, who had written about the Spanish revolution, since 1945. Camus had first expressed admiration for revolutionary syndicalists and anarchists, conscientious objectors and all manner of rebels as early as 1938 whilst working as a journalist on the paper L’Alger Republicaine, according to his friend Pascal Pia. The anarchist Andre Prudhommeaux first introduced him at a meeting in 1948 of the Cercle des Etudiants Anarchistes (Anarchist Student Circle) as a sympathiser who was familiar with anarchist thought.
Albert Camus’s book L’Homme Révolte (translated into English as The Rebel), published in 1951, marked a clear break between him and the Communist Party left. It was met with hostility by those who were members of The Communist Party or were fellow travellers. Its message was understood by anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists in France and Spain, however, for it openly mentions revolutionary syndicalism and anarchism and makes a clear distinction between authoritarian and libertarian socialism. The main theme is how to have a revolution without the use of terror and the employment of “Caesarist” methods. So Camus deals with Bakunin and Nechaev among others.
“The Commune against the State, concrete society against absolutist society, liberty against rational tyranny, altruistic individualism finally against the colonisation of the masses…”
He ends with a call for the resurrection of anarchism. Authoritarian thought, thanks to three wars and the physical destruction of an elite of rebels, had submerged this libertarian tradition. But it was a poor victory, and a provisional one, and the struggle still continues...
Camus marked this break in other ways too. He had made a pledge to himself to keep away from intellectuals who were ready to back Stalinism. This did not stop him from wholeheartedly committing himself to causes he thought just and worthwhile. In Spain a group of anarchist workers had been sentenced to death by Franco. In Paris a meeting was called by the League for the Rights of Man on February 22nd 1952. Camus agreed to speak at this. He thought it would be useful if the leader of the Surrealists, André Breton, should appear on the podium. This was in spite of the attack that Breton had written in the magazine Arts, over Camus’s criticisms of the poet Lautreamont, admired by the Surrealists as one of their precursors.
Camus met with the organisers of the event, Fernando Gómez Peláez of the paper Solidaridad Obrera, organ of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union the CNT, and José Ester Borrás, secretary of the Spanish political prisoners’ federation FEDIP, asking them to approach Breton without telling him that Camus had suggested it. Breton agreed to speak at the meeting even though Camus would be present. Gómez then told Breton that Camus had suggested he speak in the first place, which moved Breton to tears. Later Camus told the Spanish anarchists that because he had not replied to Breton’s anger in kind that a near-reconciliation was possible. Camus and Breton shared the podium and were even seen chatting (for Breton and the Surrealists links to the anarchist movement see here)...
Camus often used his fame or notoriety to intervene in the press to stop the persecution of anarchist militants or to alert public opinion. In the final year of his life Camus settled in the Provence village of Lourmarin. Here he made the acquaintance of Franck Creac’h. A Breton, born in Paris, self-taught, and a convinced anarchist, he had come to the village during the war to “demobilise” himself. Camus employed him as his gardener and had the benefit of being able to have conversations with someone on the same wavelength. One of the last campaigns Camus was involved in was that of the anarchist Louis Lecoin who fought for the status of conscientious objectors in 1958. Camus was never to see the outcome to this campaign, as he died in a car crash on 1960, at the age of forty-six.

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