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Sartre & Camus, Freedom & Violence

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  • trop_de_simones
    Here is a newer book(s) review and a symposium transcript which examine freedom and violence as exemplified in the lives and works of Sartre and Camus. Their
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2005
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      Here is a newer book(s) review and a symposium transcript which
      examine freedom and violence as exemplified in the lives and works of
      Sartre and Camus. Their schism within the existential community
      seemed at first irreparable, however over time and much research, it
      appeared they functioned more like a valuable dialectic. Their
      discussion is not outmoded but relevant as ever:

      As the saying goes, one man's suicide bomber is another person's
      freedom fighter. How are we, according to Sartre, supposed to
      evaluate the actions of those who carryout such violence? From whose
      perspective? And how can it be done in a sufficiently objective way
      to avoid manipulation to simply get the result one desires?(1)

      In his 1964 Rome Lectures Sartre outlined four conditions by which
      terrorist violence may possibly be excused - although never
      justified. First it must only be provisional, never becoming
      a "system itself." Second, it must not lead to an "ideology of
      terror." In other words and third, even it is deemed necessary, it
      shall never be called good or right, and should never be chosen if
      other means are available. Finally, it has to come from social
      movements themselves, "the people," and not from elite self-selected
      leaderships. To these conditions I'd add a fifth: civilian or non-
      combatant casualties should be avoided.(2)

      Camus, of course, having had some experience in the matter, had no
      incentive to idealize political action as such, let alone violence.
      For Camus, the basis of political action following the war had to be
      the recognition that people wanted to be "neither victims nor
      executioners" (as he put it in a series of essays appearing in Combat
      in 1946). For Sartre, by contrast, the guiding principle was that of
      the destruction of a social order that—resting as it did upon
      inequality and exploitation—limited and crippled the development of
      human freedom.(3)

      (1) Sean Scally
      (2) Ronald Aronson
      http://chronicle.com/colloquylive/2003/11/sartre/
      (3) Scott McLemee
      http://www.bookforum.com/archive/spr_04/mclemee.html

      Simone
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