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  • C. S. Wyatt
    I just finished reading several articles on Merleau-Ponty s Humanism and Terror. I will expand the Existential Primer pages accordingly, but I must say I am
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2007
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      I just finished reading several articles on Merleau-Ponty's "Humanism and Terror." I will
      expand the Existential Primer pages accordingly, but I must say I am still deeply troubled
      by this one work. I think it speaks to the times in which it was composed, as Merleau-
      Ponty later rejected the Soviet Union and broke with Western Marxism in several ways.

      What bothered me was that Merleau-Ponty comes across as not very different from some
      people (*cough*) in power today who suggest that quick trials and even death for those
      posing a threat might be acceptable. Since he was writing on Soviet purges and the
      Moscow Trials, I can't claim this is a perfect parallel, but it was a tad difficult to recall that
      one of the "French Intellectuals" I admire so deeply tried to dismiss Soviet terror as an
      acceptable risk in the name of greater peace.

      When the right/left divide appears, I always remind myself that they end up being circular
      -- you go around far enough you reach the same dangerous point of authoritarian rule.

      Merleau-Ponty, well into the 1950s (about the time of Camus' death), defended the Soviet
      Union and said it was much better than what he knew of the United States. (I'd argue that
      most of the French Left knew as much about America as American leaders knew of
      France.) He softened this stance during the Korean War, suggesting all world powers were
      a disappointment.

      Still, "Humanism and Terror" reads like a Neo-Conservative could have written it as a
      defense of quick and dirty justice in the name of a future utopia. You're either with us or
      against us, is definitely the tone of work.

      That millions died in the Soviet Union, China, and elsewhere in the name of "revolution"
      only makes the work more haunting. Merleau-Ponty suggests some death ("sacrifices") are
      necessary on the way to Marx's utopian ideal. The parallel of some sacrifices on the way to
      an ideal in (*fill in the blank*) is sad.

      We haven't learned much since 1947, I suppose.

      - CSW
    • jaime.denada
      Yes, the very reason he and Camus parted company, saying It is better to be wrong by killing no one than to be right with mass graves....The world is in
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 1, 2007
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        Yes, the very reason he and Camus parted company, saying "It is better
        to be wrong by killing no one than to be right with mass graves....The
        world is in misery and already inquisitors are seated in ministerial
        armchairs."

        JD

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "C. S. Wyatt" <existlist1@...> wrote:

        What bothered me was that Merleau-Ponty comes across as not very
        different from some people (*cough*) in power today who suggest that
        quick trials and even death for those posing a threat might be
        acceptable...
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