Existentialism is a Humanism – but not in Erdogan's Turkey

With freedom of expression under threat, the works of Albert Camus still teach us what it means to be free

It is indeed quite absurd – but not in the sense which Albert Camus deemed philosophically interesting. In 2017, the works of philosophers Baruch Spinoza and Albert Camus were reportedly confiscated from Turkish public libraries because they were labelled as active members of a terrorist organisation. Their names were mentioned in the notebooks of a journalist who was brought to court for membership in a terrorist organisation. According to a Deutsche Welle report in November 2017, owning and reading books by Spinoza or Camus was apparently, and however briefly, an arrestable offence.

If true, that is absurd. After all, Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He wrote literature about real human conflict, and about the importance of loyalty. His novel

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation

Patrice Ayme 26 January 2018

Camus founded the newspaper "Combat" in 1941. He was editor in chief of this resistance newspaper starting in 1943... Enough for torture and execution (probably execution through torture), as far as the Nazis were concerned.
Camus was also from extremely humble background in Algeria, and was perfectly aware of the evil of the FNL and its ilk (not saying he couldn't see the evil some aspects of the situation in Algeria). That made him completely opposite of Sartre and De Beauvoir, who collaborated enthusiastically, at the very highest level, during the Nazi occupation. Later Sartre embraced Stalin, the FNL (still in dictatorial power in Algeria), Castro, Mao, etc...

So Camus was no pacifist, and that made him strong enough to resist the stampeding of the Politically Correct, Perfectly Cretinous herd. Existentialism as a greedy cockroach a la De Beauvoir, a propagandist for Radio Vichy, was exactly the opposite of existing as a combat, a la Camus.

Camus Society 23 January 2018

"Camus was a pacifist."

He most certainly was not.

He attempted to enlist at the outbreak of WW2 (although rejected on medical grounds) and joined the Resistance.

Camus did, eventually, take a strong moral stance against the death penalty but nowhere did he argue for pacifism. Even during his attempts to bring about a civil truce in Algeria he claimed that if attacked his (Belcourt) boys would fight for him.

Camus was against oppression and senseless violence (as are, probably, 99.9% of people) but he took no stand against violence itself. In fact he probably thought a good fistfight was the "manly" way of sorting out differences.