Archives For Balance

Camus 2It’s widely held that Albert Camus was an outsider. He was and remains a non-conformist among non-conformists.

Alongside Camus’ cautious optimism about humanity is his willingness to break with collective intellectual and political trends. He was a fierce agnostic; critical of Christianity, yet still open to the feasibility of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ[i].

Although, to be fair, given Camus’ views on this and absolute truth, alone, it is debatable as to how far this could be stretched out and represented as him being open to seeing Christ as more than just a well-intentioned, but deluded revolutionary.

As far as Camus’ understanding of and lukewarm relationship with Christianity goes, Maya Angelou’s: ‘here then is my Christian lack, If I’m struck then I’ll strike back[ii]’ certainly finds legitimate traction.

Camus’ writings are sharp. His tone often influenced by the dire circumstances of his historical context and his targets those who claim one thing, yet project another.

Born in French Algeria, Camus later became a journalist, contributing to ‘Combat’; the left-wing media arm of the French Resistance, during Nazi occupation.

Camus, today, is pertinent because of is his open critique of the “Left”, and his ability to detach himself from any claim that could suggest he had sold out to the “Right”.

According to Olivier Todd, after writing ‘The Rebel’ Camus was hammered by critics and ostracised. This included being  labelled by Jean Paul Sartre as being ‘someone who had always been vain.’[iii]

Todd adds:

‘Camus went against the grain among members of the left-wing intelligentsia. Facing a mummified admiration of revolution per se, Camus was fairly revolutionary in response to much of the current thinking in contemporary Paris.’[iv]

Jean Bethke Elshtain also noted:

‘Camus was no naïf. He knew what it meant to fight fascism. He feared what fighting fascism unleashed, namely, counter-terror in the name of an abstract Communist utopia. He disapproved of any passion for unity that saw opposition as treason. For his efforts, Camus was virtually excommunicated from the French intellectual life by Sartre and his comrades’[v]

It’s easy enough to understand why Camus, now an estranged golden-child of the “Left”, caused such an upheaval.

In 1957, near the close of an interview where Camus gave support for the counter-revolutionary movement in communist held Hungary,  Camus stated that the ‘Left was schizophrenic and needed doctoring’:

‘We must hope for a common rallying. But first our Leftist intellectuals , who have swallowed so many insults and may well have to begin doing so again, would have to undertake a critique of the reasoning’s and ideologies to which they have hitherto subscribed, which have wreaked the havoc they have seen in our most recent history. That will be the hardest thing. We must admit that today conformity is on the Left.
To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereo-typed replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.
The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless even harmful. None of the evils of totalitarianism (defined by the single party and the suppression of all opposition) claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself.’[vi]

In sum, Camus fired a flare out from within the inner sanctum of Leftist elitism. Uncovering an oppressive movement that rides on the  coattails of a utopia built on totalitarianism, enforced by appeasement and maintained by the carrot of emancipation, which only ends up enslaving people behind a false promise to deliver absolute freedom.

For the thinking Christian, Camus’ work stands as a cautious ally in the burgeoning wilderness that is the partially sedated West.

Speaking to bewildered citizens paralysed by the tug of war between those politicians, theologians and philosophers who build fortresses on either side of the ideological divide; who overlook the corruption; who ignore, for fear of being labelled intolerant, the inevitable disorder of the repression and redefinition of some traditions; who seek to play into the self-interest of some NGO’s, their supporters or anyone that might preach bipartisanship and unbias, but choose to function as propaganda units of political ideologues and the parties that promote them.

For the commonwealth of Christ (the Church), this dark, but lucid writer inadvertently issues a warning. Be careful about where your allegiance resides because ‘no one can serve two masters…Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.’ (Jesus, Mt.6:21-24)


Source:

[i] Evident in ‘The Rebel’ and partially highlighted within his statements made at a Dominican monastery in 1948 and included in the text ‘The Unbeliever and Christians’.

[ii] Angelou, M. 1981 Maya Angelou: Poems Bantam Books

[iii] Todd, O. 2013, Afterward in Camus, A. The Rebel (Penguin Modern Classics) Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Ed.

[iv] Ibid, Loc. 4134-4137

[v] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy On Trial Basic Books

[vi] Camus, A. 1961 Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays;Hungary: Socialism of the Gallows’, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1960 First Vintage International Edition

Image: Albert Camus, Camus Society FB page.

Rehabilitating Marx?

November 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

I am not an adherent of Marxism. I do not favour the idea of an oligarchy boxing people into slavery to an overarching ideology or binding them to economic classifications which transform citizens into clients of the state.

With its blueprint for a ‘politically correct anarchy’ (Wright, 2013:46) this is something that the extreme left seems to be so attracted to. I am also not supportive of “practical-atheist, post-Christian” Western capitalism and its ”Darwinian” justifications for greed, such as an over-emphasis on the enlightenment, and a preference for egoist individualism.

I am, however, an adherent of finding a ferocious balance. One that falls in line with Alex De Tocqueville’s belief that ‘too much power is as bad as no power’ (cited by Elshtain, 1995:11). One that also falls into agreement with Jean Bethke Elshtain’s view that democratic civil society only exists, as long as there is a  disposition towards a ‘generous openness to sharp disagreement; a democratic feistiness over against a cynicism which breeds mistrust, paranoia, resentment and fear’ (Elshtain, 1995:xii & xiii).

In other words a healthy dose of respect for disagreement,responsible care; an openness to wisdom, truth or open rebuke spoken in love.

I currently lean towards a fair economic system, such as distributionism which fairly empowers and raises the underprivileged (not just keeps them in that position and lowers everyone else).

Having said this, with a sense of gratitude I acknowledge, the historical alliance between capitalism and democracy that Dr.Tim Stanley recently highlighted:

I write about this subject with the ferocity of a convert. I was once a Marxist and I once fooled myself that there was a distinction between economic analysis and practical despotism. There isn’t. I wish this could be patiently explained to the dumb kids who put Marx on their wall and wail about the unique EVIL of a capitalist system that has actually lifted millions from misery and proven to be a close ally of democracy. It’s an education every bit as vital as the one we give about fascism. – Tim Stanley [link]

It might pay to consider the publisher’s note in Gene Veith’s 1993 book Modern Fascism. Especially when being confronted by the noise of the left (and a growing number from the right) on social media. Often perpetuated by people who generalise and sadly, show little concern for objective analysis:

…A sincere, conscientious effort to clarify biblical principles and apply them is far superior to relying on a framework of secular relativism in a society that prides itself on pluralism and (egoist) individualism and yet in some respects is captive to fascist-type domination’ (Veith, G.E 1993 Kindle Loc.75-77).

It is here that I  find myself in agreement with Tom Wright, who points out that neo-Gnosticism finds itself expressed in both far-right and far-left ideologies. To the point where the ‘vox Dei (voice of God) is set aside leaving the vox populi (voice of the people) to become a law unto itself’ (2013:39 – I plan to write a bit more about this once I finish a review of Elshtain’s ‘Democracy on Trial and complete my reading of Wright’s book).

For the Church, Wright suggests that:

‘we should understand some key elements of today’s culture in terms of modern types of Gnosticism e.g.: Far-right American Evangelicalism, the Historical distortions & elevated conspiracies from the Left, Dan Brown & Richard Dawkins et.al…We can and should identify, and critique, an overall gnostic mood in today’s culture’ (2013, pp.4-31)

Sources:

Elshtain, J.B 1995 Democracy On Trial  Basic Books Perseus Books Group
Veith, G. E 1993 Modern Fascism, Kindle for PC ed.Concordia Publishing House.
Wright. N.T 2013 Creation, Power and Truth SPCK Great Britain

©RL2013

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