Resistance, Rebellion, and Death

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Resistance, Rebellion, and Death
ResistanceRebellionAndDeath.jpg
First US edition
Author Albert Camus
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf (US)
Hamish Hamilton (UK)
Publication date
1961

Resistance, Rebellion, and Death is a 1960 collection of essays written by Albert Camus and selected by the author prior to his death. The essays here generally involve conflicts near the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on his home country Algeria, and on the Algerian War of Independence in particular. He also criticizes capital punishment (Reflections on the Guillotine) and totalitarianism in particular.

Camus proclaims the call to justice and the struggle for freedom also declaimed in the Old Testament, particularly the minor prophets. But he does so in a modern context, where God is silent and man is the master of his own destiny. Although he sees no messianic age, he proclaims the hope that by continuous effort, evil can be diminished and freedom and justice may become more prevalent.

Also collected here, in the essay "The Artist and His Time," is the address Camus gave in December 1957 at the University of Uppsala, entitled "Create Dangerously". The speech is reminiscent of Tolstoy's great essay, "What is Art?", in that Camus speaks of the social context of art, concluding that "the only justification [for the artist]...is to speak up for those...who cannot do so."

Essays contained in the book[edit]

  • Letters to a German Friend
  • The Liberation of Paris
  • The Flesh
  • Pessimism and Tyranny
  • The Unbeliever and Christians
  • Defense of Freedom
  • Algeria
  • Hungary
  • Reflections on the Guillotine
  • The Artist and His Time

Quotations[edit]

  • There are means that cannot be excused. And I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. I don't want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive. (p. 5)

  • We had much to overcome-- and, first of all, the constant temptation to emulate you. For there is always something in us that yields to instinct, to contempt for intelligence, to the cult of efficiency. Our great virtues eventually become tiresome to us. We become ashamed of our intelligence, and sometimes we imagine a barbarous state where truth would be effortless. But the cure for this is easy; you are there to show us what such imagining would lead to and we mend our ways. (p. 7)

  • We had to make a long detour, and we are far behind. It is a detour that regard for truth imposes on intelligence, that regard for friendship imposes on the heart. It is a detour that safeguarded justice and put truth on the side of those who questioned themselves. And without a doubt, we paid very dearly for it. . . . I have never believed in the power of truth in itself. But it is at least worth knowing that when expressed forcefully truth wins out over falsehood. This is the difficult equilibrium we have reached. This is the distinction that gives us strength as we fight today. (p.8-9)

  • Nothing is given to men, and the little they can conquer is paid for with unjust deaths. But man's greatness lies elsewhere. It lies in his decision to be stronger than his condition. And if his condition is unjust, he has only one way of overcoming it, which is to be just himself. (p. 39)

  • Our poisoned hearts must be cured. And the most difficult battle to be won against the enemy in the future must be fought within ourselves, with an exceptional effort that will transform our appetite for hatred into a desire for justice. (p. 62)

  • The world needs real dialogue, that falsehood is just as much the opposite of dialogue as is silence, and that the only possible dialogue is the kind between people who remain what they are and speak their minds. (p. 70)

  • I share with you the same revulsion from evil ... I knew that the spirit would be lost if it did not utter a cry of condemnation when faced with force ... What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today. (p. 71)

  • Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. (p. 73)

  • And what I know--which sometimes creates a deep longing in me--is that if Christians made up their minds to it, millions of voices--millions, I say--throughout the world would be added to the appeal of a handful of isolated individuals who, without any sort of affiliation, today intercede almost everywhere and ceaselessly for children and men. (p. 74)

  • There are some of us who do not want to keep silent about anything. It is our whole political society that nauseates us. Hence there will be no salvation until all those who are still worth while have repudiated it utterly in order to find, somewhere outside insoluble contradictions, the way to a complete renewal. In the meantime we must struggle. (p. 82)

  • Freedom is the concern of the oppressed, and her natural protectors have always come from among the oppressed. (p. 89)

  • We notice that everywhere, together with freedom, justice is profaned. How then can this infernal circle be broken? Obviously, it can be done only by reviving at once, in ourselves and in others, the value of freedom--and by never again agreeing to its being sacrificed, even temporarily, or separated from our demand for justice. (p. 93)

  • Freedom is not made up principally of privileges; it is made up especially of duties. (p. 96)

  • We shall be sure that freedom is not a gift received from a State or a leader, but a possession to be won every day by the effort of each and the union of all. (p. 97)

  • The freedom of each finds its limits in that of others; no one has a right to absolute freedom. The limit where freedom begins and ends, where its rights and duties come together, is called law, and the state itself must bow to the law. (p. 101)

  • When one knows of what man is capable, for better and for worse, one also knows that it is not the human being himself who must be protected but the possibilities he has within him--in other words, his freedom. (p. 102)

  • I cannot love all humanity except with a vast and somewhat abstract love. But I love a few men, living or dead, with such force and admiration that I am always eager to preserve in others what will someday perhaps make them resemble those I love. (p. 103)

  • Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better, whereas enslavement is a certainty of the worst. (p. 103)

  • We shall deny to the very end that a press is true because it is revolutionary; it will be revolutionary only if it is true, and never otherwise. (p. 104)

  • People are complaining almost everywhere that the sense of duty is disappearing. How could it be otherwise since no one cares any more about his rights? Only he who is uncompromising as to his rights maintains the sense of duty. (p. 105)

  • If, after all, men cannot always make history have a meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one. (p. 106)

  • It is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them, even to win wars. (p. 114)

  • I believe only in differences and not in uniformity. First of all, because differences are the roots without which the tree of liberty, the sap of creation and of civilization, dries up. (p. 136)

  • The task of men of culture and faith, in any case is not to desert historical struggles nor to serve the cruel and inhuman elements in those struggles. It is rather to remain what they are, to help man against what is oppressing him, to favor freedom against the fatalities that close in upon it. (p. 141)

  • Our proudest duty is to defend personally to the very end, against the impulse toward coercion and death, the freedom of that culture--in other words, the freedom of work and of creation. (p. 164)

Taken from A Melange of John Elder's Favorite Quotations Page numbers reference the Knopf 1961 printing, hardcover.