Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Albert Camus (7/11/1893 -4/1/60) -Humanity's last Chance: Between hell and reason

Following Hiroshima Memorial Day, thought it would be fitting to  publish this famous essay from Albert Camus originally published in the French Resistance Paper Combat 67 years ago on August 8th, 1945. At the time not as many people spoke with such clarity, it still to has much relevance. A warning that we should never forget.

' The world is what it is, which is to say, nothing much. That is what we  all learned yesterday, thanks to the formidable chorus that radio, newspapers, and infomation agencies have just unleashed, regarding the atomic bomb. We are told, that  in the midst  of hundreds of enthusiastic commentaries, that any average sized city can be wiped out by a bomb the size of a football. American, English, and French newspapers are filled  with elegant essays on the future, the past, the inventors, the cost, the peaceful incentives,  even the military advantages, and the bombs  independent character.
Our technical civilisation has just reached its greatest level of savagery. We  will have to choose, soon, between collective suicide or the intelligent use of our scientific conquests.
Meanwhile  we think there is something indecent in celebrating a discovery in this way, whose use  has caused the most destruction that humanity has ever known. What will it bring to a world already given over to all the convulsions of violence, incapable of any control, indifferent to justice and simple human happiness,  to a world where science devotes itself to organised murder?
These discoveries must be recorded, commented upon for what they surely are, announced to the world so that humanity may have a truthful idea of its desitiny. We cannot allow these terrible revelations to be surrounded by humourous or picturesque writings.
It was already hard to breathe in a tortured world. Here now is is new source of anquish being offered, without reservation, its last chance. And that could, after all, be the pretext for a special edition. But  should  be an occassion for a few reflections and a lot of silence.......
Lets be clear. If the Japanese capitulate after the destruction of Hiroshima due to intimidation, we will be glad of it. But we refuse to draw from such grave news anything other than the determination to plead even more energetically for a real international society in ,which great powers  will not have rights superior to small or mid-sized ones, in which war, a scourge that has become definite through human intelligence alone; will not depend on the appetites or doctrines of this or that State.
Before the terryfying prospects now available to humanity, we see even more clearly that peace is the only fight worth struggling for. This is no longer a plea, but a demand to be made by all the  people  to their governments - a demand to choose  definitely between hell and reason.'

Thanks to Jane

Further Reading

Camus at Combat
1944 -1947
Albert Camus, Jacqueline Levi Valensi,
David Carrol, Arthur Goldhammer


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