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87

Bread and Freedom

2
terms
2
notes

speech given in 1953. about socialism and totalitarianism

Camus, A. (1995). Bread and Freedom. In Camus, A. Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays. Vintage, pp. 87-97

90

When, after Marx, the rumor began to spread and gain strength that freedom was a bourgeois hoax, a single word was misplaced in that definition, and we are still paying for that mistake through the convulsions of our time. For it should have been said merely that bourgeois freedom was a hoax—and not all freedom. It should have been said simply that bourgeois freedom was not freedom or, in the best of cases, was not yet freedom. But that there were liberties to be won and never to be relinquished again. It is quite true that there is no possible freedom for the man tied to his lathe all day long who, when evening comes, crowds into a single room with his family. But this fact condemns a class, a society and the slavery it assumes, not freedom itself, without which the poorest among us cannot get along. For even if society were suddenly transformed and became decent and comfortable for all, it would still be a barbarous state unless freedom triumphed. And because bourgeois so-day talks about freedom without practicing it, must the world of workers also give up practicing it and boast merely of not talking about it? Yet the confusion took place and in the revolutionary movement freedom was gradually condemned because bourgeois society used it as a hoax. From a justifiable and healthy distrust of the way that bourgeois society prostituted freedom, people came to distrust freedom itself. At best, it was postponed to the end of time, with the request that meanwhile it be not talked about. The contention was that we needed justice first and that we would come to freedom later on, as if slaves could ever hope to achieve justice. And forceful intellectuals announced to the worker that bread alone interested him rather than freedom, as if the worker didn't know that his bread depends in part on his freedom. And, to be sure, in the face of the prolonged injustice of bourgeois society, the temptation to go to such extremes was great. After all, there is probably not one of us here who, either in deed or in thought, did not succumb. But history has progressed, and what we have seen must now make us think things over. The revolution brought about by workers succeeded in 1917 and marked the dawn of real freedom and the greatest the world has known. But that revolution, surrounded from the outside, threatened within and without, provided itself with a police force. Inheriting a definition and a doctrine that pictured freedom as suspect, the revolution little by little became stronger, and the world's great hope hardened into the world's most efficient dictatorship. The false freedom of bourgeois society has not suffered meanwhile. [...]

—p.90 by Albert Camus 3 years, 4 months ago

When, after Marx, the rumor began to spread and gain strength that freedom was a bourgeois hoax, a single word was misplaced in that definition, and we are still paying for that mistake through the convulsions of our time. For it should have been said merely that bourgeois freedom was a hoax—and not all freedom. It should have been said simply that bourgeois freedom was not freedom or, in the best of cases, was not yet freedom. But that there were liberties to be won and never to be relinquished again. It is quite true that there is no possible freedom for the man tied to his lathe all day long who, when evening comes, crowds into a single room with his family. But this fact condemns a class, a society and the slavery it assumes, not freedom itself, without which the poorest among us cannot get along. For even if society were suddenly transformed and became decent and comfortable for all, it would still be a barbarous state unless freedom triumphed. And because bourgeois so-day talks about freedom without practicing it, must the world of workers also give up practicing it and boast merely of not talking about it? Yet the confusion took place and in the revolutionary movement freedom was gradually condemned because bourgeois society used it as a hoax. From a justifiable and healthy distrust of the way that bourgeois society prostituted freedom, people came to distrust freedom itself. At best, it was postponed to the end of time, with the request that meanwhile it be not talked about. The contention was that we needed justice first and that we would come to freedom later on, as if slaves could ever hope to achieve justice. And forceful intellectuals announced to the worker that bread alone interested him rather than freedom, as if the worker didn't know that his bread depends in part on his freedom. And, to be sure, in the face of the prolonged injustice of bourgeois society, the temptation to go to such extremes was great. After all, there is probably not one of us here who, either in deed or in thought, did not succumb. But history has progressed, and what we have seen must now make us think things over. The revolution brought about by workers succeeded in 1917 and marked the dawn of real freedom and the greatest the world has known. But that revolution, surrounded from the outside, threatened within and without, provided itself with a police force. Inheriting a definition and a doctrine that pictured freedom as suspect, the revolution little by little became stronger, and the world's great hope hardened into the world's most efficient dictatorship. The false freedom of bourgeois society has not suffered meanwhile. [...]

—p.90 by Albert Camus 3 years, 4 months ago

(noun) a machine in which work is rotated about a horizontal axis and shaped by a fixed tool / (verb) to cut or shape with a lathe

90

there is no possible freedom for the man tied to his lathe all day

—p.90 by Albert Camus
confirm
3 years, 4 months ago

there is no possible freedom for the man tied to his lathe all day

—p.90 by Albert Camus
confirm
3 years, 4 months ago

a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments

92

that cynical dialectic which sets up injustice against enslavement while strengthening one by the other

—p.92 by Albert Camus
notable
3 years, 4 months ago

that cynical dialectic which sets up injustice against enslavement while strengthening one by the other

—p.92 by Albert Camus
notable
3 years, 4 months ago
95

[...] The first way is characteristic of bourgeois intellectuals who are willing that their privileges should be paid for by the enslavement of workers. They often say that they are defending freedom, but they are defending first of all the privileges freedom gives to them, and to them alone. [...]

—p.95 by Albert Camus 3 years, 4 months ago

[...] The first way is characteristic of bourgeois intellectuals who are willing that their privileges should be paid for by the enslavement of workers. They often say that they are defending freedom, but they are defending first of all the privileges freedom gives to them, and to them alone. [...]

—p.95 by Albert Camus 3 years, 4 months ago