Camus’ Neither Victims nor Executioners: The World Speeds Up

The Power of Nonviolence Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe eleventh chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace  contains Albert Camus 1946 essay Neither Victims nor Executioners. This week we discuss the sixth part of the essay, The World Speeds Up. Camus wrote this 16-page essay as World War II had just ended, and it seemed as if the Soviet Union and the United States were dragging the planet into the horrors of a third world war. Eleven years later, he would win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

As the title of this section suggests, Camus looks at how the speed of innovation is increasingly outpacing its being put into practice.  He gives examples from the recent wars and political systems putting into place ideas of a generation, or century, past:

It is true that consciousness is always lagging behind reality: History rushes onward while thought reflects. But this inevitable backwardness becomes more pronounced the faster History speeds up.

Camus returns to the idea of a world parliament.  He insists that all nations must be admitted to it becuase they will have to be when consonscousness captures up with reality.  It would also fulfill his vision of a universal law-making body.

Camus makes clear that his world parliament is not the UN as presently constructed.  he sees as the issue of a veto and ministerial representation as issues blocking the UN from being representative.  Once a majority of all people are represented:

Once such a majority comes into being, then each nation must obey it or else reject its law – that is, openly proclaim its will to dominate….

This makes his realistic Utopia, in contrast to the current unrealistic Utopias put forward by the capilist and communist nations, is an imperative:

 the choice is simple – Utopia or the war

Camus believes that once humans accept his realistic Utopia — which refuses to sanction any form of murder — then like all other ides whose it has come:

men will find themselves unable to conceive reality without it.



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