Reading Camus Carefully?

A Review of L’Ordre libertaire: La vie philosophique d’Albert Camus by Michel Onfray

In: Historical Materialism
Ian Birchall Independent Researcher London

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Michel Onfray’s L’Ordre libertaire is a passionate defence of Camus as a philosopher, and an attempt to co-opt him as a representative of Onfray’s own Nietzschean, hedonistic, libertarian, atheist beliefs. But the account is far from successful. Onfray’s presentation is highly repetitive, and though he promises us a ‘careful reading’, in fact his work contains many errors and misrepresentations. His vituperative attacks on Marxism in general, and on Sartre in particular, are often based on serious inaccuracies. His attempt to defend Camus en bloc makes him frequently insensitive to the complexities and contradictions of Camus’s thought, and in particular of his political stance. The treatment of Camus’s views on the Algerian War in particular, and the role of violence in history in general, is equally unsatisfactory.

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