In a critical engagement with Marc Crépon's Murderous Consent, this essay revisits Albert Camus's writings on Algeria, from 1939 to the throes of the war of independence. Against the argument that Camus's work can provide a moral and philosophical compass for a critique of violence, it explores the effects that Camus's complex identification with France and its project of settler-colonialism in North Africa has on his understanding of the resistance, and eventually the war, of natives against the pieds-noir and the power of the colonial metropole. Camus toggles between presenting violence in the settler-colony as somehow symmetrical (marked by crimes on both sides), and ultimately assuming a fundamental asymmetry, in which France provides the only legitimate frame for economic development and political emancipation. In Camus's colonial humanism, solidarity for the native's anti-colonial demands and understanding for the violence of resistance can only ever be partial, constrained by a modernising paternalism for which a break with France spells catastrophe and regression.
"Symmetry and Solidarity in the Settler Colony Revisiting Albert Camus’s Algerian Writings,"
Emancipations: A Journal of Critical Social Analysis: Vol. 2:
3, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/emancipations/vol2/iss3/3
December 23, 2023
December 28, 2023