Sunday, August 24, 2008

The start of hope

Albert Camus, quoted in Olivier Todd's biography:
Refusing to make a final choice between the USSR and America, Camus asked those present at the meeting to imagine a third possible route: “Don’t you believe that we are all responsible for the absence of values and if we are descended from Nietzsche and nihilism [as Malraux and Camus would have it] or historical realism [as Sartre and Koestler stated], if we publicly say we were wrong and that moral values exist, and henceforth we shall do what we must to establish and illustrate them, don’t you think that would be the start of hope?”

It feels to me that we are further away than ever from Camus's third way of moral values as a means of glueing society. While I wouldn't take an absolutist view on morality, as that leads you down a troubled road towards a Saviour, I see the form of non-interventionist relativism which is prevalent today as weak and cowardly. We have a moral code in our society and yet we shy away from defending it against those who are hostile to it because we do not wish to offend their sensibilities. By trying to accommodate their interpretation of morality we compromise our own. And every time that happens we are diminished.

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