Losing Both the Battle and One’s Honor

As the French army’s reign of terror against the Algerian people was occurring in the late 1950s, a number of brave French intellectuals, themselves at risk of prison for speaking out as the result of a harsh crackdown on French civil liberties that accompanied the employment of state terror against the Algerian liberation movement, spoke out against state terror. Pierre-Henri Simon was an eloquent example, as the conclusion of his article against torture indicates:

Ah ! puissions-nous ne pas perdre en même temps la bataille et l’honneur ! Et que la France ose enfin jouer sa grandeur là où aucune fatalité ne peut rien contre elle : dans la fidélité à l’idée civilisatrice qui rend la personne plus sacrée que la société, l’esprit transcendant à l’histoire, le droit plus fort que la force. [Pierre-Henri Simon, Contre la torture, Le Seuil, 1957, as reprinted in Histoire.]

The outcome was of course exactly what Simon had feared: four years later, Algeria won independence, leaving France having simultaneously lost both the battle and its honor.


One comment on “Losing Both the Battle and One’s Honor

  1. […] colonial regime–even though they led directly to the collapse of French rule in Algeria and nearly provoked civil war in France. As Camus […]

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