'L'Homme révolté : vers une justification éthique de la justice'

Orme, M (2001) 'L'Homme révolté : vers une justification éthique de la justice'. In: Albert Camus, 19: 'L'Homme révolté: cinquante ans après. Livres Modernes Minard, pp. 91-122. ISBN 2256910318

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L’Homme révolté (1951) represents the culmination of Albert Camus’s post-war moral reasoning and, in this article, I examine this pivotal and polemical work through the lens of justice. Throughout the post-war period, Camus’s principal moral preoccupations remain the balance between the concepts of justice and freedom and the task of establishing a moral response to (revolutionary) nihilism. With his own misguided idealism at the time of the purge in France still very much in mind he had been prepared to sacrifice his own innate sense of justice based on humanist principles to the perceived ideal of the purge Camus is deeply preoccupied, during the post-war phase, with the issue of murder and political violence, and L’Homme révolté ‘un effort pour comprendre mon temps’, as he calls it [‘an attempt to understand the time I live in’] can, as this article reveals, be read as both a universal and personal testimony, as he engages in debates demonstrating how, when pursued as unqualified ideals, justice and freedom forfeit their moral value in the revolutionary quest. As Camus’s work starkly illustrates, violence can never be just where the legacy is murder and where nothing is actually achieved. This article argues that Camus’s post-war vision of justice is such that it can only be vindicated when qualified by freedom (and vice versa); for it to be morally accountable, justice needs to be relative, with proximate ends pursued by means in accordance with the preservation of provisional morality. For Camus, revolutionary justice is a matter requiring equivalent and appropriate relations between ‘means’ and ‘ends’; to justify the means by the end is to sacrifice morality on the altar of ideology.

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