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Intellectual courage of André Glucksmann

Posted November. 13, 2015 20:21,   


A philosopher with such intellectual courage as André Glucksmann who represents the French generation of the May 1968 events is rarely seen. He expressed his support for the war in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 when the U.S. purportedly tried to oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq. He agreed in 1999 when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization decided to use armed forces in Serbia. Glucksmann was not a kind of philosopher who dropped his voices, worrying that he might be taken as a pro-American or a pro-NATO. For the sake of people in Iraq and Serbia whose human rights have been sacrificed by their dictators, he was willing to be mistaken.

A member of the French Communist Party in 1956, Glucksmann was expelled on the ground that he criticized then-Soviet Union for having invaded Budapest. He used to be in a leftist group “Action” as a Maoist in the May 1968 event. He had no fear of being branded as something in leftwing intellectual society. Having read “The Gulag Archipelago” written by Solzhenitsyn and published in 1974, he made an intellectual conversion to new philosophy, joining the criticism with Henri Lévy on “barbarism in human face (Stalinist communism).” Inspired by intellectual courage by the new philosophy, French philosophers Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes expressed their support.

Once an anti-Stalinist, Glucksmann became an anti-communist. Still, it would be right to say that he was neither leftist nor rightist. He had called for feuding leftist Sartre and right wing Raymond Aron in 1979 to take part in greater cause for boat people in South Vietnam. In the 1990s, he was one of few Western intellects who spoke out about Islam. Facing the September 11 attack, he raised the question of Dostoyevsky who asked “What can human do if it were not for God?” and warned a disaster that Islamic nihilism might bring about.

With a newspaper on one hand, Glucksmann was a philosopher who made candid response on worldly affairs. He defined an intellectual as “Cassandra who tells us what’s happening outside a castle town.” Cassandra, a goddess in the Greek myth, never stopped warning myopian folks of an upcoming collapse even though it made her less favorable to people. André Glucksmann has passed away at 78 on Tuesday.