Camus’ The Plague

Not a single person I once was friends with back in Canada has changed their political position in all the years since I’ve known them, not a single one, and I’ve known them all for more than fifty years. It really is weird. Most I am happy to see when I go home but we seldom discuss politics; some I can still talk politics with but it is always through gritted teeth (theirs) and I never bring politics up. Some I do not bother seeing when I am there and why I avoid them is always for political reasons. And not one of them I see more frequently than once every two years since I hardly ever get back. As I say, weird. Yet why dealing with the coronavirus is a political issue is hard to explain, unless that is precisely what it is, but why is that? The virus will never disappear, it will always mutate, and I do not expect us to stay in lockdown forever. And while perhaps I should be, I am not frightened by it even though I am in the high-danger zone according to age and “co-morbidities” and it may get me yet.

Just finished Albert Camus’ The Plague. It was written in the 1940s as a political allegory about radical political views being akin to a virus. Today it reads just like a story about a plague-ridden population put into lockdown. The political allegory is near invisible. The horrors of an epidemic are made very clear.

The point of the story is to use the virus as a metaphor for totalitarian political repression. The irony today is that actual existing political leaders have used the spectre of a virus as a means to repress populations all around the world by arguing they have done so to protect them.

As for The Plague, it is only a story:

Oran was decimated by the bubonic plague in 1556 and 1678, but all later outbreaks (in 1921 – 185 cases, 1931 – 76 cases, and 1944 – 95 cases) were very far from the scale of the epidemic described in the novel.

Brilliantly written and well worth reading, especially now.

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10 Responses to Camus’ The Plague

  1. Camus, Solzhenitsyn and others were mandatory reading when I was in school. I wonder how many of today’s school leavers have even heard of those authors?

  2. Tom

    Fascism is the dark side of human nature that hates freedom and the thing that makes it possible — personal responsibility.

    Since the 1930s, millions have died defending freedom against fascism yet fascism persists — only now it is ascendant in the ruling class that we freely, democratically elected.

    When the evil comes from within, the human race is a frightening place. It is tolerable only when we aspire to a higher state of being, in which freedom triumphs and fascism lives in Hell, where it belongs.

  3. dopey

    Leftists are like a smoker or drinker who says maybe I’ll stop for a month, see if I feel better. Then they think no, it’s too risky, I might not want to start again. Leftist are scared to consider other views, they might like what they hear.

  4. Bela Bartok

    Yet why dealing with the coronavirus is a political issue is hard to explain,

    Unfortunately, the Left has for the past 60 years started treating everything as a political leverage point. No matter what action is taken, if a conservative does x he would be vilified as much as if he’d done y. Any occurrence or incident is just a tool to be used against an opponent.

    We’ve seen it here in Oz; but our efforts are rather lacklustre. Morrison goes on holiday: vitriol and condemnation in the ‘Voice’ of the elites. Shorten (allegedly) rapes someone and it’s crickets from that same voice.

    In the US the cockiness of the Reagan era is coming back to (some) conservatives and the Left are getting pushback, but everything is leveraged against Trump, even ridiculous things like the death of Iranian war criminals is lamented by the Left as it serves their purpose to vilify Trump regardless of fact. Same as Kavanaugh v. Biden. The Left were almost incomprehensibly insane about Kavanaugh: they saw it as a way to smear Trump. But the very same people will be incomprehensibly insane in supporting Biden.

    Its everywhere, but Britain is perhaps the exemplar of when the left gain the control of the ‘Voice’ of the country. The whole place seems to be run like a Karen-centric Kindergarten where disobedience of groupthink is forbidden. It’s been a nanny-state for years now, probably starting when Noddy and Big Ears had to be banned for hatespeech. The hunger to dominate ‘the other’ is so great it dominates all other objectives.

    Thank goodness we’re a bit lacklustre here – bit of a cow-town. Ol’ Clemmy Ford can mouth off on Twitter, and most of the country will ignore her as a loon. The small, vocal, ‘Voice’ will continue to support her, just as they all support each other, whilst punishing ‘outsiders’ by Alinsky-ing them.

    I hope our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude will be enough to stop the Karenization of Australia; though I think Victoria might be a lost cause.

  5. j.arimathea

    Steve, I recognise your position wrt your erstwhile friends. I wryly comment under the name j.arimathea (read the Gospels and substitute ‘family and friends’ for ‘Jews’). I suspect that if any of my relations (including wife), or friends were to find that I followed Catallaxy, Instapundit, Bolt, Blair etc. they would be more shocked than if they found me reading child pornography. I have tired of fruitless conversations (arguments) and just keep silent. I find the same thing as you about the lock-down–another stick to beat Trump with. It is so boring and predictable!

  6. Botswana O'Hooligan

    There have been several outbreaks of bubonic plague in Australia resulting in 1906 deaths but the country was never locked down as it is now, and whether we like it or not there is not a damned thing we can do about it for the various governments have the capsicum spray, the tasers, the batons, the restraint devices and other accoutrements not available to us even if we had access to them and were foolish enough to employ them.

  7. cuckoo

    It was written in the 1940s as a political allegory about radical political views being akin to a virus.

    With respect, I have my doubts about this interpretation. People also often say The Plague is an allegory of the German occupation. If it’s an allegory of anything, it’s of life itself, just on a compressed time scale. Camus is asking, if everybody dies in the end, and there’s nothing after that, what is the best way to behave? His characters answer that question in various ways.

  8. cuckoo

    I hope our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude will be enough to stop the Karenization of Australia; though I think Victoria might be a lost cause.

    Even the Age today was running a front page story that Victorians have been fined for lockdown breaches at a rate of three times that of any other state. This either means we Victorians are the Florida Men of this nation, or that we live in a state in which the police and the government basically consider the citizens as an enemy population. My money’s on the latter.

  9. Professor Fred Lenin

    Is there any truth in the story that China has named the lab in Wuhan “the Michel Barnier Biolab “
    Nice gesture seeing as how he sent 50 French scientists to get it going and train staff in 2004 ,cant find out if he got it financed too , he ignored tha advice of the French Security Service and many scientists who suspected China had an agenda for the lab .
    This sttory originated in Le Figaro a respected French newspaper ,thenthe UK Express and Daily Mail .
    We should call the virus the Barnier Wuhan Biowar Center Plague ,suitable name .

  10. Up The Workers!

    Vote for Joe Biden and turn your skin black!

    (Apparently!)

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