September 25, 2013

Tough question

From the Smithsonian:
Why is Albert Camus Still a Stranger in His Native Algeria? 
On the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famed novelist, our reporter searches the north African nation for signs of his legacy

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why is Freddie Mercury a stranger in his native Zanzibar?

Anonymous said...

France has paid a huge price for its colonization of Algeria. The price, is of course, the modern day disastrous demographics of France itself. The Pied-noirs were in Algeria much longer then Algerians have been in France and were nonetheless completely ethnically cleansed by the latter. It is perhaps time for France to return the compliment.

Karl said...

Why is Günter Grass a stranger in his native Danzig?

Steve Sailer said...

You can, however, find a statue of Herodotus in his native Bodrum, Turkey (formerly Hallicarnasus).

Anonymous said...

What's the implication? As far as I know Camus isn't Jewish or homosexual.

Glossy said...

There appear to be traces of Kant in Kaliningrad:

"The tomb and its mausoleum are some of the few artifacts of German times preserved by the Soviets after they conquered and annexed the city. Today, many newlyweds bring flowers to the mausoleum.
Artifacts previously owned by Kant, known as Kantiana, were included in the Königsberg City Museum. However, the museum was destroyed during World War II.
A replica of the statue of Kant that stood in German times in front of the main University of Königsberg building was donated by a German entity in the early 1990s and placed in the same grounds."


And here's the statue.

Glossy said...

The chief institution of higher learning in Kaliningrad (former Königsberg) is now called the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.

Noah172 said...

Why is Saint Paul a stranger in his native Tarsus?

Why is Saint Augustine a stranger in his native Algeria?

Why is Prince Lazar of Serbia a stranger in his native Kosovo?

Why are Palestinians treated like strangers in their native Pal-- eh, occupied territories?

Why are Russians with as little as one quarter Jewish ancestry not strangers the moment they step off the plane in Tel Aviv?

Why are Americans strangers in many vibrant diverse areas of their native United States?

David Davenport said...

What's the implication? As far as I know Camus isn't Jewish or homosexual.

The implication is that Algeria is a Muslim nation which dislikes non-Muhammedan white peepul.

Politcally corrected Smithsonian won't say that.

Douglas Knight said...

here is a statue in Gdansk of the Tin Drum.

Asher said...

I was walking through the Algerian desert and saw nothing. This made me think "I am Albert Camus, (don't) look on (not) me ye mighty and despair". I have been trying to figure that out ever since, with no progress.

Anonymous said...

I wonder sometimes if intellectuals are capable of any kind of self-introspection.

Asher said...

Why is Woody Allen a stranger in Mia Farrow's pants

Anonymous said...

Why are Jews strangers in Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Egypt and Yemen?

2Degrees said...

I believe the Arabs gave the French a choice: The suitcase or the coffin. That's how they deal with diversity in those parts.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Camus jewish?

ogunsiron said...

@David Davenport :
There's no need to even invoke hate.
An Algerian could be quite fond of the French in general and yet not think one minute of Camus as having been an Algerian in any way except for having accidentaly resided there.

Anonymous said...

Why is George Orwell a stranger in his native Bihar (an Indian state bordering Nepal)? Why would any number of British people be strangers in India?
Like the French in Algeria, the British were colonial rulers who looked down upon, and despised, the "natives" (I put the word in quotes because this is a pejorative in India). They lived in segregated enclaves with no interaction with the locals other than their help.
Is is any wonder that the former colonial underclass don't look upon their former overlords with fondness, and consider them as interlopers?

Hunsdon said...

Was't Welleslely born in Ireland? And when referred to as Irish, responded that one might be born in a born, but that does not make one a horse?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Is is any wonder that the former colonial underclass don't look upon their former overlords with fondness, and consider them as interlopers?

This is a good point. Of course, it seems Camus's family was about as poor as a lot of the "natives." (Or perhaps that's not a pejorative in Algeria). Another way to think about it is that groups don't like other groups on "their" land. Which leads me to ask why Western governments insist on contravening this basic rule of human behavior.

Bob Arctor said...

"Wasn't Camus jewish?"

No; he was (nominally) a Catholic of French and Spanish ancestry.

You could have found this out for yourself had you spent fifteen whole seconds searching the web for the answer.

Art Deco said...

The price, is of course, the modern day disastrous demographics of France itself.

Actually, Muslims are about 6% of the population of France and the total fertility rate in France is adequate at about 2.0. Not disasterous.

Art Deco said...

The fiction and creative non-fiction of Camus made much use for its subject matter the lives of a pied noir population that left en masse in 1962.

His skeptical and non-systematic social thought does not find much resonance in the Arab world. Political life in the Arab world tends often to take the form of patron-client networks, and, as Andrew Greeley put it, Mayor Daley did not need house intellectuals. Alternatively, it takes the form of movements animated not by the idea that their society could be improved but rather by the idea that it must be redeemed. Fascism (the Ba'ath Party), fascistoid praetorianism (Nasser), Communism, and militant political Islam all have large constituencies. By contrast, Morocco is the only country that has had banal political movements like social democracy or agrarianism. Maybe Tunisia will manifest that in the coming years...

Chubby Ape said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

France has paid a huge price for its colonization of Algeria. The price, is of course, the modern day disastrous demographics of France itself. The Pied-noirs were in Algeria much longer then Algerians have been in France and were nonetheless completely ethnically cleansed by the latter. It is perhaps time for France to return the compliment.


No, there is not an A to B link between the French rule of Algeria and the masses of Algerians wandering around France today. There is a 15-30yr gap between France quitting Algeria and the arrival of North Africans en masse. France did take in a relative handful of native Algerians loyal to their side in the war of independence but the masses of migrants were brought in starting in the early 1970s, the same time the Germans started inviting in Turks and the Scandinavians were doing likewise. The number of migrants allowed in was cranked up over the '80s and '90s, just as in Canada, the US or European countries with no imperial ties to the source countries. The Dutch didn't colonize Tunisia and yet they host Tunisian colonies now. Long story short, there is no direct link between French colonialism in Algeria and Algerian colonialism in France.

Art Deco said...


Why are Palestinians treated like strangers in their native Pal-- eh, occupied territories?


Well, Noah172, multi-ethnic societies with a majority and a minority commonly have political institutions run to please the majority. Recognition is not something that can ever be evenly distributed.

Anonymous said...

They lived in segregated enclaves with no interaction with the locals other than their help.

Wow, sounds remarkably similar to 21st-Century USA elites.

Do you really think that when [or maybe I should say "if"] Barry and Michelle leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they'll go home to Altgeld Gardens?

Bob Arctor said...

"Wasn't Camus jewish?"

No; he was (nominally) a Catholic of French and Spanish ancestry.

You could have found this out for yourself had you spent fifteen whole seconds searching the web for the answer.

Glossy said...

"Like the French in Algeria, the British were colonial rulers who looked down upon, and despised, the "natives" (I put the word in quotes because this is a pejorative in India)."

Neither the British class system nor old European racial theorizing came anywhere close to the level of hatred that's normal in the Indian caste system. In looking down on others the Brits were amateurs. Have you seen this map?

"They lived in segregated enclaves with no interaction with the locals other than their help."

Ha! Indians pioneered the concept of untouchability.

Anonymous said...

"Like the French in Algeria, the British were colonial rulers who looked down upon, and despised, the "natives""

But Orwell DIDN'T despise the natives. Do you mean to say that it's alright for "the former colonial underclass" to negatively stereotype every member of an ethnic group, but it would not be OK for the "former overlords" to do the same?

Chubby Ape said...

This is about 8/10ths off topic but I thought it'd interest some people here:


David Gilmour 'not interested' in teaching on women authors
David Gilmour's course is 'middle-aged male writers taught by a middle-aged man'

...
Gilmour says, “[w]hat I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth."
...

el supremo said...

re Steve Sailer on Herodotus statues in Turkey:

Turkey has a much more ecumenical attitude towards residents of the current Turkish territory who are mainly famous in Western culture. Someone else mentioned that St. Paul is a stranger in modern Tarsus, but the Turkish government actually maintains a number of historical sights supposedly related to St. Paul and a Turkish NGO developed a hiking trail that follows his supposed travels.

Maybe its the cosmopolitanism of a former empire, or the fact that Turkish nationalism is mature enough and has enough of its own accomplishments, but the general preference in Turkey is to add people from prior civilizations to the pantheon of local heroes, especially if they are from long enough ago that they don't disturb any of the founding myths of modern Turkey. That is why you will see much more embrace of ancient Greek and Roman and early Christian historical figures in Turkey than modern Greeks or Armenians.

rowingfool said...

Contra the Smithsonian writer, I don't think Camus' greatest book is either The Stranger or The Plague. Rather The Rebel or The Myth of Sisyphus.

In The Rebel Camus states that the essential character of Mediterranean Man is an Earth-bound moderation. He rejects the extreme products of Ideal systematizing which he holds responsible for the Terrors of the murderous purges in both the French Revolution and Communist Soviet Union.

He says that all Systems that are pure products of Mind end in tyranny because humans, unlike Ideals, are not perfect.

Rebellion is an instinctive act of pushing back and thereby establishes a Limit. Defining a limit, rebellion (paradoxically) is a call for Order and not anarchy. Revolution, on the other hand, is a system of thought based on first principles and from such principles a plan of action is deduced. Such Ideal constructs always end in the Terror of Inquisition or show trials in which one's pure Faith is put to the test and dogmatic conformity must be either proven or extracted by torture.

The middle path which involves accepting our limits is the only way to avoid murder. He felt that this trait which was to be found in the Classic Mediterranean character was exemplified by the incident in the Odyssey when Odysseus, upon being offered immortality by the Goddess Circe, choose instead mortality, to return to his Earthbound home, his wife, son and father, to see the smoke arising from the chimney of his hearth. And that though our life here is as flawed creatures on this flawed planet our place is not with the Gods in the Realm of the Ideologically Pure or as we would say today, the Politically Correct.

rowingfool said...

Contra the Smithsonian writer, I don't think Camus' greatest book is either The Stranger or The Plague. Rather The Rebel or The Myth of Sisyphus.

In The Rebel Camus states that the essential character of Mediterranean Man is an Earth-bound moderation. He rejects the extreme products of Ideal systematizing which he holds responsible for the Terrors of the murderous purges in both the French Revolution and Communist Soviet Union.

He says that all Systems that are pure products of Mind end in tyranny because humans, unlike Ideals, are not perfect.

Rebellion is an instinctive act of pushing back and thereby establishes a Limit. Defining a limit, rebellion (paradoxically) is a call for Order and not anarchy. Revolution, on the other hand, is a system of thought based on first principles and from such principles a plan of action is deduced. Such Ideal constructs always end in the Terror of Inquisition or show trials in which one's pure Faith is put to the test and dogmatic conformity must be either proven or extracted by torture.

The middle path which involves accepting our limits is the only way to avoid murder. He felt that this trait which was to be found in the Classic Mediterranean character was exemplified by the incident in the Odyssey when Odysseus, upon being offered immortality by the Goddess Circe, choose instead mortality, to return to his Earthbound home, his wife, son and father, to see the smoke arising from the chimney of his hearth. And that though our life here is as flawed creatures on this flawed planet our place is not with the Gods in the Realm of the Ideologically Pure or as we would say today, the Politically Correct.

Anonymous said...

A pertinent question: Is Kipling popular in India? (I ask because I don't know.)

panjoomby said...

why are we strangers in many parts of our own country? are there even different countries anymore? there certainly are not different states in the US anymore - they're all the same. waiting for camus.

Anonymous said...

"...accidentaly resided..."

So to what do we endow the 15 million 'accidental residents' who have crossed southern borders to find themselves among us?

jgress said...

It's interesting that the article mentions how the Vichy authorities withdrew French citizenship from Algerian Jews, without mentioning that it was the same French colonial authorities who granted citizenship to native Algerian Jews, but not to native Algerian Muslims, in the first place. It was a typical colonialist tactic of recruiting minorities, of course. Let's see, what did happen to these Jews after independence? Of course, they were all expelled.

Whiskey said...

British raj colonialists liked and admired and spoke many of Indias languages. They built railways and stopped thugee and widow burning. But they were neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Sikh nor Jain.

Indians preferred to be badly ruled by their own elites than well ruled by foreigners.

pat said...

I had a pretty good comment written - and then I remembered that I gave up posting blog comments to focus on some product of my own. I thought at first that I would write a book. Then I considered a blog of my own but I settled on producing movies.

I will present my reaction to this blog post as a movie as soon as I can get to it. But that may be weeks or months from now. I started this whole endeavor intending to do a piece on one of Steve's NAEP blogs. But that one is still in script development. My little movies have to be as entertaining as possible given their sometimes very serious subject matter.

I've commented here on homosexuality many times. You might want to see my movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csjCdlp_giA

I'm trying to publish a movie a week. I take requests.

Albertosaurus

Mountain Maven said...

Why is there little mention of the American military in the Kuwait museum commemorating the 1st Gulf War (where we liberated Kuwait?)

Anonymous said...

Why is John Kay of Steppenwolf a stranger in his native Kaliningrad Oblast?

Chubby Ape said...

jgress said...

It's interesting that the article mentions how the Vichy authorities withdrew French citizenship from Algerian Jews, without mentioning that it was the same French colonial authorities who granted citizenship to native Algerian Jews, but not to native Algerian Muslims, in the first place. It was a typical colonialist tactic of recruiting minorities, of course. Let's see, what did happen to these Jews after independence? Of course, they were all expelled.


No the Jews of Algeria were extended French citizenship by a Jewish Justice Minister Named Adolphe Crémieux in October 1870. The Prussians had France on the ropes and Crémieux was part of an emergency coalition government thrown together after Napoleon III fell and Paris was under siege. That he felt the legal status of Algeria's Jews was a high priority at that moment shows more than a little ethnocentrism. So it was a case of a French Jew getting a goodie for his co-religionists in Algeria rather than some Machiavellian, "divide and conquer" chess move by France.

(See: Crémieux Decree for details.)

Anonymous said...

"Why is John Kay of Steppenwolf a stranger in his native Kaliningrad Oblast?"

Wow, you learn something new all the time, especially on this most eclectic site. Just looked at the wiki on Mr. Kay. Quite amazing.

Anonymous said...

"This is about 8/10ths off topic but I thought it'd interest some people here:


David Gilmour 'not interested' in teaching on women authors
David Gilmour's course is 'middle-aged male writers taught by a middle-aged man'
...
Gilmour says, “[w]hat I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.""

Wow, I never knew that the Pink Floyd frontman had such an interest in literature.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey wrote:
"Indians preferred to be badly ruled by their own elites than well ruled by foreigners."

And this makes Indians different from, oh, everyone else on the planet - how? Another brilliant bit of insight from Whiskey.

Anonymous said...

Why was King George a stranger in America after the Revolution? Because his vastly outnumbered people lost. Camus, in typical intellectual fashion, thought that the pied noir could live in peace with the Muslims. Of course, he feared for his own family but he never said: "we conquered this land and the Muslims can leave." That is the only position that would have saved his memory in Algeria. The Muslims never had any intention of living with the pied noir at all.

jgress said...

@Chubby Ape:

Fair enough, though note that the French didn't revoke this decree. And you have to agree there is a general pattern of recruiting minorities among colonialists. For example, the French preferred to use Berbers as native officials, rather than Arabs, and this is one root of the post-independence marginalization of Berbers in Algeria and elsewhere in North Africa.

Art Deco said...

I believe the Arabs gave the French a choice: The suitcase or the coffin.

I think that was a mordant pledge among the pieds noirs themselves, not a political program of the NLF. The Jews were expelled from Algeria in the Spring of 1962. The pieds noirs largely left of their own accord; the 30,000 who remained behind were not massacred.

Art Deco said...

Like the French in Algeria, the British were colonial rulers who looked down upon, and despised, the "natives" (I put the word in quotes because this is a pejorative in India). They lived in segregated enclaves with no interaction with the locals other than their help.

The British residents of India were largely a thin red line of soldiers and officials. Algeria was a settlement colony with over a million abiding colonists, or 12 % of the population.

Anonymous said...

"The British residents of India were largely a thin red line of soldiers and officials."

Exactly, and they resided overwhelmingly in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. India was simply too vast, populated, and harsh to support large-scale British settlement.

Anonymous said...

Camus was a white Hispanic.

Anonymous said...

¿Por qué es mcCain un extraño en su Panamá natal?

Anonymous said...

You can include Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley with George Orwell.

James Kabala said...

As with that Hispanics-in-tennis article, the content is more intelligent than the headline. The opening line "The Hotel El-Djazair, formerly known as the Hotel Saint-George," shows that the author knows what's going on.


Dr Van Nostrand said...

Glossy said...
"Like the French in Algeria, the British were colonial rulers who looked down upon, and despised, the "natives" (I put the word in quotes because this is a pejorative in India)."

Neither the British class system nor old European racial theorizing came anywhere close to the level of hatred that's normal in the Indian caste system. In looking down on others the Brits were amateurs. Have you seen this map?

DVN:This argument was and remains morally dubious and intellectually bankrupt

Yes ,Indians had a stern and often cruel social structure.How exactly did that concern the British?
The issue wasnt that Indians in UK complaining of British racism and claiming that theirs is a more open society.If that was the case you statements wouldve been valid
No ,the British were in a country they had absolutely zero business being in
And no Whiskey you clown railways,killing thuggees and ending sati couldve been by Indians themselves
1.Hire foreign engineers to build railways
2.Thuggees and sati didnt exist since time immemorial.Sati on this scale and style(involuntary) was a relatively recent concept introduced after Central Asian invaders became Hindus and retained and spread these customs.Hindu women also initially were enthuastic about Self immolation as it spared them the dishonor of slavery and rape by Muslims

The British were certainly not amateurs when it came to exploiting and excarbating caste differences for their own advantage. If you had an ounce of decency ,curiosity and intellectual integrity you would think twice before praising British egalitarianism

"They lived in segregated enclaves with no interaction with the locals other than their help."

Ha! Indians pioneered the concept of untouchability. "

DVN:Ha! So bloody what? How is that your concern, unless the Indians conquered British Isles and turned the inhabitants into lower castes and demartialized them(the British did both in effect to Indians) how does that concern you?

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Kipling isnt really popular in India apart from his work The Jungle Book. But even that is really popular only because of the Disney movie

All in all his lack of popularity is due to his lack of understanding of India. What I read of Kipling, he didnt seem to know much Indian history. If he did he wouldnt concentrate so much on the invasion by Alexander which is really a footnote in Indian history.

He knew little of Hinduism ,Islam,Buddhism or Sikhism or the interplay over the years.

He very much like the sensory overload that India offered with its bustling bazaars ,spices,drugs and brothels

In the end , he didnt get India so India doesnt care for him and never the twain shall meet.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Why is Freddie Mercury a stranger in his native Zanzibar?"

Actually he is a Parsi from India domiciled in Zanzibar. But many Indians didnt quite acknowledge him as their own as he was of the ghey!

Only a few years after his death did Indians actually begin cautiously to start claiming he was one of them

But still the founder of Chipndales Somen Banerjee doesnt get much mention in Indian American Newsletters...

Orwell however is pretty popular with the Indian literati and they take some pride in his birth in India and often approvingly quote his works due to his anti imperialism and pseudo socialism and the house he was born in has been preserved as some kind of museum but that is more to British efforts than Indian I believe.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

@el supremo

You are right about Turkey preserving the ancient structures associated with classical civilizations probably a lot better than how Greece treats hers.

However it is entirely out of a sense of tolerance and magnanimity.
Like Israel which devours and coopts Palestinian culture and cuisine as presents as its own(many Europeans apparently believe falafel and shwarma as well as the debka- A Palestian folkdance are Israeli), similarly Turkey believes those responsible for the civilization were a sort of proto Turks and they attritube to this vague ethnic group everything from the Trojans,Ionians,ancient Kurds(even today they are called mountain Turks") and Cappadocians.

In a way, they are doing something what all conquering cultures have always done-take the defeated's woman,wealth,gods(either coopt them or turn them into demons),lands and now history.
After history is written by the victors but the Turkish nationalist efforts are too little too late. No one is falling for their lame propaganda

Dr Van Nostrand said...


"The British residents of India were largely a thin red line of soldiers and officials."

Exactly, and they resided overwhelmingly in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. India was simply too vast, populated, and harsh to support large-scale British settlement."

Not to mention Chennai as well as Kashmir,Shimla and Ooty in the summers. Anyway this is true.

The reason the British were able to rule so many with so few were
1. divide et impera
2. A good number of collaborators due to 1
3. Demartializing a good swathe of the populace such as Nairs,Marathas,Reddys,Poligars,Biharis and martializing or maintaining the military habis of Sikhs,Punjabi Muslims,Baluchi,Jats,Gurkhas and use them to their advantage

My grandmother who lived in the countryside wasnt aware that a foreign power ruled the country until she got married to a man from the city
This was apparently not uncommon.

Somewhat OT
Mumbai,Delhi,Calcutta and Chennai, the four major cities of India associated with British rule happen to have absolutely horrid weather. Except for Delhi all are mostly hot and humid(though Calcutta can get rather pleasant in the winter) and Delhi has an oppressive Central Asian summer style dry heat

There are many places in India with very pleasant weather even in summer but due to the major international airports and business hubs in these cities(which are also quite dirty), foreingers associate India with tremendous heat and squalor though it is not the case across other cities in the country

blinky said...

"No ,the British were in a country they had absolutely zero business being in."

That's what I always thought. THey had no business there.
Except it was "just business." They weren't there to make a New England; it was a business take over by the City of London in the late 1600s. Britain's interaction with India was purely mercenary, in the beginning. As some of them had to live there, some of the customs began to get on their nerves, and they did pass some legislation but that was not always a bad thing. A few of them did care because of that blasted altruism some northern people are afflicted with.
The Indians fared a lot better with the English than the "Indians" of the western hemisphere fared with the Spanish.
In the end, you got rid of the British, but the British will never get rid of the Indians.

Anonymous said...

He knew little of Hinduism ,Islam,Buddhism or Sikhism

Or, for that matter, Nestorian Christianity.

Maxwell Power said...

Ah, the existential plight of Camus's hometown rep

Anonymous said...

Why is Sailer far less known even among white cons than are David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell?

Why is American Renaissance banned from holding conferences in most cities and towns?