The Contemporary Politics And Rise Of Populism In Camus' The Myth Of Sisyphus And The Rebel

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It is claimed by some critics that Camus can, at times, be reductive in his analyses and sweeping in his judgements. Nevertheless, there is an optimistic, humanist tone to his works which engages the reader and incites further philosophical enquiry, on the reader’s behalf, so that they might explore the nature of their existence and values. In so doing, the reader is informed as to the nature of Camusian reality, creating an ontological framework for an evolving, conditional state of human existence and experience. Indeed, Camus understood what it means to be a human in the moment; and is a proponent for a post-teleological, post-foundationalist approach to epistemological and metaphysical inquiry. Camus is a proponent for an ontological, rebellious existence; founded in individual liberties and freedoms, shared communal values, relative harmony and universal unity. Specifically, yet unexclusively, these “goods” are explored by Camus via the critical engagement of mankind’s existential rebellion and its desire for solidarity, universal values, self-fulfilment and justice. This is, in part, what gives rise to the “absurdity of the human condition” for Camus, in so far as humans strive for absolute truth and meaning where there is none to be found in reality. This is, remarkably, in spite of the absurdity of the human condition, which Camus addresses as the persistent, paradoxical conflict between creation and destruction; immortality and annihilation, between meaning and meaninglessness. He writes on the absurd: “It is the constant confrontation of…” [REF]

Since World War II, there has been a definitive increase in global interdependence between nations and a nullification of authoritarianism, of which Pogge (2008) refers to as an “erosion of sovereignty” and the “emergence of a post-Westphalian world”. Indeed, The United Nations was established in 1945 and upon the wake of WWII, with the brief of achieving wold peace and the unification of all nations under the banner, metaphorically speaking, of universal suffrage and solidarity. We are each human; and upon this immutable truth our rights, responsibilities and liberties are built (or so they may claim). The UN Security Council, although not without political struggles and shortcomings of virtue , has as its brief the “responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”. Since the 1990s, The Security Council has had a fundamental role in the resolution of many international and intranational conflicts such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi and the north-south conflict in the Sudan and Nepal. According to the United Nations, their peacekeeping and conflict prevention activities have served as a significant factor behind a 40-per cent decline in conflict around the world since the 1990s . The UN claim further that their “preventive diplomacy and other forms of preventive action” have been of paramount importance in the de-escalation of many further imminent conflicts across the globe. Their work towards the consolidation of peace, preventing nuclear proliferation, clearing landmines, supporting disarmament, combating terrorism, preventing genocide and combating sexual violence in conflict are amongst the chief practices of the United Nations in the contemporary struggle for global justice.

The World Trade Organisation has the capacity to enable the economic enrichment of both nations and their citizens, as well as encouraging international trade and global commerce. The European Union was established, in part, to encourage the interdependence of European states so as to avoid further breakdown in international relations and so as the ensure mutual interdependence and values such as cooperation, solidarity and brotherhood. The EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, much like the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, make absolute commitment to these notions of internationalism.

Liberal democracy is, for the time being, the dominant political institution in the world and we have undergone an unprecedented period of peace and interdependence in Europe in virtue of this . However, the development and progress of internationalism incurs a prevalent political concern amongst philosophers and others that, as there is a blurring of intranational and international lines in so far as economic and foreign policy goes; that political concerns of sovereign nations increasingly become matters for each cooperative to address as a single economic entity. This creates tensions of financial origins in so far as the prosperous nations are required to support other nations which, according to them, may not have spent their money diligently or to the betterment of the economy . This alarming development, either promotes internationalism, a retaining of the status quo, or gives rise to the shutdown of international cooperation and/or the erection of barriers; so as to avoid having to give financial support for the economic stability of other nations. America pulling out international trade deals , Britain pulling out of Europe, serve as further evidence which suggest further that insular, populist attitudes are gaining support and clout .

As mentioned above, there is a consensus that we are undergoing a spike in global populism and authoritarianism. My concerns are for both, in so far as populism seemingly promotes shotgun ideologies which succumb to political exclusivism; and that authoritarianism, historically, encourages both global injustice and intolerance.

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If we centre our attention towards Europe alone, in the elections of 2018, Hungary had the highest share of populist votes from within the European Union, where 65.09% of votes were for populist parties. In Greece, Poland and Italy, the populist vote share was in over 50%. Conversely, in the UK, populist votes counted for 1.8% of the vote.

Political parties within the EU who, provided they would come to power, would install anti-immigration policies, received a high level of national support. The Five Star Movement received 32.7% in Italy, with 51.9% of voting-eligible Brits voting to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum; and the AFD of Germany having their share of the vote increased by 7.9% against the previous election.

Global economic inequality is on the rise. In 2000, the lower half of the world’s adults possessed 1.1% of global wealth. The lower 10% owned merely 0.03%. The top 10%, by contrast, had 85.1% and the top 1% had 39.9% (Davies et al., 2006). What’s more, is that global inequality is also rising within high-income nations. The U.S, for example, has had the top 1% increase their income from 9% to 16% since 1979 to 2007 (Leonhardt, 2007).

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain developed an immigration policy which was designed o be a “hostile environment” for any and all whom might want to make Britain their home. President Donald Trump spend billions of U.S dollars building a wall in an attempt to curb illegal immigration with such hostility that they had been practicing removing children from their parents once detained for illegal entry into the states, before there was outcry from the general public which lead to the decision being u-turned by the White House.

Furthermore, there are environmental, social and humanitarian concerns which call for an internationalist, or at least, and international cooperative approach. Global warming and the migration crises immediately come to mind, but the severe lack in global equality is ever-present amongst the concerns of the progressive.

Indeed, in Camus’ day there were similar if not greater fears amongst the international community, particularly concerning the rise (and fall) of National Socialism and Soviet Marxism, each serving as bleak reminders of populist and authoritarian ideologies and the inhumanity that befell the 20th century.

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The Contemporary Politics And Rise Of Populism In Camus’ The Myth Of Sisyphus And The Rebel. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“The Contemporary Politics And Rise Of Populism In Camus’ The Myth Of Sisyphus And The Rebel.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
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