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February 07, 2013

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ajay

Presumably Sartre disapproved of the RAF's artisanal, small-scale, haphazard approach to murder, and would have preferred a more efficient, large-scale, planned approach?

Phil

Now now. I think JPS would favour deferring any consideration of offing the pigs (or anyone else) until the actual revolution has actually started FFS, in which sentiment he wasn't out of line with 99% of the rest of the Left. (Maybe 90% in Italy. Italy's different.)

ajay

So it was a case of the young bull saying "Let's run out of the gate, run down the lane, and kill a couple of policemen and a bank manager" and the old bull saying "No, let's walk out the gate, amble down the lane, and slaughter everyone who we think might oppose us."

Phil

Not really, no, what with the actual revolution not having actually started and so on.

ajay

Hence the delay. They're both on the same side with regard to the wholesale massacre of people whose political views they dislike, it's really just a scheduling disagreement.

ajay

our version of this was Jimmy Savile meeting the Yorkshire Ripper

Baader-Meinhof murdered a lot more people than the Yorkshire Ripper did.

Phil

They're both on the same side with regard to the wholesale massacre of people whose political views they dislike

True in the sense that even Baader didn't advocate that. But I don't think either of us is going to persuade the other of anything useful, so I'll leave it there.

Cian

I don't remember the Yorkshire Ripper killing anyone like Hanns Martin Schleyer. So I wouldn't say they were identical exactly...

jamie

Well, not so much that they were identical but the JS/YR hookup was the British low comedy version.

My take on what Sartre was trying to say was that there was no justification for what the RAF was doing because they weren't in an actual revolution nor fighting against a dictatorship. hence his references to South America. In other words there was nothing that any of the RAFs German victims did that warranted going round killing them.

ajay

I don't remember the Yorkshire Ripper killing anyone like Hanns Martin Schleyer.

He killed 13 people who were like Hanns Martin Schleyer in the very important sense that they didn't deserve to die.

Though admittedly there's some difference of opinion about that. Andreas Baader thought Schleyer deserved to die. Sutcliffe thought that prostitutes deserved to die. If Schleyer had been in a car with a prostitute, they could have done a team-up and both gone home happy.

Igor Belanov

I don't really think Sartre was as bloodthirsty as that, and much of his advocacy of concrete revolutionary tactics revolved around the 3rd World rather than his more vague revolutionary aspirations for the democratic West.

Schleyer is not the best example of Baader's brutality, as he was in prison at the time and the kidnapping and murder was carried out by the RAF's ruthless second wave.

dsquared

At the end of the day, "shoot to kill" is a meaningless term because any time you shoot someone, you are aware that you might kill them. Similarly, anyone who supports any sort of revolutionary movement is presumably aware that revolutions are violent and people die, including people who don't really, in any metaphysical sense, deserve to.

So given that, I think we can judge revoutionaries on a scale, depending on whether their advocacy of revolutionary violence is

a) calibrated to the minimum necessary, only to be used in contexts of either dire necessity, or a credible plan to create a better society forever.

b) just basically about going round shooting people because they like it.

I am not sure that much is gained by trying to pretend that Jean Paul Sartre and Andreas Baader were at or near the same point of this scale.

Chris Williams

Also worth noting - Sartre lived through the Vel d'Hiv, the Liberation, De Gaulle's putsch, and the Paris massacre of 1961. I suspect that all this had a bigger impact on him than the abstract form of liberal democracy: it might even have had a bigger impact than his Stalinism.

ajay

I am not sure that much is gained by trying to pretend that Jean Paul Sartre and Andreas Baader were at or near the same point of this scale.

There's a lot of clear space between them - Baader, at least, didn't AFAIK think that Stalin's purges in the 1930s were a good idea. Sartre did. He actually wrote at one point that Khrushchev was worse than Stalin. I'm not sure that his apparently honest belief that Stalin was killing all those people in a good cause is much of a mitigation, really. I grant you that Sartre had a keen appreciation of the value of his own skin and therefore managed to avoid engaging in any actual killing.

Similarly, anyone who supports any sort of revolutionary movement is presumably aware that revolutions are violent and people die, including people who don't really, in any metaphysical sense, deserve to.

This right here is pretty mealy-mouthed, given that we're talking not about some unlucky passer-by catching a stray bullet during the storming of the Securitate headquarters, but about the deliberate and targeted murder of innocent people.

Phil

I grant you that Sartre had a keen appreciation of the value of his own skin and therefore managed to avoid engaging in any actual killing.

Yep, say what you like about Peter Sutcliffe, at least he was a man with the courage of his convictions.

I'll come back when you're feeling calmer.

Igor Belanov

Seems a bit daft criticising Sartre for cowardice when he fought and was captured in war. I also expect a full list and reprimand for all philosophers, writers, theorists and political scientists who have ever supported wars, revolutions, counter-revolutions or duelling.

Stephen

Feel obliged to point out that Sutcliffe was killing women, not prostitutes. That most, by no means all, of his victims were working as prostitutes is because they were easier targets.

dsquared

I'm not sure that his apparently honest belief that Stalin was killing all those people in a good cause is much of a mitigation, really.

You are Oliver Kamm and I claim "The Times" newspaper's five pounds.

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