Camus on the Accountability of Leaders | Harper's Magazine

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Camus on the Accountability of Leaders

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Mon admiration pour mes héros, Kaliayev et Dora, est entière. J’ai seulement voulu montrer que l’action elle-même avait des limites. Il n’est de bonne et de juste action que celle qui reconnaît ces limites et qui, s’il lui faut les franchir, accept au moins la mort. Notre monde nous montre aujourd’hui une face répugnante, justement parce qu’il est fabriqué des hommes qui s’accordent le droit de franchir ces limites, et d’abord de tuer les autres, sans mourir eux-mêmes. C’est ainsi que la justice aujourd’hui sert d’alibi, partout dans le monde, aux assassins de toute justice.

My admiration for my heroes, Kaliayev and Dora, is complete. I just wanted to demonstrate that action itself has limits. There is no good and just action but that which knows those limits and, if it must cross beyond them, does at least accept death. Today our world shows us a repugnant face, simply because it is made by men who accord themselves the right to transgress these limits, including the right to kill others, without dying themselves. This is how law enforcement today provides cover throughout the world to the assassins of real justice.

Albert Camus, “Préface à l’édition américaine du théâtre,” in: Théâtre récits nouvelles p. 1733 (R. Quilliot ed. 1962)(S.H. transl.)

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