The early 1970s were a crucial period in the political and intellectual climate of France. The newspaper Liberation was founded in the wake of the protest movements of 1968, and the country was gripped by industrial, political and civil unrest on a huge scale. Behind all this were deep debates about the nature and justification of revolt, class conflict and consciousness, and the nature of what it meant to be free.
It is Right to Rebel, available in English for the first time with a new Preface by Philippe Gavi, is a fascinating discussion between three thinkers about this extraordinary period. The book comprises extensive conversations between the philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre, journalist and co-founder of Liberation Philippe Gavi, and political radical and Maoist Pierre Victor, all conducted between 1972 and 1974. In these conversations Sartre works out his relation between socialism and freedom, providing fascinating background to his tortured relationship with the French Communist Party. Together with his interlocutors they explore and debate what should be the basis of ethics, the nature of oppression and racism, including immigration, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Chilean military coup in 1973 and more. A recurring theme is their exploration of two major questions: what should ethics be based on, and what makes for a revolutionary?
It is Right to Rebel is a fascinating insight into the philosophical and political background to Sartre's thought as well as the two lesser-known figures of Gavi and Victor, who play political foil to Sartre's measured philosophical stance. It is a fascinating, rich new resource for anyone studying Sartre, political theory, and French politics and political history.