FBI Spied On Sartre And Camus In Effort To Unravel Subversive Conspiracy Behind Existentialism

sartre_jpThe New York Times reports that beginning in 1945, the FBI began spying on the French philosophers, fearing that their ideas on being and nothingness were part of a plot against the United States:

[Sartre and Camus]’s lectures at Columbia University were well attended by students and faculty members — and by agents from J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I.

Yet Sartre, on his visit, was actually invited to the Pentagon; Camus, in contrast, “was stopped at immigration…Hoover sent out a ‘stop letter’ to all U.S. customs agents saying this man should be detained,” Mr. Martin said. Eventually, Camus was allowed to proceed to New York, where his novel “L’Étranger” (“The Stranger”) had just been published in English.

“Hoover thought there must be some kind of conspiracy between communists, blacks, poets and French philosophers. He was hoping for some kind of evidence of conspiracy,” he said.

The F.B.I. was baffled by Sartre. “These agents were trying to work out what the hell existentialism was all about,” said Mr. Martin, adding that “20 years later there’s a note in Sartre’s file saying ‘I can’t work out if he’s pro-Communist or anti-Communist.’ They were still baffled!”

“Camus had been a member of the French Communist party, but the F.B.I. didn’t seem to know that,” said Mr. Martin. “The thing that disturbed them was that he was a member of the resistance.”

35 Comments on "FBI Spied On Sartre And Camus In Effort To Unravel Subversive Conspiracy Behind Existentialism"

  1. Chaos_Dynamics | Dec 3, 2013 at 9:13 am |

    Consciousness will always be in the cross-hairs of capitalistic consumerism as it is undefinable, uncontainable, unmeasurable, and thereby uncontrollable.

    That’s a real pisser to power.

    • Michael Jacobs | Dec 3, 2013 at 9:35 am |

      And what’s worst: profoundly unprofitable.

      • Clarence Doskocil | Dec 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |

        Give it time… they’ll be suing us for our thoughts. Copyright infringement.

        • That does nothing to the actual consciousness though. The consciousness remains untouched.

      • Simon Valentine | Dec 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

        you’ve got one thing rite. they’re all about confiscating rites they can neither attain nor maintain, and they haven’t the rite to do so.

        otherwise, the thief world contends with your statement, like as if they were a cyst or cancer, but more-so nothing so ill-libel. tacit de facto collusion. a sphere of topological influence is a plane parallel to another and another’s … whether knowledge of cells or a superposition of the same as consciousness.

      • Are you asserting that consciousness can’t be influenced?

        • Michael Jacobs | Dec 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

          Like all energy, consciousness listens to the law of hierarchy. This means that it could only influenced by a higher dimension or authority. Do you know something higher up the scale than consciousness?

          • gustave courbet | Dec 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

            As scary as the prospect is, there are people diligently working on unraveling the physical foundations of consciousness in order to surveil and control it. Check out the essay titled “The Mind has no Firewall,” originally published by the US Army War College.

          • Well once they find that the entire universe is made up of the same consciousness, they’ll have hit a dead end, imo. Perhaps I’m over optimistic, but I don’t think so honestly.

          • I don’t believe there’s a law of hierarchy. An iron rod influenced Phineas Gage’s consciousness.

        • I’m not sure it’s consciousness that can be altered or influenced. I tend to think it’s this human vehicle and its sensory input being manipulated. It’s people identifying so much with their human form that allows this stuff to work. Granted, there’s obviously influence in terms of information taken in (thereby influencing thought patterns), so it’s hard to say what exactly is being effected by it all. Now that I’ve mouth vomited to this point, I’d guess that information CAN alter consciousness in that it will adjust your thought patterns (as well as sensory information for that matter), but I do not think it alters the core being below all the rubble of the conscious and subconscious mind. Super fascinating thing to ponder.

      • The people selling the chemicals that alter consciousness are likely to earn a profit.

      • Jin The Ninja | Dec 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm |

        it can be imprisoned and enslaved.
        capitalism, consumerism, fundamentalism, nationalism, centralisation. monarchs, celebs, corporations, etc etc etc.

        why do you think those paradigms exist?
        mind control works best with violence at the periphery. subjugation of the masses is most effective- when there is a percieved ‘choice’- all part of the con. you reserve violence for the populations already marginal. you market shiny, new, soon-to-be-obsolete things to everyone else (elections included).

        • Applying violence within the first 6 years of life is also very effective. Oppression can be built into the basic architecture of the developing brain.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

            totally agree. the conflicting methods of discipline, the cultural ‘confusion’ re: child rearing in general all are in place to control, dominate and oppress. ‘well-adjusted’ is doublespeak for colonisation of the self.

          • Calypso_1 | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:29 am |

            That and the entire structure of most early education as a string of command associations as opposed to supported skill & information acquisition.

        • Rhoid Rager | Dec 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          Yet despite all of that colonisation, resistance is always ubiquitously found. Individuals may make choices based on the context of their cultural and physical development, but that does not dampen the en masse push towards human freedom. There’s a reason that governance requires much, much more energy than freedom.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

            i totally agree (again).
            i’ve always felt in the context of colonisation, there is a radical implication of resistance.

          • Rhoid Rager | Dec 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm |

            Me too. I wrote a paper entitled Thermodynamics and Human Activity. I wouldn’t mind hearing your feedback on it, if you have the time. It’s available on academiaedu under my profile–Adam Goodwin

    • What makes you think consciousness can’t be controlled?

      • Rhoid Rager | Dec 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm |

        channelled? like flowing water? Also incompressible like water? But always altering its environs to suit its own flow? let’s run with that analogy, shall we?

        • Flowing water can also be dammed up, and polluted.

          • Consciousness doesn’t have the physical properties of water. You can’t just dam up a person’s consciousness. You can alter the vehicle through which they experience it (brain/body). But I’m not sure your comment properly extends off the same analogy.

          • Calypso_1 | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:34 am |

            “You can’t just dam up a person’s consciousness”

            …..induced coma

          • Again, that’s the vehicle being altered, not the consciousness. There are actually many cases of people in a coma who have heard everything that was going on while ‘under’. People in surgeries who have stayed awake while ‘under’. Astral projection, people leaving their physical bodies and feeling physical effects upon return (generally a sharp feeling in the chest for a few moments), staying conscious the entire time, while their bodies go to ‘sleep’. Consciousness is intertwined with it somehow, but there’s no reason to believe it can be altered physically, or via altering the brain/body. It seems to be a metaphysical thing, by all accounts.

            Not to mention – have you ever been in a coma? How would you know the status of your consciousness without going through it yourself? Would you even remember?

            There’s being cautiously skeptical, and then there’s being stubborn.

          • Calypso_1 | Dec 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

            this will fundamentally come down to a mind-body argument.
            If you adopt the position that consciousness, though a phenomenon in itself, does not exist outside of the form and vessel it takes even if possible for consciousness to become self encapsulating, independent of material structure, it would still be defined in reference to its own implicit order.

            the current theories for anesthesia work all the way down to a quantum level and are quite intertwined with cutting edge ideas on the generation of consciousness itself. I have worked with induction of coma & high level sedation for neuro patients.
            ‘Coma’ is simply a scale of staging for level of consciousness. That someone can have an experience while in a coma is only a matter of degree of unconsciousness. While wide awake you have a Glasgow Coma scale of 15. While asleep your around an 8. That the while even deeper ratings still have potential experiences is not disputed, its just that they are not elicited responses or recordable.

            I am cautiously skeptical….about the evidence for and nature of extracorporeal consciousness. My significant experience with such states causes me to stubbornly hold onto them as representative of some wondrous
            and vital reality of which I hope becomes more understood and accessible. However, nothing of such experiences makes me assume that they invalidate other modes of knowledge and perception or should be given special credence over more mundane pathways.

  2. Rhoid Rager | Dec 3, 2013 at 10:43 am |

    All that time wasted….if the FBI really wanted to learn about existentialism, all they had to do was look in a mirror…

  3. BuzzCoastin | Dec 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |

    Uncle Homeland & his spy pigs
    are conspiacy theory nuts

  4. It’s as if these two men had ignored the binary factional conflict that existed in Hoover’s mind and formed their own ideas!

  5. Simon Valentine | Dec 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

    your empire is a jealous empire, and wrathful, blah blah blah lie lie lie.

    tacit de facto collusion of anything from a pond to the entire universe proves greedy bitches wrong. law is a murderous slave-trading rebel hell-bent on self-destruction and feeding the fires of authority. law ought be dealt death.

    think about exactly how applicable “tacit de facto [sic]” is to anything, everything…

  6. Jin The Ninja | Dec 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |

    if ‘those that can’t ‘do’ teach’
    then surely
    those that can’t think- police.

  7. rhetorics_killer | Dec 6, 2013 at 1:29 am |

    An old deep-rooted savoir-faire in the spying-business, from fbi to nsa, 1930s’-2010s’. I was astonished as a French how while crossing America I encountered several people complaining for being heavily censored in their way of thinking. It was full cold war-reaganic time and so every person thinking a bit too far left from the Democrats were highly suspicious of being soviet-friendly. These were educated people, all of them very careful to hold thoughts in order to preserve their jobs and sociality. (Many were teachers or college-profs.) Having recently found on the wikipedia that, contrary to Americans who enjoy a ‘fully functional democratic-system’, my country has been classified a ‘flawed democracy’, I was wondering whether I could have a different understanding of the word: ‘freedom of thinking’, for example, and whether this very feature was or not a criteria in the American-biased wikipedia (which I may consider grossly a representant of the average American minded opinion). In France where the system is flawed, no doubt, in the same proportions as the US democracy is flawed by its patriot act, we never experience such self-censorship in people’s minds. Every fascist pig can utter his xenophobic stance, as long as he does not go openly racist; every red leftist can devise his plans for revolution, as long as he does not enforce them he can say and do what he wants This to say that we are never aware enough of what kind of strengths do control us, and freedom is an extensive notion: what we put behnd the word does or does not the job.

  8. Simon Valentine | Jul 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    where have i seen this before

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