Tag: <span>The Soviet Union</span>

Albert Camus Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Camus : Stoic Humanist and World Citizen.

Featured Image: Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

Albert Camus (7 Nov  1913-  4 Jan 1960) would be 108 years old,  had he lived beyond the car crash,  which took his life in 1960 as he and another editor from the Paris publishing house, Gallimard;  were driving too fast from a Christmas vacation in the south of France toward Paris. 

Camus;  who had been the youngest writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957;  had chaired the committee of support for Garry Davis’ world citizen efforts in Paris;  and had contributed his writing skills to the statement;  which Garry Davis and Robert Sarrazac read,  when interrupting a session of the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris in 1948 in aplea for the UN to promote world citizenship.

A month later the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  which many saw as a reply to Garry Davis’ request as the Declaration sets the basis for world law directly of benefit to each individual.

The Stranger.

Albert Camus in 1948;  was still a highly regarded editorial writer for Combat;  which had begun life as a clandestine newspaper in 1941;  when France was partly occupied by the Nazi troops, and half of France was under the control of the anti-democratic regime of Vichy.

Although the Germans occupied Paris;  they allowed publishing, theatre and films to continue if the German censors found nothing too overtly oppositional in them. Thus, Camus’ novel  L’Etranger (The Stranger) was published in 1942 by the leading publisher, Gallimard. 

This short novel is written in a style which owes something to the early style of Hemingway.  L’Etranger is a cry of revolt against man-made standards of absolute morality — a theme he develops more fully in his political-philosophical book on the use of violence L’Homme révolté (1951) translated as The Rebel. (2). As he said in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Stockholm


“the nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments: refusal to lie about what we know and resistance to oppression.”


Citizens of The World.

Albert Camus was born in Algeria;  the son of a French father killed in the First World War;  when he was only one and an illiterate Spanish mother;  who raised him while working as a cleaning woman.  Camus was intellectually stimulated by his father’s brother;  who read books of philosophy and was active in the local Masonic lodge. Camus’ intelligence was spotted by a secondary school teacher;  who helped him get a scholarship to the University of Algiers;  where he studied history and philosophy, writing a master’s thesis comparing the Gnostic ideas of Plotinius and the Christian ideas of St. Augustine.

Camus was faithful to his Mediterranean roots, and his thinking is largely that of the classic Greek and Roman Stoics, the first to call themselves “citizens of the world.”

Camus is the champion of the “now” rather than the “later”. He is critical of Christian thought;  which he interprets as “putting up with the injustice of the now in order to be rewarded in heaven later” along the lines of the satirical song based on a Salvation Army hymn “there will be pie in the sky by and by”.  He was particularly opposed to the “Christian” policy of Franco’s Spanish government. He had been strongly influenced by the struggle of Republican Spain and the Spanish civil war writings of André Malraux. 

The Rebel.

The same refusal to sacrifice the present for a potentially better future;  made him a strong opponent of the Stalinist Soviet Union.  For Albert Camus;  there was no difference between dying in a Soviet camp and dying in a Nazi camp. We should be neither executioners nor victims (the title of one of his most quoted essays).  It is madness to sacrifice human lives today in the pursuit of a utopian future.

Camus is perhaps more memorable as a great journalist and an editorialist than as a novelist. He had put his reputation on the line in defense of Garry Davis;  even being put in jail for a short time for having joined Davis in a street protest in front of a Paris prison;  where Davis was protesting the conviction of a young man;  who had refused military service — a man working to “satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

As Albert Camus expressed his world citizen ethos at the end of The Rebel “The earth remains our first and last love.  Our brothers are breathing under the same sky as we; justice is a living thing. Now is born that strange joy which helps one live and die, and which we shall never again postpone to a later time.”

Garry Davis

Garry Davis with his World Passport (January 9, 1957). By Wim van Rossem / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Albert Camus.The Rebel (New York : Vintage Books, 1956, 306pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.


Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Norman Cousins Portraits of World Citizens.

Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Norman Cousins Picture: Apurva Madia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Citizen Norman Cousins (24 June 1915-30 November 1990); was a pioneer of Track II diplomacy. Track I is official government to government diplomacy among instructed representative of the State.  Track II is a non-official effort;  usually by a non-governmental organization (NGO); or an academic institution.

Therefore; Track II talks are discussions held by non-officials of conflicting parties; in an attempt to clarify outstanding disputes and to explore the options for resolving them in settings;  that are less public or less sensitive than those associated with official negotiations.

“A world that has become a single geographic unit is now groping its way,
however slowly, toward global institutions as the only way
of achieving common safety and common progress.
A new world is waiting to be born.”
Norman Cousins.

Track II Diplomacy.

Track II talks can also be defined by what they are not: neither academic conferences; nor secret diplomacy conducted by government representatives.  At a minimum; Track II talks are aimed at an exchange of views,  perceptions and information between the parties;  to improve each side’s understanding of the other’s positions and policies.

However; Track II talks need not necessarily be linked to concurrent.  Track I negotiations participants in Track II must have some relations with officials in their countries’ decision-making circles; for such talks to be effective.

National Interest.

Track II is necessary as Track I diplomats are mandated to be concerned with “national interest” and are usually trained within such a framework. Yet as Norman Cousins wrote:

“Our world is now an emergent system but that is not the way we perceive it. We and particularly our leaders still see the world in older terms – as a collection of relatively independent and autonomous nation-states – a guiding social framework which has served humanity well for several hundred years. That framework is neither immutable nor adequate. We already live in a community of states, bound through communications and economy to a common destiny. Psychologically and attitudinally, however, we have not begun to come to terms with our new estate…The future is up to us, that we can change it and mould it ti suit the needs of all life on earth. Implicit is the call to us each to recognize and to accept our responsibility and to exert ourselves fully in easing the transition to a humane world order.”

By the mid-1950s; after the death of Stalin, there was a feeling among some in the USA and the USSR that informal talks and cultural exchabges might be possible and useful. Norman Cousins, as the editor of a leading literary and cultural weekly; had a good overview of U.S. culture. He also had international political interests and contacts in both the New York area and in Washington DC. Thus; he was asked to take on the task of organizing meetings among Soviet and U.S. intellectuals, but also to keep the U.S. government informed of the thrust of the discussions.


Stalin Death

A picture from a Georgian Newspaper, depicting the death of Stalin. By Komunist’i Newspaper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thus, in 1960, the Dartmouth Conference, named after the US college; where the first meeting was held; under the leadership of Norman Cousins; was born. (1) As he later said:

” The purpose of the Dartmouth Conference was to identify areas of opportunities for both countries in reducing tensions. The conferences made it possible for both governments to try out certain ideas without penalty.”

Cousins was born and grew up around New York City and was graduated from New York’s Columbia University. After graduation, he became a writer for the New York Post , then a liberal newspaper. In 1940 he joined the journal The Saturday Review of Literature which had its offices in the same building as The Post.

Cousins wrote a much quoted article “Modern Man is Obsolete” on 6 August 1945 as the US military dropped the A.- Bomb on Hiroshima. It was published the next day and became a key text for the “One World or None” ideology which stressed that Atomic bombs had created a new situation which had to be met by a new world framework of a stronger United Nations and the growth of world citizenship. Cousins wrote:

“The new education must be less concerned with sophistication than with compassion. It must recognize the hazards of tribalism. It must teach man the most difficult lesson of all – to look at someone anywhere in the world and be able to see the image of himself – an education for citizenship in the human community.”

In 1953 Cousins published Who Speaks for Man, the theme being that while a president speaks for the citizens of his country and a religious leader speaks for the members of his faith, there was no one who was recognized as speaking for humanity as a whole. This task of “speaking for man” was the role which citizens of the world should carry out.

The early 1950s was a time when there was increasing public criticism of testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere because of the radioactive fallout which could endanger health. This was my first political effort, and I met Norman Cousins at the time. We always stayed in touch, and I welcomed his advice. Although Cousins was a good deal older than I and much better known, he always treated everyone with respect and was a willing listener to what others had to say. He has always represented for me the spirit of world citizenship: rooted and learned in a particular culture and open to the world, its difficulties and its hopes.



Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins Picture: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons



  • 1) For a history of the Drtmouth Conferences See James Voorhees. Dialogue Sustained: The Multilevel Peace Process and the Dartmouth Conferences (Washington DC: S Institute of Peace Press and the Charles Kettering Foundation, 2002).
    See the interview of Norman Cousins in Maureen R. Berman and Joseph E. Johnson (Eds) Unofficial Diplomats ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).
    For other examples of Track II efforts see Oliver R. Richmond and Henry F. Carey. Subcontracting Peace. The Challenges of the NGO Peacebuilding
    (Aldershat UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2005).
    Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi, Zeev Schiff. Track II Diplomacy -Lessons from the Middle East (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2003).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.


Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Nikolai Kondratiev Portraits of World Citizens.

Nikolai Kondratiev: The Long Economic Cycles.

Featured Image: Nikolai Dmitrievich Kondratiev (1892-1938) – Russian Economist.

Nikolai Kondratiev (4 March 1892 – 17 September 1938).

17 September marks the execution of Nikolai Kondratiev (also written as Kondratieff) in 1938 as part of Stalin’s “Great Purge” of those who disagreed with him.  Konratiev held that the 1929 “Great Depression” was a normal part of a long 50 to 60 year cycle and that there would be a return to capitalist investment linked to new technologies and the related need for capital.  Stalin believed that  the depression was a sign of the permanent collapse of the capitalist system which would be replaced by Communism.  Academic debate was not the style of Stalin.  Kondratiev who was already in prison for eight years was shot by a firing squad.


Portrait of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, 1947. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Kondratiev came from a peasant family.  Nevertheless, he was able to enter St. Petersburg  University to study economics where he specialized in agricultural production and agricultural export issues.  A bright student, he was noticed by the leaders of the first post-Czarist government of 1917 and was asked to deal food supplies by the Provisional Government.  He served as Deputy Minister of Supply in the very-short last round of Alexander Kerensky’s government.

The Major Economic Cycles.

After Lenin came to power, Kondratiev focused on this theoretical economic work and in 1925 published his major book The Major Economic Cycles. Through the book, his ideas on economic cycles became well known, and he was invited to speak in different Western European countries and in the United States.  In the United States, he stayed at the home of Pitirim Sorokin at the University of Minnesota.  Sorokin was also interested in cycles – more cultural than economic – but like Kondratiev  believed that cycles were evident by historical analysis.  The two men knew each other from St. Petersburg days, Sorokin having been the secretary of Alexander Kerensky.

Pitirim Sorokin

Pitirim Sorokin By неизв., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

However, Sorokin or Kondratiev or both were watched by the KGB, and on Kondratiev’s return to the Soviet Union, he was removed from his academic post, put in prison for eight years and then executed at the age of 46.

Joseph Schumpeter who taught economics at Harvard University was influenced  by Kondratiev’s work on cycles, but he did not stress his debt to Kondratiev’s thinking. It is only more rentently in the mid-1970s that Immanuel Wallerstein at the State University of New York began to stress Kondratieva’s writing as a contribution to his world-systems analysis.

Joseph Schumpeter

Joseph Schumpeter ekonomialaria. By Image available for free publishing from the Volkswirtschaftliches Institut, Universität Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. Copyrighted free use., CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a final letter to his young daughter, Kondratiev asked that she “not to forget about me”.  We who can carry out our socio-political analysis without the threat of Stalin’s police can also not forget him.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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