I haven't blogged in the last month because I've been reworking my paper, "The Responsibility to Save Bodies: Camus and Global Activism" (link taken down, if you're interested in the paper, please contact me directly) for a conference in October. I'm happy with the revision though I think the paper needs one more round of serious editing before I'm willing to let it go out to journals for review.
The short version of the argument is that, after World War II, Albert Camus starts thinking about what kind of activism could effect real change. He ends up arguing for a model of activism that looks surprisingly similar to the world of nongovernmental organizations and global activism that we know today. His argument that this activism should work to "save bodies" is a helpful way to think about the ethical principles that can ground the practices of nongovernmental actors today.
After presenting the first version of the paper last year, I wrote across the front of the draft: "Poverty Conscience Injustice." The paper needed to bring forward the practical ethical connections between Camus's thinking and contemporary activism. I hope this version makes clearer that "saving bodies" is more than just preserving lives; it is also a matter of "health"—as Rieux, Camus's narrator in The Plague, puts it. I'm increasingly convinced that when we as a global society think about justice we need to think more precisely about it in terms of health. Health is a measure of physical well-being, a necessary precondition for so much that we value in life. I'd go so far as to say that health is a measure of liberty, if by liberty we mean the capability to use the rights we are all born with. Global justice, if it is to mean anything, must oppose that which deprives us of health. Paul Farmer, one of the founders of Partners in Health, said, "Inequality and poverty get in the body a number of ways." Our health, and therefore our liberty, is seriously compromised by inequality and poverty. The struggle to save bodies—to restore health—is also the struggle against inequality and poverty