He is best known for his 1955 book The Opium of the Intellectuals, the title of which inverts Karl Marx's claim that religion was the opium of the people – Aron argues that in post-war France, Marxism was the opium of the intellectuals. In the book, Aron chastised French intellectuals for what he described as their harsh criticism of capitalism and democracy and their simultaneous defense of Marxist oppression, atrocities, and intolerance. Critic Roger Kimball suggests that Opium is "a seminal book of the twentieth century." Aron is also known for his lifelong friendship, sometimes fractious, with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
Aron wrote extensively on a wide range of other topics. Citing the breadth and quality of Aron's writings, historian James R. Garland suggests, "Though he may be little known in America, Raymond Aron arguably stood as the preeminent example of French intellectualism for much of the twentieth century."
Raymond Aron (1966) by Erling Mandelmann
|Born||14 March 1905|
|Died||17 October 1983 (aged 78)|
|Education||École Normale Supérieure, University of Paris (Dr ès l)|
|Marxism as the opium of intellectuals|
Born in Paris, the son of a secular Jewish lawyer, Aron studied at the École Normale Supérieure, where he met Jean-Paul Sartre, who became his friend and lifelong intellectual opponent. He was a rational humanist, and a leader among those who did not embrace existentialism. Aron took first place in the agrégation of philosophy in 1928, the year Sartre failed the same exam. In 1930, he received a doctorate in the philosophy of history from the École Normale Supérieure.
He had been teaching social philosophy at the University of Toulouse for only a few weeks when World War II began; he joined the Armée de l'Air. When France was defeated, he left for London to join the Free French forces, editing the newspaper, France Libre (Free France).
When the war ended Aron returned to Paris to teach sociology at the École Nationale d'Administration and Sciences Po. From 1955 to 1968, he taught at the Sorbonne, and after 1970 at the Collège de France. In 1953, he befriended the young American philosopher Allan Bloom, who was teaching at the Sorbonne.
Aron died of a heart attack in Paris on 17 October 1983.
In Berlin, Aron witnessed the rise to power of the Nazi Party, and developed an aversion to all totalitarian systems. In 1938 he participated in the Colloque Walter Lippmann in Paris. However, by the 1950s he had grown very critical of the Austrian School and described their obsession with private property as an "inverted Marxism." Aron always promoted an "immoderately moderate" form of liberalism which accepted a mixed economy as the normal economic model of the age.
Aron is the author of books on Karl Marx and on Carl von Clausewitz. In Peace and War he set out a theory of international relations. He argues that Max Weber's claim that the State has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force does not apply to the relationship between States.
In the field of international relations, in the 1950s, Aron hypothesized that despite the advent of nuclear weapons, nations would still require conventional military forces. The usefulness of such forces would be made necessary by what he called a "nuclear taboo."
A prolific author, he "wrote several thousand editorials and several hundred academic articles, essays, and comments, as well as about forty books", which include:
At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails is a 2016 book written by Sarah Bakewell that covers the philosophy and history of the 20th century movement existentialism. The book provides a very accurate account of the modern day existentialists who came into their own before and during the second world war. The book discusses the ideas of the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl, and how his teaching influenced the rise of existentialism through the likes of Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, who are the main protagonists of the book. In fact, the beginning itself piques the interest of the reader in a unique manner, whereby Sartre's close friend and fellow philosopher Raymond Aron startles him when they are sitting in a cafe, by pointing to the glass in front of him and stating, "You can make a philosophy out of this cocktail."Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron
The Centre de recherche politiques Raymond Aron is the research center of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales that specializes in political philosophy.
Created by François Furet in 1982, the center's goal was to give a new basis to the study of politics in France and moving away from the dominant marxist paradigm. Its members have been at the forefront of the rediscovery of the French liberal tradition and the reintroduction of classical philosophy in contemporary political studies.
The center's seminars concentrate on a multidisciplinary approach (Philosophy, History, Sociology and Law).
The CRPRA holds seminars solely to Master and Doctorate students.Claude Lefort
Claude Lefort (; French: [ləfɔʁ]; 21 April 1924 – 3 October 2010) was a French philosopher and activist.
He was politically active by 1942 under the influence of his tutor, the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty (whose posthumous publications Lefort later edited). By 1943 he was organising a faction of the Trotskyist Parti Communiste Internationaliste at the Lycée Henri-IV in Paris.
Lefort was impressed by Cornelius Castoriadis when he first met him. From 1946 he collaborated with him in the Chaulieu–Montal Tendency, so called from their pseudonyms Pierre Chaulieu (Castoriadis) and Claude Montal (Lefort). They published On the Regime and Against the Defence of the USSR, a critique of both the Soviet Union and its Trotskyist supporters. They suggested that the USSR was dominated by a social layer of bureaucrats, and that it consisted of a new kind of society as aggressive as Western European societies. By 1948, having tried to persuade other Trotskyists of their viewpoint, they broke away with about a dozen others and founded the libertarian socialist group Socialisme ou Barbarie. Lefort's text L'Expérience prolétarienne was important in shifting the group's focus towards forms of self-organisation.
For a time Lefort wrote for both the journal Socialisme ou Barbarie and for Les Temps Modernes. His involvement in the latter journal ended after a published debate during 1952–4 over Jean-Paul Sartre's article The Communists and Peace. Lefort was for a long time uncomfortable with Socialisme ou Barbarie's "organisationalist" tendencies. In 1958 he, Henri Simon and others left Socialisme ou Barbarie and formed the group Informations et Liaison Ouvrières (Workers' Information and Liaison).
In his academic career, Lefort taught at the University of São Paulo, at the Sorbonne and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), being affiliated to the Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron. He has written on the early political writers Niccolò Machiavelli and Étienne de La Boétie and explored "the Totalitarian enterprise" in its "denial of social division... [and] of the difference between the order of power, the order of law and the order of knowledge".Colloque Walter Lippmann
The Walter Lippmann Colloquium (French: Colloque Walter Lippmann), was a conference of intellectuals organized in Paris in August 1938 by French philosopher Louis Rougier. After interest in classical liberalism had declined in the 1920s and 1930s, the aim was to construct a new liberalism as a rejection of collectivism, socialism and laissez-faire liberalism. At the meeting, the term neoliberalism was coined by Alexander Rüstow referring to the rejection of the (old) laissez-faire liberalism.Combat (newspaper)
Combat was a French newspaper created during the Second World War. It was founded in 1941 as a clandestine newspaper of the Resistance. Following the liberation, the main participants in the publication included Albert Ollivier, Jean Bloch-Michel (1912–1987), and Georges Altschuler (fr). Among leading contributors were Jean-Paul Sartre, André Malraux, Emmanuel Mounier, Raymond Aron and Pierre Herbart (fr). From 1943 to 1947, its editor-in-chief was Albert Camus. Its production was directed by André Bollier until Milice repression led to his death.
In August 1944, Combat took the headquarters of L'Intransigeant, 100 Rue Réaumur (fr) in Paris, while Albert Camus became its editor in chief. The newspaper's production run decreased from 185,000 copies in January 1945 to 150,000 in August of the same year: it wasn't able to rival with others established newspapers (the Communist daily L'Humanité was publishing at the time 500,000 copies). During 1946, Combat was opposed to the "game of the parties" claiming to rebuild France, and thus became closer to Charles de Gaulle without, however, becoming the official voice of his movement.
Loyal to its origins, Combat tried to become the place of expression for those who believed in creating a popular non-Communist Left movement in France. In July 1948 (more than a year after the May 1947 crisis and the expulsion of the Communist Party (ministers) from the government), Victor Fay (de), a Marxist activist, took over Combat 's direction, but he failed to stop the newspaper's evolution towards more popular subjects and less political information.
In 1950, it hosted a debate about the Notre-Dame Affair stimulated by a vehement letter by André Breton in response to the editor Louis Pauwels.Philippe Tesson (fr) became editor in chief from 1960 to 1974. Henri Smadja (fr) had thought Tesson could be a perfect puppet-editor but Smadja's situation, in part because of the Tunisian regime, got worse. In March 1974, Philippe Tesson created Le Quotidien de Paris (1974–1996), which he had conceived as the successor of Combat.
During the May 1968 crisis, Combat supported the student movement although from a Stalinist point of view, through the signatures of the likes of Jacques-Arnaud Penent (fr). On 3 June, it published a falsified version of the Address to All Workers by the Council for Maintaining the Occupations, removing the references to the Situationist International and the attacks against the Stalinists. Henri Smadja committed suicide on 14 July 1974, and Combat definitively ceased to be published the following month.Contrepoints
Contrepoints is a French news website, founded in 2009. The name of the newspaper is a reference to Contrepoint, a now-defunct newspaper launched by French philosopher Raymond Aron.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, Contrepoints is one of the most well-known libertarian websites in France.Contrepoints has been awarded a Templeton Freedom Award by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 2012.Dominique Schnapper
Dominique Schnapper (born 9 November 1934 in Paris) of German descent, was a member of the Constitutional Council of France from 2001 to 2010. She is also a scholar and professor of sociology. Her sociological studies have been largely historical and have ranged from inquiries into minorities and labour to others on citizenship and nations. She has been named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
She is the daughter of the French intellectual Raymond Aron.Ferenc Fejtő
Ferenc Fejtő (French: François Fejtő; August 31, 1909 – June 2, 2008) was a Hungarian-born French journalist and political scientist, specializing in Eastern Europe.
He was born in Nagykanizsa to a well-off Jewish Hungarian family of booksellers and publishers. Following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, several members of his family became Yugoslavian, Italian, Czechoslovak and Romanian citizens.
He studied literature at Pécs and Budapest universities, alongside Slavic, German and Italian students. In 1932, he was condemned to a year in prison for organizing a Marxist study group. In 1934, he enrolled in the Social Democratic Party, where he contributed to the Népszava daily and to the Szocializmus journal. In 1935, together with the poet Attila József and the publicist Pál Ignotus, he founded the anti-fascist and anti-Stalinist literary journal Szép Szó. He published Sartre, Mounier, and Maritain. In 1938, following a sentence of six months in prison for an article criticizing the pro-German stance of the government, he left Hungary for France. During the Second World War, he took part in the French Resistance.
In 1945, François Fejtő headed the press department of the Hungarian embassy in Paris. He resigned his position in protest against the condemnation of his longtime friend László Rajk, and cut all links with Hungary. He returned to his native country only once, for Imre Nagy's national funeral in 1989.
After the war, Fejtő attended the Congrès des intellectuels pour la liberté, alongside Raymond Aron, François Bondy, and David Rousset. The publication in 1952 of his book A History of the People's Democracies (translated in seventeen languages and re-edited several times) earned him suspicion on the part of several intellectual figures close to the French Communist Party.
Between 1944 and 1979 he worked at the Agence France-Presse as a journalist commenting on Eastern European events. He acquired French citizenship in 1955. Between 1972 and 1984, he taught at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris. In 1973, a jury presided over by Raymond Aron granted him the title of docteur ès lettres for his literary output.
François Fejtő devoted most of his journalistic and literary career to the study of Eastern European regimes. In his lifetime, he observed their birth, growth, decline, and fall.
He also contributed to numerous French and non-French journals and newspapers, including Esprit, Arguments, Contre-Point, Commentaire, Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Croix, Il Giornale, La Vanguardia, Magyar Hírlapand The European Journal of International Affairs.
François Fejtő remains one of the great European intellectual figures of the 20th century. Close friends with Nizan, Mounier and Camus, critical interlocutor of Malraux and Sartre, he met with leaders of the Comintern and the Communist movement, talked to the masters of the Kremlin, to Tito, Castro, and Willy Brandt, and both admired and criticized Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand. On his death, Hungary declared a period of national mourning.Kontinent
Kontinent was an émigré dissident journal which focused on the politics of the Soviet Union and its satellites. Founded in 1974 by writer Vladimir Maximov, its first editor-in-chief, it was published in German and Russian and later translated into English. A Norwegian edition, Kontinent Skandinavia, was published from 1979 to 1981.
Its Editorial Board included Raymond Aron, George Bailey, Saul Bellow, Józef Czapski, Robert Conquest, Milovan Djilas, Alexander Galich, Jerzy Giedroyc, Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, Eugène Ionesco, Arthur Koestler, Naum Korzhavin, Mihajlo Mihajlov, Ludek Pachman, Alexander Sakharov, Alexander Schmemann, Zïnaida Schakovskoy, Wolf Siedler, Ignazio Silone, Strannik, and Carl-Gustav Ströhm.
This initial issue featured a debate between Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn regarding Solzhenitsyn's Letter to the Soviet Leaders.Le Débat
Le Débat is a bi-monthly French periodical founded in 1980 by Pierre Nora and Marcel Gauchet. It has been characterised as the "single most influential intellectual periodical" of late-twentieth-century France.The first issue of Le Débat appeared on the day of the funeral of Jean-Paul Sartre. As editor, Pierre Nora announced that the review would exemplify a new, post-partisan, role for French intellectuals: free from commitment to revolutionary politics, they would concentrate on the exercise of 'reflective judgement'. According to Nora, Le Débat sold between 8,000 and 15,000 copies per issue in the 1980s. Past editors include Raymond Aron, Georges Dumézil, François Jacob, Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, François Furet and Jacques Le Goff.List of liberal theorists
Individual contributors to classical liberalism and political liberalism are associated with philosophers of the Enlightenment. Liberalism as a specifically named ideology begins in the late 18th century as a movement towards self-government and away from aristocracy. It included the ideas of self-determination, the primacy of the individual and the nation, as opposed to the state and religion, as being the fundamental units of law, politics and economy.
Since then liberalism has broadened to include a wide range of approaches from Americans Ronald Dworkin, Richard Rorty, John Rawls and Francis Fukuyama as well as the Indian Amartya Sen and the Peruvian Hernando de Soto. Some of these people moved away from liberalism, while others espoused other ideologies before turning to liberalism. There are many different views of what constitutes liberalism, and some liberals would feel that some of the people on this list were not true liberals. It is intended to be suggestive rather than exhaustive. Theorists whose ideas were mainly typical for one country should be listed in that country's section of liberalism worldwide. Generally only thinkers are listed, politicians are only listed when they, beside their active political work, also made substantial contributions to liberal theory.Marcel Gauchet
Marcel Gauchet (French: [ɡoʃɛ]; born 1946) is a French historian, philosopher and sociologist. He is professor emeritus of the Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and head of the periodical Le Débat.
Gauchet is one of France's most prominent contemporary intellectuals. He has written widely on such issues as the political consequences of modern individualism, the relation between religion and democracy, and the dilemmas of globalisation.
To date, only two of Gauchet's books have been translated into English, most notably The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion.
Gauchet was awarded the Prix européen de l'essai, fondation Charles Veillon in 2018Pierre Manent
Pierre Manent (French: [manɑ̃]; born 6 May 1949, Toulouse) is a French political scientist and academic. He teaches political philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in the Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron. Every autumn, he is also a visiting teacher in Boston College at the Department of Political Science.
After graduating from the École Normale Supérieure, he became assistant to Raymond Aron at the Collège de France. He was one of the founders of the quarterly Commentaire and remains a regular contributor.
Manent is a key figure of the contemporary French political philosophy and his work has helped the rediscovery of the French liberal tradition. A eurosceptic and a classical liberal, he has been called by The Weekly Standard "the most profound of the Euroskeptical philosophers".Pierre Rosanvallon
Pierre Rosanvallon (born 1 January 1948, Blois) is a French intellectual and historian, named professor at the Collège de France in 2001. He holds there the chair in modern and contemporary political history. His works are dedicated to the history of democracy, French political history, the role of the state, and the question of social justice in contemporary societies. He is also director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, where he led the Raymond Aron Centre of Political Researches between 1992 and 2005. Rosanvallon was in the 1970s one of the primary theoreticians of workers' self-management in the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) trade union.
He graduated from the Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) management school with a PhD from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. In 1982, he created the Fondation Saint-Simon think-tank, along with François Furet. The Fondation dissolved in December 1999. Rosanvallon is a member of the Scientific Counsels of both the French National Library (since 2002) and the École Normale Supérieure (since 2004) in Paris.
Rosanvallon created in 2002 the "intellectual workshop" La République des Idées, which publishes a review and books.Politique étrangère
Politique étrangère is the oldest French journal dedicated to the study of international relations. Created in 1936 by the French Council on Foreign Relations, this quarterly was taken over and published by the Institut français des relations internationales — French Institute for International Relations — when it was founded in 1979.
Open to world debates, Politique étrangère is the first distributor of French analysis for foreign countries. Politique étrangère is a long-term reference for academics, opinion leaders and members of civil society. It aims at highlighting all the key elements as to foreign affairs and offering deep analyses of today's international context.
Each edition offers at least two dossiers about an event or an aspect of the international debate, as well as several articles deciphering the emerging issues. Politique étrangère also places great interest in the latest French and foreign publications dealing with international relations.
We can mention Raymond Aron, André Beaufre, Jacques Berque, Henry Kissinger, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Massignon or even Jean-Paul Sartre among the authors who wrote articles for Politique étrangère.Prix Sainte-Beuve
The Prix Sainte-Beuve, established in 1946, is a French literary prize awarded each year to a writer in the categories "novels" (or "poetry") and "essays" (or "critics"); it is named after the writer Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. The founding jury included Raymond Aron, Maurice Blanchot, Edmond Buchet, Maurice Nadeau, Jean Paulhan and Raymond Queneau.Rationalist humanism
Rationalist humanism, or rational humanism or rationalistic humanism, is one of the strands of Age of Enlightenment. It had its roots in Renaissance, as a response to Middle Age religious integralism and obscurantism. Rationalist humanism tradition includes Tocqueville and Montesquieu, and in the 19th century, Élie Halévy.Other strands of the Enlightenment included scientific naturalism. In the mid 20th century, rational humanism represented also an alternative for those that did not embrace Sartre's existentialism. In the late 20th century, it has sided against the equiparation of human rights with rights to other animal species.Strategic studies
Security and strategic studies is an interdisciplinary academic field centered on the study of conflict and peace strategies, often devoting special attention to the relationship between international politics, geostrategy, international diplomacy, international economics, and military power. In the scope of the studies are also subjects such as the role of intelligence, diplomacy, and international cooperation for security and defense. The subject is normally taught at the post-graduate academic or professional, usually strategic-political and strategic-military levels.
The academic foundations of the subject began with classic texts initially from the Orient such as Sun Tzu’s Art of War and went on to gain a European focus with Carl von Clausewitz’s On War. Like Clausewitz, many academics in this field reject monocausal theories and hypotheses that reduce the study of conflict to one independent variable and one dependent variable. Already in the late eighteenth century, a colourful mathematician named Dietrich Heinrich von Bülow attempted to establish mathematical formulae for the conduct of war. Carl von Clausewitz rejected Bülow’s approach and his popular claim that warfare could be reduced to positivist, teachable principles of war. Instead of formulae, we find Clausewitz stressing, time and again, that the whole purpose of educating the military commander is not to give him a series of answers for the task he will face (the complexities of which cannot be foreseen), but to educate him about different aspects of what will face him so as to let him evaluate the situation for himself, and develop his own strategy. Strategic thinkers on the whole will search for recurrent patterns, which in themselves cannot predict the characteristics of any individual case even if it doubtless fits a larger category; not all patterns of characteristics will be found in all cases.
In recent times, the major conflicts of the nineteenth century and the two World Wars have spurred strategic thinkers such as Mahan, Corbett, Giulio Douhet, Liddell Hart and, later, André Beaufre. The Cold War with its danger of degenerating into a nuclear war produced an expansion of the discipline, with authors like Bernard Brodie, Michael Howard, Raymond Aron, Lucien Poirier, Lawrence Freedman, Colin Gray, and many others.
The subject is taught in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.
In Nigeria, Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, University of Ibadan, Covenant University, Nigeria. In South Africa, the Faculty of Military Science at the University of Stellenbosch provides a number of courses in strategic studies from the undergraduate to PhD level. The Faculty of Military Science, co-located at the South African Military Academy in Saldanha is also involved in the teaching of the discipline at the South African Defence and War Colleges.
In Europe the subject is taught at the University of St Andrews, the University of Reading, Aberystwyth University, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Exeter, the University of Hull, King's College London, and the University of Leeds (all in the United Kingdom), University of Rome III and Università degli Studi di Milano (both in Italy), the University of Granada (in Spain), the National Defence University (in Finland), the Charles University in Prague, Netherlands Defence College Breda (the Netherlands), and the Université Paris 13 Nord SciencesPo (in France), University College Cork (Ireland), University of Warsaw (Poland).
In the Americas it is taught in Chile, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, United States.
In Brazil it is taught at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil. In Canada it is taught in University of Calgary and the Royal Military College in Canada.
In Chile, it is taught in the National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies, Ministry of Defense.
In the U.S. the subject is taught in many state university systems, the United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Missouri State University, The University of Texas at El Paso, Temple University, the U.S. Army War College, Air University, U.S. Naval War College, Marine Corps War College, and the National Defense University.
In Asia and the Pacific it is also taught in several countries. In Bangladesh it is taught at the national universities, Bangladesh University of Professionals, the National Defense University, and the military academies.
In Australia it is taught in the Australian National University. In New Zealand it is taught at Victoria University of Wellington. In Singapore the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. In Malaysia University of Malaya.
In Pakistan the subject is taught in several universities, but predominantly in Quaid-I-Azam University (QAU), National Defence University (NDU), University of Punjab, and Fatima Jinnah Women's University.In India, Savitribai Phule Pune University and University of Allahabad and National Defence University in Pakistan. Turkish War Academy has also Strategic Research Institute (SAREN) in which the subject is taught at both masters and doctoral levels.The Opium of the Intellectuals
The Opium of the Intellectuals (French: L'Opium des intellectuels) is a book written by Raymond Aron and published in 1955. It was first published in an English translation in 1957.