The Manifesto of the 121: French Intellectuals and Decolonization


“As I learned this morning from my Verso Radical Diary, The Manifesto of the 121 was signed on this date in 1960: ‘The Manifesto of the 121 (Full title: Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie or Declaration on the right of insubordination in the Algerian War) was an open letter signed by 121 intellectuals and published on 6 September 1960 in the magazine Vérité-Liberté [124 more intellectuals signed soon thereafter]. It called on the French government (then headed by the Gaullist Michel Debré) and public opinion to recognise the Algerian War as a legitimate struggle for independence, denouncing the use of torture by the French army, and calling for French conscientious objectors to the conflict to be respected by the authorities. The Declaration was drafted by Dionys Mascolo, Maurice Blanchot and Jean Schuster. It stated that the cause of the Algerians was the cause of all free men, and that the struggle was striking a decisive blow to the cause of colonialism. Although the vast majority of the signatories belonged to the French Left, a few had been close in their past to the French far-right, such as Maurice Blanchot or Robert Scipion (who had been a sympathiser of the Croix-de-Feu). The signatories included figures from a variety of political and cultural movements, such as Marxism, existentialism, and a number of figures associated with the Nouveau Roman and New Wave literary and cinematic trends.’ (Edited from the Wikipedia entry) ‘[The Manifesto] was a document more read about than read since – of the journals in which it was to appear, one was seized, and the other, Sartre’s Les Temps modernes, came out with two blank pages in its place, the result of government censorship. The government didn’t stop at censorship. As a result of the manifesto, they put in place stiff penalties for those calling for insubordination; jobs were lost and careers temporarily shut down.’ David L. Schalk elaborates: ‘The complete document became briefly available in France only in 1961, when it was published in Le droit à l’insoumission, a collection of texts dealing the controversy [i.e., the question of the struggle for Algerian independence and thus opposition to the war in Algeria], edited by François Maspero.’ …”
Religious Left Law
W – Manifesto of the 121
1960 French Support and Opposition (Video)
Jacobin: How Jean-Paul Sartre and Les Temps Modernes Supported Algeria’s Struggle for Freedom
W – Les Temps modernes

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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