Stone Washington
The plague of globalism
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By Stone Washington
September 3, 2019


"There are plagues, and there are victims, and it's the duty of good men not to join forces with the plagues."

~Albert Camus, The Plague

Background to The Plague

Albert Camus' telling novel, The Plague (1947) contains many symbolic connections to the catastrophic, bleak World War II era in which it was written. Written between 1944 and 1947, Camus conceived of The Plague while battling against the Nazis as part of the French Resistance – seeking to emphasize the importance of solidarity of humans committed to fighting the "absurdity" of human alienation/isolation in an increasingly apathetic world. The setting of the novel takes place during a 10-month period in the 1940's in Oran, a port city on the Algerian coast of northwest Africa, a French possession at the time.

Part 1

The lives of citizens in the Algerian town of Oran are humdrum and predicable. In an unspecified time during the 1940s, the people of Oran give little care to the meaning of life. They have no reason to suspect that the incidents which occur in the spring are a warning for a grave series of events to follow. This work chronicles the catastrophic fallout of "the plague."

On the morning of April 16, after Dr. Bernard Rieux leaves his office, he discovers a dead rat in the landing. He reports this to the concierge, Monsieur Michel, who is outraged by the suggestion that there might be a rat dwelling in his building. Rieux discovers another rat the next day in the hallway, which squeals, coughs up blood and falls dead at the scene. The next day, Rieux discovers that his wife has tuberculosis and places her on a train for a sanatorium, feeling guilty that he did not take good enough care of her. People grow uneasy about the increasing number of dead rats popping up all over town and city leaders order the sanitary department to incinerate the rats daily. Nearly 8,000 dead rats are collected in a single day, causing great panic among the populace, only for their worries to be calmed when the number significantly drops the day after. That day, Riuex spots concierge Michel walking around sluggishly with feverish eyes.

Later, Riuex receives a call from Joseph Grand, asking him to check on a neighbor, M. Cottard who reportedly attempted to hang himself. But when Riuex arrives, Cottard admits to feeling better and desires to be left in peace – upset that the incident will be reported to police. After leaving, Riuex checks on M. Michel, who is burning up with a temperature of 103, vomiting a pinkish bile. While concierge's health appears to improve by the next morning, he is discovered to be dead by early afternoon. Jean Tarrou, a mysterious visitor to Oran, arrives in town shortly before the rats begin to die and records events and details about the city which most historians would overlook. Riuex is visited by an old colleague, Dr. Castel, who makes known that the disease affecting the city is plague. Castel muses that plagues, like wars, always take people by surprise and finds fault in the way they think of themselves as being free from life's evils. Riuex contends that no one will ever be truly free so long as there are plagues. He prepares to confront the plague realistically and prepares for whatever battle looms.

Joseph Grand working in the city's statistical department informs Rieux that the death toll from the new "fever" rises to 11 in 48 hours. Rieux convinces the city to create a health committee and they agree to call the epidemic a plague. Since Oran lacks serum, the inhabitants are forced to wait for more to arrive from Paris. Riuex calls the Prefect of police and complains about how the current regulations are insufficient to prevent further spread of the disease. The Prefect refuses to do anything more than ask the central colonial administration for orders. When serum finally arrives to Oran it is followed by the news that the emergency stock has been depleted. After a few days, the Prefect then receives an order via telegram from his superiors to close down the city and declare a state of plague emergency.


Part 2

Now that the town is closed, every citizen becomes concerned with the plague and must adapt to the new living conditions. People are separated from loved ones and forbidden from sending love letters so as not to spread infection. This self-imposed "exile" forces the citizens to cope with the present, since they are cut off from the past and have no way of predicting what the future holds. Food, electricity and gas are rationed, and people pass the time at movie theaters and bars. One day, Riuex is encountered by Grand who reveals that his wife has become dissatisfied with their marriage and runs off with another man. A big-time reporter from Paris, Raymond Rambert, interviews Rieux about living in a town with a predominately Arab population. He asks Rieux for a medical certificate, confirming that he was in good condition so he could visit his wife, but is rejected by the doctor on the premise that Rambert could become infected after leaving the hospital. When Rambert accuses the doctor of living in a world of abstractions and failing to understand the language of the heart – love. Rieux demurrers from admitting that he is also restrained from visiting his wife. Rieux simply responds by saying that "abstractions" such as the plague must be handled.

Father Panaloux preaches a dramatic sermon to a packed congregation in Oran, arguing that the city's inhabitants deserve the disease that has stricken them. He urges them to abandon their sinfulness through confession and repentance, and seek after the promise of eternal life. Panaloux believes the town's people are suffering the plague as punishment for an unknown crime committed. A second but less effective batch of the serum soon arrives from Paris, while the plague metastasizes from the bubonic form (type that forms bubbles and inflames glands) to a type that affects the lungs. Jean Tarrou, a visitor who arrived to Oran shortly before the rats began dying, speaks to Rieux about making civilians move patients and corpses since the hospitals are understaffed. As Tarrou draws up a plan for voluntary groups to give aid, the topic of religion arises and both men admit to not believing in God. When Rieux points out that if Tarrou joins the diseased volunteers he will only have a 1 in 3 chance of survival, Tarrou admits that he is guided by a code of morals and accepts the risks.

The narrator injects his own personal idea into the narrative, arguing that the only way to combat life's absurdity such as the plague is for people to band together and face down the enemy as one united group. He gives credit to the champion of "quiet courage," Grand, who motivates the sanitary groups into action. While Rambert disagrees with them in their struggle against the plague, he soon has a change of heart upon learning that Rieux is also separated from his wife. This inspires him to inquire about working with the sanitary groups until he discovers a way out of town.

Part 3

The plague has caused so many deaths in the city that streetcars constantly heap bodies of the deceased to large pits, where they are dumped and covered with lime. The townsfolk now accept things as they come as opposed to reacting to the litany of tragedy and suffering.


Part 4

Rambert is placed in charge of quarantine. When Rieux learns of his wife's condition worsening, he confesses his worries to Grand, but realizes that he must harden his heart from sentimentality in order to be effective as a doctor. As the moment arises for Rambert to escape, he ultimately decides to continue working with Rieux and Tarrou. When a boy is witnessed dying from the plague after fighting to survive, Rev. Paneloux reminds those in attendance to love even the things which one cannot understand. Paneloux proclaims that Christians must accept whatever happens in life since this is part of God's will. The priest later becomes ill and is taken to the hospital after refusing to have a doctor called. He willingly submits to treatment, but later dies while gazing at a crucifix that he had with him; the specific cause of death being unknown. Later in a private talk as friends, Tarrou speaks about his childhood, watching his father as a prosecutor. He was horrified to witness his father's eloquent speech be used to put convicted criminals to death. He came to the realization that all of society was built around the death penalty as a deterrent to keep society in check. He developed an anti-establishment philosophy to fight against murder sentencing. But Tarrou eventually came to the understanding that those fighting to build a new world could inadvertently cause death themselves. He believes that the plague is inherently inside of everyone, but the most righteous person is one who has the utmost vigilance and infects as few people as possible. When discussing whether an atheist can be considered a saint, Riuex interjects by saying that what interests him is not heroism or sainthood, but only being human. Later the two go swimming as an affirmation of their life and good health. Elsewhere, Grand contracts the plague and begs Riuex to throw his book manuscript into the fire, but shocks doctors when he surprisingly recovers from the disease. Grand vows to make a new start on his novel, as the citizens of Oran start life anew as the mortality rate declines as live rats reappear in the city unmolested by the plague.

Part 5

The Prefect announces that the city gates will remain closed for only two more weeks as prices return to normal and restrictions are eased. A few days before the opening of the gates, Tarrou falls ill to the plague and vows to put up a fight against it. When Tarrou eventually succumbs to the disease, Riuex concludes that all one can do to win against the plague is through knowledge and memories of good times. Riuex is also saddened to receive a telegram the next day indicating that his wife has passed away. When the gates finally open, many families are reunited, including Rambert and his wife. The narrator of the novel reveals himself to be Dr. Riuex and concludes the story by recording the agonies caused by the plague in his journal. He believes that joy will always be endangered, and that the plague will never fully disappear. "For the bane and enlightening" of human beings, it will return again.

The Globalist Plague of Today

The symbol of absurdity through the plague in the novel is representative of the absurdity in life; since the plague can strike in Oran, its unpredictable trajectory can take it anywhere in the world at any time. The people of Oran struggle against a force of ruthless indifference, forced to watch countless friends and family perish from the relentless disease. The systemic epidemic deprives so many in Oran from a foreseeable future of peace and happiness, filling their lives instead with uncertainty and tragedy. The political connotations of the plague were meant to represent the Nazis occupying France during World War II, reaping a cloud of fear, death and suffering that choked out many of the freedoms once enjoyed by the French people, including Camus. The epidemic symbolizes the totalitarian regimes that Camus deeply despised existing alongside Nazism, such as Fascism, Communism and the emergent Globalist movement. The modern concept of Globalism arose during the post-war debates of the 1940s in the United States, having taken its earliest roots in the Progressive policies of President Woodrow Wilson through failed entities like the League of Nations (1919), a Globalist entity and forerunner of the United Nations (1945).


Globalism is a New World Order (NWO) political ideal with the desire to interconnect all world powers and regimes into One World Government body of unified states. Many proponents of Globalism, such as Hitler and Mao Zedong, envisioned a perfect utopia where they stand as the rulers of a unified Euro-Asian continent that exercised control over the powerless masses of the world. While Globalism promises a mutual understanding of peace and interconnectedness among men, it is merely a fantastical framework of governance that strips every nation involved of its individual identity, power status, and freedoms. In its place exists a restrictive system of interdependence on one international monopoly governing the inherent interests and standards of every subservient nation under its thumb.

Examples of the plague for modern day can be seen in the 45th G-7 summit, recently hosted in Biarritz France. As Oran was under the possession of France, which was under the possession of the restrictive tyranny of Nazi Germany and their puppet Vichy government, France today is under the restraints of Globalist regime known as the European Union (EU). France's President Emmanuel Macron is a self-proclaimed Globalist and Social Democrat, having been a Rothschild banker and a member of the left-leaning Socialist Party of France for over a decade. Macron is a major proponent of the EU's vision, fighting hard to keep France within the EU's sphere of globalization and proudly embracing an unpopular European Union. Macron has also preached open-door tolerance toward undocumented refugees, mostly Syrian Muslims, and has overseen a major rise in Islamic terror related stabbings and shootings in 2017 and 2018.

This extremely reckless open-door policy is reminiscent of Oran, which allowed many mysterious and undocumented people (many of whom carried the plague) to roam into the French owned province, prior to the city's eventual lockdown. Macron's singular embrace of Globalism puts him in direct odds with many French citizens, including the rising Yellow Vest Movement, launched in October 2018. The movement is in direct protest of United Nation-sponsored immigration from Africa and the Middle East, rising prices of gas, austerity measures, disproportionately harsh taxes on middle class workers, and increasingly unaffordable housing prices. Yellow vest members have called for the resignations of Emmanuel Macron and Second Phillipe Government, citing the above injustices as justification.


The Yellow vest protests are symbolic of Camus's call for people rise up and protest against the tyranny of the absurd and the plague, as representative of totalitarian regimes like Nazism and Communism, Globalism and the New World Order or One World Government. Riuex represents the disillusioned atheist during the bleak period of the plague (as in WW II), who slowly begins to combat the absurdities of the plague and alongside Tarrou and Grand, galvanizes many in Oran to assist in sanitary efforts. While Riuex is morally confused due to not being a believer in God, he at least embraces the unity and solidarity of man against the oppressive ravages of the plague. This corollary is similar to how so many factions in France, India, Australia, England (via Brexit) and other nations have embraced a Nationalist uprising to curtail the repressive chains of Globalism placed onto Europe by the EU, World Bank, WTO and other international entities.

In the end, the plague is quarantined and cleansed, just as Nazism and other totalitarian forces were quashed during Camus's time. Now only time will tell if the chains of Globalism existing today will inevitably fall and the dark plague-like cloud hanging over France and other European nations, finally be uplifted.


*N.B: This essay is based in part on a synopsis of Albert Camus' historic work, The Plague, contained in, Dr. W. John Campbell, Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics (Fall River, 2000), pp. 636-644.

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a JM student at Emory University School of Law and a recent graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Minor in Political Science. Stone is the website administrator for Ellis Washington Report and a contributing writer. He recently completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and a former intern/Editor-in-chief for Decipher Magazine. Many of Stone's articles can also be found at EllisWashingtonReport.com, which offer a critical analysis on prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Some of Stone's most popular articles include: 1915-2015-100th Anniversary of Booker T. Washington, Atlas Shrugged, America Slouched-The Galt/Trump Revolution, and Justice Clarence Thomas, Generation Z, and Me. Stone also wrote for his school newspaper, the Tiger Town Observer, and the higher education news websites: Campus Reform, The College Fix, and Red Alert Politics. Friend him on his Facebook page, also Twitter: @StoneWashingto2 and Instagram. Contact Stone at his email: Stonebone20@att.net.

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