Proclamation of the 121


Declaration on the Right to Insubordination in the Algerian War

September 6, 1960


A very significant movement is developing in France, and it is necessary that French and international opinion be better informed about it, as a new turning point in the Algerian War forces us to see, not to forget, the depth of the crisis which began six years ago.


More and more, French people are pursued, imprisoned, condemned, for refusing to participate in this war or for coming to the aid of Algerian combatants. Misrepresented by their adversaries, but also diminished by those who should have the duty to defend them, their reasons remain generally misunderstood. However, it is not enough to say that this resistance to the authorities is simply honorable. The protest of these men, their honor and righteous view of the truth attacked, has a significance that surpasses the circumstances under which it has taken place, and this significance is important to reassess, whatever the outcome of events.


For the Algerians, the continued fight, either by military means, or by diplomatic means, is unambiguous. It is a war of national independence. But for the French, what does it mean? It is not a foreign war. Never has the territory of France been threatened. There is more: the war is carried out against men whom the State chooses to regard as French, but who fight precisely to cease being so. It would not even be enough to say that it is a war of conquest, an imperialist war, accompanied by added racism. There is that in any war, and the ambiguity persists.


In reality, by a decision that constituted a fundamental abuse, the State first mobilized whole classes of citizens for the sole purpose of performing what it itself designated as the work of a police force against an oppressed population, which has only revolted out of a concern for basic dignity, demanding to be finally recognized as an independent community.


Neither a war of conquest, nor a war of "national defense," nor a civil war, the Algerian war has slowly become an action of the army and of a caste that refuses to surrender in the face of an uprising of which even elected officials, aware of the general collapse of colonial empires, seem ready to recognize the meaning.


Today, it is mainly the will of the army that maintains this criminal and absurd combat, and this army, by the political role that many of its top representatives make it play, sometimes acting openly and violently without legal authority, betraying the objectives with which the country entrusts it, compromises and is likely to pervert the nation, by its orders forcing citizens into complicity with a factious and degrading action. Should it be recalled that, fifteen years after the destruction of Hitler’s program, French militarism, as a result of the requirements of such a war, has succeeded in re-establishing torture and making it once again an institution in Europe?


It is under these conditions that many French people have come to question the meaning of traditional values and duties. What is civic duty, when, under certain circumstances, it becomes shameful obedience? Are there not times when refusing to serve is a sacred duty, when treason signifies courageous respect for the truth? And when, by the will of those who use it as an instrument of racist or ideological domination, the army is confirmed in a state of open or latent revolt against democratic institutions, does not revolt against the army take on new meaning?


The question of conscience has been posed from the very start of the war. As this war prolongs, it is normal that this question of conscience be resolved concretely by increasing acts of insubordination, of desertion, as well as of protection and aid to the Algerian combatants. Free movements that have developed apart from all official political parties, without their assistance and, ultimately, in spite of their disavowal. Once again, in the absence of frameworks and pre-established slogans, a resistance has been born, from a spontaneous awakening, seeking and inventing forms of action and means of fighting commensurate with a new situation of which politicians and newspapers of opinion agree, whether by inertia or doctrinal timidity, or by nationalist or moral prejudices, to not recognize the true meaning and demands.


The undersigneds, considering that each person must come to a conclusion about acts which it is no longer possible to present as isolated and random events, considering that they themselves, in their own way and according to their means, have the duty to intervene, not in order to advise those who must decide for themselves when confronted with such serious problems, but to ask those who judge these men to not let themselves be taken by the ambiguity of words and values, declare:


*          We respect and deem justified the refusal to take arms against the Algerian people.

*          We respect and deem justified the actions of the French people who consider it their duty to provide aid and protection to the Algerians oppressed in the name of the French people.

*          The cause of the Algerian people, which contributes in a decisive way to the downfall of the colonial system, is the cause of all free men.


Arthur ADAMOV, Robert ANTELME, George AUCLAIR, Jean BABY, Helene BALFET, Marc BARBUT, Robert BARRAT, Simone DE BEAUVOIR, Jean-Louis BEDOUIN, Marc BEGBEIDER, Robert BENAYOUN, Maurice BLANCHOT, Roger BLIN, Arsene BONNEFOUS-MURAT, Genevieve BONNEFOI, Raymond BORDE, Jean-Louis BORY, Jacques-Laurent BOST, Pierre BOULEZ, Vincent BOUNOURE, Andre BRETON, Guy CABANEL, George CONDOMINAS, Alain CUNY, Dr. Jean DALSACE, Jean CZARNECKI, Adrien DAX, Hubert DAMISCE, Bernard DORT, Jean DOUASSOT, Simone DREYFUS, Marguerite DURAS, Yves ELLEOUET, Domenica ÉLUARD,   Charles ESTIENNE, Louis-Rene DES FORETS, Dr. Theodore FRAENKEL, Andre FRENAUD, Jacques GERNET, Edouard GLISSANT, Anne GUERIN, Daniel GUERIN, Jacques HOWLETT, Edouard JAGUER, Pierre JAOUEN, Gerard JARLOT, Robert JAULIN, Alain JOUBERT, Henri KREA, Robert LAGARDE, Claude LANZMANN, Robert LAPOUJADE, Henri LEFEBVRE, Gerard LEGRAND, Michel LEIRIS, Paul LEVY, Jerome LINDON, Eric LOSFELD, Robert LOUZON, Olivier DE MAGNY, Florence MALRAUX,   Andre MANDOUZE, Maud MANNONI, Jean MARTIN, Renee MARCEL-MARTINET, Jean-Daniel MARTINET, Andree MARTY-CAPGRAS, Dionys MASCOLO, François MASPERO, Andre MASSON, Pierre DE MASSOT, Jean-Jacques MAYOUX, Jehan MAYOUX, Theodore MONOD, Marie MOSCOVICI, George MOUNIN, Maurice NADEAU, George NAVEL, Claude OLLIER, Helene PARMELIN, Jose PIERRE, Marcel PÉJU, Andre PIEYRE DE MANDIARGUES, Edouard PIGNON, Bernard PINGAUD, Maurice PONS, J-B PONTALIS, Jean POUILLON, Denise RENE, Alain RESNAIS, Jean-François REVEL, P REVEL, Alain ROBBE-GRILLET, Christiane ROCHEFORT, Jacques-Francis ROLAND, Alfred ROSMER, Gilbert ROUGET, Claude ROY, Marc SAINT-SAENS, Nathalie SARRAUTE, Jean-Paul SARTRE, Renee SAUREL, Claude SAUTET, Jean SCHUSTER, Robert SCIPION, Louis SEGUIN, Genevieve SERREAU, Simone SIGNORET, Jean-Claude SILBERMANN, Claude SIMON, Rene DE SOLIER, D. DE LA SOUCHERE, Jean THIERCELIN, Dr. Rene TZANCK, VERCORS, J-P. VERNANT, Pierre VIDAL-NAQUET, J-P. VIELFAURE, Claude VISEUX, YLIPE, Rene ZAZZO