In 1948, when I was 30, I became a teacher of philosophy and joined the PCF. Philosophy was an interest; I was trying to make it my profession. Politics was a passion; I was trying to become a Communist militant.
My interest in philosophy was aroused by materialism and its critical function: for scientific knowledge, against all the mystifications of ideological ‘knowledge’. Against the merely moral denunciation of myths and lies, for their rational and rigorous criticism. My passion for politics was inspired by the revolutionary instinct, intelligence, courage and heroism of the working class in its struggle for socialism. The War and the long years of captivity had brought me into living contact with workers and peasants, and acquainted me with Communist militants.
It was politics which decided everything. Not politics in general: Marxist-Leninist politics.
First I had to find them and understand them. That is always extremely difficult for an intellectual. It was just as difficult in the 50’s and 6o’s, for reasons with which you are familiar: the consequences of the ‘cult’, the Twentieth Congress, then the crisis of the international Communist Movement. Above all, it was not easy to resist the spread of contemporary ‘humanist’ ideology, and bourgeois ideology’s other assaults on Marxism.
Once I had a better understanding of Marxist-Leninist politics, I began to have a passion for philosophy too, for at last I began to understand the great thesis of Marx, Lenin and Gramsci: that philosophy is fundamentally political.