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French philosopher Andre Glucksmann dies at age 78

The French philosopher Andre Glucksmann has died at the age of 78. He went from being a Marxist to becoming a sharp critic of communism, while advocating for Western intervention in foreign conflicts.

Gluckmann, one of the most influential political philosophers in France, died overnight in Paris, his family said. He was 78.

As a young man, he joined the so-called "New Philosophers," who separated from Marxist thought following the tumultuous street protests in France in 1968.

Gluckmann's journey from Marxism to right-wing support for international military interventionism was influenced by the Russian dissident Alesandr Solzhenitsyn's book "The Gulag Archipelago," an account of life in the Soviet Union's gulags.

The French philosopher criticized Soviet totalitarianism in his 1975 book "The Cook and the Cannibal," putting him at odds with other leftists thinkers of the time such as fellow Frenchman Jean-Paul Sartre.

Gluckmann's work was devoted to fighting despotism and totalitarianism in his belief in humanity and brotherhood, but he was also known for his controversial right-wing views.

Upon hearing the news of Gluckmann, French President Francois Hollande described him as a man who "carried in him all the dramas of the 20th century... and spent all his life and intellectual training in the service of liberty."

He supported the Vietnamese "boat people" along with other leading thinkers as they fled communist Vietnam in 1969.

Gluckmann became an avid supporter of Western intervention around the globe, arguing countries like Germany and France commit "the crime of complacency."

He supported NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Western military intervention that helped oust strongman Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. He also lobbied on behalf of Chechens in their war against Russia and warned of the dangers behind Vladimir Putin.

"Recklessness and forgetfulness create the conditions for new catastrophes in both the economy and politics," he once said.

Born in France in 1937 shortly after his parents arrived from Central Europe, Glucksmann thought was impacted by his Jewish family's experience during Germany's invasion of France, recounted in the 2006 book "A Child's Rage."

His father died during the German army's invasion. He and his mother were briefly in a Vichy camp before being released.

Glucksmann was a regular commentator on French television and wrote several books.

cw/kms (AFP, dpa)