In contemporary America, the signposts point to George Orwell’s 1984, that dystopian society where contradictions are etched in stone, and where truth is its opposite. It is a dimension of mind, a dormant mind, in which the truths of the party defy all other truths, where party loyalty trumps all other loyalties, and where the party line is the line to be toed.
In this domain, political parties become ends in themselves, as if they embodied all truth.
Start there, and you can begin to understand why Simone Weil (1909-1943) called for the abolition of political parties. Radical? Indeed. Then again, sometimes it takes an outsider to alert us to what we cannot see within the confines of our own political predicament.
Washington Independent Review of Books
Presented at The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference, University of Montreal, Canada; Mark Devenney, University of Brighton, author and presenter.
Simone Weil—philosopher, activist, mystic—is one of the most uncompromising of modern spiritual masters. In “On the Abolition of All Political Parties” she challenges the foundation of the modern liberal political order, making an argument that has particular resonance today, when the apathy and anger of the people and the self-serving partisanship of the political class present a threat to democracies all over the world. Dissecting the dynamic of power and propaganda caused by party spirit, the increasing disregard for truth in favor of opinion, and the consequent corruption of education, journalism, and art, Weil forcefully makes the case that a true politics can only begin where party spirit ends.
This volume also includes an admiring portrait of Weil by the great poet Czeslaw Milosz and an essay about Weil’s friendship with Albert Camus by the translator Simon Leys.
Simon Leys, trans., New York Review of Books, 2014