On the Abolition of All Political Parties by Simone Weil, Simon Leys


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A brilliant woman who was a study in fiercely maintained contradictions, a star student who went to work on a factory line, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who insisted on refusing baptism, Simone Weil is one of the most intransigent and taxing of spiritual masters, always willing to push her thinking—and us—one step beyond the apparently reasonable in pursuit of the one truth, the one good. She asks hard questions and avoids easy answers. In this essay—now in English for the first time—she challenges the foundation of the modern liberal political order, making an argument that will have particular resonance in present-day America. Examining 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 proposes that politics can only begin where the party spirit comes to an end.

This volume also reprints an admiring portrait of Weil by the Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz and an essay about Weil’s friendship with Albert Camus by the translator Simon Leys.