‘Political parties are a marvellous mechanism ... If one were to entrust the organisation of public life to the devil, he could not invent a more clever device.’
Here Simon Leys translates for the first time into English an essay by the remarkable Simone Weil – philosopher, activist, mystic – which makes a case for the corrupting effect of political parties on political life, and calls for their abolition. This is a dazzling account of the perils of political conformity, written with brilliant clarity and wit.
It is combined with an essay by the Nobel Prize-winner Czeslaw Milosz ‘on the importance of Simone Weil’ and an essay by Leys on the influence of Weil, especially on Albert Camus. The result is a jewel-like volume which showcases some of the finest minds of the last century.
Simone Weil (1909–43), a brilliant student of philosophy and classics, in her short life was a factory worker, farm labourer and teacher, as well as volunteering for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and assisting the Free French in London. Her books include Gravity and Grace, The Need for Roots and Waiting for God. Albert Camus described her as ‘the only great spirit of our time’; the New York Times as ‘one of the most brilliant and original minds of twentieth-century France’; and Susan Sontag wrote in the New York Review of Books that ‘anything from Simone Weil’s pen is worth reading.’