Wednesday, 3 February 2016
On the Abolition of All Political Parties
Patron Saint of Outsiders
It's not all about ties, trousers' creases and razors at Tweed Towers — mostly, but not all. Sometimes —not often — we put down our Wodehouse and peek out from our comfort zone.
Today is the birthday of Simone Weil, philosopher and mystic, who wrote the timeless classics The Need for Roots and On the Abolition of All Political Parties. Sadly, her essays are largely forgotten, but might appeal to those readers who see an increasing 'disregard for truth in favour of opinion' in the public sphere.
Poor Simone had a short life. Born in France in 1909, she was an activist, thinker and writer from a very, very early age. She moved to England in 1942 hoping to join the French Resistance in the Second World War, but died aged 34 from heart failure and is buried in Ashford, Kent.
Weil was described by André Gide as the 'patron saint of outsiders' and Albert Camus as 'the only great spirit of our times', which is picked up by Melvyn Bragg in an entertaining radio discussion on her life and times below from the excellent In Our Time series on Radio 4.