David Levi Strauss / Dispatch

Dispatch 18: Simone Weil, T. J. Clark, and Bernie Sanders’ Grimace


“A political party is a machine for producing collective passion.”

“Collective passion is an infinitely stronger impetus to crime and lies than any individual passion.”

“If a single collective passion takes hold of a country, the entire country is unanimous in crime.”

“At the moment when a people becomes aware of its will and expresses it, there can be no collective passion.”

“Parties are organisms that are publically and officially constituted to kill the sense of truth and justice in our souls.”

“Almost everywhere—and often for purely technical problems—the operation of taking sides, of taking position for and against, has replaced the obligation to think. This leprosy of the mind began in political circles then spread throughout the country to almost all thinking. It is doubtful that we can cure this disease, which is killing us, if we do not start by abolishing political parties.”

—Simone Weil, Note on the Abolition of All Political Parties, translated by Ames Hodges (Semiotext(e), 2014), originally published in Paris in 1957, but written in the summer of 1943, just before Weil died.

“It is one thing to have an optimistic (or pessimistic) view of capitalism’s ability to weather the storm blowing from working-class Britain, another to underestimate the system’s endogenous vulnerabilities. What happened in 2008 will happen again. The break-up of the eurozone is one step nearer, the question now being whether it will be ‘managed’ from New York and Berlin or plunged into pell-mell. . . . The political question therefore is this: could there be a future circumstance in which such a moment of capitalist crisis, or sequence of moments, none of them ‘final,’ could be greeted, in various nation-states . . . by the beginnings—the first steps in a long reconstruction—of a minimal anti-capitalist resistance?”

—T. J. Clark, “Where Are We Now? Responses to the Referendum,” The London Review of Books, July 14, 2016.

David Levi Strauss
Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 3 pm

[Photography: Jon Winet. July 28, 2016. Convention floor. Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Click on image to see an enlargement.]

LINK to all David Levi Strauss Power 2016 Dispatches

One thought on “Dispatch 18: Simone Weil, T. J. Clark, and Bernie Sanders’ Grimace

  1. The connection between the two quotes needs to be thought through, since Clark’s minimal anti=capitalism could well occur in the form of a political party. In fact the Sanders and Gil Stein phenomena show it already has.


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