Tuesday, February 17, 2015

‘Money destroys human roots’ - Simone Weil

Nevertheless, the prevailing view in the West is that there is a hierarchy of sorts in the modern democracies, a hierarchy founded on individual merit. John Dunn on West. This attempt, however, to render equality and difference compatible reflects the ‘political and social confusion’ that Simone Weil observed. Meritocracy justifies differences of social status defined quantitatively by wealth, by money, in a world where money makes more money. It also encourages the perversity of individuals who strive to be materially different, whether for honour, reward or survival, which has led to a world of increasing sameness, uniformity and conformity. To apply wealth as the defining factor circumscribes status within the measure of human estimation, to that which is easily calculable. It renders beings uniform, so that there can never be anything singular. Everything, everyone, now conforms with the standard of universal measurement.


‘Money destroys human roots’, exclaimed Weil, ‘wherever it is able to penetrate, by turning desire for gain into the sole motive. It easily manages to outweigh all other motives, because the effort it demands of the mind is so very much less. Nothing is so clear and so simple as a row of figures’.

Not surprisingly, Simone Weil expressed economic activity as being subordinate to ‘the needs of the soul’. John Dunn on order. In addition to the necessity of obligation, she also cited order, obedience and hierachism as essential to the soul’s well being. Equality was included in her list too, but this was not the destructive 1=1 equality of liberal ideology. Weil was specific in recommending that a ‘way of rendering equality compatible with differentiation would be to take away... all quantitative character from differences’. In Weil’s vision, natures would have access to a qualitative equality as souls, not horizontally amongst themselves, but vertically with regard to God.

© John Dunn.
From www.drjohndunn.com