simone weil on living against brutality

Let us not think that because we are less brutal, less violent, less inhuman than our opponents we will carry the day. Brutality, violence, and inhumanity have an immense prestige that schoolbooks hide from children, that grown men do not admit, but that everyone bows before. For the opposite virtues to have as much prestige, they must be actively and constantly put into practice. Anyone who is merely incapable of being as brutal, as violent, and as inhuman as someone else, but who does not practice the opposite virtues, is inferior to that person in both inner strength and prestige, and he will not hold out in a confrontation.

3 thoughts on “simone weil on living against brutality

  1. Took me quite a bit of THINKING to understand what this actually means. It seems to mean that brutality in fact needs to be countered with a greater understanding of brutality? In this sense brutality will continue to be the dominant ‘prestige’ ad infinitum?

  2. thanks for your comment, helge… i think the paradoxicality at first glance is intentional. as i understand it, she’s saying it is not enough to shun or abhor brutality to counter it; one must be actively and consistently gentle, kind and compassionate – which takes great strength and fortitude. weakness is not an option. where it becomes confusing is that our violent world mostly conflates kindness/gentleness with weakness.

  3. Pingback: Manchester: This Is The Place | thoughtfullydetached

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