chapter  5
23 Pages

Oppression

In her early writings, as we have seen, Weil drew heavily on Marx’s understanding that

socialism was to be above all the abolition of “the degrading division of labour into intellectual

and manual labour” (quoted in Reflections, 41)—a view that become the cornerstone of her thinking about oppression. Yet Weil also believed that this division was not merely a me-

chanical reflection of the categories of class provided for in Marx’s theory. For Weil the division between conception and execution ultimately was not reducible to class divisions, and the as-

sumption that it could be marginalized the force of Marx’s own insights on the all-pervasiveness

of the degradation with which capitalist society had infused human experience. She thought that

the dimensions of oppression could not be conflated but had to be considered systematically in turn, so that the questions that could illuminate the new historical situation could be formulated.