Simone Weil was born in France 1909 in a Jewish and agnostic society. She studied philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and after her graduation, she taught in provincial schools while developing activities in defense of the workers retrenched from small towns where she taught her classes. In 1934 she decided to leave teaching to become a worker in the factories of Alshtom and Renault. Her main reason was to get in contact with what she perceived as “real life". The decision she made was based on her conviction that theory should be brought in line with knowledge of the real conditions of being (by experience). Subsequent to this, there was a change not only in the perspective of things, but also the sense of life. In this journal Simone Weil writes letters to friends, one letter to a miner and a labor activist from the Soviet Union, another to a student during a period of suspension at the factory in 1935, and another letter to a journalist and the last to a friend who writes daily about her factory experience
In this journal, Simone Weil describes her work as monotonous, this was based on the fact that her work entailed producing a piecework every hour and making the same movements daily. Additionally, in her work she was constantly ready to receive and complete orders, which induces the workers to an attitude of docility and very monotony. It's interesting how Simone compared the style of work performed by men and women in the factory. Men can reach a position which they can be allowed to work in a more complex and interesting projects (more human kind of job), while women on the other hand are confined to the same job day after day, absolutely mechanical and in very fast way. As stated in the journal: "probably the most despised class in the French factory system-the class of unskilled woman workers" (Weil 152).
Simone Weil wanted the experience of being a blue color worker, she wanted to experience oppression and fatigue, and this was initiated when she gave up on her academic work schools. Some people might argue that, being a bourgeois teacher as she was, she could never truly experience this type of working conditions. Nonetheless, as we read her diary, her daily work in the factory and her personal reflections, we deduce otherwise. Based on this, Simone Weil was apparently concerned on individual and collective pain, alienation of the individual, the impossibility of a reflective life and tiring job. “She found the experience not only morally and physically painful but also completely dehumanizing" (Weil 152). It is also apparent that she was well aware that pain can terminate men and woman, obstructing their spirituality and thinking ability.
As the article proceeds, we see Simone describing workers as though they are machines, submissive and without the will of strike against anyone. They need their job to survive. In her words, she says “we are like horses who hurt themselves as soon as they pull on their bits-and we bow our heads" (Weil 169).
Simone Weil was a communist. She fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War with the international brigade, and therein decided to become a cook, since she was a pacifist and did not want to use fire arms. Her ideas are a bit flawless, she had socialist ideas and believed in individualism, because of her convictions, she wrote a letter to a co-worker explaining him the benefits and responsibilities of unionized workers. She discussed and proposed new ideas such as; work discipline, the conditions the employer must observe before deciding on the dismissal of workers and vocational training for youth and adults.
This book is not only beneficial to historians but also useful for many researchers interested in their work, their organization and their impact on subjectivity. The differences that exist between the conception of Simone Weil and the work preceding philosophers, makes this journal appropriate those interested in the analysis of the philosophical concepts and labor policy's.
Evidently, Simone Weil is probably one of the first females that talked about labor and unions, she was a pioneer in her time, it is important to note that her ideas have been taken into keen consideration in Europe. She was a bureaucratic kind of leader that followed rules, codes and laws. Subsequent to her death one can tell how people have their own opinion about labor problems or unions, when the charismatic leader dies, there is always a separation of groups. You can't teach heart.
After reading her journal, one might argue that her ideas and experiences cannot be applied in the times that we live in. nonetheless, some of her notions are still applicable to date. Some of her conceptions can be applied contemporarily to our society though she does not make the justification of pain apparent.
Weil, Simone. Formative Writings, 1929-1941. University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.