Frankfurt School

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{{pp-protected|reason=Persistent This has been a long term problem.|small=yes}}{{Short description |A school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt}}{{Use American English|date=September 2018}}{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2018}}{{Frankfurt School}}The Frankfurt School (Frankfurter Schule) is a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents who were ill-fitted to the contemporary socio-economic systems (capitalist, fascist, communist) of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in ostensibly liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organisation, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realising the social development of a society and a nation.Held, David (1980). Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas. University of California Press, p. 14.The Frankfurt School perspective of critical investigation (open-ended and self-critical) is based upon Freudian, Marxist and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy.BOOK, Finlayson, James Gordon, Habermas a Very Short Introduction, 2005, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-284095-0,weblink 26 March 2016, To fill the omissions of 19th-century classical Marxism, which could not address 20th-century social problems, they applied the methods of antipositivist sociology, of psychoanalysis, and of existentialism."Frankfurt School". (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica Online: weblink (Retrieved 19 December 2009) The School’s sociologic works derived from syntheses of the thematically pertinent works of Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Karl Marx, of Sigmund Freud and Max Weber, and of Georg Simmel and Georg Lukács.Held, David (1980), p. 16BOOK, Jameson, Fredric, Nealon, Jeffrey, Irr, Caren, Rethinking the Frankfurt School: Alternative Legacies of Cultural Critique, 2002, SUNY Press, Albany, 11–30, The Theoretical Hesitation: Benjamin's Sociological Predecessor, Like Karl Marx, the Frankfurt School concerned themselves with the conditions (political, economic, societal) that allow for social change realised by way of rational social institutions.Held, David (1980), p. 15. The emphasis upon the critical component of social theory derived from surpassing the ideological limitations of positivism, materialism, and determinism, by returning to the critical philosophy of Kant, and his successors in German idealism — principally the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, which emphasised dialectic and contradiction as intellectual properties inherent to the human grasp of material reality.Since the 1960s, the critical-theory work of the Institute for Social Research has been guided by Jürgen Habermas, in the fields of communicative rationality, linguistic intersubjectivity, and "the philosophical discourse of modernity";Habermas, Jürgen. (1987). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. MIT Press. nonetheless, the critical theorists Raymond Geuss and Nikolas Kompridis opposed the propositions of Habermas, claiming he has undermined the original social-change purposes of critical-theory-problems, such as: What should reason mean?; the analysis and expansion of the conditions necessary to realise social emancipation; and critiques of contemporary capitalism.Kompridis, Nikolas. (2006). Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future, MIT Press


Institute for Social Research

(File:Ffm-adorno-ampel001.jpg|thumb|right|300px|The Instititute for Social Research, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.)The term Frankfurt School informally describes the works of scholarship and the intellectuals who were the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), an adjunct organization at Goethe University Frankfurt, founded in 1923, by Carl Grünberg, a Marxist professor of law at the University of Vienna.Corradetti, Claudio (2011). "The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (published: 21 October 2011). As such, the Frankfurt School was the first Marxist research center at a German university, and originated through the largesse of the wealthy student Felix Weil (1898–1975).At university, Weil’s doctoral dissertation dealt with the practical problems of implementing socialism. In 1922, he organized the First Marxist Workweek  (Erste Marxistische Arbeitswoche) in effort to synthesize different trends of Marxism into a coherent, practical philosophy; the first symposium included György Lukács and Karl Korsch, Karl August Wittfogel and Friedrich Pollock. The success of the First Marxist Workweek prompted the formal establishment of a permanent institute for social research, and Weil negotiated with the Ministry of Education for a university professor to be director of the Institute for Social Research, thereby, formally ensuring that the Frankfurt School would be a university institution."The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory", Marxist Internet Archive (Retrieved 12 September 2009)Korsch and Lukács participated in the Arbeitswoche, which included the study of Marxism and Philosophy (1923), by Karl Korsch, but their communist-party membership precluded their active participation in the Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt School); yet Korsch participated in the School's publishing venture. Moreover, the political correctness by which the Communists compelled Lukács to repudiate his book History and Class Consciousness (1923) indicated that political, ideological, and intellectual independence from the communist party was a necessary work condition for realising the production of knowledge.The philosophical tradition of the Frankfurt School — the multi-disciplinary integration of the social sciences — is associated with the philosopher Max Horkheimer, who became the director in 1930, and recruited intellectuals such as Theodor W. Adorno (philosopher, sociologist, musicologist), Erich Fromm (psychoanalyst), and Herbert Marcuse (philosopher).

European interwar period (1918–39)

In the Weimar Republic (1918–33), the continual, political turmoils of the interwar years (1918–39) much affected the development of the critical theory philosophy of the Frankfurt School. The scholars were especially influenced by the Communists’ failed German Revolution of 1918–19 (which Marx predicted) and by the rise of Nazism (1933–45), a German form of fascism. To explain such reactionary politics, the Frankfurt scholars applied critical selections of Marxist philosophy to interpret, illuminate, and explain the origins and causes of reactionary socio-economics in 20th-century Europe (a type of political economy unknown to Marx in the 19th century). The School’s further intellectual development derived from the publication, in the 1930s, of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (1932) and The German Ideology (1932), in which Karl Marx showed logical continuity with Hegelianism, as the basis of Marxist philosophy.As the anti-intellectual threat of Nazism increased to political violence, the founders decided to move the Institute for Social Research out of Nazi Germany (1933–45).Dubiel, Helmut. "The Origins of Critical Theory: An interview with Leo Löwenthal", Telos 49. Soon after Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the Institute first moved from Frankfurt to Geneva, and then to New York City, in 1935, where the Frankfurt School joined Columbia University. In the event, the School’s journal, the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung ("Magazine of Social Research") was renamed "Studies in Philosophy and Social Science". Thence began the period of the School’s important work in Marxist critical theory; the scholarship and the investigational method gained acceptance among the academy, in the U.S and in the U.K. By the 1950s, the paths of scholarship led Horkheimer, Adorno, and Pollock to return to West Germany, whilst Marcuse, Löwenthal, and Kirchheimer remained in the U.S. In 1953, the Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt School) was formally re-established in Frankfurt, West Germany.Held, David (1980), p. 38.


{{See also|List of critical theorists}}As a term, the Frankfurt School usually comprises the intellectuals Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, Leo Löwenthal and Friedrich Pollock. Although initially of the FS's inner circle, Jürgen Habermas was the first to diverge from Horkheimer's research program, as a new generation of critical theoreticians.{{columns-list|colwidth=22em|The Frankfurt School were: Associates of the Frankfurt School: Critical theoreticians of the Frankfurt School: }}

Critical theory

{{Marxism |expanded=Schools of thought}}The works of the Frankfurt School are understood in the context of the intellectual and practical objectives of critical theory. In Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), Max Horkheimer defined critical theory as social critique meant to effect sociologic change and realize intellectual emancipation, by way of enlightenment that is not dogmatic in its assumptions.Geuss, Raymond. The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt school. Cambridge University Press, 1981. p. 58.Carr, Adrian (2000). "Critical theory and the Management of Change in Organizations", Journal of Organizational Change Management, pp. 13, 3, 208–220. The purpose of critical theory is to analyze the true significance of the ruling understandings (the dominant ideology) generated in bourgeois society, by showing that the dominant ideology misrepresents how human relations occur in the real world, and how such misrepresentations function to justify and legitimate the domination of people by capitalism.In the praxis of cultural hegemony, the dominant ideology is a ruling-class narrative story, which explains that what is occurring in society is the norm. Nonetheless, the story told through the ruling understandings conceals as much as it reveals about society, hence, the task of the Frankfurt School was sociological analysis and interpretation of the areas of social-relation that Marx did not discuss in the 19th century — especially in the base and superstructure aspects of a capitalist society.Martin Jay. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923–1950. London: Heinemann, 1973, p. 21.Horkheimer opposed critical theory to traditional theory, wherein the word theory is applied in the positivistic sense of scientism, in the sense of a purely observational mode, which finds and establishes scientific law (generalizations) about the real world. That the social sciences differ from the natural sciences inasmuch as scientific generalizations are not readily derived from experience, because the researcher’s understanding of a social experience always is shaped by the ideas in the mind of the researcher. What the researcher does not understand is that he or she is within an historical context, wherein ideologies shape human thought, thus, the results for the theory being tested would conform to the ideas of the researcher, rather than conform to the facts of the experience proper; in Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), Horkheimer said:
For Horkheimer, the methods of investigation applicable to the social sciences cannot imitate the scientific method applicable to the natural sciences. In that vein, the theoretical approaches of positivism and pragmatism, of neo-Kantianism and phenomenology failed to surpass the ideological constraints that restricted their application to social science, because of the inherent logico–mathematic prejudice that separates theory from actual life, i.e. such methods of investigation seek a logic that is always true, and independent of and without consideration for continuing human activity in the field under study. That the appropriate response to such a dilemma was the development of a critical theory of Marxism.Rasmussen, D. "Critical Theory and Philosophy", The Handbook of Critical Theory, Blackwell, Oxford, 1996. p .18.Because the problem was epistemological, Horkheimer said that "we should reconsider not merely the scientist, but the knowing individual, in general."Horkheimer, Max (1976), p. 221. Unlike Orthodox Marxism, which applies a template to critique and to action, critical theory is self-critical, with no claim to the universality of absolute truth. As such, critical theory does not grant primacy to matter (materialism) or to consciousness (idealism), because each epistemology distorts the reality under study, to the benefit of a small group. In practice, critical theory is outside the philosophical strictures of traditional theory; however, as a way of thinking and of recovering humanity’s self-knowledge, critical theory draws investigational resources and methods from Marxism.

Dialectical method

The Frankfort School reformulated dialectics into a concrete method of investigation, derived from the Hegelian philosophy that an idea will pass over into its own negation, as the result of conflict between the inherently contradictory aspects of the idea.dialectic. (2009). Retrieved 19 December 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: weblink In opposition to previous modes of reasoning, which viewed things in abstraction, each by itself and as though endowed with fixed properties, Hegelian dialectics considers ideas according to their movement and change in time, according to their interrelations and interactions.In Hegel's perspective, human history proceeds and evolves in a dialectical manner: the present embodies the rational Aufheben (sublation), the synthesis of past contradictions. History thus is an intelligible process of human activity, the , which is the Idea of Progress towards a specific human condition — the realization of human freedom through rationality.Little, D. (2007). "Philosophy of History", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (18 February 2007), weblink However, the Problem of future contingents, of considerations about the future, did not interest Hegel,"When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then has a shape of life grown old. . . . The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk" – Hegel, G. W. F. (1821). Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts), p.13"Hegel's philosophy, and in particular his political philosophy, purports to be the rational formulation of a definite historical period, and Hegel refuses to look further ahead into the future." — Peĺczynski, Z. A. (1971). Hegel's political philosophy — Problems and Perspectives: A Collection of New Essays, CUP Archive. Google Print, p. 200 for whom philosophy cannot be prescriptive and normative, because philosophy understands only in hindsight. The study of history is thus limited to descriptions of past and present human realities. Hence, for Hegel and his successors (the Right Hegelians), dialectics inevitably lead to the approval of the status quo — as such, dialectical philosophy justified the bases of Christian theology and of the Prussian state.Karl Marx and the Young Hegelians strongly criticized that perspective, that Hegel had over-reached in defending his abstract conception of "absolute Reason" and had failed to notice the "real"— i.e. {{em|undesirable}} and {{em|irrational}} — life conditions of the proletariat. Marx inverted Hegel's idealist dialectics and advanced his own theory of dialectical materialism, arguing that "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."Karl Marx (1859), Preface to . Marx's theory follows a materialist conception of history and geographic space,Soja, E. (1989). Postmodern Geographies. London: Verso. (pp. 76–93) where the development of the productive forces is the primary motive force for historical change, and, according to which, the social and material contradictions inherent to capitalism lead to its negation — thereby replacing capitalism with Communism, a new, rational form of society.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Jonathan Wolff, Ph.D., Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Karl Marx,weblink 17 September 2009, Stanford, Marx used dialectical analysis to learn and know the truth by uncovering the contradictions in the predominant ideas of society, and in the social relations to which they are linked — which exposes the underlying struggle between opposing forces. Therefore, only by becoming aware of the dialectic (i.e. class consciousness) of such opposing forces in a struggle for power, that men and women can intellectually liberate themselves, and so change the existing social order by way of social progress.Seiler, Robert M. "Human Communication in the Critical Theory Tradition", University of Calgary, Online Publication The Frankfurt School understood that a dialectical method could only be adopted {{em|if it could be applied to itself}}; if they adopted a self-correcting method — a dialectical method that would enable the correction of previous, false interpretations of the dialectical investigation. Accordingly, critical theory rejected the historicism and materialism of Orthodox Marxism.Bernstein, J. M. (1994) The Frankfurt School: Critical Assessments, Volume 3, Taylor & Francis, pp. 199–202, 208.

Influences and early works

{| class="wikitable"
Historical contextPeriodizations of capitalism>Transition from small-scale capitalism to large-scale capitalism and colonialism; the socialist labour movement matures into a reform movement and fosters the emergence of the welfare state; the Russian Revolution (1917) and the rise of Communism; the neotechnic period; the emergence of mass communications media and of mass popular culture, Modern art; and the rise of Nazism.
Max Weber>Weberian theoryComparative history of Western Rationalization (sociology)>rationalisation in capitalism, the modern state, Secularism scientific rationality, culture, and religion; analyses of the forms of dominance hierarchy and of modern rational-legal Bureaucracy#Max Weber>bureaucratic domination; articulation of the hermeneutic method in the social sciences.
Freudo-Marxism>Freudian theorypsychological repression of the reality principle of advanced civilization, and of the neurosis>neuroses of daily life; discovery of the unconscious mind, primary-process thinking, and the psychological impact of the Oedipus complex anxiety upon a man's mental health and life; analyses of the psychic bases of the irrational behaviours of authoritarianism.
| Antipositivism| Critique of positivism as philosophy, as a scientific method, as political ideology and as conformity; rehabilitation of the negative dialectic, return to Hegel; appropriation of critical elements from phenomenology, historicism, existentialism, critique of the ahistorical, idealist tendencies of positivism; critique of logical positivism and pragmatism.
| Aesthetic modernism
Reification (Marxism)>reified experience by breaking traditional forms and language; projection of alternative modes of existence and experience; liberation of the unconscious; consciousness of unique, modern situation; cultural appropriation of the literary devices of Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, of Arnold Schoenberg and André Breton; critique of the culture industry.
Marxist philosophy>Marxist theoryMarx's theory of alienation (Entfremdung); historical materialism; history as class struggle and the rate of exploitation in different Mode of production>modes of production; systems analysis of capitalism as the extraction of surplus labour; financial crisis theory; democratic socialism, and the classless society.
| Culture theory
Popular culture as the suppression and absorption of individual negation, and as the integration of the individual person to the status quo; critique of Western culture as a culture of social domination; the dialectical differentiation of the emancipatory aspects and the repressive aspects of Elite>élite culture; Kierkegaard's critique of the present age, Nietzsche's transvaluation, and Schiller's aesthetic education.

Critique of Western civilization

Dialectic of Enlightenment and Minima Moralia

The second phase of Frankfurt School critical theory centres principally on two works: Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) and Adorno's Minima Moralia (1951). The authors wrote both works during the Institute's exile in America. While retaining much of a Marxian analysis, in these works critical theory shifted its emphasis from the critique of capitalism to a critique of Western civilization as a whole, as seen in Dialectic of Enlightenment, which uses the Odyssey as a paradigm for their analysis of bourgeois consciousness. In these works, Horkheimer and Adorno present many themes that have come to dominate the social thought of recent years; for instance, their exposition of the domination of nature as a central characteristic of instrumental rationality in Western civilization was made long before ecology and environmentalism had become popular concerns.The analysis of reason now goes one stage further: The rationality of Western civilization appears as a fusion of domination and technological rationality, bringing all of external and internal nature under the power of the human subject. In the process, however, the subject itself gets swallowed up and no social force analogous to the proletariat can be identified that enables the subject to emancipate itself. Hence the subtitle of Minima Moralia: "Reflections from Damaged Life". In Adorno's words,Consequently, at a time when it appears that reality itself has become the basis for ideology, the greatest contribution that critical theory can make is to explore the dialectical contradictions of individual subjective experience on the one hand, and to preserve the truth of theory on the other. Even dialectical progress is put into doubt: "its truth or untruth is not inherent in the method itself, but in its intention in the historical process." This intention must be oriented toward integral freedom and happiness: "The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption." Adorno goes on to distance himself from the "optimism" of orthodox Marxism: "beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption [i.e. human emancipation] itself hardly matters."Adorno, Theodor W. (2006), p. 247.From a sociological point of view, both Horkheimer's and Adorno's works contain a certain ambivalence concerning the ultimate source or foundation of social domination, an ambivalence that gave rise to the "pessimism" of the new critical theory over the possibility of human emancipation and freedom.Adorno, T. W., with Max Horkheimer. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 242. This ambivalence was rooted, of course, in the historical circumstances in which the work was originally produced, in particular, the rise of National Socialism, state capitalism, and mass culture as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology."Critical Theory was initially developed in Horkheimer's circle to think through political disappointments at the absence of revolution in the West, the development of Stalinism in Soviet Russia, and the victory of fascism in Germany. It was supposed to explain mistaken Marxist prognoses, but without breaking Marxist intentions" – Habermas, Jürgen. (1987). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures. Trans. Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, p. 116.{{pb}}See also: Dubiel, Helmut. (1985). Theory and Politics: Studies in the Development of Critical Theory. Trans. Benjamin Gregg. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. For Adorno and Horkheimer, state intervention in the economy had effectively abolished the tension in capitalism between the "relations of production" and "material productive forces of society"—a tension that, according to traditional Marxist theory, constituted the primary contradiction within capitalism. The previously "free" market (as an "unconscious" mechanism for the distribution of goods) and "irrevocable" private property of Marx's epoch have gradually been replaced by the centralized state planning and socialized ownership of the means of production in contemporary Western societies."[G]one are the objective laws of the market which ruled in the actions of the entrepreneurs and tended toward catastrophe. Instead the conscious decision of the managing directors executes as results (which are more obligatory than the blindest price-mechanisms) the old law of value and hence the destiny of capitalism." – Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 38. The dialectic through which Marx predicted the emancipation of modern society is thus suppressed, effectively being subjugated to a positivist rationality of domination.Of this second "phase" of the Frankfurt School, philosopher and critical theorist Nikolas Kompridis writes that:Kompridis argues that this "sceptical cul-de-sac" was arrived at with "a lot of help from the once unspeakable and unprecedented barbarity of European fascism," and could not be gotten out of without "some well-marked [exit or] , showing the way out of the ever-recurring nightmare in which Enlightenment hopes and Holocaust horrors are fatally entangled." However, this , according to Kompridis, would not come until later – purportedly in the form of Jürgen Habermas's work on the intersubjective bases of communicative rationality.

Philosophy of music

Adorno, a trained classical pianist, wrote The Philosophy of Modern Music (1949), in which he, in essence, polemicizes against popular music―because it has become part of the culture industry of advanced capitalist society{{Page needed|date=September 2010}} and the false consciousness that contributes to social domination. He argued that radical art and music may preserve the truth by capturing the reality of human suffering. Hence:This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally. It has been criticized by those who do not share its conception of modern society as a false totality that renders obsolete traditional conceptions and images of beauty and harmony.In particular, Adorno despised jazz and popular music, viewing it as part of the culture industry, that contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering it "aesthetically pleasing" and "agreeable". The British philosopher Roger Scruton saw Adorno as producing "reams of turgid nonsense devoted to showing that the American people are just as alienated as Marxism requires them to be, and that their cheerful life-affirming music is a 'fetishized' commodity, expressive of their deep spiritual enslavement to the capitalist machine."Scruton, R. The Uses of Pessimism: and the Danger of False Hope 2010, p. 89, Oxford University Press

Critical theory and domination

Negative dialectics

{{Unreferenced section|date=November 2009}}With the growth of advanced industrial society during the Cold War era, critical theorists recognized that the path of capitalism and history had changed decisively, that the modes of oppression operated differently, and that the industrial working class no longer remained the determinate negation of capitalism. This led to the attempt to root the dialectic in an absolute method of negativity, as in Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man (1964) and Adorno's Negative Dialectics (1966). During this period the Institute of Social Research resettled in Frankfurt (although many of its associates remained in the United States) with the task not merely of continuing its research but of becoming a leading force in the sociological education and democratization of West Germany. This led to a certain systematization of the Institute's entire accumulation of empirical research and theoretical analysis.During this period, Frankfurt School critical theory particularly influenced some segments of the left wing and leftist thought, particularly the New Left. Herbert Marcuse has occasionally been described as the theorist or intellectual progenitor of the New Left. Their critique of technology, totality, teleology and (occasionally) civilization is an influence on anarcho-primitivism. Their work also heavily influenced intellectual discourse on popular culture and scholarly popular culture studies.More importantly, however, the Frankfurt School attempted to define the fate of reason in the new historical period. While Marcuse did so through analysis of structural changes in the labor process under capitalism and inherent features of the methodology of science, Horkheimer and Adorno concentrated on a re-examination of the foundation of critical theory. This effort appears in systematized form in Adorno's Negative Dialectics, which tries to redefine dialectics for an era in which "philosophy, which once seemed obsolete, lives on because the moment to realize it was missed". Negative dialectics expresses the idea of critical thought so conceived that the apparatus of domination cannot co-opt it.Its central notion, long a focal one for Horkheimer and Adorno, suggests that the original sin of thought lies in its attempt to eliminate all that is other than thought, the attempt by the subject to devour the object, the striving for identity. This reduction makes thought the accomplice of domination. Negative Dialectics rescues the "preponderance of the object", not through a naïve epistemological or metaphysical realism but through a thought based on differentiation, paradox, and ruse: a "logic of disintegration". Adorno thoroughly criticizes Heidegger's fundamental ontology, which he thinks reintroduces idealistic and identity-based concepts under the guise of having overcome the philosophical tradition.Negative dialectics comprises a monument to the end of the tradition of the individual subject as the locus of criticism. Without a revolutionary working class, the Frankfurt School had no one to rely on but the individual subject. But, as the liberal capitalist social basis of the autonomous individual receded into the past, the dialectic based on it became more and more abstract.

Habermas and communicative rationality

{{Unreferenced section|date=November 2009}}Habermas's work takes the Frankfurt School's abiding interests in rationality, the human subject, democratic socialism, and the dialectical method and overcomes a set of contradictions that always weakened critical theory: the contradictions between the materialist and transcendental methods, between Marxian social theory and the individualist assumptions of critical rationalism between technical and social rationalization, and between cultural and psychological phenomena on the one hand and the economic structure of society on the other.The Frankfurt School avoided taking a stand on the precise relationship between the materialist and transcendental methods, which led to ambiguity in their writings and confusion among their readers. Habermas's epistemology synthesizes these two traditions by showing that phenomenological and transcendental analysis can be subsumed under a materialist theory of social evolution, while the materialist theory makes sense only as part of a quasi-transcendental theory of emancipatory knowledge that is the self-reflection of cultural evolution. The simultaneously empirical and transcendental nature of emancipatory knowledge becomes the foundation stone of critical theory.


Horkheimer and Adorno

In The Theory of the Novel (1971), Georg Lukács said that the Frankfurt School were:In "Addendum 1974: The Frankfurt School" (1994) Karl Popper said that:


In his criticism of Habermas, the philosopher Nikolas Kompridis said that a break with the proceduralist ethics of communicative rationality is necessary:That:
That to prevent that premature dissolution critical theory should be reinvented as a philosophic enterprise that discloses possibilities by way of Heidegger's world disclosure, by drawing from the sources of normativity that were blocked by the change of paradigm.Kompridis, Nikolas. (2006), p. xi

Psychoanalytic categorization

The historian Christopher Lasch criticized the Frankfurt School for their initial tendency of "automatically" rejecting opposing political criticisms, based upon "psychiatric" grounds:

Economics and communications media

During the 1980s, anti-authoritarian socialists in the United Kingdom and New Zealand criticised the rigid and determinist view of popular culture deployed within the Frankfurt School theories of capitalist culture, which seemed to preclude any prefigurative role for social critique within such work. They argued that EC Comics often did contain such cultural critiques.Martin Barker: A Haunt of Fears: The Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign: London: Pluto Press: 1984Roy Shuker, Roger Openshaw and Janet Soler: Youth, Media and Moral Panic: From Hooligans to Video Nasties: Palmerston North: Massey University Department of Education: 1990 Recent criticism of the Frankfurt School by the libertarian Cato Institute focused on the claim that culture has grown more sophisticated and diverse as a consequence of free markets and the availability of niche cultural text for niche audiences.Cowen, Tyler (1998) "Is Our Culture in Decline?" Cato Policy Report,weblink Jon (2010) "The Attack on Imagination," WEB,weblink Archived copy, 5 October 2010, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 26 September 2010,

{{anchor|Conspiracy theory}}Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory

{{Split|section=section|Cultural Marxism (conspiracy theory)||date=May 2019|discuss=Talk:Frankfurt School#Split discussion}}

Definition and Culture War usage

In contemporary usage, the term Cultural Marxism is a right-wing, antisemitic conspiracy theory which claims that the Frankfurt School is part of a continual academic and intellectual culture war to systematically undermine and destroy Western culture and social traditions.Sources:
  • WEB, Jay, Martin, Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe,weblink, Salmagundi Magazine,weblink" title="">weblink 24 November 2011,
  • BOOK, Shekhovtsov, A., Jackson, P., Jamin, Jérôme, The Post-War Anglo-American Far Right: A Special Relationship of Hate, Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 978-1-137-39619-8, 10.1057/9781137396211.0009, 84–103,weblink 2014,
  • BOOK, Copsey, Nigel, Richardson, John E., Richardson, John E., Cultures of Post-War British Fascism, 'Cultural-Marxism' and the British National Party: a transnational discourse,weblink
  • NEWS, Berkowitz, Bill, 'Cultural Marxism' Catching On,weblink 2 October 2018, Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, 15 August 2003, no,weblink 30 September 2018, en, As articulated in the 1990s, the conspiracy means to replace traditionalist conservatism and Christianity with the counterculture of the 1960s to promote social changes such as racial multiculturalism, multi-party progressive politics, acceptance of LGBT rights, and political correctness in language.WEB, Berkowitz, Bill, Ally of Christian Right Heavyweight Paul Weyrich Addresses Holocaust Denial Conference,weblink Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC 2003, 19 April 2016, Stuart Jeffries, Grand Hotel Abyss, pp.6-11 , Verso 2016
In the U.S., Cultural Marxism is a political argument employed in the Culture wars by fundamentalist Christians and paleoconservatives, such as William S. Lind, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Weyrich,Sources:
  • WEB, Weyrich, Paul, Letter to Conservatives by Paul M. Weyrich,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 11 April 2000, Conservative Think Tank: "The National Center for Public Policy Research", 30 November 2015,
  • BOOK, Copsey, Nigel, Richardson, John E., Richardson, John E., Cultures of Post-War British Fascism, 'Cultural-Marxism' and the British National Party: A Transnational Discourse,weblink
  • BOOK, Wodak, ed. by Ruth, KhosraviNik, Majid, Mral, Brigitte, Right-wing populism in Europe: Politics and discourse, 2012, Bloomsbury Academic, London, 978-1-7809-3245-3, 96, 97, 1st. publ. 2013.,weblink 30 July 2015, the alt-right, white nationalists, and the Dark Enlightenment neo-reactionary political movement.NEWS, Pein, Corey, 19 May 2014, Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich, The Baffler,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 9 February 2015, NEWS, Bartlett, Jamie,weblink The Daily Telegraph, Meet The Dark Enlightenment: Sophisticated Neo-fascism That's Spreading Fast on the Net, 20 January 2014, Jamie Bartlett (journalist), Moreover, conservatives, such as David BrooksWEB, Rosenberg, Paul, A user's guide to "Cultural Marxism": Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, reloaded, Salon, 2019-05-05,weblink 2019-06-11, and Jordan Peterson have used the term Cultural Marxism in their politics.WEB, Berlatsky, Noah, How Anti-Leftism Has Made Jordan Peterson a Mark for Fascist Propaganda, Pacific Standard, June 12, 2018,weblink June 13, 2018, NEWS, Beauchamp, Zack, Jordan Peterson, the obscure Canadian psychologist turned right-wing celebrity, explained,weblink Vox, May 21, 2018, WEB, Robertson, Derek, The Canadian Psychologist Beating American Pundits at Their Own Game, POLITICO Magazine, April 8, 2018,weblink June 13, 2018,
In 1998, Weyrich presented his version of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory in a speech to the Conservative Leadership Conference of the Civitas Institute; and then published the speech in his syndicated Culture war letter.Sources:
  • WEB, Weyrich, Paul, Letter to Conservatives by Paul M. Weyrich,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 11 April 2000, Conservative Think Tank: "The National Center for Public Policy Research", 30 November 2015,
  • WEB, Moonves, Leslie, Death Of The Moral Majority?,weblink CBS news, The Associated Press, 19 April 2016,
  • BOOK, Koyzis, David T., Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies, 2003, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 978-0-8308-2726-8, 82,weblink 5 March 2016, Later, for the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, at Weyrich's request, Lind wrote a history of Weyrich's version of Cultural Marxism, which identified the presence of gay people on television as proof of Cultural Marxist control of the mass media; and claimed that the philosopher Herbert Marcuse considered a coalition of "blacks, students, feminist women, and homosexuals" as a vanguard of cultural revolution in the U.S.WEB, Lind, William S., What is Cultural Marxism?,weblink Maryland Thursday Meeting, 9 April 2015, WEB, Lind, William S., Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology,weblink Discover The Networks, David Horowitz, 5 March 2016,
In 2014, Lind pseudonymously published Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation Warfare, by Thomas Hobbes, about a societal apocalypse in which Cultural Marxism deposed traditionalist conservatism as the culture of the Western world. Ultimately, a Christian military victory deposes social liberalism and re-establishes a traditionalist and theocratic socio-economic order, based upon the British Victorian morality of the late 19th century.WEB, Lind, William S., Washington's Legitimacy Crisis,weblink The American Conservative, 4 May 2015, BOOK, Lind, William S., Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation Warfare, Castalia House, 978-952-7065-45-7,weblink 30 November 2015, 2015-04-18, The anti–Marxism of Lind and Weyrich advocates political confrontation and intellectual opposition to Cultural Marxism with "a vibrant cultural conservatism" composed of "retro-culture fashions", a return to railroads as public transport, and an agrarian culture of self-reliance, modeled after that of the Christian Amish folk.Sources:
  • WEB, Lind, William S., Weyrich, Paul M., The Next Conservatism,weblink The American Conservative, American Ideas Institute, 12 February 2007, 5 March 2016,
  • BOOK, Lind, William S., Weyrich, Paul M., The Next Conservatism, 2009, St. Augustine's Press, South Bend, Ind., 978-1-58731-561-9, 1,weblink 5 March 2016,
  • WEB, O'Meara, Michael, The Next Conservatism? a review,weblink Counter Currents Publishing, Counter-Currents Publishing, Ltd, 5 March 2016, 2010-12-10,
  • BOOK, Terry, Tommy, The Quelled Conscience of Conservative Evangelicals in the Age of Inverted Totalitarianism, 978-1-105-67534-8, 2012, 9,weblink 5 March 2016,
  • WEB, Lind, William S., The Discarded Image,weblink Various, 5 March 2016, In the Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe (2011), the historian Martin Jay said that Lind's documentary of conservative counter-culture, Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School (1999), was effective propaganda, because it:
spawned a number of condensed textual versions, which were reproduced on a number of radical, right-wing sites. These, in turn, led to a plethora of new videos, now available on YouTube, which feature an odd cast of pseudo-experts regurgitating exactly the same line. The message is numbingly simplistic: “All the 'ills' of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation, racial equality, multiculturalism and gay rights to the decay of traditional education, and even environmentalism, are ultimately attributable to the insidious [intellectual] influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 1930s.”WEB, Jay, Martin, Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe,weblink, Salmagundi Magazine,weblink" title="">weblink 24 November 2011,

Functions of the conspiracy

Cultural pessimism and Holocaust denial

In the essay "New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'" (1992), Michael Minnicino presented a precursor of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory in behalf of the Schiller Institute of the LaRouche political movement. Minnicino said that the "Jewish intellectuals" of the Frankfurt School promoted Modern art to make cultural pessimism the spirit of the counter-culture of the 1960s, based upon the counter-culture of the Wandervogel, the socially liberal German youth-movement whose Swiss Monte Verità commune was the 19th-century predecessor of Western counter-culture.The historian Martin Jay (2010) pointed out that Daniel Estulin's book cites Minnicino's essay ("New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'", 1992) as political inspiration for the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation."New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness{{'"}}, Schiller InstituteFreud and the Frankfurt School (Schiller Institute, 1994), in the conference report "Solving the Paradox of Current World History" published in Executive Intelligence Review.In "Ally of Christian Right Heavyweight Paul Weyrich Addresses Holocaust Denial Conference" (15 June 2002) the Southern Poverty Law Center reported Lind’s participation in a conference of Holocaust deniers, to whom he said that Cultural Marxism is a social threat, because the Frankfurt School was, "to a man, Jewish". That, although he is neither an anti-Semite nor a Holocaust denier, Lind participated in the Holocaust-denial conference because the Center for Cultural Conservatism has “a regular policy to work with a wide variety of groups, on an issue-by-issue basis”, in behalf of the Free Congress Foundation.WEB, Lind, William S., The Origins of Political Correctness,weblink Accuracy in Academia, Accuracy in Academia/Daniel J. Flynn, 8 November 2015, 2000-02-05, In Fascism: Fascism and Culture (2003), Matthew Feldman traced the etymology of the term Cultural Marxism as derived from the anti-Semitic term Kulturbolshewismus (Cultural Bolshevism) with which Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party claimed that Jewish cultural influence was the source of German social degeneration under the liberal régime of the Weimar Republic (1918–1939), and also the cause of social degeneration in the West.BOOK, Matthew, Feldman, Griffin, Roger (Ed.), Fascism: Fascism and Culture, 2003, Routledge, New York, 978-0-415-29018-0, 343, 1. publ.,weblink 28 October 2015,

Othering of political opponents

In Hate Crimes, Vol. 5 (2009), Heidi Beirich said that the Right Wing use the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory to politically de-legitimize Left Wing opponents, by misrepresenting the social Other (who is not the Self) as politically destructive members of the body politik of the country, as people who threaten the traditionalist conservative status quo of society — especially "feminists, homosexuals, secular humanists, multi-culturalists, sex educators, environmentalists, immigrants, and black nationalists".BOOK, Perry, Barbara (Ed.), Beirich, Heidi, Hate Crimes [vol.5], 2009, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Conn., 978-0-275-99569-0, 119,weblink 30 November 2015, In Europe, the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik quoted Lind's usages of Cultural Marxism in the political manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence: that the "sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemic in Western Europe [is] a result of cultural Marxism"; that "Cultural Marxism defines . . . Muslims, Feminist women, homosexuals, and some additional minority groups, as virtuous, and they view ethnic Christian European men as evil"; and that "The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg is a cultural-Marxist-controlled political entity." Approximately ninety minutes before Breivik killed seventy-seven people in his terrorist attacks in Norway (22 July 2011), he had e-mailed to 1,003 people, a copy of his 1,500-page manifesto, 2083, and a copy of Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology (2004), edited by Lind and published by the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.NEWS, 'Breivik Manifesto' Details Chilling Attack Preparation,weblink 2 August 2015, BBC News, 24 July 2011, NEWS, Trilling, Daniel, Who are Breivik's Fellow Travellers?,weblink 18 July 2015, New Statesman, 18 April 2012, WEB, Buruma, Ian, Breivik's Call to Arms,weblink Qantara, German Federal Agency for Civic Education & Deutsche Welle, 25 July 2015, BOOK, Shanafelt, Robert, Pino, Nathan W., Rethinking Serial Murder, Spree Killing, and Atrocities: Beyond the Usual Distinctions, Routledge, 978-1-317-56467-6, 2014,weblink en, In "Collectivists, Communists, Labor Bosses, and Treason: The Tea Parties as Right-wing, Populist Counter-subversion Panic" (2012), Chip Berlet, identified Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory as an ideological basis of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party. As published in their websites, the Tea Parties self-identify as a right-wing populist movement, whose claims of social subversion echo earlier, white-nationalist claims of subversion (racial, social, and cultural). That the economic élites of the country use populist rhetoric to encourage counter-subversion panics; thus, a large, middle-class white constituency is politically deceived into siding with the ruling-class élites (social and economic) to defend their relative and precarious socio-economic position within the middle class of society. That cultural scapegoats, such as mythical conspiracies of collectivists, Communists, labor bosses, and the non-white Other, are to blame for the failures (economic, political, social) of free-market capitalism. In that manner, under the guise of patriotism, economic libertarianism, Christian values, and nativism, the right wing's accusing their opponents' of practicing Cultural Marxism defended the racist and sexist social hierarchies specifically opposed to the ‘big government’ policies of the Obama Administration.JOURNAL,weblink Collectivists, Communists, Labor Bosses, and Treason: The Tea Parties as Right-wing Populist Counter-Subversion Panic, Berlet, Chip, Critical Sociology, July 2012, 38, 565–587, 10.1177/0896920511434750, 4, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 15 November 2015, WEB, Kimball, Linda, Cultural Marxism,weblink American Thinker, 11 March 2016, In the essay "Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right" (2014), the political scientist Jérôme Jamin said that "next to the global dimension of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, there is its innovative and original dimension, which lets its [racist] authors avoid racist discourses, and pretend to be defenders of democracy" in their respective countries.BOOK, Shekhovtsov, A., Jackson, P., Jamin, Jérôme, The Post-War Anglo-American Far Right: A Special Relationship of Hate, Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 978-1-137-39619-8, 10.1057/9781137396211.0009, 84–103,weblink 2014, In the vein of Othering political opponents, "How Trump's Paranoid White House Sees 'Deep State' Enemies on all Sides" (2017), reported that the Trump Administration employee Richard Higgins was dismissed from the U.S. National Security Council, because of the memorandum "POTUS & Political Warfare" (May 2017), wherein he [Higgins] claimed the existence of a left-wing conspiracy to destroy the Trump presidency; that American public-intellectuals of Cultural Marxism, foreign Islamicists, and globalist bankers, the news media, and politicians from the Republican and the Democrat parties, were attacking Trump because he represents “an existential threat to [the] cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative” in the U.S.NEWS,weblink How Trump's Paranoid White House Sees 'Deep State' Enemies on all Sides, 13 August 2017, The Guardian, NEWS,weblink Here's the Memo That Blew Up the NSC, 10 August 2017, Foreign Policy, NEWS,weblink An NSC Staffer Is Forced Out Over a Controversial Memo, 2 August 2017, The Atlantic,

Anti–Semitic canards

In the speech "The Origins of Political Correctness" (2000), William S. Lind established the ideological and etymological lineage of Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory; that:}}Lind’s history of the term and its meanings demonstrated that the ideology of "The Alt-right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old" (2018), in which professor of law Samuel Moyn reported that social fear of Cultural Marxism is "an American contribution to the phantasmagoria of the alt-right"; while the conspiracy theory, itself, is "a crude slander, referring to [ Judeo-Bolshevism ], something that does not exist".NEWS, The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old, Samuel Moyn, Samuel Moyn,weblink The New York Times, 13 November 2018, 4 November 2018,

See also

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Further reading

  • Arato, Andrew and Eike Gebhardt, Eds. The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. New York: Continuum, 1982.
  • Bernstein, Jay (ed.). The Frankfurt School: Critical Assessments I–VI. New York: Routledge, 1994.
  • Benhabib, Seyla. Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.
  • Bottomore, Tom. The Frankfurt School and its Critics. New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Bronner, Stephen Eric and Douglas MacKay Kellner (eds.). Critical Theory and Society: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 1989.
  • Brosio, Richard A. The Frankfurt School: An Analysis of the Contradictions and Crises of Liberal Capitalist Societies. 1980.
  • Crone, Michael (ed.): Vertreter der Frankfurter Schule in den Hörfunkprogrammen 1950–1992. Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt am Main 1992. (Bibliography.)
  • Friedman, George. The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981.
  • Held, David. Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
  • Gerhardt, Christina. "Frankfurt School". The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest, 1500 to the Present. 8 vols. Ed. Immanuel Ness. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2009. 12–13.
  • BOOK, Immanen, Mikko, A Promise of Concreteness: Martin Heidegger's Unacknowledged Role in the Formation of Frankfurt School in the Weimar Republic, University of Helsinki, Ph.D. thesis, 2017, 978-951-51-3205-5,weblink 978-951-51-3205-5,
  • Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research 1923–1950. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. 1996.
  • BOOK, Verso, 978-1-78478-568-0, Jeffries, Stuart, Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School, London – Brooklyn, New York, 2016,
  • Kompridis, Nikolas. Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2006.
  • Postone, Moishe. Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Schwartz, Frederic J. Blind Spots: Critical Theory and the History of Art in Twentieth-Century Germany. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Shapiro, Jeremy J. "The Critical Theory of Frankfurt". Times Literary Supplement 3 (4 October 1974) 787.
  • Scheuerman, William E. Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy, and the Law. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • Wiggershaus, Rolf. The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories and Political Significance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995.
  • Wheatland, Thomas. The Frankfurt School in Exile. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

External links

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