Philosophy of history of the Left and Marxism: “authoritarianism” and “imperialism” — response to Mike Macnair

Chris Cutrone

Mike Macnair’s critique of Platypus in “The study of history and the Left’s decline” (Weekly Worker 868, June 2, 2011) takes issue on the philosophy of history of Marxism. I would like to clarify this, and the senses in which I used the terms “authoritarianism” and “imperialism” in my letters of May 19, 2011 (Weekly Worker 866) and May 26, 2011 (Weekly Worker 867), in response to Macnair’s two articles written after his attendance at the Platypus 2011 convention in Chicago, “No need for party?” (Weekly Worker 865, May 12, 2011), and “Theoretical dead end” (Weekly Worker 866, May 19, 2011).

Historiography of Marxism

First, however, I would like to address the issue of historiography with respect to the SPD in the 2nd International era. Carl E. Schorske (in German Social Democracy 1905–17: The Development of the Great Schism, 1955), and James Joll (in The Second International 1889–1914, 1974) are, among others, important historical sources for my and other Platypus members’ views. But I don’t think that what Macnair calls a “source-critical” approach to history should be attempted with reference to historians’ biographies, which does not clarify but potentially compounds the problem of philosophy of history calibre.

On J.P. Nettl, I would point to his substantial essay on “Ideas, intellectuals, and Structures of Dissent,” collected in Philip Rieff, ed., On Intellectuals: Theoretical Studies, Case Studies (1969). I dispute Macnair’s characterization of Nettl’s concerns. I think Nettl’s biography of Luxemburg was his life-work and not ancillary. As a liberal/non-Marxist, there are perhaps some issues to be taken with Nettl’s work on Luxemburg, but Nettl’s views as a political scientist were drawn from his long and close study of Luxemburg and her relation to Marxism, not applied by Nettl to Luxemburg from elsewhere. For Nettl, the history of Marxism raised questions about the possibilities of politics per se. Hence, the importance of Nettl’s argument.

Thus, Nettl’s article on “The German Social-Democratic Party 1890–1914 as Political Model” (Past and Present 30, April 1965) argued that Luxemburg’s views, as expressed in Reform or Revolution application/json? and The Mass Strike, among other writings, were not actionist but concerned with the transformation of the SPD in which the Marxist Left had a stake. Luxemburg and Lenin were not opposed to the formation of workers’ political parties as necessary instruments of emancipation, but they were aware of the dangers inherent in this, from a Marxist perspective on the historical development of capital, in which such workers’ organizations (including labor unions) were inevitably bound up. In other words, how, e.g., the SPD was a phenomenon of the history of capital, or, more precisely, how the workers’ movement for socialism was part of the historical development of capital, and did not somehow oppose it from outside. In this sense, there was an affinity of Eduard Bernstein’s views on “evolutionary socialism” with Luxemburg’s, but they drew the opposite political conclusions: where Bernstein found the transformation of capital through reforms to be ameliorative, Luxemburg found a deepening crisis. This was Luxemburg’s thesis in Reform or Revolution?, that only reformists separated social reform from political revolution, because Marxism recognized that reforms deepened the crisis of capital and made revolution not less but more necessary vray for sketchup 다운로드.

Benjamin and Adorno

I dispute Macnair’s characterization of Benjamin and Adorno’s philosophy of history as attempting to generate “useful myths.” Rhetorical and literary style aside, Benjamin and especially Adorno were rigorous Marxists and Hegelians who engaged the issues of “historical materialism” as manifested after the failure of Marxism. Benjamin and Adorno were not postmodernists avant la lettre, despite their spurious late pomo popularity. Rather, Benjamin and Adorno, like Lukács and Korsch (from whom they took direct inspiration), followed Luxemburg and Lenin’s judgments about the crisis of Marxism as the crisis of bourgeois society that Marxism itself, as part of the ideology and practical political leadership of the international social-democratic workers’ movement, had brought about.

Benjamin and Adorno challenged the linear-progressive conception of history, recovering from the history of Marxism what might appear to be an obscure point, but one addressed, for example, by Plekhanov as history moving in a “knotted line,” and by Lenin as history moving in “spirals” of repetition and crisis (see Lenin’s 1915 Granat Encyclopedia entry on “Karl Marx”). This Hegelian-Marxist approach to the dialectics of history was digested usefully by Lukács, as a discussion of historical “moment” and “process” in “Tailism and the Dialectic” (Lukács’s unpublished 1925 defense of History and Class Consciousness).

Hegel and Kant

The Hegelian — and Kantian — point is that the relation between theory and practice is not one of empirical deduction from trial and error in which an always imperfect theory is corrected, but “inductive,” in that the concrete “material” object of practice is the concretization of abstractions, and, furthermore, the object of practice is indeed first and foremost the human subject, i.e., the “subject-object” of transformation Download mp4 converter. The question is the adequacy of the relation of theory and practice. Metaphysical (“theoretical”) categories refer not to a world extrinsic to human subjectivity, but to the world constituted socially in and through such categories, which are always eminently practical as well as theoretical. So, in the most pertinent example, the “commodity form” is, for Marxists, a category of social relations, which gives it an effective social reality, different from physical nature. Macnair seems not to have attended to the Kantian revolution in philosophy from which Hegel, Marx, Lukács, Benjamin and Adorno followed.

How this matters for the philosophy of history is that history is not a compendium of past facts but a social relation of the “present” with itself. The past is not “past” but present, and present “historically.” So, for Benjamin and Adorno (following Lukács and Korsch, who followed Lenin, Luxemburg, and Marx and Engels on this point), the question was how to reckon the history of Marxism and the greater socialist workers’ movement as symptomatic expression of the history of capital, or, how the “proletariat” was and could become the transformed “subject-object of history.” Lukács’s term for the self-alienated character of this “subject-object” condition of the working class in capital was “reification.” “Reification” referred not to the workers’ quotidian consciousness in capitalism, but to the “class consciousness” of the workers, as expressed by Social Democracy (and “Marxism”) at its height. For Lukács and those who followed, “reification” meant Kautsky.

Abuse of theory

Nettl has a great line about how Kautsky attempted “to invest certain observed phenomena with the normative sanction of Marxist theory.” Nettl cited Parvus against Kautsky: “All the guts knocked out of [Marxism] 고등래퍼2 다운로드. Out of Marx’s good raw dough Kautsky made Matzes” (82). Kautsky abused theory, making it serve as justification or rationalization — as most “Marxists” do — rather than as a provocation to the self-reflection of consciousness, in the Hegelian sense.

While it may be tempting to oppose such apparent static/immobilized (or “contemplative”) consciousness with action(ism), Lukács knew well that the opposition of static and dynamic was an antinomy of capital itself, that capital moved through a dialectic of the antinomy of the dynamic and the static in history. This is where the recovery of the Hegelian dimension of Marxism was critical: Marxism itself had become “vulgarized” in its self-understanding, and had failed in taking a dialectical approach to itself as a historical phenomenon, as a symptom of the history of capital. Marxism had succumbed to the “bourgeois” (pre-Kantian) view of (linear) progress through trial-and-error, the asymptotic view of knowledge, in which, as Benjamin put it, mordantly citing, in his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Dietzgen as pathological example of Social Democratic progressivism, “Every day our cause becomes clearer and people get smarter.” History has proved otherwise.

Philosophy of history

Benjamin and Adorno’s challenge to such a “progressive” view of history, which they thought was ideologically blinding, was not irrationalism any more than Hegel was 산돌 고딕 m. It does not call for “myth,” but a different philosophy of history than the empiricist-deductive one. Dialectics is not a matter of estimating probability, but grasping inherent possibility in history.

Paul Klee's 1920 painting, "Angelus Novus" ("The New Angel") was not the traditional votive guardian, but, according to Benjamin, looked upon the historical unfolding of humanity with horror at the mounting catastrophe.

As Adorno put it, in his 1942 essay “Reflections on Class Theory,” in response to both Benjamin’s “Theses” and Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto, “According to [Marxian] theory, history is the history of class struggles. But the concept of class is bound up with the emergence of the proletariat. . . . By exposing the historical necessity that had brought capitalism into being, political economy became the critique of history as a whole. . . . All history is the history of class struggles because it was always the same thing, namely, prehistory. This gives us a pointer as to how we can recognize what history is. From the most recent form of injustice, a steady light reflects back on history as a whole. Only in this way can theory enable us to use the full weight of history to gain an insight into the present without succumbing in resignation to the burden of the past 구글 사전 다운로드. [Marxism has been praised] on account of its dynamism. . . . Dynamism is merely one side of dialectic: it is the side preferred by the belief in practicality. . . . The other, less popular aspect of dialectic is its static side. . . . The law that, according to the Hegelian dialectic, governs the restlessly destructive unfolding of the ever-new consists in the fact that at every moment the ever-new is also the old lying close at hand. The new does not add itself to the old but is the old in distress” (Adorno, Can One Live after Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, 2003, 93–95).


This brings me around to the issues of “authoritarianism” and “imperialism,” which have different usage for me than the colloquial ones. Adorno co-authored the famous study on The Authoritarian Personality. This followed from the earlier Frankfurt School Studies on Authority and the Family n Trip. A commonplace misunderstanding of Frankfurt School Critical Theory is that it attempted to synthesize Marxist and Freudian psychoanalytic approaches, but this view is mistaken. Rather, Freudian psychoanalysis was itself taken by Adorno et al. to be a symptom of the historical development of capital. Freud’s categories were taken to be descriptive, and then resituated, critically, in a Marxian view of historical development of society. In this view, Marx was not ignorant of Freudian insights, but rather it was only as a function of the later social-historical development of capital that human “psychology” appeared as it did to Freud. A contemporary of Benjamin and Adorno, Wilhelm Reich, in his early work on “Ideology as a Material Force” published later in his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism, pointed to how Marxism had failed to apprehend the “progressive” character of fascism; in other words, how fascism had expressed, however pathologically, the social-historical transformation of capital in the early 20th century better than “vulgar,” economic-determinist Marxism had been able to do. Hence, fascism’s ideological and political victory over Marxism. For Reich, (the failure of) Marxism was responsible for fascism. Fascism expressed the workers’ “fear of freedom,” which Marxism, in its false rationalism of “economic interest,” had failed to overcome Download the subtitle font. Workers had a subjective, “psychological” interest in unfreedom that Marxism needed to address.

What this meant to Benjamin and Adorno, following Lukács’s view on “reification,” was that Marxism had failed to address “authoritarianism” dialectically, as a function of the transformation of capital. In the Marxian view, the workers’ movement for socialism is itself the most important “self-contradictory” and self-alienated phenomenon of the history of capital. This is why Marx began with the critique of socialism, or, why the “critique of political economy” is the critique of the necessary and symptomatic consciousness of the socialist workers’ movement.


What I raised in my letter (published in The Weekly Worker 867, May 26, 2011) concerning the changed “organic composition of capital” is this: that the “mass” proletarianization of the core capitalist countries was the result, as Marx discussed in Capital vol. I on “the working day,” of politically variable social conditions of wage labor that, with increased worker empowerment, cause a shift from variable to constant capital, or, from labor-time intensive sweatshop to automated machine production, requiring ever less labor-input and resulting in ever greater value-crises Download Hancom Taza Practice.

This, in turn, affected the conditions of “colonialism.” Whereas colonies in the classical bourgeois era of the emergence of modern capital were sites of market expansion, in the late era of “imperialism” or “monopoly capital,” colonies become raw material resource-extraction zones feeding metropolitan industry. The humanity of not only those who were thus “colonized” but also of the metropolitan proletariat hence became superfluous, not even a “reserve army of unemployed” but a fascist rabble, subject to more or less desperate authoritarian politics. This was already true of the post-1848 world Marx addressed in Bonapartism (also evinced contemporaneously by Bismarck and Disraeli), but became even more so subsequently. The question is why the workers supported authoritarian politics, and how the workers’ movement for socialism was not free of this effect. (In this sense, Hayek’s critique of socialism in The Road to Serfdom is apposite.)

This is the world in which we continue to live today, but without the proximal history of the late 19th–early 20th century social-democratic workers’ movement and its Marxist political leadership that, in a “dialectical” (self-contradictory) way, participated in the history that brought these conditions into being — producing the need for world revolution that is Marxism’s legacy. | §

Originally published in The Weekly Worker 869 (June 9, 2011) [PDF].

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

Articles by month

Article dates

September 2023

The “anti-fascist” vs. “anti-imperialist” Left: some genealogies and prospects

Platypus 2011 President’s report

Chris Cutrone

Presented at the third annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, May 1, 2011 (audio recording).

The usual ways of categorizing various trends on the “Left” today have become less useful for distinguishing politically and indicating potential future developments. Trends have defied historical or expected trajectories — if these in fact ever applied properly — and so call for a new and different approach to sort out what we’re dealing with today and are likely to encounter going forward 고속도로교통정보 다운로드.

Other categories of the “Left:” Platypus has been rightly recognized (if only occasionally and intermittently) for traversing if not transcending these categories in the approach of our project:

1.) Socialist vs. liberal: Supposedly rooted in “class perspective,” as in “bourgeois-liberal” and “proletarian-socialist” (but not class character in terms of sociological “position,” but rather in Marx’s sense of the “petit bourgeois” horizon of politics thus aligning intellectuals with the “petite bourgeoisie”). But also perhaps expressing the antinomy of individual vs. collective freedom, certainly in ways we would not resolve as apparently simply as historical “Marxism” has done, for instance characterizing the Right as prioritizing “liberty” while the Left prioritizes social “justice.”

2.) Libertarian vs Metal slug. authoritarian: The characterization supposed of the anarchist vs. Marxist division. Less about sociological position than political practice and concomitant organizational method: “horizontal” vs. hierarchical; decentralized vs. centralized, etc.

3.) Anti-Stalinist vs. Stalinist: The supposedly “Trotskyist” perspective, and perhaps the most problematic, considering the ISO/U.S. and others (SWP/U.K., et al.). This is not reducible to the libertarian vs. authoritarian division although apparently related to it; at an earlier, relatively less degenerate historical stage of the “Left,” this would have been characterized by internationalist vs synctoy. nationalist perspectives.

Because Platypus is in fact concerned with overcoming what are today inaccurate characterizations of the problems facing emancipatory perspectives moving forward, we must externally, publicly problematize but also internally not use unproblematically such categories, which are inherited unthinkingly from the “Left” of prior historical moments.

The set of categories we need to confront, which applies both clearly to the present but also to what might appear to be a rather obscure history, stemming from the earliest manifestation of “Stalinism” in the late 1920s-early ’30s, is that of “anti-fascism” vs. “anti-imperialism.”

We have, in large measure, the history of the German “Left” since the 1960s to thank for these categories, “anti-fa” and “anti-imp,” which however have a much greater international and historical significance than may apparently be the case 포토샵 기본 브러쉬. Indeed, we need to confront these categories as the true manifestation of the real controversies besetting the “Left” today, and for deep historical reasons.

Of course, for many, the distinction between “fascism” and “imperialism” is without a difference: fascists are imperialist and imperialists are fascistic. But this is only at the most superficial, pejorative meaning of these categories. What they refer to, analytically, and politically, however, are quite different kinds of problems 배드맘스 다운로드. So, it becomes a matter of how one prioritizes the concerns of one’s politics. Are one’s concerns primarily “anti-imperialist” or “anti-fascist?”

In Tariq Ali’s book Trotsky for Beginners, there is a passage [p. 143] in which the Stalinist characterization of Trotsky as “fascist” is ridiculed by Ali, in light of the need for united anti-fascist political struggle by the Communists and Social-Democrats (and others) against the Nazis in Germany. But Ali’s “Trotskyist” common sense should not be taken at face value. Rather, one needs to understand why the Stalinists — that is, the vast majority of Communists, internationally, at the time — would have found this characterization of Trotsky’s perspective as “fascist” plausible:

We should not assume that Trotsky was right and the Stalinists wrong, however tempting this may be in retrospect 강변호텔 다운로드. The Stalinists thought that Trotsky’s perspective would have meant strengthening — caving in to — the Social Democrats, who in turn would not scruple to unleash the fascists against the Communists, as indeed happened earlier in 1918-19 in Germany and during the Russian Civil War. Trotsky’s perspective was that the Communists could get the upper hand on the Social Democrats and indeed lead and split them in a united fight against the fascists. Perhaps. But this is precisely what the ISO and others think can happen today with the Islamists against the imperialists, or what “Trotskyists” earlier thought could happen in drawing close to the Stalinists, as the Pabloites (Mandelites) thought Download RubyScript. In many respects this is an insoluble problem, and a key reason why tactical or even strategic judgments made by Marxists in earlier eras should not be hypostatized as abstract, timeless principles. Trotsky’s position was the more optimistic and indeed more interesting position in the dispute, but not some unalloyed truth we can reckon today.

The other side of the anti-imperialist/anti-fascist divide also comes from this period of Stalinism in the late 1920s-early ’30s. That is, why did the Communists make common cause at times with the Nazis, for instance in protests against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles adobe camera raw 다운로드? Out of “anti-imperialism,” namely, to have the forces of the Entente occupying Germany (French African troops in the Ruhr valley) removed. The Nazis had their own brand of “anti-imperialism” with which the Communists thought they could make common cause. [Show clip from Kiss of the Spider Woman: ~1:10:10 – 1:13:30.] Now, such “anti-imperialism” should remind us of the ISO with respect to Hezbollah, Hamas, and even al-Qaeda (Tariq Ali, after all, did publish the collected writings of Osama bin-Laden!).

It’s tantalizing for us to sympathize with Trotsky’s position as the path not taken. Even if Trotsky’s approach to fighting fascism had prevailed, it would have presented new problems 3ds max 2019. The point is that it didn’t, so we can only learn from it so much. We cannot afford to short-circuit the question of political judgment and turn the matter into one of abstract principles, quickly devolving into a moral or ethical stance: “Unite and fight against the Right!”

For who is the Right, essentially? In other words, who was the more dangerous Right? In some respects, this seems rather straightforward, the Nazis were the more dangerous and the Social Democrats the less dangerous Right. But is this really true, in terms of the actual, concretely practical political situation? Certainly the German and Russian counterrevolutionary civil wars, among other examples, demonstrated the vicious character of Social Democracy as a Right-wing force 스텔라 사가.

Now, we are clearly more sympathetic to the anti-fascist rather than anti-imperialist “Left.” This can be found in our orientations towards the Anti-Deutsch and others as our preferred objects of critique — more interesting, in certain respects, as objects of critical engagement, to be redeemed in some way. But we should not naturalize this but rather recognize how the current situation came about historically. For the worst offenders of the anti-imperialist “Left” today actually have roots in the anti-fascist “Left.” In other words, today’s divisions would not have applied in the past.

The ISO itself began as a more anti-fascist than anti-imperialist “Left” organization, for instance, prioritizing anti-Stalinism over anti-imperialism. This would have been the case until fairly recently, indeed perhaps one could say up to the collapse of Stalinism in 1989. In regarding the anti-fascist Left of Christopher Hitchens, Kanan Makiya, and others, we should recognize that the critique of Baathism in Iraq, for example, as fascist, is not enough to resolve the problem of imperialism in U.S. policy.

Another example is the RCP, which has in certain respects come to prioritize an anti-fascist as opposed to anti-imperialist politics.

But there are serious problems with the anti-fascist as well as the anti-imperialist “Left.” So it is important for us to be aware of this divide so that we can properly discern its — entirely symptomatic — character. We cannot afford to be either anti-fa or anti-imp in prioritizing our approach to the problem of the Left. | §

The politics of Critical Theory

Adorno’s “Leninism”

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a panel with Andrew Feenberg, Richard Westerman, and Nicholas Brown at the third annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, April 29, 2011 (audio recording).

The political origins of Frankfurt School Critical Theory have remained opaque, for several reasons, not least the taciturn character of the major writings of its figures.  The motivation for such reticence on the part of the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists is itself what requires explanation, why they engaged in self-censorship and encryption of their ideas, and consigned themselves to writing “messages in a bottle” without immediate or definite addressee.  As Horkheimer put it, the danger was in speaking like an “oracle;” he asked simply, “To whom shall we say these things?”[1] It was not simply due to American exile in the Nazi era or post-WWII Cold War exigency.  Some of their ideas were expressed explicitly enough.  Rather, the collapse of the Marxist Left in which the Critical Theorists’ thought had been formed, in the wake of the October 1917 Revolution in Russia and the German Revolution and civil war of 1918–19, deeply affected their perspective on political possibilities in their historical moment.  The question is, in what way was this Marxism?

A series of conversations between the leaders of the Frankfurt Institute, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, in 1956, at the height of the Cold War and after Khrushchev’s public admission of the crimes of the Stalin era, provide insight into their thinking and how they understood their situation in the trajectory of Marxism in the 20th century.  Selections from the transcript were recently published in New Left Review (2010), under the title “Towards a New Manifesto?”  The German publication of the complete transcript, in Horkheimer’s collected works, is under the title “Discussion about Theory and Praxis,” and their discussion was indeed in consideration of re-writing the Communist Manifesto in light of intervening history.  Within a few years of this, Adorno began but abandoned work on a critique of the German Social-Democratic Party’s Godesberg programme, which officially renounced Marxism in 1959, on the model of Marx’s celebrated critique of the Gotha Programme that had founded the SPD in 1875.  So, especially Adorno, but also Horkheimer had been deeply concerned with the question of continuing the project of Marxism, well into the later, post-WWII period of the Institute’s work.  In the series of conversations between Horkheimer and Adorno recorded by Adorno’s wife Gretel from March to April 1956, Adorno expressed his interest in re-writing the Communist Manifesto along what he called “strictly Leninist” lines.  Horkheimer did not object, but only pointed out that such a document, calling for what he called the “re-establishment of a socialist party,” “could not appear in Russia, while in the United States and Germany it would be worthless.”[2] Nonetheless, Horkheimer felt it was necessary to show “why one can be a communist and yet despise the Russians.”[3] As Horkheimer put it, simply, “Theory is, as it were, one of humanity’s tools.”[4] Thus, they tasked themselves to try to continue Marxism, if only as “theory.”

Now, it is precisely the supposed turning away from political practice and retreat into theory that many commentators have characterized as the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists’ abandonment of Marxism.  For instance, Martin Jay, in The Dialectical Imagination, or Phil Slater, in his book offering a “Marxist interpretation” of the Frankfurt School, characterized matters in such terms: Marxism could not be supposed to exist as mere theory, but had to be tied to practice.  But this was not a problem new to the Frankfurt Institute in exile, that is, after being forced to abandon their work in collaboration with the Soviet Marx-Engels Institute, for example, which was as much due to Stalinism as Nazism.  Rather, it pointed back to what Karl Korsch, a foundational figure for the Institute, wrote in 1923, that the crisis of Marxism, that is, the problems that had already manifested in the era of the 2nd International in the late 19th century (the so-called “Revisionist Dispute”) and developed and culminated in the collapse of the 2nd Intl. and the division in Marxism in WWI and the revolutions that followed, meant that the “umbilical cord” between theory and practice had been already “broken.”  Marxism stood in need of a transformation, in both theory and practice, but this transformation could only happen as a function of not only practice but also theory.  They suffered the same fate.  For Korsch in 1923, as well as for Georg Lukács in this same period, in writings seminal for the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists, Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg were exemplary of the attempt to rearticulate Marxist theory and practice.  Lenin in particular, as Lukács characterized him, the “theoretician of practice,” provided a key, indeed the crucial figure, in political action and theoretical self-understanding, of the problem Marxism faced at that historical moment.  As Adorno put it in the conversation with Horkheimer in 1956, “I have always wanted to . . . develop a theory that remains faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin.”  So, the question becomes, “faithful” in what way?

Several statements in two writings by Horkheimer and Adorno’s colleague, Herbert Marcuse, his “33 Theses” from 1947, and his book Soviet Marxism from 1958, can help shed light on the orientation of the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists towards the prior politics of “Communism,” specifically of Lenin.  Additionally, several letters from Adorno to Horkheimer and Benjamin in the late 1930s explicate Adorno’s positive attitude towards Lenin.  Finally, writings from Adorno’s last year, 1969, the “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” and “Resignation,” restated and further specified the content of his “Leninism” in light of his critique of the 1960s New Left.  The challenge is to recognize the content of such “Leninism” that might otherwise appear obscure or idiosyncratic, but actually points back to the politics of the early 20th century that was formative of Adorno and his cohort’s historical perspective.  Then, the question becomes, what was the significance of such a perspective in the later period of Adorno’s life?  How did such “Leninism” retain purchase under changed conditions, such that Adorno could bring it to bear, critically, up to the end of his life?  Furthermore, what could Adorno’s perspective on “Leninism” reveal about Lenin himself?  Why and how did Adorno remain a Marxist, and how did Lenin figure in this 한국 드라마 영화?

One clear explanation for Adorno’s “Leninism” was the importance of consciousness in Adorno’s estimation of potential for emancipatory social transformation.  For instance, in a letter to Horkheimer critical of Erich Fromm’s more humane approach to Freudian psychoanalysis, Adorno wrote that Fromm demonstrated

a mixture of social democracy and anarchism . . . [and] a severe lack of . . . dialectics . . . [in] the concept of authority, without which, after all, neither Lenin’s [vanguard] nor dictatorship can be conceived of.  I would strongly advise him to read Lenin.

Adorno thought that Fromm thus threatened to deploy something of what he called the “trick used by bourgeois individualists against Marx,” and wrote to Horkheimer that he considered this to be a “real threat to the line . . . which the [Frankfurt Institute’s] journal takes.”[5]

But the political role of an intellectual, theoretically informed “vanguard” is liable to the common criticism of Leninism’s tendency towards an oppressive domination over rather than critical facilitation of social emancipation.  A more complicated apprehension of the role of consciousness in the historical transformation of society can be found in Adorno’s correspondence on Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in 1936.  There, Adorno commended Benjamin’s work for providing an account of the relationship of intellectuals to workers along the lines of Lenin.  As Adorno put it in his letter to Benjamin,

The proletariat . . . is itself a product of bourgeois society. . . .  [T]he actual consciousness of actual workers . . . [has] absolutely no advantage over the bourgeois except . .  Paintnet. interest in the revolution, but otherwise bear[s] all the marks of mutilation of the typical bourgeois character. . . .  We maintain our solidarity with the proletariat instead of making of our own necessity a virtue of the proletariat, as we are always tempted to do — the proletariat which itself experiences the same necessity and needs us for knowledge as much as we need the proletariat to make the revolution.  I am convinced that the further development of the . . . debate you have so magnificently inaugurated [in the essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”] depends essentially on a true accounting of the relationship of the intellectuals to the working class. . . .  [Your essay is] among the profoundest and most powerful statements of political theory that I have encountered since I read [Lenin’s] The State and Revolution.

Adorno likely had in mind as well Lenin’s What is to be Done? or, even especially, his post-revolutionary pamphlet “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder.  In the former, Lenin (in)famously distinguished between “trade union” and “socialist consciousness.”  But in the later work, Lenin described the persistent “bourgeois” social conditions of intellectual work per se that would long survive the proletarian socialist revolution, indeed (reiterating from What is to be Done?) that workers became thoroughly “bourgeois” by virtue of the very activity of intellectual work (such as in journalism or art production), including and perhaps especially in their activity as Communist Party political cadre.  For Lenin, workers’ political revolution meant governing what would remain an essentially bourgeois society.  The revolution would make the workers for the first time, so to speak, entirely bourgeois, which was the precondition of their leading society beyond bourgeois conditions Download the Selenium file.[6] It was a moment, the next necessary step, in the workers’ self-overcoming, in the emancipatory transformation of society, in, through and beyond capital.  Marxism was not extrinsic but intrinsic to this process, as the workers’ movement itself was.  As Adorno put it to Horkheimer,

It could be said that Marx and Hegel taught that there are no ideals in the abstract, but that the ideal always lies in the next step, that the entire thing cannot be grasped directly but only indirectly by means of the next step.[7]

Lukács had mentioned this about Lenin, in a footnote to his 1923 essay in History and Class Consciousness, “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” that,

Lenin’s achievement is that he rediscovered this side of Marxism that points the way to an understanding of its practical core.  His constantly reiterated warning to seize the “next link” in the chain with all one’s might, that link on which the fate of the totality depends in that one moment, his dismissal of all utopian demands, i.e. his “relativism” and his “Realpolitik:” all these things are nothing less than the practical realisation of the young Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach.[8]

But this was not fully achieved in the Revolution that began to unfold from 1917 to 1919 in Russia, Germany, Hungary, and Italy, but was cut short of attaining the politics of the socialist transformation of society.  Thirty years later, in the context of the dawning Cold War following the defeat of the Nazis in WWII, Marcuse’s “33 Theses” tried to take stock of the legacy of the crisis of Marxism and the failure of the revolution:

[Thesis 3:] [T]o uphold without compromise orthodox Marxist theory . . . [—] [i]n the face of political reality such a position would be powerless, abstract and unpolitical, but when the political reality as a whole is false, the unpolitical position may be the only political truth 해리포터 죽음의성물1. . . .

[Thesis 32:] [T]he political workers’ party remains the necessary subject of revolution.  In the original Marxist conception, the party does not play a decisive role.  Marx assumed that the proletariat is driven to revolutionary action on its own, based on the knowledge of its own interests, as soon as revolutionary conditions are present. . . .  [But subsequent] development has confirmed the correctness of the Leninist conception of the vanguard party as the subject of the revolution.  It is true that the communist parties today are not this subject, but it is just as true that only they can become it.  Only in the theories of the communist parties is the memory of the revolutionary tradition alive, which can become the memory of the revolutionary goal again. . . .

[Thesis 33:] The political task then would consist in reconstructing revolutionary theory. . . .[9]

As Marcuse put it in 1958, in Soviet Marxism,

During the Revolution [beginning in 1917], it became clear to what degree Lenin had succeeded in basing his strategy on the actual class interests and aspirations of the workers and peasants. . . .  Then, from 1923 on, the decisions of the leadership increasingly dissociated from the class interests of the proletariat.  The former no longer presuppose the proletariat as a revolutionary agent but rather are imposed upon the proletariat and the rest of the underlying population.[10]

Adorno’s commentary in conversation with Horkheimer in 1956, in a passage not included in the New Left Review translation publication, titled “Individualism,” addressed what he called the problem of subjectivity as socially constituted, which he thought Lenin had addressed more rigorously than Marx.  Adorno said that,

Marx was too harmless; he probably imagined quite naïvely that human beings are basically the same in all essentials and will remain so.  It would be a good idea, therefore, to deprive them of their second nature.  He was not concerned with their subjectivity; he probably didn’t look into that too closely.  The idea that human beings are the products of society down to their innermost core is an idea that he would have rejected as milieu theory.  Lenin was the first person to assert this Download downloader YouTube.[11]

What this meant for Adorno was that the struggle to overcome the domination of society by capital was something more and other than the class struggle of the workers against the capitalists.  It was not merely a matter of their exploitation.  For it was not the case that social subjects were products of their class position so much as bourgeois society under capital determined all of its subjects in a historical nexus of unfreedom.  Rather, class position was an expression of the structure of this universal unfreedom. As Horkheimer wrote, in “The Little Man and the Philosophy of Freedom,” one of his aphoristic writings from 1926–31, published under the title Dämmerung (meaning “Twilight,” either “Dusk” or “Dawn”),

In socialism, freedom is to become a reality.  But because the present system is called “free” and considered liberal, it is not terribly clear what this may mean. . . .

The business man is subject to laws that neither he nor anyone else nor any power with such a mandate created with purpose and deliberation.  They are laws which the big capitalists and perhaps he himself skillfully make use of but whose existence must be accepted as a fact.  Boom, bust, inflation, wars and even the qualities of things and human beings the present society demands are a function of such laws, of the anonymous social reality. . . .

Bourgeois thought views this reality as superhuman.  It fetishizes the social process. . . .

[T]he error is not that people do not recognize the subject but that the subject does not exist.  Everything therefore depends on creating the free subject that consciously shapes social life.  And this subject is nothing other than the rationally organized socialist society which regulates its own existence.

But for the little man who is turned down when he asks for a job because objective conditions make it impossible, it is most important that their origin be brought to the light of day so that they do not continue being unfavorable to him.  Not only his own lack of freedom but that of others as well spells his doom.  His interest lies in the Marxist clarification of the concept of freedom 안드로이드 8.0 오레오.[12]

Such a clarification of what would constitute a progressive-emancipatory approach to the problem of capital was cut short by the course of Marxism in the 20th century.  It thus also became increasingly difficult to “bring to the light of day” the “origins” of persistent social conditions of unfreedom.  In many respects, the crisis of Marxism had been exacerbated but not overcome as a function of the post-WWI revolutionary aftermath.  This involved a deepening of the crisis of humanity, as the Frankfurt Institute Critical Theorists were well aware that fascism as a historical phenomenon was due to the failure of Marxism.  Fascism was the ill-begotten offspring of the history of Marxism itself.

From a decade after 1917, Horkheimer wrote, in a passage titled “Indications,” that,

The moral character of a person can be infallibly inferred from his response to certain questions. . . .  In 1930 the attitude toward Russia casts light on people’s thinking.  It is extremely difficult to say what conditions are like there.  I do not claim to know where the country is going; there is undoubtedly much misery. . . .  The senseless injustice of the imperialist world can certainly not be explained by technological inadequacy.  Anyone who has the eyes to see will view events in Russia as the continuing painful attempt to overcome this terrible social injustice.  At the very least, he will ask with a throbbing heart whether it is still under way.  If appearances were to be against it, he will cling to this hope like the cancer patient to the questionable report that a cure for his illness may have been found.

When Kant received the first news of the French Revolution [of 1789], he is said to have changed the direction of his customary stroll from then on Adobe Flash Player.[13]

Despite what occurred in the unfolding of developments in 20th century history, Horkheimer and Adorno never reversed course.  Are we yet ready to receive their messages in a bottle? | §

[1]. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “Towards a New Manifesto?,” trans. Rodney Livingstone, New Left Review 65 (September–October 2010), 46.

[2]. “Towards a New Manifesto?,” 57.

[3]. “Towards a New Manifesto?,” 57 Download Pokemon Leafgreen.

[4]. “Towards a New Manifesto?,” 57.

[5]. Adorno to Horkheimer, March 21, 1936, quoted in Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School, 266.  Moreover, Adorno wrote that, “If one is concerned to achieve what might be possible with human beings, it is extremely difficult to remain friendly towards real people . . . a pretext for approving of precisely that element in people by which they prove themselves to be not merely their own victims but virtually their own hangmen” (Adorno to Horkheimer, June 2, 1941, quoted in Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School, 268).

[6]. Lenin wrote, in “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920), that,

Let us take, say, journalistic work.  Newspapers, pamphlets and leaflets perform the indispensable work of propaganda, agitation and organisation.  No mass movement in any country at all civilised can get along without a journalistic apparatus.  No outcries against “leaders” or solemn vows to keep the masses uncontaminated by the influence of leaders will relieve us of the necessity of using, for this work, people from a bourgeois-intellectual environment or will rid us of the bourgeois-democratic, “private property” atmosphere and environment in which this work is carried out under capitalism.  Even two and a half years after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie [in Russia], after the conquest of political power by the proletariat, we still have this atmosphere around us, this environment of mass (. . . artisan) bourgeois-democratic private property relations. . . .  The most shameless careerism . . . and vulgar petty-bourgeois conservatism are all unquestionably common and prevalent features engendered everywhere by capitalism, not only outside but also within the working-class movement dns 다운로드. . . .  [T]he overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the conquest of political power by the proletariat — [creates] these very same difficulties on a still larger, an infinitely larger scale.

[7]. Adorno and Horkheimer, “Towards a New Manifesto?,” 54.

[8]. Note 60.

[9]. Herbert Marcuse, “33 Theses,” in Technology, War, and Fascism, ed. Douglas Kellner (New York: Routledge, 1998), 217, 226–227.

[10] Baidu network disk. Marcuse, Soviet Marxism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), 149.

[11]. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, “Diskussion über Theorie und Praxis” (1956), in Horkheimer, Gesammelte Schriften (GAS) Vol. 19 (Nachträge, Verzeichnisse und Register) (S. Fischer, 1996), 71; quoted in Detlev Claussen, Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 233.

[12]. Max Horkheimer, Dawn and Decline, Notes 1926-31 and 1950-69, trans. Michael Shaw (New York: Seabury/Continuum, 1978), 50–52.

[13]. Horkheimer, Dawn and Decline, 72–73.

The idea of communism: Badiou, Lacan, Althusser (audio recording)

Chris Cutrone

Alain Badiou’s recent book (2010) is titled with the phrase promoted by his and Slavoj Zizek’s work for the last few years, “the communist hypothesis.” Zizek has spoken of “the Badiou event” as opening new horizons for both philosophy and communism Why did you come to my house and download it. Badiou and Zizek share a background in Lacanian and Althusserian “post-structuralist” French thought, in common with other prominent post-New Left thinkers — and former students of Louis Althusser — such as Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière 음성 번역. Althusser found, in the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, a salutary challenge to the notion of the Hegelian “logic of history,” that revolutionary change could and indeed did happen as a matter of contingency 짱구는 못말려 극장판 26기 자막. For Badiou, this means that emancipation must be conceived of as an “event,” which involves a fundamental reconsideration of ontology.

Audio recording of presentation and discussion hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, April 12, 2011

Suggested background readings:

• Cutrone, “The Marxist Hypothesis: A Response to Badiou’s ‘Communist Hypothesis’” (2010)

• Badiou, “The Communist Hypothesis” (2008)

• Cutrone, “Chinoiserie: A Critique of the RCP, USA on Badiou” (2010)

• Badiou, “Tunisia, Egypt: The Universal Reach of Popular Uprisings” (2011)

• Wal Suchting, “Althusser’s Late Thinking about Materialism” (2004)

To the shores of Tripoli

Tsunamis and world history

Chris Cutrone

United States Navy Lieutenant Stephen Decatur and his men from USS Enterprise attacking the Barbary pirate ketch Mistico on December 23, 1803. Painting by Dennis Malone Carter (1827–81).

“AFTER ME, THE DELUGE,” the saying attributed to Louis XV (1710–74), would have been better said by his son and heir Louis XVI, who was soon thereafter overthrown by the French Revolution that began in 1789 nespot cm 다운로드.[1] Muammar Qaddafi has said something similar, that if he is overthrown Libya will be condemned to chaos. Qaddafi even claims to be fighting off “al-Qaeda.” Perhaps he is.

On the one hand, this is all clearly self-serving on Qaddafi’s part. On the other hand, the kernel of truth in such a statement, specifically with regard to Libya, might bear scrutiny 노래 가사 다운로드.

The U.S. administration that attacked Libya before Obama was that of Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s foreign policy advisor and United Nations ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, famously distinguished between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” dictatorships, and thought that the U.S. should support the former and oppose the latter because of the relative ease with which the former could transition to democracy as opposed to the latter, whose pathology ran deeper, and so the effects would prove more lasting obstacles to freedom Download The Ndine Regulation 2018.

The comparison of Libya to its neighbor Egypt in the recent uprising against Mubarak seems to prove Kirkpatrick’s point. Egypt seems poised on a relatively painless transition to democracy, while Libya portends a much darker future, with or without Qaddafi. One might also, for good measure, point out the more intractably “totalitarian” tyranny of the political regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose potential democratic replacement is also highly uncertain, not least because its Islamic Revolution in 1979 was “democratic” in ways that the origins of the Egyptian or Libyan regimes were not 아이폰 이메일 첨부파일.

Back in the 1980s, another famous dictator who was toppled, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, warned that if his “New Society” was overthrown it would mean only the return of the traditional oligarchy of wealthy families, to the detriment of the people. While the Philippines today is certainly more politically democratic, and in this sense “free,” than under Marcos, his prediction has come spectacularly true sql server management studio 다운로드. The Philippines today is ruled by its traditional wealthy families, unimpeded, rather than by the upstart cronies cultivated under Marcos, himself a parvenu intolerable to the old Filipino elite. Furthermore, the rate of growth and development in the Philippines has stagnated, and is today much lower than it had been under Marcos. The wealth gap is much greater and poverty levels much worse at the bottom, and more endemically pervasive in the Philippines today than before microsoft powerpoint 다운로드. The Philippines remains, and will remain, just as swamped, in some ways worse than it was under Marcos.

Many of the former republics of the USSR after the collapse of Stalinism are as well.

But what is the point of saying so?

The potential further development of Libya after the passing of Qaddafi suggests something darker than what happened after “People’s Power” in the Philippines, in terms of violence and other forms of overt brutality — as opposed to the “softer” brutality that continues to prevail in the Philippines, as elsewhere 더심즈. Libya may become more like Somalia. Or Yemen. Or Afghanistan or Iraq. Who knows?

If Qaddafi thought that the tsunami that hit Japan would distract the U.S. from attacking his regime and allow suppression of the rebellion in Libya, he was mistaken. Rather, Qaddafi underestimated the global deluge of capital, at whose leading edge the U.S., for better or worse, operates Download the plump. The flood was not to spare Qaddafi. It always stands poised to crash, cresting menacingly somewhere off shore. The rebels in Libya may have wished it to rain down on Qaddafi like a Biblical plague on the Pharaoh, tearing down the pride of his sinful glory. It will. But it may not spare them, either. There is little if any justice to history. Especially to a place like Libya, history happens.

Protest against the U.S./NATO/UN bombing of Libya is no less hopeless than Qaddafi is fps 다운로드.

Interior of the ancient Berber city of Ghadames, Libya.

Qaddafi’s regime was, like Marcos’s in the Philippines — and the “totalitarian” regimes of the USSR and Eastern Europe, China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, etc. that Kirkpatrick and Reagan opposed — a “modernizing” project. Horrifically so. Perhaps this is what Kirkpatrick actually had in mind in her distinction between “authoritarian,” meaning more traditional, and “totalitarian” dictatorships — and why the former would end up being more benign than the latter 스페셜솔져 버그판. Perhaps.

The tsunami hits Japan, March 11, 2011.

Qaddafi moved the Berbers out of their traditional community in Ghadames into new apartment buildings. The ancient city — hallucinatory in its cavernous complexes — was left intact and preserved as a cultural museum. It still stands, alluring next to the decrepit hovels the modern high-rises have become. Perhaps the Berbers will return to their ancient city, evacuated by Qaddafi. But really it is no longer there, even if it remains in Libya. The deluge has not spared it. Nor will it. The only difference is how hard the wave might hit. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review 34 (April 2011).

[1]. See my “Egypt, or, history’s invidious comparisons: 1979, 1789, and 1848,” Platypus Review 33 (March 2011).

Left Forum NYC 2011: Lenin’s Marxism

Lenin’s liberalism

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a panel with Paul LeBlanc and Lars T. Lih at the Left Forum 2011, Pace University, New York, March 19, 2011 (audio recording); at the third annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, April 30, 2011; and at the Marxist Literary Group summer Institute on Culture and Society, University of Illinois at Chicago, June 22, 2011.


Lenin’s Marxist politics has been profoundly misconstrued and distorted, both positively and negatively, as supposedly having wanted to strip capitalist society of its deceptive veneer and assert the unadorned proletariat as the be-all and end-all of “socialist” society. Certainly not merely the later Stalinist history of the Soviet Union, but also practices of the Soviet state under Lenin’s leadership in the Civil War, so-called “War Communism,” and the Red Terror, lent themselves to a belief in Lenin as a ruthless destroyer of “bourgeois” conditions of life. But, then, what are we to make, for instance, of Lenin’s pamphlets on The State and Revolution and “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder? For they emphasized both the necessary persistence of “bourgeois right” among the workers in the long transition from socialism to communism, requiring the continuation of state mediation, and the fact that Marxists had understood their effort as trying to overcome capital “on the basis of capitalism” itself. A prime example of Lenin’s insistence on the mediation of politics in society was his opposition to Trotsky’s recommendation that labor unions be militarized and subsumed under the state. Lenin wanted to preserve, rather, the important non-identity of class, party, and state in the Soviet “workers’ state,” which he recognized as necessarily carrying on, for the foreseeable future, “state capitalism” (characterized by “bureaucratic deformations” due to Russian conditions). Lenin thus wanted to preserve the possibility of politics within the working class, a theme that reached back to his first major pamphlet, What is to be Done? Lenin’s “last struggle” (Moshe Lewin) was to prevent the strangling of politics in the Soviet state, a danger he regarded not merely in terms of Stalin’s leadership, but the condition of the Bolsheviks more generally. For instance, Lenin critically noted Trotsky’s predilection for “administrative” solutions.

Georg Lukács, Karl Korsch and Theodor Adorno, teasing out a “Hegelian” dimension to Lenin’s Marxism, derived from Lenin’s theoretical writings and political practice an elaboration of the Marxist theory of social mediation in capital, through the politics of proletarian socialism, that sought to recover Lenin from a bad utopian perspective of the desire to do away with politics altogether 시드 0. Rather, such Marxist critical theory following Lenin understood overcoming the “alienation” and “reification” of capital as providing the possibility for the true practice of politics, a neglected but vital contribution Lenin made to the development of Marxism. Lenin did not attempt to destroy modern forms of political mediation, but rather to achieve the true mediation of theory and practice, in politics freed from society dominated by capital. This was the content of Lenin’s liberalism, his “dialectical” Marxist attempt, not to negate, but rather to fulfill the desiderata of bourgeois society, which capital had come to block, and which could only be worked through “immanently.”

The controversy about Lenin

Lenin is the most controversial figure in the history of Marxism, and perhaps one of the most controversial figures in all of history. As such, he is an impossible figure for sober consideration, without polemic. Nevertheless, it has become impossible, also, after Lenin, to consider Marxism without reference to him. Broadly, Marxism is divided into avowedly “Leninist” and “anti-Leninist” tendencies. In what ways was Lenin either an advance or a calamity for Marxism? But there is another way of approaching Lenin, which is as an expression of the historical crisis of Marxism. In other words, Lenin as a historical figure is unavoidably significant as manifesting a crisis of Marxism. The question is how Lenin provided the basis for advancing that crisis, how the polarization around Lenin could provide the basis for advancing the potential transformation of Marxism, in terms of resolving certain problems. What is clear from the various ways that Lenin is usually approached is that the necessity for such transformation and advance of Marxism has been expressed only in distorted ways. For instance, the question of Marxist “orthodoxy” hinders the proper evaluation of Lenin. There was a fundamental ambiguity in the way Marxism addressed its own historical crisis, in the question of fidelity to and revision of Marx, for instance in the so-called “Revisionist Dispute” of the late 19th century. Lenin was a leading anti-revisionist or “orthodox” Marxist. This was also true of other Second International radical Marxists, such as Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky. In what ways did these figures, and above all Lenin, think that being true to Marx was required for the advancement and transformation of Marxism?

The Frankfurt School Critical Theorist Theodor Adorno, in his 1966 book Negative Dialectics, wrote of the degeneration of Marxism due to “dogmatization and thought-taboos.” There is no other figure in the history of Marxism who has been subject to such “dogmatization and thought-taboos” as much as Lenin 트래블러 5화. For Adorno, figures in the history of Marxism such as Lenin or Luxemburg or Kautsky should not be approached in terms merely of their theoretical perspectives or practical actions they took or advocated, but rather in their relation of theory and practice, or, why they thought they did what they did when they did so. As Adorno put it, theory and practice have a changing relation that “fluctuates” historically.

Lenin, among other Marxists, thought that the political party served an important function with regard to consciousness, and wrote in What is to be Done? of the key “importance of the theoretical struggle” in forming such a party. Lenin thought that theory was not simply a matter of generalization from experience in terms of trial and error, as in traditional (pre-Kantian) epistemology, but, importantly, in the Hegelian “dialectical” sense of history: this is how Lenin understood “theory.” As Lenin put it, history did not advance in a line but rather in “spirals,” through repetitions and regressions, and not simple linear “progress.” In this respect, the past could be an advance on the present, or, the present could seek to attain moments of the past, but under changed conditions. And such changed conditions were themselves not to be regarded simply as “progressive.” Rather, there was an important ambivalence to history, in that it exhibited both progress and regress. In his 1915 Granat Encyclopedia entry on Karl Marx, describing “dialectics” from a Marxian perspective, Lenin wrote,

In our times, the idea of development, of evolution, has almost completely penetrated social consciousness, only in other ways, and not through Hegelian philosophy. Still, this idea, as formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of Hegel’s philosophy, is far more comprehensive and far richer in content than the current idea of evolution is. A development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis (“the negation of the negation”), a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line; a development by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions; “breaks in continuity”; the transformation of quantity into quality; inner impulses towards development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon (history constantly revealing ever new aspects), a connection that provides a uniform, and universal process of motion, one that follows definite laws — these are some of the features of dialectics as a doctrine of development that is richer than the conventional one.

With Marxism, the “crisis” of bourgeois society was recognized. The crisis of bourgeois society circa 1848 was what Marx called “capital,” a provocative characterization. The spiral development through which Lenin, among other Second International radicals such as Luxemburg and Trotsky, thought that history in the modern era had regressed through the “progress” since Marx and Engels’s time in 1848, the moment of the Communist Manifesto, showed how and why the subsequent development of Marxism sought to re-attain 1848. Was history since 1848 progress or regress? In a certain sense, it was both. In this history, bourgeois society appeared to both fulfill and negate itself. In other words, bourgeois society had become more itself than ever; in other respects, however, it grew distant from its earlier achievements and even undermined them Download Nexus Mode Manager. (For instance, the recrudescence of slave labor in the decades leading up to the U.S. Civil War.) The Second International radicals thus sought to return to the original potential of bourgeois society in its first moment of crisis, circa 1848. As Karl Kraus put it, in a way that registered deeply with Walter Benjamin and Adorno, “Origin is the goal.” Even though the crisis of capital or bourgeois society grew, the question was whether the crisis advanced. The Second International radicals recognized that while the crisis of capital, in Marx’s sense, grows, the crisis must be made to advance, as history does not progress automatically. It was in this sense that there was, potentially, a return of the 1848 moment in the development of Marxism itself, which was the attempt to make the growing crisis — what Luxemburg and Lenin called “imperialism,” and what Lenin termed capitalism’s “highest stage” — a historical advance.

The paradox of such development and transformation of Marxism itself through the return to the past moment of potential and resultant “crisis” was expressed well by Karl Korsch, who wrote, in his 1923 essay on “Marxism and Philosophy,”

[The] transformation and development of Marxist theory has been effected under the peculiar ideological guise of a return to the pure teaching of original or true Marxism. Yet it is easy to understand both the reasons for this guise and the real character of the process which is concealed by it. What theoreticians like Rosa Luxemburg in Germany and Lenin in Russia have done, and are doing, in the field of Marxist theory is to liberate it from the inhibiting traditions of [Social Democracy]. They thereby answer the practical needs of the new revolutionary stage of proletarian class struggle, for these traditions weighed “like a nightmare” on the brain of the working masses whose objectively revolutionary socioeconomic position no longer corresponded to these [earlier] evolutionary doctrines. The apparent revival of original Marxist theory in the Third International is simply a result of the fact that in a new revolutionary period not only the workers’ movement itself, but the theoretical conceptions of communists which express it, must assume an explicitly revolutionary form. This is why large sections of the Marxist system, which seemed virtually forgotten in the final decades of the nineteenth century, have now come to life again.

So, what were these “revolutionary” aspects of Marxism that were recovered in the course of the “crisis of Marxism” (Korsch’s phrase), and how did Lenin help recover them?

Lenin: history not linear but spiral

Lenin and the political party

Lenin made a portentous but indicative remark in the first footnote to his book What is to be Done 카카오 배틀그라운드 다운로드?, in which he stated that,

Incidentally, in the history of modern socialism [there] is a phenomenon . . . in its way very consoling, namely . . . the strife of the various trends within the socialist movement. . . . [In] the[se] disputes between Lassalleans and Eisenachers, between Guesdists and Possibilists, between Fabians and Social-Democrats, and between Narodnaya Volya adherents and Social-Democrats, . . . really [an] international battle with socialist opportunism, [will] international revolutionary Social-Democracy . . . perhaps become sufficiently strengthened to put an end to the political reaction that has long reigned in Europe?

In other words, could working through the issue of opportunist-reformist “revisionism” within Marxism be the means for overcoming capital? This would appear to be the self-centrality of Marxism taken to its fullest flower. But there was a rationale to this. Not only did Lenin (subsequent to What is to be Done?) want the Mensheviks thrown out of Russian Social Democracy (Lenin agreed with the Mensheviks on excluding the so-called “economistic” tendencies of Marxism and the Jewish Bund workers’ organizations), but a seldom remarked fact was that Luxemburg, too, wanted the reformist Revisionists thrown out of the German Social Democratic Party (Kautsky waffled on the issue). Lenin and Luxemburg wanted to split the Second International from its reformists (or, “opportunists”).

Lenin not only thought that splits, that is, political divisions, in the Left or the workers’ movement were possible and desirable, but also necessary. The only differences Lenin had with figures such as Luxemburg or Kautsky were over particular concrete instances in which such splits did or could or should have occurred. For instance, Luxemburg thought that the split in Russian Social Democracy in 1903 was premature and so did not concur with Lenin and the Bolsheviks on its benefits. And, importantly, the question was not merely over whether a political split could or should take place, but how, and, also, when. Politics was a historical phenomenon.

There is the specific question of the “party” as a form of politics. Marx and Engels had written in the Communist Manifesto that, “The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.” So, this would appear to present a problem in the case of Lenin, who is notorious for the “party question.” But it poses a problem for the question of Marxism in general, for Marxism confronted other, opposed, political tendencies in the working class, for instance anarchism in the First International 하나투어 앱. What had changed between Marx and Engels’s time and Lenin’s?

As Marxists, Lenin and Luxemburg considered themselves to be vying for leadership of the social democratic workers’ movement and its political party; they didn’t simply identify with either the party or the movement, both of which originated independently of them. Both the workers’ movement and the social-democratic party would have existed without Marxism. For them, the party was an instrument, as was the workers’ movement itself. In responding to Eduard Bernstein’s remark that the “movement is everything, the goal nothing,” Luxemburg went so far as to say that without the goal of socialism the workers’ movement was nothing, or perhaps even worse than nothing, in that it exacerbated the problem of capitalism, for instance giving rise to the “imperialist” form of capitalism in the late 19th century. How were the social-democratic movement and its political parties understood by Marxists? For considering this, it is necessary to note well Marx’s critique of the Gotha Programme that had founded the German SPD and Engels’s subsequent critique of the Erfurt Programme that had made Marxism the official perspective of the Social Democratic Party. They critiqued these programmes because that’s what Marxists do: critique. No matter what had been written in these programmes, it was certain to elicit critiques from Marx and Engels.

The Marxists, that is, Marx and Engels, seem to have reluctantly gone along with the formation of a permanent party of social democracy, but not without serious reservations and caveats. The endorsement of party politics was provisional and conditional. For instance, in 1917, Lenin himself threatened to quit the Bolshevik party. Lenin thought that he could quit the party and continue to lead the revolution, that he would quit the party in order to lead the revolution.

Luxemburg’s biographer, British political scientist J.P. Nettl, traced the question of the social-democratic party to a set of problematic conceptions, all of which were challenged in practice and theory by the radical Left in the Second International, in figures such as Luxemburg and Lenin. The party could be conceived as an interest-aggregator and pressure-group on the state, advancing the interests of the working class. Or it could be conceived, as it was most overtly by its leadership, under its organizational leader August Bebel and its leading theorist Karl Kautsky, as a “state within the state,” or what Nettl termed an “inheritor party,” aiming to take power. Involved in the latter was a theory not only of revolution but also of socialism, both of which were problematical. Specifically troublesome was the idea of building up the working class’s own organization within capitalism so that when its final crisis came, political power would fall into the hands of the social democrats, who had organized the working class in anticipation of such an eventuality. But these were conceptions that were challenged and critiqued, not only by later radicals such as Luxemburg and Lenin, but also by Marx and Engels themselves Download Wicked 1080p. Marxists such as Marx and Engels and Lenin and Luxemburg were, rightly, deeply suspicious of the social-democratic party as a permanent political institution of the working class.

The problem of party politics

To situate this discussion properly, it is important to return to the classical liberal scorn for political parties. There was no term of political contempt greater than “party man,” or “partisan” politics, which violated not only the value of individuals thinking for themselves but also, perhaps more importantly, the very notion of politics in the liberal-democratic conception, especially with regard to the distinction between the state and civil society. Whereas the state was compulsory, civil society institutions were voluntary. While political parties, as forms of association, could be considered civil society organizations, the articulation of such formations with political power in the state struck classical liberal thinkers as particularly dangerous. Hegel, for one, explicitly preferred hereditary monarchy over democracy as a form of executive authority, precisely because it was free of such a problem. For Hegel, civil society would remain more free under a monarchy than under democracy, in which he thought political authority could be distorted by private interests. The danger lay in the potential for a civil society group to capture state power in its narrow, private interests. Moreover, in the classical liberal tradition, the idea of the professional “politician” was severely objectionable; rather, state-political figures rose through other civil society institutions, as entrepreneurs, professors, priests, etc., and only reluctantly took on the duty of public office: “It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.”

This problem of modern politics and its forms recurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to thinkers such as Robert Michels, a student and associate of Max Weber, similarly concerned with the problem of modern “bureaucracy,” who, in a landmark study, compared the German SPD to the Democratic Party in the U.S., specifically with regard to the issue of the “party machine,” with its “ward bosses,” or machine-party politics, and the resulting tendency towards what Michels called “oligarchy.” Michels had been a member of the SPD, in its radical wing, until 1907. (Michels, who also studied the Socialist Party in Italy, went on to join Italian fascism under the former Socialist Benito Mussolini, because he thought fascism was a solution to the problem of “bureaucracy,” but that’s another story.) So the problem of party-politics was a well-known issue in Lenin’s time. For Second International radical Marxists such as Luxemburg and Lenin, the workers’ social-democratic party was not to be an interest-aggregator and permanent political institution of social power like the Democratic Party in the U.S. (which ultimately became the party of the labor unions). What, then, was the function of the social-democratic party, for figures such as Lenin and Luxemburg?

Obviously,  Lenin’s concerns with politics were not the same as those of liberals, who sought to prevent the ossification of political authority from stymieing the dynamism of civil society in capitalism Download simplified Chinese fonts. For Lenin’s concern was above all with revolution, that is, fundamental social transformation. But was the issue of politics thus so different in Lenin’s case? This raises the important issue of in what way social revolution and transformation was related to “politics,” in the modern sense. That is, whether Lenin was interested in the “end” of politics as conceived in liberalism and practiced under capitalism, or instead concerned with overcoming the obstacle to the practice of politics that capitalism had become. How was overcoming the social problem capitalism had become a new beginning, for the true practice of politics? In this sense, it is important to address how political mediation was brought into being but ultimately shaped and distorted by the modern society of capital, especially after the Industrial Revolution.

“Politics” is a modern phenomenon. Modern politics is conditioned by the crisis of capital in modern history. Traditional civilization, prior to the bourgeois, capitalist epoch, was subject to crises that could only be considered natural or divine in origin. Modern society is subject, for Marxists (as well as for liberals), rather, to human-made crisis thus potentially subject to politics. Bourgeois politics indeed responds to the permanent crisis of capitalism — in a sense, that’s all it does — but in inadequate terms, naturalizing aspects of capitalism that should be regarded as changeable, but can only be so regarded, for Marxists, as radically and consistently changeable, from a proletarian or working-class socialist perspective. Thus, modern politics has been haunted by the “specter of communism,” or socialism. As Marx put it, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,

Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most insipid democracy, is . . . stigmatized as “socialism.”

Furthermore, the concrete meaning of socialism or communism is subject to change. For Marxists, the demand for socialism in the 19th century was itself an engine of capitalist development, historically. The story of socialism, then, is bound up with the development of capital, and the question of whether and how its crisis was growing and advancing.

Moreover, the question of party-politics per se is a post-1848 phenomenon, in which modern socialism was bound up. In other words, the crisis of bourgeois society in capital after the Industrial Revolution and the failure of the “social republic” in 1848, was the crisis of bourgeois society as liberal. The rise of party-politics was thus a feature of the growing authoritarianism of bourgeois society, or, the failure of liberalism. As such, socialism needed to take up the problems of bourgeois society in capital that liberalism had failed to anticipate or adequately meet, or, to take up the cause of liberalism that bourgeois politics had dropped in the post-1848 world. For Marx, the problem was found most saliently in Louis Bonaparte’s popular authoritarianism against the liberals in Second Republic France, culminating in the coup d’état and establishment of the Second Empire 왕좌의 게임 시즌8 6화 자막. As Marx put it, the capitalists were no longer and the workers not yet able, politically, to master the bourgeois society of capital. Party-politics was thus bound up with the historical phenomenon of Bonapartism.

Lenin and the crisis of Marxism

The period of close collaboration between Luxemburg and Lenin around the 1905 Russian Revolution saw Luxemburg leveling a critique of the relation that had developed between the social-democratic party and the labor unions in her pamphlet on The Mass Strike, the Political Party, and the Trade Unions. (Also, during this time Luxemburg wrote a defense of Lenin against the Menshevik charge of “Blanquism,” which she called “pedantic,” and thought said more of the reformist opportunism of those leveling the charge against Lenin than about its target.) In her Mass Strike pamphlet, Luxemburg delineated specific and non-identical roles for the various elements she mentioned in her title, that is to say, general strike committees, political parties, and labor unions (not mentioned specifically were the “soviets,” or workers’ councils). In this sense, the “mass strike” was for Luxemburg a symptom of the historical development and crisis of social democracy itself. This made it a political and not merely tactical issue. That is, for Luxemburg, the mass strike was a phenomenon of how social democracy had developed its political parties and labor unions, and what new historical necessities had thus been brought into being. Luxemburg’s pamphlet was, above all, a critique of the social-democratic party, which she regarded as a historical symptom. This was prefigured in Luxemburg’s earlier pamphlet on Reform or Revolution?, where she addressed the question of the raison d’être of the social-democratic movement (the combination of political party and labor unions).

From this perspective of regarding the history of the workers’ movement and Marxism itself as intrinsic to the history of capitalism, then, it becomes possible to make sense of Lenin’s further articulations of politics in his later works, The State and Revolution and “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, as well as in the political disputes that attended the young Soviet state that had issued from the Russian Revolution and had endured the Civil War and stabilization of international capitalism in the aftermath of WWI. Lenin maintained a strictly minimal conception of the state, restricting it to the monopoly of authority for the exercise of force, precisely in order to avoid an all-encompassing conception of the state as the be-all and end-all of politics. Similarly, Lenin deemed “infantile” the impatience of supposed radicals with existing forms of political mediation, such as parliaments, stating unequivocally that while Marxism may have “theoretically” surpassed a liberal conception of the state, this had not yet been achieved “politically,” that is, in practice. In response to Trotsky’s recommendation that labor unions be militarized in the Soviet state, Lenin maintained that unions needed to remain independent not only of the state, but also of the Communist Party itself M COUNTDOWN 다운로드. The workers needed the ability, according to Lenin, of asserting their rights against the party and the state. Lenin recognized the necessity of an articulated non-identity of state, political parties, and other voluntary civil society institutions such as labor unions. This was grounded in Lenin’s perspective that capitalist social relations could not be abolished in one stroke through political revolution, that, even though the state had been “smashed,” it was reconstituted, not on the basis of a new social principle, but on the continuation of what Lenin called “bourgeois right,” long after the political overthrow and even social elimination of a separate capitalist class. “Bourgeois right” persisted precisely among the workers (and other previously subordinate members of society) and so necessarily governed their social relations, necessitating a state that could thus only “wither away.” Politics could be only slowly transformed.

Finally, there is the question of Adorno’s continued adherence to Lenin, despite what at first glance may appear to be some jarring contradictions with respect to Lenin’s own perspective and political practice. For instance, in a late essay from 1969, “Critique,” Adorno praised the U.S. Constitutional system of “divisions of powers” and “checks and balances” as essential to preserving the critical function of reason in the exercise of political authority. But this was an example for Adorno, and not necessarily to be hypostatized as such. The making common of executive and legislative authority in the “soviet” system of “workers’ councils” was understood by Lenin, as Adorno well knew, to coexist with separate civil society organizations such as political parties, labor unions and other voluntary groups, and so did not necessarily and certainly did not intentionally violate the critical role of political mediation, at various levels of society.

It has been a fundamental mistake to conflate and confuse Lenin’s model of party politics for a form of state in pursuing socialism. Lenin presupposed their important non-identity. The party was meant to be one element among many mediating factors in society and politics. Moreover, Lenin’s party was meant to be one among many parties, including multiple parties of the working class, vying for its adherence, and even multiple “Marxist” parties, differing in their relation of theory and practice, or means and ends.

By contrast, there was nothing so repressive and authoritarian as the Kautskyan (or Bebelian) social-democratic “party of the whole class” (or, the “one class, one party” model of social democracy, that is, that since the capitalists are of one interest in confronting the workers, the workers need to be unified against the capitalists). The social-democratic party, after all, waged the counterrevolution against Lenin and Luxemburg.

Lenin preserved politics by splitting Marxism. For this, Lenin has never been forgiven. But, precisely for this, Lenin needs to be remembered. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review 36 (June 2011) 슈퍼 마리오 선샤인.

Left Forum NYC 2011: Badiou’s Communism

Badiou’s “communism” — a gerontic disorder

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a panel with Nayi Duniya (Demarcations journal), co-author of Alain Badiou’s “Politics of Emancipation:” A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World, and Bruno Bosteels (Cornell University) at the Left Forum 2011, Pace University, New York, March 19, 2011; and on the panel “Badiou and post-Maoism: Marxism and communism today,” with Mike Ely, Joseph Ramsey and John Steele at the third annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, April 30, 2011 (audio recording). (An audio recording of the related April 12, 2011 lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, on “The Idea of Communism: Badiou, Althusser and Lacan,” is available.)

Perhaps the most condemnatory thing that could be said of Badiou’s “communism” was something Badiou himself wrote, when he defined “communism” as a “Kantian regulatory idea,” a norm to be aspired to, rather than a concrete reality to be achieved. This not only besmirched the historical Marxist idea of “communism,” but also Kant! For Kant addressed freedom as something that could and should be, not as a utopia. And Marx remained deeply engaged in practical politics. Leon Trotsky wrote, more than a hundred years ago, after the 1905 Russian Revolution (in the 1906 pamphlet Results and Prospects), that “Marxism converted socialism into a science, but this does not prevent some ‘Marxists’ from converting Marxism into a Utopia.” Trotsky also wrote that, “[I]n academies . . . it might be possible artificially to detain the proletariat for fifty, a hundred or five hundred years, but in the course of all-round life in capitalist society, on the basis of unceasing class struggle[,] . . . [t]he growth of the consciousness of the proletariat transforms this class struggle, gives it a deeper and more purposeful character.” Trotsky was not a utopian any more than Kant or Marx were.

However, as we know, such “unceasing class struggle” that Trotsky had in mind, which could “transform” the “consciousness of the proletariat” and potentially “give it a deeper and more purposeful character,” is precisely what the world has been missing, for at least a generation 백마고지 다운로드. The Marxist vision for proletarian socialism has passed, almost completely into oblivion. Badiou’s late redefinition of “communism” is a response — an adaptation — to this historical reality. Indeed, Trotsky was writing at the crest of 2nd International Marxism, which developed in the period from 1871 to 1917, whose history Badiou deliberately seeks to bury. Badiou characterizes this period, like our own, as an “interval,” in which “the communist hypothesis was declared to be untenable,” “with the adversary in the ascendant.” What is the basis of Badiou’s judgment of this period, 1871 to 1917, in which, not only did bourgeois society go through its last great flowering, in the Belle Époque, but Marxism flourished as an international workers’ movement, commanding a dedication to socialist revolution by millions in the core capitalist countries? The period between the Paris Commune and the October Revolution was not in any way like ours; it was not cynical, but optimistic in the sense of historical mission and the real potential of human progress. Badiou shares the skepticism that has developed regarding such historical potential. Indeed, we can say that Badiou is typical of the 1960s-era New Left in this regard. Badiou cannot recognize 2nd Intl. Marxism as an advance. Moreover, Badiou is, in Trotsky’s sense, “academic,” despite his avowed intentions. The last thing Badiou imagines is that he has conceded. Badiou’s entire philosophy was developed out of concern for “fidelity,” resisting the apostasies of the 1968 generation in the decades that followed gt designer3 Hangul. — The question is, to what does Badiou claim fidelity? Certainly not Marxism.

What has sanctioned Badiou to bury the admittedly obscure history of the first wave of Marxism in the 2nd Intl., today? And why does Badiou find an affinity in our moment with that of the pre-WWI world, which otherwise seems so unlikely? In certain respects, Badiou is rather optimistic in finding such an affinity, hoping that today we are in a period of preparation for the realization of more radical social transformation — “revolution” — down the road. Badiou thus tries to keep fidelity to “the revolution” in his estimation of the present. But which “revolution?” Badiou is clear that his model for revolution is May 1968 in France and the contemporaneous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. Presumably, in the latter case, this means a commitment to Mao and “Marxism-Leninism.” But, beneath this, there is a certain unmistakable pessimism to the characterization of the formative era of Lenin’s Marxism in the 2nd Intl., as being, like ours, one of conservative reaction. — Was the growth of Marxism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries really a retreat, after the defeat of the Paris Commune? Or, has Badiou mistaken one revolution for another? Badiou has maintained fidelity, not to “communism,” in Marx’s sense, but rather to “democracy,” that is, the eternal bourgeois revolution. It is thus significant that Badiou dates modern communism, not to Marx in 1848, but to the Jacobins in 1792. This obscures the history that came between 스크립트 엔진.

The truth is that Badiou’s “communism” is deeply anti-Marxist. Not merely non-Marxist, in the sense of what it tends to leave out, but actually hostile to historical Marxism. Perhaps this is unremarkable. Perhaps it is not a problem in itself. But it may bear some inquiry into the potential consequences that might flow from this. Perhaps Badiou is quietly acknowledging that Marxism may have become an obstacle to the kind of social change that, in his estimation, is possible and desirable — and necessary. That is a real question. Does Marxism speak to the needs of the present? But to consider this — to consider what Badiou may have to offer as an alternative to Marxism — we must address what Badiou means by “communism.”

Badiou defines communism as “radical democratic equality.” The “hypothesis” that motivates communism, according to Badiou, is that,

the logic of class — the fundamental subordination of labour to a dominant class, the arrangement that has persisted since Antiquity — is not inevitable; it can be overcome. . . . [A] different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labour. . . . The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away.


As a pure Idea of equality, the communist hypothesis has no doubt existed since the beginnings of the state HomePlus. As soon as mass action opposes state coercion in the name of egalitarian justice, rudiments or fragments of the hypothesis start to appear. Popular revolts — the slaves led by Spartacus, the peasants led by Müntzer — might be identified as practical examples of this “communist invariant.” With the French Revolution, the communist hypothesis then inaugurates the epoch of political modernity.

However, the potential for emancipated humanity expressed in communism that Marx recognized in the modern history of capital is not assimilable without remainder to pre- or non-Marxian socialism. Marx’s thought and politics are not continuous with the Spartacus slave revolt against Rome or the teachings of the Apostles — or with the radical egalitarianism of the Protestants or the Jacobins. So what was Marx’s distinct contribution? As Marx put it, “Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society.” This was because, according to Marx, “Communism is a dogmatic abstraction and . . . only a particular manifestation of the humanistic principle and is infected by its opposite, private property.” Marx was not the preeminent communist of his time but rather its critic, seeking to push it further. The best Marxists who followed, such as Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky, similarly sought to push their respective political movement of “revolutionary social democracy” in the 2nd Intl. further. In so doing, they revealed and grappled with the form of capital of their moment in history, what they called “imperialism,” seeking to make it into capital’s “highest” and last stage, the eve of revolution 홈페이지 파일. Badiou, by contrast, addresses inequality as a timeless, perennial problem. He thus departs fundamentally from Marx and Marxism, and liquidates the revolution of capital.

Badiou conceives of the relation between freedom and equality as an ontological one, in the mathematical terms of set theory, transhistoricizing it. Badiou’s background is in Lacanian and Althusserian “post-structuralist” French thought, in common with other prominent New Left-era thinkers — and former students of Louis Althusser — such as Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière. Althusser found, in the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, a salutary challenge to the notion of the Hegelian “logic of history,” that revolutionary change could and indeed did happen as a matter of contingency. Althusser took great inspiration from Mao in China and Lenin in Russia for advancing the possibility of emancipation against a passive expectancy of automatic evolution in the historical process of capital. For Badiou, this means that emancipation must be conceived of as an “event,” which involves a fundamental reconsideration of ontology. Badiou does not conceive of the transformation of the capitalist mode of production that would allow for overcoming the socially pernicious aspects of specifically capitalist forms of inequality. By contrast, Marx looked forward to the potential for overcoming the conditions of possibility for the reproduction of capitalist class dynamics in the mode of production itself: capital’s overcoming of the need to accumulate the value of surplus labor-time Winxp sp3. Marx saw the historical potential to overcome this socially mediating aspect of labor, expressed, for instance, in automated machine production. However, Marx also foresaw that, short of socialism, the drive to accumulate surplus-value results in producing a surplus population, an “industrial reserve army” of potential “workers” who thus remain vulnerable to exploitation. A politics based only in their “democratic” discontents can result, not in the overcoming of the social need for labor, but in the (capitalist) demand for more labor, the demand to be put to work. Or, as Max Horkheimer, director of the Marxist Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, put it, machines “have made not work but the workers superfluous.” Marx anticipated this when he warned that realization of the socialist demand to abolish “private property” would (merely) make society as a whole into one giant capitalist dominating its members. Marx even went so far as to analogize this with socialist calls to abolish marriage as a “bourgeois” institution, which he said would result only in universal prostitution — indeed, that capitalism was already bringing this about.

For Marx, elimination of a separate capitalist class would not in itself be emancipatory unless a transformation in the “mode of production” and its social relations came about. Marx did not think that the capitalists were the cause, but the effect of capital, calling them its “character masks.” Nonetheless, Marx endorsed, however critically, the traditional socialist demand to abolish private property and “expropriate the expropriators,” regarding this as a necessary first step: necessary, but not sufficient, to realize a society beyond the mode of production and social relations of capital. As Lenin underscored this, in The State and Revolution, on the eve of the October 1917 Revolution in Russia, such social relations of bourgeois society, namely, the mutual exchange of labor as the form of social solidarity in capital, could only be transformed gradually and thus “wither away,” and not be abolished and replaced at a stroke I loved downloading mp3. The proletarian socialist revolution was supposed to open the door to this transformation. But, since then, the history of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions showed another potential, that is, the reconstitution of capital, under the guise of “socialism.” Marx had already foreseen such a possibility in the limited consciousness of his socialist and communist contemporaries of the 19th century, and he criticized them “ruthlessly” for this. Marx and Lenin recognized a problem in “socialism” itself that their supposed followers have neglected or avoided.

All this remains hidden to Badiou. But it was precisely this Marxist approach to capital as a “mode of production,” or form of society, that distinguishes Marx from other socialists or communists, and motivated revolutionaries who followed Marx, such as Lenin, maintaining that Marxism pursued the possibility of overcoming capital “on the basis of capitalism” itself. Badiou situates emancipatory possibilities rather atavistically, in a pre-historical ontology, to which the philosophy of mathematics — for instance, the question of “number and numbers” (the title of one of his books) — can be an adequate guide. For Badiou, in a procedure that recalls a self-criticism session or assembly at a “reeducation” camp, matter itself, in its open-ended recombinations, poses the solution to what Marx called “communism,” the “riddle of history.” Each element must be broken down to its radical potentiality for permutation — for instance, in the Maoist “revolutionary people,” for emancipatory change to take place. It is not for nothing that Badiou conceives of revolution not as a process but an event, or, that his conception of “process” is founded on a conception of the “event.” On the other hand, Badiou finds Marxists such as Lenin (and Marx himself) conceding to the existing social hierarchies and thus betraying the “idea of communism,” for instance in the party-state, which Badiou regards in retrospect as a “failed experiment.” Thus, Badiou.

What of Marx and Marxism? Marx distinguished capitalist inequality from that of the traditional caste system that had characterized civilization for millennia before the emergence of bourgeois society in the post-Renaissance world mtp usb 장치 드라이버 다운로드. As Adorno pointed out, to call all of history the “history of class struggles” was to indict all of (“recorded”) history, and to thus consign it to the mere “pre-history” of authentic humanity. But this humanity was itself historically specific, and emergent — to the era of capital. Just as traditional inequality was not the cause of the form of community that the ancients regarded as being divine in origin, capitalist inequality was not the cause but the effect, the product of the cosmos of capital. Marx’s magnum opus, Capital, explored how the post-Industrial Revolution society of capital produced a new form of inequality, between capitalist and worker, but one liable to be cast and responded to in the form of the original Revolt of the Third Estate that had ushered in modern bourgeois society in the 17th and 18th centuries. Marx found an important disparity — a self-contradiction — to have developed between the political aspirations of the subjects of capital, for “social democracy,” and the potential of capital to go beyond bourgeois society and its forms of politics — liberalism and democracy. This did not make Marx and those who followed him illiberal or anti-democratic, but they did regard liberalism and democracy — the combined libertarian and social-egalitarian impulses in modern politics — as means and not ends in and of themselves. This is because they regarded capitalism itself as a process and not merely a state of being. Marx and his best followers, such as Lenin, looked forward not merely to more liberalism and more democracy, but to the potential transcendence of the need for both liberalism and democracy, an “end” to politics as presently practiced. But not all at once, and not by denying them in the present. Capital is not an eternal event of inequality that needs to be met with the event of revolution 멜론 6월 1주차 top100 다운로드. Badiou does not deny liberalism and democracy, but rather unconsciously reaffirms their present, bourgeois forms, at a deeper and more obscure level. Badiou’s ontology of “radical egalitarian democracy,” provides not a critical recognition, but a philosophical affirmation of the way bourgeois society already proceeds, however contradictorily. Badiou mystifies.

The challenge is to recognize the symptomatic character of liberalism and democracy in the crisis of capital, as it had developed in the 19th century, setting the stage for the history that came later. But such symptomology was not to be “cured” in the sense of elimination, but rather undergone and worked through — as Nietzsche put it, modernity is an “illness, but the way pregnancy is an illness,” bringing forth new life. The problem, as Marx recognized it, was that, by the mid-19th century, when bourgeois society entered into crisis, after the Industrial Revolution, and became “proletarianized,” humanity faced a situation in which, as Engels later described it, the capitalists were no longer and the workers not yet able to master the society of capital. Marx regarded this as the source of the authoritarianism of the modern, capitalist (nation-)state, despite the promises of classical bourgeois liberalism for a minimal state and a free, cosmopolitan civil society that would, for instance, reduce legislatures to, at most, sites of public debate and political recognition of social facts already accomplished on the ground — what Kant, for one, expected. But the bourgeoisie could no longer and the proletariat not yet rule modern society. The genie of capital had been let loose. The historical task of emancipating humanity had thus fallen from the bourgeois to the proletarian members of society. Marxists have recognized that this is the situation in which the world has remained stuck ever since then — ever since the failed “social democratic” Revolutions of 1848, on the eve of which Marx and Engels had published their inaugural Manifesto 개그콘서트 달인 다운로드. For Marx, the demand for “social democracy” was part of the history of capital, to be worked through “immanently” and transcended. But none of this registers for Badiou. Marx marked a potential turning point for humanity; he was not merely one in a chain of prophets reaching back for thousands of years. He was thinker and political actor for our, modern time.

The cost of liquidating the specific history of capital — its peculiar constraint on society and its potential beyond itself — is Badiou’s reduction of “communism” to the perennial complaint of the subaltern, the millennial dream of social equality, as a specter haunting the world that has more in common with eschatological “justice,” posed by religion at the end of time, than with the pathology of the modern, bourgeois world of capital, in which humanity actually suffers today. We must awaken from this nightmare — the vain wish that things be otherwise — of the oppressed. For we are not only oppressed, but tasked by capital.

Nevertheless, the failure of historical Marxism has made Badiou an evidently adequate symptomatic expression of our time — its confusion and diminished expectations, well shy of the epochal transformation that had motivated Marx and the best Marxists, historically. We must remember Marxism, so we can forget Badiou: forget the time that made such ideology — such naturalization, indeed ontologization — of defeat so appealing, and finally consign it, where it belongs, to pre-history. | §

Egypt, or, history’s invidious comparisons

1979, 1789, and 1848

Chris Cutrone

THE UPRISING IN EGYPT, which followed soon after the toppling of the old regime in Tunisia, succeeded in bringing down Hosni Mubarak on February 11, the 32nd anniversary to the day of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.  Already, before this timely coincidence, comparisons between the Iranian Revolution and the revolts gripping the Arab world had started to be made.  But other historical similarities offered themselves: the various “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Central Asian states and Lebanon in recent years; and the collapse of Communism in the Soviet bloc and beyond (the former Yugoslavia) starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Behind these revolutions on the pattern of 1989 stood the event of which 1989 itself had been the bicentennial, the Great French Revolution of 1789.  The Bastille is to be stormed again, anew.  Who would not welcome this?

A more pessimistic, if no less invidious comparison offered itself, especially prior to Mubarak’s ouster: the equally dramatic but failed Green Movement in the election crisis in Iran that marked 30 years of the Islamic Revolution in 2009 Metal slug complete.[1] Just as the Green Movement posed the question of reforming the Islamic Republic, events in Egypt have raised the specter of authoritarianism continuing, despite everything, albeit without Mubarak as tyrant.  Indeed, comparisons of Egypt with Iran, both in 1979 and 2009, are telling in several different respects.  To be sure, the emancipatory prospects in Egypt today are even more remote than in Iran in either 1979 or 2009.  If there is a more fruitful comparison to be made it is with Iran not in 1979 but 2009.

The destruction of the Left, historically, has been naturalized more completely in present-day Egypt than it had been in Iran by 1979.  Going back to the 1950s, because of Nasserism’s subordination and suppression of the Left, the strongest opposition movement in Egypt today is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a longer history and is much stronger than Khomeini-style Islamism had been in Iran on the eve of the Islamic Revolution.  While the Khomeiniite Islamic Republic has destroyed the Left more completely in Iran since 1979, it is also the case that the reform movement in the Islamic Republic has had a longer history of organization — for almost 20 years, now — than the opposition in Egypt has at present.  The prospects for organized reform, in other words, ran deeper in Iran at the moment of the Green Movement election crisis in 2009 than is the case in Egypt today.  This poses both more radical possibilities and dangers for Egypt than in Iran two years ago.  The Green Movement could beat a retreat in the face of defeat in ways that the unfolding crisis in Egypt might not be so controlled.  But this spiraling out of control that has raised much greater radical prospects in Egypt, as opposed to Iran in 2009, may prove to be the case at least as much for ill as for good.  The military has been able to come to the rescue of the state in Egypt, and this has been met with joy not angry disappointment.  What links both eruptions of democratic discontent, in Iran and Egypt, then, is their authoritarian outcome 문명4 무설치.

Putting aside the rather superficial narratives that emphasize how events in Egypt and Tunisia disprove the supposed intractability and lack of “democratic” spirit in the Arab or Muslim world — as if this needed proving — we must nevertheless ask about the legacy of the history of the Left — its defeats and failures — that condition present possibilities.  The history of the Left, both locally and globally, and reaching back for generations, is important, perhaps not so much for the obvious reasons — a relative lack of “democratic institutions” in one or another part of the world, or, indeed, globally, today, by contrast with the past — as that it raises the question of history per se.  What resources does history provide to the present?  For the comparisons — however invidious — with the situation in and for Egypt are all historical in nature.  So the question of history and its effects presses for consideration.  Whether one approaches the matter of historical precedence with hope or anxiety, still, there is the question of how appropriate to the present any reach for such precedence may truly be.  Like any event, the massive popular uprising in Egypt is in important ways unprecedented and new.  This is its power.  It demands its moment in the sun and refuses all comparisons, insisting upon its sui generis character, which it cannot be denied, even if it is not yet fully revealed.[2] What impresses itself is how much this moment will be allowed to realize itself — to make its departure from previous history.  Or, conversely, how it will be drawn back into and subsumed by history’s ineluctable force.  Why should we care about history, when emancipation makes its attempt at escaping its dead hand 찬송가? — How is the unfolding present already history?

Gamal Abdel Nasser during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Beneath the elation — if not euphoria — of the international Left at the popular overthrow of Mubarak is the fundamental ambiguity and so radical ambivalence of democratic revolution in our time. But this has been so not only since 1979 or 1989 but 1789.  However, unlike the French Revolution of 1789, whatever its tortured career and the opposed judgments about it, democratic revolutions since then have been dogged by the specter of failure.  One thing that cannot be said of 1789 is that it failed, however ambiguous was its success.  Yet a repressed, largely unknown, and importantly failed moment has haunted the history of modern revolutions, the event that prompted Marx’s famous phrase about history “weighing like a nightmare on the brains of the living”: 1848.  “The Spring of the Nations” in 1848, the revolutions in France, Germany and beyond, has completely escaped the imagination of present considerations of the moment of democratic revolution.  This present absence is itself quite revealing, and needs to be addressed.  For it may be that comparison with 1848 is the most obscure but important of all 팟인코더 구버전.

For Marxism, 1848 is the canon of failure.  What once made Marxism — whose founding political statement was 1848’s Communist Manifesto — such an important force in the world was its awareness of the problem of 1848, or, why 1789 has kept repeating itself over and over in modern history, but without success.  The converse of the Manifesto’s rousing call to action, to treat history as the “history of class struggles,” was Marx’s writing the history of his present moment, the culminating climax and failure of the 1848 Revolution in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.[3] But these two of Marx’s most widely quoted writings were documents of both promise and defeat.

What made the 1848 Revolution so important to Marx and subsequent Marxism was the light that it shed on the history of the bourgeois revolution.  1848 was both the last of the classical bourgeois revolutions and the first of the socialist revolutions that have marked the modern, bourgeois era.  Henceforth, the fates of liberalism and socialism have been indissolubly tied — even if their connection has been extremely fraught.  Liberalism could not do without socialism, nor socialism without liberalism.  Every democratic revolution since 1848 has faced this two-fold task — and has, without exception, foundered on the shoals of its contradictions.  Marxism was the attempt to transcend the antinomy of individual and collective freedom — or of liberalism and socialism in “social democracy” — to realize both, by transcending both.  Marx and Engels emblazoned this demand in their Manifesto with the slogan of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!,” which was to be realized in the “freedom of each” as the “precondition for the freedom of all.” — Importantly, Marx and Engels were the originators of neither of these catchphrases for what “communism” meant Download men's qualifications.  The twin fates of liberalism and socialism after 1848 have shared in the failure of this Marxist vision for emancipation.[4]

What explains the undemocratic outcomes of democratic revolution in the modern era?  Certainly one can take only so much comfort in Thomas Jefferson’s saying that a revolution every generation or so is a good thing — as if frequent revolutions are necessary to restore democracy.  Or, if so, the reasons for this must still be explained, beyond “corruption,” the perennial complaint of the subaltern.  Whence does this recurrent “corruption” of the democratic moment spring?  And why does it manifest itself so much more dramatically at some times than others?  Perhaps revolution is not always such an unambiguously good thing.  Especially if, as Marx put it, it threatens to be the “first time as tragedy” and the “second time as farce.”  What comes of revolution if it is taken to be fate?  There is nothing so “revolutionary” as capital itself.

The 1848 Revolution had secured universal suffrage and established the 2nd Republic in France, but at the price, wryly observed by Marx, of bringing an authoritarian demagogue, Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon’s nephew), to power — to the horror of liberal democratic sentiment at the time — as its first elected President, promising to “save society.”  It is because Bonaparte overthrew the 2nd Republic, and established a 20-year 2nd Empire that followed at the end of his term as President less than four years later, that the massacre of the workers in June 1848 did not become forgotten as a historical footnote and regarded as merely a bump in the road of democracy, for it came to presage the authoritarian repression of society that followed, in which members of the bourgeoisie became subject to the same treatment first meted out to the rebellious workers.  Marxists used the term “Bonapartism” to describe this phenomenon of suppression of democracy with popular assent, which has repeated itself so consistently in history after 1848 — for instance, in “Nasserism” in Egypt and other forms of Arab nationalism (the so-called “Arab Revolution”) in the 1950s–60s.  Such Orwellian reality of all subsequent history has its beginning, with Marx, in 1848.  The soldier held aloft triumphantly on the shoulders of democratic demonstrators in the streets of Cairo already wears the mask of Bonaparte — not the greater but the lesser.  For such turns of modern revolution, after 1848, do not vouchsafe progress, however dubiously, but rather wager its foolhardy chances, mocking them.  As Horkheimer put it in the 1920s, after the ebbing of the failed world revolutionary wave of 1917–19, “As long as it is not victorious, the revolution is no good.”[5] So, the question becomes, what would be the conditions for true victory?  What success can we aspire to win e-sys launcher pro?

Egyptian military officer cheered on by demonstrators in Cairo.

Marx attempted to capture this problem in his demand that the revolution “take its poetry from the future” rather than the past.  But if this is more than the banal statement it appears at first glance, then it raises a rather obscure difficulty: In what way can present revolution draw upon the emancipatory energy of the future? And Marx’s dedicated follower Walter Benjamin’s caveat echoes closely behind, that faith in the future sapped the strength of the revolution, which, Benjamin wrote, needed to be “nourished with the image of enslaved ancestors rather than liberated grandchildren.”[6] But we may need both imaginations — of emancipation and redemption — today.  The question is, how so Download Windows xp in English?

Marx and the history of Marxism still speak, even if their voices are drowned out in the clamoring din of the present.  In history after 1848, Marx understood a world — the present — caught between past and future.  Marx’s term for this historical world, “capital,” refers to the radical ambivalence of the present: its being already past, accumulating all of history and annexing the future, continually crowding the moment off stage; and its constant liquidation of that history, the incessant consumption of the moment in light of a future that never arrives.  Past and future seem to recede infinitely beyond the horizons of a present that is as perpetual as it is empty and futile, trapped, static but constantly in motion.  So we resign ourselves to the present’s eternal passing and recurrence, in which “everything changes” and yet “remains the same.”

Hosni Mubarak and son Gamal cast votes in the last election.

Egyptians may be driven today by the specter of enslaved ancestry, provoked by the force of what Benjamin described as the “hatred” and spirit of “self-sacrifice” necessary to make a bid for history.  But they are also certainly prompted, as Benjamin put it, to “activate the emergence brake” on the “locomotive” of history that would otherwise condemn posterity.[7] They may be motivated not only to redeem past sacrifice but to prevent future loss that could yet be rendered unnecessary.  It is not that Mubarak’s rule became too long or old, but that it threatened to become indefinite — the leering face of the son — that provoked the demand for its end, precisely at the risk of the present.  “I don’t care if I die,” the sentiment widely expressed around Tahrir Square, is the signal moment to which Benjamin’s philosophy of history attends: to bring time to a halt.  But such resolve expresses the will to live, although not merely to continue life unchanged 마크 쉐이더 다운로드.

Not only are we history, but the future will be.

The problem we must face is that the imagination of emancipation — which defines the “Left” as such[8] — is today divided, between the desperation of wishing for the unprecedented new, and desiring for return to the missed moments of opportunity, the potential embodied in past attempts, however failed — attempts at both the escape from and the redemption of history.  1789, 1848, 1871, 1917, 1979, 1989: they will not return — thank God!  But we mourn them nonetheless.  What was lost with them?  Perhaps nothing.  An emancipated future beckons; however, it eludes our grasp, outrunning us in the onrush of time.  “Time waits for no one.”  The future grants no refuge.  There is no peace, not even of the graveyard.  As Benjamin put it, “Even the dead are not safe.”  But history remains.  It may be unavoidable — as much as the future is.  So, the question is, what are we going to do with it?  If we are trapped between past and future, perhaps we will not be crushed but can bring them together and galvanize their force even more powerfully in the present: we are pulverized all the more surely for trying to slip the vise.  Past failures may dispirit, and bewildering, dystopic futures may threaten.  Or: History and utopia can both be enlisted to the aid of the present.  If only.

“What now?,” Egypt asks us. We do not ask it.  This question should be posed, not as it is wont, as a hope or a fear, but as a task, however exclaimed or whispered.  It is not to be answered with exuberance or resignation, but determination.  The resolution that not only are we, inevitably, history, but the future will be. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review #33 (March 2011) 도라에몽 노비타의 바이오하자드.

1. See Danny Postel, Kaveh Ehsani, Maziar Behrooz and Chris Cutrone, “30 Years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran,” Platypus Review 20 (February 2010), available on-line at: <>.  See also my “Failure of the Islamic Revolution: The Nature of the Present Crisis in Iran,” Platypus Review 14 (August 2009), available on-line at: <>.

2. See Hamid Dabashi, “The False Anxiety of Influence,” Al Jazeera English, February 12, 2011 aomei. Available on-line at: <>.  Undeniably, as Dabashi writes, “From Tehran to Tunis to Cairo and beyond, our innate cosmopolitan cultures are being retrieved, our hidden worlds discovered, above and beyond any anxiety of influence.”

3. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Originally published in 1852. Available on-line at: <>.

4. See my “Marxist Hypothesis,” Platypus Review 29 (November 2010), available on-line at: <>.

5. Max Horkheimer, “A Discussion about Revolution,” Dawn & Decline: Notes 1926–31 & 1950–69 (New York: Seabury, 1978), 39.

6. Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 260.

7. Benjamin, “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History’,” Selected Writings vol. 4 1938–40 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 402.

8. See Leszek Kolakowski, “The Concept of the Left,” in Carl Oglesby, ed., The New Left Reader (New York: Grove, 1969), 144–158.

The relevance of critical theory to art today

J.M. Bernstein, Lydia Goehr, Gregg Horowitz, and Chris Cutrone

On Saturday, November 20, 2010, Platypus hosted a panel entitled “The Relevance of Critical Theory to Art Today” moderated by Chris Mansour at The New School for Social Research in New York. The panel consisted of Philosophy Professors J.M. Bernstein (The New School), Lydia Goehr (Columbia University), and Gregg Horowitz (Pratt Institute and Vanderbilt University), and Chris Cutrone (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), member of Platypus. What follows is an edited transcript of the event. Full video is available online at <>.

Opening remarks

Chardin, The House of Cards (1735)

J.M. (Jay) Bernstein: Some 25 years ago, I asked Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson why two revolutionary Marxists spend so much time talking about Jane Austen. They replied, “Because that’s where the bourgeoisie have pitched their tent.” I felt that answer was true, but also insufficient. If the bourgeoisie have a stake in high culture, as one of the ways society reproduces itself, then it makes sense for Marxists to critique the practices that constitute high culture. But, beyond the issue of social integration, what stake do Marxists have in art?

The Marxist story runs something like this: By a certain moment, everyday life in modernity had become formed by the reduction of use-values to exchange-values, the fungibility and exchangeability of all material artifacts, the rule of technology, the rule of bureaucracy, the domination of capital markets, and the disenchantment of nature. Now, if you were Adorno, you would say that all of this amounts to the hegemony of instrumental reason over all forms of human reasoning. You would further say that art, in becoming purposeless, could become a refuge for another form of world address. Artworks are not fungible, not replaceable by one another, and not quantifiable. Rather, artworks make a claim on us simply by virtue of their material complexion, their ordering of sensual materials.

Modern art—I see modernism as the extension of modern art—is the attempt to think through this moment. First and foremost, the autonomy of art from politics, from science, from all the functions it might have in the world, was a world-historical calamity. Modern art begins as a kind of disaster. To understand the meaning of art is to understand the nature of that disaster. Art was taken out of the world and deposited in this realm where it has to make sense of its practice wholly in terms of itself. The puzzle of modern art is this functional emptiness that is nonetheless a form of content. First for Friedrich von Schiller, then for Adorno, the autonomy of art became a sort of opportunity. I think you can read all of modern art, right through high modernism into certain versions of postmodernism, as having embarked on the same project.

Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1601)

Yves-Alain Bois, along with all the writers who are part of what I will call “the aesthetic,” agree in one way or another that the primary gesture of modern art is the tearing away from materials, ideologies, and formalisms. At first—that is, with Dutch Realism in the 17th century, as with Caravaggio and, later, Chardin—this tearing away is emancipatory. It frees art from religious and related forms of reference, allowing representations to become immanent in gesture, rather than exemplifying some presumptively eternal idea. It is here that we see art becoming autonomous. In this respect, modern art was part of the secularizing of the world, but with this secularization came the idea that a wholly secular world could be infinitely valuable. Thus, with secularization came the project of sacralizing the everyday, but in a wholly secular way.

However, this project became increasingly harassed and defensive as modernity itself became an ideology, a series of forms of closure and domination. At that moment modernity ceased to be the emancipator, and became a problem. I would place that moment somewhere around 1848, with the failure of the bourgeois revolutions, though of course for some, notably Rousseau and Schiller, modernity had become a significant problem much earlier.

The notion of decoding, for Yves-Alain Bois, is broadly what Jacques Rancière means by the shift from the representational regime to the aesthetic regime. It is what Adorno means by the retreat of form in the face of materials that are in-formed, and what Gilles Deleuze means by the shift from representation to sensation. All of these I take to be riffs on the notion of purposefulness without purpose, which has this thought behind it: What painting provides is an account of our conviction in, and connection to, the world through visual experience. With modern art it became natural to find the authority of painting in its capacity to demonstrate how objects have a more than instrumental call on our capacity to live with them. That thought is fully there, for example, in Dutch Realism and in the tradition of the still life. By placing physical things in the visual environment and purifying them of any uplifting or instrumental features, by just letting them be there for our visual inspection, art returns us to this world. It allows us to be present to ourselves and for the world to be present to us.

Van Gogh, Chair (1888)

This is both enthralling and a disaster, because it means that everyday life has begun to disintegrate. I think of Van Gogh’s Chair (1888) as an eloquent moment connecting the dignity of the mere thing with the dignity of paint on canvas. Van Gogh’s moment is just that, a moment in which object and canvas speak to one another, each lending the other its authority Download iPod video. In the very moments of art’s so-called existential emptiness, of its not being about the world, there is the appearance of the world. This is art’s power.

Philistines hate art for that moment of emptiness. This moment, at one level, is irredeemable. But this moment of emptiness is art’s moment of fullness. Modern art imbricates and provides a refuge for a disenchanted but affirmative materialism in which objects could be meaningful in themselves, and not just in what they are useful for. These objects are sources of compelling experience amidst a world of sensory bombardment. They are a promise of happiness.

Though this promise is wildly different from Benjamin to Adorno to Rancière, these thinkers all avow some version of it. The promise is often taken to be insufficient as, after all, artworks are not life. What they promise is a different future, and in so doing artworks threaten to leave our present evacuated. This is the central difficulty of all modern art practices: If art has no other power than its mere presence, the attempt to provide it with political significance from the outside is always bound to fail. Art can only have what it offers, namely the salience of visual experience, by embracing the difficulty of that moment of protest by allowing for visual fullness.

Having said that, I need to return to where I began. This moment of protest in art only has cultural significance if the world cares about culture. I take the problem of the present not to be that art has gone awry, but that culture has gone awry. The bourgeoisie has discovered that capital can reproduce itself without social integration. Capital can get on very well with a dispersed, fragmented, wholly disarticulated cultural domain. The difficulty of modern art, in my judgement, is this: How can art address the problem of cultural weight when the bourgeoisie has disavowed it altogether?

Lydia Goehr: To Adorno critique is not the promise of happiness, nor the promise of freedom. It is always immanent critique, the turning of thought back upon itself. Asking the question, “What is critique?” might indicate that we have raised the very notion of critique to a concept. In that respect we fetishize the concept of critique, just as we have fetishized the concepts of “happiness,” “life,” “history,” and so on. Critical theory is about the immanent critique of our language, which is to say, the language of our thought and the language of our concepts. Language is our concepts, our concepts are our social logics. The way in which we think through thought is by producing a challenge to that which has authority over us, namely our concepts, like “personality,” “narrative,” and “subject.” The paradox, or the extreme difficulty, of doing immanent critique is that we have to use the tools that are the subject of our critique, so the critique always has to turn back on itself as an ongoing process. In that sense it has no external objects, although it is constantly mediated by the objects that are antithetical to our thinking—namely, things like works of art.

The real difficulty is that you can never break out of the thinking about thinking. You are constantly confronted by the things that have most authority over you, namely the concepts you are actually implying. I want to illustrate this by one example I like to use from the field of music. When we perform a musical work there’s this idea of Werktreue, of being true to the work. We know that the work has authority over our performance insofar as we are performing a work, but Adorno suggests that the way we are true to a work is precisely by being untrue to it. What he meant was that, insofar as we perform the work against its grain, by not just trying to replicate it, but by playing with it, we challenge the authority that the work-concept has over us. To be true to the work ends up being untrue to the concept of the work. Performance of music, then, becomes a way to redeem something about the musical work, if the musical work is resisting the concept under which it falls, namely the concept of “a musical work.”

This is the way that some of the so-called “social truth content” comes out of critique: It exposes the authority that concepts have over us. My suggestion is that one way to think about critique is in terms of looking for ways in our thinking to break the authority our thinking has over us. In that sense, there is nowhere to go outside of our own capacity to think.

Gregg Horowitz: I started really thinking about this panel around ten days ago. At the end of every day, it was almost tomorrow, which meant that the thoughts were already too late. I only found my way out of this conundrum through this extraordinary document that has been published in a recent issue of the New Left Review, of a discussion between Adorno and Horkheimer in 1956, which Gretel Adorno recorded. [1] They discussed what it would mean to rewrite the Communist Manifesto. And I thought—that’s a thought about today zo 1. It is visibly a thought about today. For such a project, you would think the main themes in connecting up the past, the present, and the future, would be something like this: The past was the revolution, the present is actually existing socialism, and the future depends on whether actually existing socialism points in a meaningful way to a socialism worth endorsing. But that’s not what they talk about. Rather, the past is the party, understood as an audience whom a writer interested in socialism might address. Marx, after all, begins the Communist Manifesto with an address to the party. The future, then, is a question of who would care about the writing. And the present, it turns out, is largely a matter of motorbikes. This is Europe in 1956, and youths are riding on motorbikes all over, making pestiferous noise. The question kept occuring to Horkheimer and Adorno, “Why does everybody love motorbikes?” Now this seems to be what it means to think about the present: thinking about the sound of motorbikes roaring in your ears as you think through the party, on the one hand, and whom to address, on the other.

If our future is anywhere, the thought usually goes, it will be in the present. No other future can matter other than the future that is here in the present. This self-conscious entrenchment in the present reminds us that critical theory, both as it was articulated but also, more importantly, as we have to receive it, was not simply a response to social regression, but a symptom of social regression. As Adorno said, philosophy carries on because its moment of realization was missed. For philosophy, as for critical theory, something has migrated into the realm of thought that is somehow not at home in the realm of thought. In this sense philosophy is struck by the same regression that critical theory takes itself to be reflecting on.

To put this point in a more general register, thinking is not self-determining, but is always shaped by the practices out of which it emerges and to which it instinctively tries to return. The more it is frustrated in this endeavor, the more insistent it is to return. The idea that thinking is not self-determining represents the decay of a certain image of philosophy. At that point one wants to assert that the whole project of spinning a system of thought out of concepts is now simply behind us. It is for this reason that we can say that Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud remain the central background figures, because they sought to think through, not the future completion, but the radical incompleteness of philosophy. That philosophy, of all disciplines, would be radically incomplete implies that all practices are radically incomplete. No thought, no practice, can cordon itself off from the social world of which it is a part. Critique wants to get behind the veil, to get to the bottom of things from which we can start over in the full light of truth. But precisely this impulse, this thought, has to be treated as symptomatic—it ends up inhibiting thought.

We always start exactly where we are. This is neither to say that nothing of the past is left, nor that everything is so thoroughly mediated that the origin has disappeared. Rather, there is no starting over because nothing of the past ever goes away. The urge to start over attests to a learned distrust in our capacity to remember, to sustain experience. Memory is weak, and in response to this weakness the feeling arises that things are going away, and we want to get back to the things themselves. This weakness is crucial to reflect on. For it is not in the strength, but in this moment of memory’s weakness that the past rises up in the light of that future which we cannot determine in the present.

All understanding of the present has to start with the acknowledgement that we are not the future the past had in mind and that, for this reason, in some sense we stand in the way of the future the past had in mind. I do not know how to sustain this thought for long—it hurts. One task that we can pose to critique, insofar as we turn against ourselves in this moment of weakness, is to unlock another future—perhaps another modernity.

I am putting to critique the task of understanding the present, but to understand the present is to grasp it as if it has already passed away. In the dialogue between Adorno and Horkheimer, Adorno makes the comment that the horror of the present is that we live in a world where we cannot imagine a better one. To say that we live in a world where we cannot imagine a better one is to say that we cannot see this world as one that has passed away. We cannot see the present in the light of a future that the present does not intend. The standard line is that, for critical theory, to grasp the world as past has meant totalizing the world, or seeing it from the point of view of its completeness, with nothing falling outside the totality. But this is a limited conception of totalization. It is not merely that nothing falls outside, but that anything that does fall outside of the totality is a harbinger or an ambassador of a different world. This thought has been susceptible to a religious interpretation that I am going to do everything I can to avoid. Totalization in this respect is the precondition for opening up the cracks through which the light of the future can shine, right now, on the past and the present Breathtaking. Horkheimer says in his dialogue with Adorno, “I don’t believe things will turn out well.” And by “things” he means everything. But the thought that things might turn out well is indispensable. Nothing falls outside but the thought that something in the present does shine a light on the past.

With regard to art, I agree with Jay that modernist art has been taken up as a kind of self-overcoming of the present. Modernist art is not the future—Heaven forbid—but, rather, it is the light that shines from the future onto the past, the light whose uselessness is what the present does not yet know how to make use of. Adorno only articulated this thought retrospectively. That is, Adorno felt that the moment of modernist art’s capacity to be this light had already passed. Modernist art had been absorbed by the culture industry.

The contrast between the culture industry and modernist art is often articulated so radically that absorption is thought of as cancellation. But absorption is not the same as negation. Rather, I think of absorption the way I think of how, when you wash your dishes, the sponge absorbs the odor of what is being discarded. It is retained in trace form. The inevitability of the absorption is clear once the demand for a different future has been articulated. Once made, that demand is already on the way to becoming a commodity. What we need is not a demand for another future, but for another past. We need the paradoxical demand of a past that will steer us toward a future that we cannot anticipate. From this it follows that no art practice can ever be “subversive.” Art practices can be subverted, but no art practice can ever be subversive. Art is, and should be, too much in love with experience in the present to ever be subversive. For any art that is worth taking seriously, absorption in the culture industry seems inevitable.

However controversial this statement may be, I believe critical theory has before it now the task of demolishing the false overvaluation of art, in order to save us from the idea that art will save us. Perhaps critical theory is tasked with helping us to expect less of art. At one point in this exchange between Horkheimer and Adorno, Horkheimer says, “The more eager one is to break the taboo, the more harmless it is…. One must be very down to earth, measured, and considered so that the impression that something or other is not possible does not arise.” [2] What Horkheimer calls for here is a toning down of the rhetoric, because with every moment of melodrama in the effort to cancel the present moment, we render the weight of the present moment insignificant. It becomes the occasion for a spectacular display of pathos, which Horkheimer is trying to resist. Perhaps what we should drive toward, critically, is lower expectations for art, so that we have an opportunity to experience, not our distance from, but our proximity to, what is better—though this proximity is also a kind of distance, and what is better remains obscure.

Chris Cutrone: The scholar of Benjamin’s and Adorno’s work, Susan Buck-Morss provided a pithy formulation for defining the tasks of both art and criticism in the modern era: “[Artists’] work is to sustain the critical moment of aesthetic experience; our job as critics is to recognize this.” [3] Two aspects of Buck-Morss’s formulation of the work of artists need to be emphasized—“sustaining the critical moment” and “aesthetic experience.” The subjective experience of the aesthetic is what artists work on, and they do so in order to capture and sustain, or make available, subjectivity’s “critical moment.”

Adorno, in his 1932 essay “The Social Situation of Music,” analogized the position of modern art to that of critical social theory: The role of both was to provoke recognition. Adorno further warned that there could be no progress in art without that of society. His posthumously published but unfinished monograph Aesthetic Theory can be considered to have at its center, organizing the entire discussion of the modern experience of art, the theme of the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of art. In this, Adorno was elaborating in the aesthetic realm his thesis in Negative Dialectics, that philosophy and critical theory were both necessary and impossible, simultaneously.

What does it mean to practice art in an epoch of its impossibility and continuing necessity? A clue can be found in Adorno’s claim in Negative Dialectics that “philosophy lives on because its moment of realization was missed.” [4] Adorno’s treatment of philosophy and art is modeled on Marx’s treatment of capital. The potential for a dialectical historical transformation, in which capital would be simultaneously realized and abolished, became for Adorno the question of what it would mean to simultaneously realize and overcome the aspirations of modern philosophy and art. What would it mean to overcome the necessity that is expressed in modern practices of art? The Hegelian thought figure of art’s attaining to its own concept, while transcending it through a qualitative transformation, was mobilized by Adorno to grasp both the history of modern art and the desire to overcome its practices.

The Hegel scholar Robert Pippin, in his response to the journal Critical Inquiry’s 2003 forum on the current state and potential future for critical theory, described postmodernism as a repetition of the “Romantic recoil” from modernity. [5] Specifically, Pippin pointed to modern literary and artistic forms as derived from such Romanticism, of which postmodernism was the mere continuation, but in denial of its repetition. And Pippin pointed out that such repetition is in fact a “regression,” because consciousness of the historical condition of the problem had grown worse.

Hegel posed the question of the “end” of art. He meant by this not the cessation of practices of art, but rather the ability of those practices to make the activity of “Spirit” appear in a self-contained and self-sufficient manner. While religion had been superseded by art, art had come to be superseded by “philosophy.” By this, Hegel meant that art needed philosophical interpretation to be able to mean what it meant 너목보 음원 다운로드. Art needed criticism in order to be itself. This was a specifically modern condition for art, which Hegel addressed in a rather optimistic manner, seeing art’s need for criticism as a hallmark of enlightenment rather than a disability or liability.

But Adorno took this Hegelianism with respect to art and turned it from an explanation of art’s historical condition to a critique of those historical conditions. Like Marx who had turned Hegel on his head, or put Hegel back on his feet, Adorno inverted the significance of Hegel’s philosophical observation. Where Hegel had, for instance, regarded modern politics as the realm of reflection on the state, and by extension the self-objectification of civil society in the state, Marx regarded the modern distinction between state and civil society as expressing the pathological necessity of capital, in which the self-contradiction of capital was projected. Adorno similarly addressed the complementary necessities of art and criticism as expressing a self-contradiction in (aesthetic) subjectivity.

As Adorno put it, however, this did not mean that one should aspire to any “reconciliation” of art and philosophy, nor of theory and practice. Just as Marx critiqued the Left Hegelians for their Romantic desire to merely dissolve the distinction between state and civil society, so too did Marx and Adorno alike regard this separation as the hallmark of freedom. In a late essay, “Marginalia to Theory and Practice” (1969), Adorno attacked “Romantic socialism” for wanting to dissolve the distinction and critical relationship between theory and practice, maintaining that, by contrast with traditional society, the modern separation of theory and practice was “progressive” and emancipatory. So too was the separation in meaning between art, as non-conceptual knowledge, and criticism, informed by theoretical concepts.

Adorno, like Marx, looks forward, not to a return to a pre-modern or pre-capitalist unity of theory and practice, nor to a reconciliation of form and content, as had been the case in traditional culture, but to a qualitative transformation of the modern division of meaning in art and criticism, in which each would be simultaneously realized and abolished as presently practiced. The problem is that, rather than being raised to ever more acute levels, there was already in Adorno’s lifetime a retreat from the productive antagonism, the dialectic of theory and practice, or in this case art and criticism.

Adorno drew upon and sought to further elaborate the approach of his friend and mentor Walter Benjamin, who argued in his 1934 essay “The Author as Producer” that no art could be of correct “political tendency” unless it was also of good aesthetic quality. [6] Furthermore, Benjamin argued that every great work of art “either founds or dissolves a genre.” [7] As Benjamin put it, the work of art that fails to teach artists teaches no one. Artists do not “distribute” aesthetic experience, but produce it. New art re-works and transforms, retrospectively, the history of art. Benjamin argued that there could be no progress in society without that of art, for necessarily involved in both is the transformation of subjectivity.

The history of modern art, as Benjamin and Adorno recognized, presents a diverse multiplicity of practices, none of which has been able to come to full fruition. Benjamin described this poignantly in his Arcades Project as “living in hell.” [8] Benjamin and Adorno’s thought-figure for such historical consciousness of modern art comes from Trotsky, who pointed out, in a June 1938 letter to the editors of the American journal Partisan Review, that the modern capitalist epoch displayed the following phenomenon in its historical course:

[N]ew tendencies take on a more and more violent character, alternating between hope and despair. The artistic schools of the [first] few decades [of the 20th century]—cubism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism—follow each other without reaching a complete development. Art, which is the most complex part of culture, the most sensitive and at the same time the least protected, suffers most from the decline and decay of bourgeois society. [9]

This was because, as Trotsky put it,

The decline of bourgeois society means an intolerable exacerbation of social contradictions, which are transformed inevitably into personal contradictions, calling forth an ever more burning need for a liberating art. Furthermore, a declining capitalism already finds itself completely incapable of offering the minimum conditions for the development of tendencies in art which correspond, however little, to our epoch…. The oppressed masses live their own life. Bohemianism offers too limited a social base. [10]

Trotsky said of art that, “a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work. Every new tendency in art has begun with rebellion.” [11] And not merely rebellion against existing conventions of art, but against the conditions of life in capitalism.

But what, then, would be a “liberating art?” Adorno addresses this in terms of the aspiration for “artistic autonomy,” or the self-justification of aesthetic experience. This is related to how Kant described the experience of the beautiful, in nature or art, as the sympathetic resonance the subject experiences of an object, which thus appears to embody “purposiveness without purpose,” or a telos—an end-in-itself. Except, for Adorno, this empathy between subject and object in Kant’s account of aesthetic experience is not affirmative, but critical. In Adorno’s account of the modern experience of art, the subject recognizes not the power of experiential capacities and the transformative freedom of the human faculties, but rather their constraint and unfreedom, their self-contradictory and self-undermining powers. The subject experiences not its freedom in self-transformation, but rather the need for transformation in freedom. Adorno emphasized that the autonomy of art, as of the subject, remains under capitalism an aspiration rather than an achieved state. Works of art embody the striving for autonomy that is denied the subject of the modern society of capital, and thus artworks also embody failure. Hence, the history of art furnishes a rich inventory of failed attempts 파일 쿠키. This is why this history remains unsettled and constantly returns. Modern works of art are necessarily failures, but are nonetheless valuable as embodiments of possibility, of unfulfilled potential.

The constrained possibilities embodied in modern art are, according to Benjamin’s formulation, approached by the subject with a combination of “desire and fear.” Modern artworks embody not only human but “inhuman” potentials—that is, the possibilities for the qualitative transformation of humanity, which we regard with desire and fear. They thus have simultaneously utopian and dystopian aspects. Modern artworks are as ambivalent as the historical conditions they refract in themselves, “prismatically.” But it is in such ambivalence that art instantiates freedom. It is the task of theory, or critique, to register the non-conceptual while attempting to bring it within the range of concepts. As Adorno put it, the aspiration of modern art is to “produce something without knowing what it is.” [12] In so doing, art acts not only on the future, but also on history.

Modern artworks find inspiration in art history. This is the potentially emancipatory character of repetition. Artists are motivated by art history to re-attain lost moments by achieving them again, but differently. Artists produce new works that, in their newness, unlock the potentials of past art, allowing us to re-experience history. But this work on history is not without its dangers. As Benjamin put it, “even the dead are not safe” from the ambivalent “progress” of history, because this history unfolds in capital as a “mounting catastrophe.” [13] The history of modern art, like that of capital more generally, furnishes a compendium of ruins. The simultaneously progressive and regressive dynamics of history find their purchase in this: that historical forms of experience and consciousness inform present practices, for better or worse. It is the work of critique to attempt to better inform, through greater consciousness, the inevitable repetition in the continuing practices of art, and thus attempt to overcome the worst effects of the regression involved in such practices.

In the Hegelian sense adopted by both Marx and Adorno, the greater consciousness of freedom is the only available path for freedom’s possible realization. Consciousness is tasked to recognize the potential that is its own condition of possibility. This is why Adorno and Benjamin addressed works of art as forms of consciousness. Art can be ideological or it can enlighten, provoking consciousness to push itself further.

The dialectic of art and criticism is necessary for the vitality of art. The self-abnegation of criticism, on the other hand—the disenchantment of consciousness that characterized “postmodernism”—has clearly demonstrated the barrenness of such abdication of responsibility on the part of critics and theorists more so than artists, who were thus left at the mercy of poor, unclarified concepts. The challenge posed by modern critical-theoretical approaches to art has been warded off rather than engaged and pushed further.

Artists’ work continues to demand critical recognition, whether the critics recognize this or not. What such critical recognition of the work of history taken up by art would mean is what Marxist aesthetic theorists like Adorno and Benjamin pursued, and from whose efforts we can and indeed must learn. For a new condition of art has not been attained, but only an old set of conditions repeated, without their repetition being properly recognized. The relation between art and social modernity, or capital, continues to task both art and theory. Art is not merely conditioned by, but is itself an instance of the modern society of capital. But, like society, for art to progress, theory must do its work.

Panelists’ responses

LG: Chris, you seemed to read Adorno’s distinction between regression and progression as if progress is simply the bit we want, but it seems to me that Adorno’s point was that the progressive and the regressive are two sides of the same coin, both of which lead to catastrophe.

CC: In Benjamin and Adorno’s philosophy of history, which they are deriving from Marx, capital is simultaneously progressive and regressive. Capital progresses through a kind of recursive movement, and so they understand overcoming capital as also completing capital. Benjamin and Adorno take up the concept of Aufhebung—the sublation, the realization through negation, or the self-overcoming—to articulate this “completion.” Art, far from being outside capital, is part and parcel of capital’s historical movement. Art moves historically through a “progress,” if you will, of progress and regress—like capital. Of course, this raises the question of emancipation. Colloquially, progress is usually thought of in these terms: “Are we making progress? Is progress progress? Or, is it actually progress in domination, in which case it is not progress?” I feel that an unfamiliar aspect of Benjamin and Adorno’s thought is an idea they take from Marx, which complicates the relationship between progress and regress: Capital moves through a process of the discontents capital itself produces. The opposition to capital that these discontents engender form the basis for the reconstitution of capital in a new form, though there are important differences in the form these discontents take. You can have a system of discontents that advances capital in one way, or in a completely different way.

Goebbels touring a Nazi exhibition of "degenerate" modernist art, Berlin, 1937

To take perhaps the most dramatic example, I’m sure we are familiar with the anti-totalitarian idea that communism and fascism are simply two sides of the same coin 윈도우 10 rtm. In a way, for Benjamin and Adorno, fascism was the necessary doppelgänger of communism, in that both communism and fascism had an ambivalent relationship to the progress and regress of capital. Nevertheless, one could distinguish between communism and fascism, as Benjamin and Adorno themselves did. One could distinguish between how the contradiction of capital is being pushed through communism versus the way it was being pushed, in a more obscure manner, through fascism. One salient point here would be Wilhelm Reich’s argument, in “Ideology as a Material Force” (1933), that Marxists had failed to recognize the progressive character of fascism, which of course did not mean that Reich found fascism “progressive.” Rather, Reich meant that fascists were more in tune with the ambivalent progress and regress of capital than the Marxists were. The Marxists, in a sense, were helpless in the face of the progress of capital—therefore, the ambivalent progress of capital took the form of fascism rather than communism in Germany.

GH: Of course, after 1848, modernity becomes not the solution, but the problem. However, I resist a certain version of the argument which posits that, since modernity is the problem, there must be something which is not modernity that provides, if not the solution, at least the answer. The full secularization of history entails that there is nothing outside history. So I think modernity has to be the answer to the problem it raises. In my remarks I held up what I am calling “another modernity,” which I acknowledge to be only a sort of marker. It is possible we may have to make out this other modernity by figuring out, again, the difference between communism and fascism, though I find this possibility a bit dreadful. However, this would mean withdrawing from the language of disaster and catastrophe—a withdrawal I would justify on the basis of Adorno’s resistance to pessimism. Pessimism is the conviction that things will inevitably get worse. But, for Adorno, it is the dark gift of history that this is false. The only gift of having survived 1945 is the dead certainty that things cannot get any worse. From this anti-pessimistic thought, I think there must emerge something like an anti-catastrophic line of thinking.

JB: You would have to think past Adorno to do that, though. I keep pointing back to early modern art, and to what I have called the “secular sacralization” of the everyday. I do this because one of the things Adorno thematized, but did not see in the art he loved, was the burden of giving everyday life the intensity and fullness of satisfactions once found in religious forms of life. Adorno and Benjamin were overly impressed by the sacred, or the messianic, and this was their worst temptation. If they were alive now, I fear they would be doing political theology, which is the worst thing to happen in political thought since Carl Schmitt. As I see it, Adorno’s anti-representationalism ultimately led him to think of what was utopian in distorted ways.

Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cupid Chastised (1613)

CC: Your critique of Benjamin and Adorno points to the difference between understanding modernity as post-Renaissance, versus understanding modernity as post-1848. Art after 1848 is about disenchantment, secularization, and sacralization of the everyday, but in a fundamentally different way than the art from the Renaissance period through the Romantic period, up until the time of Hegel. This difference hinges on the difference between Kant and Hegel, on the one hand, and Marx, on the other, which should not be understood simply as a difference in thinking. Rather, it is a matter of the real historical difference between the pre-1848 and post-1848 world, which makes it necessary to pose quite differently the question of Enlightenment, disenchantment, desacralization, and resacralization.

Jay, I think you have posed art as occupying a space outside capital, outside modernity, representing a romantic response to the instrumentalization of the world. I believe there were elements of this in Lydia’s remarks as well. In contrast, I think Adorno and Benjamin challenge us to see how art also becomes instrumental reason, in the sense that art is an instrument of capital. It is not as though there is reason that is used instrumentally, and reason that is not used instrumentally. Rather, reason becomes instrumentalized by capital so that the Enlightenment becomes a more ambiguous phenomenon after 1848. There is a reversal of means and ends after 1848 such that one can no longer understand capital as the advance of Enlightenment, but can only see the Enlightenment as the means of capital. Rather than “non-conceptual knowledge,” Adorno and Benjamin see art as part of the reason of capital, but also, therefore, as bearing the ambivalence of capital and potentially making that ambivalence recognizable.

A similar difficulty, which came up in Gregg’s presentation, is getting beyond an understanding of emancipation in terms of cracks or fragments in society. This conception of emancipation traces back to a kind of Romantic Counter-Enlightenment, from which Marx and, thus, Benjamin and Adorno, would have to be distinguished. I take great issue with the claim that Adorno and Benjamin were enchanted by the sacred. Like Hegel, they were tasked with understanding continuity and change in the desacralization of the world Download the game. Hegel had to account for the ways that religious metaphysics remain with us in spite of, and even through, the disenchantment of the world. Kant and Hegel understood this in the sense that religion was a prior form of reason, but I do not think they argue for a Romantic re-enchantment of the sacred against the disenchanted world. Marx, Benjamin, and Adorno certainly do not.

LG: This treats Adorno and Benjamin as if they are producing a theory of society or a theory of art in a traditional sense—that is, taking a step back, coming up with a theory, and then imposing it upon society, art, or capitalism. What Adorno and Benjamin share in their writing is precisely this turning back on themselves to ask how, actually, does one write about this. They always turn back on the structures of thought and writing.

CC: I don’t think I implied that Adorno and Benjamin felt they could step outside their object of critique. They consider their own thinking symptomatic of capital, which means that they understand their own opposition to capital as itself being a symptom of capital. In this sense the only difference they could establish between their own thinking and others’ was the measure of self-clarification and self-awareness they achieved, which is an issue of the philosophy of history. There is a difficulty in understanding what opposition to capitalism means. The usual approach is to look at how capital breaks down—to look for apparent cracks, which provide the grounds for “resistance.” This is the typical language of the Left in the late 20th century, down to the present. In contrast, Benjamin and Adorno follow from Marx in recognizing that it is not the case that capital moves by a smooth logic, interrupted by moments of collapse representing something outside of capital. Rather, part of what makes capital an “alienated” logic is that it is no logic at all; it reproduces itself not in spite of, but precisely through breakdown, resistance, discontents, and a host of contingent or “spontaneous” factors.

There is an undigested Romantic legacy, in the wake of 1789, of positioning oneself, along with all humanity, under the treads of history. This tends toward a one-sided understanding of capital as instrumental reason, whereas in fact Adorno and Benjamin, like Marx and Hegel, are actually trying to overcome a Romantic rejection of modernity. Trying not to fall on one side of that Romantic rejection is hard without seeming to speak from some kind of objective view outside of the phenomenon, but I think that is primarily an issue of style and presentation.

Q & A

Q: In your comments, Gregg, you said that returning to the distinction between fascism and communism seemed dreadful. But what hope for the redemptive power of art, or even of thought itself, exists outside of the hope for socialism, a movement that the revolutionary Marxist tradition understood as the attempt, for the first time, to put social relations under the dominion of social consciousness?

GH: My expression of despair was only at the prospect of having to frame the problem that way. The articulation of socialism necessarily involves the retrieval of the emancipatory moment of “actually existing socialism.” But what must we return to in order to retrieve this emancipatory moment? I don’t have an answer to that, but if there is an answer afoot, we need to hear it. Several times in the last month I have heard the following remarkable thought—and when I say remarkable I simply mean I want to know more—that Khrushchev represented an actual breakthrough, from which we might retrieve a different practice of communism. That is the kind of thought that I do not know how to make use of, even in trying to think about what you and I share, which is a view of socialism as the horizon of emancipatory political practice.

Q: Jay, in your remarks you have described our culture as being problematic in its relation to art, which I took to mean that we have a “wrong culture.” What do you mean by this?

JB: “Wrong culture” would be optimistic. I am interested in how the culture question has lapsed. It was standard even in the 1960s to articulate how system integration, the way in which various institutions make capital reproduction possible, required social integration, whereby people would have harmonious beliefs, values, and ideals. At a certain moment, capital recognized that this was not strictly necessity, and that people did not actually need a whole lot of ideological forming. My claim is that an image of radical culture was parasitic on the idea that there was a dominant culture. There is no longer a coherent dominant culture against which to mount a critique that could push forward the formation of an alternative political will. This is what requires us to rethink the notion of critique.

CC: I think the world appears to lack a common culture holding the system together because the common culture that exists is poorly recognized 리눅스 jdk 1.7 다운로드. Counterintuitively, I think there are a great deal of assumptions shared by Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, postmodern bohemians, and so on, but these common assumptions go unrecognized and unremarked. These assumptions have become ideology in a classic sense. The task would be provoking recognition of this commonality in order to make legible the unity of the opposites in our world, rather than thinking that we live in some sort of cultural plurality that resists any attempt to understand it as a totality. That this appears to be the case is simply an artifact of our failure to understand it. One could just as well make a plausible argument, from the standpoint of the 19th century, that the world was being held together without a hegemonic culture in 1830, 1848, or 1870. The task would be to find the hegemonic culture that is there, but which is completely naturalized.

LG: But are we talking here about culture with a small C, or Kultur with a capital K?

GH: I had a version of that question in mind. In a review of the Anselm Kiefer art show that appeared recently in the New York Times, Roberta Smith hauled out of the dustbin of history a critical concept you almost never see anymore: She referred to Kiefer as a “middlebrow painter.” [14] The concept seemed archaic to me. Even though it was clearly meant as a slander, “middlebrow” had none of the negative charge it used to have. Suddenly there was, in the concept of middlebrow, a whiff of democracy. It sounded optimistic, as though it is something to aspire to. So, I don’t mean to imply by this that Anselm Kiefer is a great painter or anything, but reading this review of his work suggested to me that, whatever might come to count as a common culture, it is definitely not going to be culture with a capital K—it is not going to be a matter of cultivation, in that sense.

JB: With respect to what I am calling the breakdown or the loss of culture, I am thinking about what goes on, for instance, in Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral, which captures how ideality or hopefulness is no longer available as something that could be transformative. It is not simply “ideology,” or a series of false beliefs, that make a culture, even with a small C. There has to be a notion of ideality. That notion, which appeared in Germany under the phrase “critique of pure cynicism,” really has its American moment now, and it is that difficulty I was pointing to.

LG: From that, it follows that the real confrontation now would not be between critical theory and capital, directly, but between critical theory and democracy. This is really where the issue is for politics.

Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring (1913)

CC: The word I want to introduce into the discussion is “kitsch.” Maybe we now have kitsch culture and kitsch politics. There are interesting parallels between Clement Greenberg and Benjamin and Adorno. It is interesting that Greenberg foregrounds the question of democracy by treating avant-garde and kitsch as symptoms of democracy. But in this way Greenberg also raises the question of the relationship between capital and democracy. The culture industry was a concept that Adorno meant to embrace high art as well. Schoenberg and Stravinsky were also a part of the culture industry. In that respect I think one has to see how avant-garde and kitsch practices subsist on a common ground and how Schoenberg and Stravinsky are two sides of the same coin. Adorno certainly was not just a partisan for Schoenberg over Stravinsky, which is how Adorno is usually read.

Q: A few of you tonight have touched upon the concept that an artwork is not successful unless critique is doing its job. But what is critique’s job description, so to speak, in relation to art today? And what should it be?

Beethoven, Symphony 5 (1804–08), I. Allegro con brio

LG: It is not that art will not function unless critique does its job, but that critique is this ongoing process of rethinking what is being asserted. One of the reasons Adorno admired Schoenberg was that he thought you could not reduce Schoenberg to whistling, and this meant that in some way Schoenberg was not assimilable by the culture—in its form it would always rub up against culture. If you understood what it was that made Schoenberg so difficult and so unassimilable, so unwhistleable, you could perhaps understand again what was amazing about a Beethoven symphony or even, in my view, a Puccini opera like La Bohème. This is where I think even Adorno got himself wrong, in that he made too many blanket statements about the kind of music that was subsumable by this society. The real resistant potential is to try and listen to Puccini as a great composer, not to listen to Puccini as a composer under the conditions of commodification.

Puccini, La bohème (1896), O soave fanciulla

CC: I don’t think Schoenberg was unassimilable—if anything, his work was assimilated. But I also do not think that Adorno thought Schoenberg was unassimilable, and so I don’t think unassimilability is what Adorno valued in Schoenberg. Adorno talks about Schoenberg and the culture industry in terms of “the inevitable” versus “the incomprehensible,” as a sort of antinomy within a historical moment of the culture industry Download the subtitles of One Fun Man 2 2 10. Inevitability and incomprehensibility are, to Adorno, two aspects of the same thing. The operation of capital is not comprehensible by individuals but it is clearly socially assimilable. In this sense, capital is inevitable and incomprehensible. What Adorno valued about Schoenberg was that, in Schoenberg, you cannot escape that simultaneous inevitability and incomprehensibility as easily as you can escape it by putting on Puccini, for instance, or Stravinsky, who gives you the comprehensible sublime.

Q: In your comments, Jay, you have proposed the everyday as a different route to go besides the messianic or sacred. But how is the everyday supposed to get beyond all the problems you have raised with shareability, for instance? Doesn’t everydayness run into all the same problems we run into with culture?

Schoenberg, Erwartung/Expectation (1909)

JB: I think the everyday has always been the question for modern art. Whatever we might mean by modernity, it has to be the thought of a wholly secular form of life. What we don’t know is what shareability is going to look like. That is something art practices will need to invent, in the sense of figuring out, as they go along, variations on this idea of immanent sharebility, which comes out of the practice itself and yet remains a practice. What makes art particular, at least for me, is that it bears this burden.

Q: I think the theme of the failure of postmodernism to advance historical consciousness has not been fully fleshed out. What is it about how postmodernism saw art that has left us with less access to historical self-awareness or consciousness?

CC: There have been assumed but, unfortunately, naturalized and invisible categories we have used in discussing art and critique, and I think the invisibility of these categories points to problems of historical consciousness. In a sense, we necessarily read figures like Adorno or Benjamin—or, as I pointed out before, Marx—in terms of categories that they themselves wanted to transcend. One thinks of how the classic postmodernist art critics, the October group, separated the avant-garde from modernism. I do not think critics like Benjamin and Adorno, or Clement Greenberg for that matter, would have accepted the opposition of the avant-garde to modernism in the way that postmodern critics superimpose on the history of modern art. Similarly, the relationship between Romanticism and modernism has been a troubled one throughout our discussion. To the degree there has been a critique of Adorno and Benjamin, the critique was of a residual Romanticism they purportedly exhibit. That they appear to retain a Romantic understanding of modernity is itself a signal of how much influence postmodernism, and particularly postmodern art criticism, has exerted on how we think about modernism. Thus, for instance, modernist art becomes a kind of secular religion. A return to these figures as points of reference—especially Adorno, as someone who anticipated but preceded emphatic postmodernism in art criticism—is salient today precisely to the extent it allows us to estrange ourselves from these kinds of rhetorics. We should resist the notion of Adorno and Benjamin as mandarin intellectuals and holdover Romantics, and we should resist a Romantic conception of modernism, whether we use that term positively or negatively. I say this in hopes of at least pointing to how our discussion bears the damage that has been done by the way we talk about art after postmodernism. Our discussion bears the traces of an abdication of criticism over at least the last 40 years, since Adorno’s time. In all the ways we have talked about the modern work of art—in terms of whether modernism is finished or unfinished, how it subsists, how and why it is still necessary, and so on—I think we have been forced to concede something. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review #31 (January 2011). Transcribed by Andony Melathopoulos

1. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “Towards a New Manifesto?” New Left Review 65 (September-October 2010). This document is available in full at <>.

2. Ibid.

3. Susan Buck-Morss, reply to “Visual Culture Questionnaire,” October 77 (Summer, 1996), 29.

4. Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1973), 3.

5. Robert Pippin, “Critical Inquiry and Critical Theory: A Short History of Nonbeing,” Critical Inquiry 30:2. Available online at <>.

6. Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” Reflections (New York: Schocken, 1986), 220–238 Thread.

7. Walter Benjamin, “The Image of Proust,” Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 201.

8. Walter Benjamin, “Paris, Capital of the 19th Century: Exposé of 1939,” The Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1999), 14–26.

9. Leon Trotsky, “Art and Politics in Our Epoch,” <>.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Theodor Adorno, “Vers une musique informelle,” Quasi una Fantasia (New York: Verso, 1998), 322.

13. Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations, 253–264.

14. Roberta Smith, “A Spectacle with a Message,” The New York Times, November 18, 2010. Available online at <>.