Regular visitors to this blog will note that I do not abuse the word “important.” Don’t miss this. Not a big fan of the Frankfurters generally nor Horkheimer specifically but this is extraordinary theoretical work.
I will add some analysis when I have time (which is not often these days) and it will be added here in this post.
Below is the comment I left under the piece.
Brilliant. So much to think about here. A few examples:
” The adaptation of individuals to fascism, however, also expresses a certain rationality. After their betrayal by their own bureaucracy since 1914, after the development of the parties into world-spanning machineries for the destruction of spontaneity, after the murder of revolutionaries, the neutrality of workers with respect to the totalitarian order is no sign of idiocy.”
“The lie of justice within modern society, the lie of the reward for achievement, the lie of success as a divine judgment, all the cultural lies that poisoned life, have either become transparent or been abolished. Bureaucracy decides on life and death. It does not shift the responsibility for the failure of individuals to God, as did the old capitalists, but rather to the necessity of the state. The inhumane people who now dispose over lives probably are no more unjust than the market, which was moved only by the will to profit, in selecting who will live and who will die.”
“The bourgeois were always pragmatists; they always kept an eye on their property. For its sake the privileges fell. Even the more radical development, interrupted by the fall of the terrorists, did not point only in the direction of greater freedom. Even then, people were faced with choosing between various forms of dictatorship. Robespierre’s and Saint Just’s plans envisioned statist elements, a strengthening of the bureaucratic apparatus, similar to the authoritarian systems of the present. The order which set out as the progressive one in 1789 carried the germs of National Socialism from the beginning.”
“To appeal today to the liberal mentality of the nineteenth century against fascism means appealing to what brought fascism to power. ”
This is great work. A few points of disagreement [notably that it has little to do with its title] but who cares. Horkheimer at his best. Thanks for this.