Remembering Adorno

Remembering Adorno

John abromeit

In his sociology of religion, but also in his analyses of bureaucracy in modern societies, Max Weber analysed the process by which ideas that aim for qualitative change, for a transvaluation of values, are worn down in the historical process, codified and routinized by interpreters, gradually brought back into line with the status quo. Building upon Georg Lukácsʼs early analyses of reification, which reinterpreted Weberʼs theory of rationalization in terms of Marxʼs analysis of commodity fetishism, Theodor Adorno would prove himself to be one of the most astute analysts of such processes of ʻadjustmentʼ, which would expand and intensify in the twentieth century. Adornoʼs own theory was driven in large part by the increasingly difficult task of escaping the levelling tendencies of a society dominated by the logic of the commodity, but he also clearly recognized that his own efforts would be only partially successful: ʻNo theoryʼ, not even his own, ʻescapes the market any longer.ʼ [1] The adjustment of the dialectically transcendent ideas of Adorno and his colleagues has been described as the transformation of Critical Theory into the Frankfurt School. [2] While the concept of Critical Theory has become practically meaningless – particularly in the Anglo-American world – the concept of the Frankfurt School has become a convenient label to designate one of the many theoretical tendencies competing on the market today. It is not entirely clear who belongs to the ʻschoolʼ or what exactly it stands for. In the past decades many have taken a trip to the city of Frankfurt itself in hopes of clarifying this question. But upon arriving in the mini-metropolis on the Main, asking a taxi driver to be taken to the ʻFrankfurt Schoolʼ, as some bewildered visitors have done recently, will lead only to a wild goose chase. Theodor Adorno Platz, on the other hand, really does exist. But prior to this year, one would have discovered there only a large war memorial from 1925, a concrete ping-pong table, and several benches – often littered with empty cans of beer – all surrounded by some overgrown hedges. Just a few days before what would have been his hundredth birthday in 2003, the city of Frankfurt finally decided to improve the miserable state of Adornoʼs official site. Beer cans were picked up, hedges trimmed, ping-pong table removed and the war monument was replaced by an artistic memorial by the Russian artist Vadim Zakharov in the form of a large desk with several of Adornoʼs principal works on top of it.

The city of Frankfurt and the federal state of Hesse have been reluctant to support nonconformist cultural causes in the past. The budget of the Frankfurt Film Museum was slashed several years ago, which prompted Adornoʼs friend and well-known representative of the New German Cinema, Alexander Kluge, to write several letters in protest. More recently, the city government has threatened to cut the funding for what is without doubt the most innovative cultural undertaking in Frankfurt today, namely William Forsytheʼs avant-garde ballet. [3] Such continuing conspicuous neglect of Adorno would not, however, have been possible during his centenary year, for the city has realized that the ʻFrankfurt Schoolʼ has become an internationally recognized label, one that they literally cannot afford to ignore. In fact, the city has in the meantime charged full-steam ahead. The face-lift of Theodor Adorno Platz has been just one part of a much larger ʻJubiläumʼ the city has dedicated to its exiled son this past year. For example, the Institute for Social Research, which has since come to represent the ideas of the so-called second and third generations of the Frankfurt School, organized a three-day international conference on Adornoʼs work. Considering what the ʻsecond and third generationʼ members of the ʻFrankfurt Schoolʼ have written about Adorno in the past two decades, it is difficult to imagine that this conference was motivated by anything more than Pflichtbewusstsein (consciousness of duty). [4] The conference thematized Adornoʼs not so surprising disappearance from academic discussions in Germany in the past decades. But far from merely confirming that Adornoʼs thought belongs to the past, this academic neglect of Adorno and the other Critical Theorists also confirms their own deeply ambivalent attitude towards academic specialization, with its affirmative tendency towards insularity and insufficient self-reflexivity. But not all of the centenary events were driven by a concern with the cityʼs image and/or performed reluctantly out of a mere sense of duty. Several other conferences and talks were organized that called into question the numbing effects of ritualized memory and made an attempt not merely to think about Adorno, but to think with him about contemporary issues. Furthermore, several new studies of Adornoʼs life and work were published last year, including two new intellectual biographies that take seriously the task of working through Adornoʼs impressive and manifold legacies.* These two biographies will be the subject of the following remarks.

A Künstlerroman

Detlev Claussen begins Theodor Adorno: Ein Letztes Genie (Theodor Adorno: A Last Genius) with a discussion of two potential problems that leap immediately to the attention of anyone familiar with Adornoʼs thought. Is the genre of biography really an appropriate way to approach Adornoʼs work? How can one justify using the concept of genius to describe Adorno, when he was so critical of this typically bourgeois fetishization of art, the individual and production? Claussen explicitly mentions Adornoʼs objections to biography, but justifies his own undertaking in terms of letting Adornoʼs work speak for itself. He claims to eschew any attempt to interpret Adornoʼs work merely in terms of biographical details, thereby observing Adornoʼs own lifelong rejection of psychologism and sociologism. Claussen invokes Goethe as the quintessential bildungsbürgerliche model of the genius and integrated subjectivity, and his portrayal of Adornoʼs life contains elements of a Bildungsroman. [5] While Claussen insists that the concept of the genius ʻreally does apply to Adornoʼ, he also stresses throughout the book the ʻnon-identicalʼ character of Adornoʼs development, even the negative consequences of certain instances when Adorno succumbed to identity thinking, such as his rigid rejection of jazz. Claussen stresses certain transformative phases in Adornoʼs life, but its different periods never coalesce into a meaningful whole. In other words, Adornoʼs life is portrayed more in terms of a tragic Künstlerroman, such as Anton Reiser or The Green Henry, in which the artist never fully succeeds in reconciling himself with society, than as an edifying Bildungsroman, such as Wilhelm Meister, in which the protagonist achieves peace with himself and his world at the end. [6]

The metaphor of the Künstlerroman also proves apt in relation to Adornoʼs childhood, which is the topic of Claussenʼs first chapter. In contrast to many of his future friends and colleagues, Adornoʼs family origins did not lie in the sphere of production but were instead a mixture of an increasingly threatened existence in the sphere of circulation, on his fatherʼs side, and lower-middle-class artistic, even bohemian, existence on his motherʼs side. As Claussen shows, Adornoʼs childhood was by no means typically bourgeois, in so far as art – music, to be precise – was not reduced in his unorthodox family to mere cultural capital or a pedagogical tool; it was instead the daily nourishment of the young Teddie, which sustained the remarkable development of this ʻhothouse plantʼ, as he would later describe himself. [7] Claussen also makes some interesting observations in his first chapter on the history of Frankfurt and the history of the Jewish community in Frankfurt and the surrounding area, and how it influenced Adornoʼs childhood. He shows, for example, how the rising incidence of anti-Semitic violence in the Hessian countryside in the mid-nineteenth century probably led Adornoʼs grandfather to relocate their wine business from the provincial Dettelbach to the burgeoning trading centre of Frankfurt, which had by far the highest percentage of Jews of any city in Germany at the time. It was the only city in which it was possible at the turn of the century to erect a memorial to Heinrich Heine. Heine continues to play a minor, yet important, role in the remainder of Claussenʼs narrative, particularly in his emphasis on the impossibility of explaining Adornoʼs – or Heineʼs – work solely in terms of its ʻJewish originsʼ. It was in fact the anti-Semites who insisted upon classifying Heineʼs work as ʻJewishʼ. As Adorno would point out later in a trenchant essay on Heine, the increasingly chauvinistic versions of ethnic and nationalist ʻidentityʼ that developed in Europe and elsewhere in the nineteenth century – which relied upon the exclusion of putative ʻforeignersʼ, such as Jews – had fatefully ignored one of Heineʼs central insights, namely that ʻtranscendental homelessnessʼ had become universal in the modern world. [8]

In the second chapter, Claussen examines the various contexts of Adornoʼs development in the 1920s. His re-examination of the circumstances that led to the founding of the Institute for Social Research will be familiar to most, and his lengthy panegyric to Hermann Weil seems gratuitous and one-sided. [9] But his description of both the betrayal felt by many young intellectuals at the capitulation of their older counterparts in the face of World War I, and the * Detlev Claussen, Theodor W. Adorno: Ein Letztes Genie, Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2003. 479 pp., €26.90 hb., 3 10010813

2. ^ Stefan Müller-Doohm, Adorno: Eine Biographie, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2003. 1032 pp., €36.90 hb., 3 51858378

6. ^ Page references appear in brackets within the text.ongoing restrictively conservative state of the German universities in the 1920s, provides an important and often overlooked key to understanding the origins of Critical Theory. Despite his meteoric rise from student to lecturer to professor and director of the Institute for Social Research, Horkheimer never abandoned his deep suspicion of the academic conformism that dominated even relatively liberal universities in Germany at this time, such as Frankfurt. It was this same conformism that made academic careers extremely difficult or impossible for Adorno, Benjamin and Kracauer. In this sense, Claussen is correct to stress the vital importance of an extra-academic ʻpeer groupʼ for Adornoʼs development at this time. But his sociological acumen verges on sociologism when he views Adornoʼs work in this period as driven primarily by a desire for community, his theory as an ersatz religion. While Adorno was unquestionably drawn to the theologically inspired work of Bloch and Benjamin, his commitment to radical Enlightenment was also strong, as even a cursory reading of his first Habilitationsschrift on ʻThe Concept of the Unconscious in the Transcendental Theory of the Soulʼ (1927) reveals. [10] Like Horkheimer, Adorno was interested in using psychoanalysis as a weapon against the uncritical and irrationalist apologists of the unconscious. The de facto rejection of this study by Hans Cornelius, who was on the left-liberal fringe of the German university system at this time, certainly contributed to Adornoʼs subsequent theoretical turn away from Horkheimer towards Benjamin.

Chapter 3 leaps over the 1930s to a series of short ʻÜbergängeʼ (transitions) which examine some of Adornoʼs key relationships while he was in exile in the USA. It focuses mainly on Adornoʼs complex relationship to Thomas Mann. Claussen succeeds – where others have failed11 – in providing a balanced portrayal of Adornoʼs admiration for Mann and his contributions to Doktor Faustus. There is no question that Mann respected Adornoʼs formidable artistic and intellectual powers, but this respect was – as was so often the case among those who came to know him personally – tempered by reservations about Adornoʼs extreme narcissism, which was inseparable from his genius, but was frequently overbearing at the same time. As Horkheimerʼs wife, Rosa Riekher, once put it, ʻ[Teddie was the] most immense narcissist to be found in both the Old and the New Worldʼ (372).12 But Claussenʼs discussion of the charged relationship between the two men moves beyond the merely personal to reflect upon the displaced position of art at a time when both German and bourgeois cultural continuity had been called deeply into question. This situation led to many paradoxical expressions of ʻthe non-identicalʼ – the title of the chapter – in the work of both Mann and Adorno. Adorno saw in Mann a living embodiment of ʻthat German tradition … from which I received everything, including the strength to resist traditionʼ (149). Claussen characterizes Mann as a ʻBourgeois artist [who] experienced the present as an epoch of debourgeoisification [Entbürgerlichung]ʼ (169). Adorno viewed the role of critical intellectuals such as himself as ʻthe last enemies of the bourgeois … and the last bourgeois at the same timeʼ (169). As Claussen convincingly argues, these reflections upon the status of tradition in their own work became particularly acute for exiles like Adorno and Mann in the United States, a country Adorno perceived as the embodiment of ʻa completely pure form of capitalism … without any remnants of feudalismʼ (258), and a ʻradically bourgeois countryʼ (167).

These reflections on both the central significance of his ʻAmerican experienceʼ for his work, and the contradictory ʻnatureʼ of Bürgerlichkeit, continue throughout the remainder of Claussenʼs book. [13] His examinations of Adornoʼs friendships with Hanns Eisler and Fritz Lang also centre on these themes. Like Adorno, Eisler studied music in Vienna in the 1920s, but unlike him he succeeded in winning the recognition of Schoenberg and was not forced to relinquish his career as a composer. Thus Claussen portrays Eisler as Adornoʼs unidentical Doppelgänger, an embodiment of the ʻartist, who is no longer supported by the bourgeoisie. The artist as critic of the bourgeois society, from and in which he nonetheless must liveʼ (185). Claussen uses the discussion of Fritz Lang to criticize the misconception that Adorno was a rigid defender of Kultur against the blandishments of popular entertainment. He shows that Lang served as Adornoʼs inside man in Hollywood, and provided him with the insights he needed to criticize the instrumental attitudes of the studio bosses and their lackeys, not the entire film genre or the very notion of entertainment. While Claussenʼs demonstration that Adorno was not the Spassverderber (spoilsport) that he is usually taken to be – that he criticized the culture industry as an ʻintellectualization of amusementʼ (201) – hits the mark, his characterization of Adorno as a ʻpassionate movie-goerʼ (199) overshoots even Adornoʼs legendary penchant for hyperbole.

The next chapter examines Adornoʼs ʻFrankfurt Transferʼ, but largely in terms of its preconditions in the USA. In other words, Claussen returns here in greater depth to Adornoʼs ʻAmerican experienceʼ in order to explain Adornoʼs ambivalent attitude to returning to Germany after the war. Adornoʼs aversions to the United States come out more clearly in this section. Claussen discusses Adornoʼs stubborn resistance to jazz, explaining and criticizing it in terms of a compensation for his own thwarted musical ambitions and an excessive desire for continuity and identity in his damaged life in exile. On the other hand, Claussen also criticizes those who cite Adornoʼs overwrought critique of jazz as a convenient excuse to dismiss his critical social theory as a whole. Claussen points out, correctly, that Adornoʼs critique – however ones judges it – viewed jazz merely as a symptom of much deeper social-psychological phenomena, and this is what Adorno demanded be taken seriously, not just the musical merits of jazz from a purely aesthetic standpoint. He also reflects at length in this chapter upon a figure who might be considered a second, more distant, ʻunidentical brotherʼ of Adorno, namely Paul Lazarsfeld. Lazarsfeld is used mainly as a foil, to illustrate those aspects of the ʻAmerican experienceʼ which Adorno refused to assimilate. While Claussen does stress the crucial importance of Adornoʼs exposure to professional, empirical social science in the USA, he is also careful to highlight Adornoʼs obstinate refusal to remake himself completely in the American melting pot. From Adornoʼs perspective, Lazarsfeldʼs American re-education worked a bit too well; thus, rather than emulate his example of ʻentrepreneurial initiativeʼ (217), Adorno chose to return to Frankfurt after the war, in no small part because he preferred ʻthe security of an existence as a civil servantʼ to the ʻfreedom of a market organized as a culture industryʼ (246).

The identical and non-identical moments in Adornoʼs friendship with and intellectual development vis-àvis Horkheimer provide one of the unifying themes of Chapter

5. ^ Unlike Müller-Doohm, who portrays Adornoʼs relationship to Horkheimer as one of gradual, but continual confluence (sealed by a ʻdouble liaisonʼ with Gretel Karplus and Max Horkheimer on 8 September 1937, when Horkheimer served as best man at Adornoʼs wedding to Karplus), Claussen clearly recognizes the ʻups and downsʼ in the prehistory of this remarkable friendship. After the de facto refusal by Hans Cornelius of Adornoʼs first Habilitationsschrift in 1927, Adorno drifted away from Horkheimer in order to pursue passionately his theoretical elective affinity with Walter Benjamin. Horkheimer reacted sceptically to Adornoʼs inaugural lecture as a Privatdozent on ʻThe Actuality of Philosophyʼ, and did not extend an explicit invitation to Adorno to join the Institute in exile after the National Socialist seizure of power in 1933. The two of them did not speak for a year and a half, and, even though Horkheimer soon renewed his efforts to bring Adorno back into the Instituteʼs orbit, he continued to remain sceptical of several of his projects, refusing to publish essays by Adorno on Husserl and Karl Mannheim, even after the ʻdouble liaisonʼ in 1937. Horkheimer did, of course, ultimately choose Adorno, rather than Marcuse, to co-write the Dialectic of Enlightenment, but Claussen shows how Adorno, nonetheless, ʻstruggled his entire life for the recognition of the older manʼ (265). Claussen recognizes that Horkheimer had already reached his theoretical apogee in the 1930s, while Adorno still suffered from a certain political naïveté that went hand in hand with his ʻaesthetic Left-radicalismʼ from the 1920s. [14] Claussen gives Horkheimer and Adornoʼs ʻAmerican experienceʼ credit for curing Adorno of these lasts remnants of naïveté, which did not, however, diminish his theoretical radicalism. Adorno returned to Frankfurt also because it was where he spent his childhood, which remained an important source of the negatively formulated allusions to utopia in his writings. Whereas Horkheimer ʻwas looking for a possibility to retreatʼ (308) after the war, Adorno first came into his own in the Federal Republic in the 1950s.

The 1920s and the 1950s were separated by the civilizational rupture of Auschwitz. In his final chapter Claussen demonstrates how – virtually alone among his peers – Adorno fully registered this unfathomable shock and how it moved to the very centre of his Critical Theory. He does this by creating another ʻpalimpsestʼ of Adornoʼs life, reconstructing in detail the development of Adornoʼs most important intellectual relationships. In what can be seen as significant contribution to the history of the Frankfurt intellectual milieu in the 1920s, [15] Claussen reconstructs the dynamic force field within which Adornoʼs Critical Theory took shape, among the attraction and repulsion to the ideas of Kracauer, Lukács, Rosenzweig, Buber, Horkheimer, Bloch, Benjamin and Brecht. He then shows how this intellectual force field developed in the 1930s and 1940s and how Adornoʼs mature Critical Theory emerged from it in the 1950s. [16] His most significant contribution is his finely sketched portrait of Adornoʼs relationship to Bloch, which has often been overlooked in the secondary literature.

It was with Bloch, not Benjamin or Horkheimer, that Adorno shared the intimate Du in the 1920s and 1930s. Adorno moved away from Kracauer and Horkheimer towards Benjamin in the late 1920s, ʻbut also in this friendship Adorno seemed to miss something that he could share only with Bloch – musicʼ (328). Benjamin reacted allergically in the early 1930s to Adornoʼs operetta about Mark Twain, whereas Bloch was able to understand the utopia of a ʻnon-bourgeois notion of maturityʼ (331) that it expressed. But Blochʼs reduction of utopia to a principle remained too abstract to accommodate the catastrophic historical experiences of the twentieth century. Brechtʼs, Eislerʼs and Lukácsʼs positions in the 1950s also led to a ʻdisappearance of Auschwitz behind a rationalistically constructed Marxismʼ (388), according to Claussen. [17]

Apart from Horkheimer, who had already passed his theoretical prime by this time, Adorno turned to poets such as Samuel Beckett and Paul Celan to find an adequate expression of the traumatic historical situation. Claussen concludes the final chapter with some reflections on Adornoʼs relationship to the protest movements of the 1960s, which represent a working through of Claussenʼs own past, since he was, like his friend Hans-Jürgen Krahl, one of Adornoʼs students who was active in the SDS at the time. Claussen criticizes the radicalized studentsʼ unmediated appropriation of the Critical Theoristsʼ positions from the 1930s and the spread of a ʻLeft-radical attitude as conformist fashionʼ (44). On the other hand, he also demonstrates that Adorno stood solidly, if cautiously, behind the protesting students – until they began disrupting his own lectures. [18] As elsewhere in his study, Claussen approaches this crucial and complex subject as an Aufklärer [Enlightener], criticizing widespread preand misconceptions and offering new insights with engaged and serious scholarship.

The composer as critical theorist

Stephan Müller-Doohmʼs Adorno: Eine Biographie is nearly twice as long as Claussenʼs book, which has advantages and disadvantages. It enables MüllerDoohm to examine certain aspects of Adornoʼs life and work in greater detail. He devotes more space, for example, to exploring Adornoʼs personal life. If you want to learn about the less than egalitarian domestic arrangements Adorno had with his wife, Gretel Karplus, or about Adornoʼs various lovers, MüllerDoohmʼs study is the place to go. [19] Müller-Doohm also devotes more space to short synopses of Adornoʼs work. One could debate the usefulness of any threepage summary of Negative Dialectics, but you wonʼt find one in Claussenʼs study. In this and his linearly structured, more or less comprehensive narrative of Adornoʼs life and work, Müller-Doohmʼs study is a more traditional intellectual biography then Claussenʼs. And, despite its greater length, Müller-Doohmʼs study reads more quickly than Claussenʼs. Müller-Doohmʼs polished prose usually draws the reader along quickly, whereas Claussenʼs mimetic approach often captures and conveys the intellectual and emotional density of Adornoʼs own prose, which presupposes a high level of previous knowledge and constantly demands that the reader stop, reflect and reread. Müller-Doohmʼs book will be more appropriate for those less familiar with Adornoʼs work, which is not to say that this thoroughly researched study does not break any new scholarly ground. Müller-Doohmʼs study is structured chronologically and divided into four main sections. The first addresses Adornoʼs family background, his childhood and youth. Müller-Doohm begins with a detailed portrait of Adornoʼs Corsican grandfather, Jean-François Francesco, who settled in the Frankfurt suburb of Bockenheim without speaking German and struggled to make a living as a fencing instructor. Thus his daughters, Louise and Agathe, who would become Adornoʼs ʻtwo mothersʼ, grew up in very modest surroundings. After Francesco died in 1879, his musically gifted wife attempted to improve her familyʼs financial situation by organizing public concerts with her daughters, which soon earned them the reputation in the local press of being ʻmusikalische Wunderkinderʼ. But despite Müller-Doohmʼs more detailed examination of the humble background of Adornoʼs family – particularly on the maternal side – he still describes it as typically bourgeois. Müller-Doohm cites the Instituteʼs later Studies on Authority and Family to support this claim. Whereas bourgeois society is dominated by the principle of competitive self-interest, the family supposedly provides ʻa haven in a heartless worldʼ, a separate sphere in which everyone is committed to the happiness of the other, which leads ʻto a premonition of better human conditionʼ. [20] Adorno did indeed benefit from the extraordinary solicitude of not just one but two ʻmothersʼ and the unwavering beneficence of his father, but the artistic – even bohemian – tendencies in his family, and its social standing, leave no doubt that it was not typically bourgeois in many respects. Claussen is more attentive to these fine, but significant differences from the more solidly bourgeois backgrounds of Horkheimer, Pollock and Felix Weil. Thus it comes as perhaps no surprise that Siegfried Kracauer, whose origins were more humble than Adornoʼs, became Adornoʼs first extra-familial mentor. Müller-Doohm devotes much attention to this crucial relationship. But because significant portions of the Adorno–Kracauer correspondence are still off limits to publication – Müller-Doohm was forced at the last minute by Reemtsma foundation, who owns the rights to the Adorno–Kracauer correspondence, to retract several quotations – neither he nor Claussen was able to move substantially beyond what readers of Kracauerʼs fictionalized account of his relationship with Adorno in Georg have known since the belated publication of that novel in 1973.21

In the second part, Müller-Doohm examines Adornoʼs years as a student and lecturer. Apart from a relatively short but influential stay in Vienna in 1925 and frequent trips to Berlin in the late 1920s, he spent these years in Frankfurt. The discussion of the vicissitudes of Adornoʼs musical apprenticeship in Vienna is the highlight of this section. He provides a finely sketched portrait of Adornoʼs relationship to one of Schoenbergʼs most respected composition students, Alban Berg. He explains why Adorno was unable to win the recognition of the greatly admired pioneer of atonal and twelve-tone music, [22] but his ʻunconditional recognitionʼ of Berg was handsomely rewarded; Adorno began a friendship with him that ʻintensified continually over the following months and yearsʼ (126–7), documented by 136 letters from 1925 to 1936, from which Müller-Doohm draws extensively and profitably in the further course of his study. [23] Whereas Claussen uses Adornoʼs fatherʼs wine business to introduce the pronounced sensualist dimension of his temperament, Müller-Doohm argues that it was Bergʼs sophisticated hedonism, and the ʻsensuality of Vienna lifeʼ more generally, which taught Adorno how to enjoy himself. Müller-Doohm also includes detailed discussions of Adornoʼs own compositions and musical writings during this period. For example, Müller-Doohm illustrates concretely how Adorno ʻtook the step from a concert and composition critic to a musical theorist with his texts from the early 1930sʼ (176). He emphasizes repeatedly and convincingly that composition was every bit as important as philosophy for Adorno at this time (182). This also helps explain Adornoʼs increasing distance from Horkheimer in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Like his philosophical mentors, Kracauer, Bloch, Benjamin and the young Lukács, Adornoʼs concept of philosophy was more closely related to his aesthetic concerns than to Horkheimerʼs model of empirically founded interdisciplinary social research. Müller-Doohm makes this point with a comprehensive, if occasionally sloppy, discussion not only of Adornoʼs philosophical writings from this period but also the seminars he offered as a lecturer in Frankfurt in the early 1930s. [24]

The third part of Müller-Doohmʼs study examines Adornoʼs years in exile: in England from 1934 to 1938 and in the USA from 1938 to 1949. The strengths and weaknesses of the more traditional intellectual biographical approach can be seen clearly in his treatment of Adornoʼs development in the 1930s. His continuous and comprehensive narrative occasionally gets bogged down in excessively detailed descriptions of Adornoʼs quotidian life, or repeats material that will be familiar to anyone who is not a newcomer to Adornoʼs work. But the more personal approach pays rewards at other times. The description of the disastrous effects Kristallnacht had for Adornoʼs father – he was wounded and thrown in jail for several weeks, his business was largely destroyed, and the endowment for his business was confiscated (399) – illustrates the direct and personal threat that the Nazi terror posed even to those like Adorno who had escaped; it also drives home Müller-Doohmʼs larger argument about Adornoʼs gradual loss of political naïveté in the 1930s. Müller-Doohm also conveys Adornoʼs devastation at the death of Walter Benjamin, who – despite his increasing proximity to Horkheimer – was still Adornoʼs most important interlocutor at this time. Adornoʼs immediate reaction to Benjaminʼs death speaks volumes about his own appropriation of his work: ʻWith this death, philosophy has been robbed of the best that it could possibly hope forʼ (402).25

Müller-Doohm also highlights the strong presence of Benjamin in the subsequent period of intense work with Horkheimer on Dialectic of Enlightenment in order to develop an original, if flawed, interpretation of its conception (411f. and 429ff.). He argues that there were two competing tendencies at work during the crucial, formative phase of Dialectic of Enlightenment. On the one hand, Adorno wanted to develop a critique of some of the most basic concepts of Western rationality, which was deeply influenced by Benjaminʼs ideas of the entanglement of myth and modernity and his negative philosophy of history. On the other hand, Horkheimer wanted to work out the universal and transcendental norms implicit in language use in order to reformulate a concept of reason that could provide a new foundation for Critical Theory (409–13). In the end Adornoʼs interests prevailed over Horkheimerʼs. While Müller-Doohm is correct to emphasize that Dialectic of Enlightenment is more representative of Adornoʼs work as a whole than Horkheimerʼs, his attempt to read Habermasʼs efforts to develop a linguistically based normative foundation for Critical Theory back onto Horkheimer fail to do justice to the complexities of his position at the time. [26] This part concludes with a penetrating examination of Adornoʼs relationship to Thomas Mann, in which Adorno appears in an even more positive light than in Claussenʼs study.

In the final and lengthiest part of the book, MüllerDoohm provides a comprehensive examination of Adornoʼs life and work after his return to Frankfurt in 1949 until his death in 1969. His assiduous attention to little-known sources often enables him to place Adornoʼs work in a new light. For example, he reveals the special importance that Adorno accorded to his essay on Kafka within his work as whole, by drawing on an obscure letter that Adorno wrote to the editor of a German newspaper in which the essay was first published (538). Müller-Doohmʼs discussion of Adornoʼs Jargon of Authenticity is also illuminating. He explains clearly why Adorno refused to engage Heideggerʼs philosophy directly, ʻon his own termsʼ as it were, and chose instead to attack the leere Tiefe (pseudo-profundity) of the Heideggerian jargon that formed an integral part of the sanctimonious religion of Kultur that arose in Germany in the 1950s. [27]

Müller-Doohm patiently documents Adornoʼs professional life in the postwar period. His innumerable public lectures and radio appearances, his willingness to work with other leading German scholars, and his professional activities all demonstrate that Adorno was by no means an outsider in the Federal Republic. As elsewhere, Müller-Doohm does not neglect Adornoʼs personal life. He illustrates not only Adornoʼs numerous friendships with artists and other intellectuals – such as Samuel Beckett, Alexander Kluge and Ingeborg Bachmann – but also the numerous places to which he was drawn intellectually and/or emotionally bound, such as Paris, Rome, Sils Maria and a small town in the Bavarian Odenwald by the name of Amorbach, where Adorno had been going on vacation since he was a child. [28] There is even a short chapter near the end that attempts once again to dispel the stubborn stereotype of Adorno as an elitist curmudgeon by examining his love of hosting dinner guests, playing the piano together with a partner, going to the zoo – a passion he shared with Marcuse – and his general ʻweakness for the ironically playfulʼ (711).

Bourgeois or civil society?

Müller-Doohmʼs and Claussenʼs discussions of Adornoʼs development in the postwar period parallel and complement each other in many respects, but on two important and related subjects they diverge significantly: in their portrayal of Adornoʼs attitude towards democracy and his relationship to Jürgen Habermasʼs work. Even on these subjects the differences are a matter of degree, but one that reveals a significantly different approach to Adornoʼs work and to the tradition of Critical Theory as a whole. Müller-Doohm portrays Adorno consistently as an ardent defender of democracy in postwar Germany. As a result of the war, the rise of an authoritarian state socialism in the Eastern bloc and his ʻAmerican experienceʼ, Adorno came to a greater appreciation of parliamentary democracy. Although Müller-Doohm does not completely overlook Adornoʼs analysis of the ʻobjective violenceʼ (586) of ʻsocial relationsʼ, his emphasis lies more on the putative normative underpinnings of Adornoʼs critique, which allows him to emphasize Adornoʼs proximity to Habermas, and to portray Habermas as a – if not the – legitimate heir of his Critical Theory (586). In several places, Müller-Doohm argues that Habermas is an important – if not the only – inheritor of Adornoʼs Critical Theory; in fact, he even hints that Habermasʼs theory may have rendered Adornoʼs theory obsolete in certain key respects. [29] He also affirms the recent thesis that Adorno and the other members of the ʻFrankfurt Schoolʼ were part of a belated ʻintellectual foundingʼ of the Federal Republic in the postwar period. [30] Müller-Doohm does discuss Adornoʼs famous statement from 1959, ʻI view the continued existence of National Socialism within democracy as potentially more dangerous than the continued existence of fascist tendencies against democracyʼ (584), but he downplays its importance and broader implications by linking it to a specific discussion about the state of democracy in Germany at that time. Furthermore, in the few places where the concept of ʻbourgeois societyʼ (bürgerliche Gesellschaft) shows up in his discussions of Adornoʼs work, it is used in a positive, normative sense (587). In all of these respects, Müller-Doohmʼs study could be seen as a routinization and normalization of Adornoʼs Critical Theory, in the Weberian sense, mentioned above.

While Claussen also heavily emphasizes Adornoʼs presence in the German public sphere in the postwar period, and – like Müller-Doohm – stresses his uncompromising critique of actually existing socialism, one does not find in his study a discussion of a normative concept of democracy in relation to Adornoʼs work. One does, however, find a complex – even contradictory – discussion of the concepts of bourgeois and bourgeois society in relation to Adornoʼs life and work. In this respect, Claussen remains closer to the materialist underpinnings of Adornoʼs own thought, by not losing sight of the socio-historical and social-psychological conditions which play such an important role in determining the parameters of abstract or proceduralist ʻdemocracyʼ in any given society.

But in Claussenʼs study there seems to be a contradiction between two different determinations of the concept of bourgeois society. On the one hand, he makes use of a historical concept of bourgeois society as a phenomenon that was limited to the long nineteenth century31 and characterized by conspicuous class differences that manifested themselves in both material and cultural terms. On the other hand, a philosophical concept of bourgeois society also appears in Claussenʼs work, to describe a larger, epochal phenomenon that was by no means limited to the long nineteenth century. [32] It is clearly this philosophical concept of bourgeois society to which Adorno refers when he speaks of the United States in the twentieth century as a ʻradically bourgeois countryʼ. Like Hegel, Adorno is convinced that bourgeois society has been responsible for the introduction into world history of certain progressive principles – subjective freedom being perhaps the most important – which have become necessary conditions of any further attempts to bring about a more just and emancipated society. [33] Nevertheless, as Claussen sees more clearly than Müller-Doohm, Adorno also refused to turn a blind eye to the unbroken dynamic inherent in bourgeois society and the fateful consequences of which it had already proven itself capable. [34]

Yet it is precisely this critical, philosophical dimension that has been lost in recent discussions of the concept of bürgerliche Gesellschaft. In the wake of the collapse of state socialism in the East, many commentators rediscovered the concept of civil society as a way of describing the emancipatory transformations in these societies. [35] The English version of the term – civil society – lent itself well to an interpretation which drew more on a Kantian than a Hegelian or Marxist determination of the concept – that is, one more or less untouched by any systematic reflections on political economy. [36] Civil society was read in undialectical terms as that which lay outside the state – the public sphere, voluntary associations, free market economy. This position often went hand in hand with an explicit refusal – what Adorno might call a Denkverbot (prohibition on thinking) – to reflect upon the political-economic dimensions of the concept, under the pretext that theories such as Hegelʼs or Adornoʼs which rely heavily upon a concept of social totality are no longer possible. Habermasʼs work contributed to this trend, in so far as he too distanced himself from Adornoʼs critical concept of bourgeois society, and drew instead upon Kant, Weber and Luhmann to develop a conception of modern society as a system of pluralistically differentiated value spheres, not one of systematic domination. Habermasʼs early criticisms of the welfare state as a form of ʻpowerʼ that colonized the ʻlifeworldʼ, and his interpretation of the new social movements in terms of anti-statist outgrowths of civil society, reinforced this tendency. Even though Habermas has modified his position substantially in the past decade, the ongoing influence of his early work and the retranslation of Anglo-American discussion of civil society into the German context have led to the virtual disappearance of the critical concept of bürgerliche Gesellschaft. [37] Habermasʼs work was indeed important as a philosophische Westanbindung38 in the postwar period, which contributed to burying once and for all – let us hope – the reactionary anti-Western and anti-democratic traditions that had been so important for the German Right. But since it has become clear that German democracy no longer stands on shaky ground and that since 1989 the form of ʻradical bourgeoisʼ society represented by the United States has become the dominant force in the contemporary world, might a reconsideration of Critical Theory be more timely than a historicizing approach to the so-called ʻFrankfurt Schoolʼ? It would go beyond the parameters of this article to examine the contentious relationship of Habermasʼs theory to the older tradition of Critical Theory, but some of his own more recent positions seem to indicate that he too is aware of the shortcomings in his earlier work for an appraisal of contemporary conditions. [39] In this respect, Claussenʼs argument that Adornoʼs and Habermasʼs theoretical differences are greater than their similarities, and that Adornoʼs work has yet to receive the hearing it deserves (e.g. 379 and 400) may prove to be more prescient than Müller-Doohmʼs stress on their commonalities and his insinuations that Habermasʼs work may have supplanted Adornoʼs in most important respects.

Developments in the United States and around the globe since Adornoʼs death appear to have confirmed Adornoʼs more critical view of bürgerliche Gesellschaft. In a talk he delivered in Rome in 1966 on the concept of ʻSocietyʼ, for example, he argued that:

All society is still class society as it was at the time when this concept appeared; the excessive pressure in the Eastern bloc countries makes clear that it is no different there. Although Marxʼs prognosis of pauperization over a long period of time has not been proven true, the disappearance of classes is an epiphenomenon.… Subjectively concealed, class differences grow objectively due to the constant progression of the concentration of capital. [40]

It would not be an exaggeration to say that these tendencies have accelerated since Adornoʼs death. But, as Claussen points out, a purely rationalist Marxism, à la Brecht or Lukács, is not adequate to the task of grasping the irrational rationality of bourgeois society. The psychoanalytic and social-psychological dimensions of Critical Theory – which have also been largely emasculated by Habermas41 – also remain as relevant as ever. The steady drift of democrats and social democrats to the Right in the past few decades and their unwillingness to thematize the negative moments inherent in the global ʻcivil societyʼ have created a vast reservoir of voters susceptible to the irrational paroles of right-wing populism. Arnold Schwarzeneggerʼs recent election as the governor of California can be seen as the most recent manifestation of this increasingly widespread trend, one which cannot be fully understood without the socialpsychological categories developed by the Critical Theorists. If Schwarzeneggerʼs election in California can be seen as symptomatic of the persistence of sadomasochist character structures in American society, as one recent commentator has argued, [42] then one could make a case, based on arguments put forth by the Critical Theorists in the 1930s, that we are still living in the bourgeois epoch. [43] As Claussen points out, Adorno and Horkheimer often spoke of the twentieth century as an epoch of transition, [44] but perhaps both of their arguments were premature. Schwarzeneggerʼs election and the broader phenomenon of right-wing populism bring to mind Walter Benjaminʼs eighth thesis on the philosophy of history:

The current amazement that the things we are experiencing in the twentieth century [and now the twenty-first!] is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge – unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable. [45]

Benjaminʼs words were written in a more ominous period, the irrationalist and populist dimensions of Schwarzeneggerʼs victory warrant renewed reflection on the political-economic and social-psychological dimensions of bourgeois society which have been neglected in recent debates. Are we still living in the bourgeois epoch? How can we conceptualize the identity and non-identity of bourgeois society? Without Critical Theory, to whose collective development Adorno contributed so much, we will not be able to answer these questions.


1. ^ Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E.B.

Ashton, Continuum, New York, 1973, p. 4 (translation amended).

2. ^ See, for example, Alex Demirovic, Der NonKonformistische Intellektuelle: Die Entwicklung der Kritischen Theorie zur Frankfurter Schule, Suhrkamp,

Frankfurt am Main, 1999.

3. ^ On Forsytheʼs ballet, see the website of the Frankfurt Ballet (, in particular the section marked ʻarticlesʼ, which contains several essays on and interviews with Forsythe.

4. ^ Both Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth have repeatedly articulated fundamental critiques of Adornoʼs philosophy in the past two decades. Habermas argues that Adorno, like the post-structuralists, fell into an aporetic ʻself-referentiality of a totalizing critique of reasonʼ, which eliminated any possibility of providing a much needed normative foundation for Critical Theory. See, for example, The Postnational Constellation, trans. Max Pensky, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2001, pp. 130 and 141, respectively. Honneth follows Habermasʼs criticisms of Adorno in most respects. He places more emphasis on the putatively obsolescent elements of productionist philosophy in Adornoʼs work. See, for example, Axel Honneth, ʻAdornoʼs Theory of Society: The Definitive Repression of the Socialʼ, in The Critique of Power:Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory, trans.

Kenneth Baynes, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1991, pp. 57–96.

5. ^ The term Bildungbürger arose in nineteenth-century Germany to describe those portions of the middle class that defined themselves in terms of education, usually based on the humanistic model of classical education.

The Bildungsroman – novel of development or education – evolved as a genre in nineteenth-century German literature. It usually focused on the stages of maturation of a central figure, often ending with his reconciliation with himself and/or society at the end. Bildung more generally refers to typically nineteenth-century humanistic ideal of education as ennobling of the character, and contrasted to education as mere utilitarian training.

6. ^ The Künstlerroman was a subgenre of the Bildungsroman, which focused on alienated artists who usually did not succeed in coming to terms with themselves and/or society in the course of the novel. On the genre of the Künstlerrroman and its relation to the Bildungsroman, see Herbert Marcuse, ʻDer Deutsche Künstlerromanʼ, in Schriften, vol. 1, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1978.

7. ^ Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott,

Verso, London, 1974, 1993, p. 161.

8. ^ For Adornoʼs reflections on Heine and ʻtranscendental homelessnessʼ – a concept that plays a central role in Lukácsʼs Theory of the Novel – see his essay ʻHeine the Woundʼ, in Notes on Literature, vol. 1, trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen, Columbia University Press, New York, 1991, pp. 80–85.

9. ^ If ʻpolitical reaction was not an option for Hermann Weilʼ (102), as Claussen claims, then why did he serve as a military adviser to the Kaiser during the war? Is parvenu conformism really enough to explain this? Felix Weil, not his father, was the decisive person in securing the funding not only for the Institute of Social Research, but also for a number of other progressive artistic and intellectual projects in Weimar Germany, such as the Mailik publishing house and the Piscator Theater. To finance these projects Felix Weil drew upon not only his inheritance from his father but also a substantial inheritance from his motherʼs family. In addition, Felix Weil would not forget later in his life one of the most important sources of the surplus value that was used to finance the Institute for Social Research and other projects. His father dealt primarily in Argentinian grain, and Felix became one of the leading experts on the Argentinian economy and workersʼ movement, a lengthy study of which he published in 1944 as The Argentine Riddle. Very little work has been done on Felix Weil; his fascinating unfinished memoirs lie unpublished in the Frankfurt city archive. It seems that he, not his father, is in need of more scholarly attention.

10. ^ The Habilitationsschrift is a second dissertation required in order to gain permission to teach at a German university. It is too simple to dismiss this writing as an empty academic exercise, as Claussen does. For even though Adorno would soon reject its main argument, its fundamental impulse – to place psychoanalysis in the service of radical Enlightenment – would remain powerful for the rest of his life.

11. ^ See, for example, Michael Maar, ʻTeddy and Tommy:

The Masks of Doctor Faustusʼ, New Left Review 20, March/April 2003, pp. 113–30.

12. ^ For a provocative examination of some of the subversive aspects of narcissism in a Promethean society, see Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, Beacon Press,

Boston, 1955, pp. 144–56.

13. ^ On the topic of Adornoʼs relationship to the United States, see Claussenʼs essay ʻThe American Experience of the Critical Theoristsʼ, in J. Abromeit and W.M. Cobb, eds, Herbert Marcuse: A Critical Reader, London and New York, 2004, pp. 51–66; Martin Jay, ʻAdorno in Americaʼ, in Permanent Exiles: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to Americaʼ, Columbia University Press,

New York, 1986, pp. 120–37; as well as Adornoʼs own essay ʻScientific Experiences of a European Scholar in Americaʼ, The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America, 1930–1960, ed. D. Fleming and B. Bailyn,

Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1969.

14. ^ Oddly enough, Claussen does not mention Adornoʼs unfortunate piece on Baldur von Schirach here, or elsewhere in the book. See Müller-Doohm, Adorno, pp. 281ff.

15. ^ Claussen places himself here in the company of the other leading intellectual historians of this period, such as Wolfgang Schivelbusch (see, e.g., his Intellektuellendämmerung: Zur Lage der Frankfurter Intelligenz in den Zwanziger Jahren, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1982) and Martin Jay (see, e.g., his Permanent Exiles).

16. ^ See, for example, Claussenʼs interpretation of Minima Moralia in terms of this dynamic force field (p. 342).

17. ^ In this regard, Adorno did indeed remain indebted to Walter Benjamin, particularly his early study of The Origins of German Tragic Drama (trans. J. Osborne,

Verso, London, 1998), from which Adorno drew the inspiration for the following words at the end of Minima Moralia, ʻconsummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror-image of its oppositeʼ (p. 247).

18. ^ For a more detailed description of Claussenʼs understanding of the Frankfurt SDS, and their relationship to the Critical Theorists and their role within protest movement as a whole in Germany, see ʻDer kurze Sommer der Theorieʼ, in Detlev Claussen, Aspekte der Alltagsreligion: Ideologiekritik unter veränderten gesellschaftlichen Verhältnissen, Neue Kritik, Frankfurt, 2000, pp. 154–63. On the relationship of the Critical Theorists to the Protest Movement more generally, see the threevolume study, Wolfgang Kraushaar, ed., Frankfurter Schule und Studentenbewegung: von der Flaschenpost zum Molotowcocktail 1946–1995, Rogner & Bernhard bei Zweitausendeins, Frankfurt am Main, 1998.

19. ^ Müller-Doohm states, for example, that after their marriage in 1937, Karplus had to learn how to clean the house, because Adorno refused to do any housework (348 and 356). She also often served as a secretary for Adorno, recording discussions between him and his colleagues or transcribing his letters or other written work. MüllerDoohm also mentions some of the lovers Adorno had, particularly later in his life. A slightly different picture of Adornoʼs relationship to Karplus emerges in a recent documentary film, Theodor Adorno: Papst der Linken, made by the German radio station Südwestrundfunk.

In it, Regina Becker-Schmidt, a professor of sociology at the University of Hanover and former assistant of Adorno, stresses the fact that Adorno was never explicitly sexist and that Karplus, too, had other lovers. These amorous adventures, which they did not conceal from each other, did not affect their profound emotional loyalty to one another, according to Becker-Schmidt. Here, once again, it seems that Adorno (and Karplus) did not feel overly obliged to uphold rigidly the conventions of bourgeois ʻnormalityʼ. Becker-Schmidt also stresses Adornoʼs recognition of his own deep intellectual debt to Karplus. Without her help, not merely as his secretary, but also as an invaluable critic and interlocutor, much of his work would not have been possible.

20. ^ Studies on Authority and Family, quoted by MüllerDoohm, p. 44.

21. ^ Kracauerʼs novel Georg, which is set in Frankfurt in the period immediately after World War I, describes the homoerotically charged relationship between the sheltered and precocious fourteen-year-old Fred and his twenty-four-year-old tutor Georg. As was the case with Adorno and Kracauer in real life, the relationship between Fred and Georg gradually evolves beyond the initial regular mentoring sessions to a close friendship, such that, for example, the two of them go on vacation together. As appreciative as Fred is of Georgʼs friendship, it is clear from the beginning that Georg is more invested, both emotionally and erotically, in the relationship than Fred. Thus the relationship in the novel remains essentially Platonic, despite Georgʼs occasional overtures to Fred. On the further development of the relationship between the two of them, see Martin Jay, ʻAdorno and Kracauer: Notes on a Troubled Friendshipʼ, in Permanent Exiles, pp. 217–36.

22. ^ Schoenberg was critical of Adornoʼs compositions and particularly his writings on music from the very beginning. He was concerned that Adorno would scare people away from atonal and twelve-tone music with his heavily philosophical conceptual apparatus. Schoenbergʼs antipathy to Adorno ended up costing him his position as the co-editor of the Viennese musical journal Anbruch.

23. ^ See Theodor Adorno, Briefe und Briefwechsel, ed.

Theodor W. Adorno Archive, vol. 2; Theodor W. Adorno/Alban Berg: Briefwechsel 1925–1935, ed. Henri Lonitz,

Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1997.

24. ^ Among the latter was a daring seminar on Benjaminʼs Trauerspiel book, which had been rejected just a few years before by the very department in which Adorno was now teaching. The student protocols from this seminar, and others Adorno offered during this time, have since been published by the Theodor Adorno Archive.

See Frankfurt Adorno Blätter, vols I and IV, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, Frankfurt am Main, 1992.

25. ^ Adornoʼs insistence upon the philosophical import of Benjaminʼs work – especially the epistemo-critical prologue to the Trauerspiel book – is evident from his early lectures on ʻThe Actuality of Philosophyʼ and ʻThe Idea of Natural Historyʼ and his study of Kierkegaard all the way through to the methodological reflections in the Introduction and the ʻMeditations on Metaphysicsʼ in Negative Dialectics. For an examination of Walter Benjaminʼs work from a philosophical perspective that was heavily influenced by Adorno himself, see Rolf Tiedemann, Studien zur Philosophie Walter Benjamins, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1973.

26. ^ While it is true that Horkheimer was devoting himself more to reflections on language at this time, the reflections upon the universal and ʻtranscendentalʼ implications of language use, upon which MüllerDoohm focuses, represent only one tendency within his thought as a whole and cannot, in any case, be separated from his materialist theory of history and society. For Horkheimerʼs understanding of language during this time, see Gunzelin Schmid-Noerr, ʻWahrheit,

Macht und die Sprache der Philosophie: Zu Horkheimers sprachphilosophischen Reflexionen in seinen nachgelassenen Schriften 1939 bis 1946ʼ, in A. Schmidt and N.

Altwicker, eds, Max Horkheimer Heute: Werk und Wirkung, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1986, pp. 349–70.

See also Hermann Schweppenhäuserʼs essay in the same volume, ʻSprachbegriff und sprachliche Darstellung bei Horkheimer und Adornoʼ, pp. 328–48.

27. ^ Müller-Doohm and Claussen both argue that Adornoʼs ʻAmerican experienceʼ resulted in a further disenchantment in his eyes of the emphatic concept of Kultur. As Müller-Doohm writes, in the early 1930s the politically naive Adorno still ʻentertained the hope that the traditional elites of the aristocracy and educated middle class would oppose inhumane political tendencies based on their appreciation of art. He believed, for example, that the music of someone like Gustav Mahler was so moving that anyone capable of grasping its substance would be safe from the influences of anti-Semitic propagandaʼ (p. 263). But in the post-war German context, Adorno viewed this revival of the concept of Kultur as an ʻalibi for a lack of political consciousnessʼ (Müller-Doohm, p. 502). It was this phenomenon that provoked such sweeping statements from Adorno as ʻto write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaricʼ, and ʻAll culture after Auschwitz, including its urgent critique, is garbage.ʼ See also Claussen, pp. 228ff. and 244ff.

28. ^ As part of the Adorno centenary, there has even been a book published just on Adornoʼs emotionally charged relationship to this small town, which had roughly the same meaning for Adorno as Cabourg (alias Balbec) for Marcel Proust: Reinhard Pabst, ed., Theodor W. Adorno. Kindheit in Amorbach: Bilder und Erinnerungen, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2003.

29. ^ Habermasʼs central objection to Adornoʼs Critical Theory, particularly in its mature form, as articulated in Negative Dialectics, is that Adorno remained trapped within the obsolescent paradigm of consciousness philosophy.

Müller-Doohm alludes unambiguously to Habermasʼs arguments: ʻThus if epistemology and not social theory were primary, did Adorno view Negative Dialectics as the last effort of a venerable subject–object philosophy?

Or did he believe he had succeeded in overcoming the aporias of consciousness philosophy?ʼ (666). See also his remarks on p. 739.

30. ^ See Mül er-Doohm, p. 587. For the audacious – and fundamentally misguided – argument about Critical Theory providing the foundations for a belated, intellectual grounding of the Federal Republic, see C. Albrecht, G.C.

Behrmann, M. Bock, H. Homann and F.H. Tenbruck, Die Intellektuelle Gründung der Bundesrepublik: Eine Wirkungsgeschichte der Frankfurter Schule, Campus,

Frankfurt am Main, 2000.

31. ^ 1789–1914. See, for example, Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World 1914–1991, Vintage Books, New York, 1996, p. 6, where he distinguishes between a long nineteenth and a short twentieth century (1914–1989).

32. ^ Already at the beginning of the long nineteenth century,

Hegel recognized the rise of bourgeois society as the defining characteristic of modern society. But he also recognized the contradictions – prior to Marxʼs much more detailed elaboration of the mechanisms behind them – inherent in bourgeois society, which he decribed as a ʻsystem of ethical [sittliche] order split into its extremes and lostʼ. G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans. T.M.

Knox, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1967, p. [12] 3.

33. ^ In relation to the United States, for example, Adorno once wrote: ʻany contemporary consciousness that has not appropriated the American experience, even in opposition, has something reactionary about it.ʼ Quoted by Martin Jay in ʻAdorno in Americaʼ, p. 123.

34. ^ As Claussen aptly puts it, ʻNothing negative remains external to Adornoʼs theory (p. 293).

35. ^ See, for example, Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1992.

36. ^ One of the most important ways in which Hegelʼs objective idealism differed from Kant and Fichteʼs subjective idealism, was in the formerʼs conscious appropriation and critique of the literature on classical political economy that emerged in England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx recognized that Hegel ʻstands upon the basis of the modern economy, i.e. upon the political economy of his timeʼ, but modern interpreters have recovered this key insight into Hegelʼs work only in the past few decades. See, for example, Birger Priddat, Hegel als Ökonom, Duncker und Humblot, Berlin, 1990.

37. ^ The emergence in German in the past decade of terms such as Zivilgesellschaft and Zivilcourage clearly reflects this tendency.

38. ^ Literally, a ʻPhilosophical attachment to the Westʼ, Westanbindung was the term used in the postwar period to signify the anchoring of the Federal Republic of Germany with the Western Atlantic community of ʻdemocraticʼ nations.

39. ^ For example, Habermas has retreated from his earlier criticisms of the welfare state. In a recent article, which was co-signed by Jacques Derrida, Habermas names the welfare state as one of the most important historical achievements of the twentieth century and one that should define European ʻidentityʼ in contrast to the neoliberal American model. See Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, ʻUnsere Erneuerung. Nach dem Krieg:

Die Wiedergeburt Europasʼ, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 125, 31 May 2003, pp. 53–4. Habermas has also emerged as a critic of the excesses of neoliberal globalization. See, for example, ʻThe Postnational Constellation and the Future of Democracyʼ, in The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays, MIT Press,

Cambridge, MA, 2001, pp. 58–112. Habermas has also distanced himself recently from some of the more extreme implications of the linguistic turn. He has developed a critique of ʻSprachidealismusʼ and, with the introduction of a concept of ʻweak naturalismʼ, has revised his earlier reduction of Wahrheit (truth) to Wohlbegründetheit (being well-justified or well-grounded), at least in relation to theoretical (if not practical) reason. See his Truth and Justification: Philosophical Essays, trans. Barbara Fultner, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2003, pp. 1–51 and 237–76. Habermas has even reintroduced a positive concept of human nature, which pushes him closer to the position of the older Critical Theorists of ʻmindfulness of nature in the subjectʼ. Habermas recognizes that human beings too are a part of nature and that, in this case in particular, nature can and should not – as he maintained in his earlier work – be approached from a purely instrumental standpoint. Habermas insists that the nature all humans share – the foundations of their ʻspecies beingʼ – serves as the ethical prerequisite for any further forms of moral reflection. See his The Future of Human Nature, trans. Hella Beister, Polity Press,

Cambridge, 2003, esp. pp. 16–22 and 37–44.

40. ^ Theodor Adorno, ʻGesellschaftʼ, in Soziologische Schriften I, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1972, p. 15.

41. ^ Habermas reads Freud primarily in terms of restoring self-reflexivity to the positivist-dominated sciences of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

See ʻSelbstreflexion als Wissenschaft: Freuds psychoanalytische Sinnkritikʼ, in Erkenntnis und Interesse, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1968, pp. 262–99.

For a critique of Habermasʼs abandoning of psychoanalysis in favour of cognitive psychology, see Joel Whitebook, ʻThe Suspension of the Utopian Motif in Critical Theoryʼ, in Perversion and Utopia: A Study in Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory, MIT Press,

Cambridge MA, 1995, pp. 79ff.

42. ^ See Mike Davis, ʻWeisser Hass und dunkle Träume.

Gestresster Mittelstand: In Arnold Schwarzenegger haben die kalifornischen Bürger den Helden ihrer Machtfantasien gefundenʼ, Die Zeit 43, 16 October 2003.

43. ^ In his pathbreaking social-psychological contribution to the Instituteʼs collective Studies on Authority and Family (1936), Erich Fromm argued that the sado-masochistic personality – one who identifies with the strong and holds the weak in contempt – was the dominant character structure brought forth by modern, bourgeois societies. Horkheimer works out the historical foundations of this argument in his important essa, ʻEgoism and Freedom Movements: On the Anthropology of the Bourgeois Epochʼ, in Between Philosophy and Social Science: Selected Early Writings, trans. G.F. Hunter et al., MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1993, pp. 49–110.

44. ^ Horkheimer even gave a collection of his essays from the postwar period the title: Gesellschaft im Übergang, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1972.

45. ^ Walter Benjamin, ʻTheses on the Philosophy of Historyʼ, in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt, Schocken Books, New York, 1968, p. 257.