Notes for Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno The Dialectic of Enlightenment
Key concepts: anti-Semitism, aura, culture as advertising, culture industry, enlightenment, fascism, fetishism, ideology, myth, nominalism, ocean of white trash, regression, subjectivity, ticket thinking, universal fungibility.
Develop aura of work of art. Mathematics reified thought as a machine process; bourgeois calculating reason leads to new barbarism. New enchaining of Odysseus listening to concert and sitting in boardroom; nominalism emerges from formalism. Even sport becomes structured regime. Imprint of schema a step on the way to Baudrillard's precession of simulacra. Culture industry critiqued as capitalist ideology, advertisement and commodified beauty; “everything comes from consciousness” (98). Electronic media partake of the same ideology but also offer new possibilities (see Adorno “Fetish Character of Music”). Analysis of anti-Semitism as paranoid delusion limiting enlightenment. Transformation of human being as individual, diminishing human core of subjectivity as cognition and awareness default to built environment, cyberspace. The core of their argument can be reiterated through the next dialectical stage of Hayles' posthuman.
Related theorists: Baudrillard, Benjamin, de Lauretis, Feenberg, Foucault, Hayles, Turkle, Zizek.
(xvi) If enlightenment does not assimilate reflection on this regressive movement, it seals its own fate. By leaving consideration of the destructive side of progress to its enemies, thought in its headlong rush into pragmatism is forfeiting its sublating character, and therefore its relation to truth. In the mysterious willingness of the technologically educated masses to fall under the spell of any despotism, in its self-destructive affinity to nationalist paranoia, in all this uncomprehended senselessness the weakness of contemporary theoretical understanding is evident.
(xvi) We believe that in these fragments we have contributed to such understanding by showing that the cause of enlightenment's relapse into mythology is to be sought not so much in the nationalist, pagan, or other modern mythologies concocted specifically to cause such a relapse as in the fear of truth which petrifies enlightenment itself.
(xvii) Intellect's true concern is a negation of reification. It must perish when it is solidified into a cultural asset and handed out for consumption purposes. The flood of precise information and brand-new amusements make people smarter and more stupid at once.
Progress reverting to regression.
(xviii) If, in the absence of the social subject, the volume of goods took the form of so-called overproduction in domestic economic crises in the preceding period, today, thanks to the enthronement of powerful groups as that social subject, it is producing the international threat of fascism: progress is reverting to regression. That the hygienic factory and everything pertaining to it, Volkswagen and the sports palace, are obtusely liquidating metaphysics does not matter in itself, but that these things are themselves becoming metaphysics, and ideological curtain, within the social whole, behind which real doom is gathering, does matter.
The Concept of Enlightenment
(1-2) Enlightenment's program was the disenchantment of the world. It wanted to dispel myths, to overthrow fantasy with knowledge. Bacon, “The father of experimental philosophy,” brought these motifs together. . . . Technology is the essence of this knowledge. It aims to produce neither concepts nor images, nor the joy of understanding, but method, exploitation of the labor of others, capital.
(3) For enlightenment, anything which does not conform to the standard of calculability and utility must be viewed with suspicion.
(4-5) For the Enlightenment, only what can be encompassed by unity has the status of an existent or an event; its ideal is the system from which everything and anything follows. . . . Unity remains the watchword from Parmenidies to Russell. All gods and qualities must be destroyed.
(5-6) The awakening of the subject is bought with the recognition of power as the principle of all relationships. . . . In their mastery of nature, the creative God, and the ordering mind are alike. Man's likeness to God consists in sovereignty over existence, in the lordly gaze, in the command.
Representation replaced by universal fungibility.
(6-7) Enlightenment stands in the same relationship to things as the dictator to human beings. He knows them to the extent that he can manipulate them. The man of science knows things to the extent that he can make them. . . . Representation gives way to universal fungibility. An atom is smashed not as a representation but as a specimen of matter, and the rabbit suffering the torment of the laboratory is seen not as a representative but, mistakenly, as a mere exemplar. . . . The manifold affinities between existing things are supplanted by the single relationship between the subject who confers meaning and the meaningless object, between rational significance and its accidental bearer. . . . The autonomy of thought in relation to objects, as manifested in the reality-adequacy of the Ego, was a prerequisite for the replacement of the localized practices of the medicine man by all-embracing industrial technology.
Leveling rule of abstraction creates herd.
Under the leveling rule of abstraction, which makes everything in
nature repeatable, and of industry, for which abstraction prepared
the way, the liberated finally themselves become the “herd”
which Hegel identified as the outcome of enlightenment.
(12) Indeed, human beings atoned for this very step by worshipping that to which previously, like all other creatures, they had been merely subjected. Earlier, fetishes had been subject to the law of equivalence. Now equivalence itself becomes a fetish.
Core of symbolic is nature as self-representation.
(12-13) Nature as self-representation is the core of the symbolic: an entity or a process which is conceived as eternal because it is reenacted again and again in the guise of the symbol. . . . The prevailing antithesis between art and science, which rends the two apart as areas of culture in order to make them jointly manageable as areas of culture, finally causes them, through internal tendencies as exact opposites, to converge.
Compare mana to Benjamin aura.
The work of art constantly reenacts the duplication by which the
thing appeared as something spiritual, a manifestation of mana.
That constitutes its aura. . . . The paradox of faith degenerates
finally into fraud, the myth of the twentieth century and faith's
irrationality into rational organization in the hands of the utterly
enlightened as they steer society toward barbarism.
(16-17) Even the deductive form of science mirrors hierarchy and compulsion. Just as the first categories represented the organized tribe and its power over the individual, the entire logical order, with its chains of inference and dependence, the superordination and coordination of concepts, is founded on the corresponding conditions in social reality, that is, on the division of labor. . . . Power confronts the individual as the universal, as the reason which informs reality. . . . It is this unity of collectivity and power, and not the immediate social universal, solidarity, which is precipitated in intellectual forms. . . . They originated, as Vico put it, in the marketplace of Athens; they reflected with the same fidelity the laws of physics, the equality of freeborn citizens, and the inferiority of women, children, and slaves. . . . The impartiality of scientific language deprived what was powerless of the strength to make itself heard and merely provided the existing order with a neutral sign for itself. Such neutrality is more metaphysical than metaphysics.
Mathematics reified thought as a machine process; compare analysis to Hayles.
(18-19) In the preemptive indentification of the thoroughly
mathematized world with truth, enlightenment believes itself safe
from the return of the mythical. It equates thought with mathematics.
The latter is thereby cut loose, as it were, turned into absolute
authority. . . . Thought is reified as an autonomous, automatic
process, aping the machine it has itself produced, so that it can
finally be replaced by the machine. . . . Despite its axiomatic
self-limitation, it installed itself as necessary and objective:
mathematics made thought into a thing – a tool, to use its own
(21-22) Individuals shrink to the nodal points of conventional reactions and the modes of operation objectively expected of them. Animism had endowed things with souls; industrialism makes souls into things. On its own account, even in advance of total planning, the economic apparatus endows commodities with the values which decide the behavior of the people. . . . The countless agencies of mass production and its culture impress standardized behavior on the individual as the only natural, decent, and rational one. . . . human beings can expect the world, which is without issue, to be set ablaze by a universal power which they themselves are and over which they are powerless.
(25) With the spread of the bourgeois commodity economy the dark horizon of myth is illuminated by the sun of calculating reason, beneath whose icy rays the seeds of the new barbarism are germinating.
(27) The fettered man listens to a concert, as immobilized as audiences later, and his enthusiastic call for liberation goes unheard as applause. In this way the enjoyment of art and manual work diverge as the primeval world is left behind. The epic already contains the correct theory. Between the cultural heritage and enforced work there is a precise correlation, and both are founded on the inescapable compulsion toward the social control of nature.
Odysseus trapped as office worker; examine Turkle dialectical turning of this theme of isolation in controlled collectivity.
(27-28) Measures like those taken on Odysseus's ship in face of the
Sirens are a prescient allegory of the dialectic of enlightenment. .
. . Odysseus is represented in the sphere of work. Just as he
cannot give way to the lure of self-abandonment, as owner he also
forfeits participation in work and finally even control over it,
while his companions, despite their closeness to things, cannot enjoy
their work because it is performed under compulsion, in despair, with
their senses forcibly stopped. . . . Humanity, whose skills and
knowledge become differentiated with the division of labor, is
thereby forced back to more primitive anthropological stages, since,
with the technical facilitation of existence, the continuance of
domination demands the fixation of instincts by greater repression.
(28-29) A consequence of the restriction of thought to organization and administration, rehearsed by those in charge from artful Odysseus to artless chairmen of the board, is the stupidity which afflicts the great as soon as they have to perform tasks other than the manipulation of the small. . . . Through the mediation of the total society, which encompasses all relationships and impulses, human beings are being turned back into precisely what the developmental law of society, the principle of the self, had opposed: mere examples of the species, identical to one another through isolation within the compulsively controlled collectivity.
Feenberg would agree that rules see themselves as engineers of world history.
(30) The rulers themselves do not believe in objective necessity,
even if they sometimes call their machinations by that name. They
posture as engineers of world history. Only their subjects accept the
existing development, which renders them a degree more powerless with
each prescribed increase in their standard of living, as inviolably
(32-33) In declaring necessity the sole basis of the future and banishing the mind, in the best idealist fashion, to the far pinnacle of the superstructure, socialism clung all too desperately to the heritage of bourgeois philosophy. . . . By sacrificing thought, which in its reified form as mathematics, machinery, organization, avenges itself on a humanity forgetful of it, enlightenment forfeited its own realization. By subjecting everything particular to its discipline, it left the uncomprehended whole free to rebound as mastery over things against the life and consciousness of human beings. . . . In multiplying violence through the mediation of the market, the bourgeois economy has also multiplied its things and its forces to the point where not merely kings or even the bourgeoisie are sufficient to administrate them: all human beings are needed.
I: Odysseus or Myth and Enlightenment
(35) The familiar equation of epic and myth, which in any case has been undermined by recent classical philology, proves wholly misleading when subjected to philosophical critique. The two concepts diverge. They mark two phases of an historical process, which are still visible at the joints where editors have stitched the epic together.
(36) Understanding of the element of bourgeois enlightenment in Homer has been advanced by the German late-Romantic interpretation of antiquity based on the early writings of Nietzsche. Like few others since Hegel, Nietzsche recognized the dialectic of enlightenment. He formulated the ambivalent relationship of enlightenment to power.
(37) The alleged authenticity of the archaic, with its principle of blood and sacrifice, is already tainted by the devious bad conscience of power characteristic of the “national regeneration” today, which uses primeval times for self-advertising.
(38) That is the secret underlying the conflict between epic and myth: the self does not exist simply in rigid antithesis to adventure but takes on its solidity only through this antithesis, and its unity through the very multiplicity which myth in its oneness denies.
(40) If exchange represents the secularization of sacrifice, the sacrifice itself, like the magic schema of rational exchange, appears as a human contrivance intended to control the gods, who are overthrown precisely by the system created to honor them.
(40) Something of this fraud, which elevates the perishable person as bearer of the divine substance, has always been detectable in the ego, which owes its existence to the sacrifice of the present moment to the future. Its substance is as illusory as the immortality of the slaughtered victim. Nor without reason was Odysseus regarded by many as a deity.
(41) Cunning is nothing other than the subjective continuation of the objective untruth of sacrifice, which it supersedes.
(42) In class society, the self's hostility to sacrifice included a sacrifice of the self, since it was paid for by a denial of nature in the human being for the sake of mastery over extrahuman nature and over human beings. This very denial, the core of all civilizing rationality, is the germ cell of proliferating mythical irrationality: with the denial of nature in human beings, not only the telos of the external mastery of nature but also the telos of one's own life becomes confused and opaque.
(45) Imitation enters the service of power when even the human being becomes an anthropomorphism for human beings. . . . He wriggles through – that is his survival, and all the renown he gains in his own and others' eyes merely confirms that the honor of heroism is won only by the humbling of the urge to attain entire, universal, undivided happiness.
(45) The formula for Odysseus's cunning is that the detached, instrumental mind, by submissively embracing nature, renders to nature what is hers and thereby cheats her. The mythical monsters under whose power he falls represent, as it were, petrified contracts and legal claims dating from primeval times.
Nominalism as prototype of bourgeois thinking; Foucault order of things.
With the dissolution of the contract through its literal fulfillment
a change occurs in the historical situation of language: it begins to
pass over into designation. Mythical fate had been one with the
spoken word. . . . The word was thought to have direct power over the
thing, expression merged with intention. Cunning, however, consists
in exploiting the difference. . . . Odysseus discovered in words what
in fully developed bourgeois society is called formalism:
their perennial ability to designate is bought at the cost of
distancing themselves from any particular content which fulfills
them, so that they refer from a distance to all possible contents,
both to nobody and to Odysseus himself. From the formalism of
mythical names and statutes, which, indifferent like nature, seek to
rule over human beings and history, emerges nominalism,
the prototype of bourgeois thinking.
(48) Odysseus's defenselessness against the foaming sea sounds like a legitimation of the enrichment of the voyager at the expense of indigenous inhabitants. Bourgeois economics later enshrined this principle in the concept of risk: the possibility of foundering is seen as a moral justification for profit.
(61) The transposition of myths into the novel, as in the adventure story, does not falsify myth so much as drag it into the sphere of time, exposing the abyss which separates it from homeland and reconciliation. . . . Speech itself, language as opposed to mythical song, the possibility of holding fast the past atrocity through memory, is the law of Homeric escape. Not without reason is the fleeing hero repeatedly introduced as narrator. The cold detachment of narrative, which describes even the horrible as if for entertainment, for the first time reveals in all their clarity the horrors which in song are solemnly confused with fate.
II: Juliette or Enlightenment and Morality
(63) Thinking, as understood by the Enlightenment, is the process of establishing a unified, scientific order and of deriving factual knowledge from principles, whether these principles are interpreted as arbitrarily posited axioms, innate ideas, or the highest abstractions.
(65) The system which enlightenment aims for is the form of knowledge which most ably deals with the facts, most effectively assists the subject in mastering nature.
(65) The true nature of the schematism which externally coordinates the universal and the particular, the concept and the individual case, finally turns out, in current science, to be the interest of industrial society. Being is apprehended in terms of manipulation and administration. . . . Kant intuitively anticipated what Hollywood has consciously put into practice: images are precensored during production by the same standard of understanding which will later determine their reception by viewers.
(68) The work of the Marquis de Sade exhibits “understanding without direction from another” - that is to say, the bourgeois subject freed from all tutelage.
(68-69) After the brief interlude of liberalism in which the bourgeois kept one another in check, power is revealing itself as archaic terror in a fascistically rationalized form. . . . More than a century before the emergence of sport, Sade demonstrated empirically what Kant grounded transcendentally: the affinity between knowledge and planning which has set its stamp of inescapable functionality on a bourgeois existence rationalized even in its breathing spaces. . . . The special architectonic structure of the Kantian system, like the gymnasts' pyramids in Sade's orgies and the formalized principles of early bourgeois freemasonry – cynically reflected in the strict regime of the libertine society of the 120 Days of Sodom – prefigures the organization, devoid of any substantial goals, which was to encompass the whole of life. What seems to matter in such events, more than pleasure itself, is the busy pursuit of pleasure, its organization.
(74) In psychological terms Juliette, not unlike Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, embodies neither unsublimated nor regressive libido but intellectual pleasure in regression, amor intelletualis diaboli, the joy of defeating civilization with its own weapons.
(79) By elevating the cult of strength to a world-historical doctrine, German fascism took it to its absurd conclusion.
Means fetishized; Zizek.
Magic passes into mere activity, into the means – in short, into
formalization of reason is merely the intellectual expression of
The means is fetishized: it absorbs pleasure. Just as the goals with
which the old system of rule had veiled itself are rendered illusory
by enlightenment in theory, the possibility of abundance removes
their justification in practice. . . . Only with increasing
civilization and enlightenment do the strengthened self and the
secure system of power reduce the festival to farce. . . . Pleasure
becomes an object of manipulation, until it finally perishes in the
administrative arrangements. . . . The general overflowing is no
longer possible. The period of turbulence has been individualized.
Holidays have supplanted the feast. In fascism they are supplemented
by the collective fake intoxication, concocted from radio, headlines,
(84-85) The more universally the system of modern industry requires everyone to enter its service, the more all those who do not form part of the ocean of “white trash,” which is absorbing the unqualified employed and unemployed, are turned into petty experts, into employees who must fend for themselves. . . . What is true in all this is the insight into the dissociation of love, the work of progress. This dissociation, which mechanizes pleasure and distorts longing into a deception, attacks love at its core.
(90-92) Science itself, therefore, is open to the same criticism as metaphysics. The denial of God contains an irresolvable contradiction; it negates knowledge itself. Sade did not drive the idea of enlightenment to this point, where it turns against itself. The reflection of science on itself, the work of the Enlightenment's conscience, was left to philosophy, meaning German philosophy. . . . If the bourgeoisie sent them, its most loyal politicians, to the guillotine, it banished its most outspoken writer to the hell of the Bibliotheque Nationale. For the chronique scandaleuse of Justine and Juliette which, turned out as if on a production line, prefigured in the style of the eighteenth century the sensational literature of the nineteenth and the mass literature of the twentieth is the Homeric epic after it has discarded its last mythological veil: the story of thought as an instrument of power.
(93) Compared to the mentality and actions of the rulers under fascism, in which power has come fully into its own, the enthusiastic description of the life of Brisa-Testa – although those rulers are recognizable in it – pales to harmless banality. In Sade as in Mandeville, private vices are the anticipatory historiography of public virtues in the totalitarian era. It is because they did not hush up the impossibility of deriving from reason a fundamental argument against murder, but proclaimed it from the rooftops, that Sade and Nietzsche are still vilified, above all by progressive thinkers. In a different way to logical positivism, they both took science at its word. . . . In proclaiming the identity of power and reason, their pitiless doctrines are more compassionate than those of the moral lackeys of the bourgeoisie. “Where are they greatest dangers?,” Nietzsche once asked. “In pit.” With his denial he redeemed the unwavering trust in humanity which day by day is betrayed by consoling affirmation.
Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception
(95) Films and radio no longer need to present themselves as art. The truth that they are nothing but business is used as an ideology to legitimize the trash they intentionally produce.
Internet media undo this necessity.
(95) The technical antithesis between few production centers and
widely dispersed reception necessitates organization and planning by
those in control. . . . These adverse effects, however, should not be
attributed to the internal laws of technology itself but to its
function within the economy today.
(98) Even during their leisure time, consumers must orient themselves according to the unity of production. . . . Everything comes from consciousness – from that of God for Malebranche and Berkeley, and from earthly production management for mass art. Not only do hit songs, stars, and soap operas conform to types recurring cyclically as rigid invariants, but the specific content of productions, the seemingly variable element, is itself derived from those types.
Imprint of schema a step on the way to Baudrillard precession of simulacra.
(101) Every phenomenon is by now so thoroughly imprinted by the
schema that nothing can occur that does not bear in advance the trace
of the jargon, that is not seen at first glance to be approved. But
the true masters, as both producers and reproducers, are those who
speak the jargon with the same free-and-easy relish as if it were the
language it has long since silenced. Such is the industry's ideal of
(104) The general designation “culture” already contains, virtually, the process of identifying, cataloging, and classifying which imports culture into the realm of administration. Only what has been industrialized, rigorously subsumed, is fully adequate to this concept of culture.
A criticism of culture industry that is often also applied to movies and video games.
(107-108) The culture industry can boast of having energetically accomplished and elevated to a principle the often inept transposition of art to the consumption sphere, of having stripped amusement of its obtrusive naiveties and imposed the quality of its commodities. . . . What is new, however, is that the irreconcilable elements of culture, art, and amusement have been subjected equally to the concept of purpose and thus brought under a single false denominator: the totality of the culture industry. . . . With good reason the interest of countless consumers is focused on the technology, not on the rigidly repeated, threadbare and half-abandoned content.
Technical capabilities directed to bloated entertainment apparatus rather than abolishing hunger, amusement becomes an ideal; compare to Benjamin on war.
(111) Apart from that, and even by the measure of the existing order,
the bloated entertainment apparatus does not make life more worthy of
human beings. The idea of “exploiting” the given technical
possibilities, of fully utilizing the capacities for aesthetic mass
consumption, is part of an economic system which refuses to utilize
capacities when it is a question of abolishing hunger.
(113) What is decisive today is no longer Puritanism, though it still asserts itself in the form of women's organizations, but the necessity, inherent in the system, of never releasing its grip on the consumer, of not for a moment allowing him or her to suspect that resistance is possible. This principle requires that while all needs should be presented to individuals as capable of fulfillment by the culture industry, they should be so set up in advance that individuals experience themselves through their needs only as eternal consumers, as the culture industry's object.
(115) Amusement itself becomes an ideal, taking the place of the higher values it eradicates from the masses by repeating them in an even more stereotyped form than the advertising slogans paid for by private interests.
(116-117) The culture industry has sardonically realized man's species being. Everyone amounts only to those qualities by which he or she can replace everyone else: all are fungible, mere specimens.
Compare joke from Nazi Germany to Zizek enjoy your symptom: demand that everyone be happy provided full submission to control society.
On one matter, however, this hollow ideology is utterly serious:
everyone is provided for. “No one must be hungry or cold. Anyone
failing to comply goes to a concentration camp.” The joke from
Hitler's Germany might well shine out as a maxim above all the
portals of the culture industry.
(124) Everyone can be like the omnipotent society, everyone can be happy if only they hand themselves over to it body and soul and relinquish their claim to happiness. In their weakness society recognizes its own strength and passes some if it back to them. Their lack of resistance certifies them as reliable customers. Thus is tragedy abolished.
(126-128) The dominant taste derives its ideal from the advertisement, from commodified beauty. Socrates' dictum that beauty is the useful has at last been ironically fulfilled. The cinema publicizes the cultural conglomerate as a totality, while the radio advertises individually the products for whose sake the cultural system exists. . . . The mortally sick Beethoven, who flung away a novel by Walter Scott with the cry: “The fellow writes for money,” while himself proving an extremely experienced and tenacious businessman in commercializing the last quartets – works representing the most extreme repudiation of the market – offers the most grandiose example of the unity of the opposites of market and autonomy in bourgeois art. The artists who succumb to ideology are precisely those who conceal this contradiction instead of assimilating it into the consciousness of their own productions, as Beethoven did . . . . The principle of idealist aesthetics, purposiveness without purpose, reverses the schema socially adopted by bourgeois art: purposelessness for purposes dictated by the market. . . . Radio, the progressive latecomer to mass culture, is drawing conclusions which film's pseudomarket at present denies that industry. The technical structure of the commercial radio system makes it immune to liberal deviations of the kind the film industry can still permit itself in its own preserve. . . . The National Socialists knew that broadcasting gave their cause stature as the printing press did to the Reformation. The Fuhrer's metaphysical charisma, invented by the sociology of religion, turn out finally to be merely the omnipresence of his radio address, which demonically parodies that of the divine spirit.
Commercialized art is advertising, consumer is alienated, montage character reigns; another condition disrupted by electronic technology (but keep in mind Winner), and also redoubled by it.
(131-133) Today, when the free market is coming to an end, those in control of the system are entrenching themselves in advertising. It strengthens the bond which shackles consumers to the big combines. Only those who can keep paying the exorbitant fees charged by the advertising agencies, and most of all by radio itself, that is, those who are already part of the system or are co-opted into it by the decisions of banks and industrial capital, can enter the pseudomarket as sellers. . . . The enthusiastic and unpaid story about the living habits and personal grooming of celebrities, which wins them new fans, is editorial, while the advertising pages rely on photographs and data so factual and lifelike that they represent the ideal of information to which the editorial section only aspires. . . . The montage character of the culture industry, the synthetic, controlled manner in which its products are assembled – factory-like not only in the film studio but also, virtually, in the compilation of the cheap biographies, journalistic novels, and hit songs – predisposes it to advertising; the individual moment, in being detachable, replaceable, estranged even technically from any coherence of meaning, lends itself to purposes outside the work. . . . everything is directed at overpowering a customer conceived as distracted or resistant.
Culture as advertising.
(133-136) Through the language they speak, the customers make their own contribution to culture as advertising. For the more completely language coincides with communication, the more words change from substantial carriers of meaning to signs devoid of qualities; the more purely and transparently they communicate what they designate, the more impenetrable they become. The demythologizing of language, as an element of the total process of enlightenment, reverts to magic. . . . The blindness and muteness of the data to which positivism reduces the world passes over into language itself, which is limited to registering those data. Thus relationships themselves become impenetrable, taking on an impact, a power of adhesion and repulsion which makes them resemble their extreme antithesis, spells. They act once more like the practices of a kind of sorcery, whether the name of a diva is concocted in the studio on the basis of statistical data, or welfare government is averted by the use of taboo-laden words such as “bureaucracy” and “intellectuals,” or vileness exonerates itself by invoking the name of a homeland. . . . The violence done to words is no longer audible in them. The radio announcer does not need to talk in an affected voice; indeed, he would be impossible if his tone differed from that of his designated listeners. . . . The way in which the young girl accepts and performs the obligatory date, the tone of voice used on the telephone and in the most intimate situations, the choice of words in conversation, indeed, the whole inner life compartmentalized according to the categories of vulgarized depth psychology, bears witness to the attempt to turn oneself into an apparatus meeting the requirements of success, an apparatus which, even in its unconscious impulses, conforms to the model presented by the culture industry. The most intimate reactions of human beings have become so entirely reified, even to themselves, that the idea of anything peculiar to them survives only in extreme abstraction: personality means hardly more than dazzling white teeth and freedom from body odor and emotions. That is the triumph of advertising in the culture industry: the compulsive imitation by consumers of cultural commodities which, at the same time, they recognize as false.
Elements of Anti-Semitism: Limits of Enlightenment
(143) The Jews had not been the only people active in the circulation sphere. But they had been locked up in it too long not to reflect in their makeup something of the hatred so long directed at that sphere. . . . The Jews were the trauma of the knights of industry, who have to masquerade as productive creators. In the Jewish jargon they detect what they secretly despise in themselves: their anti-Semitism is self-hate, the bad conscious of the parasite.
(147) Society's emancipation from anti-Semitism depends on whether the content of that idiosyncrasy is raised to the level of a concept and becomes aware of its own senselessness. But idiosyncrasy attaches itself to the peculiar. The universal, that which fits into the context of social utility, is regarded as natural.
(153) They have not so much eradicated the adaptation to nature as elevated it to the pure duties of ritual. In this way they have preserved its reconciling memory, without relapsing through symbols into mythology. They are therefore regarded by advanced civilization as both backward and too advanced, like and unlike, shrewd and stupid.
(159) The unconditional realism of civilized humanity, which culminates in fascism, is a special case of paranoid delusion which depopulates nature and finally nations themselves.
Zizek discusses this role of electronic media instantiating the global village as the imaginary of the virtual.
(163) Those who were excluded from humanity against their will, like
those who excluded themselves from it out of longing for humanity,
knew that the pathological cohesion of the established group was
strengthened by persecuting them. Its normal members relieve their
paranoia by participating in the collective one, and cling
passionately to the objectified, collective, approved forms of
(164) Conscience is deprived of objects, since individuals' responsibility for themselves and their dependents is replaced – although still under the old moral title – by their mere performance for the apparatus.
What repressed groups are on this border of the human now, are we as polarized in our hatred of Muslim radicalists?
(164-165) In face of such power, it is left to chance – guided by the Party – to decide where despairing self-preservation is to project the guilt for its terror. The Jews are the predestined target of this guided chance. . . . Only the liberation of thought from power, the abolition of violence, could realize the idea which has been unrealized until now: that the Jew is a human being. This would be a step away from the anti-Semitic society, which drives both Jews and others into sickness, and toward the human one.
(165) But there are no longer any anti-Semites. The last of them were liberals who wanted to express their antiliberal opinions. . . . Anti-Semitic views always reflected stereotyped thinking. Today only that thinking is left. People still vote, but only between totalities. The anti-Semitic psychology has largely been replaced by mere acceptance of the whole fascist ticket, which is an inventory of the slogans of belligerent big business. . . . Anti-Semitism has practically ceased to be an independent impulse and has become a plank in the platform: anyone who gives fascism its chance subscribes to the settlement of the Jewish question along with the breaking of the unions and the crusade against Bolshevism. . . . When the masses accept the reactionary ticket containing the clause against the Jews, they are obeying social mechanisms in which individual people's experiences of Jews play no part. It has been shown, in fact, that anti-Semitism's prospects are no less good in “Jew-free” areas than in Hollywood itself. Experience is replaced by cliché, the imagination active in experience by diligent acceptance.
Transformation of human being as individual, diminishing human core of subjectivity as cognition and awareness default to built environment, cyberspace; the core of their argument can be reiterated through the next dialectical stage of Hayles posthuman, leading to question is objectivity culminating in madness because of no place in other positions, following de Lauretis on Cambria Gramsci Notwithstanding?
(167-169) The individual had become an impediment to production. The lack of synchronicity between technical and human development, the “cultural lag” which used to exercise the minds of sociologists, is beginning to disappear. Economic rationality, the vaunted principle of the smallest necessary means, is unremittingly reshaping the last units of the economy: businesses and human beings. The most advanced form at a given time becomes the predominant one. Once, the department store expropriated the old-style specialist shop. . . . The psychological small business – the individual – is meeting the same fate. It came into being as the power cell of economic activity. Emancipated from the tutelage of earlier economic stages, individuals fended for themselves alone: as proletarians by hiring themselves out through the labor market and by constant adaptation to new technical conditions, as entrepreneurs by tirelessly realizing the ideal type of homo oeconomicus. . . . In the progress of industrial society, which is supposed to have conjured away the law of increasing misery it had itself brought into being, the concept which justified the whole – the human being as person, as the bearer of reason – is going under. The dialectic of enlightenment is culminating objectivity in madness.
Ticket thinking extended to international relations; also reminiscent of punch card technologies?
(169-170) Although the abundance of goods which could be produced everywhere and simultaneously makes the struggle for raw materials and markets seem ever more anachronistic, humanity is nevertheless divided into a small number of armed power blocs. . . . Ticket thinking, a product of industrialization and its advertising, is being extended to international relations.
Elimination of Jewish middleman: expression of desire of capitalism to remove inefficiencies?
(171) The Jewish middleman fully becomes the image of the devil only when economically he has ceased to exist. Victory is thus made easy, and the anti-Semitic family man becomes the spectator, exempt from responsibility, of an irresistible historical tendency, intervening only when called to do so by his role as an employee of the Party or the Zyklon gas factories.
Horkheimer, Max and Adorno, Theodor W. (2002). Dialectic of enlightenment: Philosophical fragments. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002. Print.