THEODOR ADORNO & MASS CULTURE
A Cuddly Introduction to a Controversial Topic, with passing reference to Adorno & Horkheimer's humdinger of a volume Dialectic of Enlightenment
This text was performed by Ben Watson at Goldsmiths College, New Cross on 18 October 1995, with quotes from Adorno projected on the wall like placards borne aloft in a Brecht play. You have to imagine Watson as a wan trotskyist adornoite gradually waking up from the doom and gloom and tiny sick tears of the repressive intellectual thatcherism of the mid-80s (aka "postmodernism"), dimly craving the glorious yellow cloud-breaks of popular anti-capitalism and anti-war protest soon to occur ... and the ensuing Adorno revival, which this site's mailbag has been registering recently. Matthew Caygill, noted revolutionary, economist, critical marxist and Pepsi and Shirlie fan domiciled in Leeds, told us we ought to have more Adorno on Militantesthetix som time back. so this posting is dedicated to him. OTL 6-iii-2003
Too many people talk about Theodor Adorno, and not enough people go through the difficult but bracing task of reading his texts. He is an easy man to caricature, because he believed in exaggeration as a means of reaching the truth. He said about psychoanalysis that "only in its extremes is it true". The same is true of his own writing.
Adorno was a product of German philosophy, imbued with the language of Kant and Hegel and Marx - though professional philosophers dislike the way that he wrote so much about music and society. They also object to his highly metaphorical, at times poetic style. However, Adorno's images are hardly poetic in the traditional sense - they are frequently anti-romantic and modernist. Professional philosophers are not noted for their appreciation of surrealist shocks either. Musicologists object to the way that Adorno talks about how music actually sounds rather than the logical structure of the score. This might seem to recommend him to champions of non-academic music, yet he spent his whole life denouncing pop music, which he remained old-fashioned enough to call 'jazz'. Sociologists find him too philosophical and philosophers find him too political. Adorno was a thorn in the flesh for people who believe that specialization is the only way forward for knowledge, yet he wrote in a way that baffles and repels the average reader. He's not had a good press.
In England, it's easy to get the impression that Postmodernism has kicked Adorno into the dustbin of history. Since the 70s, when Structuralism was introduced into English academia as the new discipline to get rid of all the old fogies - FR Leavis was a particular target - Paris has been the font of new theory. In a world awash with Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan, it was hard to get hold of books by Adorno. The Parisian contempt for German philosophy was adopted by many English academics who simply hated the "difficulty" of Adorno. If your definition Postmodernism came from Angela McRobbie - pro-Pop, pro-consumption, anti-whingeing - then Adorno was easily made into Enemy Number One. It is somewhat paradoxical for full-time academics use the terms "ivory tower" and "mandarin" as insults, yet these epithets have been applied to Adorno with a vengeance. I want to argue that this characterisation is a smokescreen, and really constitutes a a defence of the social system Adorno criticised.
Postmodernism is a highly elastic term, rapidly becoming useless as a means of defining where people stand. For example, there is currently an essay available on the internet, Kevin McNeilly's 'Ugly Beauty: John Zorn & the Politics of Postmodern Music', which argues a case for John Zorn as a 'postmodernist composer'. The writer backs up his case by quoting Adorno on Mahler. Yet Adorno is usually quoted as the theorist of 'high modernism', the postmodernist's enemy numero uno. However, as a term for an intellectual fashion sweeping British academia, a post-1989 turn from illusions in Stalinist politics to enthusiasm for the market, 'postmodernism' has its uses.
Adorno has been characterised in postmodernist cultural studies as modernist, elitist and grumpy, a party-pooper who won't join in the new pluralist funfair presented to us by the market. As usual, the popularity of this idea has roots in economic realities: intellectuals who have lost faith in Marxism, but think that listening to the Beatles instead of Beethoven constitutes some kind of rebellion, do not like to be reminded of the limits of their playpen. If Adorno is read closely, though, it becomes obvious that he is not a conservative at all. Many of his ideas anticipate those of radical movements like the Situationist International and Punk. I spend my time writing about jazz and new music for The Wire magazine, yet I find what Adorno has to say about music incredibly useful - despite his much quoted attacks on jazz.
The real reason to hate the poet Philip Larkin is not that he was a racist and a masturbator (I find it amazing that these two "sins" were somehow equated in the so-called liberal press), but that he sat as jazz reviewer for the Daily Telegraph and denounced every development since Benny Goodman as scandal and degeneracy. Philip Larkin - in his hidebound, parochial, British way - has nothing remotely useful to say about jazz. Adorno, using his highly developed vision of modernity, had an extraordinary sensitivity to the way that marketing and mass production effected art. His analysis of jazz and television is not a conservative critique, but a revolutionary one.
Adorno's writing is so intense and punchy - his aphorisms could be described as punk philosophy - that it is tempting to do without biographical details. However, these do help. Just as the postmodernist attempt to stifle his ideas has a lot to do with the ambitions of a generation of intellectuals who are witnessing the dismantling of the welfare state and the privatisation of education, a generation that desperately wants a philosophy that can justify the market, so an understanding of Adorno's personal history can help explain the genesis of his ideas.
He was born in Frankfurt in 1903 into a prosperous middle-class family steeped in the traditions of Austro-German music: Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner. He adopted his mother's name; she was a professional singer of mixed Corsican-German Catholic parentage. His father, Wiesengrund, was an assimilated Jew and successful wine merchant. He learned to play piano at a very young age and quickly became conversant with the classical repertoire, playing piano-duet transcriptions of orchestral scores with his aunt. He studied philosophy and musicology at Frankfurt, and in 1924 met the composer Alban Berg, who taught him composition in Vienna for three years.
This brief account of Adorno's official existence - gleaned from Max Paddison's book, Adorno's Aesthetic of Music - does little to evoke the reality of German society when Adorno was a teenager. When he was 15 the country he was living in lost a World War, the economy was wrecked and the working class was literally up in arms. From 1918 to 1924, before American money stabilized the economy, the country trembled on the brink of proletarian revolution. Progressive forces in Russia - to be quashed by Stalin and his ideology of "socialism in one country" - actually planned to move the centre of world revolution from Moscow to Berlin, and make German, not Russian, the language of international subversion. In 1933, successively more rightwing governments gave way to Hitler and the Nazi Party. Adorno watched all this with open eyes. He refused to make music or intellectual study a haven from these events: his Marxism brought social ideas into every concept. His longstanding philosophical debate with Martin Heidegger - a much better representative of a theorist who reacted against technology and modernity - seemed writ large in political terms when Heidegger joined the Nazi Party. In 1940 his friend Walter Benjamin committed suicide when fleeing the Gestapo, trapped between occupied France and Fascist Spain.
Criticizing the market
For many German exiles, America represented the ideal refuge, and Hollywood's film industry benefitted from an influx of highly-skilled and creative film-makers like Fritz Lang. Jewish refugee composers transformed filmscores, educating the mass public in all the cliches of advanced classical music. You might expect a writer like Adorno to throw his full weight behind the ruling ideology of his adopted country. Kurt Schwitters, for example, though a Dadaist and art rebel, once he was safely ensconced in England, began introducing little pro-British touches into his collages, as if out of gratitude to his host country. However, Adorno was fully aware that, despite waging war against Fascism, America was far from perfect. In order to get funding for his Institute for Social Research - named the Frankfurt School where it was founded, and where it relocated after Hitler's defeat - he used the term "totalitarian" as a word to describe both Hitler's fascism and Stalin's communism. He also developed an understanding of the processes of commercialism that is still considered scandalous by liberals today. It is this that explains why postmodernists hate Adorno.
Adorno was trained by Alban Berg, one of three composers, including Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, who proposed an utterly new form for musical harmony. He wrote a book, Philosophy of Modern Music, which attacked Stravinsky at the expense of Schoenberg (the latter, also a refugee from the Nazis in Hollywood, found the work unreadable and shrugged off Adorno's support). Adorno's commitment to 12-tone music is crucial to understanding his whole political and social theory, another reason why postmodernism finds it hard to grasp his arguments. Uncannily alert to slackness or evasion in art, Adorno argued that 12-tone was an inevitable progression for western music.
In order to understand why tonality broke down in the 1910s, it is necessary to look at the history of western music. Broadly speaking, the plainchant of medieval times was gradually edged out of its timeless immobility at the dawn of modernity. Sonata form proposed thematic development as the crucial aspect of composition. It therefore provided a formal equivalent to new attitudes bound up with economic interest in global expansion, trade and innovation. As church and court patronage of music gave way to secular bourgeois audiences, more and more spectacular music was required. As with Renaissance painters, a composer was judged by the extent to which he could advance the vocabulary of form. Romantic music discovered that by breaking the "rules" of tonality, more and more stunning effects could result. By the end of the nineteenth century, in the work of Debussy and Wagner, tonality had become so interrupted that form could only be assured by dependence on narrative structures. They began writing operas.
Arnold Schoenberg - sometimes called "the reluctant revolutionary" because of the quiet, methodical way he faced the formal demands of traditional music - took a decisive step. Instead of writing in keys that were continually interrupted by chromatic effects, he developed a system that would ensure that no particular key centre would arrive: 12-tone. From the point of view of the craft of composing, the step was supremely logical, a musical analogue to the arrival of abstraction in painting. 12-tone resulted in sounds that still today jar in the ears of "classical" music listeners - and ears educated by the tonal music of films abnd the radio. For Adorno, Schoenberg's formal integrity was more valuable than a thousand "worthy statements" about social or political problems. Adorno had an ability to see into the interstices of creative decision-making. He drew out the social significance of acts we consider to be artistic. Like Karl Marx, he refused to perpetuate the bourgeois schism between art and society, technique and intention, form and content, that is reflected in the way that universities are divided into different departments. This makes him valuable for people concerned with art and politics who do not want to see one realm swallowed by another, and yet cannot accept their confinement to different parts of life.
Dialectic of Enlightenment
One of the most celebrated texts by Adorno, written in 1944 with another member of the Institute, Max Horkheimer, is Dialectic of Enlightenment. For Adorno, dialectical thought means refusal of categories that reflect class society. Real thinking is not simply the rehearsal of "correct" positions. Dialectics must be carried out at the level of the sentences themselves. That is why his formulations can read like poetry. When I say this, I do not mean that his formulations can be relegated to the non-serious side of things, to the ornamental and inessential side of human knowledge, which is the conventional notion of poetry. Adorno's words operate like poetry because they provoke thoughts on the part of those who seek to understand them. They do this by replicating the contradictions present in society in the sentences themselves. In the preface to Dialectic of Enlightenment he writes:
Even the best-intentioned reformers who use an impoverished and debased language to recommend renewal, strengthen the very power of the established order they are trying to break. (Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno Dialectic of Enlightenment, 1944; translated John Cumming, 1972; London: Verso, 1979, p. xiv)
Adorno always pays attention to mediation, the manner in which ideas are put across. His words might be used to criticise Tony Blair's attempt to use British nationalism for social ends, or artists who think that producing 'scandalous' works of anti-art will do anything but liven up the art market.
The central argument of Dialectic of Enlightenment is contained in a treatment of the Ancient Greek myth of Ulysses and the Sirens, gruesome monsters with women's faces and bird's bodies and talons. In order to hear the song of the Sirens - songs so beautiful that they lure sailors to the rocks, where they are devoured - Ulysses had himself bound to the mast, and stopped his oarsmen's ears with wax. They cannot hear his orders to untie him, and row him past the Sirens to safety. Adorno and Horkheimer trace back the oppression of modern society to this original self-denial.
He just pulls through; struggle is his survival; and all the fame that he and the others win in the process serves merely to confirm that the title of hero is only gained at the price of abasement and mortification of the instinct for complete, universal and undivided happiness. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 57)
This is a libertarian statement by writers imbued with a progressive interpretation of Freud. Postmodernists who criticise Adorno for denouncing the tawdry spectacle of consumer culture have no conception of his vision of what things could be. To understand the motivation behind his words, you need to understand the social possibilities of the Germany of Adorno's youth - possibilities almost entirely written out of liberal accounts, but graphically described in Chris Harman's The Lost Revolution. This radical social message may be phrased in the language of high philosophy, but the reason that it's 'inaccessible' to liberal academics is that it voices truths about society only discovered in transgression: by punks, strikers and poll tax rioters. Adorno continues:
However consciously alienated from nature he may be, he remains subject to it if he heeds its voice ... Ulysses recognizes the archaic superior power of the song even when, as a technically enlightened man, he has himself bound ... The Sirens have their own quality [... by the Sirens, Adorno means all the biological realities of death and desire ...], but in primitive bourgeois history it is neutralized to become merely the wistful longing of the passer-by. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 59)
Adorno attacks consumer society for its conversion of every quality into mere quantity, the universal price-calibration of the market. If everything is exchangeable, nothing has value in itself. When the Sex Pistols launched their insult to the values of commodity-culture on the world, they declared they wanted to 'destroy passers-by'. Adorno anticipated the very terms they used in expressing their disgust for the same system.
Dialectic of Enlightenment proposes a radical sexual politics that addresses issues of domination and race with none of the liberal concepts of the abstract citizen that make people so impatient with 'political correctness'. Horkheimer and Adorno actually develop a criticism of sexual oppression by a sympathetic reading of the Marquis De Sade, thus anticipating the arguments of feminists like Angela Carter and Pat Califia.
Saint-Fonds, the royal minister, declares when a girl he is torturing breaks into tears: 'That's how I like women ... if only I could reduce them all to such a state with a single word!'. Man as ruler denies woman the honour of individuation. Socially, the individual is an example of the species, a representative of her sex; and therefore male logic sees her wholly as standing for nature, as the substrate of never-ending subjection. ... But the desperate will to destroy everything that embodies the allurement of nature, the attraction of the physiological, biological, national and social underdog, shows that Christianity has miscarried. Wholly to expunge the odious overpowering longing to return to a state of nature is the cruelty produced by an abortive civilisation ... The justification of hatred for woman that represents her as intellectually and physically inferior, and bearing the brand of domination on her forehead, is equally that of hatred for Jews. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 112)
Adorno sees sexism and racism as stemming from a fucked-up morality that seeks to deny natural biology. The sex object is hated because she is a reminder that we inhabit bodies.
The criticism that Adorno 'never thought about sexual politics', and was only interested in proselytizing for an ivory-tower, dead-white-male culture, says more about people's memories of their music teachers at school than anything he actually wrote.
In the chapter titled 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' Adorno developed an extended critique of the operations of consumer culture. The sentences become so dialectically self-conscious they're worth examining in detail.
Anyone who resists can only survive by fitting in. Once his particular brand of deviation from the norm has been noted by the industry, he belongs to it as the social-reformer does to capitalism. Realistic dissidence is the trademark of anyone who has a new idea in business. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 132)
In current media-speak, a 'survivor' is someone, especially from the 60s, who is celebrated simply for the fact that they are still around supplying product to the industry, and didn't top themselves by taking too many drugs. 'Realistic dissidence' packs into a single phrase a perfect description of the pseudo-rebellions rock music depends on: the totally 'out of it' group that manages to carve a career for itself.
The purity of bourgeois art, which hypostatized itself as a world of freedom in contrast to what was happening in the material world, was from the beginning bought with the exclusion of the lower classes - with whose cause, the real universality, art keeps faith precisely by its freedom from the ends of false universality. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 135)
Hypostatization is a technical philosophical term that Adorno was very fond of. Adorno improvised his own language, and though he had no qualms about making the reader run to the dictionary, he was quite irresponsible about plundering different types of discourse for his terms. He completely opposed Heidegger's campaign to eliminate non-German words from German philosophy, and deliberately stitched together a kind of macaronic. 'Hypostatize' mean to 'make into a substance', refering to the basic Aristotelian idea of substance as something independent of thought. What he means is that bourgeois high-art pretended that its make-believe world of enlightenment and freedom was real, when really it was based on excluding those who could not pay for it. The 'cause of the lower classes', the 'real universality' is the Marxist concept of the working class, disguised in language that would not offend the Frankfurt School's bourgeois sponsors. Marx argued that only a politics that fought for the interests of the international working class could truly be universal, since the cause of the bourgeoisie is split into competing nations or national blocks. Adorno's sentence is actually a highly political defence of critical avantgarde art - arguing that in attempting to be free in its own terms, refusing the temptation to feed the market ('serving the cause of false universality'), art does more to help the cause of the proletariat than by seeking to be 'effective' in a commodity world.
The social power which the spectators worship shows itself more effectively in the omnipresence of the stereotype imposed by technical skill than in the state ideologies for which the ephemeral contents stand in. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 136)
This was Adorno's response to the art of the war years - propaganda for Nazism, Stalinism or the Allies. But he also sees that, even in peace time, impressing artistically powerless people with spectacular, high-tech forms becomes a kind of propaganda for capitalism. In that sense, Hollywood is still at war. Adorno always adheres to a formal assessment. Form - by which he understands the imaginative potential of a work of art judged by the tribunal of history, the technical innovations taken by a particular artist - is the crucial aspect. Bad form, or reactionary, derivative treatments are not something that may be excused by a 'progressive' message.
Adorno is allergic to the power-relations involved in propaganda and commercialism. For him, to countenance using something as imbalanced as the mass media to put over a "progressive message" is to agree with manipulation, setting up the artist in a hierarchy above the audience. Looking back on the dreary productions of the Popular Front artists - W. H. Auden, Romain Rolland, Louis Aragon - it is obvious that the 'commitment' of bourgeois artists was a chimera, while the explosive art of artistic revolutionaries - Dada, Max Ernst, Edgard Varèse, James Joyce - still speaks to us. Adorno is the essential theorist for anyone who thinks that artistic integrity has a political meaning.
The postmodern argument that Adorno was solely concerned with 'high art' is predicated more on the intimidating language of his texts than on what he actually argues. He maintains that the division between 'serious' and 'light' art is in fact a division of function. In capitalist society, the social division between mental and manual labour means that classes demand different things of art. His criticism of mass culture - pop music and Hollywood film - is that it lacks the genuine, carnivalesque vulgarity of the circus and brothel, and instead is based on diluted bourgeois forms. What is wrong with Hollywood is not that it is the cesspool of lust depicted by the conservatives, but that it is a cathedral dedicated to moral 'elevation' (DoE p. 143). Adorno is at one with the surrealists in celebrating the grotesqueries on the fringes of the culture industry - he's a video-nastie fan, not a moralist (DoE p. 142).
Adorno is so sensitive to the power-relations built into the media that he notices things which are hard to discern when the media are taken as God-given and natural. He remarks that the telephone is progressive and egalitarian because it allows two-way conversation, while the radio is actually authoritarian - the listener has no means of talking back (DoE p. 122). This observation is so at variance with the assumptions of modern society that it must strike people as slightly insane - though the development of the World Wide Web has led people to criticise television and radio in precisely these terms. Adorno criticises society from the point of view of absolute social possibility, which is why his comments can appear psychotic, incapable of coping with the damaged lives we must lead under capitalism. Towards the end of 'Enlightenment as Mass Deception' the tone becomes hysterical, but this is more to do with the objective horror of the situation than Adorno's psyche. The way he denounces the American ad-world of the 40s anticipates the radical art of the Beats, Freaks and Punks of later decades. In describing the clean-cut looks of the 40s film-star, he fixes on exactly those attributes derided the delinquents of rock'n'roll - white teeth and cleanliness. In Hollywood, he says:
Personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions. (DoE p. 167. Cf Frank Zappa 'I Come From Nowhere' and Devo passim)
Remember that John Lydon was called Johnny Rotten because of the state of his teeth! Adorno's rhetoric stems from what could be described as a radical psychosis. It is unusual for a philosopher or sociologist to adopt such an extreme position. Poets and writers are allowed to express radical alienation from society, but social theorists are meant to keep a stiff upper lip. Adorno is unpopular because he breaks the rules - he introduces a poet's vision into academia, but also suggests that a poetic vision might be more scientifically accurate than the soothing voice of the positivist sociologist.
Wherever modern art criticises the processes of commodity society in its very form - rather than hypocritically mouthing 'protests' that sell very well, thank you - you find Adorno's formulations echoed, whether consciously or not. Guy Debord is supposed to have derived his ideas from Hegel, Marx, Gyorgy Lukacs and Henri Lefebvre (though the cartoonist and T-shirt manufacturer Biff has made some of his techniques rather more familiar than those thinkers):
Ideology tries to integrate even the most radical acts:
Man in suit: How right you are to steal books! Culture is everybody's birth right
Girl in dress: CULTURE? Ugh! The ideal commodity - the one which helps sell all the others! No wonder you want us to go for it! ... Maybe you can get the hippies, baby, but you can't get us ... (Situationist wall poster which International Times once ran as its front page, reprinted in Christopher Gray Leaving the 20th Century: the Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, Brussels: Free Fall, 1974, p. 16)
Twenty years before, Adorno was writing about the great fuss made when Toscanini conducted a symphony on the radio uninterrupted by sponsors' advertisements. He pointed out how patronisingly the powers-that-be gloried in their 'generosity' (you got the same thing happening when Pavarotti's record company, having made millions of pounds out of his fans, staged a 'free' gig in Hyde Park). Adorno said:
The cinema makes propaganda for the culture combine as a whole (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 156)
This is almost exactly the same point as that made by the Situationists. It points out that gratitude for the 'culture' handed down to us by the authorities merely paves the way to manipulation. Adorno's hatred for that kind of patronism is very like the sneers punk reserved for 'beautiful music'. And, contrary to the postmodern portrait of Adorno as an elitist, he refuses to let high art off the hook either:
Pure works of art which deny the commodity society by the very fact that they obey their own law were always wares all the same. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 157)
So even works of art which insist on their own laws, their own integrity, which oppose commercialism, end up as commodities on the market too. There is no safe place to rest - Adorno's sole solution is more vigilance, more enlightenment. He appreciates the working-over of economic realities in authentic art. Far from recalling some never-never land of classicism in the manner of Tory critics like Kenneth Clarke or Brian Sewell, Adorno writes about Beethoven in a way that could be applied to the Sex Pistols or Jeff Koons:
Those who succumb to the ideology [that art 'transcends' economics] are precisely those who cover up the contradiction, instead of taking it into the consciousness of their own production as Beethoven did. (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 157)
By relating to its commodity-role, by drawing attention to it rather than mystifying us with claims to transcendence, artworks can get near the truth. Despite the fact that Adorno railed against pop music, his ideas explain what was so valuable about Punk. In the face of a record industry that pretended that Pink Floyd and Yes and Led Zeppelin gave us a taste of higher realm, punk brought discussion of record contracts and money and manipulation into pop music. Postmodernism tries to celebrate every facet of commercial music, and in doing so patronises us just as much as those events when the industry hands itself awards. Far from being ivory-tower, Adorno's ideas can help explain why a band like the Sex Pistols were so effective.
In attempting to demonstrate the radical nature of Adorno's thought I've concentrated on Dialectic of Enlightenment, because only this kind of micro-approach allows us to examine the sentences themselves, to see his dialectic at work. Adorno resists reduction to a system, and is better used as a spur to developing one's own than as a 'total guide'. His sentences are stumbling blocks to those who wish to use art and subjectivity for ideological purposes. Adorno is extraordinarily consistent, and kept up his assault on reified thought throughout his life. Jargon Of Authenticity (1964) is a stunning assault on Heidegger; no-one who reads this is likely to have time for existentialism any more. Negative Dialectics (1966) is a mind-bending tome of abstract reasoning, not helped by a confused translation into English. Aesthetic Theory (1968) is essential reading for anyone seriously concerned with the place of modern art in a commodity society. Two of Adorno's most accessible books, because they concern composers whose works are readily available on CD, are those on Wagner (In Search of Wagner, 1937) and Mahler (Mahler; A Musical Physiognomy, 1963), though the argument in Philosophy of Modern Music (1948) is so compelling that it can generate an interest in 12-tone in people who thought such music was simply unlistenable.
Adorno & 1968
In 1968 Adorno was besieged by striking students who thought his radical theories would translate into practical solidarity with their actions. They were disappointed. Succumbing to pessimistic cynicism, he declared that their protests were all a product of the culture industry too. His psychosis - such a moving and effective register of the effects of capitalist alienation - rendered him immobile politically, and he even stooped so low as to call the police to remove the protestors from campus. His late essay 'On Resignation', while perceptively enumerating many of the problems involved in forming organisations on revolutionary principles, evolves a defensive mandarin politics out of his defence of subjectivity. That this kind of politics could arrive from someone who had witnessed a failed revolution, a successful revolution betrayed, a Nazi takeover and a genocidal holocaust, was tragic - but represent no judgment on the pugnacious, anti-authoritarian thrust of his many formulations. One is only too aware that the legions of Adorno's postmodern detractors wouldn't even stir the hopes of a student body in revolt.
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