Joel Kovel on the Frankfurt School

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Sat Jun 6 01:04:30 PDT 1998

On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Isn't there a problem here for you, Dennis? Adorno can 'ferrets out the
> non-identical or dialectical aspect of cultural works, concepts,
> thought-systems, etc.' but can't think of the working class as both an
> object of domination and a subject of a future dissolution of capitalism
> which causes domination.

But he does. All the time. Non-identity means just that: working-people are not identical with the dictates and tendencies of the system which oppresses them. They (we!) dream of something better. That this wish or utopian drive is canalized or re-appropriated by commodity fetishism, money-hunger, or reactionary ideologies of various kinds, is not due to evil labor bureaucrats (the sectarian answer) or to the fundamental stupidity of human beings (the liberal answer), but due precisely to the fact that we are indeed workers, that our lives are inflected by all manner of economic imperatives. Adorno's point is that we're saturated by capitalism and its categories, and must combat the inner Bill Gates we all, on some level, have been forced to become (not because we give a damn about Billion Dollar Bill, but because we have to act like him and be greedy and self-centered as the sheer price of survival in a fiercely competitive market society), while at the same time combating the external reification and systemic violence of late capitalism.

-- Dennis

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