Friday, 7 May 2004

From "Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?"

By Theodor Adorno.

A dialectical theory of society concerns itself with structural laws, which condition the facts, in which it manifests itself and from which it is modified. By structural laws we mean tendencies, which more or less stringently follow the historical constitution of the total system. The Marxist models for this were the law of value, the law of accumulation, the law of economic crisis. Dialectical theory did not intend to turn structures into ordered schematas, which could be applied to sociological findings as completely, continually and non-contradictorily as possible; nor systemizations, but rather the procedures and data of scientific cognition of the already-organized system of society. Such a theory ought least of all to withhold facts from itself, to twist them around according to a thema probandum.


The fetishism of the facts corresponds to one of the objective laws. Dialectics, which has had its fill of the painful experience of such hegemony, does not hegemonize in turn, but criticizes this just as much as the appearance that the individuated and the concrete already determine the course of the world hic et nunc. It’s very likely that, under the spell of the latter, the individuated and the concrete do not even exist yet. Through the word pluralism, utopia is suppressed as if it were already here; it serves as consolation.

That is why however dialectical theory, which critically reflects on itself, may not for its part install itself domestic-style in the medium of the generality. Its intention is precisely to break out of this medium. It too is not immune before the false division of reflective thinking and empirical research. [...] Reified consciousness does not end where the concept of reification has a place of honor.

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