THESE days the Frankfurt School is conservative Enemy #1, on account of “Cultural Marxism” and political correctness. But I have been reading a book about Horkheimer and Adorno written in the 1970s, The Frankfurt School: The Critical Theories of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, by Zoltán Tar.
Those were the days before the fall of the Soviet Union and before the ideas of the Frankfurt School had been enthusiastically taken up by every lefty activist in the culture war on everything to do with ordinary middle-class culture.
Horkheimer was the long-time head of the Frankfurt School -- the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany -- starting in 1931, and Adorno was his colleague and collaborator.
Dr. Tar views the head of the Frankfurt School as a straying Marxist, a guilty haut bourgeois intellectual with independent means infected by the pessimism of another bourgeois intellectual with independent means, Arthur Schopenhauer.
But Tar's bigger problem with Horkheimer is the central argument of Dialectic of Enlightenment, that domination is the problem in human society, whether domination of man by man or domination of nature by man. You can see why. The whole point of the leftist program is that political power and domination are needed to counter the domination of the market and the capitalists. But is it? There is no doubt that the market bosses everyone of us around. But is that worse than politicians and activists bossing us around? Or kings and noble lords? Our lefty friends just assume that they are on the side of the angels, and that their program will usher in an age of justice, emancipation from domination and liberation from work: in a word, equality.
Christopher Chantrill is a writer and conservative, and author of Road to the Middle Class. He runs usgovernmentspending.com, the go-to resource for government finance data, is a frequent contributor to the American Thinker. He lives in Seattle, Washington. Click for more.
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