166 moishe postone
weakenedboththetheory’scapacitytoadequatelygrasptheongoinghistorical dynamic of modern capitalist society and its reflexivecharacter.
CentraltoCriticalTheorywastheviewthatcapitalismwasundergo-ing a fundamental transformation, entailing a changed relationshipof state, society, and economy. This general analysis was formulatedin various ways by Friedrich Pollock and Max Horkheimer, whobelonged to the “inner circle” of Frankfurt School theorists, andFranz Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer, who did not. Whatever theirdifferences, they all shared a fundamentally historical approach toquestions of the state, law, politics, and economics. They did notaccord ontological status to these dimensions of modern social life,but regarded political, legal, economic, and cultural forms to beintrinsically related, and sought to delineate their historical trans-formation with the supersession of nineteenth-century liberal capi-talism by a new bureaucratized form of capitalism in the twentiethcentury.Thegeneralanalysisbythesetheoristsofcontemporaryhistoricalchanges in the relation of state and society was, in part, consonantwith mainstream Marxist thought. The new centralized, bureaucra-tized configuration of polity and society was seen as a necessaryhistorical outcome of liberal capitalism, even if this configurationnegated the liberal order that generated it. Hence, there could be noreturn to a
economy or, more generally, a liberal order(Pollock,
).Nevertheless,theapproachesdevelopedbythoseclosetotheInsti-tute and its house publication, the
Zeitschrift f ¨ ur Sozialforschung
,differed from most conventional Marxist understandings of capital-ism’shistoricaldevelopmentinimportantrespects.Theydidnot,forexample, regard the displacement of a liberal, market-centered orderbyabureaucratizedadministeredonetobeanunequivocallypositivedevelopment. All of the theorists involved – Pollock, Horkheimer,Neumann, Kirchheimer – considered important aspects of social,political, and individual life in liberal or bourgeois capitalist society