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Review Essay

Beyond the Message in a Bottle:
The Other Critical Theory
Max Pensky
Der nonkonformistische Intellektuelle. Die Entwicklung der Kritischen Theorie
zur Frankfurter Schule. By Alex Demirovic´. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp,
1999.)

Intellectuals are educated people whose performances of critical social reflection
manage both to pierce to the heart of social domination while simultaneously
celebrating it as the special domain where their expertise is translated into privilege. Or so was Adorno’s sour conclusion in Minima Moralia, where he noticed
the curious capacity of “the intellectual” to absorb both the last remnant of rebellious bourgeois individualism, in the ruthless resistance to the established social
order, as well as the perverted collectivist impulse that clings to community
because it is only there that the intellectual’s rebellious individualism can be paid,
in the currency of resentment – the insight being that resentful recognition is
preferable to no recognition at all. “It is as old a component of bourgeois ideology,” Adorno wrote, “that each individual, in his particular interest, considers
himself better than all the others, as that he values the others, as the community
of all customers, more highly than himself.”
Since the demise of the old bourgeois class, both ideas live on in the spirit of the
intellectuals, who are at once the last enemies of the bourgeois and the last bourgeois. In still permitting themselves to think at all in face of the naked reproduction
of existence, they act as a privileged group; in letting matters rest there, they declare
the nullity of their privilege.1

This lapidary formulation of a dialectical theory of the left-wing intellectual in
the context of developed capitalism, which Alex Demirovic´ quotes in his massive
study of Horkheimer and Adorno’s post-exile role as the leading intellectuals of
the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s and 1960s, in itself could serve as
the motto for the project as a whole, encompassing both its achievements and its
weaknesses. The figure of the intellectual attracts because of its unresolved and
productive tension between the social inside and outside. For the same reason, it
has never been quite reputable; regarding the intellectual, untrustworthiness goes
Constellations Volume 10, No 1, 2003. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

and it is a surrender for which they both paid a terribly high price. 2003 with the dialectical territory. The prevalent view – call it the “messagein-a-bottle” interpretation – sees Horkheimer and Adorno’s post-exile intellectual life as a melancholy withdrawal into theoretical esotericism and political hopelessness. Formulations like this one (and there are countless like it) can be read as justifying both the prevalent view of Critical Theory after the war and its negation. for their part. theories of the intellectual are still excellent intellectual business. To be described as an intellectual is never either a straightforward compliment or an outright insult. like hyper-modernist art. one could say. Theoretically. By 1968. Horkheimer and Adorno. First Generation Critical Theory in Germany had become an essentially conservative force. after a century and more of effort. Politically. and the deceptively simple claim that intellectuals are both the last bourgeois citizens and the last enemies of the citizen in complex capitalist societies is an elegant example of this practice of gentle booby-trapping.136 Constellations Volume 10. or the early dreams of a technologically pacified relation with nature and a release from natural compulsion. the left-wing intellectual is the “last bourgeois” – or perhaps “the last citizen” would translate der letzte Bürger better – insofar as he has spirited off the last traces of a form of enlightened reason and an emphatic conception of socially mediated truth into the safehouse of philosophy in order to protect it from a totally administered society. and it is this structural ambiguity as much as anything else that explains why. carves out a repository for the last of those utopian energies that once struggled for substantiality in the institutions and practices of democratic life. This message-in-a-bottle interpretation of First Generation Critical Theory has had a checkered and highly politically complex career in the Federal Republic of  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. often give the impression of having consciously arranged things so that posthumous interpretations of their entwined theoretical and political works would be forced to be dialectical. as Horkheimer and Adorno’s reactions to the rebellious students confirm all too well. On this view. everything from Dialectic of Enlightenment onward was plagued by the aporias that arose from the attempt to articulate an alternative conception of emphatic reason while simultaneously rejecting the predominant mode of conceptual thought as complicit in structures of domination. pessimism and capitulation led ironically to collaboration with the same “totally administered society” that Horkheimer and Adorno could no longer criticize. But the triumph of instrumental rationality presents a “total context of delusion” that has grown impervious to criticism. This unsolvable problem contributed heavily to a theory in which enlightenment reason was increasingly inseparable from its opposite. 2003 . Hypercomplex dialectical philosophy. Number 1. just as the critique of the progressivism of instrumental reason often yielded a negative philosophy of history that increasingly invoked aesthetic and religious rather than theoretical language. Horkheimer and Adorno’s postwar productivity is therefore to be seen under the sign of capitulation. According to the dominant strain of the message-in-a-bottle interpretation.

continue to generate social and philosophical theory at all. culturally. ranging Horkheimer and Adorno in a continuum with Nietzsche.) What beyond the spirit of accommodation would have motivated Horkheimer to dedicate years of energy to the administration of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität? Why bother churning out the mountain of op-ed pieces. and to engage in its political life on so many different levels – institutionally. It is in situations of evident interpretive closure like this that a dialectical booby-trap or two becomes welcome. and the French désirants as the practitioners of totalizing critique and hence of modern anti-enlightenment. 2003 . by contrast. The claim that intellectuals are both the last citizens and the last enemies of the citizens at once can accommodate an entirely contradictory reading to the message-in-a-bottle view.  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. highlighting just how ambiguous and how formative Horkheimer and Adorno’s influence on the formation of postwar German political culture has been. debates. intellectually. In the United States. once one has (supposedly) said all there is to say on the matter in Dialectic of Enlightenment? Why did Horkheimer and Adorno invest themselves so intensively in both theory-production aimed at as wide a readership as possible (through the new format of the affordable mass-market Suhrkamp paperback.The Other Critical Theory: Max Pensky 137 Germany. and why did an audience bother to tune in? (Imagine comparable programming on contemporary American television and you get the idea. why did he spend so many hundreds of hours lecturing the dismal public on the radio? Why. and English departments in the United States and the UK. politically. conferences. commentaries? Why the passionate involvement in the institutional and political controversies surrounding the reconstruction of academic sociology in Germany? Why run an institute for social research? Why. for that matter. proposals. German. reviews. For intellectuals supposedly pessimistically resigned to an uncriticizable and unimprovable public. when it comes to it. even “spiritually” – seems downright inscrutable. a straightforward version of the message-in-a-bottle view reigns virtually unchallenged. (For a wide variety of reasons that can’t be entered into here. public addresses. Bataille. did the Hessische Rundfunk let him do it. Horkheimer and Adorno’s decision to return to still-smoking postwar Germany. articles. free of a comparable political reception history and aligned with a distinct set of theoretical orientations. where it can be appropriated with a number of different inflections and for a wide array of different purposes. has been far more successful. The English translation of Rolf Wiggershaus’s The Frankfurt School complemented Habermas’s reading with a comprehensive documentation of Horkheimer and Adorno’s gradual drift into influential conservative mouthpieces of Adenauer-era restoration. If Adorno was so deeply cynical about the political valence of new media technologies and the rational production of consent. protocols.) Jürgen Habermas has by far been the most vocal and influential exponent of the theoretical side of the message-in-a-bottle view. Adorno’s posthumous career in Cultural Studies. at least amongst philosophers and social theorists. aesthetically.

evidently made very full use of his access to the Horkheimer and Adorno archives. (All the more so if we imagine the author and Suhrkamp attempting to convince a British or American publisher to bring out the book in an English translation – for students of Critical Theory who depend on translations. Demirovic´ . a long-time colleague at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. is a highly significant and usually overlooked achievement of the supposed intellectual sterility of the Adenauer years. It took a tremendous amount of less spectacular work in what Demirovic´ accurately identifies as the “quasi-public sphere” of public administration – curricular proposals. The rest of the book is devoted to an extraordinarily detailed reconstruction of the various aspects of Horkheimer and Adorno’s work as public intellectuals in the Federal Republic of the 1950s and 1960s. a range of contributions to the philosophy of education. At 983 densely printed pages.) Demirovic´ begins his book with a brief (by his standards) theoretical introduction that develops a working model for interpreting the functions and definitions of the modern intellectual (about which more later). 2003 whose development they also took an active interest in) and in academic administration and intellectual interventions everywhere (it seems) they got the chance? These are not the actions of hermetically self-exiled and defeated men. the evidence is awfully weighty.2 Adorno and Horkheimer stood at the very center of this debate. and connect this up with the competing conceptions of pedagogy afoot in the early FRG. 2003 . Number 1. disinclined to mention: the volume of documentation necessary to refute the standard view of Horkheimer and Adorno’s intellectual life in postwar Germany places such extraordinary demands on the reader that it is difficult to imagine that the book – taken itself as an intellectual-political intervention into the public sphere – will have the reception and effect that it deserves and that Demirovic´ surely intends. In fact. There is a sharp irony in this as well. correspondence and negotiations with educators  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. if I can put it this way. it hardly seems likely that Demirovic´ ’s untranslated work will mount a significant challenge to Wiggershaus. which Demirovic´ himself seems either unaware of or. and specifically the various debates on the relation between pedagogy and democracy.” But these are only the most striking and. Chapters on Horkheimer and Adorno’s return from American exile and into positions of prominence in Frankfurt document the overall position of the German university system in the years immediately following the war. the most easily decontextualizable contributions. more likely. and closes with a modest conclusion that argues for his alternative to the message-in-a-bottle model for First Generation Critical Theory. Demirovic´ ’s study is the first full-scale project dedicated to challenging the message-in-a-bottle interpretation of the postwar careers of Horkheimer and Adorno with the weight of the evidence. and the tip of the iceberg. and what we in the United States know of it is usually concentrated around Adorno’s essays on the working-through of the collective past and “Education after Auschwitz.138 Constellations Volume 10. and not just metaphorically.

Such a politics of truth surely did not regard the political public sphere of postwar Germany as especially open. Perhaps most influentially of all. Horkheimer and Adorno’s quite explicit challenge to preconceived notions of the role of the academic in German political life effectively undermined the traditional understanding of the antinomy between the (politically committed) intellectual and the (politically aloof) academic mandarin.The Other Critical Theory: Max Pensky 139 and politicians. Demirovic´ argues. And insofar as they did successfully prosecute a politics of truth. As intellectual-academics. and between public spheres. however. where the rules of truthproduction were legitimated. and succeeded (though only in part) in modernizing the professional expectations and to an extent even the self-understanding of the German professorate. or democratic. in their own way they challenged the hidebound inherited view of the German university professor as a conservative knight-errant of deutsche Geist. below. rather than to shield it hermetically from society. For Demirovic´ . Horkheimer and Adorno were in fact conducting what Foucault referred to as a politics of truth: operating in. Rather than hermetically protecting an emphatic conception of truth from a society that is untrue as a whole. budget drafts. 2003 . My sense is that we tend to decontextualize the “Positivismusstreit” of the 1950s as a theoretical  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. they effectively challenged the terms and procedures through which socially valid truths were constructed. No less significantly. or free from overwhelming structural pressures toward instrumental closure or even “delusion. and how strongly it has hidden the concrete political achievements of First Generation Critical Theory from retrospective view.” But – and this is the pinion-point that separates Demirovic´ ’s reconstruction from the message-ina-bottle view – neither do their practices and their achievements support the notion that for them there was no political public sphere at all. they succeeded in connecting up the notion of curriculum and pedagogy directly with the normative and political tasks of the institutional anchoring of a democratic politics. They used their positions of influence (Horkheimer as Rektor of the Johann Wolfgang GoetheUniversität) to shift the terms of the debate about curricular reform and pedagogy in the Federal Republic’s systems of higher education. and what we would now call mission statements – for Horkheimer and Adorno to succeed in bringing off an achievement whose significance only became apparent years or even decades later. The “nonconformist intellectual” embodied a form of theory-as-praxis: the politics of truth is a response to the diagnosis of the crisis of reason which proposes to re-install reason into the social structure via reason’s institutionalization in quasi-public spheres. this successful pedagogical politics shows how inadequate the message-in-a-bottle view has been. where rhetorics or vocabularies were approved and subjects authorized. it was the project of the construction of the new discipline of German academic sociology that turns out to be Horkheimer and Adorno’s most lasting influence. and appropriately the longest and most exhaustively documented dimension of Demirovic´ ’s study. Horkheimer and Adorno also succeeded in finding more than a hermetic theoretical home for a substantial version of enlightenment reason.

it is difficult to imagine that even a sociological perspective as normatively chilly as systems theory could have survived the hegemony of empirical sociology. it is perhaps easier in hindsight to see the stakes that remain in thinking beyond the theory-research divide in sociology departments. which Horkheimer and Adorno had already proposed in the 1930s with the very idea of a critical theory. A third term beyond this institutional antinomy. And so on. But without their interventions in the 1950s and 1960s. and potential students. a battle in which familiar academic politics was in the end just as significant as the broader issues of the role of sociological understanding for a nascent democratic state. interpretive versus explanatory models. 2003 . In Germany. succeeded in a subtler manner: they changed the very model of the modern practicing academic  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. grant proposals written. It may appear that Horkheimer and Adorno lost the battle over the soul of academic sociology. students placed. and then in a fairly straightforward manner identify the different and relatively familiar fronts in the debate – social theory versus empirically-based social research. macro-sociological versus micro-sociological research programs. funding. Number 1. Beyond (or perhaps below) the level of disciplinary self-understanding was a debate familiar to any academic who has done more than daydream about founding a new academic program or area: university administrations and entrenched faculty have to be mollified and persuaded. Funds have to be raised. so Demirovic´ argues. conferences organized.140 Constellations Volume 10. where systems theory exercises a kind of benign dictatorship in social theory that has no precise counterpart in the United States. with its numerous notable advantages in the political public sphere as it seeks approval of its research programs. we know that the fronts between social theory and empirical sociology remain as sharply drawn as ever within most university sociology departments. remains just as elusive as a real institutional option for sociologists now as then. it is tempting to connect up the various fronts with political orientations in a comparably straightforward way. In the United States. and. Curricular requirements have to meet with meaningful consensus. with critical social theory as a sort of trickster figure flitting back and forth in the no-man’s-land between the fronts. Equally important was the institutional context of the debate: Horkheimer and Adorno were struggling for the institutional parameters for how sociology was to be practiced in German universities.” Of course the terrain of the Positivismusstreit was far more uneven than this. as if every proponent of empirical sociology were also pursuing a politically conservative agenda of “uncritically reproducing the real. State and federal education departments have to be satisfied according to their own bureaucratic requirements. as Demirovic´ shows. the editorial staffs of journals contested. Battles over new faculty hires have to be engaged. Likewise. virtually every possible permutation of methodological conviction and political persuasion was represented in one way or another. Demirovic´ uncovers the documentary history of Horkheimer and Adorno’s role in the battle over the emergence of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie. 2003 debate over the proper methodological self-understanding of sociology. Horkheimer and Adorno.

On this reading.”3 These terms seem to be non-reversible. among many others. Demirovic´ ’s book succeeds in laying out the evidence that should prevent us from seeing this either/or as definitive for Adorno’s work. and no other would distinguish him more sharply from his academic colleagues. remained Adorno’s idiosyncratic and entirely personalized attachment to a set of cognitive and affective. For Habermas. In other words. “Ein Schriftsteller unter Beamten”: on Demirovic´ ’s reading. nonconformist theorists. dissolving the taboo on political engagement. they made it permissible for sociologists to be intellectuals. Habermas’s very ambiguous compliment. First Generation Critical Theory succeeded in promulgating a version of theory-as-praxis that was far more influential. return to Germany in 1949 in order to avoid the Beamter. Demirovic is right in insisting. rooted as it is in a specific conception of the way Adorno’s Geist depended on a certain childish helplessness in the face of the administered world. and vice versa. Adorno was at heart an intellectual whose engagement in the struggle over reason in society was able to take on philosophical form. and that sociological faculties have provided an institutional toehold for intellectuals who would have found other departments – most notably philosophy – distinctly unwelcoming. “characterizes Adorno better. for all Adorno’s work in shattering that old ideal type forever. If  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. individual and cultural cues and ambitions for which the only word remains Geist. for that he would have been very well advised to stay put. Germany has Horhkeimer and Adorno to thank for the fact that sociology remains a discipline in which theoretical orientation can still be taken as a mode of political engagement. In one of the overlooked (and untranslated) essays in his Philosophische-politischen Profile. if far less noticeable. Adorno (and to a lesser extent Horkheimer as well) took the intellectual’s oppositional project – the destruction of the accursed constellation in which Geist stood in undialectical opposition to intellectual engagement – as itself a continuation of that same deutsche Geist: “No other word than Geist. what distinguishes Adorno from the standard typus academicus.”4 But insofar as this distinction between the figure of the author and that of the Beamter or bureaucratic manager hits home.” writes Habermas with palpable affection and frustration. of course. which Demirovic´ describes as the project of molding the very discipline of sociology in such a critical dimension that the very process of university training in sociology could count in itself as a form of political resistance. In this sense. As the last of the Geistmenschen. than their postwar theories considered by themselves. producing critically aware and politically mobilized. A writer among the functionaries.The Other Critical Theory: Max Pensky 141 sociologist. on the public reflection on the relation between sociological and political activity. 2003 . Adorno did not. Habermas describes Adorno as a “philosophierende Intellektueller. requires a good deal of revision in light of Adorno’s own not inconsiderable talents as an administrator. This may not have met their own ambitions. it also remains itself undialectical and therefore only a half-truth. But it may be enough that German sociology is not itself a contradictory term.

But this reference also implies the very real fact that the appropriation of First Generation Critical Theory continues to be determined as much by the kaleidoscope of shifting interests. then. Number 1. alliances. and as a consistent extension of radical enlightenment. which as we know has been capable of appropriating and interpreting the legacy of First Generation critical theorists in such extraordinary range. But the argument nevertheless makes the message-in-a-bottle interpretation of Horkheimer and Adorno’s lasting legacy for the political culture of postwar Germany very shaky.5 Demirovic´ ’s historical revision takes part in a larger project of consolidating a claim to a specifically German leftist intellectual tradition that would be secured against the dismissive claims from all sides – the neoliberal as  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and intellectual fronts in the current Federal Republic as by the rediscovered texts or political achievements of the critical theorists themselves. a writer of reports and a formidable academic politician. On that score. 2003 we move beyond platitudes and stereotypes. a bureaucrat and an academic middle manager. That he and Horkheimer mobilized their roles both as philosophers and as managers to install a mode of social criticism within West Germany’s previously most uncritical of institutions. the politically active intellectual virtually always bears some significant structural relationship with the organizations and practices of bureaucratic control.142 Constellations Volume 10. For the inheritors of the tradition of Critical Theory. Together with an enormous anthology of essays examining the impact of the Frankfurt School for the early Federal Republic by Albrecht et al. Gramsci had already pointed out the need to resist the ideal type of the intellectual as “pure” resistance. the view that Horkheimer and Adorno drifted into a political quiescence that paralleled their theoretical aporias is probably preferable both to the attacks of the ’68ers that Critical Theory in the end made common cause with the fascists over issues such as political radicalism or rearmament. Adorno was. were in fact crucial in establishing the legacy of intellectual non-conformism in West Germany may slightly over-extend its argumentative credit when it insists that even Dialectic of Enlightenment ought to be read as theory-as-praxis. mutatis mutandis) that Horkheimer and Adorno gave substantial aid and comfort to home-grown German terror in the deutsche Herbst. Habermas is almost certainly right. when the documentation of Horkheimer and Adorno’s contributions to the political scene of postwar Germany was so abundant? I think the answer lies in the intricacies of that political culture itself. among many other things. 2003 . is in the end a historical argument that makes better sense than the standard view. and Kraushaar’s multivolume study of the critical theorists and the student youth movement. has the message-in-a-bottle interpretation managed to maintain such dominance in the literature. normally flying below the radar of historical attention. Why. the university. Demirovic´ ’s book is just one of several massive “studies” of Horkheimer and Adorno that attempt a redescription of Critical Theory’s role in the public culture of the Federal Republic from the Adenauer era to 1968. and to the neo-conservative charge (occasionally espoused by the very same ’68ers. Demirovic´ ’s argument that quasi-public activities.

accommodation with prevailing institutions and rejections of those institutions. or criticize non-transparent uses of political power within ongoing political controversies among citizens. But this also means that non-conformity cannot be construed as an ideal type. and so on. It was Adorno. advocate moral points of view. and could only win an institutional life. embraces and rejections of conceptions of democratic inclusion. in relation to the functions and effects of the predominant social norms and institutions from within which the intellectual operates. citizenship. if intellectuals learned to inhabit the tense space between “normal” bureaucratic functioning and non-conformity. however. adherence to norms of political speech with violations of those norms. 2003 .The Other Critical Theory: Max Pensky 143 well as the old irrationalist-nationalist streams of right-wing political thought. With the very notable exception of Rorty’s overarching project of easing our approval of platitudes. the numbers would be low indeed. will ultimately be valued not only according to its (considerable) scholarly merits. the “third-way” Clintonian as well as the irrationalist-nationalist left. This means that Demirovic´ ’s work. Unless one attempts simply to valorize the category of political-intellectual “resistance” as such. after all. like any of its kind.) Guided primarily by Foucault and Gramsci. (To see what this normative component is. then political nonconformism preserves its political normativity only indirectly. simply imagine how many of your colleagues would be pleased to be referred to as conformist intellectuals. Demirovic´ ’s very notion of the intellectual is balanced on the razor’s edge of descriptive and normative claims. the flows of various capitals. as any brief survey across the vast landscape of literature on intellectuals quickly shows. at the end of the day. lurks very close to the surface throughout Demirovic´ ’s study – and for Adorno as well. itself an ideal type with a strongly normative component. as Foucault seems to have tried on occasion. In this sense. talk of non-conformism as a complete or self-explanatory normative category is simply another way of decreeing where a dialectical analysis of the intellectual’s function within a complex society should stop. Just this view. which would identify the various ways that educated non-specialists articulate interests. Demirovic´ points out that Horkheimer and Adorno’s self-conscious attempt to introduce the possibility of an intellectual non-conformism within prevailing academic institutions understood that the subterranean ideals of emancipatory reason could only be acted upon. would have to mix conformity with non-conformity. A descriptive account of the intellectual’s function. The image of the “non-conformist intellectual” is. And therein lie both the strengths and the weak points of Demirovic´ ’s recasting of our image of the critical theorists as “non-conformist” intellectuals. The same holds true for the social institutions and practices of democratic life under the rule of law as a whole. who wrote in Minima  Blackwell Publishing Ltd. but also by the degree to which it succeeds in generating the effects within the political public sphere that the author intends.

Adorno. and participation. Die intellektuelle Gründung der Bundesrepublik. No doubt. 1974). 2003 Moralia – the book that established his reputation as a great postwar German Schriftsteller – that “[f]or the intellectual. Harald Homann. Number 1. All collaboration. 160–66. 1998). eds. Frankfurter Schule und Studentenbewegung.. Ein philosophierender Intellektueller. tr. E. Jürgen Habermas. One of the few English language studies of the contours of the postwar Institute’s contributions to democratic pedagogy is found in Peter Hohendahl. 5.” in Philosophisch-politische Profile. Even if reports of the death of the message-in-a-bottle view are premature. Minima Moralia. Wolfgang Kraushaar. “Theodor W. 2003 . 27. Theodor W. and Friedrich H. Clemens Albrecht. 161. All the same. 3.”6 All methodological exaggerations notwithstanding.” in Prismatic Thought: Theodor W. 1981). 6. Minima Moralia.F. inviolable isolation is now the only way of showing some measure of solidarity. merely masks a tacit acceptance of inhumanity. Demirovic´ ’s book (or more likely. Jephcott (London: Verso. all the human worth of social mixing. That interpretation connected the aporetic outcome of critical social theory with the quietist outcome of political and institutional engagement in the moment of totalizing critique of a totally irrational social order. condensed versions of the interpretive claims that the book makes) will change the debate over the legacy of Critical Theory for the better. Adorno. Günter C... Eine Wirkungsgeschichte der Frankfurter Schule (Frankfurt & New York: Campus. 2. 26. Adorno (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. sociological reformers. (Hamburg: Rogner & Bernhard. And this is all the more welcome as we take stock of the fact that this debate is also one over the present and future character and self-understanding of German political culture. while certainly one-sided. it is also just possible that the First Generation of critical theorists did not coherently resolve the relation between their theoretical works and their roles as academic politicians. 3e (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Ibid. and for this reason that in the case of Adorno and Horkheimer one must always speak instead of theory-as-praxis. 3 vols. “Education after the Holocaust. Michael Bock. 1999). Demirovic´ will argue that (apparently) aporetic theory can be understood properly only in its context with ongoing institutional engagement. Demirovic´ has made sure that we can no longer take such a view for granted. 4.  Blackwell Publishing Ltd.N. Behrmann. NOTES 1. Adorno. ed. and cultural mavens because to do so would have obliged them to recast convictions concerning the viability of progressive democratic reform. hence of the general characteristics of the postwar social order. 1995).144 Constellations Volume 10. to which they were so committed that alternative conceptions simply were not realistically available to them. Tenbruck. views like this imply strongly that the old message-in-a-bottle interpretation. However we interpret this problem. is very far from refuted.