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Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97

brill.nl/hima

Adorno on Education or, Can Critical Self-Reflection Prevent the Next Auschwitz?
K. Daniel Cho
Otterbein College dcho@otterbein.edu

Abstract This article presents Theodor W. Adorno’s concept of education, the basis of which is critical self-reflection. It argues that a close reading of Adorno’s various writings on education yields a theory of critical self-reflection that is not simply introspection but an analysis of the social totality. Beginning with Adorno’s assessment of education within capitalism – which is always a critique of capitalism itself – the article moves through his concept of critical self-reflection, and concludes by reassessing his claim that an education for critical self-reflection offers the strongest barrier to the recurrence of Auschwitz. Keywords Theodor W. Adorno, education, critical self-reflection, Holocaust, philosophical reflection, the Frankfurt school

Theodor W. Adorno, in his important essay ‘Education After Auschwitz’, writes: ‘The premier demand upon all education is that Auschwitz not happen again’.1 By raising the prevention of another Auschwitz to the level of an ideal, Adorno projects a radically new aim for education that intervenes in the increasingly conservative cultural milieu of postwar Germany. Indeed, as Russell Berman claims, Adorno’s discussions of education reveal a ‘radical Adorno’ who deftly demonstrates that ‘even within the context of the “administered society” a certain amount of public cultural engagement appeared possible’.2 And, in the words of Henry Pickford, the English translator
1. Adorno 1998c, p. 191. 2. Berman 1983, p. 95. Berman’s introductory comments are in direct reference to the interview ‘Education for Autonomy’; see Adorno and Becker 1983. For other excellent accounts of the Frankfurt School, which are also helpful in clarifying its members intellectual positions as well as their political engagements, see Kellner 1984; Kellner 1989; Wiggershaus 1994; Jay 1996.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/156920608X357765

K. D. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97

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of Critical Models – the volume that contains much of the material under consideration here – Adorno’s attention to such matters as education ‘offers a vivid portrait of Adorno in the role of public intellectual, explicating himself ad hoc about what could be considered the practical motive of these essays: to promote the public maturity by bringing reified consciousness to selfawareness’.3 But the validity of Adorno’s idea of an education against Auschwitz is not confined to his immediate historical context.4 To the contrary, it still has resonance today as the contemporary moment has seen the return of Auschwitz in such places as Darfur, East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and now Iraq.5 As history has indeed revealed, the spectre of Auschwitz still haunts late-capitalist society thus making Adorno’s thought on education more important than ever before.6 Yet, revisiting Adorno’s thought on education presents something of a problem as it will not be found in any one place but, rather, scattered throughout multiple documents – the most significant being: ‘Taboos on the Teaching Vocation’; the aforementioned ‘Education After Auschwitz’; and ‘Teachers and Philosophy’.7 However, education is not limited to these places. Indeed, evidence of Adorno’s attention to education can be found throughout his life’s work – for example, it is already in Dialectic of Enlightenment and returns in the posthumous Aesthetic Theory.8 Moreover, discussions on other
3. Pickford 1998, p. vii. 4. Henry Giroux, for example, has recently reengaged Adorno’s ‘Education After Auschwitz’ in response to Abu Ghraib; see Giroux 2004. 5. It is this string of genocides that motivates Giorgio Agamben to see contemporary society as stuck in a perpetual ‘state of emergency’ in which ‘the Camp’ is its dominant spatial organisation. In a provocative reading of Primo Levi, Agamben argues that Nietzsche’s ‘eternal return’ cannot pertain to Auschwitz ‘since in truth it [Auschwitz] has never ceased to take place; it is always already repeating itself ’. Agamben 2002, p. 101. Space does not permit further engagement with Agamben’s thought, but suffice it to say, it does not present any difficulty for Adorno as it only turns the imperative to prevent a recurrence of Auschwitz into an imperative to end Auschwitz. On Agamben in relation to Adorno, see Bernstein 2006. 6. Perhaps, the term ‘late capitalism’ needs some explanation. ‘Late capitalism’, which was thoroughly theorised by Ernest Mandel, designates a third ‘long wave’ in the development of capitalism. It is marked by advances in the mechanisation of production and the emergence of the multinational corporation; see Mandel 1983. For more recent work on Mandel, see the symposium in Historical Materialism, 15, 1. But my use of it here is primarily due to the fact that it is the term of choice for Adorno himself. While Adorno, like other members of the Frankfurt school, refers to the post-WWII era as ‘administered society’ and ‘bourgeois’ or ‘affluent society’, he often used the term ‘late capitalism’; see, for example, Adorno 2003a. 7. Adorno 1998g; Adorno 1998c; Adorno 1998h. 8. In the preface to Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno write ‘we had noted for many years that, in the operations of modern science, the major discoveries are paid for with an increasing decline of theoretical education’ (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, p. xiv); and in the ‘Draft Introduction’ of Aesthetic Theory, Adorno writes: ‘A genuine relation between art and

. Art today.10 the centrepiece of which is the teaching of critical self-reflection. for example. outwardly-oriented.12 What is unique in Adorno’s educational thought is his diagnosis: that is. never stops at the level of the self or the individual. And. 9. For a helpful review of the various Marxian positions on education.76 K. and Bowles and Gintis. it is fairly well-covered ground in German. p. See Adorno 1971. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 topics present relevant ideas for education – most significantly. See also. Giroux 1983. Adorno and Becker 1983. Indeed. Bowles and Gintis 1977. see. this author included. form a sort of triptych on philosophy. the way he uncovers the conditions that led to Auschwitz still present in the school. 11. Adorno 1998g. and Paula Allman. 10. and the more contemporary works of Peter McLaren. critical self-reflection is. Adorno 1998j. Paul Willis. Freire 1970. 336. p. I am indebted to Roger Behrens for these last two references. 12. Allman 2001. What will emerge from such an exposition is a concept of ‘education for contradiction and resistance’. in Adorno.13 Similarly. Some theorists will make a distinction between education and schooling. Adorno uses the terms ‘education’ and ‘school’ interchangeably. Robin Small. which school’s opposition to art as a consumer product as much as it allows the recipient a substantial idea of what an artwork is. there are many important differences and nuances between these theorists and their work. I will follow Adorno’s conventions and use the terms interchangeably. Giroux 1983. Willis 1981. While the discussion of Adorno and education might be fairly new to the English reader (which is why the focus on the essays that are translated in English). see Kellner 2006. Henry Giroux. Small 2005. which. to be sure. Adorno 1998i. However. the claim being made about Adorno’s importance has not to do with the simple fact that he dealt with education or that he used the phrase ‘critical self-reflection’ – though the news that Adorno concerned himself with education might come as a shock for some of his readers. the essays ‘Why Still Philosophy’ and ‘Notes on Philosophical Thinking’. where the former is socially transformative and the latter is socially reproductive. Engagement with education as a problematic is not particularly new or alien to Marxism: one thinks here of the classical works of Paulo Freire. McLaren 2005. just to name a few. is largely cut off from such education’. it becomes an expansive form of thinking that maps the self within the consciousness’s experience of it would consist in education. for Adorno. McLaren 1998. what is novel in Adorno’s concept of critical self-reflection is its content: in contrast to the introspective connotations the phrase possesses. rather. especially in the English language.9 Adorno’s concept of education must therefore be reconstructed through an exposition of these various documents. Gruschka 1995. along with ‘Teachers and Philosophy’. Kappner 1984. Adorno 1998f. D.11 Nor is critical self-reflection as an idea particularly unique. for example. even among those who produce it. The practice. In this essay. 13. the presentation of these theorists and their work as a litany should not be construed as evidence that there is a monolithic Marxist position on education. 109.

however. Adorno 1998h. The prompt for ‘Taboos’. It is a type of thinking that treats the self as a particular through which the whole is mediated. p. Adorno comes full circle as his profound faith that against Auschwitz ‘education and enlightenment can still manage a little something’. Totem and Taboo. 28. Freud.18 In fact. not the same as annihilating it: the desire for what is prohibited continues but now in the 14.K. Adorno 1998c. With the Auschwitz essay. the first of two improvised radio lectures on the topic of paedagogy. It will begin. p. 17.14 After identifying the problem with education. Not only was there a general lack of interest in becoming a teacher but. the ‘most gifted of the graduates who have passed their Staatsexamen’. showed the ‘strongest resistance to what those exams have qualified them for’. p. p. . 18. p. Adorno 1998h. 177. 190. focus will be given to the philosophy triptych where Adorno develops the concept of critical self-reflection under the names of ‘philosophical reflection’ and ‘expansive concentration’. as if to add insult to injury.17 I. Freud 1989.19 Prohibiting desire is. in his treatise on the taboo. it is worth taking a moment to briefly develop it. 204. while those who took up teaching posts only did so because ‘[t]hey sense a sort of coercive force to become teachers. tells us that the taboo is. a prohibition ‘directed against liberty of enjoyment and against freedom of movement and communication’. obviously enough. 19. is a recruitment crisis occurring in conjunction with an overall decline in the teacher’s social prestige during the Germany of the 1960s. to which they submit only as an ultima ratio’.15 concretises his position in ‘Taboos’ that ‘the key to radical change lies in society and its relationship to the school’. The present essay will culminate with this theory of critical self-reflection as outward investigation and conclude with some strategic questions for Adorno’s theory of education. Adorno 1998h. Adorno 1998h. Last. As the taboo or psychic ban is Adorno’s central organising concept. however. with his diagnosis of the problem with education in ‘Taboos on the Teaching Vocation’.16 thus leaving it ‘up to the school more than anything else to work against barbarism’. D. the Auschwitz essay will be considered. the aversion to becoming a teacher was so intense that it led Adorno to believe that a genuine taboo had been put on teaching. 189. 16. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 77 conditions of society as a whole. 15.

Adorno 1998h. 21.21 are the epithets in German that refer to the teacher as a disciplinarian. For example. of course. if one wants to put it in Foucauldian terms. However. withered. because it reveals the violence involved in teaching. but he must not perform it. Horkheimer and he famously write: ‘Enlightenment. a teacher’s personal ad that assures potential callers that the advertiser is not your ‘typical’ teacher. p. keeping them in line.24 What Adorno 20. The reason these epithets remain in circulation long after corporal punishment is rubbed out of the books. p. 178. 24. a well-known thesis of Adorno’s. Adorno sees teaching’s disciplinary function as actual violence. Adorno sees the school. and in English. because it makes one think that violence is an isolated issue. is precisely because violence and discipline are at the very core of teaching’s social function. Foucault 1995. like ‘schoolmarm’. a ‘spanker [Pauker or Steißtrommler]’. Or. namely. and looks on it as his supreme enjoyment. since the Enlightenment. But this horizon of corporal punishment is both true and false: true. evokes teaching’s most overt and brutal form of discipline. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 unconscious. Meanwhile. such as.23 Of course. Freud 1989.22 What these pejorative handles call attention to is the sense that teaching is not so much concerned with studentlearning as it is with violently disciplining children. 23. but it must be stated that whereas Foucault sees the school as strategically situated in an epoch-making shift from sovereign power whose mode of control is external threat and violence (the highest expression of which is the ‘spectacle of the scaffold’) to a form of disciplinary power whose mode of control is self-regulation. the resentment toward teaching for having intellectual preoccupations while equally intellectual vocations like law and medicine receive honour. corporal punishment. and the tendency to make a status distinction between the school teacher and the university professor. 182. 22. has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear . p. Adorno’s use of the word ‘discipline’ in relationship to schools seems to be echoed by the French theorist Michel Foucault who sees schools as instituting a disciplinary form of power. that evokes the image of ‘spinsterish. unhappy. ‘and detests it as well’. has become an increasingly colder and crueller place is. the creation of docile bodies (the highest expression of which is the panopticon). That society. Space does not permit a full discussion of Adorno and Foucault here. But the most telling sign. the German. and what Adorno considers ‘to be decisive for the taboos on the teacher’s vocation’. 38. Adorno 1998h. literally. ‘He is constantly wishing to perform this act’.78 K. the tabooed object or act incurs the subject’s ambivalence. as if a law prohibiting the practice would liberate teaching permanently. as if haunting teaching with the images or ghosts of its past. dried up schoolteachers’. any affinity is superficial. understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought. much more explicitly than the English.20 Adorno finds evidence of this ambivalence towards teaching in many aspects of everyday life. false. D. disciplinary function as a form of sovereign power.

” and certain practical abilities that are not honoured by the official hierarchy play their role’. .25 As for the teacher. p. . the extreme form of violence is One against All’: Arendt 1969. and comes to feel the coldness of a world with which he or she is not identical’. 186. For an interesting discussion of Arendt and Adorno. What human beings seek to learn from nature is how to use it to dominate wholly both it and human beings. Ruthless toward itself. rather. . from where it explodes on the school site from time to time. envoys of fascism. 1. . Adorno treats these incidents of violence with the utmost seriousness. and grades’. . the more lengthy discussion of Arendt and Adorno that is possible cannot be accomplished. Due to spatial constraints. which. Only thought which does violence to itself is hard enough to shatter myths’.K.28 Or. even calling the school ‘virtually the prototype of societal alienation per se’. 26. see Freire 1970. the Enlightenment has eradicated the last remnant of its own self-awareness. not power. “being a guy. which predates ‘Taboos’. the first is the academic hierarchy of the classroom and the second is the social hierarchy of the playground – and it will. 187.29 The violence that was once enacted in corporal punishment does not disappear but is merely driven underground. 266. and the second is ‘a latent hierarchy. Adorno 1998b. ‘The extreme form of power is All against One. . the classroom is underwritten by violence. achievement. . Nothing else counts.26 Without corporal punishment to remind both students and teachers of teaching’s core authoritarianism. were played off each other by national socialism. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002. Adorno makes the same point: ‘For the first time the child is torn away from the protection of the family . On Arendt’s quantitative definition. He also makes this point in Minima Moralia: Adorno 2002 p. 27. of course. 42. its alienating function. it is ‘[t]he instrument of this alienation . 28. Yet the wholly enlightened earth is radiant with triumphant calamity. and the negatively affected image of the teacher is the response to it’. in which physical strength. even calling it oppressive. 29. p. like so many ‘returns of the repressed’. D. We should note the immense distance that separates Adorno from Hannah Arendt’s famous formula for power and violence. and installing them as masters. 186. However. 2. this authoritarianism gets rearticulated in the form of two hierarchical structures. 25. it will only be emphasised that. 45–6. Adorno 1998h. even considering a childhood gang of bullies. despite the numbers. Freire’s solution of dialectically synthesising the teacher and student opposition into the new terms of teacher-student/student-teacher differs from Adorno’s approach. remembered in Minima Moralia. see Villa 2007. p. Adorno 1998h. p. for Adorno. Freire also problematises the school’s intellectual hierarchy. . Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 79 reveals in ‘Taboos’ is that the first encounter with this alienating coldness takes place in the school. pp. the clashes that take place within the lecture hall are not acts of violence but shows of power. In a discussion on his lecture ‘The Meaning of Working Through the Past’. Adorno tells us. be remembered that the experience of ostracisation and victimisation in the latter is as brutal as ‘flunking out’ in the former.27 The first is ‘the official hierarchy founded on intellect. to put it another way.

Thus we have reached the crux of Adorno’s argument: teaching and education’s lamentable condition. 31. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002. Adorno 2002.31 In ‘Taboos’. why does society. to inflict on me after all those things from which. it is true. Adorno sharpens this diagnosis. on the other hand. 183. So closely had all the motifs of permanent catastrophe brushed me. The five patriots who set upon a single schoolfellow. Yet even the threatening collective is merely a part of the deceptive surface. Adorno 1998h.80 K. when he complained to the teacher. cannot be but a symptom of a sick society. it is no wonder there was a recruitment crisis! From Adorno’s account. poking fun at his maladroit attempt to hang himself ?30 With discipline as its aim and brutality as its method. 192–3. as with any social institution. p. harbouring some envy towards it? The answer is in the question itself: it is because teaching accomplishes what society at large wishes to do openly but cannot. thrashed him and. I had been temporarily dispensed. Everything which is different. a baleful reputation – but why the taboo? What explains the ambivalence directed at teaching. that I recognised them all in the features of Hitler’s dictatorship: and it often seemed to my foolish terror as if the total State had been invented expressly against me. beneath which are concealed the powers which manipulate the collective as an agent of violence. This is a point he makes with Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment. defamed him a traitor to the class – are they not the same as those who tortured prisoners to refute claims by foreigners that prisoners were tortured? They whose hallooing knew no end when the top boy blundered – did they not stand grinning and sheepish round the Jewish detainee. D. which keeps watch from the classroom to the trade union. even if this eventuality is so remote in so-called normal life.32 30. is exposed to the force of the collective. in my childhood. p. 32. on one hand detest it for something it is made to do while. even now and under the reigning conditions only with the potential of physical violence can it achieve the so-called integration within civilization that should be the task of universal pedagogical doctrine. 22. that is. its primeval form. . so deeply were the warning signs of the German awakening burned into me. but not my unconscious fear. in society. Violence and brutality are at the heart of latecapitalist society itself. pp. from the idea to criminality. surprise my political judgment. Society even now continues to be essentially based on physical power and can impose its regulations when the stakes are real only with physical force. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 The outbreak of the Third Reich did. we can certainly understand why the teaching vocation receives.

although we are too good to commit such violence directly. . Resentment expresses envy. 38. Adorno 1998h. p. it is resented. insofar as the society takes itself to be bourgeois-liberal’.36 Teaching suffers so that society does not have to. 21. in another ‘critical model’.35 For Adorno. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 81 So.33 they. emanate from late-capitalist society itself. 182. p. teachers are not only called upon to discipline and dominate their students but also to endure public criticism for a job well done. This puts late-capitalist society or. Philosophical reflection or expansive concentration consists in teachers ‘reflecting upon their specialized discipline – that is.38 33. 34. in a ticklish situation. in every case. while the teacher may be invested with various unconscious roles. since ‘the physical violence any society based on domination requires must at all costs not be acknowledged. describes this new form of thinking as philosophical or reflexive and later. its liberal-bourgeois form. 37. in reflecting upon what they are fulfilling – and in reflecting upon themselves transcend the bounds of what they have actually learned’. Releasing teaching from its taboo requires a different mode of thinking. D. teaching is this institution. Here. A gentleman does not deal blows – and thus the disdain for the teacher who does what is necessary and what we know deep down to be evil and what we double deplore because we ourselves are complicit. To cope with this impossible situation. 36. the necessary functions of violence and discipline are delegated to a constituent institution. 183. p. Adorno 1998g. ‘This physical power is delegated by society and at the same time is disowned by its delegates’. ‘Notes on Philosophical Thinking’. all of which ‘presents the teacher as the physically stronger who beats the weaker’. 35. from the flogger. II. at least.37 as ‘expansive concentration’. through the drill sergeant. Adorno 1998h. Ibid.34 Late-capitalist society under the reigns of bourgeois liberalism must appear to operate on humanistic principles thus cannot acknowledge its violent basis publicly.K. A baleful reputation becomes a genuine taboo. Adorno. Ibid. in ‘Philosophy and Teachers’. to the executioner. And because this teaching does the very thing society wishes it could do openly. Adorno 1998f.

However. where he now 39. p. as the unity of the problem and its arguments. ‘Philosophy fulfils itself only where it is more than a specialty’. an inherited canon of texts. where it now goes by the name of ‘critique’. that is. being an intellectual is neither being measurably ‘smarter’ nor being able to lord one’s intellectual prowess over another. See also Adorno 1998a. Adorno arrives at this definition of philosophical or reflective thinking by considering what philosophy is in the first place. not the adoption of received theses. Adorno suggests that the ‘consciousness of spirit that is philosophy’ means a thinking that moves beyond the terms of the personal by reframing one’s self and one’s work within the broader social context.42 In contrast. 8. . Adorno 1998i. it is not at all clear why a teacher should even be expected to have such specialised knowledge. D. p.82 K. Adorno reiterates this idea in ‘Why Still Philosophy’. p. ‘Notes on Philosophical Thinking’. 21–2. not in any sense of superiority but. for reflective or critical thought must be integral to their work. 40. 1988. ‘Critique alone.39 Of course. for Adorno. 21.40 In other words. 24. all these accusations of élitism can be forestalled by noting that. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 It is this thoughtfulness regarding their work and its connection to the world that makes teachers ‘intellectuals’ instead of ‘merely specialized technicians’. p. Rather. ‘[w]hether someone is an intellectual or not is manifested’. it is completely understandable that teachers be expected to have a grasp of philosophy.43 On this account. see Giroux Adorno 1998g. Adorno 1998g. has laid the foundation for what may be considered the productive unity of the history of philosophy’. an understanding of how their work affects and is affected by larger societal tendencies.41 If philosophy is understood as a specialised discipline. p. But that idea of philosophy is precisely what Adorno is against. 41. 21. ‘above all in his relationship to his own work and to the societal totality of which it is a part’. Adorno further elaborates on this theme of philosophy as a form of reflexive thinking in a third essay. For another account of teaching’s intellectual quality. the word ‘intellectual’ is heavily loaded with élitist connotations. and moreover ‘one many people lack any connection with’. What is at stake in such a consideration is whether philosophy is essential to the teaching vocation or simply an additional burden. 42. an intellectual is any person who has a contextualised or mediated grasp of their work. but Adorno warns that any effort to divest teaching of its intellectual quality is deeply ideological as an even more unacceptable anti-intellectualism feeds into authoritarian behaviour and the loss of autonomy. 43. Adorno 1998g. for Adorno. especially if its taboo is to be lifted. or a system of knowledge. then. Adorno 1998g.

Another effort to thwart the philosophical quality of teaching is the increased bureaucratisation of teachers’ work. and it alone. their truth content’.46 So. comes not from the state but from the teaching candidates themselves. p. and because everything bad in the world immediately finds advocates who will prove that precisely what one intends is already long since obsolete.48 and ‘[t]he expulsion of thought from logic ratifies in the lecture hall the reification of 44. he argues that one successfully returns teaching to its place within the social totality not by patching the two together but by heightening or intensifying the focus on teaching itself. Adorno’s call for education to become aware of the violence in its dual hierarchies in ‘Taboos’ must be articulated with his imperative that teaching be more philosophical in the philosophy triptych.K. . Adorno tells us. 131. this exam nevertheless standardises and itemises philosophy into a narrow academic specialism. Adorno and Becker 1983. . its intellectual status. The way broader social tendencies impact teaching will come into view if education can ‘immerse itself in the material contents in order to perceive in them. 110. Adorno 1998f. and to be more attentive to their function in society. even though Adorno’s conception of philosophy fits better with the manifest intentions of the Staatsexamen. Adorno 1998g. . discourage. 45. which benefits from teaching’s taboo. not beyond them. p. will attempt to discredit. p. Of course. Therefore. and combat reflexive thinking. They. thinking becomes aware of what within the matter extends beyond what was previously thought and thereby breaks open the fixed purview of the subject matter’. is exposed to considerable resistance. 46.45 The totality appears in the particular. or utopian’. 25. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 83 describes it as ‘expansive concentration’. would prefer that the state exam treat philosophy as a specialised discipline ‘both in order to find their way via well-worn paths and also to normalise the procedure of the examination so that precisely those questions for which the entire examination was first instituted are not posed’. Ibid. Adorno comments: ‘Every serious attempt to assist humanity toward intellectual independence . In ‘Education for Autonomy’. even intensifying. to take their work more seriously. the constellation called late capitalism. Adorno 1998f. 47. D. Adorno’s claim – that teaching must remain an intellectual or philosophical vocation. 134.47 What Adorno finds here is ‘in a word. That is to say. But the greatest source of resistance to expansive concentration. especially in this era of late capitalism – is an exhortation for teachers to concentrate on themselves more intently.44 Here. no longer relevant. reified consciousness’. releasing teaching from its taboo depends on it retaining. ‘By gauging its subject matter. 48. p. in actuality.

Auschwitz haunts all of Adorno’s work – from Dialectic of Enlightenment.’51 Or.50 Yet. may go on living. then. one who by rights should have been killed. A new categorical imperative has been imposed by Hitler upon unfree mankind: to arrange their thoughts and actions so that Auschwitz will not repeat itself.84 K. 23. a guilt so horrific and disturbing that one must do the unconscionable and prevent it from becoming conscious if one is to go on living. p. Perennial suffering has as much right to expression as a tortured man has to scream. And the guilt does not cease to reproduce itself. presently conscious. this is precisely what Adorno argues. 39. once again. Adorno 2002. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 human beings in factory and office’. D. so 49. Indeed. p. 364. without which there could have been no Auschwitz. through Minima Moralia and Negative Dialectics. . and philosophical concentration is. Adorno 1995. called upon to undo its effects. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living – especially whether one who escaped by accident.52 Life after Auschwitz is thus thickened by the moral sense that something must be done so that nothing like it ever happens again. to Critical Models. as he puts it in Minima Moralia. III. 50. this is the drastic guilt on him who was spared.49 One of Adorno’s many definitions of reification is ‘standardization’. For Adorno. ‘Wrong life cannot be lived rightly’. even giving it the lofty status of the Kantian categorical imperative. ‘This guilt is irreconcilable with living. The problem of reification reappears in a different form in ‘Education After Auschwitz’. His mere survival calls for the coldness. hence it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. Thus reified consciousness and reflective concentration will be the two antipodes which determine whether Auschwitz returns or not. 52. p. Adorno 1995. p. the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity. if guilt. 51. because not for an instant can it be made fully. 363. and it is a sad irony that the reform of public education in the United States goes by that name. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002. it is the event that has made living guilty in-itself. as if there is no longer any need to disguise that the reification of the public is the intended goal.

Bernstein detects an insufficiency. When we want to find reasons for it.M. in which the motives that led to the horror would become relatively conscious. must therefore be read together. against its recurrence. allowing more engagement with cultural representations of human horror. 194. the same cannot be said of ‘Education After Auschwitz’. Adorno 1995. Ibid. p. 365. materialism redeems metaphysics. Adorno 1998c. I mean two areas: first children’s education. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 that nothing similar will happen. as Adorno clearly believes. our living being’. and therefore a new self-understanding of how culture can be formative for us’. ‘nowhere in Negative Dialectics does he provide the positive terms for such respect. this imperative is as refractory as the given one of Kant was once upon a time. Adorno speaks of education in two senses – the first is institutional and the second is cultural. p. 57. we get a utopian gesture’. examining the ‘authoritarian personality’. The point of Adorno’s ‘Meditations on Metaphysics’ in Negative Dialectics. ‘Education After Afuschwitz’ is even reprinted under the heading of a new categorical imperative. therefore. what he calls the ‘debarbarization of the countryside’.57 Negative Dialectics and ‘Education After Auschwitz’. then general enlightenment that provides an intellectual. 54. Bernstein 2006. then. 58. D. Adorno.54 Thus. at most.53 85 In keeping with this spirit. Some of Adorno’s proposals that will not be covered in the discussion of the essay are: eschewing the concept of bonds. 191. issues the same imperative to education: ‘[e]very debate about the ideals of education is trivial and inconsequential compared to this single ideal: never again Auschwitz’. closing the cultural gap between town and country. however.55 ‘While it is evident that Adorno means his remarks to urge us toward a deeper respect for our animality. Adorno 1998c. investigating the dialectic of sport culture. for there Adorno finds an existing social institution that is viable for the practical working out of this material culture.K. 56. if philosophical concentration remains after Auschwitz. In the recent collection of Adorno’s essay. p.56 While this might be true of Negative Dialectics. cultural. ‘Can One Live after Auschwitz?’. is that philosophy as metaphysical speculation will only achieve this imperative by transforming itself into a material practice – hence. ‘When I speak of education after Auschwitz. in ‘Education After Auschwitz’. 32. perhaps most controversially. criticising technology. J. judging from the triptych of essays examined above. and. 55. Bernstein encapsulates the upshot of this transformation well: ‘What the new imperative calls for is a new conception of culture that would entail a singular and massive transformation in the structures of authority governing everyday life. . See Adorno 2003b. then it must be a thinking against Auschwitz. a climate. especially in early childhood. p. and social climate in which a recurrence would no longer be possible.’58 53.

the collectivity is a defensive response aimed against such coldness. 65. 28. D. While Halbbildung is translated in the English version of Dialectic of Enlightenment as ‘half-education’. the socalled ‘manipulative character’. ‘already make themselves into something like inert material.60 And. use ‘halfeducation’ instead of ‘pseudo-culture’.59 But these people are already cold. Here. then Auschwitz would not have been possible. might have ‘allowed an immediate relation to objects that could be raised to critical consciousness by virtue of its potential for skepticism. . 62. he adds: ‘Whoever imagines that as a product of this society he is free of the bourgeois coldness harbors illusions about himself as much as about the world. 198. p. Adorno 1998d. later. 60. 201. is well known.62 A collective built not on shared lived experience but on mere sameness. 61. the constitution of people as they in fact exist in our society . cultivation disintegrates into half-education. extinguish themselves as self-determined beings’. 24–5. Adorno 1993. Where I refer to the English translated ‘Theory of Pseudo-Culture’. and Halbbildung even more so. as they struggle simply to survive in the unforgiving conditions of post-Holocaust society. people would not have accepted it’. in the desire to fit in with the crowd. One more motive must be added. ‘a banding together of people completely cold who cannot endure their own coldness and yet cannot change it’. I will keep with Jephcott’s conventions and use ‘half-education’. which does not appear in the ‘Education’ essay – namely. p. 201. 274. wit and irony’64 – it turns out a half-educated population of voracious consumers: ‘[half-education] is spirit overcome by fetishism of commodities’. p. .63 With the standardisation of education.61 Themselves cold.65 Whereas the uneducated might simply admit their ignorance or naïveté. ‘[i]f coldness were not a fundamental trait of anthropology. translation modified. without such coldness one could not live’. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 The ‘motives that led to the horror’ run deep: they are coiled in the very consciousnesses of individuals. Adorno’s concept of half-education [Halbbildung]. 63. p. Indeed. echoing Negative Dialectics. the English version of Adorno’s essay ‘Theorie der Halbbildung’ has it as ‘pseudo-culture’. . Adorno 1998c. I will. Adorno writes of the passion to fit in. an admission out of which a genuine desire to learn might grow. and instead of giving rise to a widening uneducated and uncultured population – which. as Adorno writes. p. see Thompson 2006. For a more thorough discussion of the educational implications of Adorno and Bildung. 64. in the coldness of monadic existence.86 K. ‘People who blindly slot themselves into the collective’. Adorno 1993. the half-educated know a little something and hold that knowledge in high esteem – as the 59. That the German Bildung is untranslatable. that is. p. Adorno 1998c. Adorno 1998c. for continuity’s sake. for Adorno.

halfeducated.69 Reification and half-education quickly succumb to paranoia and an anti-intellectual cultural milieu turns into outright antiSemitism and bigotry thus laying the groundwork for physical violence. 162. any adherent of such a manual will have some sort of grasp of ‘classical’ music. will allay its fears by looking for explanations in the Manichean demonisation of the dissimilar and nonidentical – for example. consumers. But how does this situation turn into fascism thus leading to genocide? This dynamic is best observed in moments of economic crisis when anti-intellectualism turns easily into full blown anti-Semitism and bigotry. on that account. However. p. . 200. half-educated. ‘at once intellectually pretentious and barbarically anti-intellectual’. 36. hypostatize limited knowledge as truth’. unprecedented conditions are created for the paranoia of the masses’. what makes the half-educated readers of these manuals truly dangerous is not a naïve curiosity regarding ‘classical’ music but an arrogant desire to masquerade as possessing absolute knowledge of it. To keep them in the memory. For. Adorno finds a high example of half-education in those manuals that teach individuals to appreciate so-called ‘classical’ music by instructing them to recognise a sampling of well known symphonic themes. ‘But today’. as if being able to ‘name that “classical” tune’ represents knowledge itself.K. unlike the merely uneducated. D. but that grasp does not go beyond the caricature. the so-called ‘Jewish plot’. which is enthralled by the immediacy of stereotypes and caricatures. 67. mind. people will search for the causes of their plight. ‘they know enough to be dangerous’. these manuals instruct one to put lyrics to the themes that presumably describe what is being heard. 68. and posits as absolute what exists contingently’. 162.68 Reification might be accurately pictured in the mind’s eye as the liquidation of individuality in favour of fashion trends and consumable goods. the reification of consciousness turns the public into unreflective. which he describes thus: ‘Above all this is a consciousness blinded to all historical past. Only the ability to selfreflect can counteract the tempting immediacy that feeds the half-educated mind. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 87 saying goes. p. . during times of crisis. Clearly. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002. ‘when education itself is withering for economic reasons. p. 69. p. a plugging up of one’s ears and a shutting of one’s eyes. ‘The half-educated . all insight into one’s own conditionedness. Adorno 1998c. Adorno 1993. But the reified. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002. These 66. but it manifests more concretely as a mundane refusal to think deeply. . Certainly.67 Adorno’s concept for all these subjective conditions is reified consciousness.66 and are. Horkheimer and Adorno write.

to ‘expansive concentration’ – are thus unified in the single phrase ‘critical self-reflection’. To do this. 72. . Against such motives. Adorno 1998c. D. education must first eschew its own dual hierarchy in favour of the programme of philosophical concentration. ultimately. 71. this is the aftermath of Adorno’s scandalous relationship to another education-related event – one that has left an indelible impression upon US education – namely. Russell Berman’s introduction of Adorno’s interview on education is the exception (Berman 1983). Only those who unreflectingly vented their hate and aggression upon them are guilty. . must reveal these mechanisms to them. In light of the richness of Adorno’s thought on education. in the world after Auschwitz. IV. ‘is an education toward critical self-reflection’. for Adorno. training in reflexive thinking. it by itself hardly constitutes thorough coverage.88 K. the radical student movements of the 1960s: the most notorious incident being his calling the police to clear student demonstrators out of his lecture hall. must dissuade people from striking outward without reflecting upon themselves. 193. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 subjective conditions become part of the objective situation of crisis that ushers in fascism and. . Of course. namely.70 In ‘Education’. Rolf Wiggershaus’s in-depth history of the Frankfurt School has contributed a 70. the various names for philosophy – from ‘critique’. p. One must come to know the mechanisms that render people capable of such deeds. And.71 Adorno’s aim is a critically selfreflexive school and a school that is for a critically self-reflexive culture. and then extend it from early childhood education to a material culture. Ibid. and strive. by awakening a general awareness of those mechanisms. through ‘reflective’ and ‘intellectual’ thought.72 Perhaps. What the ‘Education’ essay adds to the problematic identified in ‘Taboos’ and the programme etched out in the philosophy triptych is the need to turn the self into the very object concentrated upon. to focus on one’s own coldness and manipulability until connections to the social totality come into purview. But as wonderful as Berman’s introduction is. Adorno believes. . it is startling that it has not received more attention in English. One must labor against this lack of reflection. education can do something by providing the very thing reification eviscerates. ‘[t]he only education that has any sense at all’. genocide. to prevent people from becoming so again.

whereby the individual subject acclimates and adjusts to surrounding social conditions. p. One Dimensional Man. 127. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 89 significant amount toward clarifying Adorno’s relationship to the student movements. Setting it up. . Marcuse is drawing on the paradox of resistance that Freud identifies in the psychoanalytic situation: if the patient shows absolutely no resistance to the analytic process. To the contrary. See. is predicated on there being a distinction between outer and inner spheres.76 The first part of Marcuse’s criticism references the concept of mimesis he develops in that sine qua non of critical theory.K. ‘that clarity about the streak of coldness in one’s self is a matter for self-contemplation’. rather. resisting. he explains that the psychoanalytic theory of introjection. ‘I think’. If this is ‘self-delusion’. if defence is at issue. then. how does one recognise it in one’s self in the first place? Is it not ‘so penetrated into . Adorno and Marcuse 1999. In light of the terrible situation I am unable to discover the ‘cold streak in one’s self ’. pp. he writes to Marcuse. and as a result. Is it not at least just as possible that precisely the acknowledgement of coldness is itself self-delusion and a ‘defense mechanism’?75 Marcuse’s criticism is twofold: first. a confession. that patient is. Herbert Marcuse. 75. But there is an ambiguity here. In their famous ‘Correspondence on the German Student Movement’. in fact. critical selfreflection is not a public display. Ibid. or a ‘show trial’. if that patient is completely agreeable to the analyst’s interpretations. 76. the 60s’ student movements present a forum for demonstrating Adorno’s thought in action. . is not the willingness to acknowledge that one is cold itself a form of defence? Here. D. in Freud 1953–74. an outer space of public life and an inner freedom of private consciousness and 73. . Adorno explains to his Frankfurt colleague.73 For Adorno. ‘pure Stalinism’. then. p. flesh and bones that it no longer feels cold’? Second. Adorno and Marcuse 1999. and Marcuse quickly identifies it. then it must have so penetrated into my flesh and bones that it no longer feels cold. Freud’s lecture on ‘Resistance and Repression’. that when the students demanded that he publicly criticise himself. they were not practising critical self-reflection but. 286–302.74 We already know the coldness that Adorno is referring to is already a defensive reaction. it no longer provides an excuse for the lack of attention his educational thought has received. 129. then. if coldness is a defensive acclimation to cold surroundings. for example. 74.

Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 unconsciousness. . for example. since their correspondence never returns to the issue of coldness and critical self-reflection. then it is the insight into the conditions that determine it and the attempt to combat those conditions. 10. 199.77 Mimesis designates a type of identification that is so thorough and far reaching that there is. D. but that it 77. p. by altering those conditions. it will be noticed that Adorno always raises the issue of critical self-reflection in the context of trying to understand the conditions which give rise to consciousness’s particular formation. Take. A few paragraphs later. Marcuse therefore introduces the term ‘mimesis’: ‘[a]n immediate identification of the individual with his society and.90 K. initially in the domain of the individual’. and then. But a guess as to what Adorno’s reply might have been is possible by looking more closely at his discussion of critical self-reflection in ‘Education’. What Marcuse is therefore suggesting to Adorno is that individuals are incapable of looking inside themselves to discover their cold streak because they have mimetically identified with their external conditions. p.78 Notice that Adorno wants to understand the manipulative character by attending to ‘the conditions under which the manipulative character arises’. 202. With critical self-reflection. this time in relation to coldness.79 Notice here that it is necessary to gain ‘insight into the conditions that determine’ coldness. Adorno 1998c. Adorno is no stranger to the kind of argumentation Marcuse presents. no distinction between society and the individual’s consciousness and unconsciousness. but. Of course. Through mimesis. Adorno’s intention is therefore not that. a response is never given. with the society as a whole’. Adorno 1998c. consciousness finally discovers that it has been reified and that it has become cold. Adorno makes the same emphasis. the following: ‘In the attempt to prevent the repetition of Auschwitz it seems essential to me first of all to gain some clarity about the conditions under which the manipulative character arises. p. in critical self-reflection. Marcuse 1964. the individual subject is no longer capable of making critical distinctions between consciousness and society. through it. In the ‘one-dimensional society’ of late capitalism. to prevent as far as possible its emergence’. 78. ‘If anything can help against coldness as the condition for disaster. its materialism. in effect. Adorno is less concerned with introspection and self-discovery as he is with reconstructing the material conditions that are formative for the individual monadic subject – hence. There. 79. this distinction no longer holds and the kind of introjection that results is so complete and thorough that words like ‘acclimation’ or ‘adjustment’ are no longer sufficiently descriptive.

p. 125. p. Adorno and Becker 1983. does the path toward the realm of possible actions. 81. that is. 203. Or. goes in this direction when he speaks to the idea ‘that attempts really to change our world drastically in any particular field are immediately exposed to the overpowering force of the status quo and seem condemned to impotence’. consciousness’s very weakness – its mimesis with its social conditions – becomes a position of strength as the self. reveals the truth of the social context itself. In this way. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 91 assumes its reification and coldness and takes them as the point of departure for self-reflection. Then. how the ‘terrible’. Adorno’s point would not have been that Marcuse or the students should discover the cold streak in one’s self. p. Adorno 1968. illuminate. whatever it may be. D.80 Critical selfreflection is thus always already an investigation of the social context. Moreover. the mind becomes suddenly oriented within the antagonistic whole as all the relationships and connections between blocked praxis and societal contradictions come within purview. indeed.84 Effecting this reversal is the work of critical 80.81 On this account. and only then. ‘education must transform itself into sociology’. then. Once the feebleness of the student protests becomes a symptom of a wider social desperation. ‘suffocating and demeaning’82 conditions allowed the coldness to form in someone in the first place.K. but ‘how’. As this concept is neither speculative nor introspective but investigative. If Marcuse understood this. at the conclusion of ‘Education for Autonomy’. Adorno. ‘[w]hoever wants to change things can apparently do so only by making this impotence itself and his own impotence as well into a factor of what he does’. insofar as the question is never ‘if ’. 110. The next step would be to turn the ineffectuality of the student movement into its own ‘moment of truth’ as it reveals the ineffectuality of society itself. It is through this dynamic that when the self is made the material for philosophical or reflexive concentration. as Adorno puts it in ‘Sociology and Psychology’. and he would have found the following words as his own: ‘I would have to deny everything that I think and know about the objective tendency if I wanted to believe that the student protest movement in Germany had even the tiniest prospect of effecting a social intervention’. p. 82. p. the reality of its conditions ‘breaks open the fixed purview of the subject matter’ and makes itself felt in thought. in teaching it. presumably he would have been led to the same conclusion regarding the pathos of the student movements. 83. ‘[f ]alse consciousness is also true’.83 But self-reflection does not terminate here. Adorno 1998c. Adorno and Marcuse 1999. . 131. 84. Adorno and Marcuse 1999. 69. no matter how minimal and narrow.

especially today when school shootings have occurred in such places as Dunblane. p. these school shootings reveal. the imperative to alienate children originates not at the school level but at the social level. Scotland. bullying. Colorado. Adorno 1998h. are schools themselves to be blamed for these shootings? That is to ask. Various efforts to prevent the next school shooting have aimed at addressing problems of social isolation. ‘appears at this moment’. Erfurt. The prevention of Auschwitz must be implemented everywhere at once. For this reason. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 self-reflection. and the like. 190. that violence still lives at the heart of education. There is no doubting the accuracy of Adorno’s diagnosis in ‘Taboos’. in a horrific way. not schools. the ultimate responsibility for school shootings lies with society as a whole. it must be extended to everyone living in late-capitalist society. Adorno himself is hesitant to extend his imperative beyond education: for ‘the world’. and Blacksburg. in light of Adorno’s reflections. D. is its lack of implementation the fault of school officials? As it will turn out. Virginia. to be a place. but these efforts – as well-intentioned as they are – miss the mark. Pennsylvania. To be sure. Littleton. .92 K. Thus. For Adorno. ‘where no possibilities for more extensive change can be discerned’. he 85.85 As Adorno sees praxis everywhere in the world blocked. either society itself would have to issue a new imperative or the school would have to become completely autonomous of society. Both of these scenarii are unlikely. As Adorno himself has argued. Instead. Adorno’s imperative cannot be isolated to just educators. Lancaster County. Thus to transform this imperative. considering the question of implementation raises serious questions for Adorno. not for any other reason than the fact that society and its institutions exist as a single antagonistic totality. to him. What such a dismantling amounts to is providing education with an entirely different social function than the one of alienation it currently performs. and it is what Adorno believes education can do to prevent the next Auschwitz. V. the point is not to compare these schools shootings to Auschwitz in any way. However. since Adorno clearly laid out an alternative ethos for education. Adorno believes he has provided the alternative with the imperative to prevent the next Auschwitz. Germany. Since a total transformation of the school already assumes a concomitant transformation of society itself. education will only cease to be violent when both its hierarchies – the intellectual and the social – are dismantled.

87 turns out to belong to humanity itself. another way of understanding the interpenetration of school and society is possible.89 Last. And. 88. 86. its ‘moral import’. Extending what Adorno intends only for education to all of society raises a second question: is critical self-reflection enough? Will gaining clarity about the cold streak in one’s self forestall the next genocide? The problem is that critical self-reflection. See Marcuse 1966. the ghost of fascism was still haunting the chancellor’s chair as Kurt Georg Kiesinger. D. ‘to work directly toward the debarbarization of humanity’. for him. it goes beyond the scope of negativity. preventing the next Auschwitz requires working towards a society in which its preconditions no longer exist. in Eros and Civilisation. p.88 Education after Auschwitz must be unabashedly utopian. describes as the ‘utopian imagination’. such a deed assumes a nonexistent level of autonomy. 87. a former member of the Nazi party. Freire 1998. then. that is. Fredric Jameson has reinvigorated the concept of utopia. in another context. Adorno’s focus is on preserving the right to negative thinking. However. it must follow that society’s impotence applies to the school as well. he neglects the positive moment of what Marcuse.K. Ibid. is ‘as permanent as education itself ’. 89. In other words. while Adorno does well to attend to the negative moment of critique. to be sure. took that seat under the auspices of an alliance between the Christian Democratic Union. even as Adorno understands it. Critical self-reflection is a negative or diagnostic form of thought only. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 93 concludes ‘it is up to the school more than anything else to work against barbarism’. In the year ‘Taboos’ was broadcast. The prevention of Auschwitz will not be achieved by the school acting alone – in any case. which. one that Adorno does not consider. What Adorno describes as the school’s ‘pathos’. we must consider – without ever taking Adorno or Auschwitz lightly – whether making Auschwitz the focal point actually limits the project of transforming society as a whole.86 Yet. And. the Christian Social Union. appears to be too defensive a posture. In the year ‘Education’ was broadcast over the radio. . It requires actively resolving those ills. see Jameson 2005. 492. and the Social-Democratic Party. Paulo Freire. Ibid. Its function is therefore to uncover and lay bare the wider social contradictions that constitute the self. The reason Adorno puts Auschwitz in focus is understandable. However. The prevention of Auschwitz can only be done if it becomes the project of society as a whole. Recently. if the notion that society is a totality has any sense at all. while this project requires negative thought to diagnose the ills of existing society. The forging of such resolutions is thought’s positive movement. also affirms the necessity of utopianism in education.

without exception. while the union boss in turn must live in terror of his own liquidation. can now determine his own life within even a moderately comprehensible framework. see Kellner 1989. he ties the cause of this liquidation to the market economy. as was possible earlier in the assessment of market relationships.91 However. 192. Even for a union boss. It seems to me Kellner and Jameson have definitively settled the question of Adorno’s Marxism. For example. p. Considering the less-than-impressive record of Germany’s de-Nazification. 4.94 K. Adorno himself makes this point in other places. It makes dissimilar things comparable by reducing them to abstract quantities. when Adorno in ‘Education’. in Minima Moralia. In principle everyone. points out ‘the fact that the fundamental structure of society. This ‘fundamental structure of society’ must also be a reference to the late-capitalist mode of production itself. see Adorno 1998e. Jameson 1990. Adorno and Horkheimer identify the characteristic feature of bourgeois society as the liquidation of the individual through the universalisation of equivalence. finally. For Adorno on the survival of Nazism in postwar Germany. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 the National-Democratic Party. It is the signature of our age that no-one. Adorno 1998c.92 If the Marxism of Dialectic still remains in doubt. in Dialectic of Enlightenment. p. 92.93 then. won some regional elections. It is a description of Adorno’s specific historical situation. 91. which is already signalled by Marx as the transformation of living human labour-power into mere exchange-value. to say nothing of a manager. 93. Adorno clarifies his position when. are the same today as twenty-five years ago’. 37. and thereby its members who have made it so. . D. however powerful. Horkheimer and Adorno 2002.94 And. See also the excellent van Reijen and Bransen 2002. Adorno’s claim is that the ‘fundamental structure of society’ has not changed in the twenty-five years since the Holocaust. a proletarian is no more than a superfluous specimen. So. Bourgeois society is ruled by equivalence. it is understandable that Adorno feels another Auschwitz is imminent and its prevention a most pressing demand. 94. is an object. Adorno 2002. See also pp. p.90 it is not hyperbole. which cannot be limited to the persistence of certain Nazi elements. 148–50. ‘We owe our life to the difference between 90. the heir to the National-Social Party. he removes all doubt when he names this age of universal commodification ‘late capitalism’. should he catch his notice at all.

Adorno seems to suggest in these passages that the possibility of an Auschwitzlike event owes itself. is ‘class struggle’. 799. ‘Philosophy and Teachers’. 112. 97. New York: Columbia University Press. —— 1998h [1969]. . p. ‘Theory of Pseudo-Culture’. and its political façade’. ‘The Meaning of Working Through the Past’. 1968. 926. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. What. —— 1998c [1969]. with blood and dirt’. Negative Dialectics. 98. —— 1993.96 It is indeed strange that Adorno does not make this connection in ‘Education’ – again: perhaps. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. New York: Columbia University Press. from every pore. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. ‘Notes on Philosophical Thinking’. Marx 1990. And the name for this collective project to effect the total transformation of society by ending that social power. New York: Continuum. ‘Marginalia to Theory and Praxis’. New York: Columbia University Press. —— 1998g [1963].95 Thus. 95: 15–38. which ‘comes dripping from head to toe. 46–7: 67–80. is clear is that the demand ‘never again Auschwitz’ does not convey the extent of transformation at stake. —— 1998f [1969]. —— 1998i [1963]. New York: Columbia University Press. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. I. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. New York: Columbia University Press. ‘Education After Auschwitz’.97 which ‘makes an accumulation of misery a necessary condition. ‘Taboos on the Teaching Vocation’. 96. —— 1998e [1963]. Thus education after Auschwitz can only be actualised by becoming part of a larger collective struggle against capital. p. Erziehung zur Mundigkeit. —— 1998a. it is due to the immediate historical circumstances. p. corresponding to the accumulation of wealth’. —— 1998b. References Adorno. New Left Review. ultimately. D. Alan Milchman convincingly works out the precise relationship between late capitalism and the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press. 95.98 called capital. Theodor W. New York: Columbia University Press. ‘Critique’. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. —— 1998d [1969]. —— 1995 [1966]. —— 1971.K. in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. see Milchman 2003. ‘Discussion of Professor Adorno’s Lecture “The Meaning of Working Through the Past” ’. Marx 1990. to the persistence of late capitalism itself. in any case. ‘Why Still Philosophy’. Telos. The transformation of society will only become total when capitalism itself has been brought to an end. New York: Columbia University Press. ‘Sociology and Psychology’. New York: Columbia University Press. Cho / Historical Materialism 17 (2009) 74–97 95 the economic framework of late capitalism. Adorno 2002.

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