Surrealpolitik: Dialectic of Enlightenment

Authors: Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer

Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press (2002)

Quick Summary

An analysis of how and why Enlightenment rationalism led not to a peaceful utopia but to gas chambers and genocide.


There are 7 quotes currently associated with this book.

[E]nlightenment is totalitarian as only a system can be. Its untruth does not lie in the analytical method, the reduction to elements, the decomposition through reflection, as its Romantic enemies had maintained from the first, but in its assumption that the trial is prejudged...It equates thought with mathematics. The latter is thereby cut loose, as it were, turned into an absolute authority...For the scientific temper, any deviation of thought from the business of manipulating the actual, any stepping outside the jurisdiction of existence, is no less senseless and self-destructive than it would be for the magician to step outside the magic circle drawn for his incantation; and in both cases violation of the taboo carries a heavy price for the offender. (page 18-19)
Tags: [Fascism, Rationality]
Technical rationality today is the rationality of domination. (page 95)
Tags: [Fascism, Rationality]
The analysis offered by de Tocqueville a hundred years ago has been fully borne out in the meantime. Under the private monopoly of culture tyranny does indeed "leave the body free and sets to work directly on the soul. The ruler no longer says: 'Either you think as I do or you die.' He says: 'You are free not to think as I do; your life, your property -- all that you shall keep. But from this day on you will be a stranger among us." (page 105-106)
Tags: [Fascism, Capitalism, Rationality]
Absurdity in the manner of Mark Twain, with which the American culture industry flirts from time to time, could be a corrective to art. (page 113)
Tags: [Humor, Rationality]
What is offered is not Italy but evidence that it exists. (page 119)
Tags: [Capitalism, Rationality]
The dissemination of popular songs, by contrast, is practically instantaneous. The American term "fad" for fashions which catch on epidemically -- inflamed by the action of highly concentrated economic powers -- referred to this phenomenon long before totalitarian advertising bosses had laid down the general lines of culture in their countries. If the German fascists launch a word like "intolerable" [Untragbar] over the loudspeakers one day, the whole nation is saying "intolerable" the next. (page 134)
Tags: [Fascism, Culture, Capitalism, Rationality, Media]
The most intimate reactions of human beings have become so entirely reified, even to themselves, that the idea of anything peculiar to them survives only in extreme abstraction: personality means hardly more than dazzling white teeth and freedom from body odor and emotions. That is the triumph of advertising in the culture industry: the compulsive imitation by consumers of cultural commodities which, at the same time, they recognize as false. (page 136)
Tags: [Culture, Capitalism, Rationality, Media]