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The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas

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The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas


Darrow Schecter

2010 The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc 80 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038 The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX www.continuumbooks.com Copyright Darrow Schecter, 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publishers. ISBN: 978-0-8264-8771-1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Schecter, Darrow. The critique of instrumental reason from Weber to Habermas / by Darrow Schecter. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-8264-8771-1 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-8264-8771-8 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Political sciencePhilosophy. 2. Instrumentalism (Philosophy) 3. Reason. 4. Weber, Max, 18641920. 5. Habermas, J?rgen. I. Title. JA71.S2793 2010 320.01dc22 2009033600

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For Chris Malcolm

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Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction 1 From Reason to Rationalization: The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm 2 The Revolutionary Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lukcs and Benjamin 3 Horkheimer, Adorno and Critical Theory 4 The Ontological and Republican Critiques: Heidegger and Arendt 5 Reason, Thinking and the Critique of Everyday Life 6 From Rationalization to Communicative Action: The Emergence of the Habermasian Paradigm Conclusion: On Post-Liberal Autonomy and Post-Capitalist Legitimacy Bibliography Index ix 1

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Acknowledgements
The critique of instrumental reason has a long and complicated history that I would not have been able to investigate without the help of students, colleagues and friends. Many of the students are or have been undergraduates and postgraduates at the University of Sussex, such as Tom Akehurst, Arianna Bove, Alasdair Davies, Matt Dawson, Francis GrahamDixon, Claire Edwards, Verena Erlenbusch, Erik Empson, Matt Freeman, James Furner, Alasdair Kemp, Peter Kolarz, Angelos Koutsourakis, Charles Masquelier, David Mieres, Teodor Mladenov, Dave Murphy, Simon Mussell, Chris OKane, Theo Papaioannou, Jorge Ollero Peran, Faure Perez, Miguel Rivera Quinones and many others. Id especially like to thank the students in my Modernism seminar in the spring of 2009. Chris Malcolm and Michael Tisdells irreverent intelligence have been a great influence and a source of inspiration. Some Sussex colleagues such as Paul Betts, Roberta Piazza, Cline Surprenant, Christian Wiese, Beryl Williams and especially Gerhard Wolf have been very supportive of the project in a direct or indirect way. Others include the faculty teaching on the Sussex MA in Social and Political Thought, and especially Andrew Chitty, Gordon Finlayson, Kathryn Macvarish, Luke Martell and Daniel Steuer. Id also like to thank a number of colleagues at other universities for their advice, including Sam Ashenden, David M. Berry, Miquel Caminal, Heiko Feldner, Joe Femia, Peter Ives, Eric Jacobson, Russell Keat, Jeremy Lester, Raul Digon Martin, Mark McNally, Joan Anton Mellon, Drew Milne, Giles Moss, William Outhwaite, Jaroslav Skupnk, Sam Thomas, Alex Thomson, and especially Fabio Vighi and Chris Wyatt. Chris Thornhills work and friendship continue to be one of my central reference points. The help of friends has also been indispensable. A number of the ideas in this book have been developed in conversation with Fernand Avila, Julia Behrens, Declan Carey, Joan Contreras Castro, Costantino Ciervo, Jean Demerliac, Yolanda Diez, Irene Estrada Hernandez, Lasy Lawless,

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Manuela Lintl, Volker Lorek, Franco and Giuliana Mistretta, Matthew Minns, Stewart Mitchell, Giorgio Moro, Mand Ryara, Jarret Schecter and Imke Schmincke. Thanks Francis and Diana there is a lot more to come. Many thanks go to Marie-Claire Antoine, who makes working with Continuum a pleasure.

Introduction
This book analyses the critique of instrumental reason developed in the writings of a number of key political and social theorists from Max Weber to Jrgen Habermas. In a parallel vein which is less straightforwardly exegetical and more exploratory, the book also examines the various possible ways of institutionalizing instrumental reason as regulatory law in modern liberal democratic states, on the one hand, and distinct models of post-traditional legitimacy, on the other. It thus interrogates the epistemological and political assumptions underlying what one may very broadly designate as the liberal democratic understanding of the relation between instrumental reason, formal law and negative liberty.1 At the same time, the study raises questions about the theoretical plausibility of an anticipated reconciliation between non-instrumental reason and post-state-juridical legitimacy. The particular use made of concepts such as instrumental reason, non-instrumental reason, post-traditional, post-state-juridical, lifeworld, and so on will be made clear in due course. By way of introduction it might simply be noted that the dialectic of legality (ostensibly universal reason) and legitimacy (particular needs and values) has been articulated within a markedly national context from the time of the American and French Revolutions to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. One is perhaps well advised to follow Habermas in thinking that the nation-based institutional profile of this dialectic is likely to alter quite substantially as a result of the ongoing processes captured by the terms post-Fordism and globalization. The point is that practices of legality and legitimacy will almost certainly change with the continued evolution of what Habermas refers to as the post-national constellation.2 Bearing this in mind, the book tries to stimulate debate about what legitimacy might mean in theory and in practice in the near future. Those debates will almost certainly be informed
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INSTRUMENTAL REASON FROM WEBER TO HABERMAS

by different conceptions of reason. In the course of subsequent chapters it will become clear that one can think of reason in a number of ways. Instrumental, communicative, political and aesthetic-mimetic forms of reason are the main ones considered here. The critique of instrumental reason is often associated with Weber, Lukcs and the critical theory of the first generation of the Frankfurt School. Many readers are likely to link the critique with philosophical, aesthetic and sociological theory rather than with notions of political authority or the dialectic of legality and legitimacy. Yet ever since Platos Republic (c.390 BC), the possibility of rational political authority based on knowledge rather than power or aggregation of interests has exercised the imagination of philosophers, legal theorists and activists. It seems clear that in the absence of divine authority, rational law and non-rational force are likely to be coterminous. One therefore quickly sees the extent to which the idea of rational authority is utopian. What becomes, then, of the Enlightenment and modernist projects of founding a rational alternative to government based primarily on arbitrary command, tradition and the functional requirements for order? If in a modern context legality is usually associated with reason and individual liberty, legitimacy is more often aligned with issues related to authority, values and collective needs. In the first instance one is normally referring to the institutionalization of private property, rights of assembly, and freedom of expression in the media and public sphere. In the second instance the emphasis is more likely to be placed on the various problems connected with guaranteeing national security as well as considerations about how to balance economic growth with acceptable levels of welfare provision. The chapters to follow suggest that in contrast to this dichotomized understanding, legality and legitimacy each have individual as well as collective dimensions. It is therefore misleading to separate them categorically into individual, normative-rational legality with an epistemological valence, and collective, non-normative functionalist legitimacy which is primarily concerned with territorial security, national unity and welfare entitlements. This may be likened to an instance of reified juridical categorizing rather than juridical thought. While the distinction between reified categorization and thought will attain clarity in the text, for the moment it will suffice to say that the separation in question presupposes that the egoistic individual is rational and reliable, whereas the nation is a potentially volatile collective subject whose needs can be arbitrarily defined by what the political leadership of a given country happens to perceive as imminent internal and external threats. The term reification points to a parallel of some consequence for the argument developed in this book. Throughout the book it is explained why

Introduction

the rigid separation of subject and object can be analysed as an epistemological shortcoming concerned with unsatisfactory mediations between knower and known.3 To the extent that categories like subject or object become fixed, and mediations can be shown to be demonstrably flawed, one can say that the knowledge-yielding mediation processes in question are not sufficiently rational. Formulated slightly differently with direct reference to the current study, the processes can be critiqued as instrumentally rational. The result of largely failed mediation on the basis of primarily instrumental reason is rather inadequate forms of knowledge. The parallel just alluded to is that the rigid separation of legality and legitimacy can be analysed as a juridical problem which is also concerned with less than satisfactory mediations. In this parallel instance it is the mediation between individual freedom and collective authority. The results of such failures are many-sided and difficult to summarize in a few introductory sentences they will be explored in detail in what follows. By way of prelude one can say that the failure adequately to mediate freedom and authority is often oppressive legality, fairly one-dimensional freedom, and demagogic populism. Instrumental reason in the mediation of knower and known thus finds its juridical and political equivalent in the practice of instrumental legitimacy in the mediation of individual and state. Before this study can begin it must be stated how the critique of instrumental reason is related to the critique of instrumental legitimacy, and it must also be made clearer what is meant by instrumental legitimacy in this context. It is often argued with varying degrees of rigour and plausibility that the critique of instrumental reason in the writings of Weber, Georg Lukcs, T. W. A. Adorno and some of the other thinkers considered here has lost the political relevance it may have once had. This is because the critique is allegedly too general, too eschatological or simply more concerned with aesthetic reason than the political realities of power and contingency. It will be seen in the final chapter that Habermas advances the most sophisticated line of argument in support of this conclusion. In addition to its exegetical aims, the book attempts to rescue the critique of instrumental reason from the charge of political obscurity levelled by Habermas and many others. It proposes to do this by re-articulating the critique of instrumental reason as a critique of instrumental legitimacy. The latter can be understood as a mode of legitimacy which is not rationally legitimate in the epistemological sense related to mediation processes. It is on the contrary functionally legitimate because it provides more or less stable frameworks for what are implicitly or explicitly taken to be inviolable liberties enshrined in modern civil/private law. These are liberties connected in the main with private property and negative liberty more generally.

INSTRUMENTAL REASON FROM WEBER TO HABERMAS

Habermas theory of communicative action is of fundamental importance in this regard, and thus occupies a central position in the overall argument. He intuits that if there is no non-instrumentally rational dimension to legitimacy, then one is likely to have legality without any real legitimacy as such. In his estimation communicative action in the lifeworld provides the non-instrumentally rational dimension of legitimacy that modern states require in order to institutionalize democracy without relying on more traditional, pre-rational modes of order. This amounts to the claim that since the revolutions associated with the Enlightenment, reason has become institutionalized in ways that are not merely instrumental. Although these processes occur at different rates and to different degrees depending on the state in question, one caveat applies to all states: the non-instrumentally rational dimension cannot possibly become the basis of legitimate law. In the first case (legality bereft of non-instrumentally rational legitimacy, that is, purely functional legitimacy), one would be confronted with a potentially destabilizing normative deficit. In the second case (legitimacy as an end in itself, emancipated from instrumental means), one would be at loggerheads with supposedly inevitable sociological realities. Habermas suggests that while the normative deficit is particularly salient in the variant of systems theory defended by Niklas Luhmann, the sociological deficit is irreparable in the reformulated idealism of T. W. A. Adorno and other first generation Frankfurt School philosophers. Yet however much the theory of communicative action seeks to situate itself beyond the impasses of systems theory and Adornos version of critical theory, there is theoretical and empirical evidence to suggest that Habermas offers ambiguous responses to some of the epistemological and political problems raised by the theories of self-referential systems and negative dialectics. It is hoped that an exploration of some of those ambiguities will offer ways of reconfiguring the relation between reason, legality, legitimacy and freedom understood and enacted as the greatest possible transcendence of individual and collective necessity. These preliminary reflections introduce the claim that an adequate theory of politics and society cannot dispense with this reconfiguration. Readers are invited to judge whether or not the claim is substantiated by the chapters that follow.

Endnotes
1. For a discussion of the differences between negative and positive liberty and their respective political implications, see Sir Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty (1958), reprinted in Henry Hardy and Roger Hausheer (eds), Isaiah Berlin; The Proper Study of

Introduction

Mankind, London, Pimlico, 1998, pp. 191242. The essay is Berlins inaugural lecture as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University, delivered on 31 October 1958, and originally published by Clarendon Press in the same year. 2. Habermas, Die postnationale Konstellation: Politische Essays (The Post-National Constellation), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1999. 3. The frameworks establishing the respective roles of knower and known are of course of central importance in any debate on epistemology. They are different, in other words, depending on whether humanity as subject knows nature as object, as in the natural sciences, or if it is some humanity that understands other humanity, as in the human/hermeneutic sciences and fields of inquiry. These issues will be taken up at all relevant junctures.

1
From Reason to Rationalization: The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm
The emergence of the Weberian paradigm can be studied in the shift from theoretical accounts of reason, natural law and autonomy in Enlightenment philosophers like Rousseau and Kant, to diagnoses of industrial rationalization and explanations of social stratification, power and contingency in sociologists like Marx, Durkheim, Simmel and Weber. This marks an important evolution, since ideas and practices of reason are at least in theory subversive of the arbitrary power relations characteristic of pre-modern feudal and ecclesiastical hierarchies, and, it was thought by many looking to the future from the perspective of 1789, also potentially subversive of many other hierarchies existing in early modern society as well. This had been at any rate an implicit claim of the Enlightenment philosophes in France and their counterparts elsewhere in Europe. That is to say that however short-lived and speculative, reason enjoyed a utopian moment during the period where the legitimacy of regal government came under attack by scientists, philosophers, the progressive sections of the nobility, journalists and essayists, merchants, and other participants in the fledgling public spheres of Europe and North America. It seemed to many that the people were in the process of emerging as the protagonist of a new political order in which they seemed to be becoming active and free citizens engaged in public debate instead of being merely obedient and passive subjects. This is the period culminating in the American and French Revolutions and the birth of the modern nation-state, also referred to at times as the age of bourgeois revolutions.1 In contrast with the Enlightenment vision of potential symmetry between reason, individual liberty and collective democratic autonomy
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The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm

(sovereignty), ideas and practices of rationalization offer a much more sober series of reflections on the possibilities of human freedom under conditions of systemic differentiation between economic, political, administrative, scientific, religious, artistic, and the like, spheres, on the one hand, and entrenched social stratification and elusive power, on the other. It is therefore possible to see two distinct moments within political modernity. The first is centred on the ascension of the ideal of reason and the possibility of active citizen participation in public life as an alternative to passive submission to authoritarian and unaccountable authority. It is a moment in which philosophy seems to provide clear theoretical orientations for ascertaining the conditions of theoretical knowledge, and in which politics and the state indicate clear guidelines for practice. In very broad terms it is possible to say that as far as thinking and institutions are concerned, philosophy and the state appear to take over from religion and the church to a significant extent. While the state seems to emerge as the centre and fulcrum of politics in the first moment, its integrity is challenged by the rise of society and phenomena connected with industrialization and urbanization in the second. That is to say that the second moment of political modernity is marked by the rise of functional differentiation and steadily increasing social complexity, accompanied in theoretical terms by the increasing implausibility of an all-encompassing, rational overview of state and society that is required to make more than a highly fragmented knowledge of reality possible. The corollary is what Durkheim refers to as anomie and the widely perceived feeling across classes and other social divisions that the meaning of political and social action had become more difficult to ascertain in industrial society than it had been in the past, when religion and determinate codes of honour provided a stable framework for most people. The second moment can be seen as coterminous with the rationalization of reason and the increasing doubtfulness of philosophys ability to mediate between theory and practice (anticipating the rise of phenomenology and existentialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). It can also be seen as the premonitory symptoms of the crisis of legal anthropology positing humanity as rational and self-legislating that is registered in the writings of thinkers as different as Benjamin, Heidegger and Schmitt. To this extent the second moment is still an actual moment related to contemporary phenomena such as the gradual undermining of the integrity of the national space of liberal and republican politics by global socio-economic forces. It will be seen in this chapter that the transition from philosophical approaches to reason and autonomy to sociological approaches to differentiation and stratification is indicative of a political

INSTRUMENTAL REASON FROM WEBER TO HABERMAS

transition from modern forms of republican humanism which are confident about the rational mediation of theory and practice, towards a sceptical and at times even apocalyptic vision of the impossibility of autonomy, except perhaps in commercial terms, with the corollary that only minimal levels of political accountability are possible.2 In this light the belief that the people of modern nation-states might become the protagonists of their own history seems to recede before a more pessimistic assessment that roughly runs as follows: in the course of the evolution of modern societies, subjects become citizens, it is true, but only as long as the number of citizens participating in public life is restricted to professionals and enlightened nobility, that is, as long as the number can be restricted to the protagonists of the heroic period of the bourgeois public sphere alluded to above. According to the theory of rationalization first systematically expounded by Weber and analysed in this chapter, however, this is necessarily a very brief period. With the gradual enfranchising of all European male humanity in the period 18481918, and thereafter of female humanity at different rates depending on the country in question, the movement from subjects to citizens takes an unexpected turn. As an heir of the Enlightenment and a firm believer in the emancipatory power of reason, the young Marx predicts a trajectory from oppressed feudal subjects to politically emancipated citizens, and from there, in the wake of 1789, to humanly emancipated species-beings who realize their best qualities in creative, self-affirming labour liberated from capital and the wage system. In theoretical terms the turn comes as Weber remarks that what one witnesses is indeed a transition from subjects to citizens, but that this transition is then followed by the emergence of volatile and manipulated masses susceptible to various forms of authoritarian populism of the right and left. Webers argument is all the more remarkable if one bears in mind that it is developed before Mussolinis March on Rome in 1922 and Hitlers ascension to power in 1933.3 In charting this theoretical and historical evolution from Kant to Weber it will be helpful to say a few words in this first chapter about the contribution to social and political theory made by three of the key figures separating them in chronological terms, that is, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. But before doing this it is already possible to identify some of the central questions which will structure the argument developed in The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas. How might it be argued that the possibility of genuinely democratic legitimacy depends on there being non-instrumentally rational forms of legitimacy, and what is meant by non-instrumental in relation to reason and legitimacy? Are there any plausible alternatives to a legal form of legitimacy,

The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm

given that extra-legal forms of legitimacy tend to be authoritarian, populist, theological, or, as in the case of anarchism, small-scale and fleeting? Can one envisage forms of legitimacy based to a large extent on knowledge (and not, in the first instance, power or some conception of unified sovereignty), or has this possibility been definitively subverted in ways that are illustrated by systems theory and bio-politics? Is the prevalence of instrumental over other forms of rationality in modern industrial societies indicative of the epistemological and political failure, at least to date, to find ways beyond dogmatism and relativism? If so, could there be a path beyond dogmatism/relativism, to be sought in theory and practice which is individual and plural at the same time, rather than one-sidedly atomistic, as in the premises and practice of liberal democracy, or one-sidedly collectivist, as in the case of state socialism?4

Impasses in the Kantian System and the Responses of Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche
In a number of ways it is possible to regard Kant as a philosophical anthropologist interested in the essential properties of humanity that enable it to legislate a particular form of political liberty which is qualitatively different from the mechanical freedom governing the motion of falling bodies, and different too from the predatory freedom prevailing among animals. His view that political freedom is rational and human rather than mechanical, predatory and pre-rational is already suggested in his philosophical writings on epistemology, in which he attempts to solve some of the impasses reached in the debates between rationalists (dogmatic in theory, and therefore likely to be authoritarian in practice) and empiricists (relativist in theory, and thus implying passivity in practice).5 Kants Critique of Pure Reason (2 volumes, published in 1781), combined with the Critique of Practical Reason (1787) and the Critique of Judgement (1790) represent a turning point in epistemological inquiry and a watershed in social and political thought. In his intervention in the debates between rationalists such as Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza and empiricists such as Berkeley, Locke, Hume, Kant is determined to find a way out of the epistemological impasse created by a one-sided approach to the question of knowledge focused either on the foundation of knowledge internal to the mind, as in the case of rationalism, or on the object of knowledge external to the mind, as in empiricism. The insoluble problems reached by these diametrically opposed approaches lead Kant to say that the question as to whether knowledge is to be sought in the human mind or in external nature is falsely posed, as is the question as to whether humanity has knowledge

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or merely unfounded opinions. For Kant the real question is, under what conditions is knowledge possible? In his epistemological and political enquiries this methodological compromise can be regarded as a concession to the argument that unconditional knowledge is metaphysical knowledge of essences, and hence inaccessible to human reason, and that unconditional freedom is therefore unfortunately a fantasy. Kant submits that the problem is that there is no such thing as pure, unmediated reason that is accessible to humanity, and, in a related vein, there is no immediate relation between theory and practice that is not simply arbitrary and therefore voluntarist/irrational. While all human knowledge is mediated by conceptual form, all human freedom is mediated by the political form set by law, and, by extension, the state. The implication is that the ends of rational action are mediated by what in principle should be neutral means, so that the means respect universal individual autonomy rather than prescribing a dogmatic version of what is good for all. But if the means are neutral, which suggests that they are not necessarily rational, what guarantee is there that the ends will be rational? This is one of the central epistemological, legal and political problems of idealism bequeathed to historical sociology in Germany and well beyond. In anticipation of some of the issues to be raised during the course of this book, it might be remarked at this early stage that many epistemological post-metaphysicians from Kant to the present join political liberals in arguing that in the face of the limits to reason and freedom just cited, reason must confine itself to legislation that defines and when necessary redefines the socio-economic and political terms of mutual non-interference. The implication is that only negative liberty is sufficiently rational liberty. This seems to follow from the idea that if the citizens of a secular state can only definitely agree on what they do not want, then rational law has necessarily to be formal law that can only forbid. If law tries to prescribe in a positive vein it thus lapses into epistemological and political dogmatism. Before proceeding, it is worth noting that it would be erroneous to construe the relations obtaining between ostensibly neutral means, formal freedom, instrumental reason and modern liberal juridical subjectivity as accidental. Subsequent chapters will explain that taken together, they form a constellation of interests, forces and values with a number of implications for the critique of instrumental legitimacy.6 In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant stipulates that the condition of possible knowledge is the existence of a transcendental subject that is more receptive to experience than an isolated rationalist foundation, and less arbitrary than an empiricist collector of random sense impressions.

The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm

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Against both schools he quips that concepts without intuitions are empty (rationalism), and that intuitions without concepts are blind (empiricism). There will be much more to say about the relation between the emergence of modern subjectivity and the rise of instrumental reason in the course of this chapter and the chapters to follow. For the moment it will suffice to say that when the Kantian epistemological subject reflexively unifies itself with reason, it cannot grasp the objects in themselves independently of the mediation of conceptual form. But it is nonetheless entitled to formal knowledge of the objects which present themselves to the understanding of the subject in time and space, where the understanding is structured by the 12 categories, that is, plurality, possibility, unity, causality, necessity, substance, reality, negation, limitation, totality, reciprocity and inherence.7 That is to say that if the rationalist epistemological foundation of knowledge is hermetically detached from experience, and the empiricist individual is lost in the midst of it without any really stable orientation, the Kantian subject enjoys a kind a synthetic and porous relation with experience, which stops or is blocked off by the limits of reason and the limits of conceptual knowledge. For Kant experience is the basis of knowledge, but there must also be an a priori dimension to knowledge that makes more than random experience possible. While the rationalists posit a dualistic separation of humanity and nature based on what they take to be the primacy of the human mind in all epistemological questions, and the empiricists posit the unity of humanity and nature based on the identity of mind and matter, Kant insists that humanity is both separate from nature and part of nature at the same time. This means that for Kant, and for Hegel and Marx to follow, the relation between humanity and nature is mediated rather than dualistic or identitarian, since humanity and nature exist in a field of dialectical tension in which they are neither separated nor fused. Hegel and Marx retain the idea that the relation between humanity and nature is dialectical, while suggesting in different ways that Kant errs in assigning permanent and ahistorical validity to the two forms of sensible intuition (time and space) and the 12 categories of the understanding.8 It is Hegels implicit claim in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and other works that Kants philosophy is not dialectical enough precisely because it is not historical enough. Kant pushes epistemological inquiry and political theory beyond the stagnant impasses reached by rationalists and empiricists, which he does by reintroducing a modest kind of dialectics into philosophy which had largely disappeared since the gradual decline of Greek philosophy after the passing of the ancient world. But from Hegels perspective (and for thinkers like Lukcs and Benjamin considered in Chapter 2) it is not enough to

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regard the relation between humanity and nature as mediated. The relation is dialectical in a specifically historical sense which Hegel attempts to explain as follows: while Kant successfully demonstrates that all objectivity is mediated by human subjectivity, the more pertinent point that Kant ignores is that humanity is always a transformed humanity whose subjectivity is mediated by historical and social objectivity, that is, by institutions like the family, civil society, the state, and so on. These institutions are concepts which become real as practice; they accompany Geist (mind, spirit) as its self-discovery unfolds in stages which are the stages of world history. In other words, these concepts assume objective form as living institutions at precise junctures in the historical process. These institutions are the phenomenological forms in which Geist realizes its substantial freedom. Crucial for Hegel in this regard is that it is not sufficiently philosophical to contrast free and unfree or true or false in some absolute sense. This is because freedom is not a thing but rather a relation. Freedom is achieved in a struggle in which unfreedom is overcome, which for Hegel means that freedom bears unfreedom within it as a moment of freedoms own development. The same can be said of true/false, is/ought, subject/ object and, of more direct importance for this study, rationality/irrationality.9 For Hegel it is mistaken to juxtapose the phenomenal world of formally knowable objects with the noumenal world of things in themselves. It is imprecise because the knowledge process is characterized by the mediation of difference rather than the demarcation of absolute limits such as those supposedly separating mind (internal) and nature (external). Every idea and institution that is real (or actual to use Hegels term) has become historically real by absorbing what is historically real in the ideas and institutions it has come to replace. What exists on this basis must itself be absorbed and replaced by truer ideas and freer institutions which themselves eventually become subject to philosophical critique and historical change, which for Hegel is why knowledge and history are intertwined processes which unfold in stages. Since humanity is not a perfect vehicle for this realization, spirit has to push humanity to create, negate and recreate new institutional forms which are more adequate to this task. Interesting in this regard is the notion that spirit is not a human faculty or possession, but rather something that articulates itself through humanity. On this account spirit is somewhat akin to the reconciliation of all apparent antitheses during the course of a journey. Although superior to humanity, Hegelian spirit needs human history as the form for the gradual resolution of the conflicts characterizing an antithetical, contradictory reality which is spirits estrangement from itself. In this context existing socio-historical form is always imperfect, but it is constantly being raised to the level of

The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm

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perfection despite its own limitations at any particular juncture. What Hegel refers to as the cunning of reason is spirits liberty to make history seem opaque to its participants at times, when in fact spirit is simply adjusting its movements to the reluctance or inability of humanity to move with it. Humanity eventually comes round, however, even if this entails suffering, conflict and war. Hence within the Hegelian system as a whole, psychology and anthropology provide the bases of subjective spirit, while art, philosophy and religion are the fields of inquiry for the study of absolute spirit. The theory of socio-historical objective form or objective spirit is outlined in the Philosophy of Right as a theory of Sittlichkeit, that is, of ethical life. The point about the objectivity of form, in contrast with the metaphysics of essence, is related to the point made above about the emergence of modern subjectivity and instrumental reason signalled by Kants critical philosophy. Albeit in very different ways, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche set out to undermine the Kantian dichotomy between what is (sein) and what ought to be (sollen). This is achieved by relativizing truth in history (Hegel, Marx) or by relativizing truth in the Dionysian chaos of life and the metaphorical ambiguity of language (Nietzsche). The idea that one might relativize truth in history leaves a number of thinkers considered in this study with a recurring sense of doubt, especially when the historical process seems to go so far off course (atomic and chemical warfare, genocide, etc.) that the notion of the cunning of reason fails to provide adequate grounds to establish the rationality of the real. Hence it might be argued that the historicism of Hegel and Marx as well as Nietzsches genealogy are bold but ultimately unsatisfactory responses to the problems of Kantian epistemology and legal anthropology. This raises the question of subjectivity anew. For historicists and genealogists the distinction between what is and what ought to be is made redundant by the immanent rationality of the actual/real; the abolition of what remains of a priori metaphysics in Kants anthropological account of the modalities of human reason is achieved by a subject that unites theory and practice to such an extent that existing institutions embody reason, however imperfectly in its initial phases of development. Kant sets the stage for Hegels veritable apotheosis of the subject, which in Hegels philosophy of history and spirit is also presented as the apotheosis of reason.10 Hegel suggests that form, both conceptual and socio-historical, mediates between individual human subjects and existing historical objectivity in ways that are not external or neutral with regard to consciousness, but are in fact helping modern individuals gain

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insight into the structure of individual and collective freedom. In other words, Kant has to introduce dialectics to resolve the impasses of the rationalist-empiricists debates. Hegel in his turn has to introduce historicized dialectics to resolve the impasses in the Kantian system. Hegel is thus determined to show how it is possible to move from formal knowledge, negative freedom based on the greatest possible non-infringement, and the temporal and cognitive priority of theory over practice, on the one hand, to substantive knowledge, positive freedom based in the state, and the dialectical unity of theory and practice, on the other. It is not that form and experience are neutral tools or pre-rational means which provide access to objective content and rational ends. For Hegel thought and experience are themselves rational, though they are rational in qualitatively different ways, depending on the historical epoch in question. The example of the relation between legality and legitimacy implicitly offered in the Philosophy of Right provides a good example.11 For Hegel dichotomies such as form-content, subject-object and consciousness-nature are only thinkable in terms of a higher other that enables the individual terms in question to be thought of as distinct but complexly articulated moments of a totality that is slowly becoming aware of its mediated unity with everything and everyone. This totality is a subject which is in the process of realizing, as it comes to know itself in a series of stages, that there is nothing external to it.12 In simple abstract terms, A and non-A are in some real sense unified at a level of spirit that is the condition of the distinction itself. The dichotomy between subject (thesis) and object (antithesis) is resolved in a higher synthesis, which in turn becomes a new thesis opposed by a new antithesis, and the process carries on in a movement which is driven by contradiction, conflict and continual but ultimately rational change. If one looks at the relation between legality and legitimacy as one of form and content, he suggests, it is clear that legality is the form of a legitimate state in the extended sense, that is, it is the form of the institutions which make a specific institution like the government in a more restricted sense possible. But the law will always be opposed as an impediment to real legitimacy unless the citizens of the state realize that law is itself a legitimate means, that there is no legitimacy or legitimate ends without law.13 That is to say that the now famous remark in the Preface to the Philosophy of Right that what is actual (sometimes translated as real) is rational and what is rational is actual finds its counterpart in the suggestion that the legal (form, procedure) is legitimate and the legitimate (content, freedom) is legal. There is no, nor can there be (contrary to what Kant implies) a contradiction between what is and what ought to be.

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This is a merely apparent conflict between form and content that Geist makes rational use of in order to translate its theoretical, potentially substantial freedom into actual, historical freedom. In the course of human history Geist overcomes the dichotomy between is and ought in the process of realizing its essence by adopting, rejecting and subsequently adopting new forms of freedom realized in continually evolving institutions until the theoretical form of freedom is no longer at odds with its practical content.14 This means that the point concerning legality and legitimacy can also be made in relation to democracy and freedom. It could be argued that democracy is the objective, institutional form that freedom assumes under the conditions of modernity. But this is imprecise, since democracy is more than mere form or only a means it is the practice of freedom itself and as such an end. Hence Hegel has no difficulty arguing in the Philosophy of Right that there is no need to fetishize universal suffrage, as most democrats do, since it is really in their practical existence as members of agricultural, business and civil service Stnde (estates) that individuals have concrete, active subjectivity and freedom. Citizens achieve meaningful representation as members of these corporate bodies engaged in collective consultation with law-makers. Atomized, self-seeking individuals who regard their relation with the state as antagonistic and contractual are not free in any meaningful sense for Hegel. There is indeed scope for contractual and strategic action in civil society, but civil society and its contractual modalities cannot be the basis of the state. A contract does not offer a substantively rational basis for political authority, since what one contracts into today one can contract out of tomorrow. Hence pre-state level corporations such as guilds are important supraindividual instances of collective decision-making, but they degenerate into bureaucratic castes if they attempt to usurp state authority. Moreover, a valid contract presupposes a state that makes contract valid in the first place. This implies that the social contract thinkers are wrong to suppose that contract could ever serve as the basis of the state. Contract is an essential component of the institutionalization of modern freedom, since modern individuals are only instrumentally rational in the means they employ to pursue their daily ends. But instrumental reason can only exist in a subordinate relation to substantive reason in a genuinely rational state. Hence for Hegel the modern state is the practice of a rational ideal, it is an ideal become real, or, as he puts it in paragraph 257, the state is the actuality of the ethical idea, and, as he says in paragraph 260, The state is the actuality of concrete freedom.15 The distant origins of the contemporary crisis of the nation-state in the era of globalization, including the forms of reason and institutional

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practices investing it with legitimacy, can be found in Marx and Nietzsches very different critiques of Hegels concept of objective form and substantive reason. It is in fact the ideas of Marx and Nietzsche that prompt Weber to argue that rather than being the actuality of the ethical ideal, the state is really the monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory. At first glance, Hegel seems to overcome the dichotomies and impasses in Kants critical philosophy. But he is only able to do this to the extent that reason becomes immanent in the institutions of the modern state and in the course of world history, that is, by bringing idealism to a point of no return. After the Philosophy of Right, idealism looks like a metaphysical apology for the existing order. This would seem to confront people with the choice of either passively waiting and watching history unfold, or intervening to accelerate the process of making history fully rational through decisive action. To Hegels critics, this does not look like a convincing move beyond relativism and dogmatism. In their eyes Hegel opposes the limits on knowledge and freedom implied in Kants formalism by relativizing truth in history and by implicitly celebrating the actual as the already rational. So while he rejects a voluntarist interpretation of his ideas, Hegel nonetheless provokes a voluntarist reaction to them. This is clear in the writings of those who, like the young Marx, declare that philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, while the point is to change it, and in the polemics of those who, like Nietzsche, defend the life-affirming will to power as an alternative to the futile search for the Kantian thing in itself and Hegels historical justification of waiting for the thing to finally reveal itself, in all probability that is, when the owl of Minerva eventually spreads its wings.16 In comparison with Kant and Hegel, Marx says very little about reason or the different possible forms of reason (pure, practical, aesthetic, etc.). He follows Hegel in one decisive respect, which is to regard history as a rational process in which humanity becomes increasingly conscious of its objective capacities vis--vis nature. This will prompt Habermas in Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) to suggest that Marx contributes to the problem of instrumental reason in that like Kant, Marx regards human autonomy to be dependent on its ability either to detach itself from natural spontaneity and unpredictability, or to exploit nature for the satisfaction of human needs. According to Horkheimer and Adorno, when humanity forgets that it is part of nature, it is condemned to experience the revenge of nature on society: institutions become oppressive, bureaucratic and irrational. These issues, including the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer as well as Habermas subsequent rupture with it, will be addressed in Chapters 3

The Emergence of the Weberian Paradigm

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and 6 of this book. At this stage in the discussion of the emergence of the Weberian diagnosis of instrumental reason it will suffice to note that reason has a somewhat ambiguous status in Marx. This is in large part explainable in terms of the evident reality that after Hegel there was little to do except marvel at the rationality of the real, or translate immanent reason into revolutionary practice with no further hesitation.17 In Marx there are two related senses in which reason is implied. These usages break with the Kantian notion of reason as the basis of individual autonomy and law. Though they also signal a shift away from Hegels theory of Geist and the corresponding idea that the state is the actuality of the ethical idea, they nonetheless bear the marks of their Hegelian origins. First, Marx accepts Hegels notion that history unfolds rationally in stages marked by contradictions, conflicts, resolution of conflict and new contradictions. Second, he retains and modifies the notion that there is always a discrepancy between human freedom and the forms of human society in which freedom is institutionalized. The discrepancy between freedom and objective form is not the irreducible difference between some formal, abstract formulation of an ahistorical standard of reason which inevitably finds every historical present to be insufficiently rational. In this case the claims of reason would amount to moralistic condemnations of the real and would demarcate an undialectical and definitive fixing of the a priori limits of knowledge and freedom. For Marx the rational is real, as Hegel indicates, and reality is marked by the constant struggle between the subjective forces (individual and collective agency) and objective forms (social structure) which traverse it. But for Marx the key to agency is the mode of production and the organization of the labour process. Revolutions serve to adjust the relation between subjective agency and objective form by expanding the latter to suit the steadily increasing power of the former to transform nature in accordance with human needs and creativity. Here the links with Hegel are clear. Human labour power can be likened to a subject that needs objective forms to institutionalize its freedom. In epistemological and historical terms there is no possible retreating behind epistemological terrain already staked out by Kant here: the question is not about whether the subjective factor or the objective factor is the source or object of knowledge it is the relation between subjective and objective that constitutes the real as a mediated totality of distinct but not isolated moments. In terms of the dynamism of a phenomenology of constantly changing forms, the real is to be evaluated in terms of quantity turning into quality, and not in absolute or reified terms such as true/false or rational/irrational.18

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Like Hegel and Marx, Nietzsche detects a conflict between human freedom and the forms of human society in which freedom is institutionalized, and like them he also regards agency to be a function of the relation between humanity and nature, in which humanity is part of nature but not reducible to it. But for Nietzsche there is no evidence that the mediation of humanity and nature is inherently rational in the sense in which Hegel and Marx might understand that term, and there is also no evidence that the forms of mediation are ultimately conducive to freedom in the long-run, that is, for Nietzsche there can be and there often is decline in history. Decline very often sets in when culture strays too far from the extra-moral forces of life which appear in society in the guises of inequality and hierarchy. Whereas for Hegel and Marx objective form performs a contradictory function in history in that it both impedes the unfolding of subjectivity and spurs it to creative action and development, Nietzsche identifies a fundamental problem with subjectivity itself, which in his social theory also turns out to be an unveiled attack on Kantian and Hegelian accounts of reason, law, history and the state. Kant asks, under what conditions is knowledge is possible? He concludes that the condition is the existence of a subject that has objective knowledge of the phenomena that present themselves to the subjects understanding in time and space. While Hegel attempts to project philosophy beyond its Kantian limits by positing the existence of an historical subjectivity which is moving towards absolute knowledge and freedom, Nietzsche asks, how much truth can a human being stand? He concludes that the answer varies tremendously from person to person, and, what is more, depending on the culture in question, reason can become an effective tool in the project to condemn the extra-moral truths of life as bad, immoral, unjust, undemocratic, and so on. The philosopher of the will to power believes that some human subjects are capable of developing aristocratic values which enable the affirmative forces in them to assume a knowledge-enhancing form in which life, as something which is not merely a human attribute and which creates a different effect in each human, is able continually to renew itself, change, and test its own boundaries. The aristocratic individual thus enables life to become far more vital than brute natural life, through the mediation of extra-human creativity that has liberated itself from the fear of nature that drives ordinary humans into society, cuts them off from the praxis of terrestrial knowledge, and induces social conformity. The romantic dimension of Nietzsches argument is that thinking and knowledge are concerned with inner force, self-transformation and individual creation and not, in the first instance, classifying, registering and ordering or, for that matter, dialectics.19

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The beauty which is achieved in such creations is an expression of individual aesthetic values which are often incommensurable with the values of other creators. But for Nietzsche, this tragic incommensurability is often an indication of the vitality required continually to recreate oneself individually and collectively as a culture. In healthy cultures, the questions raised by issues of form/content and means/ends push individual subjects to redefine the conditions of their existence as well as the sense and ends of their action. In these rare cases human agency tends to reject the restrictions on life and culture implied by existing ways of being (all too) human in society. If so, agency strives towards the protean forms characteristic of the superhuman or, as Nietzsche alludes to it in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), the superman. Hence if there is freedom, it is not God-given, juridical or productive in an economic sense, nor is it equally distributed in the ways that formal freedom can be. It consists in the desire and will of a very unusual subject to establish an agonistic relation with subjectivity itself and to entertain an active relation with life which results in the theoreticalpractical elaboration of unique values and knowledge. Hence values, knowledge and art are closely interrelated. The condition of knowledge is not a study pack of innate faculties which is handed out to everyone by God at the mythical beginning of human school life, after which humans continually are tested and judged to see if they are making good use of their course materials. According to this conception, God is comparable to a great schoolmaster who unites pedagogical discipline and state authority in His person, and who demands obedience and solemn respect in return for His generosity. To speak in terms more appropriate to this study than anything Nietzsche directly says himself, individuals who believe in God are incapable of anything other than instrumental thought and passive behaviour which is directed to pleasing authority and passing ludicrous tests. People renounce their own, autonomous and plural ends for heteronomous ends chosen for them. In the specific case of modern industrial societies governed by Christian religious values, the consequence is that genuinely individual ends become increasingly rare. As subjectivity shrivels into strategic self-defence against external threats and illusory hopes of individual redemption, there are merely more or less successful means of attaining the same end for all individuals salvation of which wealth and security are the secular versions. Taking his cue from Nietzsche, Weber is able to show that the internalization of the aspiration to freedom and salvation helps consolidate the bases of a social order based on the privatization of experience (and the corresponding obsolescence of republican politics) in three decisive areas. Negative liberty, private accumulation and money

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become the key instances regulating the lives of individuals for whom there is no value distinction to be made between survival and life. It is the reduction of life to survival that blurs and eventually eliminates the distinction between the means to living and living itself.20 The condition of non-instrumental knowledge is the joyous intuition of innocence from the burdens of original sin and the norms of standardized performance implied by the institutionalization of linear conceptions of time. Nietzsche seems to regard original sin and linear time as perfect complements to the stable epistemological subject emerging from Kants philosophy. For Nietzsche this is a pygmy subject which recoils in horror before the chaos of the external world, and shrinks in despair at the spectacle of its steadily diminishing units of time. It is a transcendental ego that rejects the challenges of terrestrial philosophy by fleeing into the religious worship of another, better world, while also seeking safe refuge in monotonous, time-consuming labour for the sake of another, better future.21 After all that sacrifice the unenviable but inevitable fate of all those who suffer from original sin this exemplary specimen of bad faith wants compensation for what it gives of itself in the guise of pious devotion and efficient work. Unsurprisingly, it is appalled by the uncertainty and meagreness of the reward. Since this is a passive subject that cannot really give or create, it reacts by condemning or isolating forms of life that exceed subjectivity in the self-transformative project involved in thinking terrestrially and inventing fully terrestrial values. It is central to Nietzsches thinking that the victory of passive and reactive forces over active and affirmative ones is a victory of metaphysical longing for a world of certainty and safety, the manifest absence of which leads to a condemnation of this-worldly beauty and knowledge. It is a condemnation on the part of a decadent humanity which has come to resent its helplessness vis--vis nature and culture. As a consequence, it seeks punishment and revenge against the life within it and around it, which in fact is the very force that needs to be liberated if decadence and nihilism are going to be overcome. The hallmark of slave morality throughout the ages is to want to manipulate the fact that humanity is part of nature but not reducible to it as an excuse to deny nature, reject individual singularity and renounce personal strength. Hence in a number of respects slave morality implies a psychological disposition of the individual towards self-inflicted punishment. In many of his writings Nietzsche implies that modern humanity is particularly susceptible to denying the natural life within it. It seems prone to react to natural inequality and the disparity of individual values by affirming natural equality in law and institutionalizing democratic value-sharing

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in culture. In different ways Dilthey, Simmel and Weber attempt to transpose Nietzsches psychological insights into more systematic sociological theory.22 In summary of this section, and before moving on to historical sociology, it is clear that Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche offer various ways of resolving the antinomies in Kants philosophy. The critiques signal the limits of subjectivity and knowledge when these key concepts are pursued along exclusively philosophical lines. The challenge for philosophy, which is taken up with particular verve by Nietzsche, is to become multidisciplinary without becoming arbitrary or eclectic. Hegels theory of history and objective form/spirit, Marxs theory of political economy, and Nietzsches genealogical theory of values and domination amount to a many-sided challenge to Kants attempt to rescue philosophical enquiry from the problems of empiricism and rationalism within a rigorously epistemological framework. Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche present traditional philosophy with a set of challenges, many of which are taken up by the thinkers examined in Chapters 26. The first point is that philosophy has to take up the issues raised by history, political economy and psychology, in which case it ceases to be philosophical in the ways that it had been until Hegel, or ignore these paths of enquiry and become narrowly academic and irrelevant.23 It is a challenge that questions the role of philosophical conceptions of reason in epistemology and politics, and simultaneously affirms the rationality of the actual. This implies two things. First, it implies that it is not possible in absolute terms to measure the rationality of existing society against a theory of reason developed as a philosophical, transhistorical abstraction. History is the context within which all considerations of reason have or lack sense. Second, it radicalizes and decentres the Kantian notion that some of the conditions of knowledge, such as space and time, are to a certain extent external to the subject (although they are also pure, subjective intuitions for Kant).24 To place the conditions of knowledge outside of the epistemological subject is to raise important issues about the quality of human knowledge and freedom, and to question the plausibility of freedom conceived of as rational individual autonomy within a national state understood as the centre or the source of collective political authority. It has been seen so far that these problems are analysed differently by Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. If the conditions of knowledge are to be located to a certain extent outside of the subject in Hegel and Marx, the relation between the subjective and objective moment of knowledge nonetheless remains historical and dialectical. This idea is expressed in the ways that the concepts of Aufhebung and

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synthesis are developed in the writings of these thinkers. Central to the idea of knowledge and praxis in Hegel and the young Marx is that at some point in its journey towards self-discovery, subject (as Geist or as labour power in the widest sense) is able to re-appropriate what has become objectified outside of and alienated from it. Hence for Hegel and Marx theory and practice can be mediated in a rational way that simultaneously gives a sense to history. Here the links between reason, re-appropriation, humanism, action and historical progress are clear. In Nietzsche (life), and even more so in Weber (life, history and society), the factual externality of the conditions of knowledge is no longer conceived of dialectically as a relation between subjectivity and objectivity. The movement from Marx to Weber can be interpreted as a movement from subject-object dialectics in the young Marx, to subject(s)-social relations in the mature Marx and Weber. In the course of this theoretical and historical movement, roughly corresponding the period from 18481918, the moment of synthesis between subject and object becomes elusive, and the notion of some general sense of action becomes tenuous and oblique. It is at this juncture that reason starts to look more like an instrumental and strategic means than a substantive end.25 Thus the study of what Hannah Arendt refers to as the rise of the social, and the implicit impossibility of a subjective re-appropriation of a plurality of dispersed institutions and differentiated codes, is initiated by Marx. There is a discernible transition from Hegels political version of the rationality of the real, which for Hegel is emblematically represented by the authority of the state in the Philosophy of Right, to Marxs social version of the rationality of the real in the Grundrisse, which for Marx can be understood as a series of social relations and processes that do not culminate in the state or any other foundation or centre, and which, by extension, are not easily re-appropriated or represented without a substantial remainder, so to speak. Seen in these terms, and contrary to what Marx himself suggests in the Communist Manifesto and what Lenin and Lukcs say about Marx as a political thinker, Marxs analysis seems to cast doubt on the capacity of a political party to distil and represent the totality of social relations within its organizational and leadership structures. On the basis of this reading of the Grundrisse and Capital, and at the risk of making Marx sound a little bit too much like Michel Foucault for just a moment, it is possible to say that the coherence of political theory, and along with it the raison dtre of political parties and even of the nation-state form of political legitimacy full stop, has been substantially undermined. They have been undermined by the transfer of authority from the state to non-transparent

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and unaccountable networks of power in society. At that point traditional political philosophy loses its points of contact with social reality. In a now famous passage in Between Past and Future (1954), Arendt has put the matter thus: Our tradition of political thought had its definite beginning in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. I believe it came to a no less definite end in the theories of Karl Marx. The beginning was made when, in The Republics allegory of the cave, Plato described the sphere of human affairs all that belongs to the living together of men in a common world in terms of darkness, confusion, and deception which those aspiring to true being must turn away from and abandon if they want to discover the clear sky of eternal ideas. The end came with Marxs declaration that philosophy and its truth are located not outside the affairs of men and their common world but precisely in them, and can be realized only in the sphere of living together, which he called society.26 In Arendts terms, Marx is a live witness to the demise of an ancient tradition that culminates in Kant and finally with Hegel. At the start of this chapter it is seen that for Kant there is no absolute knowledge of essences because of the reality of mediating form. The political corollary of this epistemological position is that there can also be no absolute freedom in which theory and practice are fused. In Kants philosophy this leads to the subordination of metaphysical knowledge to formal knowledge, and the corresponding subordination of life, being and practice to consciousness, law and theory. Needless to say, the reduction of knowledge to its formal dimension, like the reduction of practice to the conditions of possible practice, raises questions about the possibility of reason that is not reduced to its instrumental instantiation. In very different ways, Marx and Nietzsche attempt to reverse the priority of theory over practice. This sets them apart from Hegel, who believes in the dialectical mediation of life, being and practice with consciousness, law and theory in historical reason, as opposed to the abstract and formal reason defended by Kant.27 The end of any credible grand mediation between these terms, ushered in by Marxs critique of Hegels theory of the state and Nietzsches critique of modern consciousness, marks a crisis of the idea of legitimate law as the primary mediating instance between a stable epistemological subject capable of defining the limits of objective knowledge, on the one hand, and a rational state capable of defining the limits of freedom, on the other. It will be seen in the next

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section that Webers sociology registers the shift from Kantian reason of Enlightenment inspiration to modernist rationalization, which is compounded by the parallel shift from the rational state of Hegels political philosophy to the legal-rational domination pervading industrial society. In the latter, legitimate authority is replaced by techniques of legitimation. In response to the call for a revolution of social relations to address this crisis of state, Weber responds that social relations can be analysed and understood, but not consciously changed without causing more disenchantment and even more bureaucracy than that which already exists in a world dominated by instrumental reason.

The Rise of Historical Sociology in the Light of the Crises of Legitimate Law and the Rational State
Weber reads Nietzsches critique of modernity and Marxs analysis of capitalism with critical sympathy. But he also attempts to move beyond their respective analyses in order to provide a more nuanced and more sociological account of subjectivity and social action than is possible within the frameworks offered by Nietzsches psychology and Marxs notion of class interest. Webers project is influenced by Wilhelm Diltheys (18331911) historical sociology, Max Schelers (18741928) anthropology, and especially the philosophical sociology developed by Georg Simmel (18581918) in the Philosophy of Money (1900) and other writings. While in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant attempts to provide a critique of metaphysics that nonetheless saves objectivity from relativism, Dilthey argues that the critique of metaphysics must go beyond the critique of pure reason by offering a critique of historical reason as well. Dilthey wants to enlist certain elements of Hegels theory of objective form and Nietzsches account of individual psychology in the project to provide the human sciences with a foundation and status independent from the methodologies of traditional philosophy and the natural sciences. If Kant can claim that the condition of knowledge is an epistemological subject, Dilthey anticipates Weber by arguing that the conditions of understanding are psychological, intersubjective and interpretative. In contrast to Kants and especially Hegels project to trace the modalities through which structured experience (Erfahrung) is converted into systematic knowledge, Dilthey seizes on the epistemological importance of slightly less structured and more discontinuous experience (Erlebnis). In Diltheys usage Erlebnis is closer to Nietzschean vitality than it is to the idealist concept of experience. The subtle distinction is employed by Dilthey to emphasize that the relation between past and

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future and with it tradition and memory becomes uncertain in an epoch characterized by rapid industrialization and the failure of the philosophical ideal of reason to materialize in historical practice in the way Hegel had predicted.28 In his confrontation with Humes scepticism, Kant makes causality a category of the understanding, such that it becomes a faculty of the human mind. This corresponds to his notion that objects and events are not simply given in time and space. They must be thought by a stable epistemological subject, in other words, a fundamental condition of rational knowledge is that objects and events have to orient themselves towards human understanding. Dilthey suggests that Kants view of knowledge and causality is largely taken from the scientific epistemologies of Galileo, Newton and Bacon. Hence while Kant is correct in his debate with empiricism to shift the explanation of external causality to an internal plane of mental energy, Kant restricts the life of the mind to an almost mechanical set of predictable functions which rests on a dogmatic separation of consciousness and external world. According to this interpretation, Kant seems to vacillate between empiricism and rationalism instead of moving beyond their respective problems. Diltheys critique of historical reason attempts to do two things with regard to Kants theory of the relation between knowledge and experience. First, it attempts to show why the Kantian model is too close to that of the natural sciences to be applicable to human sciences like history. The human sciences require a different methodology capable of formulating knowledge for areas of life in which interpretation and empathy are more appropriate than classification or categorization. Second, while relying on Hegels theory of objective form to some extent, Dilthey breaks with Hegelian subject-object dialectics in favour of a less ambitious epistemological programme. He wants to be able to explain the actions of people in particular historical contexts embedded in specific institutions which vary from culture to culture. For Dilthey, Kant is a philosophical idealist who speaks of consciousness and knowledge, when in fact one must speak in terms of the contents of consciousness, where the latter are bound to vary according to historical circumstances. Moreover, and in anticipation of themes that emerge in Heidegger and Arendt, the historical world is a mental and physical reality that does not respect rigid distinctions between mind and world. Hegel succeeds in breaking down this barrier, it is true, but only by identifying thought and being. Dilthey seeks to take the Hegelian insight that all subjectivity is mediated by sociohistorical objectivity and to prise it away from Hegels idealist framework. The task is to move beyond idealism without falling prey to positivism.

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This is best accomplished by studying the dynamic (not straightforwardly dialectical) relation between life, historical consciousness and institutions. Dilthey maintains that if in idealism inquiry proceeds from intuitions to concepts to systematic knowledge in a subject, in the human sciences inquiry proceeds from Erlebnis to cultural expression to understanding. Understanding is refined not by a subjects re-appropriation of its own individual and collective alienated essences, but by interpreting and reinterpreting ones own and other peoples words, gestures, creations and actions. One of the important implications is that cultural forms cannot be reappropriated as if they were alienated essences because they are themselves real and not mere appearances behind which, so to speak, one finds something more real. While the reality of form is implicit in Diltheys historicism, it is absolutely central to the philosophical sociology of Georg Simmel.29 What distinguishes Simmels theory of form from others is his view that there can be objective social form without transcendental idealist (Kant, Hegel), humanist (Feuerbach) or even materialist (Marx, Lukcs) subjectivity. Whereas almost all previous philosophy and social theory regards objectivity to be a necessary corollary of subjectivity (and vice versa), Simmel takes the reality of mediation beyond dialectics and foundations. That is to say that for Kant form, in the guise of space and time and the 12 categories, mediates between subjectivity and objectivity, and is more real than either of those terms when taken in isolation. Hence Kant relies on a transcendental subject that is subsequently humanized by Feuerbach, historicized by Dilthey and materialized by thinkers in the Marxist tradition in terms of labour as a supposed instance of universal subjectivity. Simmel insists on the reality of conceptual and institutional form, while leaving subjectivity open as a plural, contingent, and not necessarily rational or otherwise normative possibility. For Simmel form persists independently of human essence conceived in either transcendental, humanist, class, or, to update his analysis, communicative terms. The way that money functions in modern industrial societies provides a good illustration of what he means. In the Philosophy of Money Simmel explains that money, which originally functions as a means of exchange, develops into more than a mere means. This is due to the various interactive exchanges (Wechselwirkungen) that money sets in motion. In Simmels usage, the term Wechselwirkung connotes a dynamism which is further removed from historicized dialectical reason than Hegel and even Dilthey are willing to accept. This is explained below. Money facilitates a separation between individual, status and land. In modern society, in contrast to feudal-aristocratic society, land ownership

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is no longer directly related to the person whose status is determined by their rank in a naturalized hierarchical order. In theory, the feudal system is based on a fixed hierarchy in which land ownership, personal status and rank-specific privilege are bound together in an order legitimized by customs, laws and tradition which are thought to have an ultimately divine origin above and a natural order on earth. An economy based on the exchange of money and the circulation of capital, commodities and labour power introduces elements of dynamism and instability into this system. But just as dynamism and instability are not simply by-products of economic changes, economic changes are not simply reducible to increased social and geographical mobility. In a system where labour power is commanded to hand over the products of the labour process, as in state socialism, or limited to the exchange of those products for other products, as in barter, the sense of the transaction is transparent. Simmel suggests that in economies characterized by a significant degree of direct appropriation and/or exchange, actors satisfy a specific need with a specific crop, animal, tool, service, and so on. The materials and processes governing production are known and understood to a considerable extent by the producers and consumers involved in exchange. In this case the particularity of a product and its conditions of existence (location, cost, materials used) are clear. By contrast, when money is exchanged for commodities, a much more fluid need is satisfied (or in fact stimulated) by a product whose conditions of existence and origins are to a large extent unknown or ignored. For example, if a cow is exchanged for water, a determinate need presumably is satisfied by a determinate offer in a relatively equal way for both partners. If money is exchanged for a car, the buyer has the choice of investing the object with a wide range of significations. It might be a means of transport. But it could also be a source of autonomy, a symbol of personal style, a means of attracting other people, and so on. It is here that the explanatory power of social form and interactive exchange comes into play.30 To argue that the introduction of money in the place of barter directly results in social mobility and political demands for parliamentary institutions would be to espouse a positivist version of historical materialism with which Simmel would have had little sympathy. Simmels attempt to enrich Marxs historical materialism focuses on the processes and institutions regulating acts of trade as specific instances of the exchange of values. Whereas Nietzsche employs the term value in psychological and aesthetic terms, and Dilthey uses it in the manner of an anthropologist attempting to define cultural and historical specificity, Simmel maintains that the

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result of trade is neither simply a use-value nor an exchange value in Marxist terms, but rather a social value. This social value is a third element created by the two trading partners which neither could foresee, and which breaks the bounds of subject-object and humanity-nature dialectics. The parallel between the reality of social form in Simmel and Marxs concept of alienation stops precisely at that point where Simmel suggests that any re-appropriation of alienated labour power is not feasible, since it is impossible to re-appropriate form as if were human essence. Form exists as value objectified in economic as well as in non-economic institutions such as the family, manners, competition, fashion, and in an exemplary way in money. Money denaturalizes the instances of personalized domination prevalent in feudal-aristocratic society, though without in any way eliminating domination. Money privatizes experience and functionalizes domination: in the place of direct oppression, power is mediated by exchange in the extended sense of values expressed in the will to communicate and subjugate, the need to survive, the ambition to set oneself apart from others while at the same time finding viable modes of integration and community, and so on. Simmel studies money as a social phenomenon in order to show that mediation is multidirectional and relational, and that power in modern societies is refractory and pluridimensional.31 It has been seen that after Descartes attempts to give knowledge a firm foundation with the cogito, Kant and Hegel shift the epistemological locus from the rationalist foundation of knowledge to idealist subjectivity. If for Hegel one should not contrast true and false because truth contains moments of falsity and conversely, he is also confident that in the course of its voyage of self-discovery, subject as spirit progressively eliminates the traces of falsity in truth by progressively eliminating everything that is external to subject. However historicized and dialectical, idealist methodology makes subject the measure of reality. Thus while Hegels philosophy seems to be infinitely more elastic and historical than Descartes and even Kants, Simmel takes the decentring process even further. He suggests that reality is best understood as a social reality of values and institutional forms, and that it is not concentrated in the manner of a metaphysical presence such as Subject, State or History. It is dispersed in historically changing constellations of subject, object, humanity, nature, reason, instinct and other factors. This means that although Dilthey is correct to argue that the human sciences require a qualitatively different foundation than traditional philosophy and the natural sciences, sociology requires a far more revolutionary epistemology than even Dilthey imagines, that is, and in

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clear anticipation of Heidegger, one that dispenses with foundations itself without dispensing with knowledge.32 Hence Simmel agrees with the mature Marx that capitalism is characterized by the existence of distinct social classes, each with its respective milieu or habitus, and that these differences cast doubt on any notion of universal human subjectivity in labour or some other essentially defining praxis. But he rejects the notion that one class directly oppresses another in any intelligible way. The problem with the base-superstructure metaphor, like the notion of history as class struggle, is that both imply a model of society in which a small number of people confront a large number of people in an arena of struggle over the same thing that is mediated by the state. This framework of analysis is locked in a dualist logic that neglects the third element created by the buyers of labour power and sellers of labour power that neither could foresee, and it makes the corresponding error of misunderstanding the denaturalization process as one of simple humanization, as if there is a sliding scale or continuum between the purely natural and the consummately human. It is not just that humanity is part of nature but not reducible to it. There is more in the world than just the natural and the human, and that qualitative more is form which is not reducible to either natural or human essence, or some compromise composite that balances their relative proportions. Simmels insights pose immense challenges to established notions of values and interests, and raise questions about the very possibility of representing values and interests without completely distorting their social reality. For a political leader like Lenin, for example, communism and smashing the state are the virtually identical goals of the workers movement for emancipation. On this account the state is a distributor of homogeneous power units that distributes them unequally, or, alternatively, it appears to be the armed force three quarters of the way to the top of a power pyramid, where it protects the people above from the people below. In this case it is particularly clear how crude sociological epistemologies can lead to authoritarian political representation. Following Nietzsche, Simmel regards values to be present in institutions in ways that cannot be seized, smashed, or even reproduced in an artificially detached political sphere. Values can be revalued and institutions can be reformed, though not necessarily as a result of an explicit project to do so, since those projects are also affected and modified by other projects with different functional effects. Hence for the sociologist no less than for the activist, it is important to be able to understand and interpret social action instead of just classifying it in terms of hermetic categories

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and rigidly schematic notions of interest. Simmel offers a great deal in terms of the critique of daily life, and will thus figure as an important theorist in Chapter 5.33 Although Simmels notion that there is more in the world than just the natural and the human has ontological implications that are taken up by thinkers like Heidegger, Weber is more concerned with interpretative sociology and what it implies in terms of the relation between values, rationality, social action and the state. On the basis of his readings of Marx, Nietzsche and Simmel, Weber is compelled thoroughly to revise the Hegelian notion of the state as mind objectified. In Politics as a Vocation (1919), written almost 100 years after the Philosophy of Right, Weber maintains that the state is the institution or set of institutions with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory. Whereas Marx rejects the modern state as an inadequate institution for the realization of democracy, Weber suggests that the evolution of political centralization in Western Europe and North America represents an inexorable process (akin to Tocquevilles democratization thesis) which we can perhaps study and understand, but which we are relatively powerless to change. All three thinkers seek materialist and institutional reasons to explain why the modern state is beset with authoritarian tendencies which become manifest in times of crisis.34 In analysing the revolt of the Paris Commune in the spring of 1871, Marx remarks that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes. In making this assessment Marx is convinced that neither the state nor existing forms of law are objectified forms of humanitys labouring or creative essence. Webers analysis of law and the state complements Marxs to the extent that in his theory of legal-rational domination, Weber implies that there is a core of violence at the centre of law. He reaches this conclusion by attempting to define the state as something distinct from politics. In Politics as a Vocation he argues that politics can assume the widest variety of possible forms, such that one can say that politics are involved in a unions conduct of a strike, or in a companys strategy to increase the number of its customers, and so on. But while politics in the sense of rationalized strategic action can be said to be part of virtually all social action in modern industrial societies, the state is a very specific set of institutions with a determinate set of means at its disposal. If politics in this decidedly non-republican sense covers so many spheres of social action, and it can be pursued through a variety of ways, the state is simply that set of institutions which have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given geographical territory. Weber approvingly cites Trotskys comment at Brest-Litovsk that

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all states are founded on violence, from which Weber concludes that if politics is ultimately a struggle for power which assumes changing social forms over time, the post-1789 state in Europe and North America is the result of a specifically modern and Western rationalization process culminating in the legitimation of force through legal norms.35 Weber comes to this conclusion by way of a genealogical study of different forms of domination, of which the state is the most recent and most perfected expression. His analysis is indebted to Nietzsche, who in the Genealogy of Morals (1887) explains that the will to power embodied in different concepts and institutions can be discovered by conducting a path of investigation analogous to that of looking behind the terms good and evil. In contrast to Kants claim that humanity can transcend mechanical and predatory forms of freedom by enacting a rational form of freedom stipulating legal norms applicable to all citizens in equal measure, Nietzsche thinks that predatory instincts and values prevail, however mediated they may be by culture and society. This means that transcendence is possible for a small minority which imposes its way of life on the rest of society. If the imposition of values is clearly visible in religious conceptions of good and bad, it is also visible, on closer inspection, in ostensibly more universal and rational notions such as justice, freedom and democracy. The link between Nietzsche and Weber comes sharply into focus when one considers that in modern industrial societies with ostensibly democratic states, power is exercised in the name of the sovereign people. In contrast to pre-modern societies in which religious, military, aristocratic and political lites openly rule in more or less transparently hierarchical states, the modern state ushers in an instance of minority rule in the name of a democratic majority. Weber interprets Nietzsche in a sociological vein to mean that in the period leading up to and following the French Revolution, a socioeconomic and political-aristocratic hierarchy based on the values of rank, privilege and honour gives way to a new hierarchy based on the values of self-discipline, self-control, renunciation of luxury, hard work, predictability and calculation.36 This view of distinctly modern forms of domination is present in Webers reflections on Protestantism, capitalism, bureaucracy, the state and the plebiscitary tendencies of parliamentary democracy in the age of mass political parties. He suggests that the rationalization process in the West culminates in strategically rational religion, contractually rational exchange and hierarchically rational command. It is a form of rationalization that manages to decouple reason from critique to such an extent that the ideal of substantively rational legitimacy becomes increasingly chimerical.

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The implication is that there can be no other reason than instrumental reason, and in any case little hope that reason might be meaningful in terms of emancipation. Weber elaborates this idea with his theory of legal-rational legitimation, which he distinguishes from charismatic and traditional legitimation of power. Charismatic authority is typically exercised by people with unusual oratory ability and special qualities that set them apart from other people. Charismatic authority figures are often poets, prophets, seers, medicine men and other people with extraordinary abilities that enable them to convince others that they, the charismatic, are the legitimate wielders of authority because they can see into the past, predict the future, bring about miracles and produce other wonders that are unfathomable to ordinary people. Traditional authority is usually wielded by elder statesmen or other leaders of a political community who, through age and experience, seem to embody the traditions, customs and values of a nation. They are people who seem to have a direct link to the past which entitles them to assume the role of wise men capable of prudent counsel. By comparison, Weber argues that legal-rational authority is a specifically modern and Western phenomenon evident in religion, the economy, culture and the state. The rationalization of the state, as opposed to the rational state conjured up in the writings of the mature Hegel, is a state whose legitimacy is not based on a substantive concept of freedom or emancipation. It is based instead on the mere fact that state regulations and statutes are codified in law rather than embodied in charismatic or traditional figures of authority. Webers redefinition of the state contra Hegel reflects the idea that in the period from 1789 to 1918, a subtle yet dramatic shift occurs in the very notion of what reason is.37 In this period reason becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle from the strategies employed in the power struggles of different social groups and classes in which the existence of winners and losers inevitably undermines any universal connotation that previously had been attached to reason. This phenomenon does not really appear where fixed, quasi-natural hierarchies define the sense and scope of social action. Hence power is not eradicated in the genealogical movement from charismatic to traditional to legal-rational forms of authority and domination. Instead, the objective forms in which power is exercised change. This is the seemingly inevitable outcome of the erosion of differentiated rights and privileges of pre-state political institutions such as guilds and churches, with the result that going into the twentieth century, all people are eventually forced, at different rates depending on the country in question, to be the members of the same mass electorate under the principle of majority rule. For Weber it is significant

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that unlike the absolute monarchies entrusted with the task of preventing the warring religious and aristocratic factions within a given territory from destroying each other and undermining the state, modern legal-rational authority must secure leadership changes through an electoral mechanism. In Politics as a Vocation he remarks that if one considers the gradual widening of the franchise in the years from 1848 to World War I, one notes an evolution from a highly restricted and lite electorate to a mass electorate. This evolution brings with it the danger of what Weber refers to as Caesarism, which combines the most insidious characteristics of charismatic with legal-rational authority. In his estimation the modern state needs both of these modes of legitimation (as distinct from rational legitimacy, which seems increasingly remote and utopian) in order to guarantee propitious conditions for economic growth and capital accumulation. Otherwise, it runs the risk of becoming the colony of another state with no real autonomy. The modern state is thus compelled to produce political leaders with a direct, largely plebiscitary appeal to the masses reflecting the fact the differentiated rights and privileges of pre-state political institutions such as guilds and churches have been destroyed. In various speeches and writings Weber nonetheless expresses the hope that in addition to fulfilling their function as forums for the negotiation of conflicting private interests, parliaments might evolve towards training grounds for producing charismatic leaders capable of articulating a range of distinctly political values different in kind from the precepts of private morality, and separate from cultural values as well.38 In accordance with this analysis, the evolution towards mass electorates has to be analysed in conjunction with the general rationalization and differentiation processes separating the tools of production from the workers who use them, the transfer of citizen responsibility for defence to the full-time staff of the professional standing army, the separation of the means of public administration from the elected representatives of the public, and so on. Weber expresses particular concern about this last tendency and the bureaucratic and authoritarian tendencies accompanying it. Weber follows the broad lines of Marxs analysis in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) and the Civil War in France (1871) by affirming that the legislature of a capitalist society cannot function as an adequate vehicle for the representation of societys views on questions of solidarity, freedom and autonomy. On the contrary, legislatures must for the most part content themselves with controlling executive power in key areas of public administration. In Webers analysis, the undermining of the legislature and political accountability reflects both a shift in the composition of

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the electorate, as well as the diminishing importance of the public sphere as a mediating instance between the state and the individual citizen. He sees this as the historical result of the transformation of the former political clubs of the public sphere into mass parties. The clubs were largely comprised of the nobility, gentry and educated lites of the bourgeoisie. For this decidedly unrepresentative segment of European society, politics was a part-time activity performed in attention to whatever other economic and cultural interests it happened to cultivate. Weber holds that the progressive extension of the franchise results in the professionalization of the clubs as well as their evolution towards the modern mass political parties that have contested elections under conditions of universal manhood suffrage in Europe and North America since the first decade of the twentieth century. In this process, politics becomes a full-time profession for a simultaneously smaller and more representative segment of the population than the nobility and bourgeois lites who preceded them.39 For Kant the public sphere mediates between economically independent private citizens and public authority in a way that infuses legislation with ethical and rational content, thus ensuring that a critical space be maintained between economic processes and public authority. Whether or not this somewhat idealized view ever corresponded to historical reality, by the time of World War I, at any rate, the public sphere had been transformed into an arena for the electoral competition of mass parties, whose exclusive function became that of attracting votes and gaining power. This means that the critical distance between the citizen and organized political power had been eroded to a considerable extent. In terms of the marginalization of substantive rationality concerning freedom and other political ends by rationalized strategic action, the electoral competition for votes can be analysed as a means for control of the executive of the modern state and its steadily growing number of paid offices. Office of this kind could provide a stable career for the party activist, that is, for a person who no longer originated from the gentry, urban bourgeoisie or landed aristocracy. Weber observes that this process of degentrifying is most accelerated in the country that has no gentry to begin with the United States where the so-called party boss represents a direct analogy to the boss of an economically competitive firm. But if these tendencies had assumed startling proportions in North America, Weber has little doubt that the same phenomena are eventually bound to face European states as well. Given that the parties have no other goal than the conquest of office, to wit, power, political success begins to look like a version of economic success which is politicized in plebiscitary elections with little actual political or value content.

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This scenario marks a drastic departure from the Kantian theory of the public sphere taken up by the early Habermas and a radical departure from Hegels theory of the state as well. Perhaps more importantly for the arguments in subsequent chapters, it is a development which prepares the ground for a critique of instrumental reason which combines a critique of parliamentary law and democracy, Enlightenment conceptions of reason and human nature, and the separation of theory and practice in an overarching critique of bourgeois law and metaphysics. It is the rejection of the apocalyptic dimension of this critique that inspires the theory of communicative action formulated by the later Habermas.40 If economic activity is by definition circumscribed by largely instrumental and value-indifferent criteria, the assimilation of politics to modes of economic conduct has obvious implications. According to Webers sociologically mediated Nietzschean analysis, in the transition from feudalism to industrial-democratic modernity, the energies of self-discipline, self-control and renunciation have been transformed into socio-economic values institutionalized in hard work (capitalism), predictability (instrumental reason) and calculation (freedom as contract). This marginalizes political values such as courage and conviction, which get relegated to Hollywood films and what Horkheimer and Adorno refer to as the culture industry. It also contributes to the conflation of questions about freedom and autonomy with technical problems related to economic growth and technical progress. Since economic growth and technical development are centrally concerned with the means to create conditions for accumulation in modern capitalist economies, the political implications are clear. To put the matter in Weberian-Marxist terms, one might say that a technocratic lite is entrusted with devising the socio-economic and cultural strategies needed to make the hierarchical commands required for capital accumulation appear necessary or at least acceptable to the labour force. This becomes the basis of modern legitimation. Yet from a perspective oriented more towards Simmel, it can be argued that this theory suffers from a sociological deficit which ignores systemic differentiation, the nuances of interactive exchange, contingency and the complexity of social action. Which of these views is more reliable? If one briefly returns to Kants three models of freedom mentioned at the outset of this chapter in the light of this discussion of freedom, autonomy and reason, it seems clear that human and political freedom require a qualitatively different time and space than the mechanical and predatory time and space needed to sustain rationalized models of accumulation and growth. There are many possible responses to this dilemma

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linked with the emergence of the Weberian paradigm of rationalization, but two main lines of argument can be discerned which will inform the analyses to follow in subsequent chapters. The first is to subordinate mechanical and predatory freedom to political freedom in the name of political values and some vision of what one for the moment might call political, non-linear time (time not preformed by the systemic imperatives of the economy). The second is to say that however appealing this first alternative may sound, it is incompatible with the modern realities of systemic complexity, functional differentiation and the inexorable triumph of rationalization over reason. This concludes this opening chapter by returning to the point of departure. The first line of argument turns on the possibility of active citizen participation in public life and an active role in the formulation of law as the mediation between theory and practice. The second is informed by a rather more pessimistic interpretation of the rise of functional differentiation and the increasing detachment of social processes from legal political accountability and control. In very broad lines one can see that in very different ways theorists such as Hegel, Lukcs, Benjamin, Heidegger, Arendt, and others broadly subscribe to the first line, while others such as Luhmann subscribe to the second. Webers theory of charisma and Habermas theory of communication stake out somewhat ambiguous intermediate positions which define the starting-point and the conclusion of this book. Although they acknowledge the reality of systemic differentiation and social complexity, both thinkers also accept that genuine legitimacy requires more than political institutions based on procedural regularity supported by socio-economic policies oriented towards economic growth and fair distribution. It has been observed that Weber hopes that charismatic leadership might be able to infuse politics with values capable of offsetting the overall tendency towards rationalization in modern societies. It will be seen that Habermas suggests that communication in the life-world and civil society provide the political system with ethical and cognitive inputs which give legislation a normative dimension beyond mere interest aggregation.

Endnotes
1. One of the most original and influential theoretical and historical studies of this period is provided by Jrgen Habermas in Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, first published by Luchterhand in 1962), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1990, chapters 34. 2. The point about commercial freedom and the relation between commerce and liberty is important and somewhat complicated by the fact that the idea of a commercial society of

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free, independent contracting private individuals implies something significantly different in socio-economic and political terms than a democratic society of collectively autonomous, collectively self-legislating public citizens. While the first implies adherence to liberal theory and practice, the second offers a republican answer to the question of the conditions of liberty. It is also significant that nowhere was the analysis of the conditions of freedom in a commercial society more brilliant than in Britain and particularly in Scotland, that is, in a highly unique context where the conditions for an industrial revolution and, according to many criteria, a successfully functioning commercial society, were already in place. It is also worth noting that British scepticism about the possibility of non-authoritarian and nondogmatic authority is reflected in the fact that the most important empiricists in the rationalist-empiricist debates forming the background to Kants thinking (see next section) are English or Scottish. From the time of those debates to the present, for the thinkers in a commercial society such as Britain, the problem of instrumental reason never posed the great intellectual and political dilemmas concerning the bases of legitimate authority that it did for thinkers and politicians on the European continent. 3. For a number of illuminating commentaries on Webers analysis of this phenomenon, see the essays collected in Asher Horowitz and Terry Maley (eds), The Barbarism of Reason: Max Weber and the Twilight of Enlightenment, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1994. 4. The idea that a legitimate form of law reconciles collective, plural humanity and external nature in the labour process while reconciling each individual, unique instance of humanity and internal nature in the creation of aesthetic values is argued by the current author in Beyond Hegemony: Towards a New Philosophy of Political Legitimacy, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2005. The book attempts to show why thinking about a legitimate form of law, as opposed to a legal form of legitimacy, offers a way of reconceptualizing the relation between plurality and individuality beyond the one-sidedness of the many variants of liberal democracy, social democracy and state socialism. 5. Rationalist and empiricist arguments are certainly more complex than is suggested above, but for reasons of space it is necessary to simplify the matter for the time being. 6. Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft (The Critique of Pure Reason, 2 volumes, 1781), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1968, pp. 4562; and Kant, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (The Critique of Practical Reason, 1787), Stuttgart, Reclam, 1961, pp. 11734. 7. Readers interested in the basic contours of Kants theory of knowledge and experience should consult Roger Scruton, Past Masters: Kant, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1982; and Howard Caygill, A Kant Dictionary, Oxford, Blackwell, 1995. Those with a bit more time to delve into Kants arguments about the objectivity of conceptual form against the claims of metaphysical essence can consult Henry E. Allison, Kants Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1983; and Robert B. Pippin, Kants Theory of Form: An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1982. 8. The notion of the blocking off of reason plays an important role in Adorno and Heideggers respective interpretations of Kant and metaphysics. The issues raised by their readings of Kant will be discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. 9. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807), Stuttgart, Reclam, 1987, pp. 55167 (final chapter on absolute knowledge).

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10. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807), pp. 201, (paragraphs 17 and 18 of the Preface in any English edition), where he declares that reality must be grasped as subject, not only as substance. He explains further that the epistemological project should be thought of as a circle (subjects rediscovery of itself in a series of stages in which it alienates and re-appropriates its diverse forms and moments of development), rather than as a line that abruptly reaches a pinnacle. 11. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807), pp. 3043; and Georg Lukcs, Der junge Hegel (The Young Hegel, 1948), volume II, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, pp. 7478, 815, 822. 12. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807), p. 22, (paragraph 20 of the Preface in any standard English edition), where he confidently asserts that The True is the whole. 13. It is of course clear to anarchists that there are other ways of viewing this matter. For an excellent survey of the most important arguments for extra-juridical liberty see Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, London, Collins, 1992. 14. Hegel, Die Philosophie des Rechts (The Philosophy of Right, 1821), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1986, p. 24 (p. 10 in the T. M. Knox edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1952). Adornos critique of this view will be examined in Chapter 3. 15. Hegel, Die Philosophie des Rechts (The Philosophy of Right, 1821), pp. 398, 406. 16. Hegel, Die Philosophie des Rechts (The Philosophy of Right, 1821), p. 28 (penultimate paragraph of the Preface, p. 13 of the Knox edition). In addition to Marx and Nietzsche one could cite a third possible response to Hegel in the writings of Sren Kierkegaard, for whom interiority and ethics are an alternative to Hegels notion of the inexorable unfolding of reason and freedom in history. For an analysis of these three thinkers in relation to Hegel, see Karl Lwith, Von Hegel zu Nietzsche (From Marx to Nietzsche), Zurich, Europa Verlag, 1941. 17. This determination to translate theory into practice has contributed, along with the famous thesis 11 on Feuerbach (Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however, is to change it), to the notion that soon after his early writings Marx adopts an anti-philosophical epistemology in which the importance of theory is dissolved by practical necessities and historical laws. 18. Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen konomie (The Grundrisse, 1857), Frankfurt and Vienna, Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1972, pp. 537, 9435; and Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807), p. 16, (paragraph 11 of the Preface in any standard English edition), where he says Spirit is never at rest, but always engaged in moving forward. But just as the first breath drawn by a child after its long, quiet nourishment breaks the gradualness of merely quantitative growth there is a qualitative leap, and the child is born so likewise Spirit in its formation matures slowly and quietly into its new shape, dissolving bit by bit the structure of the previous world, whose tottering state is only hinted at by apparently isolated symptoms. 19. It is in this context that Nietzsche can be seen as key figure in the movement referred to as Lebensphilosophie, or life-philosophy. Hence the young Marx distinguishes between political emancipation, which he associates with the French Revolution and the significant but insufficient liberation from aristocratic-feudal social relations, from a more complete

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human emancipation, which liberates humanitys productive-creative essence from capitalist social relations. In clear anticipation of Foucault (Chapter 6), Nietzsche seems to be less interested in human emancipation than he is in liberating life from the all too human. Hence in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche quips that man is a beast that must be overcome. He develops this thesis into a theory of revolution as self-overcoming rather than revolution as re-appropriation of human essence. See the third section of the prologue to Nietzsches Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883), Munich, Goldmann, 1957, p. 11. 20. Even if he does not employ the term instrumental in relation to reason in any systematic way, Nietzsches analysis clearly points in the direction of Webers Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1906). See Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches: Ein Buch fr freie Geister (Human, All too Human, 1877), Munich, Goldmann, 1960, pp. 2215 (aphorisms 26270). 21. It is likely that Heideggers (Chapter 4) discussion of inauthenticity in Being and Time (1927) is indebted to Nietzsches critique of religion and utilitarianism. 22. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883), pp. 11620; and Unzeitgemsse Betrachtungen (Untimely Meditations, 187376), Stuttgart, Alfred Krner, 1955, pp. 60322. For a thorough discussion of Nietzsches ideas on liberation, decadence, nihilism, the will to power and self-transformation, see Gianni Vattimo, Il soggetto e la maschera: Nietzsche e il problema della liberazione, Milan, Bompiani, second edition, 1999; Karl Lwith, Nietzsches Philosophie der ewigen Wiederkehr des Gleichen, Hamburg, Felix Meiner, 1986; and Walter Kaufman, Nietzsche, Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1974. 23. This is the twin problem that Adorno discerns to varying degrees in the philosophies of thinkers like Bergson (18591941), and especially Husserl (18591938), who try to reground philosophical enquiry. See Adorno, Zur Metakritik der Erkenntnistheorie: Studien ber Husserl und die phnomenologischen Antinomien (translated in English as Against Epistemology, written during 193437 and published for the first time in 1956), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1990. Although Habermas eventually parts company with Adorno on a number of key issues, he nonetheless shares many of his doubts about the project of trying to redeem the integrity of traditional philosophy in the light of the critiques of Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche, and, indeed, the theory of communicative action and post-metaphysical thinking can be seen as a tacit point of agreement with Adorno on this point. 24. There is admittedly a certain amount of ambiguity on Kants part here, since it might be asked, how can space and time be external to the individual, and yet also be subjective intuitions? Kant cannot make space and time purely subjective without falling back on rationalist and empiricist arguments he seeks to overcome. Kant seems to be hedging his bets to some extent by referring to space and time as pure, a priori intuitions, which of course raises the question: how can something be both a priori and intuitive (to say nothing of the constant notion of pure forms)? For elucidatory commentary, see Sebastian Gardner, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, London, Routledge, 1999, pp. 65 and 7085. 25. Weber, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Vocation, 1919), in Johannes Winckelmann (ed.), Gesammelte politische Schriften (Collected Political Writings), second edition, Tubingen,

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J. C. B. Mohr, 1988, pp. 5324. In this essay Weber analyses the transformation of the nineteenth-century lite political clubs into the mass political parties of the twentieth century, as well as the implications of this shift in terms of the public sphere and the possibilities of a rational mediation of private interests and political authority. The analysis prefigures the main themes in Habermas Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. These issues are also discussed in Wolfgang Schluchter, The Rise of Western Rationalism: The Rise of Max Webers Developmental History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981; in John Burrow, The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 18481914, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000; and in H. Stuart Hughes, Consciousness and Society: The Reorientation of European Social Thought, 18901930, New York, Vintage Books, 1977. 26. Hannah Arendt, Tradition and the Modern Age, in Between Past and Present, London, Penguin, 1954, p. 17. The extremely interesting historical question as to whether, where and for how long state authority in practice was anything that remotely approximated the ideal of a rational state in philosophical terms has to be left out of consideration for reasons of space. What is central here is the notion that however subtle it may sound, there is a significant theoretical and practical difference between the legitimate rational state, and the rationalized state whose legitimacy has been hollowed out by social relations and processes that have detached themselves from political accountability to a considerable extent. See Chapter 4 to follow. 27. Adornos Negative Dialectics (1966) explores some of these issues from the vantage point of philosophy, though Adornos particular way of philosophizing is post-philosophical in many respects. For two excellent introductions which address this issue, see Simon Jarvis, Adorno: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge, Polity, 1998; and Alex Thomson, Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed, London, Continuum, 2006. 28. Manfred Riedel, Introduction to Dilthey, Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften (The Construction of the Historical World in the Human Sciences, 1910), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1981, p. 26. Although the words Erfahrung and Erlebnis have the same dictionary definition as experience, Dilthey usually uses the term Erlebnis in the sense suggested above. 29. Dilthey, Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften (The Construction of the Historical World in the Human Sciences, 1910), pp. 15963. 30. Georg Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money, 1900), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1989, pp. 2734; and Die Arbeitsteilung als Ursache fr das Auseinandertreten der subjektiven and der objektiven Kultur (The Division of Labour as the Cause for the Divergence of Objective and Subjective Culture, 1900), now in HeinzJrgen Dahme and Otthein Rammstedt (eds), Georg Simmel: Schriften zur Soziologie, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1983, pp. 10711. 31. Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money, 1900), pp. 2932, and Die Arbeitsteilung als Ursache fr das Auseinandertreten der subjektiven and der objektiven Kultur (The Division of Labour as the Cause for the Divergence of Objective and Subjective Culture, 1900), 10910. 32. Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money, 1900), pp. 20910; Soziologie (Sociology, 1908), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1992, pp. 723, 7656. For two excellent

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expositions of Simmels ideas on these matters, see David Frisby, Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1986; and Ralph M. Leck, Georg Simmel and Avant-Garde Sociology: The Birth of Modernity, 18801920, Amherst, Humanity Books, 2000. 33. Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money, 1900), pp. 428, 44951; Soziologie (Sociology, 1908), 665, 8312. Two of the many questions emerging from Simmels analysis of the denaturalization of power and social relations in modern society might be formulated as follows: might it be possible to denaturalize sexist, racist and imperialist discourses of supposedly natural roles and supposedly natural inferiority/superiority, without tying this deconstruction to the functionalizing of power through money? Might denaturalization serve as the possible basis of an emancipation from linear, that is, supposedly natural time? Although Heidegger, Benjamin and Arendt do not often directly refer to Simmel in their writings, many of the questions they address are first raised by his sociology. 34. Although none of these thinkers lived to see fascism, their works anticipate the potential of an authoritarian transition from liberal democracy to mass democracy. This is particularly striking in Democracy in America (1835), The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) and Politics as a Vocation (1919). 35. Weber, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Vocation, 1919), pp. 5057. 36. Nietzsche, Zur Genealogie der Moral (On the Genealogy of Morals, 1887), Munich, Goldmann, 1983, part 2, section 12, pp. 645; and the section on the origins of the rationalized state in Weber, Staatssoziologie (Sociology of State), Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1966, pp. 1726. 37. Weber, Soziologie der Herrschaft (Sociology of Domination), in Johannes Winckelmann (ed.), Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Economy and Society, published posthumously in 1921 and 1922 on the basis of the editing of Marianne Weber), Tubingen, J. C. B. Mohr, 1972, pp. 54150. The introduction to the Sociology of Domination in Economy and Society is found in chapter 9 of part II. 38. Weber, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Vocation, 1919), pp. 50810. In Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Economy and Society, 1921), Weber suggests that in the modern world, states have no alternative to orientating their respective economies towards growth and competition: The objectification of the economy on the basis of market relations follows its own objective tendencies. Failure to adhere to these tendencies results in economic failure, and in the long-term, economic disaster (p. 353). Webers hope in the possibility of responsible political charisma seems rather forlorn when measured against Mussolinis rise to power, the collapse of the Weimar Republic, the advent of National Socialism in Germany, and so on. As regards the international pressure to conform to the institutionalized strictures of instrumental reason or fall hopelessly behind, episodes like the first government of Franois Mitterand in 1981 and its very short-lived experiment in socialist economic reform are revealing. After provoking a run on the Franc and capital flight, Mitterand quickly adopted a more conventional capitalist financial policy, in all likelihood for fear of the possibility of economic disaster and the obvious political consequences mentioned by Weber. 39. Weber, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Vocation, 1919), pp. 51013.

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40. Weber, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Vocation, 1919), pp. 51323. Kants theory of the public sphere is developed in Was ist Auflrung? (What is Enlightenment?, 1783) and ber den Gemeinspruch: Es mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht fr die Praxis (On the Common Saying: This May Apply in Theory, but It Does Not Apply in Practice, 1788), in Schriften zur Anthropologie, Geschichtsphilosophie, Politik und Pdagogik I, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, also contained in Hans Reiss (ed.), Kant: Political Writings, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1970.

2
The Revolutionary Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lukcs and Benjamin
In the previous chapter it was seen that taken together, the sociologies of Weber and Simmel offer a wide-reaching, if somewhat ambivalent and reluctant challenge to the Enlightenment concept of reason and the Hegelian account of the state as the modern embodiment of the World-Spirit. Weber charts a discernible sociological shift away from institutionalized political reason, embodied in the state, to industrial rationalization, embodied in economy and society. He indicates that the evolution from reason to rationalization gives rise to the need to redefine the state from mind objectified in Hegel, to a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory. In Simmels sociology, one sees a move away from monocausal and foundational theories of social action to theories highlighting the reality of contingency, plural causality, interactive reciprocal exchange and the objectivity of social form. In this chapter it will be shown how Georg Lukcs (18851971) and Walter Benjamin (18921940) respond to the crises of reason and the democratic-parliamentary state registered in the work of Weber and Simmel, which also become evident with the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, and how they radicalize Diltheys account of the specificity of historical explanation and the irreducibility of historical time to natural scientific, linear time. The cultural affinities linking Dilthey, Weber and Simmel with Lukcs and Benjamin are illustrated in an obvious way by the fact that Lukcs studied with Weber in Heidelberg and attended Diltheys lectures in Berlin, and also by the fact that both Lukcs and Benjamin attended Simmels

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lectures in Berlin. But there are deeper affinities related to the cataclysmic impact of World War I and the evident reality, across the generational divide separating the first three from the younger radicals, that the transition to modernity in Germany and other parts of central Europe was going to be far more difficult than it was in Great Britain, France and the United States. In fact, Lukcs and Benjamin did not begin their careers as political militants. They were initially more centrally concerned with the impact of industrialization and democratization on tradition and culture. After grappling with the diagnoses of Simmel and Weber, they were forced to the conclusion that the looming collapse of the liberal democratic order symbolized by the war was not likely to be patched up with more liberal democracy, and that it was far more likely that there was either going to be radical change or brutal political reaction.1 It was at this point that they began to read Marx and especially Simmel as thinkers capable of explaining why it is pointless to try to save culture from the economy, since the economy, culture and the state have to be taken as distinct moments of a dialectically mediated and nonetheless decentred totality. It is really the author of the Philosophy of Money who shows that the dynamics of modern forms of money-based exchange and Wechselwirkung make it highly problematic to separate the mode of production categorically from either the mode of consumption or the mode of artistic and cultural reception. To a fertile political imagination, Simmels work suggests that if one cannot isolate the economic base of society from its legal, political and artistic superstructure, it is also politically disastrous to analyse the economy in terms of its autonomous laws. As will be seen in the second part of this chapter, Benjamin was especially impressed by Simmels notion that reciprocal interactive exchanges structure the relation between commodity production, architectural innovation and changes in fashion in ways that are neither monocausal or arbitrary and accidental.2 Lukcs and Benjamin came to see that some form of democracy is the inevitable consequence of industrialization. The most urgent question in the years immediately following World War I became the following: would it be a liberal democracy with limited, formal participation of citizens in representative institutions and minimal rights for workers, or an authoritarian pseudo-democracy based on the coerced integration of the working masses into the political machinery of the state, as was later to be the case to differing degrees in Fascist Italy, National Socialist Germany and Francos Spain? Or would it be a real democracy based on self-government institutionalized in workers councils and other organs of genuine democratic accountability? Given that a liberal democratic solution seemed improbable

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in central Europe, and that the forces of reaction were likely to be wellorganized and armed, Lukcs and Benjamin conclude that only a revolution can avert a catastrophe, that is, something more fundamental than a systemic crisis, and in the process lay the groundwork for a new culture capable of regenerating human creativity in the era of industrial production and democratic government. Beginning with an analysis of Lukcs History and Class Consciousness (1923), this chapter focuses on their respective transitions from existential cultural criticism to revolutionary politics and a Marxist critique of instrumental reason.

Georg Lukcs from Lebensphilosophie and Simmel to Lenin and Revolution


In The Soul and the Forms (1911) and the Theory of the Novel (written in 1916, published in 1920), Lukcs advances a thesis evidently derived from the sociological analyses of Simmel and Weber, which is that the problems of modern art must be resolved in socio-historical and political rather than aesthetic terms. He analyses the evolution of literary form from the heroic epic and epos to the novel, and concludes that while in previous social formations art, life, society and meaning were interwoven in an organic whole, the modern era is characterized by the fragmentation of experience and pervasive disenchantment with the world. Apart from the brilliance of Sren Kierkegaards (181355) existential philosophy, however, this fragmentation had been met with the equally unsatisfactory solutions of relativist mysticism and dogmatic positivism. It was this belief that informed his subsequent defence of realism as an art form and his consistent rejection of modernist aesthetics in all its varieties.3 Lukcs contrasts Homers world and the place of the individual within it with modern bourgeois civilization. In ancient Greece, he submits, there is a mediated unity of humanity and nature which pervades all aspects of culture. This spontaneity is registered in Homers poetry, where the collective and individual dimensions of existence are harmonized in a concrete totality in which there is no major discrepancy between the historical process and the sense of everyday life. By contrast, the modern novel attests to the increasing difficulty of a rational mediation between individual freedom and collective needs, which for Lukcs means that individual freedom becomes focused on the internal, psychological projections of individual desires at the same time that objective institutional expressions of communal existence such as the state seem distant and estranged from its participants. In terms reminiscent of Simmels (1900) essay on the drifting apart of objective and subjective culture, Lukcs regards the appearance of the novel

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as symptomatic of a diminution of the reality-content of experience and the related attenuation of the individuals understanding of the mediations between culture, state, economy and history, that is, mediations which make experience meaningful and cognitively valid. Following on from Simmels analysis of the modalities through which money privatizes experience and depersonalizes and denaturalizes domination, in the Theory of the Novel Lukcs suggests that the privatization of experience is accompanied by a shift from historical and philosophical explanation characteristic of thinkers like Hegel and Marx, to the historicized psychology of Dilthey and the impressionistic intuitionism of modern novelists such as Proust and Joyce.4 In Lukcs estimation, this shift is clearly dangerous because of what he holds to be the historically proven tendency for obscurantist art to further the cause of irrational, authoritarian politics. But in the years following the publication of The Soul and the Forms and the Theory of the Novel, he becomes convinced that it is also revealing of an unprecedented political possibility offered by the eventual arrival of a social formation in which all traces of personalized, quasi-natural modes of domination have been replaced by thoroughly historical, denaturalized social relations. These are social relations mired in bureaucratized hierarchy, as Webers analysis of legal-rational domination shows. But the depersonalization of domination creates a situation where for the first time ever, these are increasingly transparent relations which are slowly but inexorably being purified of the last residues of naturalist mythology and hierarchy, as a radical reading of Simmel probably suggested to him. On this reading, caste and more recently class structures can be seen as residues of pre-social formations characterized by naturally ordained hierarchies legitimated by ultimately philosophically or theologically metaphysical ideologies. The appearance of thoroughly socialized orders in industrial societies creates a situation where social relations become fully knowable, and indeed, correctly known by a subject whose self-knowledge is potentially synonymous with objective knowledge of the entirety of mediations constituting socio-historical reality. Hence it will be seen below that Lukcs insists on the primacy of historical over psychological and anthropological explanation, in an attempt to demonstrate that existing forms of consciousness and state are not timeless products of a static human nature destined to be produced and reproduced in the manner of the ever recurring seasons of the year. He suggests that literature has always taught people how to be human, and that great literature does this in particularly brilliant and original ways that illuminate the specific epistemological and political potential of determinate

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historical epochs. The task of literature in the aftermath of World War I must become the explicitly political and realist task of showing why the potential for a fully rational and humanized society, that is, a society liberated from natural scarcity and personalized forms of domination such as those exercised by emperors, clerics and kings, is exponentially increased in the era of industrialization and democracy. Writers such as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy take decisive steps in this direction. But in the years following World War I and the Russian Revolution, it is really the appearance of workers councils in Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, Munich and elsewhere that signalled the coming of a fully humanized society of free individuals. Indeed, the revolution seemed to herald the advent of altogether new modes of industrial organization, artistic production and aesthetic reception. When these hopes were dashed by the triumph of political reaction, Lukcs felt compelled to examine what appeared to be the tenacity of reified consciousness in even the most revolutionary situations. A very brief look at the council movements and Lukcs participation in them will thus serve as an appropriate introduction to the critique of reification and instrumental reason developed in History and Class Consciousness.5 At the turn of the century and in the period leading up to World War I, Hungarian society was in many ways still characterized by feudal institutions and political traditions. The War resulted in a generational and political conflict between those who, like Weber and Simmel, regarded it as the duty of all German citizens to support the nations war aims, and those such as Benjamin, Lukcs and Ernst Bloch (18851977, author of the Principle of Hope, 3 volumes, 195559) who saw the conflict as the unequivocal product of monopolies and imperialism, waged in large measure in order to facilitate the transition to a new capitalist order in Europe and North America. Lukcs left Budapest for Berlin in 1909, studied with Weber in Heidelberg during the years 191217, whereupon he returned to Budapest in order to be an anti-war intellectual and activist. He read Marxs early works as well as Rosa Luxemburgs (18701919) writings on the general strike and other topics, and was a member of the Social Science Society. His dissatisfaction with the reformist orientation of the Society led him to break away and co-found the Free School for Human Sciences, with the avowed aim of steering clear of any attempt to popularize knowledge in return for political influence on Hungarian social democracy. The group remained largely cut off from the mainstream intellectual circles which supported the Austro-Hungarian monarchys war efforts, and isolated too from the Hungarian workers movement. Circumstances changed, however, with the Russian Revolution of October 1917, and the collapse of the

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Austro-Hungarian monarchy that followed in 1918. At this point Lukcs began to evolve from a literary theorist to a radical philosophical idealist with syndicalist leanings on questions of ethics, workers democracy and spontaneous strikes.6 On 16 November 1918 Hungary declared its separation from Austria and proclaimed its independence as a democratic republic. This event was preceded by the spontaneous rise and spread of workers councils that had proliferated in factories and workshops since June, and was followed by the founding of the Hungarian Communist Party (HCP) in November of that year, lead by Bla Kun. The HCP openly declared its intention to follow the Bolsheviks by combining firm communist party leadership with workplace democracy institutionalized in workers, soldiers and peasants councils. This obviously put tremendous strain on the newly founded republic. The growing influence of the Party led to a polarization of the Hungarian political situation, pitting the government and its social democratic allies against the communists and their allies in the councils. Workers, peasants and the radical bourgeois intelligentsia began making demands for a decisive break with the past and the construction of a new social order. These tensions increased during the course of 1919, as demonstrations and strikes proliferated. The Hungarian government seemed very much subordinate to the demands of the victorious Entente, which wanted to divide the new country according to French, English and American interests. The government attempted to prove that it was in control of the situation by arresting the HCP leadership, a move which backfired and contributed to a precipitous loss of popular support among the liberal and petit bourgeoisie. The Hungarian Social Democratic Party (HSDP) seized the initiative by proposing a coalition government with Kuns communists. Kun elaborated a document of joint principles for the two parties which were clearly inspired by the October Revolution in Russia, and which were adopted by the Social Democrats in the hope that they could regain their influence among the workers and peasants. In March 1919 Karolyis liberal democratic government resigned and was replaced by a council republic led by Bla Kun.7 Lukcs joined the HCP in December 1918, despite the fact that as late as November 1918 his syndicalist commitment to workers self-government inspired a critical stance towards the Russian Revolution and his initial characterization of it as authoritarian and undemocratic. This scepticism was reciprocated by Party members, who regarded him as somewhat of a mad Hegelian rather than a Marxist revolutionary. He gave lectures at the University of Budapest about revolutionary ethics, and contributed to the

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editing of the journal Internationale. In 1919 he wrote a series of articles published together under the title Tactics and Ethics, in which he looks at three main issues: the relation between communism and ethics, the relation between party and class, and, what was to become the central topic of History and Class Consciousness, the role of class consciousness in the revolution. The publication of Tactics and Ethics thus accompanied Lukcs practical experience as minister of culture in the short-lived Hungarian Council Republic, which lasted from 21 March to 2 August 1919. As might be expected, the new republic proclaimed its adherence to the principles of Marxism and its allegiance to the traditions of workers control established by the Paris Commune and the Russian Soviets. Hopes for a Hungarian Revolution based on council democracy were fuelled by council movements in Germany and Austria in 1919, all three of which seemed to indicate that the Russian Revolution would not remain an isolated event. But in reality the objective historical and subjective cultural conditions for revolution were not particularly favourable in any of the three countries in question. In the first instance it would have been necessary for the council republics to develop military capacity to withstand an eventual intervention on the part of the victorious Entente powers, and this was in no way possible. In the specific case of Hungary, political tensions and ideological differences between socialists and communists also contributed to the undermining of any radical alternative to parliamentary democracy.8 The collapse of the Hungarian council republic resulted in a critique of council republicanism on the part of the Third Communist International, also known as the Comintern, founded in Moscow in March 1919. In 1920 the Comintern leadership also issued its (in)famous declaration of 21 points stipulating the conditions of membership in the international communist movement, first among which was adherence to the principles of democratic centralism, that is, Bolshevik-style party organization. In effect, the real authority of the Third International, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), was officially proclaiming its intention to subordinate council democracy to party direction in all countries where councils and communist parties coexisted. Shortly thereafter Lenin wrote Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder, which reiterated the superiority of Bolshevik organization over syndicalist, anarchist and council communist understandings of the revolution. At this stage Lukcs and many Hungarian council communists were not in agreement with these positions.9 In September 1919 Lukcs fled from Budapest to Vienna. The new centre-right Hungarian government issued a warrant for his arrest one month later, which was rescinded as a result of an open letter signed

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by Thomas Mann and a number of other prominent central European intellectuals. In the wake of the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution and the failure of council movements in Italy and most notably in Germany in March 1921, Lukcs began working on the collection of essays that were to become History and Class Consciousness. The most renowned essay of the group is undoubtedly Reification and Proletarian Consciousness, which was to become a key text of Western Marxism and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School. Yet there are recurrent themes which link that seminal piece with others included in History and Class Consciousness, such as What is Orthodox Marxism?, and Class Consciousness. At the centre of Lukcs reflections is the conviction that the defeat of the council republics was not so much a product of unfavourable sociological conditions or mistaken strategic alliances which isolated the working class. The real obstacle to revolution was the absence of revolutionary class consciousness and its principal cause capitalist relations of production and the reified forms of consciousness that capitalism engenders among all those involved in the production process. Hence it is the task of the vanguard of the working class to show how everyday consciousness and reformist politics can be transcended by historical-political consciousness and revolutionary politics. For Lukcs, Hegelian dialectics and Marxist political economy explain how this can be achieved. Just as Hegel indicates how it is possible to discern the moment of truth in apparent falsity and the moment of falsity in what seems to be empirically true, Lukcs regards the transition from everyday to historical consciousness as an instance of Aufhebung of quantity into quality. The advent of socialized human relations, only partially inaugurated by capitalist forms of industrialization, provides the key condition for the realization of this transition. Hence from a certain moment in the development of modern capitalism onwards, the conditions of knowledge become sociohistorical rather than remaining naturally static. In a parallel movement, the conditions of transcendence develop along palpably political and immanent lines. The importance of becoming and the idea of quantityquality transformation will be explained in greater detail below. But it is worth stressing here that the kind of vanguard Lukcs has in mind in 191923, that is, prior to his abjuration (under duress) of the positions staked out in History and Class Consciousness, is in no way detached from the working class in the manner of a clandestine, insurrectionalconspiratorial organization that may have been appropriate for Russia in 1917. His thesis is that capitalist social relations engender reified forms of

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consciousness among everyone involved in the production process capitalists and workers in production, men and women in consumption. Economy, culture and the state must therefore be taken as distinct moments of a decentred and nonetheless dialectically mediated totality. Lukcs suggests that the vanguard has only to lay bare the structure of reality that is already central to everyones daily social experience in a manner analogous to the way that Kant tries to do this in pristine epistemological terms. The actuality of the revolution its objective possibility is constituted by the catastrophic permeation of capital into all areas of life and experience, thus making systemic adjustments and social democratic reformism obsolete. Instead of having to monopolize the revolution, in this situation the vanguard can simply spark it off. By agreeing to retract his theoretical position and acknowledge its inadequacies, Lukcs really had either to evolve towards a more messianic, spontaneous revolutionary position like the one adopted by Benjamin, which dispenses with the vanguard altogether, or to embrace the Marxist-Leninist view, which embraces the leading role of the party.10 History and Class Consciousness builds on Marxs analyses of commodity fetishism, reification and alienation in Capital and other writings. But in contrast to Marx, who proceeds from Hegel and Feuerbach to historical materialism, Lukcs moves from Marx back to Hegels subject-object dialectics in order to analyse reification as an epistemological problem which can no longer be solved philosophically, that is, as an absolutely fundamental problem about knowledge which requires a practical political solution because the moment for its theoretical resolution as a knowledge problem has been made redundant by history.11 Many commentators, including classical political philosophers such as Rousseau, analyse the various ways in which socio-economic inequality and political democracy are incompatible. Lukcs explains that after revolutionizing consciousness and political forms in the transition from feudal-agrarianism to capitalism, capitalist production relations in their turn become impediments to the further development of humanitys productive forces. These relations become barriers to historicized, political reason and a more fully rational mediation between humanity and nature in the labour process and in the knowledge process more generally. The analogy with Kant is once again pertinent. Time is reified and reason made instrumental when the transition from natural, linear time to historical time is blocked. Reification thus blocks the transition from individual, natural reason and experience to collective, political reason.12 But Lukcs follows Marx in insisting that humankind does not ask itself questions for which the objective conditions

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required to answer them are not present. Lukcs argues that the conditions for the revolutionary praxis of unblocking are fulfilled with the appearance of the proletariat. That is to say that the proletariat is both the essential condition of non-instrumental, political reason, and an impediment to the realization of that form of reason. Its epistemological-political task is to abolish itself by realizing its essence in a new social form classless communism.13 Lukcs offers a series of very original ideas about time, reason and history, and in so doing provides a philosophical contribution to critical knowledge without which Heideggers Being and Time (1927) and a number of other key philosophical tracts of the twentieth century, including Adornos Negative Dialectics (1966), may never have come to fruition. Moreover, Lukcs sketches a critique of metaphysics which had a major impact on Maurice Merleau-Ponty (190861) and other phenomenological philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre (190580).14 The following analysis will focus on Lukcs critique of reified consciousness, reified time and instrumental reason, all of which are related to a more general critique of metaphysics in his work.15 In History and Class Consciousness Lukcs links the epistemological project of overcoming metaphysical dualisms with the political project of revolutionizing reified social relations. In the previous chapter it was seen that Kantian philosophy marks a decisive step on this road, since Kant introduces a dialectical element into epistemology which supersedes the inadequacies of the rationalist dualism between humanity and nature and the empiricist identity between humanity and nature. Kant does this by demonstrating that the correct theoretical question is not whether reality is to be sought in an unshakeable mental foundation separated from nature, or in passive unity with causally determined nature. It is to be sought instead by posing the question how nature as an object of knowledge is possible, that is, by asking under what conditions knowledge is possible. The key condition is neither a rationalist foundation nor a random gatherer of sense impressions, but instead a subject that has formal knowledge of phenomena as they present themselves to the 12 categories of the subjects understanding in time and space. As far as Lukcs is concerned, Kant seems sure that there can be no pure, unmediated objectivity, since all objectivity is mediated by human subjectivity in the guise of the 12 categories and time and space, and by extension, he is confident that there can be no unmediated unity between citizens and the state or between theory and practice that is not authoritarian. In Kant the epistemological reality positing the limits to human knowledge finds a significant complement in the political reality that freedom can only be rational if it is formal and juridical, lest,

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that is, it becomes arbitrary and irrational. Although this discovery constitutes a great leap forward vis--vis his philosophical predecessors, Kants epistemology and political thought remain trapped in a series of dualisms (phenomenon/thing in itself, subject/object, ethics/politics, theory/practice, etc.) which Lukcs, following Hegel, sets out to deconstruct and overcome in the essay Reification and Proletarian Consciousness.16 Lukcs starting-point is that the transformation of labour power into commodities through the wage system creates a reified consciousness in producers and consumers alike, that is, what Simmel describes in sociological terms as the drifting apart of subjective and objective culture. There are two major consequences that follow. The first is the spread of instrumental rationality to virtually all areas of social life, that is, what Weber analyses in terms of rationalization and disenchantment, and in any case, its spread well beyond a determinate sphere that might be demarcated from others as the economy. The second is that reification induces producers and consumers to misconstrue fluid social relations between people as natural relations between things with an autonomous life of their own. Lukcs argument can be summed up as follows: the revolutionary character of this historically unique situation is that the seemingly insurmountable barrier between the knowable phenomenon and the noumenal thing in itself ceases to be natural-anthropological, timeless and metaphysical; for the first time in the epistemological medium of history, the barrier reveals itself to be a relation dependent on the mode of production and the forms of consciousness corresponding to it. That is, the barrier may seem insurmountable as long as it is apprehended as a thing by a generic human in abstraction from political and socio-economic class relations, and the object of cognition is apprehended within a temporal medium deemed natural and linear rather than historical and political. Within the medium of non-historical time, mechanical modes of cognition which isolate and reify the objects of cognition appear to be the most rational and rigorously scientific. As a corollary, the most rational and freedom-enhancing forms of government are those which allow citizens, understood as isolated, individual units, to pursue their private aims with the least possible interference from other isolated private units in the manner of objects on a frictionless plane or bodies falling to the earth unimpeded by anything other than gravity. Freedom is regarded in negative terms as protection from external interference, and reason is the instrumental tool needed to secure that protection. On this account, the legitimate state is really only there to enforce the invariable laws guiding the autonomous movements of the isolated units constituting the citizenry.

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The first stage towards revolution is initiated when the object of cognition ceases to be apprehended as a thing and is grasped instead as a relation that can be transformed by the active knowledge of producers in their practical-transformative labour as workers. The second stage sets in as it becomes clear that it is now possible to revolutionize socio-political relations among people who, up until that historical juncture, had understood and lived these relations as if they were governed by external mechanical causality. In that moment the space between people need no longer be a barrier between them, freedom need no longer be conceived in negative terms as protection, and reason finds an institutional form for its realization as knowledge. In Lukcs estimation, and in a mode of argument deliberately based on Hegels account of the successive phenomenological forms consciousness assumes on its way from brute nature to self-consciousness and reason, the complete denaturalization of human relations is the necessary, essential condition for the advent of a truly humanized, postmetaphysical society with post-metaphysical epistemology and politically rational freedom. Humanity has suffered as a result of the alienation and reification wrought by industrial capitalism, but it is industrial capitalism that delivers the fulfilment of the essential condition for freedom.17 Following Simmel, Lukcs maintains that modern forms of moneybased economy perform this denaturalizing function. Yet Simmel indicates that social form does indeed acquire a real existence of its own that endeavours to secure the condition of its own functions. This is one of the many results of reciprocal interactive exchanges. Social form, emblematically represented by money, mediates between trading partners in a way that is more than a sum of their respective inputs, and never reducible to their individual essences. By relocating the synthetic mediation of humanity and nature in individual and group exchange instead of anchoring it in individual, natural consciousness (Kant) or in collective labour power (Marx), Simmel decentres epistemological inquiry in a way that points beyond liberal democratic metaphysics and its antinomies in an even more decisive fashion than Marxism. Yet from Lukcs perspective, to the extent that the monolithic subject of thinking becomes displaced into a many-sided participant in work, exchange and consumption, the potential political gain of denaturalization is offset. This is because Simmel reduces rational agency to the stabilizing requirements of social function. He may well except unusual cases of individual artistic creativity from this tendency, but, Lukcs argues, Simmel is unduly dismissive of the possibility of collective agency.18 For Simmel, who comes very close in this instance to Marxs notion that under capitalism citizens become bearers of socio-economic relations, this doubt

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about collective agency is underpinned by what he sees as the deepening discrepancy between objective and subjective culture. This is a development that Benjamin understands in theological terms as profanization as much as in Marxist terms as fetishism and alienation, as will be seen. Simmel implicitly refutes the argument for collective subjectivity as a return to a pre-sociological understanding of agency and a simultaneously mistaken understanding of knowledge based on timeless categories (subject-object, humanity, nature, reason, etc.), that is, two sides of the same outmoded coin.19 In any case it is clear to Lukcs that liberal democratic notions of autonomy have been undermined in practice by the actual functioning of the capitalist economy. This signals the imminent collapse of the bourgeois order and suggests that Hegel and Marx, whose thought bears a minor sociological deficit, have to be rounded out and completed by Simmel, who in turn needs a Hegelian-Marxist correction due to the historical deficit in his philosophical sociology.20 Re-articulating Hegel and Marx with Simmel in mind, Lukcs submits that the dualism between knowing subject and known world can be overcome at the precise historical junction when a collective social subject appears that knows the objective world that it creates through its own labour power. At this point theory and knowledge are no longer separate from practice and the known. By uniting theory and practice, formal knowledge and ahistorical consciousness are transcended. The gulf between subjective and objective culture, which reaches catastrophic proportions in the course of capitalist industrialization, can finally be bridged. The abolition of metaphysical epistemological dualisms is accomplished in the same stroke as the abolition of reified, largely functional social relations in which the separation of the means of production from the producers is the real cause of imperfect knowledge and flawed forms of negative-individual, formal-juridical freedom. In History and Class Consciousness, the collective subject alluded to is the proletariat rather than the party or the party leadership. By 1924 Lukcs was forced to retract his position and endorse the vanguard model, which he does in somewhat sycophantic terms in his brief book Lenin, where he identifies the thought of the Bolshevik leader as the most advanced theoretical articulation of dialectical materialism.21 In concluding this first section of Chapter 2, it is perhaps worth stressing that Lukcs critique of metaphysics is not exactly or not only a critique of the traditional, idealist philosophy of consciousness, as this term is sometimes used by theorists such as Habermas and Ernst Tugendhat. As has been seen so far, there are several dimensions to Lukcs argument, including his

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theory of historical and social denaturalization and the related notion of the possible transition from linear, temporal quantity to historical, politicalrational quality. His case for the reality of collective experience is decidedly not psychological; he wants to show that in the proletariat collective consciousness is potentially objective consciousness and not simply a social democratic, prehistorical and psychological disposition to solidarity that can be dissipated by a change in mood or a rise in salary. The difference between objective consciousness and a vague inclination to help and redistribute is an epistemological one corroborating the point made at the outset of this discussion: following Hegel, Lukcs regards dialectics as the structure of socio-historical reality itself, and not as an instrumental or neutral method that is cut off from reality and then applied to the real in order to know it. This is why he analyses reification as an epistemological problem which can no longer be solved in purely philosophical terms. It requires a practical political solution because the moment for its theoretical resolution has been eclipsed by history, just as, by analogy, it is no longer possible to solve the problems of modern art in purely aesthetic terms. One cannot hope to restore the cognitive content of reason any more than one can salvage or bring back the meaning of traditional aesthetic experience after the demise of religion. This explains why the revolution dialectically embraces epistemology, aesthetics and politics, and, going to the root of the matter, there is nothing short of communism that can accomplish this nonrestorative revolution. Since, from 19141918 onwards, the heroic period of the bourgeoisie belongs to the historical past, any attempt to patch up tradition on these fronts is only going to be far more mechanical and authoritarian in practice than it was when the bourgeoisie was in its ascendancy. For Lukcs, this confronts humanity with a stark alternative: benign or less benign forms of fascism, on the one hand, or radical political change, on the other.22 If metaphysical thinking has a hand in reducing historical time to natural time, it also misconstrues the relation between thinking and being as static. All of these problems amount to different ways of reducing objective reality to an individualist anthropological psychology that cannot really think the medium of history as something fundamentally other than the gradual evolution of all of immature humankind towards the maturity of liberal democratic conceptions of reason, freedom and politics. According to the terms set out by such thinking, a bourgeois is simply a proletarian with money, and a proletarian is a bourgeois without money, so that politics is more or less exhausted in finding expedient solutions to govern their life together in society in a way that is also fair to all concerned.

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Since everybody has pretty much the same aspirations and problems, the right combination of coordinating merit and luck should provide the solutions. But for Lukcs and Benjamin there will never be an expedient solution to this problem that is also a fair solution in reality, any more than there will be an instrumentally rational solution to the problem which does not actually perpetuate the problem in new guises. Benjamin attempts to explain why in On the Critique of Violence (1921) and other writings.

Walter Benjamins Critique of Violence and Paris Passages


The critique of instrumental reason and language that runs throughout Benjamins work is guided by Simmels understanding of pluridirectional causality, and is informed by Lukcs notion that the heroic period of the bourgeoisie belongs to the historical past. Benjamin is also broadly in agreement with Lukcs that any attempt to patch up tradition in the wake of industrialization can only result in more authoritarian political and social forms than those ushered in by the bourgeoisie in the period of its ascendancy.23 For Benjamin this means that given the correct interpretation of historical time, and the appropriate language for its explication, it becomes possible to see and understand the ruins of bourgeois civilization before they actually become ruins. If this happens, it may be possible to convert the historical process, marked by the recurrent catastrophe of war and exploitation, into redemptive revolution.24 Hence for Benjamin there is an intimate relation between instrumental reason, linear time, commodity fetishism, fashion and instrumental legitimacy. Central to his overall project is the attempt to show that although these phenomena are all related, they are not by-products of the mode of production in any monocausal or economically mechanical way. They relate to each other in the manner of the various parts of a constellation, such that each element is unthinkable or illegible without the other, and yet, each phenomenon is a discrete monad that relates to the others in a non-deterministic and non-accidental way. This constitutes a very original innovation of Simmels notion of the interactive exchange. Like Lukcs, Benjamin feels compelled to understand the consequences of industrialization for culture, and, like the author of History and Class Consciousness, he realizes that there is no plausible return to traditional societies or the forms of order that enabled authoritative works of art to emerge in them. For Lukcs and Benjamin, the crisis of the authority of art is part of a more general crisis of authority in modern industrial societies, and attests to the objective possibility of revolution. From Benjamins perspective, one cannot hope to save past art from the

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onslaught of capitalism and progress by preserving it as artefacts in museums, since this only serves to trivialize the truth content of art and turn it into Kitsch. As ambitious as it may sound, Benjamins version of going to the root of the matter is the following: instead of trying to save past art, one has to save the past itself, for to forsake the past means sacrificing present generations to a future that never arrives. This suggests that Benjamins radicalization of Dilthey is more radical than even Lukcs, since Benjamin seems to be saying that the past is not simply gone, for if it was, so too would the future be gone in the sense that it would be already written and determined. Another way of making this point is by stressing that the truth does not cease to be true when the actual moment of truth enters the past, any more than injustice terminates with the termination of the life of the exploited and oppressed. Thus justice must be concerned with something more than mere life.25 To this extent he argues that the dichotomies true/ false (in an ahistorical, timeless present) and past/present (linear continuum) are misleading, because the real key to accurate history writing and an understanding of justice is the awareness that one falsifies the truth by falsifying the past and vice versa. He reckons that the truth is awaiting redemption in a divine moment that breaks the past-present-future continuum, lest the truthful be confused with the victorious, and justice be mistaken for expedience or some version of payment in kind. Hence the extent to which language can be an appropriate medium of truth is a fundamental problem for Benjamin, as is the hermeneutic circle concerning the validity of knowledge, especially as this applies to history. In its most basic formulation, the problem of the hermeneutic circle can be stated as follows: how can one recognize a new increment in knowledge as knowledge without already knowing what knowledge is, that is, how does one know what knowledge is without presuming prior knowledge of knowledge? This epistemological problem has important ramifications in the light of Hegel and Diltheys distinction between time and history, and the latters insistence on the specificity of the methodology of the human sciences and the role of interpretation within them. If there is knowledge in history it must surely have to do with interpreting and understanding historical events beyond chronological sequence, and it must entail a theory of causality that is different than the causal models appropriate in the natural sciences with their modalities of external observation and planned control of variables. Benjamin intuits that in historical terms, the possibility of truth depends upon what he refers to as its recognizability, which in turn depends upon the discovery of a medium in which distinctions such as those between history/time, justice/payment in kind and

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reason/rationalization have sense or could make sense. It is his firm conviction that the appropriate medium is a form of religious experience in which the distinctions between hope/wishful thinking, progress/redemption, revelation/logical proof, crisis/catastrophe, and so on are visible to a collective consciousness that has suddenly been awakened from the epistemological equivalent of the torpor of a long dream. Unlike Hegel, Marx and Lukcs, therefore, his version of the transformation of quantity into quality is that of dreaming into waking. He seeks to show the truth in allegorical images striving to illuminate absolute historical singularity of places and events, rather than in terms of linguistic signs which can be substituted for each other without loss of meaning. Hence Benjamin suggests that while his theological messianism is actually materialist and concrete, reactionary thinking is idealist, mythological and apologetic of violence.26 In order to convert recurrent catastrophe into redemptive revolution, he submits, one must first perform a systematic deconstruction of mythological thinking and mythological violence in all its guises, especially in relation to those instances and institutions where myth proposes itself as secular and anti-mythological, such as in the capitalist economy and the bourgeois legal system. Such deconstruction prepares the ground for revolution in that it places humanity in a position to experience what Benjamin refers to as a profane illumination, that is, a kind of radicalizing, semi-secular epiphany, in which mythology in all its forms is exposed for what it is.27 Inherent in his conception of myth is the idea that the mythological presents itself as a rational answer to natural, legal and historical violence in a way that denies, forgets or conceals its own violent origins. This fundamental denial structures consciousness and institutions in such a way that the violent moment of foundation continually re-surfaces in unforeseen places and in unpredictable ways in the manner of a symptom whose cause is forgotten, buried, or, in even more explicitly Freudian terms, repressed. Benjamin holds that what is repressed never disappears completely, nor does it die a natural death it either transforms itself in potentially infinite variations, in the manner of totem and myth, or it is confronted and abolished. This is why violence and catastrophe remain the norm until the actual relations between symptom and cause, means and ends, legality and legitimacy, and empty time and redemptive time are finally understood and assigned their proper places and names. In his later writings, such as The Paris Arcades Project (192740) and the Theses on the Philosophy of History (1940), Benjamin construes this kind of enlightened understanding as the correct reception by the masses of a dialectical image

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that the historical materialist philosopher creates out of the ruins and fragments of the past.28 In On the Tasks of the Coming Philosophy (1918) and the Critique of Violence (1921), he outlines the contours of understanding by way of a deconstruction of traditional metaphysical epistemology and of the mythical violence underpinning legal forms of legitimacy. In so far, it can be said that in the course of the 1920s and 1930s he moves from a conceptual to a mimetic-visual epistemology in which concepts are supplemented and in some cases replaced with images that Benjamin sometimes refers to as Denkbilder (thought-images). These are images that attempt to decongeal forms of knowledge about the past that have been frozen by forms of language and consciousness which suffer from the drifting apart of objective and subjective culture. The dialectical image flashes into the desecrated space where objects and objective reality have become separated from the subjects that name them. The term desecration is used to indicate the way in which Benjamin gives Simmels philosophy a messianic twist by reinterpreting the problem Simmel diagnoses. According to Benjamin, capitalist commodity production and fetishism do more than reify consciousness and separate the realities of the production process from the fantasy of consumers. They destroy the ultimately theological unity of naming authority and named thing, that is, they sever, albeit temporarily, humanitys union with divinity. The rest of this chapter will thus explore the movement in Benjamins thought from conceptual critique to mimetic-visual critique, beginning with the Critique of Violence. It will be seen that he adds a temporal dimension to the praxis of mimesis which enables him to attribute an epistemological valence to messianic time and a theological solution to the hermeneutic circle.29 In the Critique of Violence Benjamin maintains that the origins of legal violence are not explicable in terms of the discourses of natural and positive law. The mythological violence inherent in legal forms of legitimacy is only comprehensible when contrasted with the divine justice inherent in a legitimate form of law. Divine justice is pure justice free from the contradictions of means/ends and form/content which beset legal forms of legitimacy in their natural law and positive law variants. While natural law stipulates that non-rational means (legitimated violence) are justified in the enforcement of rational and just ends, positive law implies that rational means (consistently neutral procedure) are really also a rational end, regardless of the ends that rational means may have to serve. If in the first case just ends are misconstrued as an end in itself (forgetting the means), in the second case just means are misconstrued as an end in itself (ignoring the ends). Phrased in

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slightly different terms, natural law implicitly concedes that potentially barbarous means is the price for just ends; positive law implicitly concedes that potentially barbarous ends (there can be no guarantee about the results of rational procedure divorced from substantive rationality) is the price for just means. Benjamin hopes to show that just ends without just means are as mythical and violent as just means without just ends. He makes this point in an altogether different way with regard to mimesis, as will be seen below.30 For now the main point is that in juridical-political terms there is a dangerously contingent, or in Benjamins terms catastrophic blind spot that sanctions violence in the name of either just ends or just means. In juridical-theological terms the blind spot is analogous to the desecrated space where objects and objective reality have become separated from the subjects that name them. When this happens it becomes possible to do arbitrary things in the name of law, justice and truth that have nothing to do with their real meanings. The application of just, rational means for the attainment of just, rational ends, that is, a legitimate form of law and justice beyond punishment, is sacrificed to the apparent necessity of a politically expedient combination of natural law and positive law that subjugates substantive reason and truthful justice to authoritarian order and ahistorical myth. The point is that while the problems connected with the hermeneutic circle seem to be academic and philosophical, they actually touch upon an urgent issue of everyday life: how can justice be served without already knowing what justice is, bearing in mind that one will never know what justice is if one relies on ostensibly neutral means to arrive at something that is demonstrably not neutral, that is, justice? The coerced reconciliation of (1) means (2) legal form and (3) name, on the one hand, with (1) ends (2) legitimate content and (3) thing, on the other, is the real origin of violence that is transfigured into rationalized legality and different forms of fetishism. However secular and contemporary they may appear to be, these forms of rationality and totem are as ancient and instrumentally rational as most human institutions since Babel.31 In a similar vein it can be said that liberal democracy is the institutional form (means) for realizing political freedom (end). Its champions hasten to add that formal, representative democracy is far more than a mere means, since the democratic process is itself a rational and just end because free elections, freedom of expression and assembly and so on are ends in themselves. The analogy with natural and positive law is clear: rational means (consistently neutral procedure corresponds to free elections and freedom of press and assembly) are really also a rational end. Thus in the democratic

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process the legal means of formal freedoms serve the legitimate ends of substantive freedom understood as the collective self-government of the nation: free elections and public debate produce elected governments with a mandate to rule a free people. Benjamins question is: why, then, are the police, secret intelligence agencies, the army, and a state monopoly on the use of force necessary? Do the free people of the nation need protection from the unfree people, that is, from the enemies within? Why are there strikes, and what is their legal status? The phenomenon that Benjamin uncovers is that a legal form of legitimacy serves as a suitable institutional framework for the protection and promotion of private socio-economic interests such as those bound up with private property and capital. This becomes apparent when the right of workers to strike clashes with the prerogatives of capital to command what is produced, how it is to be produced, whether products and services are to be sold on international or national markets, and so on. Beyond the changing electoral fortunes of political parties and successive governments, the nation may well achieve a measure of unity in the state. But in sometimes more and sometimes less subtle ways, capital defines the needs of the nation on the basis of private decisions, many of which are irrational, arbitrary, and, in the last analysis, violent. In theory, legality and legitimacy are united in the democratic process. In practice, they are separated into normative-rational and non-normative functionalist components corresponding to the sleight of hand which simultaneously fuses and separates natural and positive law. On the one hand there is the egoistic citizen as an individual, rational, juridical subject. On the other hand there is the unified nation as a potentially irrational, collective entity whose needs can be arbitrarily defined by the supposed requirements of the situation, such as in cases where governments identify what they deem to be internal and external threats. Hence the state of exception, in which the normal functioning of laws and rights is suspended, is already implicitly declared by the conceptual and at times actual separation of the liberal democratic form of the state and its national-populist content. In the state of exception the masses, who seem to be an enraged mob and are portrayed as such by the mainstream media, can be sent to prison for striking or sent to war to die for the state, while the representatives of capital, who in fact in allegorical terms are the real mob, can assume the rational task of restoring order and adjusting the legal system in accordance with the new relations of force in society and international relations that helped produce the strike or war. It is in this context that Benjamin speaks of law-making and law-preserving violence, both of which are trapped in the means and ends problems characteristic of legal forms of legitimacy.32

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The legal and political blind spots referred to above can be traced back to the epistemological and theological problems raised by the hermeneutic circle. A central problem is illustrated by the observation that liberal democratic epistemology proceeds from a starting-point which is also a conclusion. This can be explained as follows: liberal democratic Enlightenment requires that reason indicate the boundaries of legitimate state intervention in peoples lives. More importantly, it requires that the claims of reason and legitimacy stop with the delineation of those coordinates. These are epistemological and political limits beyond which reason becomes irrational and states become illegitimate. Political legitimacy that acknowledges the limits of reason and limits itself to legitimate intervention and enforcement of a form of law that is itself neutral (means) with regard to competing conceptions of legitimacy is the indispensable precondition for the freedom of all (ends), and indeed, without this neutrality it would not be a guarantee of freedom for all. Hence liberals know what the preconditions of liberty are for all of rational humanity from a perspective that is already emancipated from illegitimate political intrusion into the naturally legitimate private sphere of interpersonal interaction and economic and social exchange. This is a sphere that is perhaps better captured by the term society in a global world than the term nation. But the question remains: if liberals know what the preconditions of liberty are for all of rational humanity from a perspective that is already emancipated from illegitimate political intrusion, what is to be done with irrational and unhealthy humanity? Foucault makes a decisive intervention here, as will be seen in Chapter 5. Returning to the key issues in this chapter, it is from the (supposedly) already emancipated position that the difference between the practice of legitimate law enforcement and the illegitimate abuse of law is ascertainable. Yet Benjamin indicates that exchange, especially of labour power for money, is really in many instances a case of threat and theft legitimated by contract and exempted from rational political and juridical critique on the grounds that such critique would in effect transgress the injunction to remain neutral with regard to competing conceptions of legitimacy. This would constitute an intolerable infringement of something more fundamental than any mere means freedom and thus cannot be permitted. In this context liberal neutrality, democratic universality and procedural justice enter into a symmetrical relation with negative liberty, natural law and positive law. To return to the point made in relation to Simmel at the outset of this second section, these phenomena are all related in a nondeterministic and yet non-accidental way in the manner of a constellation, and decidedly not as superstructures explainable solely in terms of the

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mode of production. This informs Benjamins belief that there is no way to reform this system or make it work for more just or more rational ends: a specific kind of rationality pervades the entire constellation in ways that make it impervious to critique and insusceptible to structural change. He suggests further that the blind spots that some sociologists and reformist politicians may attempt to explain in terms of contingency, complexity and progress are really reminders of the mythological origins (and continued functioning) of a profane rather than a truly secular system. Analogous to the idea that a half-truth is in some ways more misleading than a lie, he believes that the introduction of flawed and merely partial forms of reason can be more mythological than the unabashedly mythical. What many readers may find unacceptable is his suggestion that a truly secular system is impossible, such that the choice, if one can call it that, is really between truthful, messianic revolution, and a profanized, eternal return of the same in new guises. Needless to say he thinks the latter is unacceptable in the almost literal sense that it will finish in ruins at some point.33 Benjamin hints that just procedures will produce just results, but only if just results already exist in the form of procedures that are demonstrably just. Justice cannot be manufactured as an automatic by-product of juridical procedures that are neutral and universal in form rather than content. His point is that until the procedures are just ends in themselves, justice will be an instance of codified legal violence analysed by Weber as legalrational domination and exemplified by the fate of Joseph K. in Kafkas The Trial (1915). At the time of the writing of the Critique of Violence Benjamin resolves the tension between legality/legitimacy and means/ends with recourse to the notion of divine justice. The later works attempt to create dialectical images in the hope that the masses might awake from their commodity production induced sleep-walking trance, and fight against the capitalist mob and against social democratic conceptions of linear time and progress. One of the explanations as to why the popular masses can seem violent while the real mob can appear lawful and reasonable is because in the desecrated world of high capitalism epitomized by nineteenth-century Paris, language has been debased to such an extent that it becomes virtually impossible to say the truth with language and linguistic concepts. Law, labour power, art and language have been reduced to a mere means, such that ends in themselves like the truth, justice, freedom and legitimacy can no longer be adequately expressed with words. In Benjamins formulation it is not that the economic system determines the legal system, or that each system is somehow insulated from the other. Economics, politics, law and culture are all symptomatic of a phenomenon which since Marx and Simmel is most visible in economic terms but

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which, as shown in the Arcades Project and in Baudelaires poetry, is also comprehensible in architectural and literary terms.34 Simmel notes that the sociological and semiological distance between words and the things they represent is not natural or neutral, since it is a metaphorical distance mediated by history, tradition, and forms of law and exchange. This figurative distance becomes more remote and tenuous with the secularization of tradition and the systematic intensification of industry and the division of labour. For Benjamin, the objectivity of objects becomes increasingly unrecognizable to individual subjects who, in the transition from traditional mythology to modern mythology, project their will and fantasy upon the commodities they buy in their search for autonomy. The linguistic mediation between words and objects assumes the form of an instrumental mediation geared towards the satisfaction of individual whims rather than an act of communication in which the object is able to express something fundamental about its origins and history to an epistemologically receptive knower. The degradation of language through commodification undermines the uniqueness of events and places while destroying the singularity of objects. The object is reduced to the status of a tool in the self-assertion of the subject in their struggle for survival and happiness, and as such, can only bring temporary and incomplete satisfaction, thus producing frustrations and illusions that drive the process on further. Benjamins oeuvre is a constant interrogation of this condition and its dangers and possibilities. On the one hand, the divorce between words and things prepares the grounds for domination and worse. As seen in the analysis of Webers Politics as a Vocation in the previous chapter, the reduction of reality to the will of the subject becomes acutely dangerous if politics is organized as a competition between collective wills in which electoral triumph confers the right to govern on the basis of a largely arbitrary version of legitimacy, and to decide the modalities of states of exception suspending normal legal measures. On the other hand, the destruction of the uniqueness of the object is also synonymous with the end of what Benjamin refers to as its aura, and aura, he observes in relation to works of art, serves to preserve myth and domination justified in the name of tradition. Industrial modernity is potentially revolutionary in that it heralds the arrival of an epoch in which tradition has lost its authority to preserve humanitys relation with the divine. From that moment on, hierarchy becomes superfluous.35 Benjamins project to decongeal forms of knowledge about the past as well as his notion that the dialectical image flashes into the desecrated space where objects and objective reality have become separated from their real names indicates that he does not regard thinking as the innate faculty of every rational individual. It is also clear to him that reason is not simply

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part of the definition of what it means to be human. Thinking can happen when the flash alluded to is picked up or received by the thinker, and as such, it comes from outside of the thinker rather than from the protected space harboured in the inner citadel of consciousness.36 If the subject makes contact with that external, and in Diltheys sense, shocking instance of experience, the subject is reminded of something forgotten, repressed, or for the most part ignored, and that something is by no means part of an irretrievable past. Hence for Benjamin the condition of knowledge is not a subject, nor is thinking the process in which the subject re-appropriates the alienated forms of its thought and action. Thinking can occur when moments of truth in the living past intersect with those in the historical present, and are then distilled in images that bear within them past, present, subjective and objective dimensions in the manner of a diachronicsynchronic mimetic collage that has more in common with a Wechselwirkung and the surrealist notion of objective chance than it does with Hegelian or even Marxist dialectics.37 Mimetic knowledge occurs as an event in an epistemological field that extends beyond subject-object relations when such thinking joins these moments and dimensions, thus redeeming thought and its object from their reduction to a linguistic sign which can be substituted with another linguistic sign or concept. In that moment knowledge becomes visible and palpable in a way that breaks through the encrustations of symbolic thinking which represents things and relations in mythological terms still steeped in hierarchy and aura, instead of knowing them in rational terms made possible by production liberated from the commodity form. The object, phenomenon, or event that is known is suddenly there, in and for itself, because the means of knowing and the known end have been reunited in Gods perfect language. Hence Benjamin understands genuine knowledge as a kind of catharsis which transcends symbolic representation in art, language and politics. The epistemological-aesthetic problem of form and content is overcome in a revolutionary-messianic constellation in lieu of a Hegelian Aufhebung. A quick word on mimesis in this context may help illustrate how Benjamin thinks about questions of art and epistemology in conjunction with questions about politics and theology.38 According to a somewhat traditional conception of art as mimesis, art is the veritably magic praxis in which colours, sounds, lines and words that one can see and hear (form, means) but in a more fundamental sense are not really or completely there (because the choice of form is in some senses contingent and in any case infinitely modifiable), are necessary in order to let something appear that cannot be seen or heard in an unmediated way, but is really there (truth content, ends). This appears to be a paradox

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somewhat analogous to the democratic process being both a means and an end, where form is held to be both accidental and necessary, reflected too in the blind spots negotiating the vacillations between natural and positive law. One could say that in aesthetic mimesis one is witnessing a rational miracle akin to Michelangelos ability to make humanity see something that cannot be seen (the flesh) by way of something that can be seen (the body). Once again by way of analogy, legitimacy corresponds to the flesh and legality corresponds to the body, such that substantive freedom consists in liberating rational legitimacy, truth and ends from mythological legality, falsity and instrumental means. Benjamin thinks this can be done beyond the sublimation of truth in art characteristic of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The more pertinent point is perhaps that the truthful moment of sublimation has passed with the passing of the aura of art and the corresponding collapse of the authority of tradition. The passing of the truthful moment of sublimation in art is paralleled by the decline of legitimate law in politics and the reduction of truth to symbol in thought. These symptoms are all indicative of the fact that the mediations between nature, humanity and divinity have become instrumental to such a degree that, paraphrasing Hlderlin, action must be guided by the insight that where there is great danger, there is also hope.39 The way to hasten the modernist revolution is to pursue paradox and contradiction rather than accepting inconclusive idealist solutions based on distinctions like means/ends, form/content and phenomena/noumena. He intimates that such distinctions are arbitrary and based on impoverished forms of profane experience which ultimately serve the mythological ends of legal forms of legitimacy. The best way to understand these ends is to learn the visual, metahistorical language that allows one to see them appear as ruins before they actually collapse. This brings us to a few concluding words about the themes of The Paris Arcades Project and the Theses on the Philosophy of History.40 For Benjamin, pursuing paradox and contradiction entails conducting research which leads to the uncovering of a constellation parallel to the ruinous one constituted by liberal neutrality, ostensibly democratic universality, procedural justice, negative liberty, natural law and positive law. One cannot get from one to the other via the pursuit of typical notions of progress or increased standards of living. It occurs, if at all, in a breakthrough or leap from quantity to quality that has nothing to do with the technocratic management of economic growth for growths sake. Indeed, if economic growth or political order become ends in themselves, any means necessary to attain them become good (or at least pragmatically acceptable so much for neutrality). The leap in question can be understood as follows: the

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aesthetic praxis of visual mimesis which enables humanity to see something that cannot be seen by way of something that can be seen is intensified into a messianic praxis of temporal mimesis which enables humanity to convert legal, contractual relations back to classless, legitimate relations while at the same time converting dormant, commodified consciousness into awakened, lucid, consciousness. This awakening can also be understood as a movement from forgetting into cross-generational remembering and transmission of past experiences from the currently dead (humanitys ancestors) to the not yet fully living (contemporary humanity). Both groups could be redeemed and united in the revolution Benjamin has in mind.41 If this is to happen it will arrive in what Benjamin refers to as a now of recognizability or Nowtime (Jetztzeit) which breaks the past-present-future continuum. His overarching utopian vision of revolution is complemented by the more modest, preparatory tasks of translation, reading what has never been written, and imitating what has no original, that is, revealing what cannot be seen through that which can be seen.42 Freud and the surrealists indicate the path of research, since they show that it is indeed possible to read a dream, that is, something that has never been written. But there is more to the dream, in that like hope, it transgresses the historical continuum. If hope looks to the future through the lens of a real past experience, the dream can make sense of the past while imagining the future in a more real than imaginary way. In The Paris Arcades Project Benjamin cites Jules Michelets (17981874) notion that each epoch dreams the following one. Interpreting the statement as a historical materialist, Benjamin takes Michelet to mean that (1) humankind only sets itself tasks for which the requisite material conditions are already at hand, and (2) humankind always finds itself in a situation where its creative and productive capacities are repressed by existing institutions, in the absence of which humans dream into the future about possible solutions. Repression does not eliminate these capacities, but forces them instead to assume grotesque, even phantasmagorical political and architectural contours, such as the covered passages that sprung up in Paris in the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. He holds that the passage is like an archetypal structure-to-become-ruin in which the course of history is condensed into an unconsciously dreamt denial of reality. That denial assumes architectural and experiential form as wishful thinking and fetishized fantasy writ large, that is, written in a symbolic language of commodities and money that can be read and understood although it has not been written in any literal sense. It has to be read as a series of images that seek visibility in the way that human creative and productive energies

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seek rational political, juridical and aesthetic institutions beyond the dream world of covered passages and mythological violence.43 While the Arcades Project develops a phenomenology of the architecture, economy and moeurs of the dream world of commodified production and consumption over the course of some 1,350 pages, Benjamins Theses on the Philosophy of History offer a concise theological-political fragment on the subject of waking and remembering in some 10 pages.44 Here he demonstrates that the past has almost always been considered as a then towards which historians have stormed as if in conquest of an inaccessible fortress. The historical materialist revolutionary has to subvert this methodology so that the then can be grasped in quantity-quality terms as a dialectical shift or turning over. Earlier in this section it is suggested that the dichotomies true/false and past/present are misleading, because the real key to accurate history writing is the awareness that one falsifies the truth of the present by falsifying the past. In the Theses Benjamin maintains that the dichotomy waking/dormant must be replaced by a consideration of the relations between waking/past and dormant/present: he deconstructs traditional binaries and recouples their constituent terms in constellations rather than binaries. He thus contrasts the profane constellation constituted by liberal neutrality, commodity production, punitive justice, negative liberty, dormant consciousness, wishful thinking and linear time with creative production, divine justice, waking consciousness and messianic time. Remembering is very close, in his usage, to rediscovering, and to returning to a prelinguistic period of mimetic understanding in which similarities between discrete entities are generated without recourse to homogenizing symbols. What is to be discovered, he submits, is a primal first past of classlessness and noninstrumental communication. The memory of this time is deposited in the memory of successive generations in the manner of an archive.45 The opening up of this archive depends on a dialectical standstill in the historical continuum which, if heeded, forsakes the idea of progress in the name of a liberated humanity beyond past-present-future schemata. For Benjamin capitalism understood in comprehensive terms as an economy, culture and civilization will not abolish itself or simply be aufgehoben. Hence its transcendence cannot be awaited or negotiated into practice it must be enacted as a leap. This leap may materialize when the past and present enter into what Benjamin refers to as a now of recognizability. They then present themselves from the messianic perspective, that is, from the perspective of the revolution, such that certain fragments of the past intersect those of this moment, so that the events of the past become as photographic negatives awaiting the light of the present to attain full

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visibility. Full visibility produces a shock of a qualitatively different kind, and humanity awakens to embrace its classless origins.46 The possible objections to this vision are obviously too numerous to discuss here. But in the spirit of note 16 below regarding Lukcs, it might be replied that if Benjamin is radical beyond all plausibility, his impact and originality is clear. He also manages to ask important questions concerning the boundaries of the mythical and the rational. It has been suggested at various points in these first two chapters that Simmel introduces an aesthetic dimension to sociological inquiry that is subsequently expanded by Lukcs and especially by Benjamin. Many are likely to object that aesthetics is one thing, and sociology another, and politics is something else again. This may well be true in some senses. But one is also free to ask if this objection is not also an argument, however indirect and sophisticated, for order in the name of order, that is, for the perpetuation of the conditions of existence of a naturally legitimate private sphere of interpersonal interaction and economic and social exchange which is miraculously exempted from illegitimate political intrusion. Subsequent chapters attempt to provide some tentative answers.

Endnotes
1. It was actually Antonio Gramsci who said in May 1920 that The actual phase of the class struggle will either result in a revolution, or it will provoke a tremendous reaction on the part of the propertied classes. As it turned out Gramsci was right, at least about Italy, where Mussolini came to power in October 1922 in the infamous March on Rome. Lukcs and Benjamin intuited that a similar dynamic was at work in Germany, Austria and Hungary. See Gramsci, LOrdine Nuovo, 19191920 (New Order), Turin, Einaudi, 1975, p. 158. 2. Klaus Lichtblau, Georg Simmel, Frankfurt and New York, Campus, 1997, pp. 18, 234. Simmels sociological importance as well as his influence on Lukcs and Benjamin is difficult to overstate, as will become apparent at various stages in this chapter. In this context it might be mentioned that Simmels conception of the mode of consumption is more complex and nuanced than the Marxist notion of the sphere of circulation. While the latter tends to ignore cultural and other non-economic factors shaping the mode of production, the former attempts to illustrate the dynamic interaction between production, consumption, culture, social structure and social action. 3. For a look at Lukcs debates on the cultural politics of modernism versus realism, see the discussions reprinted in Rodney Livingstone, Perry Anderson and Francis Mulhern (eds), Aesthetics and Politics: Ernst Bloch, Georg Lukcs, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, London and New York, Verso, 1977. The volume contains a valuable Afterword by Frederic Jameson. 4. Simmel, Die Arbeitsteilung als Ursache fr das Auseinandertreten der subjektiven and der objektiven Kultur (The Division of Labour as the Cause for the Divergence of

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Objective and Subjective Culture, 1900), in Dahme and Ramstedt (eds), Georg Simmel: Schriften zur Sociologie; Lukcs, Die Seele und die Formen: Ein geschichtsphilosophischer Versuch ber die Formen der grossen Epik (The Soul and the Forms), Berlin, Egon Fleischel & Co., 1911, pp. 2532); and Lukcs, Die Theorie des Romans (Theory of the Novel, written in 1916, published in 1920), Munich, DTV, 1994, 1962 Foreword and pp. 312. Lukcs adamantly exempts Thomas Mann (18751955) from his list of irrational modernists, since Mann openly represents the conflict between Lebensphilosophie and creative vitality with the decaying forms of bourgeois civilization. Although a modernist, for Lukcs Mann is also part of the great realist tradition including writers such as Balzac and Tolstoy. See his Thomas Mann, Berlin, Aufbau Verlag (1948), 1953, pp. 804. 5. Lukcs, Die Theorie des Romans (Theory of the Novel), pp. 1214; Jrg Kammler, Politische Theorie von Georg Lukcs, Darmstadt and Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1974, pp. 1736. 6. This mixture of philosophical idealism and syndicalism was not uncommon among Lukcs colleagues in the Free School for Human Sciences, which included such prominent intellectuals as the economic historian Karl Polanyi, the syndicalist Erwin Szab, the art historian Arnold Hauser, the sociologist Karl Mannheim and the composers Zoltan Kodly and Bla Bartk. These thinkers met in the famous Sunday Circle discussions (modelled on Webers pre-war Sunday meetings in Heidelberg) in Budapest in 191718, which took up various aspects of art, religion, philosophy and politics. Although Lukcs would leave the group and adopt a more Hegelian-Marxist and eventually Marxist-Leninist political stance, his experiences in the Sunday Circle oriented his later positions as the Minister of Culture in the communist government of Bla Kun in 1919. See Gnther K. Lehmann, Asthetik im Streben nach Vollendung, the Afterword to volume 2 of Lukcs, Eigenart des esthetischen (The Particularity of the Aesthetic, 1963) Berlin and Weimar, Aufbau Verlag, 1981, pp. 84653; Fritz J. Raddatz, Lukcs in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, Hamburg, Rowohlt, 1972, pp. 348; and Werner Jung, Georg Lukcs, Stuttgart, J. B. Metzler, 1989, pp. 602. 7. Wilhelm Bhm, Im Kreuzfeuer zweier Revolutionen, Munich, Marcan-Block, 1924, p. 287; Rudolf L. Tkes, Bla Kun and the Soviet Republic: The Origins and Role of the Communist Party in the Revolution of 19181919, London, Penguin, 1967, pp. 10617. 8. Lukcs, Taktik und Ethik (Tactics and Ethics, 1919), Darmstadt and Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1967, p. 14; Hans Hautmann, Die verlorene Rterepublik, Vienna, Junius, 1971, pp. 1335; Antonia Grunenberg, Brger und Revolutionr: Georg Lukcs 19181928, Cologne and Frankfurt, Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1976, pp. 5265. 9. Lenin, Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder (1921), Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1977. Istvn Mszros suggests that Lukcs exaggeration of the revolutionary potential of the council in his life and thought prior to History and Class Consciousness can be explained in terms of a persistent determination to allow philosophical conceptions of the good to get the better of his political judgement. See his article Lukcs Concept of the Dialectic, in G. H. R. Parkinson (ed.), Georg Lukcs: The Man, His Work and His Ideas, New York, Vintage, 1970, pp. 7582. 10. Lukcs, Was ist orthodoxer Marxismus? (What is Orthodox Marxism?), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein: Studien ber marxistische Dialektik (History and Class Consciousness, 1923), Amsterdam, Verlag De Munter, 1967, pp. 1823. One may ask

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how it is possible that capitalism is both the cause of reified consciousness and also the condition of revolutionary change. Lukcs solution is sketched in the text in the discussion to follow. 11. To this extent Lukcs approach can be compared to that of Adorno in Negative Dialectics as well as that of a peripheral but very original member of the Frankfurt School, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, in Soziologische Theorie der Erkenntnis (A Sociological Theory of Knowledge), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1985. In the first sentence of Negative Dialectics Adorno remarks that Philosophy which once seemed redundant remains alive because the moment for its realisation was missed (p. 15). Unlike Lukcs and especially Benjamin, who believes that the irreducibility of historical time to natural time makes that moment recoverable in a political revolution, Adorno suggests that the truth content of the lost moment can be distilled in art and philosophy. Hence Adorno is more cautious about any redemptive political revolution which transforms past injustices into revolutionary energies for the historical present. These issues will be explored in the next chapter. 12. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), p. 101. 13. Lukcs reiterates this argument in rather shriller terms in Die Zerstrung der Vernunft (The Destruction of Reason, 1954), Darmstadt and Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1962. 14. See Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Les aventures de la dialectique (Adventures of the Dialectic), Paris, Gallimard, 1955, chapters 12; and George Lichtheim, Lukcs, London, Fomtana Collins, 1970, chapter 4. 15. Martin Jay, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukcs to Habermas, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984, chapters 12 and 78. 16. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 21820. This argument is constructed in a far more systematic manner and in far greater detail in the second volume of The Young Hegel (1948), where Lukcs analyses the philosophies of Fichte and Schelling as key figures in the movement from Kantian transcendental idealism to Hegels objective idealism, a transition which paves the way for Marxs dialectical materialism. See Lukcs, Der junge Hegel, volume 2, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, pp. 38493, 72735. It is not irrelevant in this context to note that Lukcs account of the shift from everyday consciousness to revolutionary consciousness is also developed with more coherence in a much longer, more scholarly work than History and Class Consciousness. It is really in Die Eigenart des sthetischen (The Particularity of the Aesthetic, 1963) where these reflections are outlined in sufficient detail. Hence when reading History and Class Consciousness today it must be remembered that it is a relatively brief and very experimental work, written in the almost immediate aftermath of the Russian October and the failure of the communist revolution to spread to Central and Western Europe. He raises a great many questions that he only treats with rigour at a later stage of his intellectual and political development. The book surely has many problems and inconsistencies, but there can be no doubting its originality and impact. 17. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 1223.

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18. Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money), pp. 348; Soziologie (Sociology), pp. 568. It is probably for this reason that Lukcs implies that despite his post-metaphysical methodology, Simmel remains an epistemological and political Kantian, albeit with an acute sociological sensitivity. Yet in his haste to derive an account of postbourgeois collective experience and praxis from the ruins of individual bourgeois experience, Lukcs misses some of the other possible conclusions to be drawn from Simmels deconstruction of metaphysics, that is, he misses some of the post-anthropological implications of this critique that are found in subsequent sociological theory, most notably in the systems theory that emerges in the work of Niklas Luhmann (192898). See Luhmann, Die Paradoxie der Form, in Oliver Jahraus (ed.), Niklas Luhmann: Aufstze und Reden, Stuttgart, Leipzig, 2001, pp. 24361. On the link between Simmel and Luhmann, see the essays included in Jeff Kintzel and Peter Schneider (eds), Georg Simmels Philosophie des Geldes, Frankfurt, Anton Hain, 1933, part II. 19. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 946. 20. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 1047. Some of Lukcs critics regard this as a flight into utopian versions of the philosophy of history as an alternative to accepting the pessimistic implications of political defeat and the tragic dimension of Simmels sociology. See Grunenberg, Brger und Revolutionr: Georg Lukcs, 19181928, p. 190. 21. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 1068. Lukcs, Lenin, included in the Frhschriften II, Darmstadt and Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1968, p. 575. 22. Lukcs, Die Verdinglichung und das Bewusstsein des Proletariats (Reification and Proletarian Consciousness), in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness), pp. 1935, 2045, 21112. On the philosophy of consciousness and its critique, see Ernst Tugendhat, Selbstbewusstsein und Selbstbestimmung: Sprachanalytische Interpretationen (Self-Consciousness and Self-Determination), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1979, chapters 3, 13 and 14; and Jrgen Habermas, Nachmetaphysisches Denken: Philosophische Aufstze (Post-Metaphysical Thought), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1988. 23. Hence however much Lukcs may choose to revile Nietzsche in The Destruction of Reason (1954) and his other works, and however Benjamin may, for the most part, omit explicit reference to him, there is a clear lebensphilosophische notion of decay and possible renewal in both of their writings that is mediated by their respective receptions of Weber and Simmel. 24. To this extent it can be argued that he is looking for redemption from history rather than a Hegelian redemption in history. See Norbert Bolz and Willen von Reijen, Walter Benjamin, Frankfurt and New York, Campus, 1991, p. 15. 25. Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921, now contained in the English volume Reflections), in Angelus Novus, pp. 645. 26. Benjamin, ber die Sprache berhaupt und ber die Sprache des Menschen (On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916, contained in the English

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Volume Reflections, New York, Schocken, 1976), in Angelus Novus, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1988, pp. 926; and Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origins of German Tragic Drama, written shortly after On Language essay, rejected as a Post-Doctoral thesis in 1925, and finally published in 1928), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1978, pp. 13867. For a very clear elucidation of Benjamins ideas on language and allegory, see Eric Jacobson, Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, New York, Columbia University Press, 2003; and Howard Caygill, Walter Benjamin: The Colour of Experience, London, Routledge, 1998. 27. Benjamin, Surrealismus: Die letzte Momentaufnahme der europischen Intelligenz (Surrealism, 1929), in Angelus Novus, p. 202, available in English in Reflections. 28. Although he expresses this idea most dramatically in the Theses on the Philosophy of History, it is also implicit in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) and in his writings on Baudelaire. The fact that he uses the term the masses is indicative of his view that the crisis of the authority of art in modern societies is intimately bound up with the political crisis of authority accompanying the dissolution of social classes, as the denaturalization process enters its final stages. While in Lukcs thought complete denaturalization eventually results in a situation where it is clear to all that humanity is nothing other than an ensemble of social relations, and that capitalist social relations are exploitative and can be revolutionized, in Benjamin it prepares the ground for the end of aura and the profane illumination that must accompany it given the right image. Baudelaire is of particular interest for Benjamin in that his poetry is appropriate for an age where attention spans wane, even and especially among traditional poetry readers (elites), and the masses are an omnipresent feature of urban life. See Benjamin, Baudelaire: Ein Lyriker im Zeitalter des Hochkapitalismus (Baudelaire, 193739, a part of The Paris Arcades Project), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1974, pp. 1034, 111, 11420. 29. Benjamin, ber die Sprache berhaupt und ber die Sprache des Menschen (On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916), in Angelus Novus, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1988, pp. 1213; Benjamin, ber das Programm der kommenden Philosophie (On the Tasks of the Coming Philosophy, 1918, contained in the English volume Reflections), in Angelus Novus, pp. 323; Gnter Hartung, Mythos, in Michael Opitz and Erdmut Wizisla (eds), Benjamins Begriffe (2 vols), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2000, volume 2, pp. 5668. 30. Hence if one follows Carl Schmitts dictum that the exception proves the rule, seemingly exceptional cases lend some weight to Benjamins argument. If with regard to the French Revolution it can be argued that non-rational means are justified in the enforcement of rational and just ends, in National Socialist legislation it is fairly clear that rational procedure can be employed for highly irrational ends. See Schmitt, Politische Theologie (Political Theology, 1922), Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1996, pp. 203; and Der Begriff des Politischen (The Concept of the Political, 1932), Berlin Duncker & Humblot, 1996, pp. 556. On the parallels and affinities between Schmitt and Benjamin, see Susanne Heil, Gefhrliche Beziehungen: Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt, Stuttgart, J. B. Metzler, 1996, and the work of Giorgio Agamben, all of whose writings on this topic have been translated into English. 31. Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921), in Angelus Novus, pp. 426. That the contingent blind spot is usually dealt with in some expedient

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fashion is discussed in a completely different context by Luhmann, who recounts an Arabian story about a fathers testament and the allocation of his camels to his sons. In Luhmanns version, the problem of contingency is solved by a well-meaning judge who is willing to donate one of his own camels in view of the fact that at the time of the fathers death, 11 camels instead of 12 were available for distribution to the 3 sons. See Luhmann, Die Rckgabe des zwlften Kamels, in Gunther Teubner (ed.), Die Rckgabe des zwlften Kamels: Niklas Luhmann in der Diskussion ber Gerechtigkeit, Stuttgart, Lucius & Lucious, 2000, pp. 360. The intervention of such a well-meaning judge would most certainly have seemed unlikely to Benjamin, who witnessed the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise to power of National Socialism. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a more different solution to this problem than Benjamins in the Critique of Violence, in which divine justice unexpectedly appears. For a sympathetic but critical analysis of Benjamins position, see Jacques Derrida, Force de loi: le fondement mystique de lautorit, Paris, Galile, 1994, available in English in Drucilla Cornell (ed.), Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, London, Routledge, 1992. 32. Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921), in Angelus Novus, pp. 468, p. 53. 33. Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921), in Angelus Novus, pp. 503; and Benjamin, ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940, in Illuminations), in Illuminationen, pp. 2567. After the restructurations of capitalism achieved by Keynesian reform and welfare state planning, the injunction to remain neutral with regard to competing conceptions of legitimacy has been somewhat re-articulated, given that the necessity to intervene in the economy and introduce limited planning was a frank admission that consistently liberal forms of neutrality could obviously no longer be maintained after 1929. Since the post-World War II crisis of the welfare state and the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is now more likely to be argued that any attempt to coordinate production and consumption through planning would violate the systemic integrity of economic and political systems in the name of a set of implausible and impracticable norms that blatantly contravene the facts of social scientific and juridical inquiry. 34. Benjamin, Paris, die Hauptstadt des XIX. Jahrhunderts (Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century, now in Illuminations), in Illuminationen, pp. 171, 175, 1834. 35. Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1935, now contained in the English volume Illuminations, New York, Schocken, 1976), in Illuminationen, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1974, pp. 1435. 36. To this extent Benjamin anticipates a number of ideas developed more systematically by Heidegger and Foucault. See Heidegger, Was heisst Denken? (What does Thinking Mean?, 1952), Stuttgart, Reclam, 1992, pp. 31, 39, 504; and Foucault, La pense du dehors (The Thought from Outside, originally published in number 229 of the review Critique in 1966) Paris, Fata Morgana, 1986, pp. 914. 37. Benjamin, Surrealismus (Surrealism), in Angelus Novus, p. 203. In addition to his reception of surrealism, Benjamin is influenced in this conception of the relation between memory and knowledge by his interpretation of Prousts distinction, inspired by the philosopher Bergson (18591941), between voluntary memory, which recalls events in terms of

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chronological linearity, and involuntary memory, which is capable of restoring the recollection of hopes and fears on the basis of a flash triggered by a completely unexpected sight, sound, smell or thought. See Benjamin, Baudelaire, (reprinted as On some Themes in Baudelaire in Illuminations), pp. 1056, where he discusses Prousts famous example of the Madeleine biscuits. See also Josef Frnks, Surrealismus als Erkenntnis: Walter Benjamin, Weimarer Einbahnstrasse und Pariser Passagen, Stuttgart, J. B. Metzler, 1988, pp. 12830; Peter Brger, Der franzische Surrealismus, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1996, p. 201; and Peter Collier, Surrealist City Narrative: Breton and Aragon, in Edward Timms and David Kelley (eds), Unreal City: Urban Experience in Modern European Literature and Art, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1985, pp. 21430. 38. Benjamin, ber die Sprache berhaupt und ber die Sprache des Menschen (On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916), in Angelus Novus, pp. 1721; Benjamin, ber das Programm der kommenden Philosophie (On the Tasks of the Coming Philosophy, 1918,), in Angelus Novus, pp. 379; Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921), in Angelus Novus, pp. 606; and Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1935), in Illuminationen, pp. 1679. 39. Benjamin, Zwei Gedichte von Friedrich Hlderlin (Two Poems by Friedrich Hlderlin, 1915), in Illuminationen, pp. 2141. It is relevant that the word Rettung used by Hlderlin as Das Rettende (Wo aber Gefahr ist, wchst das Rettende auch) can mean rescue, salvation and hope depending on the context. Benjamin distinguishes between hope and wishful thinking on the grounds that while hope is based on a real experience of solidarity that has been transmitted across generations, wishful thinking is based on the illusion that a commodity or some other reified commercial product might somehow improve ones life. See Heinrich Kaulen, Rettung in Opitz and Wizisla (eds), Benjamins Begriffe, volume 2, pp. 61964. 40. Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origins of German Tragic Drama, 1928), pp. 1556. Das Passagen-Werk (The Paris Arcades Project, 192740, 2 volumes, published posthumously), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, volume 1, pp. 542, 5489, 1983, and volume 2, pp. 66673; ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940), in Illuminationen, pp. 2539. As previously indicated in these notes, all essays contained in Illuminationen and Angelus Novus are available in English in Illuminations and Reflections. The extremely brief reference to the Arcades Project and the Theses here is due to the already huge exegetical material on these writings in German, English and other languages. This has made the somewhat atypical consideration of Benjamin in this chapter possible. 41. Benjamin, Das Passagen-Werk (The Paris Arcades Project), volume 1, pp. 6008. 42. Benjamin, ber das mimetische Vermgen (On the Mimetic Faculty, 1933), in Angelus Novus, pp. 969; and ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940), in Illuminationen, pp. 2589. See too his Die Aufgabe des bersetzers (The Task of the Translator, 1923), in Illuminationen, pp. 5062. The task of the Translator raises a number of interesting questions including the possibility of a translation that is better than its original. In a manner analogous to Hegel, who suggests that the distinction

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between true and false is only possible on the basis of a higher unity that makes the distinction possible, Benjamin intimates that translation is only possible on the basis of a divine language that allows a plurality of profane languages to coexist and be translated into one another. 43. Benjamin, Das Passagen-Werk (The Paris Arcades Project), volume 1, pp. 4659, and volume 2, p. 1239. 44. The Theses comprise 11 pages in Illuminationen, which also happens to contain a 1-page piece with the title Theologisch-politisches Fragment (Theological-Political Fragment, 1921), which is not part of the Theses, but nonetheless renders a very apt description of their content. 45. Benjamin, Das Passagen-Werk (The Paris Arcades Project), volume 1, pp. 133, 493, 515, and volume 2, pp. 6745, 969; ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940), in Illuminationen, pp. 2589. 46. ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940), in Illuminationen, pp. 25661. For elucidatory commentary on The Paris Arcades Project, see Rolf Tiedemann, Dialektik im Standstill (Dialectics at a Standstill, translated into English), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1983, pp. 941; and Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1989.

3
Horkheimer, Adorno and Critical Theory
It was seen in Chapter 2 that Simmels sociology and Marxs political economy have a substantial impact on Lukcs and Benjamin, and inform their respective projects to overcome instrumental reason, reification and alienation. Although the theorists discussed in this chapter are less directly concerned with Simmel, they grapple with the implications of his denaturalization thesis, and, it will be shown, despair of some of its implications. In particularly sharp contrast with Lukcs, for whom the substitution of social relations for quasi-natural relations of hierarchy fulfils the essential condition for knowing society as well as transforming it, Max Horkheimer (18951973) and T. W. Adorno (19031969) regard the denaturalization of human relations as a condition for the possible arrival of a totally administered society. This is a society organized according to the dictates of instrumental reason and the prerogatives of managerial experts in the name of economic growth and technological progress. The processes which produce growth and progress detach themselves from possible political critique and become absolute ends in themselves, that is, they become the bases of what one can analyse as instrumental legitimacy. On this reading Soviet communism merely exacerbates the bureaucratic tendencies prevailing in capitalist societies preprogrammed for economic expansion, and can provide no feasible solutions. They thus revisit Webers rationalization thesis, and, from Habermas perspective, develop it in a decidedly one-sided and overly pessimistic direction. Habermas critique of Horkheimer and Adorno forms the starting-point for his own project to outline a theory of noninstrumental reason which moves critical theory beyond the impasses reached by its founders, and will be considered in detail in Chapter 6.1 Horkheimer and Adorno reckon that if nature signifies scarcity, unaccountable power and the possibility of sudden death, that is, arbitrary fate,
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it also implies individual spontaneity, sensual cognition and genuine life beyond mere survival, that is, freedom. In a line of theorizing that clearly has as much in common with Nietzsche and Freud as it does with Hegel and Marx, the founders of critical theory suggest that successful attempts to eradicate nature as fate will almost certainly also eliminate nature as freedom. Thus Hegels dialectic of subject (humanity) and object (nature) and his notion of Geist have to be re-evaluated, especially in the light of some of the events of the twentieth century such as the advent of fascism, Stalinism, Auschwitz and Hiroshima. That re-evaluation indicates that the idealist dialectic of humanity and nature must cede to a more constellational complex of dialectical relations, and indeed, as the term constellational suggests, the theoretical impetus in this direction comes from Simmel via Benjamin. Hence one of the main exegetical lines pursued in The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas runs from Adornos systematization of Benjamins thought looked at in this chapter, to Habermas attempt to re-articulate the bases of a critical theory of knowledge and society beyond Adornos negative dialectics. By the end of Chapter 6 it will be possible to reach some conclusions about the relations between instrumental reason and instrumental legitimacy on the basis of the analyses of the thinkers looked at in the various chapters of this book. In the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) Horkheimer and Adorno submit that once transposed onto the plane of history and society, the dialectic of nature as fate and nature as freedom becomes one of changing forms of emancipation offset by protean modes of domination which is not likely to culminate in perfect knowledge and free institutions. It is rather a negative dialectic which indicates that each collective human emancipation from natural scarcity through production and technological innovation also initiates a suppression of individual natural difference and spontaneity through the bureaucratic command and repressive order needed to propel the productive machine that supposedly emancipates. As a result, over time fear of nature is transformed into historically and juridically mediated socio-economic and political fear. As Nietzsche, Weber and Freud predict, fear is not transcended in industrial-democratic society. It is institutionalized in social mechanisms which subtly conflate the following: (1) the reality principle with a fairly arbitrary set of performance principles that serve the interests of power by appearing self-evidently democratic and (2) what is seemingly efficient within the framework offered by these performance principles with what is rational and conducive to autonomy.2 During the discussion to follow it will be seen that for Adorno, this act of conflation is part of a larger process of identifying objects and

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individuals that are non-identical, thus making an epistemological error about the relation between humanity and nature which reappears in the form of oppressive social relations. These relations become all the more predictable and one-dimensional as the underlying logic and mechanisms of identification and conflation seem increasingly to dictate the single strategy necessary in order to increase growth. Technical management tends to narrow the scope of and even eliminate politics, so that there is no possibility to formulate a distinct set of alternatives that can be considered and evaluated by an informed citizenry. The process unfolds in a sinuous way, where the hollowing out of democracy by fear and conformism is not spectacularly visible until it is too late to save it. Horkheimer and Adorno suggest that the eventual arrival of the dictator is actually more of a detail than a central aspect of the process.3 Hence critical theory attempts to theorize the historical events of the twentieth century alluded to above in terms of institutionalized identity thinking rather than in journalistic or empirical terms as an analysis of the personalities of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and others, or who may have voted for them and why. For now what should be borne in mind is that as the mastery of nature progresses, and the individual instances of nature in humanity are herded together into increasingly effective units in the battle against scarcity and fate, the mechanisms of social integration become so entrenched and pervasive that original thought finds itself increasingly at odds with social reality, and as such, appears to be hopelessly utopian or simply mad. This becomes strikingly clear in the cases of Lukcs and especially Benjamin, despite their attempts to theorize the social by incorporating various aspects of Marx, Simmel and Weber into their literary-philosophical work. Horkheimer and Adorno urge readers to interrogate the historical, juridical and political conditions and relations that make non-conformist thinking seem utopian, rather than to judge such thought against the empirical fact of its isolation.4 In their eyes this requires a transition from traditional to critical theory. This is theory that includes Marx without excluding Nietzsche and Freud, and criticizes idealism without relegating it to the history of obsolete metaphysics. But it is more than theory in any typical sense, and indeed, wants to be empirically and sociologically relevant without becoming empirical sociology. The discussion in Chapter 2 indicates that if enlightened philosophy appears to offer practical solutions to human problems in the movement of theory from Kant and Hegel to Marx, it enters a crisis phase in the early 1920s. By 1945 it seems to Horkheimer and Adorno that conceptual thought, including a great deal of the traditional epistemology rejected by

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Lukcs and Benjamin, is actually just another dimension of humanitys defensive reaction to the heteronomous forces which have threatened human survival for so many centuries. Industrialization tackles a number of these forces by transforming external nature in order to satisfy basic human needs, thus overcoming the threat of scarcity to a significant extent. This opens up the hope of real freedom, but does so in a way that subjugates nature in individual humanity, and so closes hope down again just as it has been glimpsed.5 The implication is that humanity is enmeshed in a spiral of successively more complex and pyrrhic victories against itself. Given the immensity of the problems raised by this approach one might ask: where does the critique of instrumental reason go from here, and how might it theorize the social in terms that are not conformist and positivist, on the one hand, and not aesthetic and eschatological, on the other? Whereas Habermas advocates a move to communicative reason and post-metaphysical thinking, Adorno outlines a way of thinking that is paradoxically metatheoretical and anti-theoretical at the same time, that is, thought which exhibits solidarity with metaphysics in the moment of its demise. Part of what this means for him is that the idealism of Kant and Hegel cannot be casually dismissed or blithely repackaged.6 Hegel remains a key figure in that he historicizes the dialectic and thereby shows that the knowledge process is mediated by socio-economic, legal and political relations; it is not, in other words, exhausted in subjectobject relations or abstract logic. Hegel offers a dialectics of movement, contradiction and antagonism. It is not ideological in the precise sense that it registers the conflictual moment of thought and the correspondingly antagonistic character of social relations in emerging industrial democracies. Moreover, Hegels early works reflect on the intertwining of thought and reality rather than making a series of strategic arguments or ahistorical moral postulates. The thought process outlined in the Phenomenology is particularly resistant to reification, and gives partial indications as to what thinking and knowledge might be like in a post-reified social world. These are of course aspects of philosophical idealism which impress Marx, Lenin, Lukcs, Gramsci and, in a qualified sense that will become clear in Chapter 4, Heidegger. But critical theory emerges in the 1930s and 1940s, when it was no longer possible to adopt an Hegelian position on the role of reason in history, and also no longer possible to rely on Marxism alone to explain politics and society.7 In the 1960s Adorno outlines the contours of a fragmentary, at times aphoristic philosophy that distinguishes without separating categorically (1) the external natural world, (2) humanity as an instance of nature that is not reducible to nature and (3) an epistemological

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moment not susceptible to subjective re-appropriation through philosophical systems or in creative individual and collective work. For Adorno that third instance is not Simmels social form or Heideggers being, though in all three cases there is a discernible project to deconstruct metaphysics and its corollary, humanist anthropology. In Adornos work it is a material epistemological impulse that eludes categorization, and which has yet to be realized in institutions, save in the most fleeting of instances. Perhaps somewhat analogous to musical composition, it is intellectual without being reducible to conceptual thought, and can be likened to the trace of mimetic reason that has not been rationalized by socially mediated fear. It imagines and hopes for (rather than fantasizes about) a form of society where the impulse, which is different in each person, can develop into sensual-intellectual knowledge. Such knowledge, institutionalized in that kind of society, would be an end in itself and tantamount to freedom rather than successful adherence to and realization of heteronomous performance principles. Hence critical theory emerges as paradoxical thought that illuminates the reality of a reconciled world that is both part of the past and nonetheless yet to come. This has prompted comparisons between the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and theology, since the implication is that there is no real freedom and non-instrumental knowledge without a social form devoid of domination and command of individual human natures, and that the conditions for the existence of that society are really only discernible in terms of their manifest absence. It is a society that exists in Benjamins messianic time rather than in profane history. Adorno clarifies Benjamins point by suggesting that if rigorous thought is rational but not reducible to institutionalized reason, there is hope that the reality of messianic time can be rescued from the linear and exclusionary categories of profane history, such as uncritically accepted versions of progress which become myths of progress.8 A fundamental condition necessary for this hermeneutical reconceptualization of time, however, is not a historicized or otherwise conceived transcendental subject, or even a decentred subject conceived of as possibility rather than as presence. It is the institutionalization of reflexive thought about thinking which does not measure the non-reality of manifest absence in terms of the sole reality of what presently exists, or, put differently, it is the institutionalization of mediated non-identity. This point about mediated non-identity will be returned to in the second section of this chapter. For now it might be mentioned that there is a clear analogy between the project of detaching ideas about what thinking might be from the theoretical and practical re-appropriations of imperious

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epistemological subjects, and that of establishing the reality of what is no longer/not yet actual. If the thought of the imperious epistemological subject is ultimately governed by the traumatic memory of the precariousness of human existence under conditions of material scarcity, its daily life is governed by historically and juridically mediated socio-economic and political fear. Whatever else technological innovations may suggest to the casual observer, such a subject thinks badly and lives passively. It is a subject confronted with problems that go well beyond Lukcs proposed technique of simply re-appropriating a reified world, since it is the authoritarian strategy of re-appropriation which suppresses the mediated non-identical and oppresses genuine difference. Moreover, the more privileged people within such an order do not fare substantially better than the others since, in Adornos terms, there is no way to lead an individual good life in the midst of general falsity. This indicates his view that social mobility is as problematic as democratization and progress as long as the underlying problems of experience and subjectivity in industrial societies are not addressed.9 Chapter 3 charts the course of critical theorys manysided defence of such thought and impulse, which can be characterized as a journey from early optimism, through the eschatology of The Dialectic of Enlightenment and Minima Moralia (1951), to the mature position articulated in Adornos Negative Dialectics of 1966.

The Emergence of Critical Theory


Critical theory originates with Max Horkheimers attempt to lay the groundwork for an interdisciplinary study of society which eschews the pitfalls of idealism and positivism. In its initial conception under his supervision, it seeks to combine political economy, social philosophy, social research and historical materialism in order to analyse the various processes in and through which the relation between humanity and nature is mediated in history and social institutions. The fact that these institutions have converted natural power into social power does not exclude the possibility of freer institutions, if, that is, the mediating processes can be reconfigured as ends in themselves, that is, as non-instrumental knowledge. Thus instead of escaping the dilemma of means and ends through Benjamins notion of divine violence, the young Horkheimer envisages an eventually just mediation process, so that he, like Adorno, remains open to a dialogue with Hegel.10 It is the young Horkheimers conviction that theory which simply describes social relations at face value, for example, by focusing on phenomena such as what people buy and how they vote, is as

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inadequate as conflating chronology and history: it is lacking both in epistemological depth and in emancipatory potential. The first, somewhat desultory statement of critical theory and its aims, is formulated in his essay Traditional and Critical Theory of 1937. As the title suggests, the essay outlines a series of methodological propositions for the transition from a theory that is apologetic of existing social relations, and therefore misconstrues them, to one which is critical of society, and therefore sets out to know it correctly while fundamentally changing it. Thus from its inception critical theory is oriented towards the relation between knowledge and praxis, the mediated unity of which can be summed up in the word emancipation, that is, emancipation from ignorance as a theoretical condition, and emancipation from natural and socio-political dependence as a practical project. Kants separation of theory and practice has the virtue of interrogating the conditions of knowledge and freedom in abstraction from the flawed functioning of existing institutions, which confers on his analysis the analytical rigour missing in face value empirical accounts. Within the terms of his critical philosophy, however, Kants thought suffers from a sociological deficit in that he is compelled to affirm the precedence of theory over practice as a consequence of the ability to abstract from what actually exists. Hegels reconciliation of theory and practice in the institutions of objective spirit has the virtue of sociological relevance, though it acquires this by having to affirm the rationality of the actual. Critical theory seeks to retain Kants scientific-philosophical interrogation of conditions of validity, which suspends the need to embrace the actual as rational. It strives at the same time to shed light on the rationality of another reality without having to affirm what is presently actual, that is, it attempts to illuminate the rationality of the yet to become actual and the actuality of the discarded, without having prematurely to separate (Kant) or reconcile (Hegel) theory and practice. From a contemporary perspective sympathetic to the aims of critical theory considered here, one might say that separation, from Kant to Rawls, tends to get mired in speculative reflections about the right conditions of legitimacy, while reconciliation, from Hegel to Habermas, is coerced reconciliation that legitimates what actually exists before there is non-antagonistic legitimacy. From a contemporary perspective which is more doubtful about the continuing relevance of Horkheimer and Adorno, it might be asked if the transition from premature legitimation to timely reconciliation and real legitimacy ever really arrives. The end of the present chapter and the conclusion of this book attempt to shed light on some of these issues.

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Horkheimers early work and optimism must be understood against the background of the Russian Revolution and the initial hopes it aroused, and the experimental climate of the Weimar Republic (191833) generally. Failed revolutions in Budapest, Berlin, Munich and in Italy following World War I looked like merely momentary setbacks in a period which one could still describe in Lukcs terms as being marked by the actuality of the Revolution. Avant-garde movements in the arts such as dada and surrealism were making political demands that art be translated into life, thus sounding the distant echoes of Situationism and the upheavals of 1968.11 The period is also marked by the foundation of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, which sought to draw out the theoretical and practical implications of the upheavals of the early 1920s. In 1923 in the Hotel Geraberg near Weimar, Felix Weil and Karl Korsch organized a week-long seminar on Marxism and the workers movement attended among others by Lukcs and Friedrich Pollock. The seminar sparked the interest of those who, like Weil and fellow radical K. A. Gerlach, sought to defend the possibilities for social research outside of the frameworks offered by KPD (German Communist Party) orthodoxy and university academics. On the basis of their private fortunes Weil and Gerlach were able to set up a research institute with broad affiliation to the University of Frankfurt. Weil would have liked Korsch or Lukcs to run the institute, but knew too that as active communists and members of the Comintern, they would have aroused the suspicion of the University of Frankfurt authorities. The leadership of the institute was taken over by Carl Grnberg who, on 22 June 1924, inaugurated what was soon after to become known as the Institute for Social Research, whose first members included Pollock, Karl Wittfogel, Leo Lwenthal and Henryk Grossman. A number of those who would later join, such as Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm and Habermas, subsequently became famous as the chief representatives of the Frankfurt School of critical theory and main contributors to the Zeitschrift fr Sozialforschung (Journal for Social Research). At the time of its founding the Institute was roughly modelled on the then recently established Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, and much like the latter, supported work on political economy, the history of the workers movement and critical sociology. Grnberg suffered a stroke in 1928, which made the appointment of a new director necessary. A succession crisis ensued which was finally resolved when Horkheimer took over in 1931.12 In his inaugural lecture Horkheimer stresses what was to become a recurrent theme in his and Adornos versions of critical theory. He suggests

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that far from being a purely philosophical matter, the elaboration of a methodology bearing in mind the distinction between emancipatory reason and instrumental rationality requires an interdisciplinary approach. The point about reason follows from the more general precept that philosophy after Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche can only maintain its relevance by articulating its concerns in conjunction with juridical, historical, economic, political, aesthetic and social questions, lest it become isolated and academic in the worst sense.13 A couple of years later, in Materialism and Metaphysics (1933), Horkheimer draws on Diltheys incipient postmetaphysics in order to claim that materialism must be re-articulated as historical inquiry and social theory beyond the confines of subject-object dialectics. While the subject component of the dialectical couplet inevitably gets stuck in the problems of subjective idealism (debates on human psychology and the structure of consciousness that are relatively arbitrary and in any case impossible to adjudicate), the object component tends towards positivist objectivism rather than genuine objectivity. Hence attempts simply to recycle Hegel and Marx after Lenin and Stalin are inevitably going to fail. He intimates that dialectics needs to be reconstructed so that critical, non-conformist thought can become realigned with social reality without recourse to the supposed rationality of the actual, the cunning of history, or the alleged inevitability of capitalist crisis and proletarian revolution. This aim is elaborated in more detail in Traditional and Critical Theory.14 Written during one of the darkest periods of modern European history, with Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin firmly in power and the Spanish Republic under siege by Francos forces, the piece offers a series of scattered reflections rather than a coherent statement illuminating the difference alluded to in the title. With few exceptions Horkheimer explains what critical theory is not rather than elaborating what it is in positive terms.15 But Traditional and Critical Theory contains in nuce a number of important themes developed in subsequent years, such as the notion of the structural transformations of the public sphere and legal systems looked at in Chapter 6, as well as the manifest problems inherent in the notion of proposing proletarian collective subjectivity and communism as the obvious and logical answer to the problems raised by bourgeois individualist subjectivity and capitalism.16 This was not such an easy argument to make during the period in question, when it may have seemed plausible to many that liberal democracy inevitably gravitates towards fascism, and that the only alternative to fascist collectivism is thus some form of socialist collectivism. From the

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perspective of early critical theory, the Marxism of theorists like Lukcs represents a kind of transition from traditional to critical theory rather than the realization of the latter. Marxism is important in that it raises crucial questions about reification, consciousness and knowledge while also stipulating the conditions required for a mode of production that enables the overcoming of scarcity finally to shed the caste and class character that has characterized all known economic systems throughout the ages prior to libertarian communism. But with the automatic designation of the proletariat as saviour, it falls back on a traditional, albeit collectivized notion of subjectivity. In the Stalinist case, for example, the proletariat destroys its enemies; here theory and practice remain caught in archaic, punitive conceptions of justice. The inability dialectically to transcend the contradictions of capitalist society, and the concomitant inability to move beyond punitive justice, attest to the reality that a critical theory of society relies on Hegel (dialectics) and Nietzsche (affirmation rather than Ressentiment) as much as it does on Marx (a new relation with external nature). Yet it is also clear to its founders that critical theory cannot possibly hope to overcome the problems of mechanical explanation simply by combining assorted theorists and philosophers various insights, since the answer to the problems of academic specialization is not sloppy eclecticism. Eclecticism generally offers little more than an informal idealism in which increased quantity does not manage to become new quality, and as such, remains well within the parameters of traditional theory. In order to move beyond traditional theory, Diltheys insistence on the difference between the natural sciences and human sciences has to be enriched with historical materialism without transforming the latter into an apology for party power or for the class interests of a universal class, whatever the latter term might designate in actual social terms. In Traditional and Critical Theory this entails thinking history without overreliance on the notion of history as being made by a collective subject (bourgeois humanity, the proletariat, etc.), and yet, retaining the notion that historical objectivity in institutions and classes is mediated by some form of subjectivity in consciousness and experience.17 Horkheimer attempts to theorize transformations in state and society in conjunction with transitions in the structure of reason and knowledge. He seeks to do this outside of the base-superstructure paradigm, due to its highly questionable model of causality, though without relinquishing the idea of causal explanation altogether. As stated above, a part of what this entails is elaborating further the distinction between the natural sciences and the human sciences, but not to stop at that basic distinction. In terms

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of their relation with society, the natural sciences as well as the human sciences can be seen as instances of traditional theory which for the most part do not interrogate the socio-economic conditions that structure the production of knowledge, or what those conditions do to the content of that knowledge.18 In some ways reminiscent of the systems theory developed by Niklas Luhmann in the 1960s90s (looked at in Chapter 6 in relation to Habermas), critical theory insists on the inseparability of the knowledge process from the historical process and the reproduction of social relations. To the extent that the latter continue to be characterized by class exploitation and bureaucratic hierarchy, the resulting knowledge has to be considered flawed in epistemological terms, and ideologically apologetic in political terms. Luhmanns response is to argue that this is precisely why knowledge is generated by social systems rather than autonomous subjects. He submits that such knowledge is best understood as more or less successful means of coping with social complexity and natural contingency rather than the institutionalization of ends in themselves such as reason and autonomy, lest one become embroiled in ultimately unresolvable questions about where non-instrumental reason might eventually come from. It is fair to conjecture that Horkheimer and Adorno probably would have regarded Luhmanns solution as a capitulation to positivism, and in any case, as a defensive retreat from the project of Enlightenment. They suggest that if this project is somehow to be relaunched, the issues of subjectivity, experience and knowledge must be reconsidered in opposition to liberal democratic and Marxist accounts of human essence, neither of which, as it turns out, is particularly effective in preventing the rise of fascism and Stalinism. The point, however, is not to demonize the dictators, nor to glorify would-be potential saviour-subjects. It is rather to see how demonization and glorification are part of the same flawed subjective methodology which restricts the scope of reason to a tool that can be manipulated in any number of arbitrary ways.19 In order to provide the initial impetus for the move from traditional to critical theory, Horkheimer re-examines the issue of subjectivity in the light of the transition from liberal democracy to authoritarian fascist democracy. Whereas the legal theorist Carl Schmitt became famous in the early 1920s among other things for explaining why one does not understand the juridical rule if one does not understand the extra-juridical bases of the exception to the rule, Horkheimer makes the parallel point that there is no correct understanding of society in so-called normal times without a proper analysis of socio-political transition periods.20 Drawing on the work of Institute member Franz Neumann, he analyses the erosion of liberal democratic legality in relation to the appearance of monopoly capitalism.

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Whereas liberal democratic explanations of the transition usually have little more to offer than an appeal to return to good common sense against the power of demagogues, orthodox Marxists tend to see an automatic correspondence between monopoly power and intensified class disenfranchisement. Both are examples of traditional theory that cannot grasp history as a parallel series of contradictory and plural processes in which constellations of forces and interests form and dissolve in ways that are neither random nor monocausal. While liberals tend to adopt an idealist individualistic standpoint by refusing to see more at work in history than the realization of a generic concept of progress that is found severely wanting when it comes to explaining authoritarian transitions, Marxists often opt for simple monocausal explanations which explain every superstructural phenomenon in terms of a change in the economic base. However different they might seem, progress and the base function are all-embracing explanatory categories. As Neumann observes, however, the relation between capital and labour is never direct, but is instead mediated by forms of law and state that undergo changes as humanitys productive capacity evolves. On this account law is not a simple index of class power, but says something instead about the intersections between forms of experience, property relations, constitutional traditions, national cultural particularities and different possible versions of institutionalized reason.21 After the promising if somewhat obscure start signalled by Traditional and Critical Theory, however, by the beginning of the 1940s Horkheimer seems convinced that the prospect of anything more substantively rational than instrumental reason had been lost, or, at any rate, removed from the horizon of real historical experience. This pessimism is captured in Reason and Self-Preservation (1942), which can be regarded as a preparatory study to the Dialectic of Enlightenment. The leitmotiv of Reason and SelfPreservation is that whatever reason might be in a non-antagonistic, reconciled society, in modern industrial society it is a tool in the struggle for individual and group survival, and remains so even after the battle for survival has been won in objective terms. Hence by 1942 the theory of transition alluded to above in relation to Neumann becomes a theory of a missed or absent transition in two senses that indirectly have to do with liberty and legitimacy. Although Horkheimer rarely discusses the issue of legitimacy directly, his (and especially Adornos) theories are consistently relevant to the project of reconceptualizing the concept in conjunction with updating the critique of instrumental reason, as will be seen presently. First, in this stage of his thinking Horkheimer broadly follows Kant by reckoning that if there is human liberty in any meaningful sense, it is

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a more rational freedom than the mechanical freedom (propulsion) of falling bodies and the predatory freedom (instinct) of animals. Propulsion and instinct indicate strictly limited forms of freedom and relations with nature which are governed to a considerable extent by necessity. The human capacity to transcend necessity in its mechanical and predatory variants is thwarted, however, if the struggle for survival is itself not transformed, in the course of its completion, into a struggle to overcome individual human nature in the Nietzschean sense of self-overcoming later taken up by Foucault (Chapter 5). The shift in emphasis and approach to freedom cannot happen if, in its relation with external nature, humanity is divided into antagonistic classes and groups, such that in the course of the battle against scarcity, natural necessity is converted into social power and bureaucratic hierarchy. This is the case in Western civilization, at least until now, where the moment of possible self-overcoming announced by Nietzsche and taken up to varying degrees by the left-modernist avantgarde art movements of the first decades of the twentieth century is reversed into a protracted, repetitive process of self-preservation. The transformation of life and the creation of new values and knowledge is suppressed for the sake of the preservation of what Benjamin refers to as mere life, and marginalized by what Marx analyses as the self-legitimating power exercised by the dull compulsion of economic relations. Hence early critical theory intuits a development of great contemporary relevance. In the absence of a revaluation of values and knowledge, the socio-economic institutions presiding over the processes of self-preservation will eventually secrete ideological arguments against self-preservation itself. That is, it is easily foreseeable that it will be alleged that people living too long must be considered too expensive for the efficient functioning of the system of individual and collective reproduction. In short, such longevity clashes with the imperatives of the specific form of growth required by the capitalist mode of production.22 Horkheimer maintains that it is important to understand the dynamics of this blocked quantity-quality passage, for it shows why Hegelian dialectics need to be reformulated, especially in the light of the authoritarian turn of the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism. In stark contrast to Marxs Hegelian dialectic, according to which capitalism automatically produces the conditions for its own transcendence, Horkheimer observes the undermining of reasons capacity to indicate the practical steps necessary for self-overcoming in terms other than those which reproduce and continually reimpose the epistemological and political strictures of selfpreservation. Self-preservation may be achieved at successively higher

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levels of growth and technological innovation, or it may falter as the result of economic crisis, but self-preservation must remain the goal of production within this state-form. As seen in Chapters 1 and 2, the concept state-form implies the legal and political framework of a mode of production and not simply the economy taken in positivist isolation from social and cultural factors. The point is that the institutions responsible for the continued functioning of juridical neutrality, negative liberty and formal legality must reject all legal and practical political conditions of selftransformation that are incompatible with capitalist models of growth as impracticable violations of liberty and irrational demands for the realization of a substantive vision of legitimacy. As Weber observes, in the course of industrialization reason is decoupled from critique and adjusted, now in legal-rational rather than in traditional form, to the mechanical and predatory modalities appropriate to the struggle for survival. For Horkheimer this means that the struggle for survival is in large measure won in terms of what is objectively possible, but the transcendence of necessity in a more political and sociological sense is infinitely postponed. He intimates that necessity becomes a kind of in-built structural determinant of a system that is exempted from rational critique aiming at the Aufhebung of the system. This is because reason itself has been enlisted in the struggle to defeat what this particular form of institutionalized reason actually reinforces heteronomy and dependence. What sounds illogical or paradoxical, that is, that reason is enlisted to defeat reason, is in reality symptomatic of the fact that the mediations between humanity and nature in the capitalist industrial system may be irrational, but it is nonetheless not permitted to say so. There is no official ban against arguing this: the supposed limits of reason and freedom dictate it. The result is that the transition from mechanical and predatory freedom to political freedom and individual self-overcoming hovers as a possibility that is omnipresent but impossible to realize. Within the structural dynamic of systemic expansion, this transforms a promising reality into a threatening reality which effectively prevents individual subjects from confronting the real causes of the non-realization of an objective possibility. As indicated earlier in this chapter, irrationality intensifies to the extent that the underlying logic seems increasingly to dictate the single strategy necessary in order to increase growth. Thus one witnesses elective affinities between the processes which tighten the net of social integration, reduce the alternative paths of feasible economic development, and suppress individual human nature, on the one hand, with those that engender socially and juridically mediated fear, on the other.23

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The second missed transition is that from national legitimacy as the mythological unity of common ethnicity and identical origins that is drummed up in different ways over the ages in order to organize the crusade against scarcity, on the one hand, to rational legitimacy that acknowledges the overcoming of scarcity as a precondition of positive freedom and self-overcoming, on the other. It is a missed transition closely bound up with a particular form of reasons incapacity to indicate a path towards the practical transcendence of scarcity which does not reproduce the rhythms of self-preservation (negative freedom) under duress. As economic growth and the practical application of technical discoveries become ends in themselves and the bases of legitimacy, the nation emerges as the saviour of a common past and future because of its ostensible ability to organize the collective effort to survive. It seems to be empowered to do this on the basis of spontaneously transmitted cultural resources which guarantee consensus and unity in the face of international competition for resources and the threat of external military aggression. But as Simmel indicates, by 1900 the cultural spontaneity alluded to has been in large measure taken over by the anonymous and functional spontaneity of money, and as Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer suggest, the nation-state is legally equipped to dispense with liberal democratic versions of law to perform emergency galvanizing functions when and where it is deemed to be necessary, as in times of economic instability, political crisis and security threats. That is, where it is possible to enlist reason to defeat reason it is surely possible to employ legality to dismantle the law a theoretical paradox becomes a practical tautology. But rather than this being a piece of elitist intellectual peevishness, as it may sometimes seem, Horkheimer and Adorno are really making a stringent dialectical point about the relations between knowledge and society.24 With roots in the past and ambitions for the future, the nation suspends linearity in ways that appear to have been credible and really experienced for large numbers of people since 1789. This is a patently ideological transcendence, however, since it is usually steeped in racism and militarism. Although Horkheimer does not discuss the issue in such terms, the implication is that whereas legitimacy could become a principle of individual, sensuous-cognitive knowledge (once the project to overcome scarcity has been brought to fruition without homogenizing people), under the pressures of the capital-driven growth economy it consistently reverts to a homogenizing principle of nationalist functional order, harnessed in the face of potentially unlimited uncertainties, looming contingencies and possible threats. In the preface to the Dialectic of the Enlightenment,

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Horkheimer and Adorno mention that their book was written as the end of the National Socialist regime became apparent, while the contours of the mass society of the post-World War II period, already foreshadowed to some extent by Nazism, slowly became discernible despite all the ashes and ruins that needed to be cleared in 194445. Hence by the time of its demise, fascism could be analysed as a transitional phenomenon which, despite its particular barbarity, represents continuity with previous forms of authoritarian transition and correspondingly blocked instances of libertarian transition. In making this argument Horkheimer and Adorno do not so much abandon Marxism as enrich it with a hermeneutic of non-linear time inspired by Benjamin. The base and superstructure model is definitively discarded in favour of a plurality of loosely articulated parallel concepts capable of illuminating unsuspected affinities, that is, such as those uniting negative conceptions of freedom, repressive politics, reason institutionalized as survival strategy, and authoritarian populist practices of legitimacy. They thus seek to re-articulate paradoxes instead of ordering the respective truth content of each paradox within a conceptual hierarchy that implicitly upholds the social hierarchy that produces dubious conceptual-practical hierarchies to begin with. As will become clear in the next section, negative dialectics can be seen as an instance of critical theory in practice which aspires to think in terms of parallel affinities and constellations against the conformist tendencies of eclectic intellectual history and standardized academic philosophy.25 Traditional humanist history writing may seek to bracket off the fascist period as a nasty parenthesis in an otherwise peaceful and progressive evolution towards a modern, liberal democratic order. Following Benjamin, the Dialectic of Enlightenment offers an alternative view of the historical process. But whereas Benjamin writes in a messianic vein about the omnipresent possibility of a revolutionary deblocking, Horkheimer and Adornos book suggests that the basis of libertarian happiness in the present is its absence rather than its potential. On this account what is real and discernible is not necessarily immediately possible, but nonetheless real rather than imaginary. This argument is elaborated in their co-authored book, which regards fascism, like capitalism, as only the most recent chapters in a far more ancient story about instrumental reason.

From Dialectics at a Standstill to Negative Dialectics


In their book Horkheimer and Adorno examine the simultaneous homogenization and isolation of individuals in the industrial-democratic era,

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which is part of a more general irony: Enlightenment, which presents itself as the secular modern movement par excellence, becomes secular mythology in the course of its unfolding, that is, something more insidious than the straightforwardly mythological. In the Dialectic of Enlightenment the relation between reason and self-preservation diagnosed by Horkheimer in 1942 is seen through the lens of Benjamins analysis of law and myth in On the Critique of Violence and other writings. This enables Horkheimer and Adorno to trace the reign of instrumental reason to a time well before the Industrial Revolution, that is, to an epoch at least as far back as Odysseus struggle to resist the song of the Sirens in Homers Odyssey. From that moment on subjectivity is reduced to strategies for self-preservation (individualism), and objectivity is reduced to subjective objectification of nature and objects (reification).26 It might be said that if Marx offers a political economy of reification based on alienated labour, the Dialectic of Enlightenment outlines a genealogy of reification based on alienated nature. While Marx clearly regards the re-appropriation of alienated labour as the condition of a humanized world oriented towards emancipation, Horkheimer and Adorno regard such re-appropriation as the condition of a subjectivized world oriented towards manipulation and distortion. On this reading the commodified version of objectification prevalent in capitalism simply takes over from the successive forms of religious objectification which dominated consciousness and society prior to the advent of industrial production. Unlike in times of religious consciousness, however, where humanity still has external reference points in God and nature, in the industrial era subjective objectification is elevated to the organizing principle and measure of all reality. It is central to Horkheimer and Adornos argument that the subjectification of reality does not make the social and historical world more intelligible to human subjects. On the contrary, the more human subjects invest things and relations with their own fears, and, in a commodity economy, manipulated desires, the less they are able to recognize their own thoughts and impulses in the institutions that govern their lives. Under these conditions they become the plaything of alien forces and acutely susceptible to the appeals of dictators. However, just as critical theory attempts to theorize the historical events of the twentieth century in terms of institutionalized identity thinking rather than in journalistic or empirical terms as an analysis of the personalities of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, it also seeks to explain the reality of dictators in terms of objective spirit rather than individual psychology. Hence the question is: how does the quest for enlightened autonomy and freedom backfire into the reality of radical heteronomy and domination?

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The analysis of Odysseus attempts to illustrate why the transition to a humanized world that is sensitive to need and fosters creativity is repeatedly missed because the species never really abandons its initial sense of shock and fear in the face of natural scarcity and arbitrariness. In principle, a given level in the development of the productive forces should make a shift from rationalized quantity to rational quality objectively possible. In practice, however, humanity only gains some measure of autonomy from natural caprice by neglecting its mimetic faculty in favour of increasingly advanced forms of rationalization. This is catastrophic for Horkheimer and Adorno, since it is mimesis of nature that reconciles humanity and nature. The key to freedom and legitimacy is reconciliation based on each individuals unique mimetic relation with nature rather than emancipation from nature based on a generic concept of formal reason which degenerates in actual practice into what they refer to as ratio, that is, instrumental rationality institutionalized in legal universality prior to the realization of the socio-economic conditions that could make a more than ideological practice of universality possible in everyday life. At least in theory, in mimesis every person has the chance to overcome their dependence on nature, in their own way, without subjugating the nature in them. The implication is that freedom is not a natural right nor an acquired privilege, but rather the result of a rational mediation between humanity and nature that respects the simultaneously collective and individual dimensions of non-instrumental mediation. Institutionalized instrumental rationality, by contrast, isolates as it homogenizes; it juridifies without redeeming the juridico-political promise to transcend mechanical and predatory freedom. It thus produces a grotesque excess of standardized thinking and widespread social control which is accepted by most people in ways that look like spontaneous democratic consensus. In the twentieth century this occurs first as tragedy, then as farce: the racist authoritarian militarism of fascism is followed by the benign authoritarianism implicit in the industrial production of cultural goods, that is, what Horkheimer and Adorno refer to as the culture industry.27 The Enlightenment exaltation of human powers over nature culminates in Marxs exhortation that humanity re-appropriates its alienated essence from God, the state and capital. In his eyes the aim of the revolution is not a party dictatorship, but rather the humanization of the world through emancipated forms of labour that create a society where humans recognize their best qualities in the relations they collectively shape with other humans, and where they recognize their aesthetic values in the objects that surround them. If for Kant humanity creates the epistemological

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conditions of its autonomy in consciousness by ordering the chaos of nature in concepts and categories, for Marx it creates the political conditions of its autonomy by ordering the chaos of nature through labour and collective social action. If queried on the subject, Marx might be inclined to say that Kants Enlightenment thinking is in many ways correct once liberated from its liberal framework just as, in a parallel vein, productive abundance is desirable once liberated from its exploitative framework. But by the time one reaches the twentieth century, Horkheimer and Adorno submit, the synthesis between humanity and nature that in theory is performed by Kants concepts and then by Marxs social labour is taken over in successive stages in practice by competing firms and thereafter by monopolies, that is, by money and capital. That synthesis is inevitably ideological and potentially totalitarian. The implication is that whatever inalienable legal rights they may have according to the constitutions of modern nationstates, individuals become completely fungible and useful only insofar as they can keep the wheels of the corporate world and the culture industry turning. This condition makes them dispensable or worse, as Adorno argues later in Negative Dialectics. The general line of reflection that unites the Dialectic of Enlightenment and Minima Moralia with Negative Dialectics is that where humans have become fungible they can be herded into concentration camps shortly thereafter. Just as it is sometimes the case that the hollowing out of democracy by fear and conformism is not obvious until it is too late to save democratic institutions, and the transition from liberal to authoritarian democracy happens in countless but barely visible ways, the concentration camp may seem to appear out of nowhere, but it does not. If Benjamin indicates how it may be possible to see ruins before the buildings in question have actually been destroyed, Adorno suggests that one can perceive the conditions for the possibility of the camp in seemingly banal aspects of commodified mass culture and even in the apparently harmless methodological flaws of well-intentioned and in many respects brilliant philosophers such as Kant and Hegel, not to mention Lukcs and Heidegger.28 One of the aims of Negative Dialectics is to subject Kant, Hegel and Heidegger to a rigorous analytical critique. In the discussions of these thinkers developed in the book Adorno does not speculate about the possible political consequences of philosophical positions. He attempts instead to examine the relation between flawed forms of thought and oppressive social structure, bearing in mind that any supposed unmediated link between these would amount to little more than an untenable form of recycled idealism. The critique of Kant, Hegel and Heidegger serves

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as a framework for developing his own ideas on the possibility of a kind of post-idealism which does not abandon idealisms original goal of outlining the bases of human freedom. Adorno combines his ideas on mimesis, reconciliation and the critique of instrumental reason, and arrives at a theory of mediated non-identity. He formulates the idea in opposition to two distinct and dominant ways of philosophizing from the Enlightenment to his present. In the first instance his thought engages with the postulated mediated unity between humanity and nature found in Kant and Hegel. In the second he investigates the problems with what he takes to be Heideggers unmediated non-identity of humanity and being. Negative Dialectics thus interrogates the conditions under which mediation and non-identity might coexist in a non-oppressive constellation, bearing in mind that an easy synthesis of Kant and Hegel on mediation and Heidegger on non-identity would be insufficiently dialectical. This allows Adorno to bring together concerns that go back to his earliest discussions with Horkheimer in the 1920s, and to articulate these ideas in the light of the sustained critique of ideology and technological society that accompanies his work into the 1960s. In order to trace briefly this trajectory and elucidate Adornos position in Negative Dialectics, it will be necessary to provide a few additional words about the idealism of Kant and Hegel. While the remainder of this chapter will focus on Adornos concept of mediated non-identity, Heideggers thought will be analysed in the next chapter. Although often juxtaposed as implacable philosophical and political enemies, each in their own way agrees that instrumental reason is a theoretical and political obstacle to real thinking.29 In his essay on Lukcs titled Erpresste Vershnung, usually translated in English as Reconciliation under Duress, Adorno criticizes Lukcs attempt to identify the conditions of a reconciled world as already being present in the collective subjectivity of the modern industrial proletariat. Although Adorno does not use the term reconciliation under duress in his book Hegel: Three Studies of 1963, it is probably fair to say that Adorno regards Hegels theory of the modern state as one of many instances where a philosopher unwittingly serves the interests of power by identifying the conditions of a reconciled world as already being present. In Hegels case it is of course not the presence of the modern industrial proletariat, but rather the institutions of the modern state that testify to the rationality of the real. In the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right Hegel explains that in its historically evolving relations with nature, humanity moves from unmediated unity with nature (in a hypothetical distant past) to mediated disunity, marked by conflict and mutual misunderstanding, and from there to

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mediated unity with nature. The final result of this rational process is the reconciliation (not identity) of humanity and nature, subject and object, and the reconciliation of individuals and the state. In time, Hegel suggests, collective (European) humanity is able to apprehend reality as a rational process, and the individual members of (European) humanity are able to accept the modern state as the condition of a rational will. Hence Hegel maintains that there is an intimate relation between what one might call the states reconciling rationality and its legitimacy.30 From Adornos perspective, and however much he endorses Marxs analysis of capitalism, it is clear to him that Lukcs Marxist theory of the unity of theory and practice in the proletariat constitutes a significant regress with respect to Hegel. This is because Hegel already moves philosophy and social theory beyond the subjectivism of Lukcs (collective subjectivity of the proletariat) and Heidegger (collective subjectivity and destiny of Das Volk31) by demonstrating that all subjectivity is mediated by law and the other objectivations of spirit that assume institutional form in the family, civil society and the state. Hegels theory of the mediated unity of humanity and nature takes shape as a series of interrogations concerning what he considers to be the insufficiently dialectical character of Kants critical philosophy. As seen in Chapter 1, Kant insists that there can be no pure, unmediated objectivity, since all objectivity is mediated by human subjectivity in the guise of the two forms of sensible intuition (time and space) and the 12 categories of the understanding. At the same time, Kant maintains, there can be no pure, unmediated unity between citizens and the state that is not metaphysical and authoritarian. Hegel counters that political authority need not be either Kantian and formal, on the one hand, or metaphysical and authoritarian, on the other. For Hegel, Kants great achievement is that he shows that all objectivity is mediated by subjectivity. But Hegel takes this dialectical argument considerably further by demonstrating that all subjectivity is historically created, superseded and recreated as a result of the developing conditions of objectivity as these assume changing forms in ever new socio-economic and political institutions. The latter produce qualitatively new, more perfectly knowing subjects at every stage of the historical process and its inexorable march towards more perfect forms of knowledge and freedom. Hence Hegel wishes to overcome the epistemological limits of Kantianism, according to which mediated unity stops with the barrier between the phenomena and the things in themselves, while also overcoming the political limits of Kantianism, according to which mediated unity is formal and narrowly juridical, that is, it is a tenuous unity that cannot really reconcile citizens and the

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state. Hegel sets out to do this in the Philosophy of Right, in which he develops a theory of mediated unity based on his conceptions of ethical life and objective spirit. In Negative Dialectics, Aesthetic Theory, and some of his lectures, Adorno intimates that although Hegels critique of Kant is convincing in a number of ways, it is nonetheless the case that Hegels mediated unity turns out to be, in the thoroughly administered society of late capitalism and ubiquitous exchange of falsely measured equivalents, mediated identity, that is, institutionalized identity thinking. For Adorno, real freedom lies with the institutionalization of mediated non-identity rather than with the institutionalization of mediated unity. The term mediated non-identity refers to anticipated forms of reconciliation between humanity/nature and citizens/ state that are no longer achieved under duress, as they are in different ways and to varying extents in Kant, Hegel, Lukcs and Heidegger. Adornos reconciliation would be achieved instead through mediating instances including the right kind of law that recognize that each person is an instance of human, historicized nature, or rather, that there is no human nature as such, but as many human natures as there are human beings.32 An epistemologically and politically legitimate political order would somehow have to respect this pluralism without breaking down into chaos. But it would be genuinely plural and no longer based on multiple varieties of the same manufacturing brands or the electoral tactics of competing parties in their bid for officially recognized power. Adorno suggests that contrary to the pluralism and institutionalized freedom which Hegel claims to be the hallmark of the modern state, what one really is confronted with in advanced industrial democracies is a competitive, antagonistic variety of the same commodities and parties rather than authentic difference.33 Adornos idea of mediated non-identity as reconciliation can be contrasted with Hegels notion of nationally rooted ethical life and recognition that is radicalized in completely different directions by Lukcs and Heidegger. This somewhat subtle but decisive difference between historicized dialectics/ontology and negative dialectics is indicative of their related yet distinct approaches to theorizing epistemological questions in conjunction with socio-economic, ethical and political questions. This point also clarifies the observation that whereas Marx offers a political economy of reification based on alienated labour, Adorno outlines a genealogy of reification based on alienated nature. What distinguishes Adornos alienated nature from a romantic notion of natural origins or a liberal theory of natural rights is his consistent reminder that he is analysing the history of the changing forms of human alienation from nature. If Marxs

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solution to the problem focuses on the re-appropriation of alienated essence, Adorno intimates that reification is as much about forgetting certain histories as it is about exploitation and projection. Following Benjamin, Adorno seeks to recover what is real but not actual (nonpunitive justice, non-instrumental reason) rather than to reclaim what is actual but not directly visible (species being, surplus value). As such Adorno is more attuned than Marx and other theorists to the epistemological and political problems posed by linear conceptions of time, and less inclined to explain social relations in terms of false consciousness.34 Corresponding to the difference between nationally rooted historicized dialectics and negative dialectics is the fact that while Hegel writes in collective terms focusing on law, the state and reason, Adorno speaks more in post-liberal individual terms focusing on aesthetics and knowledge. Nonetheless, it can be argued that Hegels state and Adornos aesthetic utopia both describe a form of reconciliation that might be characterized as legitimate and realized on the basis of thought and experience, rather than merely hegemonic and legitimized through lawful order. For both thinkers, legitimacy contains a marked rational and epistemological dimension that goes well beyond the usual categories of interest aggregation and power sharing. But while Hegel stresses the importance of recognition through individual struggle, as in the now famous pages in the Phenomenology on the master/slave dialectic, or recognition through national self-affirmation, as in the Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Adorno is more interested in the rational content of aesthetic and other forms of individual experience, and in the ways in which experience and knowledge explode the epistemological boundaries of concepts and the hierarchical social boundaries of antagonistically constituted subjectivity.35 If for Hegel reason becomes objectively realized in institutions when people recognize something of themselves in the seemingly opposed wills of other people, that is, through love, property, and various instances of collective deliberation, negative dialectics is far more sceptical about the extent to which more than non-instrumental reason actually permeates existing institutions. As a methodology negative dialectics evokes a form of reason that at present is only discernible in terms of its manifest absence from actually existing institutions. This might be described in terms of an affirmative impulse that illuminates unsuspected ways of living and knowing rather than a defensive strategy derivative of struggles for survival or the imperious affirmation of collective autonomy, that is, of sovereignty. The point here is that however much Hegel moves epistemology and social theory beyond Kant without making some of the errors evident in Lukcs,

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Hegels philosophy remains indebted to the logic of capitalist forms of exchange and antagonistic forms of recognition. This should not be surprising, Adorno submits, since Hegel and Kant are ultimately bourgeois philosophers who say something true about a world that is false. Their thinking offers a non-apologetic conceptualization of life and knowledge in an era in which the bourgeoisie revolutionizes the mode of production while overturning existing modes of consciousness.36 This raises two questions. Why exactly, for Adorno, does mediated unity in practice tend not to resemble Hegels harmonious vision of pluralistic diversity within elastic unity in the modern state, but tends instead to take institutional shape as mediated identity, that is, as coerced reconciliation and forced integration of individual natures in the name of economic efficiency and authoritarian order? And why does Adorno nonetheless wish to retain the reliance on dialectics and the mediations characteristic of idealism instead of opting for some notion of pre-theoretical, authentic knowledge? To the first question there is an obvious and less obvious answer. The obvious answer to the first question is that Hegels theory about the rationality of objective spirit is very convincing until history runs off course, so to speak, and indeed, the events of the twentieth century compelled Adorno, Arendt (next chapter) and many others to reflect on the ways in which history had obviously ceased automatically to produce richer forms of knowledge and freedom, and, in a parallel development, Enlightenment reason had evolved towards industrial and technological rationalization. From Adornos standpoint, the twentieth century world is not a rational world of enlightened, rational individuals, nor is it a world of legitimate, democratic states. It is rather a world in which individuals perish in concentration camps according to a rationalized plan that reduces them to Exemplare (specimens or samples). That is, in the disenchanted, rationalized world as opposed to the rational world the victims are not really individual human beings. They are more like commodified samples or generic types condemned to removal and elimination. In his Notes on Becketts Endgame he presents a more nuanced analysis of this phenomenon than the one offered in Negative Dialectics, though he comes to basically similar conclusions.37 Adorno of course does not accuse Hegel of complicity in genocide. But he does have a serious objection, which is part of the less obvious answer to the first question above. Although Hegel points the way beyond the voluntarist subjectivism of thinkers like Fichte, Lukcs and Heidegger, he is nonetheless a philosopher of coerced reconciliation and an advocate, in the Phenomenology (paragraphs 20 and 23, to name but two of many

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examples) and elsewhere, of the notion that the whole is real, and that subject (rather than Aristotle and Spinozas substance) is the absolute.38 That is, a partial explanation as to why pluralist mediated unity in theory leads to authoritarian, mediated identity in practice can be located in Hegels idealist version of identity thinking, which posits the ultimate identity of A and non-A. This is another example of a philosopher using the dialectical method to say something true about a world that is unreconciled, antagonistic and false precisely because historically realized dialectics help engender social processes that suppress rather than preserve what is not identical to conceptual thought at least to date. What one detects in Adornos late thinking is an unusual confluence of the philosophical ideas of Kant and the sociological ideas of Lukcs, that is, the ideas of thinkers he is usually very critical of, against Hegels affirmation of the actual as the already existing rational. In positing a discrepancy between the phenomena and the things in themselves, Kant concedes that there are limits to conceptual thought which can only be overcome by epistemological (theory) and juridical (practice) violence. Despite the many problems with his account of collective subjectivity, Lukcs has the great merit of indicating why the discrepancy in question has much to do with class structure and the division of labour. Another way of saying this is that the Kantian barrier between the phenomena and the things in themselves is social and historical rather than natural and inevitable. The same socioeconomic and historical critique of the natural limits of knowledge also applies to the idea of natural inequality and foreordained hierarchy.39 Adorno suggests that our relationships with nature and objects, and, by extension, between theory and practice, could be radically modified by combining the insights of Kant and Lukcs without forcibly collectivizing the effort to get to the things in themselves, or precipitating into decisionist, direct action. This is a question of constellational dialectics and rational mediations rather than a project aiming at the realization of some form of unmediated and ultimately coerced unity, or, for that matter, what amounts to something similar in more recognizably political terms, some form of extra-legal legitimacy such as National Socialism or Stalinism. The problems with coerced unity and extra-legal legitimacy do not signal the inevitable victory of the liberal forms of legitimacy upheld by Kant (and by extension, Rawls). If this was the case, there would be little to distinguish Adornos thought from the liberal democratic humanism that collapsed in the face of National Socialism and Stalinism. But the problems with extra-legal legitimacy do indeed signal that caution and care are required in the critique of liberal democratic legal form, just as, it might be

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added, a certain degree of nuance is required in the critique of traditional aesthetic form. The task of negative dialectics is to somehow rescue the moment of truth in the non-identical, that is, what is both indicated by as well as excluded by the general concept, and thus illuminate something about a world that is not true and also not false in any categorically unmediated sense, but what one might call a reconciled reality in absence. The institutionalization of this moment of sensuous, mimetic reconciliation, however difficult and even utopian, offers the key to a possible transition from damaged life (scarcity and unaccountable power as arbitrary fate) to genuine life (individual spontaneity and non-ideological freedom) that is mentioned at the outset of this chapter. What might institutionalization mean in this context, if not the legally mediated reconciliation of humanity and nature? This could be the key to salvaging Benjamins critique of violence without endorsing his messianic eschatology, and at the same time initiating the transition from premature legitimation to timely reconciliation and real legitimacy.40 This leads to the second question raised above concerning the reasons why Adorno wants to retain mediations and dialectics despite his misgivings about Hegels objective idealism, which affirms the actual as rational, and Kants formal idealism, which to many readers appears to defend a narrowly juridical conception of human essence that never discloses what that essence might be.41 Hegel and Kant are practitioners of thinking as mastery, which for Adorno is a defining feature of antagonistic subjectivity. The institutional corollaries of antagonistic subjectivity are oppressive states based on the idea of naturally national unity which is likely to foment racism not because people are naturally racist or stupid, but rather because, in terms reminiscent of Hegels objective spirit, they have been juridically constituted and socialized as such. On a negative dialectical reading, legally sanctioned racism and other forms of oppression can be analysed as the result of flawed mediations between humanity and nature. These are instances of instrumental mediation that perpetuate scarcity ethics and individual and collective self-preservation against the objective possibility of post-scarcity ethics and self-overcoming. It is therefore plausible to argue that Adorno retains mediations and dialectics, and, by extension, some kind of legal framework however radically reformed beyond liberal democracy and state socialism because he sees that post-scarcity ethics and self-overcoming are not matters of wilful self-assertion or existential commitment, but require the appropriate juridical organization for their realization. Once this has been demonstrated with analytical rigour, the analytical rigour underpinning the constellation of juridical neutrality,

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negative liberty, formal law and instrumental reason looks decidedly less analytical. On the basis of this somewhat unorthodox interpretation of critical theory, it is possible to study the actual functioning of punitive and regulatory forms of law in practice, and observe these epistemologically and sociologically flawed mediations at work as they marginalize and exploit at the same time that they homogenize and integrate without real consensus or agreement. As will be suggested below by way of conclusion to this chapter and then seen in detail in Chapter 6, this point about agreement and consensus is a key aspect of Habermas critique of instrumental reason and his own post-idealist theory of communication. While Kant maintains that the mediated unity of subject/object and citizen/state is achieved in consciousness and law, Hegel sees the mediated unity of these in ethical life and Geist. Marx of course regards these syntheses to be operative in the labour process. However botched and authoritarian it is under capitalism, Marx argues, capitalism nonetheless represents a decisive step beyond feudal-agrarian society on the way to libertarian communism. In Negative Dialectics, Aesthetic Theory, and other writings, Adorno elaborates a method for analysing the non-reconciliation of humanity and nature in existing institutions, while hinting, with care and nuance, at what genuine reconciliation might look like on the basis of a reconciled reality in absence. He wants to retain Kant and Hegels emphasis on mediations and dialectics, while jettisoning the models of consciousness and antagonistic subjectivity that the idealists bequeath, albeit in very different ways, to Marx, Lukcs and Heidegger. Although extremely sceptical about existing forms of knowledge, and highly sensitive to the links between flawed forms of knowledge and oppressive social structure, Adorno does not want to give up on knowledge and positive freedom, nor does he want to put his faith in the intervention of some form of blood-sparing, divine justice. Instead, he remains committed to critical theorys original aims which are, in an extended and qualified sense, also part of the aims of the Enlightenment. If Kant asks, under what conditions is knowledge possible?, Adorno asks, under what conditions is non-instrumental reason possible?42 The tentative beginnings of an answer can be found by reading Kant and Hegel together through the prism of negative dialectics. This is done by combining the Hegelian notion of Aufhebung with the Kantian question just raised. Non-instrumental reason is possible in a society in which antagonistic subjectivity and reason as strategy have been aufgehoben in the realized transition from instrumental to substantive reason, or, in keeping with the methodology of the Phenomenology, in the transition

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from quantity to quality. Contrary to what Hegel, Lukcs and others suggest, however, history will not automatically produce that transition, nor will it mechanically beget a collective subject that can. Kants emphasis on the reality of the forms of human knowledge is as important to the project as Hegels emphasis on institutions. Adorno breaks with the idealists in that he attempts to move beyond anything resembling a traditional epistemological subject. He does this in an effort to envisage forms of community based on mediated non-identity distinct from the mediated unity of the idealists and Marxists and distinct too from what he considers to be the non-mediated non-identity espoused by the theorists of fundamental ontology and existentialism. In Negative Dialectics he remarks that utopia is perhaps best conceived of as a knowledge utopia in which it is paradoxically possible to make use of concepts to attain access to non-conceptual, sensuous, mimetic knowledge.43 The discussion in the previous pages of this chapter indicates that there is a juridical-political corollary to this utopian epistemological principle, which is not discussed in any detail by Adorno, but is implicit in much of what he says. It is the idea of legitimacy institutionalized as realized knowledge rather than as the organizing principle of a rule-based, rationalized functional order. In this context knowledge is spontaneous, cerebral-sensuous (in accordance with Nietzsche and Foucaults vision of the emerging post-human against the entrenched self-preservation reflexes of the all too human), individual as well as collective (like legality and legitimacy), and informal yet systematic (like Adornos philosophy generally). Knowledge of this kind is unthinkable in abstraction from politics and the societies in which humans live and think. This is one reason why Adornos thinking is social and political at least by implication despite his own emphasis on philosophy and aesthetics. His critics might claim that like Horkheimer and Benjamin, Adorno is a philosopher without political relevance, or that what is remotely relevant, that is, the idea of mediated non-identity as a form of non-instrumental communication, is aufgehoben in Habermas theories of communicative action and discourse ethics. Indeed, for many observers Habermas probably appears to be the ideal choice beyond Hegels historical reason, which, it may be demonstrated, has a critical deficit, and Adornos aesthetic reason, which undoubtedly has a practical deficit. It is also plausible to say that with his ideas on communicative action, universal speech pragmatics and the lifeworld/system distinction, Habermas has concrete proposals on how to institutionalize the communicative dimension of mediated non-identity: as long as there is mediation there is the possibility of communicative

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knowledge, and as long as what is communicated is non-identical and different from person to person, all standpoints are included in a radically democratic way. Habermas insists that under these conditions consensus and agreement with significant epistemological content can have a decisive impact on the formulation of legitimate law. These issues will be taken up in Chapter 6 and the conclusion of this book. Without wishing to anticipate those arguments in any detail here, it might be mentioned that to situate Habermas in a political space beyond the normative abstraction of Kant and Rawls, on the one hand, and outside of the implicit non-normativity of Hegel and Luhmann, on the other, has become a widely accepted standard position for the considerable number of mainstream theorists seeking a position free from moral abstraction and normative silence. Hence a concluding remark on Adorno and the isolation of critical thought referred to in the opening pages of this chapter is in order. It might be asked if Adornos concepts of reality in absence and mediated non-identity amount to anything more than a hermeneutical transposition of the idea of the Kantian noumenon and Hegels mediated unity. According to this line of criticism it could be argued that in opposition to juridical reason and metaphysical legality, Adorno offers aesthetic knowledge and metaphysical legitimacy, and that metaphysical legitimacy is only better than extra-legal legitimacy, that is, coerced reconciliation, in the sense that it is not demonstrably complicit with authoritarian regimes. The price for this innocence is of course isolation and a large degree of political irrelevance.44 There are a number of things to say about this. The first is Benjamins point that legal forms of legitimacy such as liberal democracy are mired in coerced reconciliation to a far greater degree than is generally acknowledged by liberal democratic states, to say nothing of their police, army, security and intelligence apparatuses and the staggering costs required to maintain their operations. The second is that Adorno continually stresses the epistemological primacy of the object, the sensuality of cognition and the historicity of nature. In other words, he is fully aware of the limits of idealism, and his philosophy gropes for and reaches out to the postmetaphysical. Dialectical post-metaphysical thought acknowledges and acts on what one might call the reality of mediation and form against the brutality and banality of realized essence. The critique of liberalism that endorses realized essence or eventually falls back on oppressive formalism tends to legitimate what it sets out to critique. There is more than a little political relevance to the idea implicit in the writings of Benjamin and Adorno that a legitimate form of law would be distinctly more postmetaphysical and more enlightened than the (apparently dwindling) varieties of legal legitimacy.

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Endnotes
1. Habermas, Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (I): Handlungsrationalitt und gesellschaftliche Rationalisierung (The Theory of Communicative Action), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1981, chapters 14; and Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne: Zwlf Vorlesungen (The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1985, chapter 5. 2. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung: Philosophische Fragmente (The Dialectic of Enlightenment, New York, Social Studies Association, 1944), Frankfurt, Fischer, 1995, pp. 213. Here as elsewhere, Horkheimer and Adorno follow Benjamin, for whom progress is an ideological concept, and every document of culture is also a document of barbarism. See Benjamin, ber den Begriff der Geschichte (Theses on the Philosophy of History), in Illuminationen, theses 7, 11 and 13. The link between Benjamin and Adorno is particularly clear if one compares Benjamins Theses with the closing pages of Adornos Minima Moralia, in which Adorno elaborates his nine Theses against Occultism. See Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflexionen aus dem bechdigten Leben (Minima Moralia, 1951, written during and immediately after World War II), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1997, pp. 3219. 3. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung: Philosophische Fragmente (The Dialectic of Enlightenment), pp. 13942. This is one of the few places where they note the similarity between their approach and that of Tocqueville (180559), author of Democracy in America (1835). 4. Readers of the previous chapter will judge whether or not the theses sketched in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction offer a more promising line of enquiry than Lukcs steadfast defense of realism. Critics of both thinkers are likely to insist that one does not properly theorize the social by sociologizing (avant-garde or traditional) literary paradigms, and that while uncompromising originality is important in aesthetics, it is dogmatic and authoritarian in politics. To this it might be replied that a political reality governed by the institutionalization of instrumental reason and arbitrary performance principles is neither liberal nor democratic, that is, that it is dogmatic and authoritarian in its own way. This issue will be taken up in Chapter 6. 5. Adorno, Minima Moralia, pp. 1224. There will be more to say about hope later on in the chapter, since, following Benjamin, hope is real and distinct from wishful thinking and, according to Benjamin and Adorno, what is real cannot be extinguished no matter how remote and tenuous its basis in the present seems to have become. 6. Habermas, Nachmetaphysisches Denken (Post-Metaphysical Thinking), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1992, pp. 2323; Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), p. 400; and Adorno, Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1959 Lectures on Kants Critique of Pure Reason, edited by Rolf Tiedeman), Suhrkamp, 1995, pp. 30521. For an insightful review of those lectures which puts a number of Adornos most important ideas on idealism in perspective, see Chris Thornhill, Adorno Reading Kant, in Studies in Social and Political Thought, 12 (2006), pp. 98110. 7. Critical theory can be understood in a number of ways and embraces many distinct theoretical currents. This chapter will focus on the critical theory elaborated by the first generation of Frankfurt School theorists, and within the Frankfurt School, on Horkheimer and especially Adorno. Readers interested in a more general account of critical theory which

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nonetheless maintains the Frankfurt School as focus should see David Held, Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas, London, Hutchinson, 1980; Raymond Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981; Joan Always, Critical Theory and Political Possibilities: Conceptions of Emancipatory Politics in the Works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Habermas, Boston, Greenwood Press, 1995; Diana Coole, Negativity and Politics: Dionysus and Dialectics from Kant to Poststructuralism, London, Routledge, 2000; and Darrow Schecter, The History of the Left from Marx to the Present: Theoretical Perspectives, New York and London, Continuum, 2007, chapter 3. 8. Adorno, Minima Moralia, pp. 3334. This raises a crucial point in the overall argument concerning the relation between hope as a materialist and dialectical principle, on the one hand, and the critiques of instrumental reason, instrumental legitimacy and linear time, on the other, which will be taken up in the conclusion. The expository chapters of this book which lead up to that discussion bring in aspects of the concluding argument where possible and relevant without, it is hoped, unnecessary distortion of theorists ideas. 9. See Adorno, Minima Moralia, p. 42, where he remarks that Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im falschen (last line of aphorism 18). 10. Horkheimer, Philosophie als Kulturkritik (1960), in Werner Brede (ed.), Max Horkheimer: Sozialphilosophische Studien, Frankfurt, Fischer, 1972, pp. 90108; and Adorno, Drei Studien zu Hegel: Aspekte Erfahrungsgehalt Skoteinos, oder Wie zu lesen sei (Three Studies of Hegel), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1963. 11. Lukcs, Lenin, pp. 523, 5801; and Jrome Duwa, 1968, anne surraliste: Cuba, Prague, Paris, Paris, limec, 2008. For those unfamiliar with the main aims of the movement, Situationism can be described as the attempt to merge left-modernist avant-garde aesthetics with Marxism beyond social democracy and Marxist-Leninism. For a brief history of the movement see Schecter, The History of the Left from Marx to the Present, chapter 5. 12. Rolf Wiggershaus, Die Frankfurter Schule: Geschichte, theoretische Entwicklung, politische Bedeutung (The Frankfurt School, available from the MIT Press in English translation), Munich, DTV, 1988, pp. 2551. Wiggershaus book is a great source of historical information and theoretical analysis. 13. Horkheimer, Die gegenwrtige Lage der Sozialphilosophie und die Aufgaben eines Instituts fr Sozialforschung (The Contemporary Situation of Social Philosophy and the Tasks of an Institute for Social Research, 1931), in Werner Brede (ed.), Max Horkheimer: Sozialphilosophische Studien, pp. 3346; Willen van Reijen, Horkheimer zur Einfhrung, Hamburg, Junius, 1982, p. 11; and Alfred Schmidt, Frhe Dokumente der kritischen Theorie, in Kritische Theorie, Humanismus, Aufklrung: Philosophische Arbeiten, 19691979, Stuttgart, Reclam, 1981, pp. 213. 14. Horkheimer, Materialismus und Metaphysik (Materialism and Metaphysics, 1933) originally in the Zeitschrift fr Sozialforschung, now in Alfred Schmidt and Gunzelin Schmid Noerr (eds), Traditionelle und kritische Theorie: Fnf Aufstze, Frankfurt, Fischer, 1995, pp. 742. 15. An exception to this general tendency appears when Horkheimer explains that critical theory attempts to emancipate humanity from natural scarcity without condemning it to social slavery, and that the most promising areas of research for this project are not to be sought in positivism, idealism or other instances of traditional theory. See Traditionelle

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und Kritische Theorie (Traditional and Critical Theory, 1937), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie: Fnf Aufstze, pp. 2478. 16. Although Horkheimer does not make explicit reference to Franz Neumann in the essay, it is clear that his reflections on the transition from rational law to rationalized decrees is influenced by the work of Franz Neumann, author of Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society, 1937), in Herbert Marcuse (ed.), Franz Neumann, Demokratischer und autoritrer Staat, Frankfurt, Fischer, 1986, pp. 3181. This is particularly evident on pages 2512 of Horkheimers piece. 17. Traditionelle und Kritische Theorie (Traditional and Critical Theory, 1937), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie: Fnf Aufstze, p. 259. Hence in contrast to Heidegger (Chapter 4), who distinguishes between the ontic subject of history and the ontological Dasein of historicity, and Adorno, who insists on the primacy of the object, Horkheimer tries to reconceptualize subjectivity. Over time Horkheimer became increasingly sceptical about the role of Marxism in this project, and turned instead to Schopenhauer. 18. In addition to the influence of Dilthey one senses the impact of Karl Mannheims (18931947) sociology of knowledge on the formulation of this argument. There can be little doubt that some of Mannheims main ideas guided the protagonists of early critical theory in their attempts to analyse the social bases of knowledge. See Rolf Wiggershaus, Die Franfurter Schule, pp. 2513. 19. Luhmann, Soziale Systeme (Social Systems), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1984, chapters 5, 1112; Horkheimer, Traditionelle und Kritische Theorie (Traditional and Critical Theory, 1937), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie: Fnf Aufstze, pp. 20814. Adorno, Zur Metakritik der Erkenntnistheorie: Studien ber Husserl und die phnomenologischen Antinomien (Against Epistemology, written in 193437 as visiting professor in Oxford), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1970, chapter 4. 20. Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie (Political Theology, 1922), Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1996, p. 3. 21. Neumann, Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society, 1937), pp. 3945; and Zum Begriff der politischen Freiheit (On the Concept of Political Freedom, 1953), pp. 10713, in Herbert Marcuse (ed.), Franz Neumann, Demokratischer und autoritrer Staat; and Horkheimer, Traditionelle und Kritische Theorie (Traditional and Critical Theory, 1937), pp. 2478. For a comprehensive account of the role of legal theory within early critical theory, see William E. Scheuerman, Between the Norm and the Exception: The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994. 22. Horkheimer, Vernunft und Selbsterhaltung (Reason and Self-Preservation, 1942), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie, pp. 2737; Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt (On the Critique of Violence, 1921), in Angelus Novus, p. 65. It will be seen in Chapter 6 why Habermas contests and eventually abandons Horkheimers thesis and rejects Foucaults analyses. He does this by claiming that modern societies develop differentiated learning capacities in which the technical, cognitive and emancipatory dimensions of learning and adaptation must be distinguished. Hence for the author of the Theory of Communicative Action and the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, the discrepancy between consistent levels of

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technological innovation and erratic levels of political freedom can be addressed as a life-world/system problem related to communication deficits. He sees this as the most fruitful way to rescue the project of Enlightenment from different strands of Nietzscheanism, which he equates with irrationalism and/or renegade versions of the philosophy of consciousness. 23. Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Economy and Society), pp. 3537; and Horkheimer, Vernunft und Selbsterhaltung (Reason and Self-Preservation, 1942), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie, pp. 282, 287. It is striking how relevant this analysis continues to be in a post-Cold War world. The end of the war seemed to open up the possibility of more flexible socio-economic and political arrangements than those ostensibly required in the face of military conflict. Yet with the onslaught of neo-liberal global capitalism, the range of possible alternatives seems to have narrowed considerably rather than expanded. 24. It is a point that clearly situates them much closer to Kafka and Benjamin than to Spengler and Schmitt. See the chapters on Spengler and Kafka in Adorno, Prismen: Kulturkritik und Gesellschaft (Prisms), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1976, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, Horkheimer, Vernunft und Selbsterhaltung (Reason and Self-Preservation, 1942), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie, pp. 2803 and 295301; Adorno, Neumann, Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society, 1937), pp. 3945; Kirchheimer, Bermerkungen zu Carl Schmitts Legalitt und Legitimitt (Remarks on Carl Schmitts Legality and Legitimacy, 1933) as well as Strukturwandel des politischen Kompromisses (The Structural Transformation of Political Compromise, 1941), in Wolfgang Luthardt (ed.), Otto Kirchheimer: Von der Weimarer Republik zum Faschismus: Die Auflsung der demokratischen Rechtsordnung (Otto Kirchheimer: From the Weimar Republic to Fascism), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1976, pp. 11351 and 21345. These and other essays by Neumann and Kirchheimer are contained in William S. Scheuerman (ed.), The Rule of Law under Siege: Selected Essays by Franz L. Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996. For an analysis of the links between the dismantling of legal norms and the so-called war on terror, see Verena Erlenbusch, A Biopolitical Investigation of Terrorism: Foucault and Beyond, D. Phil. at the University of Sussex, forthcoming. 25. Horkheimer, Vernunft und Selbsterhaltung (Reason and Self-Preservation, 1942), in Traditionelle und kritische Theorie, pp. 2803, 295301; and Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung (The Dialectic of Enlightenment), pp. 17. While the Reason and Self-Preservation essay is contained in the German edition of Traditional and Critical Theory cited in this chapter, part I of Horkheimer, Zur Kritik der instrumentellen Vernunft (On the Critique of Instrumental Reason), Frankfurt, Fischer, 1985, contains essays written on the basis of lectures given at Columbia University in New York in 1944. The writings in this companion volume round out Horkheimers critique of instrumental reason in the period leading up to the Dialectic of Enlightenment. 26. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung (The Dialectic of Enlightenment), second excursus; and Adorno, Minima Moralia, pp. 3213. 27. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung (The Dialectic of Enlightenment), pp. 369, 645, 12876, 2337; Adorno, Minima Moralia, pp. 1224, 197. The ambiguity of

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these books central argument is captured in this apparent standoff between the possibility of utopian legitimacy (Minima Moralia, pp. 12034; Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 2337) and the real human need to employ some form of instrumental rationality in order not to be completely dependent on external nature. Habermas argues that the scope of instrumental rationality can be confined to an extent that, leaving aside the utopianism, at least provides a stable framework for liberal democratic legitimacy. That argument will be evaluated in Chapter 6. 28. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklrung (The Dialectic of Enlightenment), pp. 946, 132, 14974; Adorno, Minima Moralia, pp. 889, 12032, 32134; Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), pp. 3548. Much of this would admittedly seem extreme were it not for some of the actual facts and events of twentieth-century history, the prelude to which is analysed in the Dialectic of Enlightenment. 29. A correct assessment of the contrasts and parallels between the thought of Adorno and Heidegger is not easy due to the fact that despite Adornos sustained critique of Heidegger in Ontologie und Dialektik (Ontology and Dialectics, lectures from 196061, Suhrkamp, 2002) and Negative Dialectics, and the more shrill tones invoked against him in Jargon der Eigentlichkeit (The Jargon of Authenticity, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1964), there are some real convergences in their respective critiques of instrumental reason and modern industrial society. Not a great deal has been said about these convergences in the English literature on Adornos critical theory and Heideggers ontology. English readers will find some very useful information on the subject of their similarities and differences in the forthcoming translation of Stefan Mller-Doohms Adorno: Eine Biographie (Adorno: A Biography, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2003). There are also very good discussions in Simon Jarvis, Adorno: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge, Polity, 1998; and Alex Thomson: Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed, Continuum, 2006. 30. Adorno, Erpresste Vershnung (Reconciliation under Duress, 1958), in Noten zur Literatur (Notes on Literature), sixth edition, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1981, pp. 25180; and Drei Studien zu Hegel (Hegel: Three Studies), pp. 1024. It might be mentioned in this context that Adorno does not criticize Hegel for his Euro-centrism, and indeed, it could be plausibly maintained that Adorno shares a number of these prejudices. 31. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), Tbingen, Max Niemeyer, 1993, paragraph 74, pp. 3827. There is a fair amount of controversy as to whether the notion of a (clearly nationalist) Schicksalsgemeinschaft (community of fate) evoked in Being and Time and the writings up until the late 1920s is later abandoned after the ontological Kehre (turn) of Heideggers writings of the late 1930s and the post-World War II period. The latter writings acknowledge Being and Time to be an incomplete fragment and a failure to reground metaphysical transcendence by way of an analysis of Daseins being in the world. The consequence he draws from this failure is the radical incongruity between existential humanist positions and ontological realities. On this basis it might be argued that he abjures his belief in nationalist politics or any politics steeped in the will to power (see Chapter 4). 32. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), pp. 3037. There are clear parallels between these pages on Kant and Hegel in Negative Dialectics and the analysis offered on page 203 of sthetische Theorie (Aesthetic Theory, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1970, available in

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English from Continuum), where Adorno talks about the relation between aesthetic reason and utopia. See too pages 3335 and 3967 of that work, as well as J. M. Bernstein, Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001, chapter 7; and Deborah Cook, From the Actual to the Possible: Nonidentity Thinking, in Constellations, 12 (2005), pp. 212. 33. One might incline to the view that this is a fairly crass form of sociologized idealism rather than sociological analysis per se. Yet if one considers the contemporary political landscape in Europe and North America, where all the mainstream parties currently converge with more or less similar plans to manage a growth-oriented economy with slightly differing ideas on very modest levels of redistribution, it is clear that however rudimentary, Adornos sociological vision is not without some resonance. 34. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), pp. 3037; and Adorno, Gesellschaft (Society, 1965), in Soziologische Schriften I (Sociological Writings I), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1972, pp. 919. Hence it is not precise to say that Adorno is a philosopher of consciousness as such. It is perhaps more accurate to say that he is a theorist of aesthetics and society interested in the (possibly utopian) conditions under which non-antagonistic knowledge and non-instrumental reason might be operative in practice rather than merely discernible in absence. The prefixes non in the text with reference to justice and reason can be understood in negative dialectical terms as a hermeneutic of absent mediations, and can be compared with Heideggers affirmation of Nichts (nothingness) as a hermeneutic of absolute origins. These epistemological positions point towards potential juridical and political implications that are revealing in terms of Adorno and Heideggers respective political projects. 35. Hegel, Vorlesungen ber die Philosophie der Geschichte (Lectures on the Philosophy of History, delivered in 182223 and 183031), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1986 in its entirety, and especially part 4; and Adorno, sthetische Theorie (Aesthetic Theory), pp. 2012. See too Deborah Cook, Adorno, Ideology and Ideology Critique, in Philosophy and Social Criticism, 27 (2001), pp. 25, 1012. 36. Adorno, Vorlesung ber Negative Dialektik (Lectures on Negative Dialectics, 196566), pp. 2532, 22737; and Adorno, Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Lectures on Kants Critique of Pure Reason, 1959), pp. 30720, 411. 37. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), p. 355; and Adorno, Versuch, das Endspiel zu verstehen (Notes on Becketts Endgame), in Noten zur Literatur (Notes on Literature), pp. 281321. 38. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Philosophy of Spirit, 1807), pp. 205; Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), pp. 31114; Adorno, Philosophische Terminologie (Philosophical Terminology, lectures in the years 196263), volume II, pp. 1269; and Adorno, sthetische Theorie (Aesthetic Theory), pp. 52333. 39. In his lectures, books and essays Adorno stresses that this tendency to naturalize epistemological limits as well as socio-economic and juridical hierarchies is foreshadowed by Kants reduction of sensible intuition to the passive registering of time and space and the mechanical operations of the categories. For a very illuminating discussion of this issue see Jarvis, Adorno, pp. 17984 and 20311.

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40. Hegel, Die Phnomenologie des Geistes (The Philosophy of Spirit, 1807), p. 19; Adorno, chapter 1 of Adorno, Eingriffe: Neun kritische Modelle (Interventions, 1963), Frankfurt Suhrkamp, 1963; and Adorno, Zu Subjekt und Objekt (On Subject and Object) and Marginalien zu Theorie und Praxis (Marginal Notes on Theory and Practice), in Stichworte: Krtitische Modelle II (Key Terms II), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1969, available in English in Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (eds), The Frankfurt School Reader, London, Continuum, 1982. Readers of German will find a great deal of interesting material on the possibility of institutionalizing reconciliation (as opposed to recognition) from the standpoint of Adorno and critical theory in Iring Fetscher and Alfred Schmidt (eds), Emanzipation als Vershnung: Zu Adornos Kritik der Warentausch-Gesellschaft and Perspektiven der Transformation, Ljubljana, Neue Kritik, 2002. 41. For a discussion of this issue in Kant, Simmel and Freud, see Darrow Schecter, Liberalisms and the Limits of Knowledge and Freedom: On the Epistemological and Social Bases of Negative Liberty, in the History of European Ideas, 33 (2007), pp. 195211. 42. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), pp. 31124; Vorlesung ber Negative Dialektik (Lectures on Negative Dialectics, 196566), p. 41; and Jan Weyand, Adornos kritische Theorie des Subjekts, Lneburg, Zu Klampen, 2001, pp. 5761. The further question which he does not ask, but which will be of great interest in the discussion of Habermas in Chapter 6, is the following: how might non-instrumental reason reform existing forms of legal rationality, and what are the implications in terms of the possibility of a theory and practice of non-instrumental legitimacy? 43. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Negative Dialectics), p. 21. 44. Similarly dismissive remarks might be made in reference to Derridas idea of a politics of friendship. For a convincing demonstration of the political relevance of such a politics and of deconstruction generally, see Alex Thomson, Deconstruction and Democracy: Derridas Politics of Friendship, London, Continuum, 2005. Alex Thomson has also written an excellent introduction to Adorno titled Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed, London, Continuum, 2006.

4
The Ontological and Republican Critiques: Heidegger and Arendt
It was suggested in the discussion of Hegel and Adorno towards the end of the previous chapter that there is a theoretical affinity between sociohistorical dialectics and the juridical structure of the modern state, which is perhaps most confidently expressed in the Philosophy of Right, and that this affinity is related to the possibility of knowledge-bearing mediation in philosophy as well as rational representation in politics. This can be elaborated as follows: dialectics proceeds according to the principle that the relation between humanity and nature is neither one of complete identity nor of absolute separation. If it was based on identity, knowledge would be redundant, since there would be nothing external to humanity to know; if it was based on separation, knowledge would be impossible, since there would be no way to mediate between humanity (knower) and nature (known) in order to establish a sound foundation for knowledge. The complication, as Hegel and Adorno signal, is that humanity is part of nature while not reducible to it. This implies that there are limits to what knowledge can know, as Kant had already indicated. But it also implies that there is a great deal at stake in epistemological and political terms, depending on how these limits are explained. As regards epistemology, it makes a great difference if the limits are explained as permanent shortfalls in a human faculty often referred to as consciousness or the understanding, or if the limits are explained in socio-economic and historical terms as having much more to do with the division of labour and power relations in society, as Lukcs argues. As regards politics, the term mediated unity indicates that if there was identity between citizens and the state, government and representation would be redundant, since there would be nothing external to the
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citizenry to represent. If there was complete separation between citizens and the state, government and representation would be impossible, since government would exist on its own without society, that is, there would not really be a state or government of anything. In sum one might say that for many dialectical thinkers, law and the state mediate between knowledge as abstract philosophy/theory, on the one hand, and freedom as concrete politics/practice, on the other. Comparing Kant and Lukcs, for example, it becomes clear that there are clear affinities between the limits of knowledge and the necessity of negative freedom in the former. For the latter the theoretical limits of knowledge can be overcome at the same time that a more substantive, positive form of liberty is potentially realized in communism. Although these thinkers diverge on many issues, they share fundamental assumptions about the mediating possibilities of reason and the emancipatory potential of humanism. In Chapter 3 it is seen that Adorno argues that the real, if only fleetingly actual relation that obtains between humanity and nature in epistemology, art and politics is mediated non-identity rather than as mediated unity. Mediated non-identity is hence a position at the outer fringe of dialectical and juridical thinking, and is, as a corollary, uncertain about the status of humanism and reason. By contrast, in the course of his evolution as a thinker, Martin Heidegger arrives at the conclusion that any and all attempts to explain reality as a relation between humanity and nature to whatever degree the human and the natural are argued to be mediated by law, labour, history or society are metaphysical. The implications are wide-ranging in epistemological, juridical and political terms. In a sense Heidegger offers a non-dialectical response to the phenomena diagnosed in the Marxist critiques of instrumental reason, alienation, mass society and reification. It is a response which he at times articulates as the possibility of proximity to origins and authentic existence. He suggests that the project to alter the structure of mediations should be jettisoned for a project that he reckons is closer to the beginning of philosophy and at the same time nearer to what may be coming in its place. This chapter explores Heideggers critique of Western metaphysics and the critique of instrumental reason it implies, and looks too at Hannah Arendts attempts to make Heideggers critiques of metaphysics and instrumental reason fruitful for a new understanding and practice of politics.

From Philosophy, Epistemology and Objectivity to Thinking and Ontology


Heidegger submits that modern epistemology from Descartes to Kant abandons the Greek and to a lesser extent medieval concern with being, in

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order to focus on the conditions of the possibility of objective knowledge.1 However different the approach may be, depending on the philosopher in question, the answer to this question about objectivity is bound up with the existence of a reliable subject of knowledge and a foundation one might designate as subjectivity. Hence subjectivity, rather than being or substance, acts as the foundation of reason, objectivity, and what can be known. This tendency reaches a pinnacle in Hegels discovery of a subject that is also an object, that is, a subject for whom knowledge is self-knowledge, the corollary of which is the ultimate identity of A and non-A. There will be more to say about this identity below, since Heidegger is keen to point out that in Hegels idealism, absolute knowledge is founded on the metalogical unity of identity and difference. One of Heideggers central arguments is that metaphysical knowledge emerges on the basis of the assumption of a fundamental (mediated or not) unity that makes subsequent forms of difference possible.2 These differences are then arranged in various kinds of classificatory schemes and academic disciplines which tend to obscure the initial assumption of fundamental unity and to leave it unquestioned. By contrast, thinking is theory-praxis that thinks the ontological non-identity of identity and difference, that is, thinking happens or can happen as a result of a fundamental difference between being (Sein) and beings (Seienden) that makes understanding possible. In other words, if unity makes knowledge and objectivity possible, difference allows understanding to emerge. Part of his argument is that while one can attain knowledge and objectivity without really thinking, there is no understanding without thought. He insists that one must therefore distinguish between the objectivity that is made possible by the operations of a subject, where the term operations denotes something somewhat arbitrary and instrumental, and the understanding that can occur if the series of initial assumptions about unity can be suspended or, to use a term closer to the later Heideggers project of Destruktion, deconstructed.3 Within a metaphysical framework knowledge is. For Heidegger beings are, too, in the sense that they exist, but their being is not exhausted in their beingness as things, nature and humanity. The first in a series of further paradoxes raised by this approach is that being does not be, as such. The beingness of beings is given by being, such that being gives or renders possible rather than is. This is expressed in the German es gibt (it gives), which corresponds to, but is slightly different from the French il y a and the English there is.4 Heideggers line of deconstructive questioning leads him to argue that the place of humanity in the understanding of being is misunderstood if humanity is thought of as a subject that knows an object,

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where that object either is, and is known within its phenomenological limits (because it cannot be known in its essence as a thing in itself), or simply does not exist and cannot be known at all. The reasons why will become clear below. For now one might say that the error typical of metaphysical thinking is to misconstrue humanity as an object-knowing subject within a mediated subject-object totality, which leads to the parallel error of considering nothing to be non-existent precisely because it is not an object (the condition of non-existence is in this case satisfied as a result of it being no-thing). Consequently, Heidegger maintains, breaking out of metaphysics entails moving beyond the dialectics of subjectivity and objectivity, which in turn demands questioning the roles of humanity, history and reason as the primary instances mediating the subjective and objective dimensions of reality. Humanity and reason can only play this imperious epistemological role if reality is exhausted in humanity-nature and subjectobject relations, that is, at the exclusion of being from consideration. Heidegger regards a great deal of what is usually referred to as reason as manipulative and ultimately metaphysical in the precise sense that it relates to the meta of the physical rather than the extra of the physical. He views metaphysical (non-)thinking as a tautological operation that in a first step assumes the unity of presence, and in a second step magnifies the presence of presence instead of explaining it or remembering that presence was not always present in the way it happens to be present now. Moreover, it is non-thinking that cannot think of the now of the present as fundamentally different from the past now of yesterday and the future now of tomorrow. It is inherent in such calculation that it can only conceive of truth as presence and what Heidegger designates as ready to hand or present to hand usefulness.5 Consequently, metaphysics thinks the metaphysical as a greater physical, as the metasubject of subjectivity, much in a manner analogous to the way in which the Christian tradition in the West thinks the divine as the suprahuman, and, in a related vein, has a tendency to regard what is bigger (cathedrals, skyscrapers) as somehow more real and important than what is smaller, and therefore also somehow closer to what is transcendent.6 This line of argument does not explain the origins and conditions of existence of the metaphysical. By contrast, ontological thinking is paradoxical rather than tautological. This distinction between tautological humanist metaphysics and ontological paradoxical understanding may become clearer with a few explanatory words on Hegel, Heidegger and Adorno. After that it will be possible to develop the issues just raised by way of introduction in a bit more detail.7

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Heidegger asserts that although Hegels idealism is metaphysical, his philosophy does have the virtue of not making humanity the subject of absolute knowledge. Geist operates the mediated unity of humanity and nature in absolute knowledge, and Geist, in knowing itself, eventually knows (in the course of history) that there is not anything outside of itself to know (Hegels Geist understands that there is nothing to know in the unusual positive sense alluded to above). Marx and especially Lukcs attempt to overturn Hegels idealist epistemology by making Hegels subject of absolute knowledge and the state into a revolutionary subject of productive knowledge and human society. Thus if Fichte and Schelling expand on the subjective dimension of the Hegelian dialectic, Marx and Lukcs try to develop the objective dimension. In so doing, the latter seek to respond to Hegel with materialism and a more resolutely immanent approach to epistemology than Hegel seems able to provide. The phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (18591938), which is of fundamental importance for understanding Heidegger, endeavours to establish the bases of a non-Marxist immanence intended to lead from the unknowable thing in itself to the things as they show themselves to human consciousness.8 For Husserl it is not as if there is a form behind which an essence is concealed, or that there is an appearance behind which the thing in itself is hiding. The forms and appearances of objects are the essential characteristics of those things; what really matters is the way they appear to us and the way they have meaning for us. Instead of asking whether a thing is there or not there, or if it is in the mind of a subject or in nature as an object, Husserl examines how the thing is there in its immediate givenness. Heideggers originality consists among other things in being able to see the implications of Husserls project to overcome the separation of knowing from what is known, and to think about the potential consequences in conjunction with an acute hermeneutical sensitivity to meaning. The fact that it is philosophically untenable to separate knower and known informs Heideggers understanding of the hermeneutic circle, and provides him with what he considers to be non-reified evidence for the claim that pretheoretical knowledge is an ontological reality with precedence over juridical anthropologys supposition of the primacy of theory over practice. If as humans we have pre-theoretical knowledge, we do not have to ask how we know if something represents an increment in knowledge without already knowing what knowledge is. By extension, we do not need theory or law to frame our understanding of politics or practice. Heidegger, somewhat like Lukcs, seeks to radicalize Hegels idealist overcoming of logical dichotomies such as presence/absence, subject/object, being/nothingness,

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and perhaps most importantly for Heidegger, identity/difference. In other words for Heidegger, Hegel is really the first post-Platonic thinker to (re)discover that nothing is something and that knowledge is not exhausted in a reified relation between humanity and nature that grinds to a halt before the thing in itself and nothing. For Adorno, somewhat like Heidegger, the task of thinking after Hegel is not so much the materialist inversion of consummated idealism, since simply to inverse what is flawed is an insufficiently dialectical response to the flaw at hand. It consists instead in the possibility of thinking without positing an historically engendered mediated identity between humanity and nature. To summarize a complex issue for the sake of brevity, it could be said that whereas Adorno articulates hermeneutical concerns in relation to dialectics, Heidegger articulates phenomenological concerns in relation to hermeneutics. This may be one reason why their philosophies seem sometimes practically to converge, and at other times radically to diverge.9 Hegel, as what one might call a strong juridical thinker in the sense alluded to at the start of this chapter, relies on dialectics and mediations to show how a subject knows an object. The mediated unity of subject and the object in knowledge is not possible without Geist, and the state, rather than the law in Kants more restricted sense, is the condition of an individual rational will. Adorno, as what one could call a weak juridical thinker, relies on negative dialectics to do this. For the latter the mediated non-identity of subject and object is not even potentially knowable without thinking the priority of the object against the background of anticipated reconciliation in epistemology and politics. By comparison, one could describe Heidegger as an anti-juridical thinker of legitimacy who, at least at the juncture marked by Being and Time, modifies the customary usage of concepts such as care, authenticity and Angst to explain how Dasein, as distinct from a traditional epistemological subject, understands an event, where the understanding of the event and the event itself are not possible without being.10 This chapter is not directly concerned with an Adorno-Heidegger comparison as such. It is nonetheless illuminating for a discussion of Heidegger and Arendt to point out that the critique of identity thinking initiated by Heidegger and Adorno, which is an integral dimension of their respective critiques of instrumental reason, is far from exhausted as far as political implications go. Heidegger distinguishes between epistemological subjects knowing objects without thinking the being of their beingness, and Dasein thinking that difference ontologically. Adorno insists that there is a difference between thinking and more or less successful modes of adaptation to social norms and structures. That difference is also a historical and

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libertarian difference for Adorno that is not thinkable in isolation from the repressive socio-economic, political and juridical institutions which make the difference between thought and mere adaptation apparent, just as they implicitly point to the difference between formal legality and lived legitimacy. Despite Adornos objections to Hegel discussed at the end of the previous chapter, Adorno remains a theorist of objective spirit who sees that it is undialectical to separate the political potential of present institutions from their currently repressive character, which is part of the reason why the difficulties of acceding to legitimate ethical life are not solved with an extra dose of ahistorical, abstract morality. The utopian but nonetheless sociologically grounded task is to analyse how such potential is undermined by authoritarian legal intervention (in the sense of re-forming things in order to manipulate them and make them stay the same, as exemplified by the use of public money to bail out the banks in October 2008 and thereafter), without giving up on the potential of libertarian juridical form. To do the latter is to retreat into isolation and various forms of passive consolation. Thus to close this parenthesis until the conclusion of this book, one could say that post-identity thinking tends to be post-nation-statejuridical thinking. It raises the possibility of social-juridical thinking and reality beyond the boundaries of the nation-state within which state-juridical, foundational thought is articulated and legislated.11 The later Heidegger and Adorno can be seen as harbingers of post-national thinking which is not blithe cosmopolitanism compatible with global capitalism and disciplinary governance. The analysis leading up to this stage of the argument in this book indicates that state-juridical thought never really gets beyond the antagonistic dialectics of individual negative liberty and collective populist-functional legitimacy. If the discussion at the end of the previous chapter is convincing, it should be clear that it does not manage to do this even in its most sophisticated and complex articulation in the writings of Hegel. At least by implication, it may be argued, social-juridical thought stands in opposition to the authoritarian foundation of centralized power, and tends to deconstruct identity in the philosophical as well as in the more commonly used sociological usage of the term.12 Heideggers point is that contrary to what much idealist epistemological theory implies, the philosophical and practical task of humanity is not to know phenomena in time and space by using the fixed categories of the understanding in order to unify itself reflexively with reason. It is rather to understand them as they really are in the being of their beingness, which is to understand them in their particularity and temporality. Uniqueness in this sense is particularly evident in works of art.13 If knowledge of objects is

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allowed to take epistemological and political precedence over the understanding of events, then reason, in the guises of science, logic and philosophy, simply becomes a tool in the mastery of humanity over things, nature, and by extension, of humanity itself. Although understanding beyond reason is facilitated by the fact that what understands and what is understood are neither separate nor the same but rather in the world together, as Husserl observes, understanding can also go astray if it ignores the reality that being makes understanding possible in the first place. If humanity posits itself as an object-knowing subject, it ends up positing the object in a way that forgets that they are both in the world together, and that the world is the condition of the phenomenological appearance of subjects and objects. When this happens understanding gets shipwrecked, so to speak, at the level of beings in their thingness (als Seiendes), or if one prefers, at the level of the metaphysical, and forgets to think the historical and absolute particularity of beings in their individual being (Sein). Understanding that is open to the event of historical being and particularity of space then degenerates into classificatory knowledge fixed in linear time without regard for the uniqueness of place, that is, it takes an epistemological step behind theoretical territory already staked out by Dilthey.14 In this case the event of being is either misunderstood or simply overlooked, such that there is nothing to distinguish one place from another apart from the size of its population. In modern industrial societies, forgetfulness of being (Seinsvergessenheit) is visible in the marked tendency to employ metaphysical epistemology in the service of technological solutions to the problems accompanying human life. By forgetting being, metaphysics as civilization, as distinct from mere epistemology, devolves epistemological, political and cultural priority to the collectivized human subject that mistakes the projections of subjectivity for objectivity. Objectivity is then taken for truth.15 For Heidegger, truth is not a property of traditional epistemological subjects or even of Dasein, however, but of being only. This matter is complicated by the fact that the afore-mentioned their in relation to nature, ordinary objects and works of art is qualitatively different than the their of Dasein, though this difference must be thought ontologically as a dimension of being and not as an essential trait of humanity. In what follows it will be shown why Heidegger rejects subjectivity in favour of Dasein, and explained in further detail why, in the wake of the qualified failure of Being and Time, he rejects metaphysics and philosophy in favour of what he calls thinking. There is not enough space to enter into an exegetical discussion of Being and Time in this chapter. This work has already been undertaken by Theodore Kisiel and a great many others.16

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It is nonetheless important for the argument here to note that the impasses reached in Being and Time prepare the way for Heideggers later attempts to deconstruct forms of knowledge that emerge on the basis of the assumption of a unity that makes subsequent forms of difference and prematurely assumed transcendence possible. It is his hope that in the process of this deconstruction, a clearing is opened up that illuminates the ontological non-identity of identity and difference that makes understanding possible. Arendts critique of sovereign power and the confusion of politics with the fabrication of authoritarian collective wills is barely conceivable without this Heideggerian background. Heidegger proceeds by arguing that the main thing that a subject can know is an objectified extension of itself, which is not really knowledge as much as it is psychological insight into the workings of the self and the modalities of sensual and intellectual cognition, that is, of rational consciousness. Reason can be very useful in classifying the findings of such research, and indeed, in the 1946 Letter on Humanism Heidegger says that one can regard the subject, without a great deal of consequence, as either homo humanus or as animal rationale.17 He at times suggests that while reason turned inwards furnishes the bases of psychological knowledge, reason directed externally gives us mastery of the things around us. Hence it is no accident that the civilization that sets great store by psychology and therapy is also one which strives for ever increasing levels of technical innovation and control. In institutional and cultural terms, the combined effect of psychological introspection and external projection towards military and scientific conquest results in a technologized version of the will to power that threatens the planet with war and ultimately with destruction. But in view of its situation of being thrown into the world (geworfen, Geworfenheit), the subject may come to understand itself in non-foundational terms as Dasein and open itself to the possibility of letting being be (even though being does not be in any straightforward sense of the is of presence). Such understanding is neither psychological nor technological or even rational. He develops these ideas on technology and psychology in a more systematic manner after Being and Time, however.18 In Being and Time Heidegger broadly follows the mainstream of Western philosophy by positing three distinct moments or levels of reality. These can be broadly denoted as need, existence and transcendence, which Heidegger adapts to his own philosophy up to 1927 with the notions of thing-being (das Seiende), being there (Dasein, his anwer to subjectivity) and being (das Sein). As Oliver Jahraus observes, the argument in Being

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and Time appears to founder in those moments in the text where Heidegger suggests that contrary to what may have been his original intentions when he set out to write the book, one cannot demonstrate that it is possible, by way of the intermediary of Dasein, to posit the mediated unity of humanity and being.19 He sets out to show that the ontological question of being is an even more fundamental question than the question concerning the mediated unity of humanity and nature.20 That particular, pre-ontological (what Heidegger sometimes refers to as ontic) knowledge of the objectivity of objects is demonstrated in German idealism. Idealism offers a rigorous argument in this regard if one bears in mind that the validity of the argument is also greatly limited by the fact that (1) such knowledge is objective knowledge known by an object-knowing subject, that is, it is in some crucial sense tautological, (2) mediated unity stops at the barrier of the thing in itself for Kant and (3) the key for an ontological bursting of the naturehumanity paradigm is provided by Hegels discovery that nothing is something that is not a thing.21 At various junctures of his analytical argument he indicates an awareness of the possibility that the transcendence of Dasein in das Sein is based on their presupposed unity, that is, it is based on the notion that being is. The confirmation of this possibility as reality would challenge the antijuridical thrust of the exposition, since if das Sein represents the universally mediated transcendence of individual Dasein, it must do so in a manner that is truly universal and valid for everybody. Yet for Heidegger this would amount to a relapse from ontological Dasein to metaphysical subjectivity and natural rights: if one presupposes that being is, one remains trapped within the parameters defined by tautology (1), which stipulates that objective knowledge is known by an object-knowing subject, and defined as well by tautology (2), which presupposes a dialectical and rational subjectobject unity that can be represented in epistemological terms as objectivity, and which can be represented in political terms as the mediated unity of citizens and the state via democratic government and rational law.22 This reiterates the point made at the outset of this chapter concerning the theoretical affinity between socio-historical dialectics and the juridical structure of the modern state. Heidegger effectively deconstructs the metaphysical foundations of subject and state when articulated as pillars of a legal form of legitimacy. This is why there are various possible political readings of Heidegger, but no plausible liberal democratic one. Moreover, he feels compelled to develop the deconstructive line of argument in a direction that takes him away from philosophy towards Seinsdenken, which one might translate as the thinking of being. This move constitutes the definitive

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abandoning of metaphysics and the thereby initiated Kehre or fundamental ontological turn in his work. In positing a movement from das Seiende to das Sein via Dasein, one implicitly accepts an upward trajectory from need and existence to transcendence, where the upward movement of the trajectory assumes the starting-point of necessity that is subsequently overcome through the right means or an automatic mechanism. In the fifth chapter of the second section of Being and Time, Heidegger intimates that it is not analytically rigorous enough to proceed according to the assumption that freedom presupposes necessity, and to deduce supposedly ascending forms of freedom in relation to necessity such as mechanical (need/necessity, family), predatory (existence, civil society) and humanist-political (transcendence, state). Dasein, as distinct from traditional subjectivity, is itself already transcendence. But it is not a liberal democratic legal transcendence founded on natural rights or supposedly innate capacities which are then used to make major economic and political assumptions. Dasein is already transcendence for reasons related to the being together in the world of knower and known in a phenomenological-hermeneutical rather than idealist-metaphysical sense.23 It is observed in the section on Benjamin in Chapter 2 that the liberal democratic (non-)answer to the phenomenon of the hermeneutic circle is to argue that liberals know what the preconditions of liberty are for all of humanity from a perspective that is already emancipated from illegitimate political intrusion into a naturally legitimate private sphere of interpersonal interaction and socio-economic exchange, and that it is from this supposedly already emancipated position that the difference between legitimate law enforcement and illegitimate abuse of law is discernible. This is the liberty of a subject that knows the preconditions of liberty from the perspective of the necessity of protection from intrusion. Heidegger might be inclined to see this form of flawed hermeneutics as the political corollary to the epistemological tendency to deduce differences from an underlying unity. Like the meta (rather than the extra) of the metaphysical, this particular kind of liberty is based on metasubjective or metapersonal rather than authentic liberty from necessity, or what Arendt calls genuinely political liberty. For her such liberty is pluralist and entails a supraindividual and yet not collectivized dimension, as will be seen in the second half of this chapter. It first remains to explain the difference in the two senses of already above.24 Like other political conceptions which seek to ground legitimacy in knowledge rather than on the basis of mere obedience or tradition, the liberal democratic model needs some kind of response to the temporal

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dimension of political obligation. It has to establish when the founding of the state took place, and why it did so under conditions that should earn its universal recognition as valid. In so far it is compelled to confront the inappropriateness of a linear concept of time for the purpose of explaining the grounds of legitimacy and obligation, since that moment is theoretical rather than historical. Hence it somehow has to concede the inadequacy of a linear-temporal account while maintaining the priority of theoretical/ hypothetical over historical-temporal explanation. However concealed in its premises and implied consequences, therefore, the liberal democratic model of legal legitimacy is underpinned by a political hermeneutic of time. Yet because it is committed to thinking difference on the basis of underlying unity, it cannot break out of the strictures of linearity. It tends, on the contrary, to posit (1) a natural time before political time, which it variously does in terms of birth and the state of nature or original position, followed by (2) the admittedly fictitious and unanimous agreeing to the so-called social contract, followed in turn by (3) the return of a natural time after political time (death). There is thus time before time and time after time. One could say that this is a tautological non-explanation of time. The model posits a homogeneous time of theoretically identical units rather than a political or historical time of rupture and actual new beginnings, or, in Simmels terms, it posits a model of time that has not been denaturalized. If time is understood as a series of identical units stored in a metaphorical hourglass, the past becomes accessible by turning the hourglass over to reverse the flow of units. According to the postulate that there is time before time and time after time, the past is an earlier version of the present that becomes smaller as we move away from it, and the future is the present to come that gets bigger as it approaches. The model cannot dispense with either the hourglass that holds all the units together, or the homogeneity of the units within. Knowledge is acquired by an implicitly natural subject regarding natural objects in a time and space that is neutral. This is therefore a subject with natural rights exercised in a way compatible with the natural rights of all other citizens. It enjoys this liberty within the territory of a state which exacts impartial justice while enforcing neutrality with regard to different conceptions of the good. The gravity that assures the smooth flow of units finds its economic counterpart in the market that spontaneously coordinates supply and demand. In other words, everything follows sequentially and naturally. Subjects are free because they are born free, that is, they are and become free because they are already free they have natural rights and they are entitled to them at the same time. It can now be shown why Dasein is already in the

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world in a much different sense than the liberal democratic subject is already free. Heidegger suggests that rather than trying to know time in terms of units measured by a subject that observes their flow from an imaginary position outside of the hourglass, which among other things assumes the temporal as well as spatial priority of theory, Dasein can understand time as an event in which it is involved. This is related to the together in the worldness of knower and known, though not as the logical or sequential consequence of a premise. It has more to do with the openness and plural simultaneity of the event of being as well as Daseins particular ways of being in the world. These ways are better understood in terms of care (Sorge), anxiety (Angst) and resolution (Entschlossenheit), than in terms of fixed categories of the understanding such as causality, unity, plurality, necessity, possibility, and so on. Daseins understanding of its death is of key importance in this context, and constitutes a fundamental part of the argument expounded in Being and Time. It is here that Heidegger begins to draw out the implications of paradoxical ontological thinking in opposition to what he takes to be the philosophical traditions reliance on notions of totality, logical contradiction and mediated identity. These are aspects of his work that receive more extensive exposition in the period following Being and Time and the abandonment of his original project to demonstrate the mediated unity of humanity and being by way of the intermediary of Dasein.25 It is an empirical fact that nothing is absolutely certain until it actually happens. Yet there is also extra-factual reality that is not necessarily fiction or determinism in the usual senses. Such reality is also not necessarily artistic, though of course art often does allow the non-factual real to be experienced. Dasein understands or at least has the possibility of understanding the extra-factual reality that its death, like its birth, is a moment in the history of being rather than merely an element in a sequential series or a product of nature or industry. Contrary to the factual notion that nothing is absolutely certain until it occurs, Dasein understands that its death will happen. In a way one could almost say that authentic Dasein understands that it already has happened according to the paradoxical explanation that although time moves inexorably forward just as the seasons predictably change, it is always also the same moment.26 In the first case time is heading in a unidirectional manner towards an inevitable result viewed from the fictitious external point of the hourglass observer. The factual result can only be known and classified after it has occurred. This can be likened to the emergence from the state of nature on the basis of a spontaneous and

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unanimous decision which then becomes a fixed point of reference in extra-historical time. In the second case time is a plural event in which Dasein is really already da (there). Hence in many of his works following Being and Time, Heidegger reserves a privileged position for Dasein, though it is no longer that of the intermediary between das Seiende and das Sein. Dasein is not a moment of partial transcendence on the way to full transcendence, which would in effect suggest that it is an individual subject that creates an object that it then knows, or a collective subject that manufactures a state that it then adheres to. Such a subject seems to have power, but is more often than not dazzled by its own objects and political artifices. Heidegger maintains that Daseins transcendence is not power, as such, but its possibility of proximity to what is both furthest and nearest being as it is understood in birth, death, poetry and politics, and being in a more absolute sense as well.27 If Dasein could be seen as a step beyond beings and an equidistant step below being, one would be entitled to make similar observations suggesting that noise represents an intermediary position between silence and speech (what would one say about music?), or that something represents an analogous position between nothing and everything. Such (non-) thought is intimately bound up with a world-view which ascends from Hell to earth and from there to outer space and God, so that dwelling on the moon would somehow be closer to paradisiacal heaven than life on earth. It is also bound up with activity that continually coordinates human subjects and instrumental goals by way of more or less appropriate means, that is, like setting about reaching Venus shortly after arriving on the moon. In other words, for example, if I want to be a professor I have to publish books and articles. If I want to do this quickly, it has to be in the best journals. If I want to attain prestige, the books have to be reviewed by the most famous academics. Once Ive published ten books I can start planning production of the next ten, and so on. There is a great deal of I and a great deal of have to involved in such bustling, which can fairly easily be converted into the goals of an ideologically constructed we. In other words, this kind of bullying, whether as religion or industry, eventually culminates in questions such as who is right here, who is fastest, who gets the most votes? It marginalizes those who seem to be wrong, slower and less popular. It is implicitly anti-pluralist and indicative of a dogmatic and militaristic mentality. Against such behaviour and activity, in which the point of origin becomes increasingly distant as the first goal is reached and then discarded for the next, Heidegger insists that the beginning lies before us, and it is its nearness that authentic Dasein seeks to preserve. On this account truth is

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not the same thing as the success involved in choosing the right means to attain goals. Truth is the event of openness or unconcealedness that he variously designates with the Greek aletheia and the German Unverborgenheit. Humanity as Dasein rather than as subject has the privileged position of understanding itself as that particular ontic being among other natural and manufactured ontic beings which can remove the obstacles that obscure being in a more fundamental, ontological sense. Hence in the Letter on Humanism he says that humanity is not the Herr or master of being, but its Hirte or shepherd.28 Heideggers rejection of dialectics enables him to argue that there can be an essence of truth without formal foundations, and that there can be access to the truth without mediation. Hence while for Adorno truth is approached in the mediated non-identity of humanity and nature (reconciliation), for Heidegger truth is approached in the unconcealedness of being (aletheia). This difference may be in part explainable in terms of their different interpretations of Kants thing in itself and the limits of knowledge, which is touched upon in the previous chapter, and cannot be discussed in any detail here.29 It may nonetheless be mentioned in passing that in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant affirms that the condition of the possibility of experience is at the same time the condition of the possibility of objects of experience, which is related to his insistence that the objects of experience direct themselves towards our understanding. Heidegger gives Kants argument a hermeneutical twist by declaring that the question about being is at the same time the question of the meaning of being. He intimates that the critique of metaphysics stipulates that the meaning of being is not mediated by reason or some other concept of form. Its meaning is da, revealed, disclosed to Dasein, and then gone again for a time. Instead of arguing that objectivity and knowledge presuppose a subject in the guise of an I think that accompanies the thought of every human consciousness, Heidegger maintains that meaning presupposes truth. Thus he seems to suggest that Dasein asks the question about the meaning of truth instead of asking the question of truth directly. It cannot ask the meaning of truth directly for reasons that are not analogous either to a subjects inability to grasp the thing in itself or to the mediation of the truth content of knowledge by the forms knowledge takes. Heideggers truth is somehow there and then not there, a bit like Angst and Sorge or, if one prefers, it is near and far, somewhat like death. In any case it is completely misunderstood as the juxtaposition of a thing that is by being present and nothing that is not by being absent, and indeed, he would probably want to insist that misunderstanding and reifying imply distinct ways of thinking about

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these phenomena. Heideggers truth is always there as possibility, but never there as presence. If one were to ask what politics is beyond redistribution and voting, as Hannah Arendt does, one might be on the trail of the trace of something very similar to Heideggers understanding of the relation between language, truth and being.

Thinking beyond Political Philosophy


In an interview given to Der Spiegel in September 1966, Heidegger explains the background to his involvement in National Socialist politics and his acceptance of an appointment to the vice presidency of Freiburg University with official NSDAP approval in April 1933. The interview contains numerous disclaimers and qualifications on his part about the ambiguity and implications of some of the statements he made in the years leading up to and following 193334.30 He mentions that many of the things he said in 1933 were representative of views he no longer espoused as early as a year or so later, when he began to understand the true nature of the regime.31 He notes that in any case, his explicit nationalism of 193334 lost relevance some time ago since, he explains, the real content of the nation and the life of its people has been replaced by the far more anonymous and depoeticized reality of society. In this context society can be interpreted as something distinctly separate from the community of fate conjured up in paragraph 74 of Being and Time, and distinct too from authentic modes of individual Dasein. Heideggers notion of society is implicitly world society in abstraction from what he takes to be the particularities of national history and the specificity of place. It is in this functionalized and rationalized order that Das Man lives in forgetfulness of being and in ignorance of the ontological reality of extra-natural origins.32 While Hannah Arendts development as an original thinker clearly owes a great deal to Heidegger for reasons which will become clear below, it is also fair to say that the critique of inauthentic social behaviour, in contrast to authentically political action, is spelled out in its most articulate form in Arendts The Human Condition of 1958. While Heidegger bemoans the depoeticized existence of humanity in modern industrial society, Arendt offers a critique of its depoliticized public sphere, and the pervasive instrumental rationality tending to colonize it from all sides. In contrast to some of Heideggers more apocalyptic visions of the future, and his suggestion that the German people should reduce their dependency on technology and rediscover Hlderlin, Arendt urges her readers to rediscover the republican traditions of the ancient and modern world, from Aristotle and Jefferson to the decentralized council

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democracy which flourished in Budapest during the upheavals of 1956. Hence in her estimation non-instrumental politics is always possible, even in the apparently most rationalized and functional socio-economic orders. She believes that the realization of this possibility depends on the reinvention of a form of praxis that she calls action. The reasons why become clear if one bears in mind the main lines of Heideggers philosophy and its obvious impact on the author of The Human Condition. Earlier in this chapter it is remarked that in Being and Time Heidegger accepts that there are three distinct moments or levels of reality which can be broadly denoted as need, existence and transcendence, and that he adapts these moments to his own philosophy (up to 1927) with the notions of thing-being, being there and being. It is also seen that he then implicitly calls his own line of thinking into question by showing that it is not analytically plausible to proceed according to the assumption that freedom presupposes necessity, and to then deduce supposedly ascending forms of freedom in relation to necessity such as mechanical, predatory and humanist-political freedom. This neat model is thrown into disarray by the discovery that Dasein is already transcendence. This means that transcendence does not culminate at a fixed point above called being, which is known by a stable epistemological foundation below called subject, and that being does not be in any straightforward sense, because it is something other than itself.33 While Heideggers thinking evolves towards an implicitly anti-juridical, explicitly post-humanist ontology, Arendt attempts to recuperate a humanist notion of freedom and transcendence from Heideggers ontological critique of subjectivity and foundational thinking. She retains and develops Heideggers concept of the world by way of a reevaluation of the need-existence-transcendence trajectory. Arendt modifies the categories thing-being, being there and being, and argues that the human condition is fundamentally structured by the distinct realities pertaining to labour, work and action. While the possibilities opened up by labour and to a lesser extent work are severely limited by life and the necessities of production and reproduction, action unfolds in the world without prior determination, and with very uncertain outcomes. She thus gives Dasein and Geworfenheit a distinctly political valence, and then re-articulates these concepts in relation to the transcendence of necessity in the public sphere. Moreover, she offers good arguments illustrating why one cannot really think the banality of evil and totalitarianism, that is, so-called exceptional conditions, without understanding how they spring from badly conceived and practised instances of labour, work and (lack of) action. That is, the exceptions spring from daily life and political existence, not

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from hallucinogenic nightmare scenarios that one will never understand, and which one would do better to forget.34 Just as Dasein is already transcendence which need not be understood in terms of necessary presuppositions or qualifying conditions for Heidegger, for Arendt the event of action is an omnipresent possibility whenever humans are together in the world. If Dasein is not merely or essentially an object-knowing subject as such, Arendts corollary is that whether conceived of as a subject or as Dasein, humanity is not an object-creating tool-maker, or to update the point, humanity is not a useful contributor to the service economy. This vital function is undoubtedly a constituent part of the human condition. The capacity to make tools is nonetheless by no means the defining feature of what it means to be human. Although rational in an instrumental sense, tool-making can be accomplished without thinking or action, and indeed, is an intrinsic part of animal survival. She suggests that the proclivity to single out this function as the essence of humanity as well as the basis of human freedom constitutes the discernible point where liberal democratic and Marxist arguments tend to coincide in uncanny ways that may not have been transparent to Marx or his followers in the twentieth century. This is worth reflecting upon, she insists, since these are the poles that have marked out the virtual entirety of political interest representation from the French Revolution to the present.35 The crux of the matter for her is that with its emphasis on unbridled production and material abundance as the condition of a generically liberated humanity, Marxist freedom is that of a tool-creating humanity that culminates in its actual non-freedom continually to reproduce by definition what it already is, as a species, albeit with ever new and increasingly sophisticated means. Common to liberal and Marxist views is the notion that production overcomes natural necessity, the corollary of which is a negative view of liberty rooted in ones private right to hunt, fish and criticize without the burden of scarcity. This paraphrasing of a much cited passage from the German Ideology may seem simplistic as a commentary on Marx. For Arendt it is nonetheless the case that one of the recurring images in Marxs scattered comments on post-capitalist society is that of social relations that have been emancipated from the state, and by extension, from politics (and the desirability of communication as well, Habermas might add). In theory the state shall wither away, and as a result of this transformation of quantity into quality, politics increasingly becomes the administration of things.36 To the criticism that Marxist freedom is that of a tool-creating humanity that culminates in its capacity to reproduce itself with increasingly

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sophisticated means, Marxs followers might respond that the humanization of nature through work liberated from social oppression not only eliminates scarcity and makes freedom a real historical possibility. The species itself changes, as it develops new, more enriched needs, which are in turn satisfied and re-articulated at increasingly greater levels of sophistication and creativity. Thus Marxs followers are likely to say that in response to this criticism, Marx would probably invoke dialectics and history.37 But like Daseinsphilosophie up to Being and Time, this notion of upward spiralling automatic mutual adjustment between humanity, nature, labour power, changing human needs and history is far too neat. Arendt is generally sceptical about historical materialism, which she regards as schematically dialectical, narrowly materialist and not particularly historical. The real problem, however, is the anti-political bias of the theory, which links Marxism with what at first glance seems to be its most direct and implacable opponent, and mitigates its ability adequately to think something found in both nature and history contingency. It will be seen that she tries to develop a way of thinking contingency rather than dismissing it as accident or bracketing it out as not appropriate for whatever happens to be ones preferred model of historical explanation. She suggests that if humanity cannot think transition phases and contingency politically, it will not be able to understand limit case phenomena such as the banality of evil and totalitarianism beyond the banality of bad luck and some notion of getting back on track after an unfortunate accident. This is no way to make sense of National Socialism, Stalinism or Eichmann. Moreover, if humanity cannot think particularity politically, rather than in terms of statistically generated sociological categories such as class, gender, race, and so on, it will not be able to think or enact genuine forms of pluralism.38 She suggests that if the explanation of action is sought by reliance on a sociological category that predefines its trajectory beforehand, action is misconstrued as motive and interest, and these, she insists, do not vary tremendously from person to person. In her estimation Marxism and liberalism do not manage to think contingency or plurality. Their failure to think the modalities of the human condition in key everyday instances such as labour, work and action prevent them from grasping what is at stake in limit cases.39 Like Heideggers notion that philosophy as metaphysics has served to obscure philosophy as thinking, and that the latter is something that is both more ancient and further in the future than we now perhaps realize, Arendts critique of Marxism and liberalism aims to show that we are still learning to think the political even though we have had politics in a more ordinary sense since there have been people on the earth settling disputes

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and ratifying decisions through voting and compromising. To think politically in Arendts terms means understanding phenomena such as labour, work, action, sovereignty, totalitarianism, the banality of evil, revolution and judgement in the public sphere. While liberal democrats accept the need for wage labour and private property as the necessary means to stimulate the competition that in theory overcomes necessity by way of markets that coordinate supply and demand, Marxs twentieth century followers seek to overcome necessity with central planning which in theory makes the free development of each the condition of the free development of all. In both cases one witnesses a technological colonization of political thinking. This is often done by employing a qualifying condition concerning knowledge or freedom, which is then used to ground a conception of transcendence that is determined in advance of practice. One can ask how objective knowledge is possible, and then derive any number of characteristics defining the foundations of an object-knowing subject. The question of knowledge is effectively subverted by the sleight of hand employed in shifting the focus of enquiry to the conditions of subjectivity. Once the conditions of subjectivity have been established it is relatively easy to define the content of knowledge as objectivity, and thereby avoid the question concerning what knowledge is, independently of subjectivity. Knowledge as objectivity becomes part of the subset of definitions of subjectivity as well as an anthropological conception of human essence formulated outside of history in a void protected from contingency and freedom. By analogy, one can ask under what conditions citizens are free and authority legitimate, and on this basis ask a series of further questions about the conditions of necessity-negating freedom. In so doing one skirts the question concerning the phenomenon of political freedom, and, perhaps more serious for Arendt, an instrumental approach to the phenomenon results. She suggests that this way of thinking has definite implications for freedom, epistemology and rights. Freedom becomes a tautological by-product of what one needs to do in order to achieve freedom, much in the way that the condition of objectivity is an object-knowing subject. Citizens have natural rights (by definition) while being entitled to them at the same time (by liberal democratic law).40 Arendts point is that however different in terms of premises concerning means and ends, both liberal democratic and ostensibly Marxist schools manage to postpone the thinking of freedom by making its advent contingent on the solution of a problem for which the remedying means are indefinitely refined and improved. Hence it is no accident that liberal democratic negative liberty degenerates for the most part into the private

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liberties of home improvement, upward mobility and consumerism, while communist positive liberty degenerates in most cases into authoritarian egalitarianism. Thinking the political event of freedom itself gets buried under a mass of secondary considerations to the point that the continual displacement of freedom is not even understood as a displacement, or is simply forgotten. To think the event, however, is to know thought as action, that is, it is to transcend the subject-object, theory-practice divide, and to break too with a model of political epistemology based on making and manufacture. Since the event is open-ended it is known by an agonistic community of observers in the public sphere. What emerges is an ongoing knowledge that assumes changing form in relation to the articulation of the observers contrasting judgements about the quality of the event in question. This is where her defence of pluralism and particularity of perspective (as opposed to motive, interest or identity) comes sharply into focus: without genuine pluralism there cannot be meaningful distinctions between electorates and mobs, political discourses and demagoguery, homogenization and equality, or, most crucially, between democracy and populism. The event is not made in a laboratory, university, factory or workshop by a single labouring subject or a supposedly collectivized working subject that magnifies and amasses individual subjective traits. The only suitable evaluative criteria appropriate to the manufacturing model are developed by the manufacturers themselves, that is, by the experts who decide if the result of the making process has been a success or failure. A hasty assessment of Arendts idea of politics can easily lead to the conclusion that it is fundamentally elitist because of the superiority she confers to action over work and labour. Yet the thrust of her thinking is directed against the usurpation of politics and political knowledge by political parties and other organized bodies of experts.41 In her view, Marx fundamentally misconstrues an ontological political reality by situating transcendence within the sphere of possibilities created by the mediation of humanity and nature in work, since these possibilities are always governed by means-ends considerations that circumscribe the task at hand. This is not significantly altered by abolishing private property and changing the relations of production. Since Marx makes the transformation of nature into the principal political condition of human freedom, she maintains, he does not have an ontological theory of freedom so much as he has an ontic theory of necessity. As such Marx can neither think of freedom beyond production and reproduction, nor can he think of it beyond technological questions of means and ends. It is not so much that he is a poor social theorist. His thinking registers a real historical

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development of the utmost danger for the possibility of action. Marx is a theorist of society and the rise of the social, which Arendt categorically contrasts with her Aristotelian-republican notion of the political. It is in this context that she makes the statement (quoted more extensively in Chapter 1) that Our tradition of political thought had its definite beginnings in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. I believe that it came to a no less definite end in the theories of Karl Marx.42 While Heidegger acknowledges the imminent end of tradition in philosophy and actually seeks to hasten its demise with his project of Destruktion after Being and Time, Arendt alludes to a parallel development in the history of political thought. Developing the parallel further, one could say that traditional metaphysics is to ontological thought what social behaviour is to political action, bearing in mind that although philosophy has to some extent almost always been about metaphysics until Heidegger and Adorno, the rise of the social is a comparatively recent phenomenon. But this leaves Arendt in a somewhat tricky position. Heidegger sadly admits that society has replaced the people, and he has no hankering for a return to philosophical tradition, not, at any rate, after the Kehre. Arendt by contrast would seem to be compelled to long in vain for an impossible return to the Aristotelian polis in a spirit which simply rejects the reality of society in favour of the pristinely political relations characteristic of the eudemonic good life. But on Arendts account what Aristotle signifies is as near as it is far, and is not gone in any definitive sense. According to Arendts politicization of Heideggers critique of metaphysical civilization, the corollary of the discovery that humanity is still learning philosophically to think is that it is also still learning, in the twentieth century and beyond, politically to act. Hence the rediscovery of Aristotle is a civic matter for contemporaries and future generations of citizens rather than an academic exercise on the part of intellectual historians. Learning politically to act does not entail scouring the great texts of political philosophy and trying to find some sort of application for them in completely changed socioeconomic and historical circumstances. The far more pertinent exercise is to develop an understanding of the multiple causes and implications of the fact that It has been in the nature of our political tradition of political thought to be highly selective and to exclude from articulate conceptualization a great variety of political experiences, among which we need not be surprised to find some of an even elementary nature.43 What Arendt has in mind are experiences such as keeping promises, forgiving wrongs, displaying courage for its own sake and other instances of world-preserving action that are closely bound up with contingency.

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She purposely does not include experiences linked with life-sustaining social activities such as labour, work and the defence of fixed social identities which, although useful in the struggle for survival, reveal relatively little about the architecture of the space between citizens in their political capacity to judge the quality of events as non-identical equals. The distinguishing characteristic of world-preserving action is that it is incompatible with rule and cannot be represented precisely because it sets an uncontrollable dynamic in motion, the outcome of which is unpredictable, and therefore defies administrative and instrumental manipulation by parties of the left, centre or right. What Arendt designates as action cannot, in other words, be represented because it is not a thing that can be aggregated with other similar things, where the process of aggregation serves the functional requirement of producing a list of interests and tasks that need attending to in the manner of the various chores governing the ongoing life of a giant household, and indeed, she implies that societys politics are the politics of the household writ large, that is, non-political politics. The distinguishing character of these experiences is thus that they are pretty much the same for most people because they spring from the necessities of life and the life-cycle, and do not originate from active freedom. This is the reason why they can be represented across the left-right divide without a great degree of distortion, and a good starting-point as well for explaining why and how the parties tend increasingly to resemble each other in terms of structure and tactics. The necessities in question often include food, shelter, transport and health. Animals and many plants require many of the same provisions, and as such, many of the most coveted positions in the household society are really glorified animal functions that have been invested with highly inflated status. This goes hand in hand with the subtle but palpable ways in which social status, which can only flourish on the basis of the passive emulation that consolidates hierarchies, tends to marginalize real political difference. People at the top of social hierarchies undeniably have more money and power than their fellow citizens. Arendt consistently acknowledges this. Yet like Adorno in Minima Moralia, she refuses to concede that the successful people are also the most free. In very different ways both thinkers comment on the fact that the inability to see the difference is evidence of the reality that we have great difficulty of thinking about freedom in ways not deeply dependent on the exercise of the will to power in pursuit of a predictable and narrow range of fairly infantile rewards. Arendt signals that a properly political debate on this issue rarely gets off the ground except in revolutions because to many it seems that the acquisition of money, status and power is synonymous with

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freedom. The problem is compounded by the evident reality that political parties of all stripes have every interest in maintaining this conception of the political as the dominant one. Arendt tries to get readers to think about this situation and its implications for freedom and legitimacy, rather than simply to ascribe it to human nature or some related extra-historical drive that makes humans clothed versions of nut-gatherers, with the only real difference among them consisting in the banal truth that some are better and faster than others. The gigantic mistake of seeking freedom in the extended household is that it is by definition a sphere that makes life possible but is not itself a political or even a quintessentially human sphere shaped by speech and action.44 The extended household is on the contrary shaped by good or bad planning, and the various degrees of violence necessary to eliminate contingency and plurality in the service of smooth functioning and efficiency. It is a realm where projects that do not either succeed or fail are largely superfluous, and so, unsurprisingly, are banished for the most part to playing fields, cinemas, detective novels and comics. Social humanity may be delighted to have a continually wider choice of exotic food, more luxurious shelter, more rapid transport and ever increasing levels of longevity when the household model is functioning well. But to confuse this sense of prosperous well-being with freedom is an error in political judgement typical of the inhabitants of a society of isolated individuals who formulate their assessments of public events on the basis of a comparative inventory of private fortunes. The degree of error becomes clear when the economic motor of the model ceases to function well, and there are no available criteria, external to profit-oriented production, with which an assessment of reality can be made. In a manner altogether different to Horkheimer and Adorno but in important respects complementary to their approach, Arendt analyses the various processes through which reason is reduced to its instrumental dimension, and democracy is imperceptibly but inexorably hollowed out. Although the undermining of democracy is far more obvious in the case of National Socialism and Stalinism, that is, in one-party states, the latter can be seen as grotesque deviations from the multi-party populist model which has become standard after the defeat of what one might designate as official or paradigm totalitarianism. The fact that the political deficit of the populist model is less drastic than its discredited rivals does not alter the fact that the deficit continues to loom as a source of potential authoritarian experimentation, especially in times of socio-economic crisis and collapse of the public sphere. She suggests that this danger will remain until political thought and action subvert the

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hegemonic model that produces the deviations in question. Key for Arendt in this context is the point concerning isolation, which is closely connected with the power of bureaucracies, as well as the point about the reality principle, which is related to the endeavour to develop evaluative criteria which are not internal to a self-validating, zero-sum logic of growth/ recession. This requires a brief word of explanation.45 In her reflections on National Socialism and Stalinism she makes the point that in stark contrast to what many observers may say about the subject, the totalitarian societies of the twentieth century did not suffer from an excess of, but rather from a lack of politics. This lack is not explainable without carefully considering the notion of democracy as the institutionalized rule of the general will of the people, and the notion of sovereignty as the unitary foundation and expression of that will to reaffirm the unity of the nation in the institutions of the state. It is also important to keep in mind that the difference between the one-party states and the multi-party parliamentary systems is one of degree rather than kind, that is, there is nothing inherently pluralist or essentially democratic about a parliamentary system. She observes that there is a conspicuous lack of action in societies in which political legitimacy is largely a function of representing interests linked to socially mediated life-sustaining experiences that do not vary tremendously from one person to the next. Whether in one-party or multi-party systems, parties and bureaucracies perform this task of interest representation with greater or lesser degrees of efficiency. Arendt analyses the processes through which legitimacy based on represented sameness actually isolates and divides people rather than uniting them in solidarity and civic activism. While one might be inclined to associate life and the life-cycle with vital energy, she warns, attempts to make life and work functions the basis of politics actually lead to conformity and passivity. Depoliticization is thus not a matter of citizen apathy or a supposed natural preference for private life and the joys of consumerism. It is a structural feature of a system in which the simultaneous and mutual visibility of citizens characteristic of action situations is closed down by the hierarchies and divisions needed to master natural processes in what has become a collectivized drive for growth and prosperity. To Arendts mind there is no fundamental conflict, at least as far as industrial rationalization goes, between state socialist collectivization and private managerial capitalism. This is related to her point that people cannot really distinguish themselves on the basis of vital functions ultimately linked to the household, which can be systematically represented by parties and interest groups, and then administered by various government agencies and ministries. People can

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perhaps better multiply and refine their needs in the capitalist version, but this does not alter the simple fact that they do not transcend them through enhanced status and purchasing power. This complements the point about self-overcoming made in the previous chapter: the more citizens resemble one another, the more they are likely to be isolated and susceptible to manipulation and threats. That is, similarity and homogeneity may seem to produce social peace in the guise of a national socialism, as the NSDAP defined its movement, but they can actually be devastating for the perspectival pluralism which sharpens political judgement and sustains freedom. Homogenizing tendencies reach catastrophic dimensions in pseudo-events like the Nuremberg rallies where, despite all appearances, isolation between people is almost total in Arendts original reworking of the term totalitarian. These are the origins of fear, mass society, one-party states, the cult of personality and bureaucratic tyranny. In other words, these origins are not to be sought in the nasty personalities and cunning of a Hitler or a Stalin, or in the alleged existential crises of modern industrial humanity.46 Thus on Arendts reading, totalitarianism is the most obviously pathological and spectacularly failed attempt to institutionalize difference on the basis of an underlying unity. In conjunction with themes discussed in the first part of this chapter, one could say that it is politically staged metaphysics. Unity can present itself in various populist guises, such as that of the nation, naturally united with itself as a community of fate, in a constant war with the enemy within, or as the homogeneity of a classless society, where differences in money and property are denounced as betrayal (and then practiced by the party leadership). Yet the politically staged metaphysics of totalitarianism also raises questions about the metaphysical content of less visibly totalitarian systems where politics is also eclipsed by bureaucratic, technological and managerial imperatives linked to largescale household maintenance. These questions can be approached by comparing one-party with multi-party regimes, if one does not lose sight of the fact that although each has its own particular ways of promoting conformity and populism to the detriment of political equality and democracy, they nonetheless resemble each other to a far greater degree than is generally understood or acknowledged. In Leninist terms, class interest posits a direct chain of representation from class to party and from there to the state. Social class assumes collective organizational form in the party, and the party leads a politicomilitary conquest of power, which it can do by effectively using unions and councils on the way if expedient. Stalinism takes the afore-mentioned logic a step further by establishing a form of legitimacy based on a chain

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of representation which goes from class-party-state to party leader, so that the differences that are allowed to achieve visibility are firmly articulated around a basic unity rooted in acceptance of the leaders will and leadership of the party. The leader, in turn, provides what is necessary for life with the help of the planning bureaucracy. Together, leaders and planners attend to all of the key social spheres, from housing, transport, medical care, employment and employment assurance, to education, child care and care for the elderly.47 In multi-party regimes power ascends from the will of the people, in abstraction from class distinctions and the division of labour, to a prime minister or president who has to show that they can relate to the people and demonstrate a congruity between popular needs and those above at the top. This is why professional politicians go on electoral tour and wear hard-hats for the miners, other hats for their other possible constituents, and so on. While the necessities of life are provided for by the leader and planning bureaucracy in one-party states, it is the carefully managed economy that does so in the multi-party states (some might say not so carefully in light of recent events). Since both systems are ultimately variants on the household model, however, the leadership cliques in each assume familial responsibilities at the top that produce in the citizenry an uneasy mixture of outward adulation and inner fear/distrust. The stability of the multi-party system depends upon producing leaders who the people can identify with as their people, that is, politicians who incarnate the fundamental unity, via representative institutions, of society at the different levels of the social hierarchy.48 In a manner somewhat reminiscent of Benjamin, Arendt contrasts different constellations of concepts and elective affinities. Her social constellation is stabilized by the life-cycle, labour and work; within it, metaphysical unity and manufactured hierarchy tend to be reinforced by the exercise of contractual liberties and competition for largely standardized rewards. Success is generally pursued in public in the guises of money and status, and demanded in private as satisfaction and intimacy. New beginnings are possible with the introduction of successive models of growth (production) and enhanced possibilities of choice (consumption). Successful and unsuccessful alike strive for happiness. The latter are deserving of a certain amount of help if they have worked hard despite their lack of talent. They are entitled to an appropriate combination of pity, therapy and welfare if they have had personal problems. After the toils of life, a good person finds their rightful place with God for eternity. In her political constellation, action carried out for its own sake is plural and open-ended; it illuminates the space of appearances between non-identical equals in the

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public sphere in a way that allows each to distinguish themselves as members of the world rather than in terms of their function in life. Since what is functional is replaceable and by definition not unique, functional processes are expedited privately with minimal levels of shame or pride. Hence political distinction is not based on success, talent or other skills that are relatively easy to aggregate and represent. People distinguish themselves by keeping the space of appearances open, which cannot be done on the basis of a plan, market or any other technical means in which a predictable result is achieved, and functional equilibrium is reached. Political plurality and openness happen or may happen, as an event, but the creation of spaces is also contingent, and so they can be closed down again. Arendts political world should not be understood as a utopia in the form of a product that has been made to last for human happiness. Instead of eternity in heaven, individuals become immortalized in worldly memory where, instead of living on, they perpetuate openness and agonistic difference in their absence. In contrast to the social constellation, where new beginnings are planned and introduced by experts with ostensibly innovative production models and consumption offers, it is revolution, and other less spectacular instances of world-preserving action, which initiate a new dynamic in politics. While these two constellations are somewhat overdrawn to make the point, the Benjamin-Arendt caveat remains: there is no continuum of progressive points that leads from quantity to quality or from the extended household to the polis. If it does happen, collective transcendence of necessity and individual self-overcoming will be enacted as a leap from contingent possibility to political event, that is, something citizens can understand without knowing. In Arendts estimation, the new beginnings offered by modern revolutions are closely linked with the sudden opening up of the public sphere and political spaces of appearance, rather than with the transfer of power that accompanies the upheaval in question. The ambiguous legacy of what, in On Revolution (1963), she refers to as the lost revolutionary tradition is that these spaces tend to shut down again once the transfer of power is completed and the administrative imperatives linked to life and the lifecycle, institutionalized as the social, become congealed in hierarchies and routines. Action thrives in the writing of constitutions, the institutionalizing of council democracy and the gift of solidarity that characterizes modern revolutionary situations from 1776, 1789, 1905 and 1917 to 1956. She suggests that the closing down of public spaces is the inevitable consequence of a partys success in being able to seize power. Whether one is looking at the Jacobins, Bolsheviks or the CPSU, vanguards take advantage

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of revolutionary situations in which a constellation of class and other social forces ceases for a moment to be congealed in an oppressive order. The reanimation of the political elements of this ossified apparatus renders visible the degree to which previously entrenched power relations and hierarchies were senseless and arbitrary. Thus, however fleetingly, the revolution, as a thoroughly epistemological moment, realizes the political equivalent of an adjustment of things and their proper names and relations.49 The revolutionary legacy is ambiguous in the sense that this readjustment can only be temporary, lest it become a principle of domination and an institutionalized ideology. Drawing Heidegger and Arendt together, one might say that when this happens, thinking and action are colonized by societys anonymous but pervasive rules. Arendt signals that although one should never ignore or underestimate the admittedly important differences between one-party and multi-party regimes, they tend to have more in common with each other than we may realize. This is because they display tendencies found for the most part in the social rather than in the political constellation sketched above. This argument has compelling contemporary relevance beyond the Cold War context in which it was elaborated and for the most part misunderstood.

Endnotes
1. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), pp. 89102 (paragraphs 1922). 2. That instance of mediated unity is often conceived in the Hegelian, Hegelian Marxist/ Western Marxist and critical theory traditions as a mediated totality. See Martin Jay, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukcs to Habermas, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984. Chapters 7 and 8 on Marcuse, Lukcs and Adorno offer valuable insights into the differences between Hegelian Marxism and Heideggers ontology. Jay observes that just as Adorno is doubtful about the positive dialectics of Hegel and Lukcs, the author of Negative Dialectics is sceptical about the continued plausibility of the concept of totality. 3. Heidegger, Was ist Metaphysik? (What is Metaphysics?, 1929), in Wegmarken (Signposts, Collected Works, volume 9), Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 1976, pp. 11415; and Vom Wesen des Grundes (On the Essence of Grounding, 1929), also contained in Wegmarken (Signposts), pp. 1268, 1527. These two essays of 1929 represent an important moment in the movement of Heideggers thinking. While in the first he discusses the problem of nothing, in the second he confronts the ontological difference between being and beings. 4. He also notes this in the German word Geschick (fate), which seems to contain within it the notion of sending (schicken), thus expressing the idea that being sends things and humans into the world where they appear and are understood, misunderstood or ignored. The implication is that even birth is not a natural event but a Seinsereignis, that is, an event

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of being. It is probably fair to say that this view had an impact on Arendts understanding of the possibilities created by a new life in what one might call the event of the natal, which she tries politically to redefine against the idea of the naturalness of phenomena such as race and nation. See Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1958, pp. 89. It will be argued in the second part of this chapter that it is this capacity to think seemingly natural phenomena in political terms that enables Arendt to shed new light on phenomena such as historical transitions and contingency. 5. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 1, chapter 3, paragraph 22. 6. One should be careful before dismissing Christian theology as anthropomorphic religious humanism, which it certainly is not in some of the writings of Paul Tillich, Rudolf Bultmann and Karl Barth. For a useful introduction, see James Brown, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Buber & Barth, New York, Collier, 1955. 7. Heidegger, Hegels Begriff der Erfahrung (Hegels Concept of Experience, 1943), in Holzwege, Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 1994, pp. 1323. From Heideggers perspective, the profundity of Hegel is among other things to have grasped that nothing is in fact something despite its no-thingness, which Hegel expresses with the idea of the negation of the negation and other concepts. That is, Hegel is a phenomenologist. The problem is that Hegel develops his ideas within a framework based on the will and self-consciousness, both of which remain trapped in the confines of subjectivity. Hence whatever else one may think of Heidegger, he develops the critique of the philosophy of consciousness into a critique of metaphysics quite some time before Habermas develops the critique of the philosophy of consciousness into a theory of communicative action (Theory of Communicative Action, 2 volumes, 1981) and a theory of post-metaphysical thought (Post-Metaphysical Thinking, 1988). 8. While Heideggers project to think beyond subjective idealism and objective materialism would not have come to fruition without Husserls phenomenology, it is safe to say that the existential philosophies of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are also fundamental. Reasons of space will prevent any lengthy discussion of their respective influences, but it is important to note that Heidegger understands his work as ontological and not existential, since the latter remains humanist and metaphysical. This is one reason why Heideggers Letter on Humanism seems to be rather dismissive of Sartres humanist and existential Marxism. The discussion in this chapter will return to this text of 1946, which is key for understanding Heideggers thinking after Being and Time. In his two-volume study of Nietzsche, Heidegger insists that contrary to conventional wisdom, Hegel does not represent the end of idealist metaphysics, since Nietzsche continues to think metaphysically. Nietzsche remains within paradigms established by Kant and Schopenhauer in that he champions the aesthetic and power-enhancing will of the subject as the ultimate foundation of individual epistemology and collective culture. See Heidegger, Nietzsche, volume I (based on lectures given in the years 193640), Stuttgart, Neske, 1998, pp. 5, 32, 51719; and volume II, pp. 1315, 25, 1978, 313, 3778, 422. By the time of these lectures Heidegger had abandoned his own quest to refound metaphysics in Being and Time, and turned to what he refers to as the destruction of the metaphysical heritage that he sees running right throughout Western philosophy since the pre-Socratics. It is not often disputed that this project of

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destruction is of major significance for Derridas notion of deconstruction. Readers interested in this link are advised to consult Alex Thomson, Deconstruction and Democracy: Derridas Politics of Friendship, London, Continuum, 2005, part IV. 9. Husserl, Die Phnomenologische Methode: Ausgewhlte Texte I, Stuttgart, Reclam, 1985, pp. 98105, 13148; Paul Ricoeur, Husserl, in Eduard Brhier (ed.), Histoire de la philosophie allemande, Paris, Vrin, 1967, pp. 18396; Heidegger, Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs (Prologue to the History of Concepts of Time, 1925), in Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe, volume 20, 1979, pp. 2933. In addition to praising Husserl for moving beyond epistemology, he singles out Dilthey as one of the first to recognize the anti-metaphysical implications of Husserls Logical Investigations (1900). Heidegger claims that Husserl subsequently retreats to conventional epistemology in the guise of transcendental phenomenology in the Cartesian Meditations of 1931. 10. I am indebted to my friend Teodor Mladenov for this insight as well as his advice carefully to read paragraph 58 of Being and Time. This discussion of Hegel, Adorno and Heidegger indicates how much continued political relevance there is in epistemological debates, however mediated that relevance might be. 11. This interpretation may seem implausible to those who are familiar with both Heideggers and Adornos scathing remarks about society and what they in their own ways take to be its conformist modes of behaviour. It is nonetheless of great interest that their respective philosophies tend to deconstruct identity and foundations in a way that implicitly questions the idea of a state-political centre of authority empowered to legislate and regulate the lives of its social constituents. 12. Hence the Heidegger invoked here as a post-state-juridical thinker of post-identity is not the author of the infamous paragraph 74 of Being and Time which celebrates national Dasein as a community of fate. It is the Heidegger of the Brief ber den Humanismus (Letter on Humanism, 1946) who observes that humanity is not the master of beings but the shepherd of being. See Heidegger, Brief ber den Humanismus, in Wegmarken (Signposts, Collected Works, volume 9), Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 1976, pp. 3402; and the author of Zu Ernst Jnger, II (On Ernst Jnger, II, 1940), in Gnther Figal (ed.), Heidegger Lesebuch (A Heidegger Reader), Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 1977, p. 225; and especially the Heidegger of Was heisst Denken? (What does Thinking Mean?, 1952), Stuttgart, Reclam, 1992, pp. 546. 13. Heidegger, Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes (The Origins of the Work of Art, 1935/36), in Holzwege, p. 55. 14. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 2, chapter 5, paragraph 77; and Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History, California, University of Berkeley Press, 1998, chapter 11. 15. It is mentioned at the outset of this chapter that Heidegger offers a non-dialectical response to the phenomena diagnosed in the Marxist critiques of instrumental reason, alienation, mass society and reification. Another way of stating this is that he offers a diagnosis of metaphysics as civilization, and not just epistemology, in a manner akin to Lukcs notion of capitalism as civilization, beyond mere economy. This obvious divergence of perspective is much less radical if one considers the role that the critique of instrumental reason plays in both analyses. It will be seen in Chapter 6 that though Habermas retains a

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version of the critique of instrumental reason, he rejects what he takes to be the one-sided and insufficiently sociological dimension in the critiques of Heidegger and Lukcs. Unsurprisingly, his critique of instrumental reason is more cautious and guarded than either of theirs. 16. Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heideggers Being and Time, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993. Jean Wahls work stands out among the many interpreters of Heidegger. See his Introduction la pense de Heidegger (Introduction to Heideggers Thought, based on lectures given at the Sorbonne in 1946), Paris, Librairie Gnrale Franaise, 1998. 17. Heidegger, Brief ber den Humanismus (Letter on Humanism, 1946), in Wegmarken (Signposts, Collected Works, volume 9), p. 342. 18. See note 26 below on Heideggers two-volume study of Nietzsche (193640), as well as Die Frage nach der Technik (On the Question of Technology, 1953), in Vortrge und Aufstze (Collected Works, volume 7), Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 2000, p. 7, where Heidegger says that the essence of technology is not technological, that is, that it really has more to do with a deliberate or simply unreflectively accepted way of obscuring ontological questions with technological projects that substitute business/busyness for understanding. 19. Oliver Jahraus, Martin Heidegger: Eine Einfhrung, Stuttgart, Reclam, 2004, pp. 745, 109. 20. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 1, chapter 1 (paragraphs 14) and section 2, chapter 6 in its entirety. 21. Heidegger develops this line of thinking in more detail two years after Being and Time in Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, 1929), Frankfurt, Vittorio Klostermann, 1991, section 4. It might be argued that it is really Simmel who prepares this ground, as is suggested in chapters 12. 22. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 2, chapter 2, paragraph 58, and section 2, chapter 5, paragraphs 726. 23. Heidegger suggests that the legal form of legitimacy in question is in effect the pseudo-liberty of the man (Das Man) and its timorousness before what he calls the they. See Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 1, chapters 25, paragraphs 1232 and section 2, chapter 2, paragraphs 5460. 24. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 1, chapter 5, paragraphs 358. 25. It has been suggested that Heidegger abandons this project on the basis of his conviction, worked out in the pages of Being and Time, that the only way to deduce the existence of das Sein by way of the intermediary of Dasein is through identity and implicitly juridical philosophy that he comes to reject as anthropological, tautological and metaphysical. Hence be breaks with the supposition that one can derive the terms of political obligation from the supposition that the citizen and the state are mediated by the same rational substance legal rationality and representation. On the difficult question of his political allegiances in the 1930s one might say that with this break, the way was open to libertarian as well as authoritarian positions well outside of the liberal democratic framework. One might argue further that due to the anti-foundational implications, Heideggers thought is most plausible as a libertarian response to metaphysics, as Derrida seems to suggest, and

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least plausible as the philosophical justification of an authoritarian central state and rascist ideology. There is no doubt that his ideas can be interpreted in a number of possible political directions, as Arendts work shows. 26. Nietzsche intuited as much, which is why his notion of the eternal return is in some ways more important than the idea of the death of God or the superman. See Karl Lwith, Nietzsches Philosophie der ewigen Wiederkehr des Gleichen (Nietzsches Philosophy of the Eternal Return, 1935), Hamburg, Felix Meiner Verlag, 1986, chapters 56. But for Heidegger, Nietzsche does not really overcome the metaphysics of linearity as much as he juxtaposes it with his notion of the eternal circular recurrence, which according to Heidegger is Nietzsches way of exalting human creativity and ataraxy. See the second volume of Heideggers Nietzsche as well as Lwiths convincing objections to Heideggers reading of Nietzsche in the appendix of Nietzsches Philosophy of the Eternal Return. Readers of Italian interested in an equally convincing defence of Nietzsches originality and incipient post-metaphysics will find interest in Marco Vozzas excellent book, Esistenza e interpretazione: Nietzsche oltre Heidegger, Rome, Donzelli, 2001. 27. Almost all of the most important works after Being and Time are lectures that were published during Heideggers lifetime or after his death in 1976. In addition to the famous Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929), these include What is Metaphysics (1929), On the Essence of Grounding (1929), On the Essence of Truth (1930), Introduction to Metaphysics (1935), Letter on Humanism (1946), What does Thinking Mean? (1952), On the Question of Technology (1953), and many more. Most good edited collections contain the afore-mentioned and others from the 1930s to 1970s. 28. Heidegger, Brief ber den Humanismus (Letter on Humanism, 1946), in Wegmarken (Signposts), p. 342. It is in this essay that he also famously states that language is the house of being (p. 313), and that thinking acts, to the extent that thinking thinks (p. 313). 29. Adorno and Heideggers respective interpretations of Kant would provide an excellent way of shedding light on the parallels and divergences in their thinking. It might indeed be argued that the lectures which constitute the bases of Kants Critique of Pure Reason and Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics are indispensable to an understanding of the ideas of the theorists of negative dialectics and fundamental ontology. 30. Relatively early on in the discussion, the interviewer quotes Heidegger as saying in his vice-presidential acceptance speech in Freiburg that Neither theorems nor ideas constitute the rules of your being. The Fhrer himself and alone is the present and future German reality and its law. After asking him to explain the statement, Heidegger corrects the interviewer by pointing out that he says this in a local Freiburg student newspaper and not in his official acceptance speech! The interview is reprinted in full in Figal (ed.), Heidegger Lesebuch, pp. 34570. 31. Yet towards the end of Einfhrung in die Metaphysik, Tbingen, Max Niemeyer, 1987, p. 152 (Introduction to Metaphysics, 1935), Heidegger mentions that despite the philosophical coarseness of its official rhetoric, the National Socialist movement possesses inner truth and greatness. The point of the previous note and this one is not that Heidegger was really a National Socialist despite his disclaimers to the contrary, or that his philosophy is fascist at the core, whatever else he and his defenders may say. One should also bear in mind

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that his philosophical and political views change considerably during the late 1930s and the post-World War II period. A central strand in the overall argument in this book concerns the reality of form and mediation, as well as a critique of what one may call ideological attempts directly to project beyond illegitimate (inauthentic in this case) form to legitimate essence, that is, some notion of truth as immediate, unveiled essence, in comparison to which even mainstream liberal democratic views appear rigorous and tolerant. If immanent essentialism offers a response to metaphysics and instrumental reason, it is a very problematic response at best, and one which serves to reinforce the point that however flawed, a legal form of legitimacy is still much better than any of the known alternatives. It is hoped that the argument here is strengthened if it can be shown that such undertakings are theoretically problematic and politically authoritarian by implication, or simply banal. If this is indeed the case, it may also be possible to show, as critical theory attempts to do, why there is more than an accidental relation between a theoretically solid argument and the feasibility of political libertarianism. 32. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927), section 1, chapter 4, paragraphs 257. See also note 4 above. 33. Jean-Luc Nancy, Ltre, ltant selon Derrida, in the Magazine Littraire, Hors-srie n. 9 (MarchApril 2006), pp. 967. This is part of the reason why, after the ontological turn in his work, Heidegger often writes the word Sein and then places a cross through it. 34. In her thinking labour is more or less synonymous with toil and anything done as a result of sheer necessity. Work transcends necessity to some extent, especially in artistic work, where the artist has a vast choice of means. But even art is governed by instrumental considerations about the coordination of ends and means, and as such, is still limited by necessity to a certain extent. It is only in the political sphere, in conjunction with others who occupy standpoints distinct from ones own (at any particular historical juncture, since these are constantly changing), that individuals transcend necessity and distinguish themselves from one another in a way that also sheds light on the world they inhabit together. Even the most spontaneous artist has control over the stages of their work and its likely outcome. Actors in the public sphere do not, and so are dependent on each other in a way that undermines hierarchies and dubious notions of merit. See Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1958, parts IV. 35. Many of her critics take issue with her insistence that while the American Revolution was really a republican movement, the French Revolution failed in many ways because it got side-tracked by demands for social equality that eventually led to a bureaucratic and administrative usurpation of the republican content of the event. See her essay 200 Jahre amerikanische Revolution (The American Revolution: 200 Years on, 1975), in Marie Luise Knott (ed.), Hannah Arendt zur Zeit: politische Essays, Berlin, Rotbuch Verlag, pp. 16178. It is clear to Arendt that the promise of the American Revolution is perhaps most poignantly captured in the constitutional patriotism of people like Jefferson and Madison, and that there was a real risk in her day that this political vision of freedom might be eclipsed by bureaucratic abuse and political corruption in the United States. 36. Arendt, The Human Condition, parts III and IV. It was well worth adding that this stance did not make Arendt an apologist of inequality or capitalism. See, for example,

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her remarks in Thoughts on Politics and Revolution (1970, p. 213), where she says, What protects us in the so-called capitalist countries of the West is not capitalism, but a legal system that prevents the daydreams of big-business management of trespassing into the private sphere of its employees from coming true. The essay is published in Crises of the Republic (dedicated to Mary McCarthy), New York, Harcourt Brace, 1972, pp. 199233. 37. This interpretation and defense of his work is offered in Alfred Schmidt, Der Begriff der Natur in der Lehre von Marx (Marxs Concept of Nature), Frankfurt, Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1962; and Helmut Reichelt, Zur logischen Struktur des Kapitalbegriffs bei Karl Marx (On the Logical Structure of Marxs Concept of Capital), Frankfurt, Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1970. 38. The banality of evil is a term Arendt uses in connection with the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961, and refers to the fact that in many respects modern perpetrators of genocide tend to be routine functionaries rather then demonic figures of unspeakable evil. The related point is that the evil committed is not immediately obvious. It is rather the result of many people in many places doing jobs which, when considered in isolation, are not extraordinarily awful. She shows that if one cannot think contingency or plurality politically, one is unlikely to understand the specificity of an historical event such as the Holocaust. This is another consequence of not being able adequately to think the human condition in a more general sense, with the result that it becomes impossible to see how the marginalization of action, the power of bureaucracy, and the anonymous and efficient planning of murder are related phenomena in the first half of the twentieth century. See Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, New York, Penguin, 1993. 39. Arendt, The Human Condition, p. 206, The Concept of History: Ancient and Modern, in Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought, New York, Penguin, 1954, pp. 5863; and Thorsten Bonacker, Die Kontingenz politischen Handelns: Adorno, Arendt und die Legitimationsprobleme in der politischen Gesellschaft, in Dirk Auer, Lars Rensmann and Julia Schulze Wessel (eds), Arendt und Adorno, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2003, pp. 286310. The question as to whether genealogical and bio-political accounts of contingency and particularity fare better than Marxist and liberal accounts will be taken up in the next chapter. 40. Arendt, What is Freedom?, in Between Past and Future, pp. 1469, 1527. 41. Arendt, The Human Condition, part V, Love and St. Augustine (1929), edited by Joanna Vecchiarelli and Judith Chelius Clark, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 6576; and What is Freedom?, in Between Past and Future, pp. 1516. 42. Arendt, Tradition and the Modern World, in Between Past and Future, p. 17. 43. Arendt, The Human Condition, p. 220. 44. Arendt, The Human Condition, pp. 5872; and On Revolution, chapter 6. 45. Arendt, On Revolution, New York, Viking Press, 1963, chapters 23; and Jeffrey C. Isaac, Arendt, Camus and Modern Rebellion, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992, chapter 7. 46. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1951, part III.

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47. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, part III; and The Human Condition, pp. 3849. 48. Arendt, The Human Condition, pp. 1607, 22030; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution in Crises of the Republic, pp. 21427; and Lars Rensmann, Das Besondere im Allgemeinen: Totale Herrschaft und Nachkriegsgesellschaft in den politisch-theoretischen Narrativen von Arendt and Adorno, in Auer, Rensmann and Schulze Wessel (eds), Arendt und Adorno, pp. 15470. 49. Arendt, The Human Condition, chapter 3; On Revolution, chapter 6; and D. Schecter, Sovereign States or Political Communities?, chapter 3. In this context one sees once again the parallels with Benjamins ideas on the relationship between naming, revolution and truth. For Arendts interpretation of Benjamin, see her Men in Dark Times, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1955, chapter 8.

5
Reason, Thinking and the Critique of Everyday Life
Developing Heidegger and Arendts philosophical and republican critiques of metaphysics in a more explicitly sociological direction, it might be argued that socio-economic and political power suppress differences between things, places and people in the name of supposedly natural unity, classificatory knowledge, systemic imperatives and hierarchical order. It follows that reason that does not rigorously analyse the validity of this knowledge, where unduly schematic, or challenge the supposed necessity of such order, where oppressive, is significantly complicit with the exercise of power. This would seem to make the delineation of systemic structures versus non-systemic spontaneity a key concern with important implications for any examination of the reproduction of institutional rigidity and the study of oppression more generally. But the matter is not so straightforward, and the problems with this insufficiently sociological approach will become clear in the course of the discussion to follow. Determining the status of the terms rigorous and spontaneous in this context is an important endeavour, given that many of the diverse arguments against instrumental reason adduced by the thinkers looked at in preceding chapters are likely to be dismissed by mainstream thinkers and opinion as perhaps poetic but politically irrelevant at best, and as downright irresponsible and undemocratic at worst.1 The mainstream response is thus often that however powerfully suggestive the objections might be in lyrical terms, they are ultimately not very stringent. The not always so explicit corollary is that non-systemic thinking and knowledge might have its place in the private sphere among lovers, friends, family and individual consumers, but has little cognitive or political significance. One of the aims

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of the present study is to challenge the assumptions of mainstream thinking on several fronts. Part of what this entails is showing that there is more to contingency than mere chance, and that spontaneity is not exhausted in natural reflex or vital instinct. Hence if for Arendt a major concern is to think contingency as politics in ontological terms, Foucault attempts to think spontaneity as resistance in sociological and linguistic terms.2 If experience and its interpretation is a fundamental mainspring of knowledge and thought, then the possibility of new, unpredictable and even limit experiences must have a correspondingly important part in any assessment of the relation between the organization of individual experience as subjectivity, and the construction of a subjectively mediated objective world as reality.3 This raises a number of questions which, although not taken up directly, are relevant to the issues raised in the course of this chapter. Why, first, do radical critiques of liberal democracy and capitalism almost invariably seem to rely on existential, ontological or aesthetic criteria, that is, why are they apparently unable to refute liberal democracy a political doctrine on the same political grounds that liberal democracy correctly uses to critique absolutism, fascism and other ideologies? Why, second, do these critiques appear equally incapable of producing economic arguments against the economic system that seems to work better than all the others? These two questions raise the larger question of how to criticize a system of thought and institutional practice without reproducing its basic assumptions, however skewed and reformulated, on the one hand, or displacing critique outside of the parameters of what can be considered rigorous, on the other. But is it really the case that radical critiques of liberal democracy and capitalism are unable to refute liberalism and capitalism on respectively political and economic grounds, or is it more of an indication of the hegemonic position of liberal democracy and capitalism that together, they succeed in reducing alternative political positions to what are for the most part taken to be deviations from reason and common sense? In a related vein, one may ask why, after the end of the Cold War (194589) and the removal of the threat of a nuclear war between the so-called superpowers, humanity has not witnessed a proliferation of political and socio-economic experimentation. On the contrary, it would appear that the number of feasible alternative models has narrowed to one or perhaps two. The first decades of the post-World War II period are characterized by a great diversity in political organization and aspiration. These range from state socialism (former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea), Eurocommunism (Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese parties), democratic socialism (Yugoslav market socialism), social democracy, social democratic

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corporatism (Scandinavia and to a certain extent former West Germany), liberal democracy, authoritarian populism (French Front National, Bavarian CSU, Italian Lega Nord) and fascism (Spain until 1975, Portugal under Salazar, Italian MSI, rule of the colonels in Greece). Does one explain the end of Euro-communism and the markedly centrist evolution of social democracy and corporatism as part of a post-Cold War, post-ideological consensus tantamount to Fukuyamas famous end of history? Or has liberal democracy managed to impose itself as system without alternatives, that is, as a veritably total system rather than one political alternative among others that citizens may or may not choose to practise? It is inherent in a potentially total system that it tends subtly to contrast a pervasively diffused common sense with what appears to be dogmatic truth claims and extremist or utopian gestures, such that the answers to the political issues in question are established before meaningful inquiry or debate can even take place. Spontaneous thought can then be simultaneously marginalized as non-thought (relegated to the obscurity of private opinion) and/or integrated and applauded as already existing (freedom of choice in most of its current manifestations). For example, it makes no sense to ask if the obviously unstable growth-oriented economy is really necessary we simply must find ways to reinvigorate it at all costs. The only serious question then becomes how, and not if this is to be achieved.4 It is a central task of the critique of daily life to explore how these conversions and integrations are achieved without resorting to conspiracy theories or notions of structural determination and other flawed accounts of history and society. This chapter offers a series of reflections on the possibilities for spontaneous, extra-systemic knowledge which is nonetheless not arbitrary or merely anecdotal. A few cursory remarks on Marx and Simmel provide a good introduction to the discussion.5 Despite the fact that some of what follows on these two thinkers is already well known and to a certain extent has been touched upon in Chapters 1 and 2, it is nonetheless helpful to give the critique of everyday life a preliminary grounding in social theory. If one does not bear this sociological background in mind, it is difficult to see what the critique can contribute to an understanding of power, knowledge and unorthodox accounts of reason and thinking.6 While Marx addresses the democratic deficit in modern industrial societies, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School addresses the lack of genuine liberalism and pluralism in liberal democracies, it may be nonetheless maintained that a coherent synthesis of Marx and the Frankfurt School pointing the way towards a theoretical and eventually practical reconciliation of post-liberal autonomy, pluralism and democracy does not

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begin to take shape until Simmels sociological reading of Marx. In what follows, Marx, Simmel and Foucault are analysed with an eye towards developing a critique of everyday life with important implications for the critiques of instrumental reason and instrumental legitimacy. It is hoped that this provides a more fruitful line of argument than sketching yet another summary of the main ideas of the paradigm thinkers of everyday life such as Schtz, de Certeau, Kracauer, Castoriadis and Lefebvre. It is left to readers to see what they think.7

Marx and the Tentative Beginnings of the Critique of Everyday Life


Marx sets out by exploring the distinct models of economy and polity implied by the differences between the political emancipation from feudalism achieved in the French Revolution, on the one hand, and the more comprehensive form of human emancipation he thinks is going to accompany the next revolution in Europe, on the other. He starts by looking at how Ludwig Feuerbachs critique of religion might be developed in relation to both the democratic-parliamentary state and the modern capitalist economy. Feuerbach suggests that in religion, and especially Christianity, humanity tends to project its best qualities and capacities (creating, loving, knowing, forgiving, etc.) onto a deity. The consequence is that the realization of those qualities in the real interactions structuring daily life is made impossible, and, further, that these qualities come back to humanity in an institutional form that the collective human mind for the most part ceases to recognize as the product of its own social action. In other words, by the time humanitys best qualities and values have come back to humanity in the rituals and hierarchies of organized religion, their originally secular character is obscured by a kind of mysterious rival power that seems to have either fully natural or other-worldly and divine origins. Enlisting Hegels dialectical method for his own purposes, Marx suggests that whether understood as fully natural or other-worldly, this power is sustained by failing to remember that all objective structures such as institutions are mediated by subjective factors such as consciousness and social action. This means that in phenomenological appearance, the human qualities in question shed the imprints of their juridical, historical, political and socio-economic origins and development. Secular humanist creativity and knowledge are then marginalized by the ritualizing of faith, conformity and obedience to what appears to be legitimate, and in any case inevitable, hierarchy. Following Feuerbachs analysis it would seem that the problem of human emancipation is centrally about

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the critique of religion and the intrusion of religious authority into what should really be earthly and political matters. After initially concurring with this general assessment, the Marx of 184344 sees that Feuerbachs transformative method needs to be applied to other spheres of intellectual and sensual praxis in which human values, energies and capacities come back to them in forms they cease to recognize as their own. Hence in Marxs hands, Feuerbachs critique of religion and the church evolves into a critique of democratic ideology and the state. As will be seen presently, this does not entail a rejection of democracy. It entails instead the demand to convert ideology into actual practices, much in the way that Feuerbachs abolition of religion would be achieved by realizing in human relations what had been mistaken as the attributes of a divine being. Marx reckons that the epochal significance of Feuerbachs critique of Hegel and religion is not that it represents an innovation in the history of ideas confirming Feuerbachs originality as a thinker. It is rather that his ideas register the socio-economic and political reality that for the first time in human history, the objective institutional bifurcation between what is and what ought to be, perpetuated throughout the ages by material scarcity, loses its objectivity. This implies that the realization of humanitys best qualities ceases to be a matter of religion and other forms of wishful thinking and escapism, and becomes instead a concrete materialist problem concerning the revolution of everyday life.8 In Marxs estimation, the first consequence of the widespread acceptance of the state in the Hegelian sense as an instance of mind objectified in institutions is a bifurcation between the individual as a private, labouring self, on the one hand, and the institutions of estranged (and therefore authoritarian) government, on the other. This alienation is no less powerful and mesmerizing than that achieved by the separation of human potential from the realities of ecclesiastical order, and the practical suppression of the former by the dogmatic truth claims and obscurantist authority of the latter. Hence for Marx the task of the next revolution is to make democracy as self-government a reality by overcoming the rift between the private self of civil society and the abstract citizen of the state theorized (and justified) by Hegel in the Philosophy of Right. In general terms this implies directing the same criteria of one-person one-vote won through political emancipation to the economy of civil society, that is, to the structure of the labour process, so that formal, political democracy can cede place to substantive, social democracy. In other words, suffrage whose field of applicability is not extended to the labour process the crucial instance of mediation between humanity and nature cannot

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really be considered democratic suffrage. This is due to the obvious fact that the demos is not authorized to participate in the key decisions that structure the daily life of its individual members as producers, consumers and citizens.9 As in the case of the religious domination exercised by the church, exclusion from active engagement in the workings of political authority results in the manipulation of human relations, and, in most cases, widespread passivity and conformity.10 If translated into explicitly sociological analysis (rather than understood in terms of psychological dispositions), passivity means increasingly exploited workers consuming increasingly uniform products under conditions of effective political exclusion from more than symbolic participation. Applying Feuerbachs critique of religion to the political domain, Marx suggests that to the extent that political adjectives such as rationally deliberative, universal, legitimate, and so on become attributes of the state, democracy as the self-government of the citizens becomes ideological and chimerical, and, crucially, that this mystification is not recognized as such due to the discrepancies between subjective experience and the contours of objective institutional form, that is, what he calls alienation. As a result of the socio-economic and juridical processes through which the state assumes an ostensibly universal legal form, civil society becomes the site of contractually mediated aggression, unfair competition, egotism, fraud and the exercise of arbitrary power. The practical realization of the universal and socially democratic qualities required for self-government in polity and industry is effectively prevented by their concentration (and therefore distortion) in the formally democratic (legislature, judiciary) and repressive (executive) institutions of government. Substantive, social democracy is dismissed by mainstream parties and politicians as a vision lacking in rigour in the sense used at the outset of this chapter; it is easily written off by experts as a kind of fantasy that only utopian dreamers are likely to take seriously. An intrinsic dimension of the critique of everyday life after Marx is the notion that it is not simply the talents and energies of the working classes that are appropriated by the forces of capital. The critique is directed against a series of broader, more comprehensive mechanisms of appropriation in which language, dreams and other forms of expression and experience are manipulated by experts, controlled by institutions, represented by parties and classified in epistemological discourses. Hence the critique is informed by the insight that what is imposed is also that which excludes. It is an insight that links Gramscis analysis of hegemony and common sense with the surrealist denunciation of the daily routine and Foucaults critique of bio-power.11

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Effective exclusion from active decision-making seems to confirm the experts position in many peoples minds: the effectively internalized reality principle of subordination places severe limits on what is considered possible, and these limits are in turn reinforced by the real and symbolic maintenance of arbitrary boundaries and the enforcement of objectively unnecessary sanctions against sensual knowledge and experience detached from competency criteria. While Gramsci provides a political analysis of these processes, Bourdieu examines them as sociological and cultural phenomena.12 To the extent that the vicious circle of repression and diminishing expectations is perpetuated, aggression, unfair competition, egotism and the exercise of arbitrary power are elevated to the status of rational action. The parallel to Marxs quip in his critique of Hegel that the constitution rules without really ruling is that decidedly undemocratic private law in civil society rules while in theory being subordinated to the officially proclaimed democratic institutions of government. In sum, religious servility and political disenfranchisement contribute to the problem of frustrated potential and distorted perception of reality.13 In the course of the further development of his thinking after 1843, Marx quickly perceives that the problem of frustrated potential and distorted perception of reality is compounded by the fact that in the labour process, production and consumption are regulated by exchanges through which humanitys inability to recognize its own religious and political creations finds its socio-economic counterpart in wage labour and commodity production. This can be explained as follows: in comparison with the relation between serf and lord obtaining in feudalism, the relation between capitalist and worker seems to be free from direct domination. Indeed, Marx welcomes the transition from feudal-agrarian to modern industrial society as the gigantic step forward for humanity which is preparing the ground for the subsequent exit from the historical stage of the capitalist and worker, and their replacement by truly autonomous individuals. In his estimation, the (re)unification of intellectual planning and sensuous activity will engender a new form of subjectivity having little in common with the antagonistic competence and domination-based pseudo-subjectivity of the lords, serfs, capitalists and workers of what Marx sometimes refers to as humanitys prehistory.14 In modern industrial society, in contrast to feudal arrangements, no worker is compelled to work for any specific capitalist. What is more, the capitalist commands the labour time of the worker only and not, as was often the case under feudalism, the entirety of serf s person. But Weber and Simmel note that this transition, while potentially revolutionary, is also characterized by the fact that the

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personalized, natural hierarchy of feudalism cedes place to a much more subtle form of domination precisely because direct force is now largely absent except in crisis periods. The general implication is that hegemony does not issue from the point of production to then give rise to all other forms of social conflict, nor is the workplace the key factor in the monocausal explanation of superstructural phenomena. Hegemony is religious, political, cultural, aesthetic and economic. It is rooted in experience and does not culminate, so to speak, in any fixed point. It is not rooted in nature, as the nation is usually held to be, and correspondingly does not culminate in law, the state or any other pinnacle of a metaphorical power pyramid. This is why hegemony needs continually to be re-established, and also the reason why the historic bloc of forces that maintains a given hegemony can be subverted.15 In very schematic terms required in order to get to the point, Marx maintains that the worker provides the capitalist with a contractually agreed number of labour power hours per week or month. The workforce is not engaged in the production of goods and services designed directly to satisfy workers needs for creativity or to satisfy consumers immediate need for products, as had once been the case, albeit in archaic forms of socio-economic and political organization, when these things were bartered or when guilds regulated production. The critique of instrumental reason encounters the critique of everyday life for the first time with Marxs analysis of the modalities through which workers produce items which in turn will be sold, that is, commodities.16 Commodities embody institutionalized instrumental reason in that they are by definition not produced for their own sake. Once the commodity enters into circulation it acquires a life of its own and the capacity to become what one might call a means in itself . Commodities are socially produced and privately appropriated in ways that increase the dependency of the worker on an estranged relation with the means of production and heteronomous investment that Marx designates with the term capital. In return for the intelligence, imagination and great diversity of inputs into the labour process made by each worker in his or her own way, they all receive a homogenous unit of remuneration in the form of wages. Since capitalism is a dynamic system in which enterprises are either increasing their profits or struggling in decline, the capitalist class of people who buy and command the energies of labour power cannot pay the class of people who sell their labour what the latter are worth according to what would be a fair wage and an exchange of actual equivalents (hours and labour power for a monetary equivalent to the contribution to the production of the commodity). Marx maintains that a

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surplus must be extracted that enables the buyers of labour power to advertise, repair old and buy new equipment, and take on new members of staff in a competitive market environment in which firms are either going forwards or reeling backwards. As stated, Marx characterizes the particular form of indirect dependence of the sellers of labour power on the class who buy it as a capitalist form of dependence, as distinct, that is, from a myriad of other possible modes of dependence. Anticipating Gramscis notion of hegemony, Marx maintains that power and oppression are exercised through the mediating instances of law, politics, culture and ideology that enable one class to buy the labour power of another through contracts and labour markets, to extract a surplus in the process, and to rely on governments to pass laws which instantiate an acceptable compromise between capital and labour which in subtle ways privilege the former. Corresponding to the modalities of negative liberty, the acceptability of this compromise is usually based on the absence of direct force: labour power is exchanged for wages in what both parties agree is a fair or at least the fairest possible exchange of equivalents.17 A number of dynamics structure the relations between capital and labour. First, one class thinks about and plans the most efficient possible use of the labour power it buys. The latter, in turn, obeys and carries out the tasks they have agreed to do in return for their wages. This suggests that the separation of humanity and divinity entrenched in religious authority, which is compounded by the schism between self and government in the political sphere, is completed in figurative terms with the socio-economic alienation of the thinking brain from the working hand, that is, with the division of labour, a phenomenon which for Marx is closely connected with capital and class. Marx is alive not only to the fact that socially created wealth is privately appropriated. He also sees that capital must somehow reduce the role of labour to that of a passive executor and nonetheless expand the forces of production, that is, something it cannot do with the help of merely passive executors. At some point capital and labour have to become partners by abolishing private property in the means of production and by socializing investment, or labour must be replaced by industrial and cybernetic machinery.18 Second, the buyers, and to a much more intensified extent, the sellers of labour power cease to recognize their diverse energies, ideas and imagination in the wages they receive or the commodities they buy. Production organized to reproduce the capital-labour relation as a means in itself instead of expressing worker creativity or satisfying consumer demand creates dependence between the buyers and sellers of labour power in obvious ways which are exacerbated

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by the more subtle forms of dependence on commodities on the part of consumers on both sides of the class divide. Commodities circulate in search of buyers, and in the process acquire strange properties that enable them to promise friendship, love, adventure, risk and other experiences perhaps most fundamentally trust which for the young Marx issue from human relations.19 At the risk of belabouring the triadic point about religion, politics and labour, the experiences are packaged and resold to their own creators in ways which are much more standardized and predictable than they were in their spontaneous, extra-systemic form. Marx suggests that these intellectual-sensual experiences are also far more reliable sources of cognition prior to their systemic subordination to the heteronomous forces commanding production according to instrumental criteria. It may be objected that this claim is impossible to prove on the grounds that whatever may have been productively possible in a moment temporally antecedent to commodity production becomes for all intents and purposes a lost, or at best, speculative moment in the course of the reproduction of capitallabour relations. It may be objected further that to stipulate the workers hypothetical rights to labour power that has not been distorted, in a manner of speaking, by external forces, is to invoke a utopian conception of natural rights and autonomy that simply cannot be reconciled with the demands of the right of private property and capital to determine how and in what quantities commodities are produced for which markets. These objections would be difficult to meet in any traditional state, since the rights of the powerful to command are simply part of what is dictated by nature, tradition and the requirements of order. But they can be met according to the very same criteria invoked to defend a legal form of legitimacy that is meant to be democratic and not only liberal. The legitimacy of liberal democratic citizenship is based on what has to be the non-negotiable, and by extension, non-instrumental capacity of citizens to make the laws according to which they choose to live. That implies that they are not compelled to submit to laws that are imposed on them by extra-political forces, and the latter, such as those of capital, are in fact politically illegitimate, and should really be illegal. A liberal form of legitimacy thus has to face the juridical objection that there is nothing particularly utopian about the right of labour to seek to institutionalize autonomous conditions of production, any more than it is self-evident that capital has a natural right to buy and command labour power. It also has to face the practical problem alluded to above, to wit, that capital must somehow reduce the role of labour to that of a passive executor and nonetheless enlist the help of the

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workforce in order to expand the forces of production. This cannot be accomplished unless expansion is to be synonymous with standardization and homogenization doing everything necessary to produce the same commodities at lower cost rather than innovation and better quality. It is clear that the term quality in this context implies an aesthetic dimension denoting uniqueness and particularity. But uniqueness and particularity are misconstrued if understood in terms of prepolitical natural rights or the supposed aesthetic integrity of authentic creation. Particularity asserts itself as spontaneity and resistance that is not external to, but is on the contrary enmeshed in power relations. Hence the aesthetic dimension of the critique of daily life is not a kind of extra-dialectical by-product of the critique of political economy, any more than art is a more or less accidental effect of the economic structure of society. The dialectic of humanity and nature underpinning Marxs critique of political economy itself needs revision for reasons which will be spelled out more explicitly below in relation to subsequent Marxist notions of social agency and historical causality. The central epistemological link in this context is that between spontaneity and uniqueness, thus reiterating the point made at the outset of this chapter: systemic power suppresses differences between things, places and people in the service of classificatory half-truths and order-enforcing hierarchy. This raises the question about the possibility of alternative, freedom- and knowledge-enhancing forms of power. In Capital Marx describes the processes through which experiences connected with the labour process are transformed into commodities and resold to their creators as part of what he calls the fetishism of commodities. Just as workers are not compelled to work for any particular firm, they are not legally compelled to buy any particular car, holiday or television. The dynamic can be summed as follows: while the mode of production (capital, class, division of labour, wage labour, exploitation) transforms individual and collective labour power into commodities which are bought and sold on the market, the mode of consumption (ritualized passivity, fetishism, reification, coerced integration) transforms individual and collective needs into commodities that must be bought and sold in order to guarantee the smooth functioning of the mode of production.20 The point is that the exclusion brought about by religious intimidation, political oppression and wage labour is accompanied by coerced integration. It is this paradoxical dynamic that warrants the description of the contradictory mechanisms involved as a plurality of systems, which is not to say that the mechanisms in question function mechanically. The systems, which incorporate civil society and government into a more comprehensive, decentred ensemble

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sometimes referred to as the state, and more recently referred to as governance, accomplish the exploitation of workers and simultaneous integration of consumers and citizens not despite, but because of the overlapping patterns that marginalize and integrate the same person at distinct, nonlinear times or junctures of their lives. This makes the precise delineation of systemic structures versus extra-systemic spontaneity an extremely difficult if not impossible task if, that is, spontaneous, non-ideological knowledge is taken to be the privileged birth right of a unified subject confronting an objective external reality that it can transform through re-appropriation. It is here where the Marxist dialectic is in need of revision. Marx is admittedly much stronger in relation to the dynamics of exploitation and marginalization than he is in relation to the processes of integration, which partly explains why he is not really a theorist of social action. It is also one of the reasons why Lukcs and Lenin, for whom the unified subject first appears in idealist guise as Hegels Geist, followed by spirits material incarnation in the revolutionary proletariat, are able to portray Marx as the theorist of compact collective subjectivity and praxis. Whether analysed as the subject-object of history or as the party-political vanguard, these accounts of the relation between subjectivity and knowledge are of undeniable historical interest, but have little theoretical or practical import today.21 Convincing critiques of daily life retain key aspects of Marxs analysis of political economy and instrumental reason, while deconstructing the rather mechanical account of subjectivity that Marx passes on to his followers. This is why it is so important to consider Simmel and Foucaults contributions.

From the Critique of Alienation to Sociological Theory


If one is allowed to suppose for a moment that monarchical and ecclesiastical authority did not have the centralized administrative means of the early modern state at its disposal, and that the mechanisms of integration in traditional society were relatively weak and therefore easy to analyse, this changes by the time the power of capital and the state are so closely intertwined that it becomes futile to try to locate any particular social subject that is external to the productive system and potentially disruptive of its operations. It is at this juncture that the Philosophy of Money serves as an important complement to the theses expounded in Capital. In general terms, however, it is fair to say that the critique of daily life that follows from Simmels analysis of money builds on the Marxist critiques of religion, politics and political economy. From that point the ground is prepared

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for wider explorations of subjects like language, dreams, knowledge, bio-power, urban geography and other phenomena that are not easily categorized as either systemic or extra-systemic, or as pertaining to the base and not the superstructure. For Simmel the most significant aspect of money is not so much that some people have more money than others. Money disseminates unspoken and largely unwritten ambiguities about the way things are made, where and how they are made, and about the social relations that the things in question presuppose and reinforce. To anticipate the discussion of Foucault which follows these remarks on Simmel, one might say that although unspoken and unwritten, these halflies are in a real and figurative sense visible.22 The other salient dimension of money is that it disperses the feudal unity of individual destiny, position at birth and obligatory belonging to a territorially defined unit of space. The dissolution of this unity breaks the authoritarian bond between lords and serfs. Money thus facilitates a partial liberation from direct oppression which is highly ambiguous precisely because it is partial. Simmel indicates that one class does not possess the means directly to oppress another class as if, that is, the classes were engaged in a tug of war waged on a vertical axis, stacked in favour of the better positioned minority. If this were so, the workers could perhaps seize the state, occupy and take over language and use it for their own purposes, and smash money. Simmel indicates why the state, language and money do not function in ways that would make such smashing and re-appropriation possible. His intent is not to defend capitalism as such, and indeed, during his lifetime he consistently adopted social democratic political allegiances. But like Foucault, he is also convinced that post-liberal autonomy is best served by sociological analysis that reflects the intricacies of stratification and the complex relation between knowledge and power.23 While money facilitates a transition from barter and initially acts as a means of exchange, it becomes far more than a mere means as the denaturalization of social relations unfolds. Hence money says more about the strength or weakness of the social bond prevailing in a particular society at a specific juncture than it does about exploitation, especially if the latter is misconstrued as strength, as in the tug of war example. Money tends to separate production processes from exchange and consumption processes, thus attesting to a palpable change in the structure of the social bond vis--vis other models of society. In commodity production objects lose their particularity, and, in a parallel development, places lose their specificity, as evident in phenomena to appear well after Simmels period, such as shopping malls, supermarkets and other spaces that could almost literally be anywhere.

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Another way of saying this is that commodified objects and interchangeable places lose their objectivity and distinctiveness, thus effectuating a kind of Hegelian inversion from quality back to quantity. Under these conditions it is possible to substitute the name of one thing for another or change the name of a place according to a whimsical decree. As the discussion in Chapter 2 indicates, Benjamin intuits that the problem diagnosed by Simmel requires a Marxist intervention, but it must be a Marxist intervention of a very unusual kind. If the core of the revolution of everyday life is truth, justice, awakening, remembering and genuine self-government rather than systemic power, revenge, ideology and superficially democratized populism, then the revolution will have to restore the proper relation between people, places and things and the names that really distinguish them.24 The discussion in this section of the present chapter is more centrally concerned with Simmels analysis of the ways in which money is able to function like an elastic form rendering possible, from the individuals perspective, the investment of an object with an almost infinite range of subjective meanings and values. The subjectivization of value goes together with the privatization of experience, such that personal satisfaction (which must be continually satisfied anew, dovetailing the processes in which capital must continually expand, and the modes of production and consumption mutually adjusted) becomes the ultimate standard of quality. Yet the criteria making a meaningful appreciation of quality become increasingly difficult to discern due to this privatization of experience and the corresponding metamorphosis of the social bond. That is to say that the pervasiveness of money-based relations decreases the capacity of isolated individuals to make reliable judgements about the quality or the depth of their relationships with other people, places and things. This helps explain why capitalism, in those periods when it seems to function well, seems to suffuse society with a sense of individual freedom and consumer choice. This somewhat giddy sensation is intensified by the gradual erosion of any direct relation between the possession of money on the one hand, and determinate types of personality on the other. In modern societies money can be inherited, or earned by people who in previous social formations were dependent on lords or patrons, or accumulated by successful athletes, gamblers, the self-made nouveau riche, and so on. What interests Simmel are the various processes of interactive exchange (Wechselwirkungen) which make the social bond so volatile and dynamic that it seems improbable that there can be any general theory of history, modernity, money, subjectivity or even of society. This is not to say that society is governed by

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a set of completely arbitrary interactions. Hence he eschews idealist, materialist and positivist monocausal explanation, but does not embrace relativism. What happens in daily life is not simply the conversion of living labour power into accumulated labour power that oppresses the workers, nor is it a random series of events with no relation between them. This more nuanced assessment corresponds to his view that it is no longer possible to speak in Hegelian or dogmatic Marxist terms about the mediation of humanity and nature in straightforward subject-object dialectics, in which subject and object are unified in a higher entity which supersedes them both, that is, in the synthetic unity that Hegelian philosophers characterize with the term Aufhebung. What is observable instead, Simmel submits, is a kind of montage dialectic, so to speak, in which discrete spatio-temporal moments of the subject, the object, nature, history and society become simultaneously visible. These distinct and yet related elements form an epistemological constellation of multicausal and multidirectional determinations or tendencies. Hence in anticipation of some of the key tenets of systems theory, the entity that knows, so to speak, is not an unmediated epistemological subject with knowledge and control over a monolithic object. This deconstruction of subject-object dialectics prefigures the work of Heidegger, Foucault and Luhmann, while also providing further evidence for the thesis that undivided individual and collective subjects do not really exist and therefore cannot simply re-appropriate objects as if the latter were alienated essences waiting to be reabsorbed. Moreover, as the term montage implies, there is an aesthetic dimension to this method of sociological explanation that needs a word of elaboration. But it is worth noting straightaway that although the deconstruction of the imperious individual and collective subject signals the end of credible attempts to constitute seamless autonomy by blocking out external social and historical phenomena, this deconstruction is not necessarily synonymous with an abrupt end to the project of post-liberal autonomy full stop. This will become clearer in the discussion of Foucault to follow.25 Simmel attempts to take an apparently isolated phenomenon, such as sport, fashion, urban existence, competition, manners, and so on, and to analyse it in all its ramifications in an effort to reveal something about it by exposing its form, rather than attempting directly to present its content or essence. He proceeds from the smallest, seemingly most unrelated details of social life, and then develops hypotheses suggesting how certain social facts and phenomena are distinct and nonetheless related. Simmel does not try to deduce fashion changes, or the succession of one art movement by another, or the professionalization of sport, and so on, from changes in

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the economy, or spirit, nor does he regard changes in the different spheres as being unrelated. Thus Benjamin and Lukcs follow him in trying to analyse culture embedded in the economy, rather than looking at the way that the economy might seem to produce diverse socio-cultural orientations. With the example of fashion, for example, Simmel hopes to illustrate how economy and culture are in the widest sense phenomena related to social rather than biological or evolutionary metabolism, that is, in the sense of a figurative economy of extra-normative social energy which requires both social distance and proximity in order to find a stable institutional form. For Simmel fashion is always the fashion of different social classes and groups. In any epoch in which the dominant classes have enormous amounts of wealth compared to the rest of society, changes in fashion are relatively slow in getting underway and attaining visibility. In this social formation, articles of exceptional clothing are extremely expensive and quite conspicuously the privilege of a select few. Nonetheless, that small group is usually also keen to ensure that less wealthy groups can at least glimpse the more expensive objects. This sustains a continually renegotiated equilibrium between social proximity and distance reflecting the fact that power can only continue to be social power if, in the case of fashion, it is admired. In epochs where the popular classes are able to secure relatively higher levels of income than their predecessors, Simmel notes, fashion changes much more rapidly. At one level elite fashion suddenly seems accessible to all; at another level it is now changing much too quickly to be genuinely distributed across social classes.26 Something analogous can be argued in relation to higher education in the United Kingdom today. On the one hand, in comparison with the immediate postWorld War II period, a much higher percentage of school leavers go to university, suggesting a thorough democratization of social relations. Due to the manner in which this has been accomplished (general push towards humanities with relatively little consideration given to technical training and professional apprenticeships), on the other hand, an undergraduate degree is unlikely to distinguish one young person from another in terms of qualifications and skills. This often means that upon leaving university, they have to do badly paid, repetitive jobs, or go on to do a masters degree. Since there is very little public funding for MAs, it is often the case that only confident students from more wealthy backgrounds can continue their education to enhance their career prospects. In the fashion and education examples there is a dynamic at work which implies both real democratization as well as effective restructuring of pre-existing hierarchies as opposed to their dismantling. As in a vast array of similar domains,

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changes in fashion and the provision of higher education are developing according to an interactive exchange logic which is neither random nor monocausal. Simmel maintains that the phenomenon of organized competition illustrates another case in point. Competition in any field, whether economic or cultural, creates a monetary or status hierarchy. The successful and less successful are separated by the outcomes of the competition, yet the competition also integrates all participants at the same time that it distinguishes them. The less successful tend to admire the more successful. The more successful, in turn, require this admiration in a sociologically mediated way that has more to do with the changing dynamics adjusting and readjusting social equilibrium than with psychological notions of projection or envy. That is, Simmel is keen to distinguish his philosophical sociology from social psychology and all types of naturalism and evolutionism, of which there are also historical materialist variants. He examines society as an ensemble of simultaneously unfolding processes, and yet, he is open to the ever-present possibility of new social forms, the institutionalization of new values, and in short, of new human beings engaged in a radically transformed daily life. This suggests that the false choice between autonomy and heteronomy can be reconceptualized in terms of different possible forms of post-liberal autonomy and new configurations of the legality/legitimacy dialectic.27 Simmel borrows certain elements from Kants critical philosophy, and in particular, the notion of the objectivity of epistemological form, which he extends to the objectivity of the form (rather than essence) of society. But at the same time Simmel discards the Kantian transcendental subject and its synthetic unity of consciousness. Whereas Dilthey is crucial in challenging the transcendental knowing subject with a reminder of the subjects historical contingency, Simmel shows why this contingency is decidedly more many-sided than even Dilthey supposes. Not only is it the case that social individuals are products of history; they are also the spontaneous and variable points of nexus in processes of exchange and potentially new modes of socialization. Where Kant invokes the transcendental subject, Simmel responds with the worldly and vital subject of Nietzsche. Where Nietzsche absolutizes the will to power, Simmel responds with Marx. In those instances in which Marx calls for a collective re-appropriation of alienated labour, Simmel makes a convincing case for the objectivity of social form and the rejection of all notions of human essence whether labouring, political or communicative implied by his ideas on the plural causality of interactive reciprocal exchange processes. Hence Simmel indicates that there is a significant degree of spontaneity in the

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reproduction of social systems and institutions, and a great deal of systemic structure involved in what may look like the spontaneous interaction of social actors. The implication is that any easy juxtaposition of system and spontaneity is theoretically deficient, and should really cede place to a more montage-like appreciation of paradox, simultaneity, and the synchronic coexistence of spontaneous actor and established system. Otherwise one is engaging in the futile attempt to rehabilitate pre-social, pristine anthropological essences untainted by reciprocally interactive exchange processes. This suggests that innovative resistance to systemic oppression cannot be based on a tug of war model of social stratification or an individual versus systems model of knowledge.28 The Philosophy of Money, Simmels great contribution to social theory, appeared in 1900, the same year as Freuds Interpretation of Dreams. While there can be no doubt that Freuds work has had much wider resonance and impact, they are both path-breakers in the deconstruction of transcendental consciousness, unified social subjects and apparently monolithic types of authority. The implication that emerges from Freud and especially from Simmels work is that one does not learn about subjectivity and knowledge by directly analysing subjectivity and knowledge. One gets figuratively nearer to such phenomena, in a manner of speaking, by studying the changing modalities of language, dreams, urban experience, architecture, fashion and exchange. This is not to say that subjects are passive effects of systemic (language, law) and non-systemic (dreams, fashion) signifiers. But if Simmel is correct, it will be fruitful to study the grammatical and institutional forms in which subjectivity and knowledge are articulated, which is not the same thing as studying the subject and imputing a wide range of psychological dispositions, political capacities and socioeconomic interests to it.29 This plural but rigorous epistemological position is consistent with Simmels philosophical-aesthetic sociology. It is possible to illustrate the point with the oft made observation that one does not grasp space and time by trying to pinpoint and hold them under a microscope, that is, it is the study of movement that reveals something potentially much more significant about space and time in this regard. Similarly, a sculpture composed of glass, metal, wood, and so on may reveal something more important about spatial dimensions than it does about the materials glass, metal and wood. By extension, it may be helpful to observe the forms in which reason is institutionalized instead of trying to make it an essential anthropological property since, after the discussion in the previous chapter, it seems clear that by making reason part of the definition of the human, reason becomes

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little more than instrumental reason, that is, a faculty for coordinating means and ends. This is one of the problems with defining reason in terms of the actions of an inherently rational individual or naturally rational collective subject. In the case of the individual, whatever they do is rational and successful or rational and failed, up to a certain limit, after which individual action can be branded as irrational or pathological. Similarly, the same can be said of whatever the collective decides to do, whether it be going to war, organizing an embargo or decreasing taxes for the wealthy citizens who supposedly need incentives to keep their investments in the country: the contingent is not thought as much as it is simply elevated to the status of the necessary. The obvious corollary is that because the ends of action are already predetermined by absolute necessity (survival), means-rationality will inevitably be the considered the only available kind.30 Hence one can say that the critique of instrumental reason in its many guises is a critique of metaphysics, traditional subjectivity, linear time and the particular kind of knowledge appropriate for the maintenance of negative liberty. What is less clear but perhaps more interesting is that it is also a critique of existing forms of law and the assumptions underpinning legal forms of legitimacy. This is because legitimacy is posited as a natural/ automatic by-product of liberal democratic law, where the latter is assumed to be the emanation of a territorially defined group of people that gives itself laws. This is something the people can do because of its sovereignty as a nation. The epistemological tautology discussed in the previous chapter is complemented by the political tautology suggested by the axiom that legal universality (or objectivity/impartiality if one prefers) is secured by a people that gives itself laws.31 The notion that the people gives itself laws in its own state is as imprecise as the idea that it gives itself language. Of course the English speak English, the Germans speak German, and so on, but not for natural reasons; otherwise one would have to accept the non-explanatory explanation that they speak English because they are English that is their language. To this it might be added that not only English or German is spoken in those countries and, moreover, the only way to argue that an English persons legal rights within England are more legitimate than another persons living there is on the grounds that they are somehow naturally, that is, racially so.32 Simmels theory of denaturalization complements his theory of objective form in that taken together, they highlight the implausibility of making existing law the basis of rational legitimacy in anything other than an instrumentally rational sense. Does this suggest that it is perhaps time to give up on legitimacy as anything

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other than a functionalist concept with much relevance for stability, but with minimal relevance for knowledge, freedom and plurality? Or is the point rather that one does not learn about the various kinds of possible reason by enumerating them and then evaluating them according to criteria of logical consistency or fields of application? Or is it that one gets figuratively nearer to what reason might be by looking at how qualitatively different forms of legitimacy set the parameters for distinct models of reason, thinking and social action? The possible paths beyond liberal democratic autonomous subjectivity and instrumental reason would seem to disappear from sight at that point on the theoretical horizon where no readily available post-metaphysical subjectivity appears, and where conceptual vision is clouded further by the fact that any strict separation of system and extra-systemic epistemological spontaneity is apparently untenable. In the light of these difficulties the task of critical theoretical research is clearly not that of jettisoning the subject for structure or for system, nor that of redefining the subject on the basis of apparently new essences. It is moreover fatalist to accept that whatever else one may say in a speculative vein, in real daily life reason is tantamount to more or less successful modes of adaptation to existing institutions. To capitulate to prevailing common sense and academic conformism in this way is tantamount to abandoning any critical edge the critique of daily life may have. It is the ongoing constitution of that reality that must be looked at anew, guided by Simmels notion that reality is a social reality shaped by a series of parallel processes and multidirectional tendencies. If the dynamic shaping those processes can be understood, it may be possible to rethink certain basic assumptions about reason, subjectivity and knowledge. His montage method indicates how to discern the thoughtful moment in reason rather than juxtaposing reason and thinking, and indeed, if it is possible to make a qualified distinction between reason and thinking, as Heidegger and Foucault do, it may also be possible to revisit the complex relation between the critique of everyday life and legitimacy.

Resisting Discourse and Thinking the Spaces between the Visible and the Discursive
Without referring to him directly, Foucault shares Simmels view that power is misconceived when construed in terms of homogenous units that are distributed unequally from a centre rooted in the peoples state and expressed in their laws which protects a small number of powerful people from a much larger number of relatively powerless people, while simultaneously protecting them all from foreign invasion and the threat of

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the potential enemy within. To say that the powerful have and wield power is as unsatisfactory in explanatory terms as the proposition that the exploiters exploit the exploited, or that the defining characteristic of legality is the law. This tends to confirm the afore-mentioned hypothesis that one does not learn about juridical, linguistic and socio-economic phenomena by attempting to study them directly from the perspective of a supposedly subjugated subject somewhere outside the system/oppressed by the system, on the one hand, or an equally implausible ruling subject at the heart of the system and manipulating it for its own purposes, on the other. Since some kind of montage methodology is preferable, one might begin by examining the evolution of penal law, studying the rules of grammar and researching the history of exchange processes (what can be read), while simultaneously observing the dynamics of prison revolts, watching the changing face of psychiatric wards and recording the rhythms of plant closures (what can be seen). The discrepancy between the readable and the visible in relation to thinking is one of Foucaults key concerns, and will provide the focus for the discussion below.33 Foucault explicitly refers to Marx as the first theorist to distinguish between an unsatisfactory notion of homogeneous, continuous power, on the one hand, and the distinct forms of discontinuous power exercised in qualitatively different ways at the workplace, through property ownership, in the school system, in the prisons, and so on, on the other.34 One of the many implications is that one should be wary of the usage of general terms like freedom, justice, natural rights and even spontaneity. Foucault is therefore far more likely to speak of resistance than of spontaneity as such, and to speak of the histories of knowledge, pleasure, private life, madness, medicine, law, and so on rather than the encyclopaedic history made by a universal subject. He is therefore less interested in a history of private life than he is in the conditions under which an individuals relation to the self can be constituted as privacy. It is in writing histories that one discerns moments of transitions between different kinds of truth regime with different kinds of possibilities for creating spaces of freedom. Moreover, given that the power of the psychiatrist or medical doctor is based on specific discourses of knowledge which are not the same as those invoked in the workplace or school, Foucault finds it more accurate to study the formation of discrete powers rather than power in general.35 Hence while Simmel is a thinker of post-metaphysical materialism, Foucault is a genealogical theorist of transitions, such as what he regards to be the transition from the juridification to the medicalization of reason. Whereas the juridification of reason is closely connected with the project of training and disciplining

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citizens, the medicalization of reason is more centrally concerned with the bio-political attempt to regulate and calibrate the lives of populations. While these are important to Foucault, his primary interest is what one might call the conversion of the everyday knowledge of specific individuals into systemic epistemologies or epistmes, especially as this phenomenon figures into a more global study of the relation between truth, power and knowledge.36 Since this conversion process is discontinuous and capillary, however, it should not be construed as the expropriation of subjective experience which should be restored to a unified subject in the name of justice or rights. On the contrary, Foucault regards the exercise of power and the formalization of knowledge to be intimately bound up with the constitution of living individuals as subjects of knowledge, that is, as citizens and populations about whom knowledge is systematically constructed. This approach indicates that the deconstruction of foundations and centres requires a parallel deconstruction of subjects and all of their supposedly innate qualities, including law-giving reason in the state-juridical sense introduced in the first part of the previous chapter.37 Foucault explains that subjects are not born subjects so much as they become them. In the course of becoming subjects they are classified in innumerable ways which contribute to their social integration, even if they are simultaneously marginalized in many cases. This is a theoretical advance of considerable import if one considers that marginalization and integration cease to be juxtaposed in the manner of a logical contradiction to be overcome in a higher synthesis. In other words, these seemingly contradictory tendencies do not result in unsolvable contradictions unless power and knowledge are neatly separated, and power is misunderstood as homogenous, continuous and emanating from a single central source. This raises a related point of central importance for this study and its tentative conclusions. Since power does not emanate from a single source, legitimate authority must also be diffuse and plural, that is, it must find a poststate-juridical form in order to be genuinely legitimate. There is a clear parallel between Simmels contribution to the study of daily life through the assimilation of aesthetic modes of analysis and the sociological dimension of Foucaults writings on literature and painting.38 Both thinkers offer a comprehensive account of the dynamics of social process that might enable each individual to forge their own values and develop an ethics and aesthetic of self-creation in ways that do not compel the individual to succumb to the false choice of trying in vain either to withdraw from society or passively to react to societys demands. Common to their respective projects is the delineation, however inchoate, of the broad contours of

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what one might call post-liberal autonomy. There can be no doubt about the importance of these ideas, especially in a historical period in which liberal democracy and social democracy are in what may be a terminal crisis, and state socialism is discredited.39 Foucault observes that power in society, like a line on certain exceptional canvasses, does not necessarily move in one direction that penetrates into depth. The line may have two or more contradictory directions at the same time, such that it constantly moves (paradoxically without moving) and changes its function and valence in the process. In the daily experiences of painting and looking at canvasses, and in the constitution of and resistance to power as well, it is thus important to explore the surface and palpable texture of the phenomenon in question, rather than trying to look behind physical realities for metaphysical ones. If it is misleading to construe power in terms of unequally distributed homogenous units, there is also a problem in considering power as the invisible core behind the visible exterior of a power edifice. It is in this sense that Gilles Deleuze describes Foucault as a genealogist and archivist, as well as a new kind of cartographer.40 A close examination indicates that the surface is not an undifferentiated, exterior appearance in the manner of the edifice just alluded to. The immediately visible appearance seems to unite what is seen with its linguistically mediated concept. This is an instance where power is exercised, resisted and transformed within fluid networks. There is no notion in Foucault that power is wielded according to the model of a subject or determinate social class exercising power over an object or another fixed social class. He notes that power produces an imposing image of harmony and congruity between seeing and thinking by way of language, thus prompting a comparison between Foucaults analyses of the processes through which individuals become socially integrated subjects, and Adornos notion of coerced reconciliation. Moreover, the surface as pluridimensional map, in contrast with the appearance as veil, presents various moments of rupture and discontinuity between the visible and the conceptual that have affinities with Adornos idea of mediated non-identity. This is not to say that for Adorno or Foucault the conceptual is somehow more real than the visible, which would be a retreat behind the epistemological terrain staked out by Heidegger. Foucault consistently questions the various powers and instances of knowledge apparently uniting visible, institutional form with conceptual, discursive meaning in ways indicative both of the complexity of power as well as the possibilities of thought and resistance. In one of his

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lectures at the Collge de France during 197879, now published together with other lectures from that academic year with the title The Birth of BioPolitics, he maintains that: What is at stake in all of this research about madness, illness, delinquency, and sexuality, as well as everything else I have been talking about today, is to show how the coupling of a series of practices with a truth regime forms an operative knowledge-power system (dispositif) which effectively inscribes in the real something that does not exist, and which subjects the real to a series of criteria stipulating what is true and what is false, whereby these criteria are taken to be legitimate. It is that moment which does not exist as real and which is not generally considered relevant to the legitimacy of a regime of true and false, it is that moment in things that engages me at the moment. It marks the birth of the asymmetrical bi-polarity of politics and economics, that is, of that politics and economics which are neither things that exist nor are errors, illusions or ideologies. It has to do with something which does not exist and which is nonetheless inscribed within the real, and which has great relevance for a truth regime which makes distinctions between truth and falsity. This constant questioning may confirm Paul Veynes observation that none of the various labels (structuralist, post-structuralist, 1968 thought, post-modern, etc.) attributed to Foucault are entirely fitting, and that he is in many ways quite simply a rigorous philosophical sceptic.41 Like Nietzsche, therefore, he does not condemn power or contrast power with truth and knowledge. He is interested in the processes through which subjects become subjects, the truth becomes the truth, and the changing conditions under which this happens, which in the first instance is the discrepancy between the visible and the readable. There is nothing natural, inevitable, ontological or objective about this difference. Yet as the quotation above illustrates, it is also not a matter of false consciousness, ideological veils, or the conscious manipulation of some by others. In attempting to explain the dynamics of power-knowledge Foucault opens up the non-visible that is also the non-hidden. This opening up and disruption of the spaces composing the social surface is an act of analytical-practical resistance and the key to an anticipated political pluralism understood as genuinely different ways of being beyond the duplication of more or less acceptable subordinate subject positions in relation to the dominant subject. Otherwise it is

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tempting to fetishize the latter in its phenomenal appearance as the middle-class white heterosexual man, as if he has the most power units on loan from the state. Ostensibly dominant as well as subordinate subject positions are constructed in institutional and conceptual fields where the play and the battle between the visible and the discursive is enacted from a multiplicity of sites. This playful and oftentimes also bitter confrontation helps engender the norms around which dominant and subordinate subject positions are articulated, and integration processes are organized and reorganized. Taking their lead from Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari hint that the possible forms of post-liberal autonomy and democracy of the future are not likely to depend on the sovereign centre or majority will that helps construct a unified dominant subject as well as the minorities that are defined in terms of it and tolerated to a greater or lesser extent. Post-liberal autonomy and democracy are likely to be more contingent on minorities in an extra-numerical sense who consistently and unexpectedly undermine majority norms. Without these acts of subversion, genuine difference is dispelled, as practically all manifestations of disparate, peripheral life look like inferior or distorted versions of the unified dominance at the centre. Hence in contrast with its most formulaic definition as majority rule, for Deleuze and Guattari the democracy to come is centrally about the production and proliferation of minority nonnorms that break down the integration versus marginalization schema, thereby undermining traditional work routines, individual identities and social roles.42 There is a subtle but important clash implied by the difference between the liberal democratic standard of being accepted to the extent that one is tolerated, and Foucaults Nietzschean conception of agonism taken up by Deleuze, Guattari and other theorists of daily life. That is, in the liberal democratic imagination it is the metaphysical founding presence of sovereign unity that acts as the enabling condition permitting physical absence and political difference to coexist within the greater unity, or, if one likes, to be tolerated inside its boundaries, which also implies that tolerance is by no means unconditional.43 Indeed, the conditions under which toleration is tolerable are continually constituted and reconstituted in ways that raise important questions about the possibilities of representation, about which there will be more to say by way of conclusion to this chapter. In Foucaults work the pluralist project is pursued by abandoning both the Hegelian idea of conceptual reality and Marxist notions of the ruling class, in favour of the study of language, and more specifically, what he refers to as noncs articulated together in epistemological discourses. Hence a brief word

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about his ideas on language will be helpful for an understanding of his notion of discourse, resistance and thinking.44 It has just been remarked that marginalization and integration cease to be juxtaposed in the manner of a logical contradiction to be overcome in a higher conceptual synthesis once power and knowledge are no longer neatly separated, and power ceases to be misunderstood as homogenous, continuous, and emanating from a single central source. This innovation illuminates some of the inadequacies inherent in any presumed antithetical relation between spontaneity and system, which, on closer inspection, is really an only slight modification of humanity/subject versus nature/object distinctions, that is, dichotomies that Lukcs attempts to overcome within the subject-object framework from the perspective of a radicalized collective subject. That project fails for reasons which have been touched upon in the discussion explaining why montage dialectics are preferable to positive dialectics. Foucault suggests that if there is a system or ensemble of systems, the task is somehow to think systemic functioning outside of the perspective of the subject dominated by or in charge of the so-called system. Critical thinking can deconstruct the visible harmony between casual seeing and instrumental reasoning that is produced in everyday language and much scientific discourse as well. However, one must also bear in mind that language is not exhausted in its verbal form, and one must remember that verbal and non-verbal resistance to linguistically mediated harmony is perhaps far more prevalent than is generally acknowledged.45 Foucault suggests that it may be more promising in epistemological and political terms for the subject to emancipate language from existing forms of subjectivity, instead of trying to realize its own emancipation directly by expressing some kind of inner self by way of existing language. In Raymond Roussel (1963) he intimates that the power of the system, if it can be put thus, is that it creates a non-natural surface articulating existence and language together by way of the subject, so that language becomes a bearer of truths about the subject. If a more speculative remark about positive freedom is allowed at this juncture, one might venture to say that if a potentially self-overcoming subject can change the truths of language about the traditional metaphysical subject, a theory of anticipated legitimacy may be able to deconstruct existing legal truths about citizens. This is suggested by an unorthodox but careful reading of the Foucauldian argument that in contrast with monolithic appearances, surfaces are characterized by strata and folds that can inflect power to create new truths, desires and forms of experience.46 The emphasis on creation above underscores Foucaults insistence that power does not simply repress, punish and forbid. Instead of being founded

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on the idea of mutual non-infringement, liberal democratic regimes encourage, cajole, compel and command people to work, play, rest, write, reproduce and even see in ways that have the apparent neutrality of negative liberty as well as the apparent objectivity of medicine and science. Sight is a domain of key importance, for it would seem to be one of the most natural and timeless of the capacities of the human subject. Yet Foucault explains that the visible is not a natural given but is in fact deployed, so that it is not fanciful to say that the visible is neither transparent nor hidden. Like power, knowledge moves back and forth along the multiple surfaces coupling the non-discursive visual, such as an institution like a hospital, to the discursive non-visual, such as a health law. It is in this sense Foucault writes about knowledge-power and the transition from the juridification to the medicalization of reason. The law is an nonc that does not have a stable point of origin in a law-giving subject that then recognizes its law-making power in the legitimate authority of the institution that has been legislated into practice. In this particular example, there is a marked discrepancy between the power of the doctor to practise according to what is taken to be his or her knowledge, and the rights of the citizens to make their own laws, including those, in this case, pertaining to health and medicine. Foucaults nonc is a scientific proposition of ostensible fact based on what is taken to be rigorous research within a modern academic discipline such as psychiatry, paediatrics, ethnography, criminology, psychology, medicine, economics, geography, medicine and law. An ensemble of noncs can be articulated together into a discourse that produces truths that are lived, experienced, seen and known by the participants in institutions. The systemic harmony between the discursively true and the visibly known can be interrupted by thought and resistance that clog, alter and redirect the transversal (not vertical or horizontal) circuits between noncs and institutions. On this account power is capillary and multiple while truth, like knowledge, is double. The creation of the truth of a truth regime is doubled, and susceptible to further and more intense multiplication rather than divided, and awaiting re-articulation as mediated unity. It will be explained why this is not a pedantic distinction.47 If the discursive dimension of a legalized truth is captured in an nonc, the truth is nonetheless not enacted as legitimate practice until the judge, psychiatrist, teacher, doctor or officer makes an official pronouncement/ decision. The first corollary is that the law is not the legal manifestation of legality, but rather, and in frontal opposition to the claims of legal positivism, it is a protean network of propositions and prohibitions presupposing non-legal and extra-legal factors that are ensconced within the law as the conditions of its possibility. Once it has been shown that the prelegal and

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extra-legal dimensions of the law constitute the conditions of the possibility of legality, one can go on to explore the ways in which there are extra-scientific factors that condition the mode of scientific research, extra-medicinal factors that condition standards of health and normal behaviour, as well as extra-economic criteria that influence the policies and institutions which induce people to make very specific claims about what should be considered economically rational, efficient and productive. The second, bio-political corollary is that the possibility of a credible categorical difference between openly punitive institutions which threaten, such as the prison, and ostensibly more consensual ones such as the hospital and school, which heal and educate, becomes doubtful. This is not to say that a generic form of power circulates in wild and unpredictable ways. Foucault suggests that system and spontaneity, surveillance and punishment, legal and extra-legal, and so on are intertwined, with the implication that each particular set of junctures and interstices that simultaneously join and separate discourses and institutions is marked by its own rapidly changing dynamics and political charge. If one examines the functioning of the relations between penal law and the prison, one notes that although the prison is in principle subordinate to the law, the prison also has the necessary means to organize and administer its internal affairs. The specific kind of autonomy that the prison enjoys in relation to penal law is not relative, absolute, or even what is sometimes referred to as determination in the last instance, which implies that there is no continuum to unite the law with its apparent object of jurisdiction. Power endeavours to create that continuum in ways that are susceptible to being challenged from a variety of points along the intersecting lines uniting and separating discourses and institutions. That is, powers ability to create is the basis for thinking in a non-speculative manner that new forms of creative power can emerge. In this context it might be added in a parallel vein that the distance from the prelegal and extra-legal to the law is not relative or absolute, just as there is no continuum to unite the word pipe and the object pipe. The problem, as Foucault recognizes in his essay on Magritte, is not the disparity but rather the similarity between linguistic sign and visual image. This micro problem is magnified on a grand scale in the relations between discourses and institutions.48 Foucault intuits that where one is confronted with what seems like a continuum, that is, such as that which supposedly transforms legal quantity into legitimate quality, one is also likely to find a political metasubject with a stable epistemological centre. Working as a sceptic, his studies of knowledge, power and language call the existence of these entities into question without doubting their real effects, that is, their reality in everyday life.49

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But it might be objected at this point that to speak of minorities in an extra-numerical sense or power that is not directly exercised by subjects is tantamount to changing the meaning of words and things. It can be replied that to change and create in this way is part of the critique of everyday life in general, and is central to Foucaults effort to follow Nietzsche in thinking beyond good and evil in particular. This is perhaps an appropriate place to conclude the chapter, since it draws together the three central critiques which run through all of the preceding chapters of the book the critiques of traditional subjectivity and metaphysics as central to a comprehensive critique of instrumental reason. The validity of categorical distinctions separating (good) consensual institutions and (bad) punitive ones depends on the presence of a metaphysical higher other, that is, some centre to unite them and make their relative differentiation possible. It is a validity that relies on the model of the divided truth awaiting reunification, rather than the map of the double truth, which opens up the possibility of a new pluralism. The divided truth implicitly distinguishes between the rational institutions enjoyed by the good, law-abiding majority, and the unfortunate but necessary institutions needed to control and eventually eliminate the bad, irrational, law-subverting minority or minorities. That is, a law-subverting majority is impossible within this framework, since it would be tantamount to the reality of a qualitatively different state and mode of governance than the one in which majorities are by definition on the side of already existing populist and potentially authoritarian democracy. This phenomenon is connected with the difficulty looked at in Chapter 2 of identifying the real mob. An already existing peoples state gives institutional expression to the mediated unity of the people that makes rational (re)presentation through law and government possible. Once one interrogates the modalities of the mediations, however, one notes that presumed unity can and historically has effectively meant (re)imposed unity and staggering rationality deficits. It is possible that the problem with mediated unity, like the problem with existing national-popular law, is one of origins. This chapter endeavours to show that there are no post-metaphysical origins or foundational centres, and no non-ideological national borders.50

Endnotes
1. If one had the space of an entire book to dedicate to the study of spontaneity and the critique of everyday life it would be possible to preface the sociological analysis of the topic with a detailed examination of Kants third critique of reason, that is, the Critique of

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Judgement (1990). Following the somewhat rigid distinctions informing the critiques of pure (1781, 1787) and practical (1788) reason, he comes to the view that there are forms of knowledge that resist simple categorization as either arbitrarily subjective or objectively valid. For example, knowledge derived from aesthetic experience is subjective as well as objective, and bound up with a very specific rather than a supposedly timeless moment of experience. See Manfred Riedel, Urteilskraft und Vernunft: Kants ursprngliche Fragestellung, Frankfurt, 1989. Bearing in mind that Foucaults early and late work is influenced by Kant, one wonders to what extent Foucaults notion of knowledge-power, instead of knowledge versus power, results from his grappling with Kants critical philosophy. See the second section of this chapter. 2. It is clear that whether explicitly, as in the case of Arendt or implicitly, as in the case of Foucault, both thinkers are indebted to Heideggers work on ontology and indeed, Foucault links his reflections on knowledge and power with an attempt to write what he calls an ontology of the present. 3. There are many methodological problems connected with the analysis of the everyday, and it is even questionable if the sociology of everyday life is an appropriate term for the study of the tremendous range of subjective, objective, historical, socio-economic and ontological phenomena that help shape the organization of experience into subjectivity. For a sociological perspective on some of the main issues, see Melvin Pollner, Mundane Reason, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987; and Michael Lynch, Scientific Practice and Ordinary Action: Ethnomethodology and the Social Studies of Science, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, especially chapter 7. A concise and still very influential overview is offered by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality, New York, Doubleday, 1966. Much of the theoretical impetus for these and many other accounts of daily life come from the pioneering work of Alfred Schtz. For an overview of his work see Michael Natanson (ed.), Alfred Schtz: The Problem of Social Reality, Collected Papers I, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, pp. 347. 4. In a related vein one wonders why it seems to be the case that a given district of a town or city seems to become lifeless as soon as its shops close for the evening or week-end. The phenomenon often produces the impression that life withdraws or at least retreats to the private sphere once commerce concludes. This can occur when a particular form of economy is able not only to elevate its status to the only viable economic system, but becomes the decisive measure of reality in a much more general sense. For an analysis see Henri Lefebvre, La rvolution urbaine (The Urban Revolution), Paris, Anthropos, 1970; and Lefebvres La pense marxiste et la ville (Marxist Thought and the City), Paris, Anthropos, 1972. 5. Little if anything has been written on the ways in which Simmels sociology anticipates the critique of anthropological metaphysics developed by Heidegger (previous chapter) and Luhmann (next chapter). For an introduction to some of the issues involved, see Chris Thornhill, Systems Theory and Legal Theory: Luhmann, Heidegger and the False Ends of Metaphysics, in Radical Philosophy, 116 (2002), pp. 720. 6. One is thus entitled to question the approaches to the critique of everyday life generally adopted by mainstream theorists of media studies and cultural studies, many of which bracket out the critique of political economy as a somehow unrelated matter.

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7. For a basic but solid guide to several of the most important dimensions of the critique of everyday life, see Tony Bennett and Diane Watson (eds), Understanding Everyday Life, Oxford, Blackwell, 2002. Their edited collection provides introductory information about Atget (18571927), Breton (18961966), Aragon (18971982) and others which for reasons of space will be left out of the account offered in this chapter. 8. Schecter, The History of the Left from Marx to the Present, chapters 1 and 5. 9. This is a recurrent theme in Marxs writings on the Paris Commune, explored in great detail by Henri Lefebvre (190199) in his own book on the subject, La Commune de Paris (The Paris Commune), Paris, Gallimard, 1966. Lefebvres portrayal of the Commune as a radically democratic fte is taken up by Kristin Ross in The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Commune, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1988; and by Gerald Raunig in Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century, Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2007, chapter 3. The most articulate theorization of a pluralist and democratic socialist harmonization of producer, consumer and citizen relations is achieved in G. D. H. Coles Guild Socialism Re-Stated (London, Leonard Parsons, 1920). For a brilliant exposition of Coles main ideas and a convincing argument demonstrating how their implications lead well beyond Rawls ideas on justice and political liberalism, see Chris Wyatt, The Difference Principle Beyond Rawls, London, Continuum, 2008. For a very original account explaining why consumers are rarely the passive dupes of advertising that they are often made out to be, see Michel de Certeau (192586), Linvention du quotidien, I: arts de faire, and Linvention du quotidien, II: habiter, cuisiner (The Practice of Daily Life, 1980), Paris, Gallimard, 1990, of which the final pages of volume I are of particular significance for the themes in this chapter. Here de Certeau maintains that there is an irreducible difference between systemic codes and the spontaneous social action of individuals engaged in their daily lives. He remarks that if technocratic planning does succeed in parcelling social spaces and fragmenting experience, it can only do so at a relatively superficial level, leaving individuals free to invent the sense of their vie quotidienne. For two informative books that take up Lefebvre, de Certeau and a number of other thinkers relevant to the critique of daily life and instrumental reason, see John Roberts, Philosophizing the Everyday, London, Pluto, 2006; and Michael E. Gardiner, Critiques of Everyday Life, London, Routledge, 2000. 10. As seen in the previous chapter, Arendts response to the problem is that modern democracies need to be infused with a dose of republican political virtue, and that this project gets bogged down if undue attention to social inequality is allowed to impede the emergence of what she famously designates as action. Some of her criticisms of Marxism and liberalism are not without analytical and political relevance. Yet it is clear that she wants to reanimate the classical public sphere, and clear too that there are a number of serious questions concerning the historical and sociological feasibility of such a project. Theorists of everyday life tend to be sympathetic to her critique of liberalism and Marxism. But they also tend to be sociologically more sophisticated and aware of the fact that the public sphere in the sense understood by Kant and Habermas imploded with the rise of mass society, as Horkheimer and Adorno are well aware. For an analysis of the problem with Kant and Habermas in this regard which anticipates the discussion in the concluding chapter of the

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present book, see Darrow Schecter, Liberalism and the limits of Legal Legitimacy: Kant and Habermas, in Kings College Law Journal, 16 (2005), pp. 99119. It will be seen below that for the theorists considered in this chapter, the task of rejuvenating the classical political public sphere is abandoned in favour of a more nuanced and pluralist analysis of the possibilities of new forms of urban existence, aesthetic expression and epistemological experimentation. Instead of proposing the public sphere as an alternative to the mediating role performed in liberal democracies by the party system, theorists of everyday life are interested in re-articulating the relation between experience, knowledge and legitimacy. A number of their writings contain an implicit subversion of the national-populist understanding of this relation, whereby the will of the people is continually broken down into parties and subsequently recomposed on the basis of sovereign unity. That is, they challenge the tautology implied by the idea that democracy as monolithic sovereignty presupposes as well as creates the unity of the people. 11. Socialisme ou Barbarie co-founder Cornelius Castoriadis (192297) indicates that the ideal of autonomy needs to be rethought with this more comprehensive critique of appropriated experience in mind. The state-socialist example prompts Castoriadis to argue that the abolition of private property can only become a real step on the way to individual and social autonomy if accompanied by the dismantling of the division of labour and a more general deconstruction of the division between experts and non-experts. Otherwise, the problem of exploitation is displaced rather than solved, and becomes a problem of technocratic and bureaucratic domination. For Castoriadis this rethinking entails challenging existing reality principles in a plural sense that suggests that the capital/labour relation is just one of several sites of social struggle that can inhibit or on the contrary develop what he calls the social imaginary, which is a collective capacity to envisage alternative futures. A powerful synthesis of Marxism, sociology, psychoanalysis and history is achieved in his Linstitution imaginaire de la socit (The Imaginary Institution of Society), Paris, Seuil, 1975. 12. Bourdieus (19302004) studies of the field, habitus, cultural capital and symbolic power offer key contributions in this regard. For an introduction to his oeuvre see his Choses dites (Things Said), Paris, Minuit, 1987; and the collection of essays gathered by Craig Calhoun (ed.), Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, Cambridge, Polity, 1993; as well as Derek Robbins, The Work of Pierre Bourdieu, Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1991. Needless to say, Marxs influence on Gramsci and Bourdieu is difficult to overestimate. 13. Michel Henry, Marx I: une philosophie de la ralit (Marx: A Philosophy of Reality), Paris, Gallimard, 1976, pp. 103, 373, 469. 14. Marx, Preface and Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 1976, pp. 34. 15. Gramsci deploys the notion of the historic bloc in implicit rejection of schematic versions of historical materialism and base-superstructure models. For a summary see Schecter, History of the Left from Marx to the Present, chapter 2. 16. This may seem like an odd claim to those who insist that the critique of daily life begins with Lefebvres Critique of Daily Life, volume 1, originally published by Grasset in 1947, Larche in 1958, and then by Verso in 1991. In fact, however, it can be argued that the

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critique is implicit in the writings of Marx, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, the surrealists, and very explicit in the writings and agitprop of the members of the Situationist International, and in particular in the writings and films of Guy Debord (193194). See the excellent collection of excerpts from the writings of Kracauer, de Certeau, Lefebvre, Bourdieu, Debord, Trotsky and many others in Ben Highmore (ed.), The Everyday Life Reader, London, Routledge, 2002, as well as Highmores introduction to the volume. There are also a number of very illuminating articles on everyday life from a more empirical perspective in volume 42 of Sociology (2008). 17. Marx, Lohnarbeit und Kapital (Wage-Labour and Capital, 1847), Berlin, Dietz Verlag, 1998, pp. 1821. Just as oppression is rarely exercised directly, except in crisis situations or under apartheid conditions, forms of resistance which concentrate on the most visible sites of power are likely to be ineffective in challenging it. 18. Given that Keynesian solutions are unlikely to work in the twenty-first century, it might be argued that this is precisely the quandary which the governments of advanced industrial states now face. Failing the abolition of private property in the means of production and socialization of investment, that is, some form of democratic socialism, labour will inevitably be seen as a brake on the profitable expansion of capital. What capital needs and what democracy demands are once again at loggerheads. In the meantime governments are playing for time rather than stating the issues clearly, but as Benjamin suggests, the problem will not die a natural death. 19. It will be seen in the next chapter that Luhmann has a very different view of these phenomena. 20. Marx, Das Kapital (Capital, 1867), Berlin, Dietz Verlag, 1998, volume 1, pp. 85108. 21. The same can be said of the idea of false consciousness, which is quite simply a non-explanation as far as social action goes. Similarly, Althussers first attempt to solve the problem of Marxist agency is to cancel it. Thus he infamously remarks that Marxism is a theory without a subject, which constitutes a wholly inadequate response to idealism and its Marxist variants. See Pour Marx (For Marx), Paris, Maspero, 1965. 22. Simmel explicitly states that he is not out to undermine Marx, but rather to provide historical materialism with a more solid foundation. See Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money), p. 13. 23. Simmel, Die Philosophie des Geldes (The Philosophy of Money), pp. 60910, 6445. 24. Benjamin, ber die Sprache berhaupt und ber die Sprache des Menschen (On Language), in Angelus Novus, pp. 911; and Sigrid Weigel, Entstellte hnlichkeit: Walter Benjamins theoretische Schreibweise, Frankfurt, Fischer, 1997, pp. 197202. For a comprehensive study of Benjamins views on language see Winfried Mennighaus, Walter Benjamins Theorie der Sprachmagie, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1995; and Eric Jacobson, Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, New York, Columbia University Press, 2003. 25. Simmel, Soziologie (Sociology), pp. 3923. On the aesthetic dimension of Simmels sociology, see Hannes Bhringer, Die Philosophie des Geldes als sthetische Theorie, in Heinz-Jrgen Dahme and Otthein Rammstedt (eds), Georg Simmel und die Moderne, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1984, pp. 17882; and Sibylle Hbner-Funk, Die sthetische

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Konstituierung gesellschaftlicher Erkenntnis am Beispiel der Philosophie des Geldes, pp. 183201 in the same volume; as well as Ralph M. Leck, Georg Simmel and Avant-Garde Sociology, chapter 1. 26. Simmel, Schriften zur Soziologie, pp. 1319. 27. Simmel, Schriften zur Soziologie, pp. 17393; and Paschen von Flotow, Geld, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Georg Simmels Philosophie des Geldes, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1995, pp. 11654. 28. The possibility that social systems can generate knowledge independently of individual subjects will be touched on in the next chapter in the discussion of Habermas and Luhmann. 29. Simmel, Die Philosophie der Mode (The Philosophy of Fashion, 1905), in Gesamtausgabe, volume 10, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1995, pp. 357. 30. With these reflections in mind it is possible to begin to shed some light on some of the questions posed at the outset of this chapter concerning the apparent incapacity of radical critiques of liberal democracy and capitalism to dispense with existential, ontological and aesthetic arguments. The liberal democratic system tends to insulate itself from critique by presenting its particular forms of freedom and necessity as freedom and necessity full stop. To the extent that this is achieved in a series of ongoing plural processes, systems, actions and decisions, politics and the law seem to have to adjust themselves to the demands of capitalist growth rather than the other way round. In illuminating how these tendencies coalesce, however, the critique of daily life, in its many varieties, finds ways of interrupting that coalescing, that is, it disaggregates and deconstructs. 31. It is not often analysed how the Marxist-Leninist chain of representation from people-class-party-party leader, which culminates in the cult of the personality and oneparty dictatorship, is just one of many possible interpretations of the liberal democratic notion that a sovereign nation secures the autonomy of its demos by giving itself laws. 32. In the previous chapter it is explained why Arendt urges readers to understand Eichmann and the Holocaust politically as phenomena issuing from the so-called normal world of democratic politics rather than as products of a demonic world of monsters. The corollary implied by this discussion is that it is imperative to understand racism, sexism, exploitation and other phenomena in terms of legal forms of legitimacy and not as deviations from that mode of regulation. 33. This asymmetry can be broadly compared to Heideggers ontological difference and Derridas diffrance. For the purposes of this study, Foucaults conception has the great advantage of being directly relevant to a sociological analysis of the relation between knowledge and power that does not get bogged down in the problems connected to the interpretation of texts. 34. Michel Foucault, Dits et crits, II, Paris, Gallimard, 2001, pp. 10056. 35. Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir (Discipline and Punish), Paris, Gallimard, 1975, pp. 2632; and Paul Veyne, Michel Foucault: Sa pense, sa personne, Paris, Albin Michel, 2008, pp. 1357. 36. It is tempting in this context to think about Gramsci-Foucault syntheses, and to study the transition from Fordism to post-Fordism as a closing chapter in the broader history charting the transition from juridical to medical reason. This would enable one to look

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at the dynamics structuring changing forms of state and discourses of sovereignty in a way that includes political economy without a reductive overemphasis on the latter. Conversations with Arianna Bove, Nick Butler and Verena Erlenbusch on these topics have increased my understanding of the issues involved. 37. Thus in Foucaults estimation we are still only beginning to grasp the full implication of Nietzsches thought and the notion that God is dead. The real point about the death of God is the death of man as universal subject and anthropological essence. See Foucault, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, in Dits et crits I (pp. 592607, written in 1967), Paris, Gallimard, 2001, p. 596. 38. Foucaults studies of Roussel, Velazquez and Magritte are probably the best known of his aesthetic writings. It is nonetheless a biographical detail of more than passing interest that his friendships and intellectual exchanges with musicians such as Jean Barraqu and Pierre Boulez had an important role in the development of his ideas on language and knowledge. See the Magazine littraire, 435 (2004), pp. 356. 39. Whether formulated as Lebensanschauung (vision of life) or lhermneutique du sujet (hermeneutic of the subject, care of the self), there can be no doubt about the palpable influence exercised on both by Friedrich Nietzsches notion of self-overcoming. What Simmel and Foucault add to Nietzsches intuitive genius is rigorous sociological, historical and linguistic analysis. See Simmel, Lebensanschauung (Vision of Life, 1918), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1986; and Foucault, Larchologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge), Paris, Gallimard, 1969; Lhermneutique du sujet (lectures at the Collge de France, 198182), Paris, Gallimard, 2001; and Le courage de la vrit (Courage to tell the Truth, lectures at the Collge de France, 198384), Paris, Gallimard, 2009. 40. Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, Paris, Minuit, chapters 12. It might be observed in this context that like the line in the example, a dream can also move in a number of contradictory directions at once. This means that the study of dreams, as the language of the unconscious, requires an imaginative geographical cartography. Foucaults thoughts on the subject are collected in his lectures of 197374. See Le pouvoir psychiatrique (Psychiatric Power, lectures at the Collge de France in 197374), Paris, Gallimard, 2003. A number of Foucaults followers take the psychoanalytic method of making the unreadable (dreams) readable, and detach the method from the clinical practice of resocializing individuals with putatively anti-social illnesses. Gilles Deleuze (192595) and Flix Guattari (193092) show that this can be done in Capitalisme et Schizophrnie I: lanti-Oedipe (Capitalism and Schizophrenia I: Anti Oedipus), Paris, Minuit, 1973; and Capitalisme et Schizophrnie II: Mille Plateaux (Capitalism and Schizophrenia II: A Thousand Plateaus), Paris, Minuit, 1980. 41. Foucault, Naissance de la biopolitique (The Birth of Bio-Politics, lectures at the Collge de France in 197879), Paris, Gallimard, 2004, p. 22; and Scurit, territoire et population (Security, Territory and Population, lectures at the Collge de France in 197778), Paris, Gallimard, 2004, pp. 31940; and Veyne, Michel Foucault, p. 9. 42. Deleuze, Foucault, pp. 13141. See too Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka: Pour une littrature mineure, Paris, Minuit, 1975, chapter 8; and Franco Berardi Bifo, Felix: Narrazione dellincontro con il pensiero di Guattari, cartografia visionaria del tempo chi viene, Rome, Luca Sossella, 2001, pp. 714, 11136. According to this line of enquiry the question is: why

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do we see welfare mums, and so on, in the ways we do? It is not so much the question: who is likely to become a welfare mother? 43. There is no space to trace the emergence of this conception in the writings of Bodin, Hobbes, Rousseau and other early theorists of the modern state. But it is worth noting that in these philosophical reflections on the limits of toleration and the implications for minorities one can see a parallel with Arendts determination to think the Eichmann case politically rather than to criminalize Eichmann or regard National Socialism as a monster from another planet. For a comparison of their social and political theories, see Claire Edwards, Foucault and Arendt: Beyond the Social/Political, D.Phil. at the University of Sussex, forthcoming. 44. While Foucaults most systematic treatise on this subject is Larchologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge, Paris, Gallimard, 1969), his lectures at the Collge de France (cited in the preceding notes) in the 1970s and 1980s are a great source of information on his thinking in this regard. 45. Costantino Ciervo, The Perversion of Signs, Biel, dition Clandestin, 2009, pp. 305; and Patrice Maniglier, La vie nigmatique des signes, Clamecy, ditions Lo Scheer, 2006, part IV. 46. Foucault, Raymond Roussel, Paris, Gallimard, 1963, p. 203. While some interpreters lay great emphasis on Foucaults analysis of power, some of his more subtle readers direct their attention to the ideas on resistance suggested by his historical research and implied by his actual interventions in French and international politics. 47. The higher education and fashion examples raised in the discussion on Simmel would seem to support the hypothesis that real democratization as well as effective restructuring of pre-existing hierarchies is simultaneously possible, and that these phenomena are related to the asymmetry between nonc and discourse. These developments are indicative of changes in social structure that may be regarded as enhancing and restricting freedom, so that it is misleading to speak of freedom in abstract terms in the way that some analytical philosophers and theorists do. 48. See Foucault, Ceci nest pas une pipe. (This is Not a Pipe, in reference to Magrittes painting of 1929, The Betrayal of the Images), in Regine Pranger, Der Verrat der Bilder: Foucault ber Magritte, Freiburg im Breisgau, Rombach, 2001, pp. 839. Foucaults text in this bilingual French-German edition is followed by an excellent essay in German by Pranger. Foucaults essay on Magritte is available in English translation. 49. Foucault, La vrit et les formes juridiques (Truth and juridical forms, 1974), in Dits et crits I, 195475, pp. 14061513; and O est la loi, que fait la loi? (Where is the Law, What Makes the Law, 1972), included in a small collection of essays bearing the title of the main essay, La pense du dehors (Thought from the Outside, 1966), Paris, Fata Morgana, 2003, pp. 3340. 50. Foucault, Raymond Roussel, pp. 613; and Ni lun, ni lautre (Neither One or the Other, 1966), included in La pense du dehors, pp. 5860.

6
From Rationalization to Communicative Action: The Emergence of the Habermasian Paradigm
The social and political thought of Jrgen Habermas can be seen as an attempt to reground social theory in light of the critique of instrumental reason developed by the thinkers examined in the previous chapters. His work represents a more moderate response to the phenomenon first systematically analysed by Max Weber than those offered by Lukcs, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Heidegger, Arendt and Foucault. A more moderate response does not mean a less rigorous response in this case, such that it is fair to say that the Habermasian paradigm poses serious challenges to the thinkers looked at so far. Whether as prolific social theorist, university professor or engaged public person, Habermas insists that Webers concept of rationalization is too one-sided and therefore to a considerable extent obsolete. According to this interpretation the rationalization and disenchantment theses are part of the epistemological dead weight that the idealist tradition in Germany passes on to Marx and then Weber, though of course Habermas also sees a marked Nietzschean dimension in Weber. Habermas maintains that Weber forfeits the potential explanatory capacity of his ideas on rationalization by seeing it at work everywhere, such that it becomes a kind of sociologically refracted cultural pessimism rather than sociology proper. One of his central claims is that many of the most damaging methodological problems in the work of Marx and Weber are integrated into the main body of ideas of the first generation of critical theorists, and that these problems can also be found, in different guises, in the ontological, republican and post-structural critiques
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of instrumental reason. Hence from early on in his theoretical trajectory he sets out to theorize action in the rigorously interactive and social terms demanded by the linguistic turn of social and political referred to at the end of the first volume of the Theory of Communicative Action.1 His counter-thesis is that although instrumental reason does indeed shape some of the steering mechanisms operative in modern industrial societies especially those processes propelled by money and power these societies are also capable of generating, and indeed must generate forms of communicative rationality which enable them to deal with social complexity in ways that also facilitate integrative participation. That is, while instrumental rationality in practice tends to marginalize, exploit and coercively reconcile, communicative rationality enables the citizens of modern states to reach understandings on political principles and, moreover, these understandings are not strategic compromises reducible to the zero-sum adjudication of socio-economic conflicts. He thus seeks to establish the reality of non-instrumental communication against what he regards to be the implicit irrationalism that post-structuralist thinkers like Foucault allegedly pick up from Nietzsche. At the same time, while striving to address the sociological deficit in first generation critical theory, he refuses to endorse the implicit post-normativity of systems theory advocates like Luhmann.2 As in the case of Foucault, the dialectic of marginalization and integration ceases to be a contradiction. For Habermas this is not because of the dialectical reality of paradox, but rather because reason is not identical to itself. Somewhat like Geist, reason is internally differentiated, such that while some forms of institutionalized reason marginalize, others integrate and reconcile on a non-coercive basis. The project of reconceptualizing reason takes Habermas from Kant and Arendts reflections on the public sphere to the sociology of Durkheim and Mead, and from there to universal pragmatics and the legal theory articulated in the Theory of Communicative Action and in Between Facts and Norms (Faktizitt und Geltung, 1992). This is an appropriate way to introduce the concluding chapter of this book, for if Webers theory of rationalization is radicalized and interpreted in very different ways by all of the theorists looked at in Chapters 15, Habermas seeks to re-articulate what he calls the unfinished project of modernity by defending a significantly modified version of the Enlightenment concept of reason. The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas attempts to provide a helpful exegetical account of the emergence of the Weberian paradigm and its theoretical aftermath in the writings of the thinkers discussed. The more ambitious intent of the present book is to shed light on

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the relations between the critique of a particular form of reason that one can broadly follow Weber in designating as instrumental, and the forms of legality and legitimacy associated with that specific instantiation of rationality. Habermas interpretation of Kants ideas on the public sphere offers a good point of departure for the final chapter, since it is here that he grapples with a central theoretical and practical political problem: how does one criticize liberal notions of universal legality and rational legitimacy, without embracing irrational and communitarian versions of legitimacy, on the one hand, or merely settling for redistributive measures to settle the problem of social order, relying mainly on administrative and technical reforms, on the other? Habermas is not a liberal, communitarian or social democrat in any straightforward sense. Hence his reflections on this question mark an attempt to stake out original terrain of potentially great importance. Whereas Kant before him seeks to rescue epistemology from the dead-ends of empiricism and rationalism, Habermas is determined to rescue social scientific methodology from what he finds inadequate in first generation critical theory, Marxism, and systems theory. This leads him to adopt a number of different positions vis--vis liberalism depending on the book he is writing and the historical period in which it is written.3 He is at times critical of liberalism in so far as it sacrifices the possibility of rational legitimacy to the socio-economic needs of powerful private interests. But at other times he is unequivocally apologetic of liberal democracy to the extent that he sees it as the only possible institutional means capable of salvaging what remains truly revolutionary in liberal doctrine: it champions the idea that government authority should be based on deliberation and discursively mediated consensus rather than tradition, more or less harmonious aggregation of interest, constituent sovereign power, or the expedient requirements of functional order. Hence his writings intimate that although one can criticize liberalism from a Marxist or assorted other standpoints, it is nonetheless ascendant liberalisms original claims that must be made good in order to redeem the promise of Enlightenment and modernity. Hence a brief word about the political claims of liberalism will be useful in order to introduce the discussion of Habermas ideas on Kant, the public sphere and the life-world.4 Liberalism would seem to have a virtual theoretical monopoly on political reason, which it articulates in terms of legality and legitimacy. It is suggested in the previous chapter that bodies of thought which set out to critique liberalism often seem to be attacking reason altogether or, what amounts to something very similar from a liberal perspective, seem to demand the institutionalization of higher, more substantial forms of reason and solidarity, that is, forms of reason for whose implementation

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the socio-economic, political and juridical conditions are not available. Hence from an enlightened liberal perspective, notions of a general will or the withering away of the state may be brilliant ideas, but the conditions for anything other than authoritarian and totalitarian versions of them are not realizable. They are not bad ideas, as such, but impossible ideals which seek to go beyond what reason, which is limited in its claims and capacities, permits. For thinkers in the liberal tradition such as Kant, there is a clear distinction between the universal claims of reason formulated by ethically minded, private adult citizens, and positive legal public authority. For Kant, the private individual has a rational will with which he is capable of formulating self-legislative maxims indicating universal principles of morally irreproachable conduct. These maxims touch upon private matters of conscience, and are thus not enforceable by public institutions. Positive laws are enforceable by the state because they regulate external behaviour rather than individual ethical choice. Many liberals after Kant suggest that when a person violates the law, s/he infringes someone elses liberty in a way that is fundamentally asymmetrical to the neglect to perform an ethical duty. The former is punishable, whereas the latter is not. That is, liberals tend to maintain that if the positive laws of the state were to dictate the terms of individual ethical duty, individual liberty would quickly disappear. The consequence is that duty, individual morality and conscience cannot be immediately conflated with government law and the demands of public order. Hence while liberals seem consistently to prioritize legality as the sole source of legitimacy (what Rawls refers to as the priority of the right before the good), it has just been seen that the liberal democratic legality/ legitimacy dichotomy is also a legality/legality fusion to the extent that legality is the sole source of legitimacy. This is a matter of ambiguity about which there will be more to say in relation to Between Facts and Norms in the second section of this chapter. For now it can be noted that the legality/ legitimacy dichotomy-fusion is accompanied by a set of further dichotomies in liberal thought which include theory/practice, ethics/politics and private/public, that is, what Lukcs derides as the antinomies of bourgeois thought.5 The elaboration of these distinctions serves the purpose of preventing the unification of discrete spheres whose coerced reconciliation would inevitably lead to authoritarianism or paternalism in practice. The argument is that if the institutions of political authority in a given regime are applauded as ethical and political in equal measure, ethics would dissolve as a theory with which one might critique existing policies.6 Kant sees that leaving matters as such is inadequate, for if ethics and politics are irremediably kept apart, the law is likely to be devoid of ethicalepistemological content, and the citizen has little in the way of compelling

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motivation to obey the state. The parallel is the Hobbesian converse: once established, state authority need not be too concerned with citizens rights. Kant wants to refute Hobbes, though without, crucially, fusing the discrete terms characteristic of liberal democratic thought, and without unifying the actual spheres of social life that are only partially mediated in actual liberal democratic practice. Kant sees the possibility of a solution in a public sphere mediating between private and ethical individuals (internalized moral law), and the political authority of government (external regulatory law). It is the possibility of this mediation, initially inspired by his reading of Kant, which Habermas takes up in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Although the conclusions of that early work of sociohistorical theory are cautious and some might even say quite pessimistic, Habermas never really abandons the claim that legitimate government in modern societies is underpinned by a non-instrumentally rational mediation of private-individual interests and public-political authority. In his early writings he emphasizes that failing this rational mediation, one has something much more closely approximating Weberian rationalization than rational authority. In this chapter it will be seen that with the publication of Between Facts and Norms in 1992, Habermas jettisons his early scepticism about the capacity of modern industrial societies continually to renew and update their normative bases. Normative renewal in this context means citizen capacity to reach consent and agreement about the laws they choose to govern their lives. This takes him from Kant and to a certain extent Arendts theory of the public sphere, to a theory of the life-world indebted to Husserl and sociological phenomenology, and from there to a qualified celebration of the legal state.7

From the Public Sphere to the Life-World


Kant maintains that while individual private citizens are likely to be ignorant of public affairs and political matters, the members of a public constituted by an independent assembly of citizens are capable of mutually enlightening themselves through informed discussion and critical debate. Two principles inform Kants ideas on a critical public mediating between morally autonomous individuals and the state. First, and foreshadowing Habermas notion of the ideal speech situation, the individuals comprising the public are endowed with a rational will which is independent of all empirically existing institutions and experience.8 In Kants formulation, in order for the will to be autonomous, it must constitute itself in abstraction from socio-economic and political macro-realities, and in abstraction from

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emotions, impulses, drives, needs and other historically conditioned micro-realities as well. Kants point is that everyone has different needs and a different conception of happiness. Hence demands to satisfy claims made in the name of needs and happiness are non-rational and, by extension, extra-legal: states entrusted with satisfying such claims act beyond the scope of what is rationally possible and legally universal.9 Second, and foreshadowing Habermas partial assimilation of some of the key tenets of systems theory in the Theory of Communicative Action period, the critical reasoning and debate of an assembly of rational wills must take place in a sphere of freedom, that is, not in a workplace, laboratory or other context where a chain of command organized to solve technical tasks is more appropriate than an assembly of equals. Kant openly excludes women, children and salaried workers from the public sphere because of their supposed lack of autonomy. In his estimation they are emotionally and economically dependent, which means that if allowed to participate in public affairs, they are likely to embrace a politics of irrational need rather than a juridical politics of freedom and rational cognition. If this happens, law is deprived of its epistemological dimension at the same time that the transcendence of natural and mechanical necessity is forfeited. The economically independent, rational men in Kants public sphere are impartial ethical individuals who mediate between themselves and political authority by formulating principles in open arenas of the public sphere. These discursively redeemed principles serve the purpose of confronting the representatives of political authority and positive law with ethically informed universal claims that legitimate authority cannot ignore. In principle these claims should require positivized, formal law to adjust its contents, thus reconciling order and substantive reason. Hobbes is therefore refuted in the same stroke that safeguards individual autonomy and moral obligation.10 But what happens if public authority refuses to adjust the content of law-making to the truths of discursive rationality? Habermas, writing in the early 1970s and taking his cue from Kant, argues that a legitimacy crisis ensues. The claim intrinsic to Habermas attempt to update Kant is that in modern states it is not so much a crisis concerning the distribution of wealth, status, security or other phenomena which can be administratively or technically supplied. It is a crisis of the autonomy of reason and the epistemological integrity of law. When forms of law are out of step with the truth content of reason, law forfeits the cognitive dimension that separates modern law from more antiquated and arbitrary instances of Diktat, privilege and tradition. From the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment vantage point championed by liberalism, these forms of domination should

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really be part of the past, and indeed, Kant believes that as the process of Enlightenment unfolds, substantive rationality and formal legality will harmonize to an increasingly greater extent, thus obviating the need for populist forms of legitimacy, civil disobedience and revolution. In An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?, Kant intimates that where the law is underwritten by the cognitive content of reason, politics ceases to be the domain of power, privilege and ideological mendacity. In the discursively redeemed speech claims of rational, ethically oriented individuals in the public sphere, the promise of Enlightenment is redeemed, and, in consequence, humanity need not live in fear of the whims of despots any longer.11 Central to the argument developed in the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and subsequent works is that rather than representing a liberal utopia of political harmony secured under ideal conditions that never present themselves, Kants views on the public sphere reflect a sociologically grounded possibility exhibited, to differing degrees, by actual tendencies in early modern industrial societies. Habermas considers it to be historically documented that traditional ecclesiastical and aristocratic political authority was being challenged by theoretically sophisticated articulations of public opinion in coffee houses, universities, newspapers, and the then gentry-dominated citizen associations preceding the emergence of modern political parties. In chapter 4, section 13 of the Structural Transformation, Habermas outlines Kants theory of the public sphere, noting that it is central to Kants argument that it is the task of the public sphere to harmonize the claims of morality and reason with those of law and politics.12 It is clear from the text that Habermas has much normative sympathy with the ideal of rational political legitimacy, and clear too that he has a firm scholarly conviction that, to paraphrase Marx, humanity only poses itself questions for which the solutions are immanently feasible. This is to say that in contrast to the abstract, ahistorical approach adopted by analytical philosophers such as Rawls, Habermas seeks to ground his normative claims sociologically, which he initially does with historical documentation and sociological theory. His later work supplements historical and sociological analysis with cognitive psychology, linguistics and legal theory.13 The major question raised in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is whether or not modern capitalist economies and extra-economic public spheres can peacefully coexist, or if, on the contrary, there is a marked tendency for the logic of commodity production to extend its jurisdiction into the cultural, political and aesthetic spheres of communication and

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interpersonal understanding. This is a fairly important query, since the status of the normative bases of the state is at stake. Since the young Marxs critique of Hegels theory of the modern state there has been much debate and real upheaval concerning the respective roles of economy and polity in the generation and resolution of social conflict. While it is very improbable that the state is nothing other than an executive committee for managing the affairs of the entire bourgeoisie, as Marx quips in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, it is also doubtful that the supposed political universality of citizenship, which in theory does not recognize differences of race, religion, class and other social factors, is not affected by patterns of property ownership or the systemic requirements of industrial production. Mainstream liberal theorists tend to insist on the autonomy of politics from economics (insisting too, to varying degrees, on the primacy of privateindividual rights over public-political rights), while Marxists question the degree to which there can be real political autonomy from socio-economic realities. Like Arendt before him, therefore, Habermas suggests that both liberal and Marxist approaches are flawed. He argues that in their legal institutions and public spheres, early modern societies have an historically unique capacity to generate discursive understanding of conflict. The reflexivity induced by this reasoning makes the loci of conflict transparent, and, under ideal conditions, susceptible to critique and reform, thus echoing the Kantian claim that revolution and civil disobedience should in principle become superfluous. Central to the structural transformation thesis is the claim that this capacity is forfeited if the spheres and institutions necessary for consensus are undermined by systemic processes of a bureaucratic and technical stamp. Hence while the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is neither liberal nor Marxist, it leans towards a modified Marxist account of how the liberal dimension of liberal democracy can be undermined by capitalism.14 This contributes to the originality and unusualness of the book: a Kantian-Weberian-Marxist argument is deployed in order to critique the actual functioning of liberal democratic states as part of a defence of liberal ideals. Its author is committed to the postulate that rational agreement rather than bourgeois or working class power should be the basis of political legitimacy, and that modernity offers an unprecedented and non-ideological possibility of converting that should into an is. To this extent one discerns not merely the influence of Kant, Weber and Marx. Habermas is also guided by Tocquevilles intuition that some form of democracy is going to accompany the transition from feudal-agrarian to industrial society. Hence the real question is not democracy versus some other form of government. Habermas follows

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Tocqueville in asking: will it be a liberal or a despotic form of democracy? Since both are conceivable and indeed possible, much is at stake depending on the robustness of the institutions mediating between private (commercial) and public (republican) forms of liberty. Tocquevilles stress on the importance of corps intermdiares is echoed in some of Habermas reflections on the public sphere. Moreover, Hegels influence is evident in the immanent dialectical methodology which stipulates that the solutions to normative ought questions (Sollen, later Geltung) are to be sought in the is realities (Sein, later Faktizitt), that is, already existing institutions offer the key to reconciling what can and what should be done.15 The thesis of structural transformations and transitions has a history within critical theory that needs brief attention in order fully to understand Habermas contribution to social and political theory and to appreciate what may be considered his departure from critical theory. In 1941 Institute for Social Research member Friedrich Pollock (18941970) attempted to theorize the transition from free market to late (sometimes also called state) capitalism, explaining that late capitalism introduces planning to coordinate supply and demand, though without thereby becoming a system of production based on the satisfaction of human needs or the desire for creative work. State capitalism is thus not state socialism on the Soviet model, and certainly not libertarian socialism as Marx had envisaged when discussing human as opposed to merely political emancipation. Late capitalism can be characterized instead as an attempt to anticipate and forestall demands for political control of the economy by stabilizing economic processes through managerial planning rather than democratic participation in key decisions about production and investment.16 Pollocks ideas on the correlations between determinate stages in the evolution of capitalism and structural changes in forms of law and state are developed with great analytical precision by two legal theorists associated with the Institute for Social Research briefly touched upon in Chapter 3, Otto Kirchheimer (190565) and Franz Neumann (190054). In Changes in the Structure of Political Compromise, also of 1941, Kirchheimer shows that under late capitalism, the state executive is restructured so that it can perform key planning functions neglected by the market but nonetheless necessary to ensure the predominance of market relations in the economy and, crucially, in the polity as well. Kirchheimer develops what one might call a juridical socialism which, like Pollocks, parts with mechanical notions of base and superstructure, though without embracing the thesis that the political system and the economic system function independently in industrial society. Part of his argument, which anticipates the colonization

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of the life-world thesis developed by Habermas in Legitimation Crisis, is that the political restructuring of capitalist social relations can occur because of a subjective factor related to class consciousness and culture, and an objective factor regarding systemic features of capitalist production. Whereas the subjective factor contributes to a stalemate in the class struggle which creates possibilities for authoritarian intervention in the economy and repressive apparatuses of the state, the objective factor results in overproduction crises requiring Keynesian reform. Kirchheimer reckons that it is possible to safeguard the integrity of law as a barometer of human freedom against the tendency for it to become a tool of class oppression when undermined by organized private interests. This however depends, from a specific moment in the democratization process set in motion by 1789 and 1848, on a transition from socially created wealth that is privately appropriated, to a new mode of production which ensures that the juridical mediation of humanity and nature first sheds its class, and then eventually its bureaucratic character as well.17 The implementation of Keynesian stop-gap measures tends to expand the role of the state executive at the expense of the legislature. This helps undermine the democratic bases of the state, thus pointing the way to more or less authoritarian forms of corporatism. The key point made by Kirchheimer which is taken up by Habermas in the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and then again in Legitimation Crisis is that the move from market to late capitalism is accompanied by the transition from the potential of rational and ethical law to the reality of government by command and decree. This development is of course most obvious in the transition from parliamentary democracy to fascism. But that very spectacular and visible collapse of the liberal dimension of liberal democracy points the way towards an ostensibly more benign phenomenon with related origins, which is the blurring of the public/private divisions in post-World War II consumer-welfare capitalism analysed by Arendt. While Arendt stresses the demise of politics in her Aristotelian-republican sense that this blurring brings in its wake, Kirchheimer points out the inevitable conflict between the possible transition from socially created wealth that is privately appropriated to socially created wealth that is socially appropriated, on the one hand, and the thwarting of that democratic and pluralist possibility by various attempts to insulate the prerogatives of capital from legal-rational critique, on the other. What unites Arendt and Kirchheimers otherwise very different standpoints is the observation that at first glance fascist and authoritarian corporatism more generally seems to be the problem of interwar Europe. Yet a closer look suggests that there is a more

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fundamental clash between the imperatives of critical reason and those of capitalism which is not easily patched up by staging a return to forms of state which correspond to earlier, now outdated models of equilibrium between class structure, mode of production and mode of political compromise. Historically stable liberal democratic states may well manage to manoeuvre past the authoritarian transition to a new mode of political compromise in the 1920s and 1930s, but the transition will eventually have to be made in some form, as the institutions of bourgeois ascendancy, such as the public sphere, evolve into those of bourgeois maturity and mass electorates. Hence in Kirchheimers view one must update Tocquevilles question about democracy as follows: will it be a juridical socialist or a despotic form of democracy?18 Kirchheimer explains that in looking at the history of European states from 1848 to the National Socialist victory of 1933, one sees that steadily enhanced degrees of political enfranchisement are paralleled by very uneven patterns of social enfranchisement and disenfranchisement. Political equality becomes a lever to pursue social equality, but this movement is halted to varying extents by private ownership of the means of production. Each state is faced with the choice of either socializing private socioeconomic rights in order to secure democratic legitimacy, or of enforcing liberal legitimacy by curtailing and in some cases banning democratic rights of citizenship. If the latter choice is enacted, liberal democracy mutates into something palpably more authoritarian. In Changes in the Function of Law in Modern Society, published in the Journal for Social Research four years prior to Kirchheimers article, Neumann explores the modalities of political transformation in relation to changes in the capitalist economy and industrial society, and suggests that the idea of law as an example of the collective rational will of the citizenry is bound up with a particular account of the origins and sources of secular authority, and that such accounts vary with national context. It is clear to him that the sources of authority evolve in history in conjunction with church-state relations, in a first time, and in conjunction with capital-state relations, in a second. The conflicts ensuing from changing church-state and capital-state relations are different depending on a variety of historical and constitutional factors shaping the origins and development of each states path to industrialization, and the specific kind of democracy that it adopts. One of the lessons to be drawn from the history of the Weimar Republic is that democracy in anything more than a formal sense requires a significant degree of pre-established social harmony and agreement about the rationality of fundamental institutions, such that it cannot be supposed that democracy

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will produce such stability, that is, it is a political form of government that is dependent on a number of extra-governmental factors, as Montesquieu was well aware. The structure of markets, social classes and public/private mediations is of course key.19 Neumann shows that liberals too often assume that it is the role of the state to create a legal framework for the protection of private interests. The parallel assumption is that the play of private interests produces public liberty and democracy in the manner of an almost accidental by-product. For Neumann freedom and democracy are terms referring to the rights and real capacity of citizens to make collective decisions and to participate in public life as equals. Equality in this republican and deliberative sense is undermined by attempts to foil the logic of inclusive democratic enfranchisement by re-forming economic and political processes so that capital is continually reallocated the privilege to control the labour process, albeit on new bases, in ways that are exempt from accountability. On this rather accurate reading it is ideological to separate questions of reason and legitimacy from questions of freedom, political equality, democracy and economic organization. Neumann intimates that political legitimacy in modern societies can be secured by the discursive content of collective decisions made by an informed citizenry which is actively involved in the ongoing construction of representative institutions, in which case it is indeed possible to speak about rational political freedom. If by contrast legitimacy is pragmatically manipulated by charismatic leaders allied with powerful extra-parliamentary private interests, as in the Weimar case and well beyond, one is really talking about instrumental legitimacy. At the risk of some simplification, one could say Neumann signals a clash between two very distinct notions of freedom. One conception demands that the state do little more than establish, and when necessary modify the framework regulating the competition of private interests. In this case the mediation of humanity and nature is driven by the logic of capital accumulation and profit, and the modalities of natural and predatory freedom are preserved rather than cancelled. The other conception envisages collective decision-making and citizen participation. Here the mediation processes are more centrally reliant on communication and forms of agreement which also consider the plurality of needs and perspectives operative in modern societies. This raises a recurrent question in the writings of Kirchheimer and Neumann that Habermas has had to face throughout his career: are liberalism and liberal democracy inextricably bound up with the predominance of private interests over general interests in modern industrial societies, or might there be a way of uniting liberal, republican

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and socialist tenets into a coherent alternative to liberalism, corporatist social democracy and state socialism? While Kirchheimer and Neumann are very clear as regards their respective positions in response, it will be seen that Habermas answer is considerably less clear.20 Habermas early work is quite markedly influenced by his readings of Arendt, Kirchheimer and Neumann and their variously formulated conception of republican action and juridical politics. It is marked too by Horkheimer and Adorno, for whom he worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. Needless to say he is also very well acquainted with the German idealist tradition, Nietzsche and Freud, and the sociology of Marx, Durkheim and Weber as well. It is clear that the author of the Structural Transformation and Legitimation Crisis has much sympathy with the ideas of Arendt, Kirchheimer and Neumann, and what one might call their strong conception of politics and a positive conception of freedom. In his writings immediately after Legitimation Crisis, however, one detects a kind of Hegelian doubt about the possibility of eliminating instrumental rationality and institutionalized private interest from civil society. The allusion to Hegel is appropriate because like the author of the Philosophy of Right, Habermas begins to argue that what liberals, Marxists avant la lettre and political republicans in different ways all overlook is that there is much more going on in civil society than systematic exploitation and the contractually mediated pursuit of individual gain. Habermas at times conflates public sphere, civil society and lifeworld, and at other times seems to suggest that they refer to distinct institutional realities.21 In any case he follows Hegel in general terms by maintaining that modern societies generate pre-government level forms of agreement and understanding that are not simply reducible to strategic compromise. But Habermas goes well beyond Hegels modest claims for the forms of reason operative in the public sphere and civil society by arguing that modern states cannot successfully cope with social differentiation and complexity without such interaction and the symbolic meanings they transmit and sustain.22 Hence a brief word about the role of interaction in the argument developed in Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) will serve as a good introduction to the discussion of the roles played by communication and the life-world in the Theory of Communicative Action. Along with Structural Transformation and Legitimation Crisis, Knowledge and Human Interests is a key work on the road to the Theory of Communicative Action. In Knowledge and Human Interests Habermas introduces the distinction between labour and interaction, which prefigures the distinction between system and life-world appearing in later works.

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It is somewhat curious that he does not explicitly refer to Arendt or the distinction between labour, work and action developed in the Human Condition (1957). It will be recalled that Arendt regards action as the selfdisclosure of individual citizens who appear in the public sphere as non-identical equals. Action for her is thus plural, open-ended, political and indicative of a specifically human capacity to transcend the more limited modes of freedom connected with labour and work. Labour and work are more circumscribed because they are more closely bound to life and the life-cycle with its inevitable beginning, unfolding and end. There is on the contrary nothing inevitable about the outcomes of action. This is because action transpires in the world, where humans rather than causally determined nature are the originators of new beginnings. Central to her view of the world and the place of action within it is the view that each individual acts in a way that is unique. Transcendence of the processes governing the life-cycle is thus not predicated on or synonymous with material abundance or technological prowess, which is why the ancient Greeks understood the distinction between worldly political action and vital economic growth in agriculture. Hence Arendt and Habermas make important claims for what one might call subsystemic politics, or politics considered independently from the dynamics of money and power, bearing in mind that prior to Between Facts and Norms, Habermas is more likely to use the terms interaction and communication than politics as such. While for Arendt politics creates spaces where uniqueness and singularity of perspective can be sustained in spontaneous and unpredictable ways that reveal fundamental aspects of the human condition, Habermas submits that the specifically human capacity exhibited in interaction and communication results in understanding and agreement. Thus although they agree on the fundamental importance of the human faculty of speech, Arendts emphasis on pluralist politics and open-ended deeds is somewhat distinct from Habermas stress on discursive consensus. Corresponding to this difference is Arendts generally disparaging view of society and social behaviour, which she construes as conformist for the most part, and Habermas attempt to develop a theory of social action and an account of societal evolution which he finds missing in liberalism, Weber and Marxism. If Arendt never strays too far from her version of Aristotelian republicanism, Habermas encounter with Anglo-American pragmatism and developmental psychology in Knowledge and Human Interests prompts him to seek paths beyond philosophical idealism, historical materialism and, it can be argued, away from the particular kind of critical theory

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represented by the main ideas of Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse.23 Although he never abandons the Kantian dimension of his thinking, which insists that substantive agreement constitute at least some essential part of legitimate authority, he supplements this political dimension with a sociological dimension oriented towards the explanation of social action in the life-world. Hence in the transition from Structural Transformation to Knowledge and Human Interests one can discern two shifts in emphasis. The first is that from an ethically grounded notion of politics in the public sphere to a more sociologically grounded conception of interaction in the life-world; the second is the evolution from critical theory to communicative theory. In making the distinction between labour and interaction in Knowledge and Human Interests Habermas broadly follows Arendts critique of the centrality of labour in Marx. For Arendt and Habermas the labour process represents a fundamental aspect of the mediation between humanity and nature as this is institutionalized in scientific research, modes of production, technological innovation and forms of property (and the therewith resulting dynamics of social power and bureaucratic domination). In Arendts estimation, the scope for political equality and Aristotelianrepublican action in labour and work related activities is minimal for reasons that she derives in large measure from Heideggers distinction between ontic and ontological realities: work and labour are concerned with the manipulation of things according to means/ends processes which, under conditions of industrial production and technology fetishism, turn into ends in themselves. If for Heidegger this encourages forgetfulness of being, for Arendt it signals the degradation of politics and the public sphere at the expense of private, technical and social issues. Social issues are not really public and political in her estimation, so much as they are collectivized private interests that manage to colonize the public sphere. Hence in her view it is fruitless to try to explain the absence of socialist revolution in terms of false consciousness, cultural hegemony, private control of the means of production, and so on, because work and labour are ontologically unsuited to what she calls action. That is, no matter how one chooses to organize production, it will always be governed by instrumental criteria deriving from the fact that in working and labouring humanity is still in close proximity to nature, mechanical causality and the battle with scarcity. It is therefore pointless to try to undermine the division of labour in a field of endeavour that cannot function without it. Revolutions, in her view, are thus political rather than socio-economic and, according to her very unique utopianism, spontaneous rather than party led.24 In Knowledge and Human

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Interests Habermas echoes this view by reminding readers that no matter how one organizes the labour process, it is not a sphere of dialogue, communication or mutual understanding. It is a sphere of technological transformation, instrumental rationality and, perhaps unfortunately, of command.25 Habermas interaction represents a sociological equivalent of Arendts action, though with the notable difference that interaction produces forms of non-technological knowledge and agreement rather than acts of irreproducible singularity. In making this argument Habermas follows Diltheys hermeneutic distinction between the human and natural sciences and C. S. Peirces (18391914) theory of pragmatic reason. Whereas Arendt refers to the ontological difference between labour, work and interaction, in Knowledge and Human Interests Habermas borrows Husserls use of the term transcendental to explain the categorical difference between the natural sciences, which generate technical interests in accordance with the dictates of monologic reason and classificatory knowledge, and the human sciences. The human sciences generate practical knowledge as well as emancipatory interests on the basis of hermeneutic knowledge and dialogue that is not only oriented towards agreement, but in principle is receptive to radical otherness as well.26 Within this framework practical interest mediates between technical knowledge and emancipatory knowledge. It is in the context of these fundamental distinctions that Habermas defends the university as an institution capable of facilitating communication between different socio-economic and political spheres, which he suggests it does by furnishing the bases of critical social science and developing institutionalized modernist reflexivity more generally. This position constitutes a critique of Marx which, as in Structural Transformation, also adopts certain aspects of a Marxist critique of liberal democracy. It is also an implicit critique of Adorno which nonetheless acknowledges the potential danger (as opposed to stifling omnipresence) of rampant instrumental reason. Hence in Knowledge and Human Interests one discerns the initial formulation of Habermas mature work. The apparently rigid dichotomies between political and human emancipation (Marx), private and public spheres (Arendt), as well as that between instrumental reason and mimetic reason (Adorno) are deconstructed. What emerges is the thesis that a third term with roots in the reality of everyday life in society interaction can and to varying extents does perform important mediating functions between technical, practical, communicative and emancipatory forms of knowledge and the discrete but ultimately connected interests pertaining to the form of knowledge in question.27

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Yet the early Habermas does not depart so far from Kirchheimer and Neumann as to say that the mediation processes are always smooth. Indeed, as the latent crisis tendencies of industrial societies became more pronounced in the early 1970s (in some ways reminiscent of the situation at the time of this writing), he was compelled, however provisionally, to revise at least the emphasis of his argument. While continuing to insist on the different logics obtaining in the natural and human sciences, he also becomes aware of the fact that he would be abandoning critical theory altogether by construing the relation between work and interaction as spontaneously self-regulating. This would have placed him rather close to the postulates of sociological positivism and systems theory. By extension, it would also place him close to the argument that political legitimation in modern societies can dispense with active citizen input, that is, that legitimacy and stability are synonymous. In Legitimation Crisis the argument in Structural Transformation is slightly modified to explain the dysfunctional dynamics unleashed by flawed mediation processes. These pathological processes become palpably visible when the life-world, which takes over the centrality enjoyed by the public sphere played in earlier books, is colonized by technological and instrumental imperatives stemming from the capitalist economy and state bureaucracies. The argument developed in Legitimation Crisis is that colonization in the sense used here occurs when the channels between technical knowledge and hermeneutic knowledge become blocked. One may regard this as a sociologically informed modification of the Neumann-Kirchheimer thesis that law is transformed into decree if juridical institutions are hijacked by private economic concerns, in which case legal universality and general interests are hijacked by executive fiat and particular interests. While technical knowledge is bound up with instrumental reason and power, which in institutional terms constitute what Habermas from the 1970s onwards refers to as the system (rather than merely work, as in Knowledge and Human Interests), hermeneutic knowledge is linked with communicative reason and understanding, which are firmly anchored in the life-world of speech, interaction and socialization. He submits that it is the distinguishing feature of modern societies that instrumental and communicative reason can coexist and indeed must coexist if there is going to be anything like non-instrumental legitimacy. His claim is that there is evidence that they can coexist because science, industry and progress in a technological sense have placed external nature at the disposition of humanity. This means that from a determinate moment in the history of the unfolding of humanitys productive forces, which one might locate with the scientific and industrial revolutions, it becomes

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objectively possible to overcome institutionalized material scarcity, that is, poverty and entrenched stratification. In a series of parallel but also distinct developments, and in anticipation of the argument developed in far more detail in the Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas points out that the secularization of authority that accompanies the development of science and technology leads to changes in the relationship between humanity and inner, human nature. Habermas insists that these changes require an extensive revision of Webers rationalization thesis. Webers thesis needs correction because from a similarly determinate moment, which one might locate with the Enlightenment and modernity, it becomes objectively possible to overcome the ideological justification of power relations in favour of more transparent and therefore democratic ones. This marks a sharp departure from the line of thinking pursued by Horkheimer and Adorno in the Dialectic of Enlightenment. As seen in Chapter 3, they reckon that mastery of external nature always also entails, to varying extents, the oppression of inner human nature.28 Against the founders of critical theory, Habermas counters that the possibilities of overcoming material scarcity and political oppression are objective on distinct grounds, and that these grounds are not clearly distinguished by Marx, Weber or the first generation of Frankfurt School philosophers. Whereas the technical progress in question can be obtained on the basis of instrumental reason, the interactive progress cannot. Science and rationalized religions such as Protestantism have eroded forms of political and cultural integration based on faith, tradition and ritual; this has indeed resulted in a certain amount of disenchantment and what Benjamin analyses in terms of the crisis of aura. But the norms governing social and political relations are now scrutinized and subjected to deliberation and debate in public fora.29 The central thesis of Legitimation Crisis is that the potential twofold capacity of humanity to adapt and adjust to external natural necessity and internal natural particularity can be forfeited. It is obscured when the instances of instrumental reason governing the systemic processes leading to the mastery of scarcity detach themselves from the communicative reason that alone is capable of formulating norms, or, stated slightly differently and in apparent opposition to Luhmann, systems will not automatically steer themselves without conscious political intervention, dialogue and eventual agreement over ends.30 According to the thesis developed in Legitimation Crisis, the problems connected with the colonization of the life-world and the transformation of law into decree are not immediately attributable to the phenomena of capital and class, nor are they directly attributable to social differentiation

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and complexity. The problems in question are also not simply matters of contingency. They issue from what Habermas calls the system. Within his explanatory framework this means that in theoretical terms they result from an excess of systemic reason over life-world reason. In practical terms it results in the mutation of parliamentary democracy into a form of government which is more suited to providing predictability and stability than democracy and liberty corporatism. The corporatist by-passing of the legislature through extra-parliamentary agreements, combined with compensatory palliatives of the Welfare State, attest to the fact that in post1968 North America and Western Europe, and especially in the Federal Republic of West Germany, pre-modern modes of political integration are no longer viable, and modern ones have not yet fully developed.31 In Habermas estimation, the modern industrial democracies of the postWorld War II period are confronted with an extremely difficult but ultimately resolvable task. They cannot simply decry the blurring of private and public and the concomitant rise of the social, nor can they attempt to subject the economy to democratic control. The first pseudo-option ignores the facticity of society and social complexity; the second would be tantamount to authoritarian steering. Hence the communicative channels between life-world and system must be unblocked in order to act on the reality that collective learning and socialization can and to a considerable extent have in practice kept pace with technological innovation and industrial growth. The two-volume Theory of Communicative Action (1981) constitutes his attempt to refute Webers rationalization thesis and simultaneously move beyond the impasses he finds in the Dialectic of Enlightenment. He reckons this can be accomplished by showing in empirical and theoretical terms why the transcendence of material scarcity as well as the overcoming of ideologically justified power relations is a collective learning process, and by demonstrating too that democracy is the institutional form of human collective learning.

From the Colonization of the Life-World to Radical Democracy in the Legal State
In the course of the trajectory from Structural Transformation and Legitimation Crisis to the Theory of Communicative Action, one detects a discernible shift in the reference points shaping the arguments put forth. While partial appropriations and critical responses to Kant, Weber, Arendt, Neumann and Kirchheimer discretely guide the early writings, assessments of the contributions to social theory made by Emile Durkheim (1858 1917), G. H. Mead (18631931), and the functionalism of Talcott Parsons

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(190279, author of The Structure of Social Action, 1937) mark the evolution of Habermas work during the period of the linguistic turn and thereafter.32 What Habermas sees as missing in Marxism, liberalism, Weberian sociology and first generation critical theory he finds to a qualified extent in the writings of Durkheim, Mead, Parsons and other theorists largely ignored by the German thinkers shaping his early years as a theorist. That conspicuously missing element is a theory of the social that does not reduce social action to a series of reflex responses to class conflict, psychological drives or to unimportant fragments within more overarching narratives of reason (Hegel) or rationalization (Weber) in history. In Durkheims reflections on law, Habermas finds supporting evidence for his own thesis that language is more than a mere means in the functional mediation of cooperation and conflict. Contrary to the theses developed by Foucault looked at in the previous chapter, Habermas is confident that linguistic communication holds the promise of truthful mediation and, as a consequence, eventual non-coerced agreement. The implication is that real non-coerced agreement not the fictitious version reached behind a veil of ignorance in hermetic isolation from others could in principle become one of the principal bases of legitimacy. If in the early writings agreement is secured in a political public sphere, by the time of Legitimation Crisis and the Theory of Communicative Action, agreement is firmly anchored in the social life-world. Habermas updates his own ideas by shifting his reference points from mainly German debates on Marxism, Kantianism and political republicanism, to more international debates on communicative rationality and sociological theory. One of the main themes running through the Theory of Communicative Action is that it is possible to retain the heuristic value of the public sphere argument provided that its framing is substantially adjusted to suit the evident reality that the classical public sphere is irretrievably gone, and that the epistemological content of republicanism is therefore now to be sought in the practices of communication in the life-world. Without discussing Arendt in any detail, Habermas implies that her political theory is both right and wrong. She correctly detects a non-instrumental dimension to politics that is threatened by technical and administrative processes in modern societies. But she in effect fetishizes politics by making it a timeless feature of the human condition that can always be brought back to life in its pre-existing forms, such as those prevailing in the polis or the American Revolution. Therefore although her thought does not share the pathos of the Dialectic of Enlightenment, it is a similarly forlorn argument without a great deal of contemporary relevance. This is due to the fact that a substantial part of

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what she refers to as politics has been absorbed into what Habermas, following Luhmann in both proximity and critical distance, designates as the system. Habermas positions himself between Arendt and Luhmann by suggesting that the system is not ubiquitous, and indeed, cannot function without the cultural understandings and the communicative reason that flourish in the life-world for reasons which will be explained. The point for the moment is that against both Arendt and the founders of critical theory, Habermas maintains that society can be conceived of as being comprised of the system and the life-world. In his estimation this is more nuanced and helpful in explanatory terms than insisting on the predominance of the political or the social, or the prevalence of mimetic reason versus instrumental reason. Thus although Habermas is critical of Weber and criticizes his theory of social action, he also maintains that one cannot simply ignore the phenomena diagnosed by him: the political public sphere of ascendant liberalism has collapsed, and power-oriented political parties have occupied the space thereby vacated for the foreseeable future. This does not mean that full-blown systems theory must be embraced, however. For the author of the Theory of Communicative Action, the non-instrumental dimension of reality that Arendt finds in politics and Adorno discerns in aesthetic reason now has fairly solid if diffused social bases, as Durkheim convincingly shows. The implication is that the mediation function of the former political public sphere has been replaced by systemic operations, on the one hand, and a social public sphere, that is, the life-world, on the other.33 According to Habermas reading of Durkheim, law was once embedded in traditional and religions institutions. As political authority was gradually secularized, legal institutions and juridical reasoning were decoupled from religion and tradition, and law emerged as a medium of communication with its own norms. After passing through the stage of being religiously embedded, legal norms became state-juridical in the early modern period examined in Structural Transformation. Since then they have evolved beyond their state-juridical instantiation, which means that they are now firmly anchored in society and the life-world.34 These developments in the structure of legal reasoning and understanding correspond to the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity charted in Durkheims sociology. Readers familiar with the broad outlines of his theory will know that for Durkheim, integration in traditional society results from rituals and customs which do not allow individuals much social space for autonomous reflection and development. Hence in a manner that may seem counterintuitive when set against Tnnies (18551936) distinction between older

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forms of Gemeinschaft (community) and modern Gesellschaft (society), Durkheim shows that solidarity in pre-modern political communities was for the most part mechanical. By contrast, modern societies allow individuals to develop at the same time that the societies secure the foundations of post-traditional sources of solidarity. This point is of central importance for Habermas, for it indicates to him that in a modern context the differentiation of individual and authority, institutionalized as the separation of personal morality and positive law, is compatible with and even promotes rational modes of integration, that is, it points to the thesis that differentiation need not be synonymous with fragmentation or the instances of domination usually associated with alienation. Durkheims claim in this regard would be very similar to Hegels argument in the Philosophy of Right were it not for the fact that in contrast to Hegel, who stresses the integrating capacity of the modern state, Durkheim stresses the integrating capacities of modern society. Moreover, and in contrast to Marx, Durkheim maintains that the interdependence caused by the division of labour in industrial society actually creates organic bonds of solidarity between morally autonomous people. As Durkheim sees it, the challenge is to somehow maintain and renew the sources of solidarity, lest the dynamics of autonomy take on dysfunctional dimensions.35 In the early 1980s Habermas combines Meads ideas on the interpersonal character of communication which, due to its interactive dimension is always oriented towards understanding and agreement, with Durkheims concept of post-traditional integration, to arrive at his theory of communicative action. It is of particular interest to Habermas that when discussing the division of labour, Durkheim is not primarily providing an analysis of the movements of capital or the extraction of surplus value. On the basis of Durkheims work, Habermas is able to broaden and deepen the distinction between labour and interaction that he had already developed in Knowledge and Human Interests. This is because for Habermas, Durkheims division of labour is not centrally about property relations or even about production; the communication generated by interdependence of different trades and the various branches of the economy creates channels that effectively mediate between the symbolic and material reproduction of the social order. Reading Durkheim and Mead in light of the relatively stabilized and to varying degrees corporatist socio-political arrangements of Western Europe in the 1970s, Habermas concludes that social integration and system integration are propelled by different rationalities and discrete institutional realities. The influence of Parsons, and by extension of Luhmann, comes into focus here, though it is worth noting both thinkers

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are often criticized by Habermas for the action-theoretical and communicative-hermeneutical deficit in their respective theories. Habermas suggests that while knowledge of the processes structuring systemic integration is best aggregated on the basis of the perspective of an external observer, knowledge of the processes securing social integration in the life-world is always produced by participants involved in those very dynamics. However, the problem inherent in the functionalist and systems-theoretical approaches, as already signalled in Legitimation Crisis, is that they offer no remedies when system and life-world cease to communicate. Insofar they fail fully to learn from Durkheims observations about the secularization of authority and the rationalization, in a much more positive sense than the term is used by Weber, of personal moral judgement. Rationalized morality in this other sense is the post-religious, post-traditional secular morality without which the metaphorical fabric of modern societies unravels. The defects in functionalist and systems-theoretical analysis are of a different order than those raised in the writings of the theorists of ubiquitous reification, the eclipse of reason and negative dialectics. They are nonetheless an impediment to the development of theory capable of diagnosing urgent social problems and proposing rational solutions. In the eschatology of the first group and the critical deficit in the second, Habermas discerns distinct but related pitfalls in the various possible responses to the emergence of the Weberian paradigm.36 Habermas suggests that Weber is correct to regard rationalization as being bound up with increasing social complexity and what almost inevitably goes with it systemic imperatives requiring calculated predictability in the fields of law, economy, administration, and beyond. But what Weber leaves out of consideration for the most part is that rationalization also opens up possibilities for the differentiation of individual personality and the transmission of cultural values on fully secular and humanist bases. According to the interpretation offered in the Theory of Communicative Action, Webers theory of social action is excessively centred on the meansoriented pursuit of goals, which is the unsurprising consequence of a methodological approach that describes itself as a Herrschaftssoziologie (sociology of domination). The theoretical parallel to an impoverished account of social action is a one-sided approach to law which regards legality as legal-rational legitimation of force.37 Functionalism and systems theory absorb what is generally correct in Weber. This includes his theses concerning complexity and differentiation as hallmarks of industrial society and the related claim that differentiation is accompanied by various instances of integration. But for Habermas they also tend to absorb what is

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faulty in Weber, which they do in two ways. First, they replicate his diagnosis of social action as the institutionalized competitive strategy of individuals, parties and states. Second, whereas Weber for the most part reduces legality to legal-rational legitimation, Parsons and Luhmann reduce legitimacy to what is necessary to produce social order. They thereby make legitimacy a function of stability and equilibrium, and omit crucial considerations about what makes legitimacy legitimate beyond what is temporarily effective. For Habermas, legitimacy must be a function of communicative action understood as the progressive institutionalization of discursively redeemed norms. The normative deficit alluded to can assume extreme forms in systems theory in particular, where social action is often dismissed as the corollary of what is held to be the dubious idea of a social actor naturally endowed with a predictable array of pre-social anthropological attributes (tool-making, speaking, politically engaged, etc.). On this account the social action is explained in terms of what social actors do, which is nothing other than what they already are by definition: they make tools, speak, take part in politics, and so on. From a systems-theoretical perspective this is a non-explanation. From Habermas perspective, and despite his own emphasis on the need for social inquiry to be interpretative, Weber tends to absolutize the perspective of the external observer, so that quantitative categorization gets the better of qualitative understanding. Habermas insists that this methodological individualism is seemingly transformed but really only re-articulated in functionalism and systems theory, both of which reproduce the defect of exaggerating the role of external observation in sociological explanation.38 Thus for Habermas what one discerns in Weber and then again to varying degrees in the bearers of his theoretical legacy is great historical finesse which is offset by the tendency to produce sociological metanarratives about the twilight of the strong individual and the rationalization of all areas of existence. These pernicious tendencies are perpetuated by Lukcs and Horkheimer and Adorno in History and Class Consciousness and the Dialectic of Enlightenment, and reproduced in different terminology by Parsons and Luhmann. The result is that at least as late as 1981, sociological theory has not been able successfully to update the insights of Durkheim or to integrate the contribution of Mead and other American and English pragmatists. In other words, Webers acuity as an historian and sociologist is relativized by the cultural pessimism he presumably inherits from Nietzsche which, in Habermas estimation, is thankfully absent in Durkheim and pragmatism.39 Durkheim indicates that the rationalization of morality does not simply exile humanity into a godless world that can

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offer its isolated individual members and groups little else beyond material incentives and social stability bereft of all transcendent meaning. In Durkheims writings society is analysed as a moral fact that establishes the framework within which social action unfolds. Habermas elaborates Durkheims theses in the Theory of Communicative Action, and contends that secularization and detraditionalization enable people to develop rational moral perspectives and independent individual identities in ways which are not adequately captured by concepts such as nihilism, disenchantment, reification, alienation, system, environment, and so on. Modern individuals are socialized in the life-world in processes which are plural, non-determined and subject to constant modification and evolution. Speech and communication play a key role in complementing the nonverbal communication performed by money and the structures of administrative power. In short, one could say that non-verbal (technical) communication steers systemic functions in the state and economy towards stability; linguistic competence creates a framework for potentially domination-free communication, and, by extension, emancipation. Technical communication guides humanity in its progressive mastery of external nature while adhering to the monological rules of natural science. Interactive and linguistic competence progress in a completely different way because they are guided by hermeneutic inquiry and critical social science. Here it becomes clear that the thrust of Habermas theory of legitimacy takes a turn in relation to the thesis developed in Legitimation Crisis. In the earlier work of 1973 he offers a strong statement about the omnipresent possibility of the colonization of the life-world at the hands of the system. By 1981 he modifies this position by implying that when the life-world and system become decoupled, a crisis of communicative rationality ensues. Such crises cannot be resolved by systemic adjustments alone. That is because if it can be said that systems progress, life-worlds learn. Learning in this sense is non-instrumental, collective and interactive, and cannot be established according to the abstractions of an external observer. Legitimacy, as opposed to legitimation, is therefore guaranteed by citizen participation in the life-world, which embraces all individuals despite whatever negative experiences they may have in their contacts with systemic realities. The claim that modern democracies cannot rely on social systems mutually to self-adjust is a central part of Habermas argument. In his estimation it follows that democratic states cannot be blithely confident about the capacity of government experts to correct communicative rationality crises. In crisis situations the channels between system and lifeworld must be reopened, and the impetus for this has to come from the

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critique of daily life and its implications for policy.40 This argument is put forth in still more affirmative terms in Habermas most recent major contribution to social and political theory, which is Between Facts and Norms of 1992. In Between Facts and Norms Habermas explicitly states that thisworldly transcendence is indeed possible, but contingent upon the realization of radical democracy.41 Yet radical democracy is not direct democracy, nor social democracy or juridical socialism. It appears to be a kind of republican democracy in which key areas of everyday life such as the economy are not subject to political control. Here one glimpses the political indeterminacy of the theory of communicative action, and the ambiguity of the Habermasian paradigm in more general terms. Communicative action yields communicative influence on the system, but cannot exercise communicative power as such. At first glance this looks like a reformulation of the Kantian dimension of the argument in the Structural Transformation. But Habermas claims that the democracy sustained by communicative action in the life-world is so radical as to contain an anarchistic dimension, that is, something which was presumably absent from the classical public sphere.42 In the then newly arrived post-Cold War political climate, he seems confident that the tendencies he had previously diagnosed in terms of colonization of the life-world and the decoupling of life-world and system can and in most cases are overcome by modern law. This indicates that however much some aspects of his work are situated at a critical distance from key liberal tenets, other aspects of his thinking seem unbothered by the evident reality that the theoretical distinction between legality and legitimacy often turns out to be a fusion of legality and legitimacy in the actual practice of liberal democratic legal states. But Habermas remains convinced that this very specific kind of legality is decidedly not a mere means for the exercise of legal-rational domination, or, in terms of the history of sociological theory, Durkheim prevails over Marx and Weber. Habermas updates Durkheim with Mead in order to argue that the mediation between the symbolic and material dimensions of the social order is achieved by communication, and communication, pace functionalism and systems theory, cannot dispense with social actors who recognize themselves as the authors of the laws that govern them. The explanation why law can accomplish the tasks Habermas credits it with is that the mediation between life-world and system is not merely a more recent version of the mediation of the private and public spheres.43 He suggests that if the private sphere was not completely abolished with the rise of the social, the concept of the private sphere is nonetheless a

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misleading term when used to describe the character of non-systemic communication and intimacy in a post-1989 world. Just as the contract presupposes a valid state that makes the contractual moment of agreement possible, which is one explanation why one cannot provide the grounds of political obligation via contract, communication presupposes a community of speakers who understand one another. This is why it is not necessary to use force or fraud in the mediation of private and public interests. However, Habermas cautions, it must nonetheless be borne in mind that communicative action has its limits there can be no question of the lifeworld colonizing the system. Communication would inevitably turn into oppressive steering if the life-world were entrusted with organizing the mediation of humanity and external nature. This means that not only does Habermas not entertain the possibility of political control of the economy, but also insists that radical democracy must actually dispense with the very idea if, that is, communication and not steering is to remain the basis of legitimacy in post-traditional, democratic states. Communication may break, inflect upon and rechannel power, but it may not become power. It follows that if communication becomes power, it is by definition lost, and political control of the economy would indeed bring about this structural transformation in his estimation. Hence he discounts the possibility that a libertarian or juridical form of socialism could organize the mediation of humanity and external nature in ways that would not end what Arendt calls politics and what he designates as communication and interaction.44 This would presumably result in the demise of the modernist individual human nature that emerges from the separation from law and morality. In Habermas opinion such juridical reform would in effect reverse the very learning process that has made radical democracy a possibility and a reality.45 Yet it is far from evident at the time of this writing how transcendence of necessity and radical democracy can dispense with some degree of transparency and accountability in matters of production and consumption. It may have appeared feasible amidst the euphoria of immediate post-Cold War Western Europe. It seems rather implausible now, when it has become even clearer than it was during the 1970s and 1980s that if industrial economies are fuelled by private investment in search of new markets, low labour costs and capital accumulation, overproduction crises tend to ensue. Overproduction crises tend, when engendered as one of the consequences of an economic dynamic propelled by the need constantly to re-establish the prerogatives of private owners to control production and make profit, to require a thorough redeployment of investment. From

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investment in the production of consumer goods and industrial equipment, there is a notable shift to investment in far more ethereal financial services and various forms of financial property. In recent years financial property in the form of shares has become so diffuse that salaried workers and even the long-term unemployed now routinely own credit cards and entitlements to future income. On closer inspection, these developments signal rising levels of debt and unemployment for ever broader sectors of the population of formally democratic states. Although there is no longer much discussion of the explanatory potential of the term late capitalism, it is certainly possible to characterize the current political situation as something roughly approximating late democracy. People are promised a future return on their investment, which can only be delivered if the managers of the firms in which people have shares outsource, lay workers off, and take other measures to keep share prices high. The aggregate result is that everyone must work longer, harder, and under demonstrably more precarious conditions of employment in return for the promise of future income that may or may not materialize. Hence what looks to be the current dialectic of political homogenization and socio-economic precariousness cannot be fully understood without an analysis of the ways in which overproduction, under the auspices of private ownership, tends to provoke a move from investment in production to speculative investment in fairly risky kinds of financial property with correspondingly uncertain outcomes. If one analyses the history of the structural changes caused by the deregulation mania that beset advanced industrial economies in the 1980s and 1990s, it seems that a return to Keynesianism or to what in Germany was called the social market economy is increasing improbable. The general picture that emerges suggests rampant instability and potential volatility in socio-economic, political and cultural terms. There is of course no space here for a detailed analysis, but it certainly looks much more like coerced integration rather than anything remotely resembling radical democracy with pockets of anarchic liberty.46 Reality inevitably outpaces theory and so it is not always entirely fair to confront theoretical claims with practical developments in the field. Yet Habermas approach is also not without theoretical problems that might be mentioned by way of conclusion. It seems that from the time of the separation of work and interaction theorized in Knowledge and Human Interests, which evolved into the distinction between system and life-world in subsequent writings, Habermas was aware of the proximity between the theory of communicative action and certain features of systems theory. On the one hand he embraces the thesis that systemic differentiation and

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increasing social complexity are not necessarily destabilizing because they also engender diverse modes of integration in the process of their unfolding. His sociological commitment to this thesis is nonetheless balanced by the simultaneously held normative commitment to the idea that crises of legitimacy will result if social systems detach themselves from social actors and citizen, which is why he insists on the co-instantiation of the system and life-world and the normative and political priority of the latter over the former. It can thus be said that he tempers the potential normative deficits of the systems-theoretical approach with communicative and hermeneutical inputs. The latter, in turn, are presented in his theory as aspects of post-philosophy-of-consciousness humanism which can rise to the anti-humanist challenge of post-structuralism and systems theory. There are however questions about the plausibility of the resulting paradigm. In the preceding pages it is suggested that in theoretical terms, the legalitylegitimacy union represents an instance of pervasively coerced reconciliation through which the non-identical and the very possibility of institutionalized mediated non-identity is suppressed within the framework of Habermas original but somewhat unstable combination of systems theory, creeping legal positivism and residual, inconclusively post-idealist humanism. In his estimation, and despite recurrent systemic crises such as the one of 200809, the legitimacy of existing European and North American states is able to rely on the communicative, hermeneutic and humanist sources of meaningful social and political interaction evoked in the theory of communicative action. One is entitled to ask if this can be accomplished indefinitely in the manner of a natural privilege. If capitalism will not die a natural death, perhaps the corollary is that there is no reason why liberal democracy should be guaranteed an indefinitely prolonged life.47 This raises the question as to whether critical theory is analytically more effective and politically less ideological if it enters into a dialogue with negative dialectics and systems theory that is less defensive and dismissive than the one taken up by Habermas.48 Habermas tends to suggest that if negative dialectics is really disenchanted negative idealism, systems theory is cybernetic and metabiological in approach rather than properly sociological. Hence he maintains that although it was necessary to move social philosophical reflection beyond idealism in all its forms, the result should not be a simultaneous abandonment of key anthropological categories such as language, communication and autonomy. Habermas correctly suspects that without these normative foundations, the state becomes a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and reason must be instrumental. This would amount to a last minute comeback by Weber against Durkheim and Mead. The theory of communicative

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action adopts sociological perspectives on complexity, integration and differentiation, and combines these with selected bits of rather traditional political theory concerning agreement and understanding. The fact that developmental psychology and discourse ethics are also at times enlisted does not alter this conservative political orientation, even if Habermas chooses to call it radical. It thus seems fair to ask two questions. If one is going to retain some aspects of anthropological humanism in accordance with the implicit thesis that the legitimacy of the legal state is imperilled without them, why not re-elaborate them in directions that push normative assumptions to the limits reached by negative dialectics and systems theory, instead of trying to make them natural rights and thereby ignore the fact that late democracy is a reality and not a spectre haunting Europe? Does supplementing the life-world/system distinction with universal speech pragmatics and selected aspects of Parsons suffice to transcend the philosophy of consciousness? Luhmann notes that dichotomies such as subject/object and life-world/system can be conceptualized in terms of the reality of form rather than in terms of the illusion of form and the reality of essence. For him this means dispensing with subject/object and life-world/system in favour of inside/outside and system/environment. His point is that one can discern the rationality of systems in their contingent relations with their respective environments instead of speculating about the rationality and motives of actors. Stated slightly differently, one can observe that rationality is a property of systems rather than of actors. It follows that individual autonomy at least at this historical juncture has more to do with adjusting to uncertainty than it does with the realization of Aristotelian political or communicative essences. There is no way to alter this without first confronting it squarely. Luhmann intimates that communication takes place between social systems and not between systemic structures and life-world actors. In systems-theoretical terms there is no direct communication between individuals, political system and society, and, moreover, the channels of communication do not culminate in some metasocial institution such as an updated version of the Hegelian state.49 Existing forms of legitimacy are therefore achieved in a series of precarious and highly contingent adjustments between systems and environments and not those between citizens and governments via a plurality of ultimately interconnected life-worlds. To repeat, if one favours an altogether different praxis of legitimacy one must first grapple with the plausibility of this approach and the juridical issues that it raises.50 Luhmann uses the term autopoiesis to describe the processes through which laws and rights operate on the basis that societies need them. Laws and rights are therefore the products of a juridical system which functions

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as a series of closed, self-referential processes in conjunction with social systems of value (economy), truth (natural science), power (politics), intimacy (family), belief (churches), and so forth. Hence society can be analysed as an ensemble of systems which communicate through codes rather than a collective political centre or its individual counterpart human speech. This argument is first sketched in Social Systems (1984), and then elaborated in the two-volume The Society of Society (1997), in which Luhmann explains that social systems generate sense to the extent that they can define their respective boundaries, reduce complexity and meet expectations to varying degrees. In his view it is thus more rigorous to speak of system rationality than value rationality or intersubjectivity and communicative action.51 Although there is no space here to provide a detailed exposition and critique of the systems-theoretical approach, some may regard it as more consistent than the theory of communicative action in terms of the deconstruction of what have become highly problematic assumptions about the nature of human communication, agency and political democracy. Habermas may wish to dismiss the conclusion that the end of idealism and the philosophy of consciousness may also signal the twilight of the life-world and politically relevant social interaction, but from Luhmanns perspective it is virtually irresistible. Systems theory eliminates assumptions about social action and the teleology of citizen agreement in those crucial instances of speech and understanding that the communicative action approach tries to safeguard in order to shore up the humanistic ideal of rational legitimacy. Yet one may now pose a third question. Why should there be non-instrumentally rational law, not to mention a rationally legitimate state in a broader sense, if there can be no political control of the economy? The analysis thus far points to the provisional conclusion that there cannot be a general theory of legitimacy as such. One can develop a theory of legitimacy as it relates to state socialism, late capitalism, juridical socialism, and so on. This signals a different approach to the ones variously employed by Hegel, Weber, Habermas and Luhmann. Habermas and Luhmann agree that legitimacy is based on knowledge rather than merely more or less stable configurations of interest aggregation and welfare distribution. Luhmann indicates that under existing socio-economic and legal arrangements, it is the tentative knowledge that systems have of each other through codes, and not the understandings people have with each other through speech. Hence for both thinkers what matters is the kind of knowledge that defines legitimate law. It may well be that in some regards the analytical triumphs of systems theory represent a rather pyrrhic victory over the problems of humanism that are strikingly

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evident in the work of Habermas and other theorists. Just because the alternative to epistemological and political metaphysics is not the late democracy achieved by attempting constantly to recouple life-world and system under the directives of capital and the imposed necessity of growth for growths sake, it does not necessarily follow that the real alternative is systemic autopoiesis. Perhaps one possibility that has not yet been fully explored is that the theory of mediated non-identity offers the tentative beginnings of a post-metaphysical response to the questions raised by the systems-theoretical critique of the theory of communicative action.

Endnotes
1. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume I, pp. 5312. Habermas actually calls this development the communicative-theoretical turn of social and political theory (p. 531), which is now widely referred to in the English-speaking world as the linguistic turn. See too Habermas, Vorstudien und Ergnzungen zur Theorie des kommunikativen Handels (Preliminary and Complementary Studies of the Theory of Communicative Action, 1984), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1995, chapter 4. Interesting in the context of Habermas call for a move beyond Marx, Weber and the impasses of first generation critical theory is what seems to be an almost total disregard for the work of Simmel. 2. Habermas, Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung (Truth and Justification), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1999, pp. 2503; and Habermas, Kommunikatives Handeln und detranszendierte Vernunft (Communicative Action and Detranscendentalised Reason), Stuttgart, Reclam, 2001, pp. 810. The title of the second book is significant in that it captures a central aspect of Habermas overall project: the detranscendentalization of Kant and of reason generally can in theory provide the bases of a theory of this-worldly rationality against the claims of the philosophy of consciousness and metaphysics. It is not Hegelian reason in history, or the state as mind objectified, as such. It is the reason embodied in the speech acts of partners in dialogue which, he suggests, is teleologically oriented towards mutual understanding and agreement. 3. The writings of Habermas (born in 1928) extend from the 1950s to the present, and cover a wide range of topics which, in addition to his theoretical works, include pedagogical issues concerned with the student movement in Germany and the constant debate over university reform there. For a comprehensive overview see the excerpts included in William Outhwaite (intro. and ed.), The Habermas Reader, Cambridge, Polity, 1996. Readers of German can consult the recently published Philosophische Texte in five volumes (Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2009), which comprise selections of his major writings on the following subjects: (1) the speech-theoretical foundation of sociology, (2) rationality and speech theory, (3) discourse ethics, (4) political theory and, of particular interest for the present book, (5) the critique of reason. Christian Schlter provides a good summary of the contents of the five volumes in the Frankfurter Rundschau, 14 June 2009, p. 35. 4. If one had to categorize his social and political thought in recognizable terms, one might say that Habermas combines a commitment to political liberalism with aspects of

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critical theory, legal theory and communicative rationality. For two excellent introductions, see William Outhwaite, Habermas; A Critical Introduction, Cambridge, Polity, 1994, 2nd edn 2009; and Gordon Finlayson, Habermas: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005. 5. Lukcs, Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness, 1923), pp. 12263. 6. Hans Albert, Traktat ber kritische Vernunft (Treatise on Critical Reason, 1968), fifth edition, Tbingen, J. C. B. Mohr, 1991, pp. 3550. 7. Habermas, Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit: Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, first published by Luchterhand in 1962), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1990, pp. 18095. Hence while it is The Theory of Communicative Action (2 volumes, 1981) that announces the advent of the linguistic turn, The Structural Transformation, Legitimation Crisis and The Theory of Communicative Action all express scepticism about the possible mediation of life-world knowledge and systemic steering. As will be seen, Between Facts and Norms attempts to provide arguments explaining how this mediation is in fact achieved to a satisfactory degree in the modern Rechtsstaat. To this extent the latter publication of 1992 can be likened to Habermas version of the Philosophy of Right. More critical readers might liken it to The End of History and the Last Man, in that in his Between Facts and Norms, Habermas implies that the modern liberal democratic legal state is the end station of political humanitys journey to rational individual and collective autonomy. 8. Habermas, Philosophische Texte, volume 3, chapter 4; and Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1973, part 3, chapter 1. 9. Kants ideas prefigure those of Habermas here as well. In his critique of the welfare state Habermas suggests that the corporatist compromise between labour unions, government and business associations is a failed response to the tendency of capitalist economies to undermine the conditions of legal universality. The epistemological dimension of law is diluted to insulate the political system from demands for social equality that can really only be properly addressed by changing the law instead of softening it, so to speak, for softening the law undermines its capacity to set out rational grounds for political obligation. See Habermas, Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), part 2, chapter 5. Claus Offe makes related observations about legality and the long-term prospects of the welfare state in Rationalittskriterien der Administration, in Leviathan, 3 (1974), pp. 33345. 10. Kant, Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklrung? (What is Enlightenment?, 1783), in Wilhelm Weischedel (ed.), Immanuel Kant: Schriften zur Anthropologie, Geschichtsphilosophie, Politik und Pdogogik I, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1977, pp. 5761. Relevant in this regard are the arguments that Kant puts forth in Perpetual Peace and On the Common Saying. These three and other important political essays are available in English in Hans Reiss (ed.), Kant: Political Writings, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1970. 11. Kant, ber den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht in der Praxis (Theory and Praxis), in Wilhelm Weischedel (ed.), Immanuel Kant: Schriften zur Anthropologie, pp. 12930.

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12. An issue that Habermas does not really address is that morality and reason also entail a natural right to private property for Kant. The possible explanations as to why Habermas does not touch upon this are addressed in this chapter. 13. Habermas, Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere), pp. 17895; Zur Rekonstruktion des historischen Materialismus (The Reconstruction of Historical Materialism), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1976, parts 23; and Habermas, Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne (The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1985, chapters 1 and 11. 14. Habermas, 1990 introduction to Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere), pp. 3350, and pp. 195209 in the text. The modified Marxism in question is clearly informed by close readings of Weber and Adorno at this early stage of Habermas development as a thinker. 15. Habermas, Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere), pp. 20924. Although in the early to mid-1960s Habermas continues to rely on Marx, Weber and Adorno, one can already see some of the characteristic lines of his mature thought starting to emerge. He develops a critical stance towards the first generation of Frankfurt School theorists in that he remains sceptical towards the negative theological tendency to glimpse the conditions of a reconciled world in terms of their manifest absence (a tendency sometimes discernible in Adorno), and is also hesitant to attribute automatic radical political subjectivity to exploited groups and classes (a tendency often found in Marcuse). He asserts that the task of completing the ongoing projects of Enlightenment and modernity turns on reconceptualizing reason without fully embracing or wholly ignoring the rationalization thesis, keeping in mind the evident reality that one cannot simply reinstitutionalize the bourgeois public sphere of early modernity under twentieth-century conditions of universal franchise and mass society. 16. Friedrich Pollock, State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations, in Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (eds), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, London and New York, Continuum, 1982, pp. 712. 17. Otto Kirchheimer, Changes in the Structure of Political Compromise, in Arato and Gebhardt (eds), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, pp. 527. 18. Otto Kirchheimer, Changes in the Structure of Political Compromise, in Arato and Gebhardt (eds), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, pp. 546. 19. Neumann, Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (The Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society, 1937), in Helge Pross (ed.), Franz Neumann: Demokratischer und autoritrer Staat, Frankfurt, Fischer, 1986, pp. 3181. One wonders if Bush and Blair considered any of this before bringing democracy to Iraq. 20. Neumann, Der Funktionswandel des Gesetzes im Recht der brgerlichen Gesellschaft (The Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society), in Pross (ed.), Franz Neumann: Demokratischer und autoritrer Staat. Some of Neumann and Kirchheimers most important essays can be found in English in William E. Scheuerman (ed.), The Rule of Law under Siege: Selected Essays by Franz Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996. For two very good overviews of their main political and juridical ideas, see Scheuerman, Between the Norm and the Exception; and Chris Thornhill,

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Political Theory in Modern Germany, Cambridge, Polity, 1999, chapter 3. The lack of clarity attributed to Habermas is not meant to suggest political opportunism on his part. He is constantly revising his views in answer to his critics and responding to changing socioeconomic and political conditions as well, such as the reunification of Germany during 198990. 21. At times Habermas seems to be saying that the life-world exists within civil society, while at other times it appears that life-world and civil society are more or less interchangeable terms for him. In the 1990 introduction to the German edition of Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere he states that in the Theory of Communicative Action and subsequent works he analyses society as the dynamic unity of systems, propelled by money and power, and the life-world, which is maintained through communication. From the early 1990s on he favours the term civil society and the idea of plural public spheres rather than an overarching, unitary public sphere of the kind implied by the initial Kantian version adopted in the Structural Transformation. As will be seen, what is really at stake is the rationalization of the life-world which is not, he insists, to be confused with the Weberian notion of rationalization taken up by Lukcs, Adorno, and others. See the introduction to Habermas, Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere), pp. 458. 22. Hegel is actually quite dismissive of the public sphere, which he demotes to the decidedly more pejorative status of public opinion in his mature writings. See Die Philosophie des Rechts (The Philosophy of Right, 1821), paragraph 315; and Schecter, Sovereign States or Political Communities?, pp. 319. 23. While Structural Transformation and Legitimation Crisis can be seen to share a number of the concerns and the methodology of the founders of critical theory, it is doubtful if the same can be said of Between Facts and Norms. The difficulty of assessing Habermas relation to critical theory is compounded by the fact that there is no clear agreement as to what constitutes critical theory, and if critical theory should include deconstruction and post-structuralism. For a good introduction see Raymond Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981. 24. Hence in Arendts view party leadership during the revolution quickly becomes party management after the seizure of power, that is, the end of the revolution. See On Revolution, part 3. 25. Arendt, The Human Condition, part 3; and Habermas, Erkenntnis und Interesse (Knowledge and Human Interests), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1968, chapter 12. Needless to say, Habermas argument did not find much favour among the more radical student and political activists in Germany and elsewhere in the late 1960s, who were more interested in Lukcs, Marcuse, Mao and Che. For the German context see Thornhill, Political Theory in Modern Germany, pp. 14552. 26. The idea that dialogue opens up the possibility of non-instrumental knowledge that is also non-scientific in the sense of the natural sciences has become a topic of considerable importance in social and political thought. While Habermas contribution comes in the form of his notion of the ideal speech situation discussed in Legitimation Crisis and elsewhere in his oeuvre, the theme can be found in many other recent and contemporary

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writers. For some of the most famous examples, see Michael Theunissen, Das Andere: Studien zur Soziologie der Gegenwart (The Other), Berlin, Walter de Gruyter, 1977; Emmanuel Levinas, Le temps et lautre (Time and the Other), Paris, PUF, 1983; and Axel Honneth, Der Kampf um Anerkennung (The Struggle for Recognition), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1994. The communicative affinities between the potential openness of dialogue and the epistemological dimensions of aesthetic experience are clearly discernible in the philosophies of Adorno and Derrida. See Christophe Menke, Die Souvernitt der Kunst: sthetische Erfahrung nach Adorno und Derrida, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1991. 27. Habermas, Erkenntnis und Interesse (Knowledge and Human Interests), pp. 34764. 28. Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), part 1, chapter 3. This clear break from Horkheimer and Adorno is at the same time a less obvious break from Neumann and especially Kirchheimer, for whom the possibility of a transcendence of interactive oppression is contingent on juridical reform of capitalist forms of property and the division of labour. 29. Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), part 3, chapter 2. 30. Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), pp. 1339. 31. Legitimationsprobleme im Sptkapitalismus (Legitimation Crisis), part 1, chapter 5. 32. Although Mead perhaps represents the chief pragmatist influence on the Theory of Communicative Action, the book is also clearly influenced by the writings of Peirce, William James (18421910), John Dewey (18591952) and J. L. Austin (191160). Some of these pragmatist influences are already discernible in Knowledge and Human Interests. In the Theory of Communicative Action Habermas also cites the work of prominent ethnomethodologists, phenomenologists, developmental psychologists and the contributions of other sociological traditions he feels are ignored by Lukcs and the Frankfurt School. 33. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume II, chapter 6. 34. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume II, pp. 25862. 35. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume II, pp. 805 and 11822; Durkheim, De la division du travail social (The Division of Labour in Society, 1893), Paris, PUF, 1996, pp. 2736; and Raymond Aron, Les tapes de la pense sociologique, Paris, Gallimard, 1967, pp. 32930. 36. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume I, pp. 232, 33556, 488, and volume II, pp. 203. 37. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume I, pp. 37786. Habermas articulates a diametrically opposed theory of legality in Between Facts and Norms, as will be seen. 38. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume II, pp. 30957 and pp. 3904. 39. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume I, part IV. 40. Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns (Theory of Communicative Action), volume II, pp. 44062, 4716, 48091. There are clearly definite points of convergence

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between the critique of daily life analysed in the previous chapter and the theory of the lifeworld developed in Legitimation Crisis, the Theory of Communicative Action and Between Facts and Norms. Although these points cannot be drawn out in any detail here, it might be noted in passing that it is the critique of instrumental reason that forms their common matrix, bearing in mind that for Habermas the critique of instrumental reason itself needs to be transformed into a critique of functional reason. This point will be addressed in the conclusion. 41. Faktizitt und Geltung (Between Facts and Norms), pp. 13, 19. 42. Faktizitt und Geltung (Between Facts and Norms), p. 10. 43. Faktizitt und Geltung (Between Facts and Norms), pp. 21, 4952, 527. 44. Hence the break with Arendt, except in terms of her praise of revolution, is not quite as decisive as it may sometimes seem. Moreover, it would appear that Kirchheimer and Neumanns views on bold legal action are retained, on the one hand, whereas the link they make between active juridical intervention and democratic socialism is severed, on the other. 45. Faktizitt und Geltung (Between Facts and Norms), pp. 3614. 46. Paddy Ireland, Corporate Governance in the New Financial Capitalism, unpublished paper presented at the University of Sussex on 19 June 2009, pp. 1618. 47. See the Benjamin essays The Critique of Violence and Theses on the Philosophy of History, in Angelus Novus and Illuminationen. 48. This has not always been the case. In the early 1970s Habermas and Luhmann have individually explained their respective approaches to social theory. If not exactly conciliatory, the tone of the exchange seemed geared towards a possible convergence on key points. See Habermas and Luhmann, Theorie der Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie Was leistet die Systemforschung?, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1974. Given that this book was published very soon after Legitimation Crisis, it is possible that at this time Habermas was fairly sympathetic to a systems-theoretical analysis of late capitalist democratic states. As has been suggested in preceding pages, however, the Theory of Communicative Action and Between Facts and Norms seem to reject any possible rapprochement. It is suggested in this chapter that despite this ostensible repudiation, Habermas nonetheless incorporates aspects of systems theory into his work. 49. Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft (The Politics of Society), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2002, chapter 6; and Luhmann, Das Recht der Gesellschaft (The Law of Society), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1993, chapter 9. 50. Luhmann, Erkenntnis als Konstruktion, in Oliver Jahraus (ed.), Niklas Luhmann: Aufstze und Reden, pp. 2378; and Luhmann, Soziale Systeme (Social Systems, 1984), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1987, chapters 5 and 1112. For an excellent exegetical overview see Michael King and Chris Thornhill, Niklas Luhmanns Theory of Politics and Law, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 51. Luhmann, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (The Society of Society), pp. 101636.

Conclusion: On Post-Liberal Autonomy and Post-Capitalist Legitimacy


Since the linguistic turn in social and political theory, many observers have become quick to dismiss the critique of instrumental reason as a defensive philosophical-aesthetic reaction against the processes in industrial society that Weber subsumes under the category of rationalization. According to this line of interpretation it is a sociologically ungrounded theory with rather few normative or empirical implications for the study of politics in the twenty-first century. The preceding chapters have endeavoured to demonstrate that this is far from self-evidently the case. It is shown that the critique of instrumental reason is intrinsic to the critiques of negative freedom, linear time, identity thought, reification (following on after Marx) and everyday life and that these, in their turn, continue to push the boundaries of political thinking and experience. To conclude, the most promising approach to updating and re-articulating the critique is not by transforming it into a theory of communicative action that is normatively and sociologically inconclusive. Instead of burying the critique of instrumental reason, as the theory of communicative action sets out to do, it is time to re-articulate it as a critique of what in this book has been referred to as instrumental legitimacy. The critique of instrumental reason is certainly in need of some re-elaboration since its initial formulation in the writings of the thinkers considered here. Without denying the brilliance of a thinker such as Lukcs, for example, there can be no doubt that his solution to the problem of rationalization is epistemologically and politically untenable. There is no subject-object of history or a class which can understand the objective structure of social processes by understanding its fundamental interests, whatever these might be in theory. Moreover, despite the sustained attempt undertaken in this book to rehabilitate Adorno as social and political thinker of major contemporary relevance, there are admittedly passages in The Dialectic of Enlightenment and Minima Moralia which evoke an atmosphere of utter
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political defeatism. Such ominous reflection is likely to have had an impact on Habermas project to re-route the critique of instrumental reason beyond what he saw as its unduly pessimistic dead-ends and residual philosophical idealism. Similar remarks can be made about some of Arendts musings on the lost revolutionary tradition and her occasional lamentation of the rise of the social. Marx, Simmel, Benjamin, Foucault and Luhmann persuasively argue that the social is the matrix of daily life and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future and indeed, Luhmann envisions the coming of what he refers to as a world society. But this does not mean that instrumental reason should be passively accepted as an integral part of the systemic dimension of modernity that is somehow counterbalanced by communication in the modern life-world, which is why the critique of instrumental reason needs to be renewed and not abandoned.1 Chapters 24 indicate that the renewal in question can be advanced by developing the critique of identity thinking, which in the work of Heidegger and especially Adorno offers more than just a critique of reification, into a theory of post-state-juridical legitimacy. The theories of instrumental legitimacy and post-state-juridical legitimacy have only been sketched in this book and are still in need of considerable elaboration. This complementary work could be done in a subsequent book which is less exegetical and more experimental. What can be said at this stage is that the theories are at present guided by the reality of form and the dynamics of constellational mediation rather than static categories, ahistorical essences and naturalistic fetishes.2 Hence the theories draw liberally on Simmel and Adornos sociological and philosophical writings, and seek to question the assumptions and sleights of hand underlying reigning dichotomies in liberal democratic thought and practice. Central among the latter are legality/legitimacy and negative/positive liberty. The first dichotomy presupposes and reinforces the notion that whatever rational qualities one might ascribe to legality, legitimacy is chiefly a systemic concept devoid of all but the most basic functionalist epistemological content or, more famously, it is nothing more substantively rational than the monopoly on the use of force within a given territory. It has been seen that to separate them into normative-rational and non-normative functionalist components presupposes that whereas the individual subject of negative liberty is a rational and juridically autonomous actor, the nation is a potentially irrational collective whose needs can be defined and manipulated by what necessity seems to dictate to the elected and numerous non-elected experts of political governance.3 Hence the legality/legitimacy dichotomy is also in some ways a volatile dichotomy-fusion. Although legality and legitimacy are separated into

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normative and non-normative dimensions, the natural rights of free individuals are reunited with the needs of the sovereign nation in the state. The legitimacy of this particular state form is nevertheless instrumental because the reuniting is largely symbolic and coerced. Reunification in this context means mediated unity and something quite distinct from Adornos notions of mediated non-identity and reconciliation. Within the institutional parameters established by a specifically liberal conception of legal legitimacy, minimally rational legitimacy is a means that can and has been replaced by other, more straightforwardly populist-oriented and authoritarian means. Liberal democracy can demonstrably operate on the basis of a degraded concept of reason and an evidently regulatory practice of law, but it cannot dispense with the means of legitimating those practices and simultaneously conflating legitimation and legitimacy. Under liberal democratic auspices legitimacy is a means for providing the most stable possible framework for the pursuit of the inviolable, universal, and yet somehow also neutral freedoms guaranteed by private law at the same time that legitimacy is a monopoly on the use of force. This is the practical reality of the theoretical priority of theory over practice and the right before the good. This statement of the matter offers a good starting-point for examining some of the issues raised by the positive and negative liberty dichotomy. In Chapter 2 it is explained that within existing institutional arrangements it is not possible to apply just means for the attainment of just ends. Since there are no transcendent truths and supposedly only dogmatic and authoritarian versions of positive freedom, there can be no agreement on just ends that is not coerced agreement. Liberal democratic theory insists that this state of affairs does not mean that there is no reason or justice, however. In a post-traditional world, reason and neutral procedure replace myth and arbitrary command in politics in a manner analogous to the way that science replaces superstition and magic in the relations between humanity and external nature. Hence in principle modern liberal democratic states are not illegitimate states without rational liberty and justice. The question posed throughout this book is what kind of reason is one talking about and how is it translated into practice? It may seem clear to many liberals that although there is no accessible substantive reason or practicable positive freedom, citizens can rationally and unanimously agree on what they do not want, and are therefore free to at least that extent. Another way of saying this is that although they cannot agree on ends in matters of justice and freedom, they can certainly agree on just means as long as the means and the ends are neutral in the sense that they are the same for all, and do not prescribe an overarching concept of the good

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(which within this framework would be unnatural, and would have to be imposed). The political impossibility of unmediated freedom and justice emphasized in the first sentence of this paragraph is bound up with the epistemological impossibility of unmediated knowledge. Reason mediates between humanity and nature, but only up to that point where inevitable boundaries place limits upon what is permitted, what is known and, by extension, what is politically acceptable bearing in mind the priority of maximum negative liberty. This is the crux, since political legitimacy is always instrumental and legally replaceable if unfavourably juxtaposed with the said priority: what is politically acceptable slips and slides in accordance with the room of manoeuvre granted as a result of the play of private interests. The fact that share-holding allows citizens with moderate and low incomes to be involved in those games does not alter the flow of play. The currently prevailing form of rational liberty demands the enforcement of agreement on what is not wanted and requires the enforcement of neutral means to prevent what is not wanted: the police acts in the interest of everybody, and nobody is allowed to sleep under the bridges at night. If agreement on these issues is unanimous, as the condition of it being consistently formal and not simply customary, why must it be enforced? More to the point: when was an agreement reached about not wanting to have secure pensions, not desiring multifaceted and challenging work, or not wanting to have political control of the economy in more general terms? Was it something everybody said to each other as they shook hands and left the state of nature, or was it agreed upon from behind the veil of ignorance? Retreat to the history of political thought on these questions has not been any more convincing than the flight to analytical academic abstraction. Instead of admitting that justice is in some ways utopian or that freedom is predicated on socio-economic and juridical conditions that have yet to be realized, liberal theory is content to say that we cannot know what we would need to know about mediation processes in order for there to be non-instrumental mediation between humanity and nature in the guises of non-punitive justice or positive liberty. Fortunately we nonetheless know enough about human nature in order to know what humanity does not want, such that we can rationally legislate in accordance with these negative preferences in mind. It seems convenient that the limits of knowledge and freedom stop with what is compatible with negative liberty and very modest levels of redistribution that become luxuries as soon as the capitalist economy falters. Here one sees that liberal ideology is not and cannot be consistently formal. On the contrary it includes a number of unshakeable premises about external nature, human nature, reason, society,

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liberty, history and communication. Although these are often carefully silenced in official political discourse about the necessity of economic growth and the real and potential dangers to internal security, they are audible, legible and visible in countless ways.4 This inconsistency is an evident practical reality in the legality/ legitimacy dynamics (separation-fusion) at work in actually existing liberal democratic states. Moreover, the inconclusive break with mythological methodology provides empirical as well as theoretically compelling evidence for the systems-theoretical critique of communicative action looked at towards the end of Chapter 6. It seems that with the advent of capitalist forms of industrialization, reason must take the place of tradition, but reason cannot stray beyond rational limits. The tautological character of this and other aspects of liberal democratic thought have already been discussed. For this conclusion it is worth noting that when reason is decoupled from critique in this way, the limits in question are then conferred with the status of self-fulfilling prophecies and cease to be rigorously analytical concepts. At this historical juncture (summer 2009) it is obvious that perfectly non-instrumental reason is conditionally impossible because of the reality of mediation. It is also clear that completely non-instrumental legitimacy is currently improbable because of the ongoing necessity as well as the libertarian potential of legal form. There will be just a bit more to say below about the latter in terms of the final remarks about the possibility of a legitimate form of law. But the dialectics and conditions of this provisional impossibility and current necessity must be analysed without apology for existing socio-economic and political hierarchies in order to know where the boundaries of the possible, probable and improbable are now positioned. Such post-mythological theoretical enquiry is not trivial and can be called research. As a result of such research it may become feasible to determine how the limits of freedom can be adjusted (if one is not free to adjust the limits of freedom, citizenship is a trap and one can be considered to be free in prison). This means that the variously possible modalities of mediation and institutionalization of form have to be studied and compared. The theoretical alternative is to carry on fixing these limits in negative terms as spurious agreement on what is not wanted (rationalization in practice, analysed by Weber), or to fix them in imaginary positive terms as communicative action (systemic domination in practice, observed by Luhmann).5 The theory of communicative action is incomparably richer in theoretical insight and empirical relevance than analytical political theory or academic intellectual history. The theory makes a sustained attempt to

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circumnavigate some of the obstacles appearing in the constellation of formal law, negative liberty, instrumental reason, linear time and neutral justice. In Knowledge and Human Interests and many subsequent works, Habermas elaborates Diltheys hermeneutical distinction between the natural sciences and the human sciences, and examines the respective epistemological models that underpin them. Habermas suggests that reason mediates between humanity and nature, but it does so according to different logics and under distinct constraints, depending on whether the field of enquiry is science, history or politics.6 But the matter does not stop here. On the basis of Diltheys pioneering work one can distinguish between different models of explanation and between the distinct temporalities that characterise natural scientific, social scientific and theological research. Previous chapters indicate that Lukcs, Benjamin, Heidegger and Arendt each pursue the critique of linear time to very unique ends.7 Chapter 6 intimates that Habermas does not really focus on the possibility of qualitatively plural times, nor does he elaborate the idea of temporal as opposed to merely spatial distance. Yet once one is prepared to introduce hermeneutic arguments into ones conception of communication, it is not so easy to shut out what may be more awkward implications for liberal democracy. Fanciful as it may sound, some conception of temporal space is necessary in order to think distance beyond territorial, securitized, national distance which in effect tends either to assimilate or exclude extra-national difference. Qualitative distance is also important in order to think pluralism beyond Ford versus General Motors pluralism, and to think justice beyond redistribution predicated on the belief that everybody really must want the same thing, but is endowed with differential talents and starting-points (the latter can be broadly compared to the liberal democratic equivalent of false consciousness). If one does not have an understanding of temporal distance and difference, one is quickly confronted with the problems involved in conceiving the past as absence. If one assumes the past is a modality of absence, one is likely to believe that the past is equivalent to the absence of the present, such that reality is conflated with presence in the present. If someones otherness is exhausted in their presence, however, it is an otherness they share with everybody else that is present, that is, it is an otherness that is ultimately negated or unfavourably judged in relation to what happen to be the dominant subject positions within a given constellation of political forces and interests.8 In the second section of Chapter 5 it is suggested that post-liberal autonomy and post-capitalist legitimacy are likely to be enacted by minorities who destabilize majority norms, and further, that without this

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extra-numerical difference and temporal distance between minority and majority, genuine pluralist difference is frequently effaced. Minorities are invited to join the majority and are administratively and legally aided to do so. Apart from the fact that this aid is unlikely to be indefinite or unconditional, another question arises. What happens to difference understood in philosophical and sociological terms as mediated non-identity? The short philosophical answer is that mediated non-identity is marginalized by mediated unity, and difference looks like an inferior or distorted example of the representatives of ostensibly unified dominance at the foundational centre of the state. The sociological corollary is that the redundant worker looks like an inferior version of the successful businessman, much in the manner that the welfare mum appears to be the failed middle-class career mother who happens to be in a stable heterosexual relation. Within this field of vision the worker and mum look like financial burdens inevitably gravitating towards ill health and thereby becoming doubly burdensome. This is not dramatic exaggeration but merely a consequence related to having to choose between frantically improvised new models of Ford and General Motors instead of introducing a different mode of transport that really respects the range of consumer preference, the future of the environment and the diverse needs of the public. Simmels analysis of the widening gap between subjective and objective culture provides the sociological dimension to an explanation that is often overly focused on capital accumulation and profit. It is this drifting apart that helps produce the phenomenological continuum between the (bad) unproductive redundant worker and (good) highly productive businessman, thereby obscuring other possible, less antagonistic ways for them to coexist beyond such falsely autonomous subject positions.9 The less obvious philosophicalsociological corollary is that contrary to conventional liberal democratic usage, autonomy is centrally concerned with pluralism and open possibility rather than largely frustrated isolation and more or less successful adaptation. When autonomy is reconfigured in these terms it is not fanciful to hope that legitimacy can become an active praxis of minority and individual self-overcoming rather than nation-based collective security or monopolies on the use of force. Habermas concentrates instead on the relation between hermeneutic understanding and forms of agreement that are relevant to the life-world, on the one hand, and empirical science and forms of knowledge that are relevant to science and industry, on the other. His findings lead him to conclude that the communicative reason needed for the formulation of norms is of a qualitatively different order than the technical reason required

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for the mastery of external nature. At first glance this looks like an important step beyond negative liberty and the injunction to limit agreement to what is not wanted, and a step short of a relapse to pre-modern command. If realized, this would redeem the Enlightenment promise of replacing authoritarian order and arbitrary force with rational deliberation. But within the life-world/system framework, the interests of liberal democracy enjoy precedence over Enlightenment knowledge. Just as reason must take the place of tradition but may not stray beyond the limits of rationality, hermeneutics must hold instrumental reason at bay in very vague and unspecified general terms, but must not question the limits of the mainly commercialized forms of pluralism accompanying commodity production. Hermeneutical enquiry is similarly not allowed to question the limits of punitive justice and negative liberty. The existence of the life-world is invoked and assigned the task of resisting colonization by the system, but the life-world cannot colonize the system. The parallel with Kant is striking. Kant invokes the thing in itself but cautions that it cannot be known, and deduces related limits to reason and freedom; Habermas is sure that the life-world exists, but seems to have equally certain, almost a priori knowledge that there are limits to what the life-world can change, and these limits are not up for political discussion or susceptible to juridical reform.10 There is much more systems-theoretical functionalism in this idea than he seems prepared to admit, and yet, there is not enough consistently formal systems theory in it to eliminate anthropological assumptions like those informing his particular version of the life-world. Although this is not the cynical positioning of limits and boundaries inherent in much of liberal democratic thought, he presents a framework in which the normative commitment to the post-national constellation cannot mean much more than blithe cosmopolitanism that fails stringently to think distance beyond national distance. The result is that mediated non-identity is suppressed within the rather narrow limits of mediated unity. This raises a final question for this study: can mediated non-identity be emancipated from the mediated unity underlying the diverse instances of coerced reconciliation institutionalized in state-juridical forms of authority?11 This project is not to be likened to the emancipation of an isolated pre-social individual from the uncertainties of a hypothetical state of nature. Nor is it akin to the realization of a supposedly existing essence or the re-appropriation of an equally implausible alienated essence. It is closer to Foucaults notion that the subject can change the truths of language about the subject instead of trying directly to emancipate the subject with more money, power or social inclusion within existing institutions. If it is

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possible to emancipate language from existing modes of subjectivity, it may well be possible to emancipate mediation from existing modes of inconsistently formal, subjectively manipulated law. Selected passages in the preceding chapters propose that the mediated dimension of dialectical non-identity is also a juridical dimension, and that there is real scope for a decentred juridical intervention in the processes that mediate at present. In contrast to the institutional realities typical of legal forms of legitimacy, the mediated non-identity of humanity and nature is only a possibility at this historical juncture. The transition to a new mode of mediation has been introduced here as the anticipated forms of mediation suggested by poststate-juridical legitimacy, which one can understand for the moment in terms of legitimate forms of law. Such law mediates between nature and humanity without effacing what is non-identical, instead of dichotomizing and recomposing doubtful unities that are then precariously stabilized by bureaucratic hierarchies.12 It is clear that the setting for law of this kind is some kind of world society, rather than cosmopolitan global competition retaining the nation-state as its military and commercial centre and with the most powerful states making use of international financial and intelligence organizations for steering and planning purposes. The enduring legacy of the modern state is ambiguous in this regard. In relation to its feudal predecessor it demands the decoupling of economics and politics in the justified belief that if the same people are entrusted with economic organization and political power, corruption and oppression are the inevitable consequences. But it is clear that this decoupling is still only partial, and that corruption and arbitrary decree remain the norm in many cases. Despite important kinds of enfranchisement and social inclusion, the balance is still tipped towards the privileged positions enjoyed by the executive at the expense of the legislature and the nation at the expense of the state. Marxs Eighteenth Brumaire continues to offer a very relevant analysis of the phenomena in question. Legal forms of legitimacy tend to be based on the idea of a natural unity between the people of a given nation and their state, such that the people are free to give themselves laws within the confines of their national boundaries. These instances of mediation have been and continue to be authoritarian in ways that have been analysed in this book as a problem of tautological immediacy which is, by extension, a problem of legal form. It has also been seen why the liberal democratic response to oppressive immediacy is oppressive mediation in the guise of pervasive instrumental reason. As the currently hegemonic example of a legal form of legitimacy, liberal democracy has the great ideological advantage of being able to argue

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that oppressive mediation and instrumental reason are at least more libertarian than oppressive immediacy and traditional myth. But such rationalized categorization makes the mistake of arguing and legislating as if all alternatives to oppressive mediation are exhausted in oppressive immediacy. It is hoped that the preceding pages have shown why this is not the case.

Endnotes
1. Luhmann, Globalization or World Society: How to Conceive of Modern Society, in the International Review of Sociology, 7 (1997), pp. 6780; and William Outhwaite, The Future of Society, Oxford, Blackwell, 2006, chapter 1 and pp. 1256. 2. More work needs to be done on the contrasts and compatibilities between the dialectic of nature as fate and nature as individual particularity and spontaneity in Adorno, on the one hand, and Simmels notions of denaturalization and social form, on the other. What is meant by naturalistic fetishism in this case is the foisting of eternal natural categories upon a rapidly changing social reality. 3. For an analysis of the dynamics of necessity fabrication see Mark Neocleous, Critique of Security, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2008. 4. Training these faculties appropriately can build on the preliminary work that enables one to anticipate ruins before they become ruins. See Faure Perez, The Secret to the Arcades Project, unpublished MA thesis in Social and Political Thought at the University of Sussex, 2009. 5. Dirk Baecker, Form und Formen der Kommunikation, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2007, chapters 1 and 3; and Wolfgang Schluchter, The Rise of Western Rationalism: Webers Developmental History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981, chapter 5. The spurious and the imaginary remain within the bounds of the mythological and can be transcended. Needless to say, post-mythological research of the kind described can be carried out in universities and research institutes, but it can also be pursued in the arts as well as in a wide variety of other contexts. This explains the emphasis on the relatedness of the critiques of instrumental reason, everyday life and legitimacy examined in Chapter 5. For an overview of some of the aesthetic issues involved, see Michael Sheridan, Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009. 6. Habermas, Erkenntnis und Interesse (Knowledge and Human Interests), chapter 7. 7. Heideggers views receive a bit less treatment than the others in this regard. See his Nietzsche, volume 2, pp. 37886; and Was heisst Denken? (What is Thinking?), pp. 623. Heidegger suggests that although one can measure time for scientific purposes, one thinks and understands events. Hence one can have a perfect chronological knowledge of dates and no understanding of history. See Oliver Jahraus, Heidegger, Stuttgart, Reclam, 2004, pp. 17080. 8. One can illustrate this point by trying to ascertain what kind of reason underpins the phenomenon of missing another person in their absence only. Contrary to commonly held

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views on the subject, the problem with missing another person exclusively in their absence may actually be the experience of time rather than the concept of space that it presupposes. One is likely to assimilate the other to ones own need for company rather than communicating with the other in a way that would make missing that specific person a conceptual-sensual experience of the kind that illuminates why missing them is distinct from missing any other person, thing or place that is not immediately present. The point is that introducing hermeneutics opens up the possibility of non-instrumental reason and non-functional agreement, but it also unlocks other possibilities with immense political potential that are excluded from the theory of communicative action in its present varieties. 9. Hence there are a number of unexplored possibilities for enriching Marxist political economy with an analysis of the drifting apart of subjective and objective culture, many of which have escaped the attention of first-generation critical theory and communicative action theory as well. For one such approach focusing on fetishism, see Chris OKanes doctoral work on Adorno, Benjamin, Debord and Lefebvre, University of Sussex D.Phil. in Social and Political Thought, forthcoming. 10. Habermas, Faktizitt und Geltung (Between Facts and Norms), pp. 3647. 11. In addition to mediated unity and mediated non-identity there is the possibility of non-mediated non-identity discussed in relation to Heidegger. Although Heidegger is bracketed out of this conclusion for reasons of space, the questions he raises are discussed in Chapters 34. 12. These doubtful unities can be seen as antagonistic subjectivities writ large. In response, future research may explore the relations between libertarian socialism, poststate-juridical legitimacy, weak law theory and what is sometimes referred to in Italy as il pensiero debole (weak thought). If fruitful, it may point to the rational path towards individual and collective self-overcoming beyond the stultifying impasses of negative versus positive liberty. This would facilitate the elaboration of a different approach to thinking about just means and just ends.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Index
action 129, 1301, 132, 134, 1378, 1401, 180n. 10, 199 world-preserving 1356 see also communicative action active citizen participation 7, 8, 36 Adorno, Theodor see chapter 3 affinities linking Hegel and 100, 114 affinities linking Heidegger and 111n. 29, 11920 break with Kant and Hegel 1045 post-idealism of 4, 967, 106 on reification 99100 aesthetic mimesis 668 aesthetic values 19 An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (Kant) 192 antagonistic subjectivity 103, 104 Arendt, Hannah see chapter 4 criticism of historical materialism 1312 on depoliticization 138 Aristotle rediscovery of 135 art aura of 65, 67 crisis of authority of 578, 74n. 28 as mimesis 667 aura 65, 66, 67, 74n. 28, 203 autonomy 35, 945 Marx on 16 post-liberal 174, 2289 transition from philosophical approaches of 78 autopoiesis 21516 Bacon, Francis 25 Baudelaire, Charles 74n. 28 being 121, 122, 123, 124, 130, 142n. 4, 145n. 25 humanity and 128 meaning of 128 ontological question of 123 Being and Time (Heidegger) 52, 111n. 31, 119, 1213, 124, 125, 129 Benjamin, Walter see chapter 2 on aesthetic mimesis 668 on capitalism 69 on crisis of authority of art 578 on knowledge 656 on violence 5964 Between Facts and Norms (Habermas) 187, 189, 211 The Birth of Bio-Politics (Foucault) 173 Bloch, Ernst 47 Bourdieu, Pierre 156 bourgeoisie 56 age of bourgeoisie revolutions 6 French Revolution 147n. 35 Lukcs and Benjamins notion of 57 Caesarism 33 capital 157 labour and 89, 15860 needs of a nation and 62 Capital (Marx) 22, 51, 160 capitalism Benjamin on 69 late capitalism 194, 213 Marx on 104, 1578 radical critique of 151 reified consciousness and 501, 60, 72n. 10 social classes and 29 state capitalism 194

247

248

INDEX
Dialectic of Enlightenment (Horkheimer and Adorno) 78, 923, 94, 96, 204, 209 Dilthey, Wilhelm affinities linking Lukcs, Benjamin and 434 Benjamins radicalization of 58 critique of Kant 245 distinction between time and history 58 Durkheim, Emile 204, 205 Habermas reading of 2067, 20910 Eighteenth Brumaire (Marx) 231 emancipation 38n. 19, 84, 108n. 15 critique of religion and 1534 see also freedom experience contingency and 1356 fragmentation of 45 knowledge and 11 extra-legal legitimacy 1023, 106 Feuerbach, Ludwig 26, 153 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb 118 formal law 10 forms reality of 26 Simmels theory of 268 Foucault, Michel see chapter 5 nonc of 1746 on language 1745 on power 171, 1727 on spontaneity 151 Frankfurt School 78106 freedom 356, 130 democracy and 15 Hegelian 12 Horkheimer on 8990 institutionalization of 1718 Marxist 133 Marxist, criticism of 1312 objective form and 17 Freud, Sigmund 68, 167 functional differentiation 7, 36 Galileo Galilei 25 Geist 1213, 17, 104, 118, 119, 161 is/ought distinction and 15 re-evaluation of 79

Changes in the Function of Law in Modern Society (Neumann) 196 Changes in the Structure of Political Compromise (Kirchheimer) 194 charismatic authority 32, 33, 36 civil society 220n. 21 contractual modalities 15, 155 class consciousness 50 coerced integration 1601, 213 coerced unity 1023, 106 collective subjectivity 545, 86, 97, 98, 102 commodities 157, 159, 160 fetishism 51, 55, 57, 60 communicative action 4, 35, 36, 81, 104, 186217, 2278 systems theory and 21314 communicative reason 81, 2023, 206, 22930 constellational dialectics 57, 634, 69, 79, 102, 1034, 1402, 2278 contingency 75n. 31, 132, 1356, 148n. 38, 151 critical theory 2, 78106, 107n. 7, 108n. 15 Adornos 4, 99104 emergence of 812, 8393 Habermas critique of 203, 206 critique of everyday life 15078, 179n. 3 Marxs 15361 Simmels 1626, 171 critique of instrumental legitimacy critique of instrumental reason and 34, 168, 2234 Critique of Judgement (Kant) 9 Critique of Practical Reason (Kant) 9 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant) 9, 10, 24, 128 culture industry 95, 96 Dasein 121, 122, 123, 124, 145n. 25 time and 1267 truth and 128 understanding of its death 126 Deleuze, Gilles 172, 174 denaturalization of social relations 28, 29, 41n. 33, 46, 54, 556, 74n. 28, 162, 168 Denkbilder (thought-images) 60, 64, 656, 69, 76n. 37

INDEX
genealogical theory of domination 21, 31, 32 genealogical theory of transitions 170 Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche) 31 Gerlach, K. A. 85 German Ideology (Marx and Engels) 131 Gramsci, Antonio 70n. 1, 155, 156 Grnberg, Carl 85 Grundrisse (Marx) 22 Guattari, Flix 174 Habermas, Jrgen see chapter 6 critique of Horkheimer and Adorno 78 critique of Parson and Luhmann 2078 critique of Weberian rationalization 186, 203, 2089 on distinction between labour and interaction 198201, 207 evolution of philosophy of 2045, 219n. 15 influences on 198 on institutionalization of mediated non-identity 1056 on legitimacy 209 theoretical problems of 21314 works of 217n. 3 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Adornos affinities with 100, 114 Adornos critique of 967, 1001 critique of 118 on humanity-nature relationship 1112, 81, 114, 119 on metaphysical dualisms 1316 Nietzsches critique of 18 reconciliation of theory and practice 84 re-evaluation of subject-object dialectics of 79 Hegel: Three Studies (Adorno) 97 hegemony 157 Heidegger, Martin see chapter 4 Adornos affinities with 111n. 29, 11920 Adornos critique of 967 critique of metaphysics 115, 11617 critique on Hegel 11819 Destruktion of 116, 122, 1234, 135 on end of tradition in philosophy 135 on knowledge 116, 122

249

political allegiances 129, 145n. 25, 146n. 301 on truth 1279 on understanding 1201 works of 146n. 27 hermeneutic circle, problem of 58 Heideggers understanding of 118, 124 solution to 60, 634, 124 historical materialism 27, 689, 86, 87 Arendts critique of 1312 historical sociology 2430, 54 History and Class Consciousness (Lukcs) 50, 51, 52, 72n. 16, 209 Horkheimer, Max see chapter 3 conception of critical theory 839 on nature as fate 789 theory of transition 8992 The Human Condition (Arendt) 129, 199 humanity-nature relationship 17, 2256, 228 dialectical 11, 12 Heidegger on 1201 mediated 1112, 18, 456, 67, 83, 95, 979, 101, 104, 11415, 119, 123 reconciliation of 99100, 103, 104 human sciences distinction between natural sciences and 878, 201, 228 specificity of methodology of 25, 289, 58 Husserl, Edmund 144n. 9 phenomenology of 118 idealism 26, 28, 123 central epistemological problem of 10 Hegelian 16, 81, 103, 116, 118 identity thinking 224 Heidegger and Adorno compared 11920 Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt) 85, 194, 198 institutionalization of mediated non-identity 82, 99, 103, 1056 institutionalized identity thinking 80, 94, 99 instrumental legitimacy 3, 57, 78, 197, 223, 224 interaction 212 distinction between labour and 198201, 207

250

INDEX
legality dimensions of 2 Foucault on 1767 Weberian 209 legality-legitimacy dichotomy 189, 211, 214, 2245, 2267 in democratic process 62 as one of form and content 1415 legal-rational legitimation theory 24, 323 legislatures power and accountability 334 legitimacy dimensions of 2 as function of communicative action 20910 Habermas on 21417 legal forms of 89, 60, 62, 67, 106, 168, 2312 liberal democratic model and 1246, 159 liberal form of 15960 theory and practice of 12 legitimate form of law 37n. 4, 60, 613, 227 legitimate law crisis of 234 Legitimation Crisis (Habermas) 195, 202, 2034, 210 Lenin, Vladimir 29, 49, 55, 161 Letter on Humanism (Heidegger) 122, 128, 143n. 8 liberal democracy 44, 612, 106, 225 Arendts critique of 1323 Habermas on 188 legitimacy and 1246, 159 preconditions of 63, 124 private interests and 1978 radical critiques of 151 transition to authoritarian democracy 88, 96, 1956 life-world 1, 202, 206, 220n. 21, 22930 colonization of 202, 2034, 210 decoupling of system and 210, 211 linear time 20, 57, 100 liberal democratic model and 1246 Luhmann, Niklas see chapter 6 autopoiesis of 21516 on communication 215

interactive reciprocal exchanges 26, 43, 44, 54, 57, 163 Interpretation of Dreams (Freud) 167 interpretative sociology 305, 43 juridical socialism 1945 Kant, Immanuel Adornos critique of 967 Diltheys readings on knowledge and causality of 245 on form 26 Lukcs readings of 523 on political freedom 9 on possible knowledge 911, 18, 52 public sphere for 34, 1902 separation of theory and practice 84 Kierkegaard, Sren 45, 143n. 8 Kirchheimer, Otto 92, 1946 knowledge 167 conditions of 656 deconstruction of 116, 122 externality of conditions of 212, 245, 39n. 24 limits of 16, 18, 21, 23, 523, 102, 11415 memory and 76n. 37 political authority and 2 rationalist-empiricist impasse 9 rationalist-empiricist impasse, Kantian responses to 911 spontaneous, cerebral-sensuous 105 within metaphysical framework 116 Knowledge and Human Interests (Habermas) 16, 1989, 201, 228 Korsch, Karl 85 Kun, Bla 48, 71n. 6 language as appropriate medium of truth 589, 205 degradation of 65 Foucaults ideas on 1745 Lectures on the Philosophy of History (Adorno) 100 Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder (Lenin) 49

INDEX<