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The Frankfurt School


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The origin of the Frankfurt school, neo-Marxism, Adorno, Hawkheimer, Marcuse


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The Frankfurt school originated with the establishment in 1923 of the Frankfurt school for social research. Its members were left wing German Jewish intellectuals. Their ideas are sometimes known as "Critical Theory". The leading members are Adorno (1903-1970), Hawkheimer (1895-1973) and Marcuse (1898-1978). The members of the Frankfurt school were forced to flee to Western Europe and North America following the rise to power in Germany during the 1930's of the Nazi party. Some returned to Germany during the late 1940's. A characteristic feature of the school is its attack on modern culture in virtually every aspect. One part of this attack is their critique of the enlightenment. The enlightenment is the name given to the period of intellectual and cultural history of Europe taking place mainly during the eighteenth century. During this period, European intellectuals developed a cult of scientific and rational progress, which they believed would free human beings from superstition. They believed that science and rationality would enable society to be organised in a way that would bring prosperity to everyone. The Frankfurt school criticised this idea and argued that scientific progress has worked in the opposite direction enabling the destruction of human freedom rather that its development. Adorno claims that it is progressive technical domination that leads to mass deception and the fettering of consciousness. The Frankfurt school is a development of Marxism extending Marxist critique of capitalism to a critique of modern culture. However, this form of Neo-Marxism disagrees with classic Marxism in that they do not believe that a revolution is likely to occur in the near future, because Capitalism has been successful in fettering consciousness.
Contents of
The Frankfurt School

1 The origin of the Frankfurt school, neo-Marxism, Adorno, Hawkheimer, Marcuse
2 The Frankfurt school and commodity fetishism
3 The culture industry
4 Adorno's criticism of the cultural industry and popular music.
5 Adorno's Theory of Pop music: Cadillacs and Duwop, Gendron's reply
6 A critical assessment of the Frankfurt school.
7 Benjamin's critique of the Frankfurt school

Related articles: (1) Introduction to Marxism, (2) The Frankfurt School