Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Staying Alive: Adorno and Habermas on Self-Preservation under Late Capitalism


I explore the points of contention between Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas that account for their divergent claims about self-preservation, and maintain that Adorno has the more defensible view. Although both thinkers agree that the task of material self-preservation has largely been assumed by the welfare state and the capitalist economy, Adorno views this development as destructive and self-destructive while Habermas thinks it has benefited the lifeworld by relieving it of the burden of materially reproducing itself. Unlike Habermas, who rejects the idea of a collective subject, Adorno believes that only such a subject, conscious of its instinctual impulses and directing them toward the preservation of humanity and the environing world on which it depends for its survival, would make self-preservation rational.

Rethinking Marxism, Volume 18, Issue 3 July 2006 , pages 433 - 447

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