Thursday, November 24, 2011

A New Communist Manifesto

As if the original Marx and Engels wasn't enough.

At The Utopian, "Towards a New Manifesto":
In 1956, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer sat down to write an updated version of the Communist Manifesto. These are previously unpublished notes from their discussions.....

Adorno: I have the feeling that, under the banner of Marxism, the East might overtake Western civilization. This would mean a shift in the entire dynamics of history. Marxism is being adopted in Asia in much the same way as Christianity was taken up in Mexico at one time. Europe too will probably be swallowed up at some point in the future.

Horkheimer: I believe that Europe and America are probably the best civilizations that history has produced up to now as far as prosperity and justice are concerned. The key point now is to ensure the preservation of these gains. That can be achieved only if we remain ruthlessly critical of this civilization.

Adorno: We cannot call for the defence of the Western world.

Horkheimer: We cannot do so because that would destroy it. If we were to defend the Russians, that’s like regarding the invading Teutonic hordes as morally superior to the [Roman] slave economy. We have nothing in common with Russian bureaucrats. But they stand for a greater right as opposed to Western culture. It is the fault of the West that the Russian Revolution went the way it did. I am always terribly afraid that if we start talking about politics, it will produce the kind of discussion that used to be customary in the Institute.

Adorno: Discussion should at all costs avoid a debased form of Marxism. That was connected with a specific kind of positivist tactic, namely the sharp divide between ideas and substance.

Horkheimer: That mainly took the form of too great an insistence on retaining the terminology.

Adorno: But this has to be said. They still talk as if a far-left splinter group were on the point of rejoining the Politburo tomorrow.

Horkheimer: What are the implications of that for our terminology? As soon as we start arguing with the Russians about terminology we are lost.

Adorno: On the other hand, we must not abandon Marxist terminology.

Horkheimer: We have nothing else. But I am not sure how far we must retain it. Is the political question still relevant at a time when you cannot act politically?
Amazing, that's 55 years ago and nothing's changed.

There's a book too, at Amazon.