The opening plenary of the 3rd annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention, held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, on April 29, 2011.
Recently, the New Left Review published a translated conversation between the critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer causing more than a few murmurs and gasps. In the course of their conversation, Adorno comments that he had always wanted to “develop a theory that remains faithful to Marx, Engels and Lenin, while keeping up with culture at its most advanced.” Adorno, it seems, was a Leninist. As surprising as this evidence might have been to some, is it not more shocking that Adorno’s politics, and the politics of Critical Theory, have remained taboo for so long? Was it really necessary to wait until Adorno and Horkheimer admitted their politics in print to understand that their primary preoccupation was with maintaining Marxism’s relation to bourgeois critical philosophy (Kant and Hegel)? This panel proposes to state the question as directly as possible and to simply ask: How did the practice and theory of Marxism, from Marx to Lenin, make possible and necessary the politics of Critical Theory?
Co-sponsored by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Departments of Art Education, Art History, Liberal Arts, and Visual and Critical Studies, and the SAIC Student Association.
Chris Cutrone, Platypus (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Andrew Feenberg (Simon Fraser University)
Richard Westerman (University of Chicago)
Respondent: Nicholas Brown (University of Illinois at Chicago)
A talk given by Platypus member Chris Cutrone at Loyola University, on April 21st, 2010.
The German Marxist critical theorist Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69) is known, along with his friend and mentor Walter Benjamin, for the critique of mid-20th century art and culture. What is less well understood is the specific character of Adorno's Marxism, how his political perspective related to his philosophical concerns. This workshop will address several aspects of Adorno's Marxism that relate to his critique of Leftist politics, in both periods of his early and late life, in the Old Left (1920s-40s) and New Left (1960s), and how Adorno remains relevant to issues and problems of Leftist politics today.
Recommended background readings:
Max Horkheimer, "The Little Man and the Philosophy of Freedom" (1926)
Adorno, "Imaginative Excesses" (1944)
Adorno, "Marginalia to Theory and Praxis" (1969)
Adorno, "Resignation" (1969)
Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)
Cosponsored by Pi Sigma Tau, STAND, and SAF.