Adorno’s Critique of Alienation.

A good paper or article can be written on Adorno’s criticism of The Young Marx, alienation and Marxist humanism. While Adorno is often put in this camp alongside his fellow Frankfurter’s Marcuse and Fromm and others who use Marx’s theory of alienation as anthropological grounds of normative critique. However, Adorno’s later work explicitly criticizes these types of Marxism for their subjectivism and fraudulent normativism. I imagine these criticisms could be extended to the Habermasian and Honnethian variants of critical theory. The following is one instance of Adorno’s criticism of this variant of Marxism:

The subject is the lie, because it denies its own objective determinations for the sake of the 
unconditionality of its own domination; the subject would be only what detached itself 
from such lies, what had thrown off, out of its own power, which it owes to identity, its 
shell. The ideological bad state of affairs of the person is immanently criticizable. What is 
substantial, which according to that ideology would lend the person their dignity, does 
not exist. Human beings are above all, and without exception, not yet themselves. Their 
possibility is justifiably to be thought under the concept of the self, and it stands 
polemically against the reality of the self. This is not the least reason that the talk of self-
alienation is untenable. It has, in spite of its better Hegelian and Marxist*9* days, or for 
their sake, succumbed to apologetics, because it gives us to understand with a fatherly 
mien that human beings would have fallen from an existent-in-itself, which it always 
was, while they have never been such and thus have nothing to hope from recourse to its 
archai [Greek: ancient, old] except submission to authority, precisely what is alien to 
them. That this concept no longer figures in the Marxist Capital, is conditioned not only 
by the economic thematics of the work but makes philosophical sense.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
This entry was posted in Adorno, alienation, Marx. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Adorno’s Critique of Alienation.

  1. fabio bonafini says:

    hello! i’m actually writing a paper that touches on those issues and would love to know the source of this quote and of any others you may have localized. thanks!

  2. Pingback: My Self in This Culture of Connectivity | mentaridicelahsabit

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