Horkheimer on the Critique of Political Economy

“The critique of political economy comprehends the present form of society. In a purely intellectual construction, the concept of value is derived from the basic concept of the commodity. From this concept of value Marx develops the categories of money and capital in a closed system. All the historical tendencies of this form of economy the concentration of capital, the falling rate of profit, unemployment and crises are placed in relation to this concept and deduced in strict succession. At least in terms of the theoretical intention, a close intellectual relationship should exist between the first and most general concept, whose abstractness is further transcended with every theoretical step, and the unique historical event, in which every thesis necessarily follows from the first postulate, the concept of free exchange of commodities. According to the theoretical intention, whose success will not be examined here, knowledge of all social processes in the economic, political, and all other cultural fields will be mediated by that initial cognition. This attempt to carry the theory through to the end in the closed form of an inherently necessary succession of ideas has an objective significance. The theoretical necessity mirrors the real compulsiveness with which the production and reproduction of human life goes on in this epoch, the autonomy which the economic forces have acquired in respect to humanity, the dependence of all social groups on the self-regulation of the economic apparatus. That men cannot shape their labor according to their common will but, under a principle which sets them against one another individually and in groups, produce with their labor not security and freedom but general insecurity and dependence, that they fall into misery, war, and destruction instead of using the immeasurably increased social wealth for their happiness, and are the slaves instead of the masters of their fatet his finds expression in the form of logical necessity, proper to the true theory of contemporary society. It would therefore be wrong to think that events in a future society could be deduced according to the same principles and with the same necessity as the lines of development of the present one.”

(Horkheimer, Authority and the Family, 205-6 )

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About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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