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Theodor Adorno’s Radical Critique of Joan Baez and the Music of the Vietnam War Protest Movement — openculture.com

The Marxist Frankfurt School’s practice of negative dialectics put the “critical” in critical theory, and none of its loose band of philosopher-critics was as incisive as the dour, depressive Theodor Adorno. Against both mystical and materialist notions of history as progress, Adorno argued in his treatise Negative Dialectics that, writes Peter Thompson, “history is not the simple unfolding of some preordained noumenal realm,” but rather an open system. In other words, we can never know in advance where we are going, or should go, only that we live enmeshed in contradictions. And in the thick of late-modernity, these are engendered by the logic of consumer capitalism. For Adorno, the ultimate product of this system is what he termed the “Culture Industry”—the monolithic complex of Hollywood film, TV, radio, advertising, magazines, etc.—engineered to lull the masses into docility so that they passively accept the dictates of an authoritarian state.

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