On the relation between theory and practice, radical politics and radical-left student politics: A Conversation with Theodor W. Adorno (Spiegel, 1969). A lot of it still rings true today, for me, in relation to campus arguments about BDS and the quasi violent tactic of shouting people down.
Translated, edited, and with an introduction by Gerhard Richter
“Philosophy, which once seemed passe,” Theodor W. Adorno’s Negative Dialectic begins, “remains alive because the moment of its realization was missed” (“Philosophie, die einmal überholt schien, erhält sich am Leben, weil der Augenblick ihrer Verwirklichung versäumt ward“). (1) This perspective encrypts the double movement of a simultaneous resignation or lament and a productive, enabling force. It is only because the philosophy of which Adorno speaks— negative dialectics—was not realized that its actualization is yet to come. That it once existed without becoming an actuality means that it still remains to be thought, as both a failure and a promise. The erratic traces of this double movement not only name but also enact Adorno’s notion of a negative dialectic. The movement of the negative dialectic of failure and promise has strongly marked the reception of the English translations of his…
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