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Mass and Propaganda. An Inquiry Into Fascist Propaganda (Siegfried Kracauer, 1936)
Nicholas Baer

Written in French exile, the following text by Siegfried Kracauer from December 1936 outlines a research project that the German-Jewish intellectual undertook with funding from the Institute for Social Research. The work outlined here would be a study of totalitarian propaganda in Germany and Italy through sustained comparison with communist and democratic countries, especially the Soviet Union and the United States. Appearing in English translation for the first time, this document from Kracauer‘s estate is crucial for a full understanding of his career as a sociologist, cultural critic, film theorist and philosopher, demonstrating the global scope of his engagement with cinema, mass culture and modernity.

Film Studies
Author: Paul K. Jones

Critical theory and demagogic populism provides a detailed analysis of the relevance of the Frankfurt School’s work to understanding contemporary populism. It draws on the research that the Institute for Social Research conducted concerning domestic demagogues during its period of ‘exile’ in the USA. The book argues that the figure of the demagogue has been neglected in both orthodox ‘populism studies’ and in existing critical approaches to populism such as that of Ernesto Laclau. Demagogic ‘capture’ of populist movements and their legacies is thus a contingent prospect for ‘left’ and ‘right’ populist movements. An account of ‘modern demagogy’ is thus detailed, from the Institute’s own dedicated demagogy studies through to their dialogue with Weber’s work on charismatic leadership, the US liberal critique of demagogy and Freud’s group psychology. The Institute’s linkage of ‘modern demagogy’ to the culture industry speaks to the underestimation in ‘populism studies’ of the significance of two other ‘modern phenomena. The first is ‘cultural populism’ – the appeal to a folkloric understanding of ‘the people’ and/or ‘their culture’. The second is the pivotal role of modern means of communication, not only in the recent prominence of social media but demagogic exploitation of all media since the rise of literacy and the widening of the suffrage in the nineteenth century. The dialectical dimensions of these processes are also highlighted in reconstructing the Institute’s work and in extending these analyses through to the present. The book so concludes by weighing up potential counter-demagogic forces within and beyond the culture industry.

Rupture and integration in the wake of total war

The development of the European Union as a community-based project of integration with decision-making powers outside the constitutional architecture of the nation-state is the most significant innovation in twentieth-century political organisation. It raises fundamental questions about our understanding of the state, sovereignty, citizenship, democracy, and the relationship between political power and economic forces. Despite its achievements, events at the start of the twenty-first century – including the political, economic, and financial crisis of the Eurozone, as well as Brexit and the rise of populism – pose an existential threat to the EU.

Memory and the future of Europe addresses the crisis of the EU by treating integration as a response to the rupture created by the continent’s experience of total war. It traces Europe’s existing pathologies to the project’s loss of its moral foundations rooted in collective memories of total war. As the generations with personal memories of the two world wars pass away, economic gain has become the EU’s sole raison d’être. If it is to survive its future challenges, the EU will have to create a new historical imaginary that relies not only on the lessons of the past, but also builds on Europe’s ability to protect its citizens by serving as a counterweight against the forces of globalisation. By framing its argument through the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, Memory and the future of Europe will attract readers interested in political and social philosophy, collective memory studies, European studies, international relations, and contemporary politics.

The affective politics of the early Frankfurt School
Author: Simon Mussell

This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.

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Anastasia Marinopoulou

comparison of the major epistemological concerns in the twentieth century with critical theory of the Frankfurt School. I focus on modern epistemology as a theory of and about science that also addresses the social and political aims of scientific enquiry. I also trace the course of modern epistemology’s development which was initiated by Kant. His novel and differentiated understanding of critique is the cornerstone of modern epistemology. He examined how the latter can transubstantiate into dialogue that does not follow the idea of an all-​inclusive process that allows

in Critical theory and epistemology
Critical theory and the affective turn
Simon Mussell

1 Thinking through feeling: critical theory and the affective turn The assumption that thought profits from the decay of the emotions, or even that it remains unaffected, is itself an expression of the process of stupefaction.1 In this opening chapter, I will begin by offering an overview of the particular form of critical theory on which this book will focus, namely that of the first-​ generation Frankfurt School, since I believe that there is still much of interest within this tradition of thought for our present time. I will then set out the contemporary

in Critical theory and feeling
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Darrow Schecter

Frankfurt School and bio-​political theory, are far from resolved or outdated. This book examines some of the most important problems besetting democracy today by delving into what can be considered an acute and still very much unresolved issue in democratic theory and practice. On the one hand democracy will appear to be authoritarian and out of step with the complexities of modern society if resolute attempts are undertaken to make it substantive and social rather than formal and political. Twentieth-​century history in Eastern Europe and elsewhere indicates that

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Open Access (free)
From critical theory to technical politics
Graeme Kirkpatrick

technical practice creates openings for progressive politics, in which values other than the narrow pursuit of profit might shape technical infrastructure. At the same time, the objective need for new technologies, to address climate change and other imminent catastrophes, has never been more obvious or urgent. This book is a critical study of the work of Andrew Feenberg, philosopher of technology and exponent of a unique version of critical theory. Grounded in the tradition of Marx and the Frankfurt School, Feenberg’s project is political and avowedly left-wing, even

in Technical politics
Peter J. Verovšek

of the Frankfurt School show that these experiences can also be important resources for change in the aftermath of events that delegitimise existing narratives and make existing interpretations of the past untenable. Despite their differences and internal disagreements, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas, and the other critics associated with this intellectual tradition share an understanding of Europe’s age of total war as a historical caesura, i.e. as a narrative break whose experience necessitates a fundamental

in Memory and the future of Europe
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Peter J. Verovšek

identify what made the European project successful through much of the twentieth century and diagnose the issues at the root of its problems at the start of the twenty-first, but also to suggest treatments for these pathologies. 8 As a result, I am ‘not concerned with pure truth,’ but with the more practical task of ‘discovering the real causes of the crisis.’ Following Max Horkheimer and the writings of the Frankfurt School, I associate critical inquiry with the task of the physician, who searches for concrete solutions to real problems. In the words of Seyla Benhabib

in Memory and the future of Europe