For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Critique of Instrumental Reason

by Horkheimer, M (2012)

Key Passage

In the century of Enlightenment free thought was the force that knocked the solid supports of stupidity from under institutions which bad conscience had driven to adopt terroristic methods; it was the force that gavethe bourgeoisie its self-awareness. In our own time, on the contrary, the feeling is abroad that free thought is helpless. Mastery of nature has not brought man to self-realization; on the contrary, the status quo continues to exert its objective compulsion. The factors in the contemporary situation—population growth, a technology that is becoming fully automated, the centralization of economic and therefore political power, the increased rationality of the individual as a result of his work in industry—are in􀉻icting upon life a degree of organization and manipulation that leaves the individual only enough spontaneity to launch himself onto the path prescribed for him. (p.10)


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