For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

References for Theme: Horkheimer citations

  • Adorno, T W; Horkheimer, M
    • Dialectic of Enlightenment (2019)
      (p.28) Through the countless agencies of mass production and its culture the conventionalised modes of behavior are impressed on the individual as the only natural, respectable, and rational ones.
    • Dialectic of Enlightenment (2019)
      (p.29) The social work of every individual in bourgeois society is mediated through the principle of self; for one, labor will bring an increased return on capital; for others, the energy for extra labor. But the more the process of self-preservation is effected by the bourgeois division of labor, the more it requires the self-alienation of the individuals who must model their body and soul according to the technical apparatus.
    • Dialectic of Enlightenment (2019)
      (p.35) Under the given conditions, exemption from work - not only among the unemployed but even at the other end of the social scale - also means disablement.
    • Dialectic of Enlightenment (2019)
      (p.36) Odysseus is represented in labor. Just as he cannot yield to the temptation to self-abandonment, so, as proprietor, he finally renounces even participation in labor, and ultimately even its management, whereas his men - despite their closeness to things - cannot enjoy their labor because it is performed under pressure, in desperation, with senses stopped by force... The oarsmen, who cannot speak to one another, are each of them yoked in the same rhythm as the modern worker in the factory… The actual working conditions in society compel conformism - not the conscious influences which also made the suppressed men dumb...
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.15) If the world were so planned that everything one did served the whole of society in a transparent manner, and senseless activities were abandoned, I would be happy to spend two hours a day working as a lift attendant.
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.16) Freedom is not the freedom to accumulate, but the fact that I have no need to accumulate.
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.36) The more superfluous a job of work is, the worse it becomes, the more it degenerates into ideology.
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.37) Work today is not superfluous as long as people still go hungry. Work is perverted… Nowadays there is a false abolition of work
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.7) Work is the key to making sure that ‘all will be well’. But by elevating it to godlike status, it is emptied of meaning.
    • Towards a New Manifesto (2019)
      (p.8) Work exists to control the hardships of life, to ensure the reproduction of mankind… it does not necessarily or certainly reproduce the lives of those who work, but only of those who induce those to work for them. In order to persuade human beings to work you have to fob them off with the waffle about work as the thing in itself.
  • Horkheimer, M
    • Critique of Instrumental Reason (1974)
      (p.124) In the process of selling household necessities and especially food, those who help in the selling have a few necessary tasks but otherwise are only stopgaps, temporary substitutes for self-service and automated equipment. This is true of the economy generally for that part of the work force which does not simply supervise automation. As formerly, so now the customer is a subject, but he is now to some extent a self-supporting subject: he must quickly orient himself, know his way around among the current standardized brands, and react promptly as though he were working in a factory.
    • Critique of Instrumental Reason (1974)
      (p.125) The personal relationship is being eliminated from the act of buying and selling. There is no longer room for acts of courtesy to individuals, for the old bow to the customer is being replaced by advertising, the latter, which constitutes a special large sector in the division of labor, being professionally standardized and rationalized, no less than the advertised goods or services. The development of advertising is hastening the process of monopolization which it expresses, and is at the same time freeing an important social activity from its dependence on the amiability of any individual seller.
    • Eclipse of Reason (1974)
      (p.49) Far from excluding competition, industrialistic culture has always organized research on a competitive basis. At the same time this research is strictly supervised and made to conform to established patterns. Herewe see how competitive and authoritative control work hand in hand. Such co-operation is sometimes useful for a limited purpose— for instance, in the production of the best baby foods, super-explosives, and propaganda methods; but one could hardly claim that it contributes to the progress of real thought. There is no clear-cut distinction between liberalism and authoritarianism in modern science. In actual fact, liberalism and authoritarianism tend to interact in a way that helps to vest an ever more...
    • Critique of Instrumental Reason (2012)
      (p.10) 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...
  • Horkheimer, Max
    • Authority and Family (2002)
      (p.97) "If the goods men need in order to live no longer originate in an economy of seemingly free producers, of whom some because of poverty must hire themselves out to others, while the latter manufacture goods not according to human needs but according to what their own solvency requires, and if, instead, such goods originate in the rationally guided efforts of mankind, then the freedom of the abstract individual, who proves really to be in chains, will become the collaborative work of concrete men whose genuine freedom will be limited only by nature and its necessities. In disciplined work men...
    • Traditional and Critical Theory (2002)
      (p.203) The internal difficulties in the supreme concepts of Kantian philosophy, especially the ego of transcendental subjectivity, pure or original apperception, and consciousness-in-itself, show the depth and honesty of his thinking. The two-sidedness of these Kantian concepts, that is, their supreme unity and purposefulness, on the one hand, and their obscurity, unknownness, and impenetrability, on the other, reflects exactly the  contradiction filled form of human activity in the modern period. The collaboration of men in society is the mode of existence which reason urges upon them, and so they do apply their powers and thus confirm their own rationality. But at...
    • Eclipse of Reason (2004)
      (p.35) Subjective reason loses all spontaneity, productivity, power to discover and assert new kinds of content—it loses its very subjectivity. Like a too frequently sharpened razor blade, this 'instrument' becomes too thin and in the end is even inadequate for mastering the purely formalistic tasks to which it is limited. This parallels the general social tendency to destruction of productive forces, precisely in a period of tremendous growth of these forces.
    • Eclipse of Reason (2004)
      (p.65) Just as all life today tends increasingly to be subjected to rationalization and planning, so the life of each individual, including his most hidden impulses, which formerly constituted his private domain, must now take the demands of rationalization and planning into account: the individual's self-preservation presupposes his adjustment to the requirements for the preservation of the system. He no longer has room to evade the system.(…) Adjustment becomes the standard for every conceivable type of subjective behavior. The triumph of subjective, formalized reason is also the triumph of a reality that confronts the subject as absolute, overpowering.
  • Horkheimer, Max; Adorno, Theodor; Noeri, Gunzelin
    • Dialectic of Enlightenment (2002)
      (p.26) Humanity had to inflict terrible injuries on itself before the self—the identical, purpose-directed, masculine character of human beings—was created, and something of this process is repeated in every childhood. The effort to hold itself together attends the ego at all its stages, and the temptation to be rid of the ego has always gone hand in hand with the blind determination to preserve it. Narcotic intoxication, in which the euphoric suspension of the self is expiated by deathlike sleep, is one of the oldest social transactions mediating between self-preservation and self-annihilation, an attempt by the self to survive itself. The...
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