(blog fmariluis)

Two Worlds

Theodor Adorno wrote this in 1944 (Dialectic of Enlightenment):

Here in America there is no difference between a man and his economic fate. A man is made by his assets, income, position, and prospects. The economic mask coincides completely with a man's inner character. Everyone is worth what he earns and earns what he is worth. He learns what he is through the vicissitudes of his economic existence. He knows nothing else. The materialistic critique of society once objected against idealism that existence determined conciousness and not vice versa, and that the truth about society did not lie in its idealistic conception of itself but in its economy; contemporary men have rejected such idealism. They judge themselves by their own market value and learn what they are from what happens to them in the capitalistic economy. Their fate, however sad it may be, is not something outside them; they recognize its validity. A dying man in China might say, in a lowered voice:

Fortune did not smile on me in this world.
Where am I going now? Up into the mountains
to seek peace for my lonely heart.

I am a failure, the American says --and that is that.