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New Left Review I/46, November-December 1967

Theodor Adorno

Sociology and Psychology (Part I)

For more than 30 years, the tendency has been emerging among the masses of the advanced industrial countries to surrender themselves to the politics of disaster instead of pursuing their rational interests and, chief of all, that of their own survival. While they are promised benefits, the idea of personal happiness is at the same time emphatically replaced by threat and violence; inordinate sacrifices are imposed on them, their existence is directly endangered, and an appeal made to latent death-wishes. Much of this is so obvious to its victims that in endeavouring to understand its workings one finds it difficult to rest content with the decisive task of establishing the objective conditions of mass movements, and not to be tempted into believing that objective laws no longer obtain.

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Theodor Adorno, ‘Sociology and Psychology (Part I)’, NLR I/46: £3

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