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Towards a New Manifesto

A fascinating dialogue on a new Communist Manifesto from two giants of twentieth century philosophy.
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer wrote the central text of “critical theory”, Dialectic of Enlightenment, a measured critique of the Enlightenment reason that, they argued, had resulted in fascism and totalitarianism.

Towards a New Manifesto shows the two philosophers in a uniquely spirited and free-flowing exchange of ideas. This book is a record of their discussions over three weeks in the spring of 1956, recorded with a view to the production of a contemporary version of The Communist Manifesto. A philosophical jam-session in which the two thinkers improvise freely, often wildly, on central themes of their work—theory and practice, labor and leisure, domination and freedom—in a political register found nowhere else in their writing. Amid a careening flux of arguments, aphorisms and asides, in which the trenchant alternates with the reckless, the playful with the ingenuous, positions are swapped and contradictions unheeded, without any compulsion for consistency.

A thrilling example of philosophy in action and a compelling map of a possible passage to a new world.


  • The Crisis in Culture: The Frankfurt School, 1923–1969

    To mark the publication of Stuart Jeffries' Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School we'll be posting excerpts and pieces related to Frankfurt School thinkers throughout the week, as part of our Frankfurt School Bookshelf. All books, including Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School, are 40% off until Friday September 23rd.

    Here is an excerpt from
     The Melancholy Science, Gillian Rose's classic study of Adorno, that surveys and evaluates the activities of the Institute in the years between its founding and Adorno's death.

    The Frankfurt School, 1923–50

    All the tensions within the German academic community which accompanied the changes in political, cultural and intellectual life in Germany since 1890 were reproduced in the Institute for Social Research from its inception in Frankfurt in 1923. These changes were widely diagnosed as a ‘crisis in culture’. By this very definition the ‘crisis’ was deplored yet exacerbated. The Institute carried these tensions with it into exile and when it returned to Germany after the war and found itself the sole heir to a discredited tradition the inherited tensions became even more acute. These tensions are evident in the work of most of the School’s members, and most clearly, self-consciously and importantly in the work of Theodor W. Adorno.

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  • Frankfurt School Bookshelf

    In 1923, a group of young radical German thinkers and intellectuals came together, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Their lives, like their ideas, profoundly, sometimes tragically, reflected and shaped the shattering events of the twentieth century. 

    Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School is a brilliant new group biography by Stuart Jeffries, looking at the enduring importance and influence of the Frankfurt School.

    To celebrate publication we bring you a Frankfurt School Bookshelf with 40% off Grand Hotel Abyss, alongside Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, & more. Ends on Friday September 23rd, and includes free worldwide shipping (and bundled ebooks where available).

    We'll also be posting pieces & excerpts from works by Frankfurt School thinkers throughout the week, including a Frankfurt School Timeline by Stuart Jeffries. See everything here

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  • Adorno's "Motifs": a selection

    To celebrate the publication of Stuart Jeffries' Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School we'll be posting excerpts from works by Frankfurt School thinkers throughout the week, as part of our Frankfurt School Bookshelf. All books are 40% off until Friday September 23rd.

    Below is a selection from "Motifs," a collection of aphorisms on music written by Theodor Adorno between 1927 and 1951 and published in Quasi Una Fantasia: Essays on Modern Music, translated by Rodney Livingstone. 

    Beethoven comments on the cadenza of the E-flat major Concerto, ‘Non si fa una cadenza, ma s'attacca subito il seguente' [Don't play a Cadenza, but go immediately into the next section]. Schoenberg uses ‘free' as a binding expression mark. In this way the exceptions prove the rules of their age. Whereas Beethoven takes the Cadenza, the last vestige of the freedom to improvise, and subjects it to the composer's subjective intentions, freedom nowadays is strictly required of the interpreter in order to soften the strictness of the interpretation which is specified by the freedom of the composition.

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Other books by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer Translated by Rodney Livingstone