Adorno, Foucault, and the Critique of the West argues that critical theory continues to offer valuable resources for critique and contestation during this turbulent period in our history. To assess these resources, it examines the work of two of the twentieth century’s more prominent social theorists: Theodor W. Adorno and Michel Foucault. Although Adorno was situated squarely in the Marxist tradition that Foucault would occasionally challenge, Cook demonstrates that their critiques of our current predicament are complementary in important respects. Among other things, they converge in their focus on the historical conditions—economic in Adorno and political in Foucault—that gave rise to the racist and authoritarian tendencies that continue to blight the West. But this book will also show that as Adorno and Foucault plumb the economic and political forces that have shaped our identities, they offer remarkably similar answers to the perennial question: What is to be done?
“Foucault’s relation to the Frankfurt School and the work of one of its key theorists was long overdue a critical reappraisal. Neither reducing one thinker to the other nor drawing artificial lines between traditions, this is a bold and thoughtful contribution to this valuable work. It should be required reading and the basis of wide critical engagement.”
“Defying conventional wisdom, Deborah Cook makes a compelling case for the complementarity of Adorno and Foucault’s critical projects. In so doing, she makes clear that the theoretical legacy of the past century still has much to offer in the struggle to meet the daunting challenges of our own.”
“Adorno was never confronted with structuralism and Foucault barely mentioned the Frankfurt School. Nevertheless, their critique of capitalism and Western civilization astonishingly converged. Cannot contemporary radical thought draw inspiration from both Adorno’s unmasking of instrumental reason and Foucault’s lucid investigation of biopolitical power? Deborah Cook establishes an extremely fruitful posthumous dialogue between these great thinkers. Highly readable and admiringly clear, her compelling essay provides many valuable ammunitions for critical theory in the twenty-first century.”