Adorno: Understanding Society and IdeologyJune 28, 2021
Adorno’s famous principle “all is false” is opposed to idealism’s “all is true” principle.
According to Adorno, critical theory is the revealing of the dominant unity in society, based on “mystification” and the creation of social critical consciousness. The prevailing ideology in society is nothing but a reflection of this “total” error or lie. The “true historical struggle” is therefore a struggle against ideology; because what needs to be fought is not this or that structure of society, but the “social consciousness” that fundamentally shapes society. This is the “ideology” that deeply shapes the intellectual structures of people in society, from their most refined tastes to their most everyday perceptions.
II. Towards the end of World War II, Adorno expressed the Frankfurt School’s critique of ideology as follows: “Among the forms of cultural criticism, the one that has been valid for the longest time and has been the most fundamental is the lie: Culture creates the image of a society in which the value of people is at the forefront, whereas in reality Such a society did not exist. This is the emergence of culture as an ideology.” It was Adorno who applied the critical theory, which was developed to criticize the traditional theory, namely positivist theory and its concepts, to everyday culture and art. Adorno’s aesthetic view can be briefly defined as dealing with art with its socio-historical integrity in dynamic tension.
His analysis of everyday culture, on the other hand, is a critique of the positivist method employed in popular opinion polls. Adorno refused to measure and classify forms of response that were seen as “given” phenomena. Instead, he tried to establish a relationship between the reactions of cultural consumers and the “objective reality” of the phenomena to which they were reacting. According to Adorno, the production of everyday culture begins with “ordinaryisation”. In this process, successful forms and blends are promoted and developed by the monopoly of the “culture industry”. “Ordinaryization” has chosen the method of “false individualism” to help itself. “Pseudo-individualism”, on the other hand, is to furnish the fabrication of culture with dreams of free choice or open market. According to Adorno, everything in everyday culture is in a blind determination. For example, the radio served to the propaganda of fascism within the culture industry, leading to the rapid spread of this ideology within the society.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook