Step Three: Critical Theory:
Revealing The Culture Industry
At the beginning of the twentieth century a group of German Jews gathered together to give rise to the academic discipline of critical theory. It was, of course, during the beginning of the twentieth century that German Jews were faced with unprecedented forms of oppression leading up to the holocaust. Shortly after the turn of the century two of these scholars, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, published their groundbreaking text, The Dialectic of Enlightenment. There are two points that I would like for you to come away with from my discussion of the meaning and significance of this text:
1. Western European societies have witnessed the entrenchment of modernist ideology in the consciousness of its people since the very beginning of the Enlightenment. This entrenched consciousness has concomitantly developed our society’s culture industry. The underlying objective of this culture industry has been the fabrication of accepted truths that would ultimately lead to the production of power and authority for the social and economic elite.
2. This system of fabricated truths was used to consciously and intentionally dominate and oppress all those not willing to subsume their world views to the allegiance to science inherent in such truths. Thus, the dominant status quo sought to follow the scientific programmatic to control nature to produce goods for the betterment of mankind. Naturally, this process had the added advantage of simultaneously leading to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the privileged few.
It is this, then, that is the true significance and legacy of Western European civilization. Our country’s ideological commitment to the modernist programmatic has led to a sense of self-righteousness and privileged status for the White Anglo Saxon economic elite since the time of our country’s formation.