Karl Marx wrote: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” German philosopher Max Horkheimer took Marx’s words to heart and set out to change it.
Horkheimer was born in the old imperial Germany in 1895, and grew up under the tutelage of his father who owned textile factories. He was being groomed to take over the business, but World War 1 interrupted those plans. Max left the textile industry for college, academia, and a philosopher’s chair.
He eventually became a professor in Frankfurt, Germany throughout the 1920s and 30s, teaming up with Marxist theoreticians who wanted to eradicate and replace the world around them. Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist party chased Max and his friends out of Germany, and they found refuge elsewhere.
The elsewhere would be University professorships in Switzerland, then eventually in the U.S. In the peace and safety of the U.S., and then later in postwar West Germany, he went to work with his fellow Marxists, formulating ideas that are now known as Critical Theory. He stated that his theory is to “liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.”
He taught that everything in Western Civilization is wrong. All the pillars of Western Europe enslave people except for the “elite few” who own the corporations and rule over everyone else. Only a collectivist, socialist society with wisely redistributed wealth should exist. To that end, Horkheimer said that everything…every academic subject, every business, all forms of entertainment, all media, all government, all religion, all sexual and familial norms, all monuments to the past, all art…everything must be politicized, polarized, torn down, and replaced by their Marxist vision of the future.
I have some questions, though. Why didn’t Max Horkheimer just drive over to any Soviet-occupied nation in eastern Europe and try out his theory there? Why did he do ALL of his theorizing and writing in the ease and comfort of free, technologically advanced, prosperous, capitalistic nation’s in the West?