By Robert Heynen
In Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the physique in Weimar Germany Robert Heynen explores the impression of conceptions of degeneration, exemplified through eugenics and social hygiene, at the social, cultural, and political heritage of the left in Germany, 1914–33. Hygienic practices of physically rules have been imperative to the extension of contemporary capitalist social relatives, and profoundly formed Weimar culture.
Heynen’s leading edge interdisciplinary procedure attracts on Marxist and different severe traditions to check the politics of degeneration and socialist, communist, and anarchist responses. Drawing on key Weimar theorists and addressing creative and cultural activities starting from Dada to worker-produced media, this publication demanding situations us to reconsider traditional understandings of left tradition and politics, and of Weimar tradition extra typically.
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Additional resources for Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 93)
88 The power of ideas of degeneration lay in their recognition of the energies generated by the social contradictions of capitalist modernity, energies that the theorists of degeneration sought to co-opt and redirect back into the service of repression. ‘Deviant’ bodies and subjectivities bore the brunt of this repression, offering sites at which the social order could repair itself. As I have noted, the left often lacked the critical tools to respond to this logic, and even participated in many ways in its elaboration.
Culture is a paradoxical commodity. It is so completely subject to the law of exchange that it is no longer exchanged; it is so blindly equated with use that it can no longer be used. For this reason it merges with the advertisement. The more meaningless that latter appears under monopoly, the more omnipotent culture becomes’ (p. 131). 82 See especially Adorno 1997. 83 As I suggested earlier, the cultural and political issues outlined in this historical and historiographical overview are further complicated by what I have been calling the politics of embodiment.
Weimar theorists themselves, I will argue, provide us with tools for thinking through these issues. Walter Benjamin, whose influence on 79 Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, p. 111. 80 Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, p. 136. 81 Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, p. 3. It is precisely through its commodification, they argue, that culture takes its central role at the heart of capitalist modernity. ‘Culture is a paradoxical commodity. It is so completely subject to the law of exchange that it is no longer exchanged; it is so blindly equated with use that it can no longer be used.