David Kettler and Thomas Wheatland
Contested Legacies: Political Theory and the Hitler Era
European Journal of Political Theory 3.2 (April 2004)
Seventy years after Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany, political theory in Europe and America continues to find nourishment in intellectual work generated by this signal event and its horrific consequences. There have been other extraordinary political disruptions and horrors during that time, but attempts to understand them have persistently drawn on the legacy of theory bred by the German debacle. The Nazi challenge to theory was primarily mediated by the cohort of émigrés driven from Germany after 1933. The complexities of these mediations provide the unifying theme of the papers collected in this volume. The seven articles are assembled under the heading of "Contested Legacies" to indicate several distinct aspects of the problem. The émigrés knew themselves to be the carriers of an important intellectual and cultural legacy, whose value they could expect to be recognized. Yet the valuation was by no means
uncontroversial. The émigrés themselves arrived as past partisans in vigorous disputes about the meanings and weights to be assigned to recognized classics. They were not rarely confronted with independent claims by their hosts on one or another of their cultural treasures, made on terms unrelated to the contests in which they had themselves taken part. And they entered upon new, sometimes hard-fought negotiations with their hosts and among themselves. Without reductionism or indifference to the substantive theoretical worth of the materials, the studies presented here read the texts they interpret as documents of this multi-dimensional and dynamic situation.
Lawrence A. Scaff
Max Weber and the Social Sciences In America
This paper explores the significance of Max Weber's work for the émigré scholars and intellectuals who fled Germany and arrived in the United States in the 1930s. It distinguishes among different emigre responses and the different uses of Weber's work. These responses and uses were conditioned by the reception of Weber already underway among American scholars, such as Knight and Parsons, concerned with employing his writings to establish the authority of the social sciences. In the academic professions a "Weberian perspective" was elaborated principally in social action theory, historical sociology, sociology of religion, organization studies, cultural sociology, and methodology or philosophy of science. Weber's observations about capitalist modernity and first-hand appraisal of American society, as well as key aspects of his critical thinking provided an insightful intellectual orientation and powerful diagnostic tools for some of
Reading Max Weber: Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin
Leo Strauss's Natural Right and History and Eric Voegelin's New Science of Politics represented both a continuation of the Weimar conversation and a projection into the American context of the issues that defined that conversation. They each chose Max Weber as the pivotal figure in their animadversions regarding historicism, relativism, and the condition of social science, but, as in the case of Weber himself, the underlying issue, which animated the émigrés across the ideological spectrum, was the relationship between theory and practice or philosophy and politics.
Translating Max Weber: Exile Attempts to Forge a New Political Science
Although it is well-recognized that Max Weber was of central importance to many of the emigré social scientists who fled Hitler, commentators have overlooked both Weber's attempt to found a new dynamic political science that would test partisan commitments and the endeavors of emigré political scientists to develop this project. I show that Karl Mannheim sought to radicalize this approach to political science by seeking to construct the political backdrop for the testing of political ideas out of competing ideologies each of which could be shown to have some insight into the dynamics of political conflict. For Mannheim we could now test political ideas against political reality by playing them off against each other. I call this project of testing political ideas against existential and sociological notions of the political field the Weber-Mannheim project. I then show how three emigré political scientists–Arnold
Brecht, Hans Morgenthau, and Franz Neumann sought to carry on the Weber–Mannheim project in their new setting. I argue that of the three, Franz Neumann in his great work Behemoth, was most successful in staying true to that project. Both Brecht and Morgenthau seem to have flattened the dynamic aspect of the Weberian and Mannheimian notions of a prudential political science–though it was Morgenthau who had the most successful reception in political science.
Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott
Alien Nation: Hannah Arendt and America
The central thesis of this article is that Hannah Arendt's time of exile was decisively mediated–and in effect ended—by her eager dialectical exchanges with the New York Intellectuals in their postwar transition beyond their passive reception of Marxism and European modernism, a change to which she herself had contributed so much. To bring out this distinctive career, the article contrasts Arendt's orientation to the intellectual and cultural work of New York with the West Coast émigrés, notably Theodor Adorno.
Hannah Arendt's Jewish Identity: Neither Parvenu Nor Pariah
Drawing extensively on Arendt's letters and published writings, this study synthesizes Hannah Arendt's own perspectives on her Jewish identity and the views of others, and then offers a reconsideration. What emerges is that Arendt's Jewishness is problematic and interesting to her only in relation to Germany and Israel, and not in the American context where she engages in a universalistic discourse transcending identity conflicts and perplexities.
Of Politics and Social Science: 'Totalitarianism' in the Dialogue of David Riesman and Hannah Arend
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, David Riesman and Hannah Arendt were engaged in an animated discussion about the meaning and character of totalitarianism. Their disagreement reflected, in part, different experiences and dissonant intellectual backgrounds. Arendt abhorred the social sciences, finding them pretentious and obfuscating. Riesman, in contrast, abandoned a career in law to take up the sociological vocation, which he combined with his own heterodox brand of humanistic psychology. This paper delineates the stakes of the Arendt-Riesman debate by examining Arendt's critique of social science and Riesman's defence of a sociological interpretation of totalitarianism. In addition, the paper argues that Arendt's theory of totalitarianism misdescribed the nature of Nazi and Bolshevik societies in ways that damaged her political account more generally. Riesman intuited that weakness and, as the following article shows, modern
historical research has confirmed it.
Hannah Arendt's Totalitarianism Book in Its Original Context
The objective of this study is to contribute to an understanding of Hannah Arendt's special place in present-day political theory by means of a contrast between her Origins of Totalitarianism and four important political science studies of National Socialism and totalitarianism, three written by authors who shared the status of involuntary emigrant with Arendt, that are offered as constituting the original context of her work. A critical appreciation of the seminal works by Ernst Fraenkel, Franz L. Neumann, Sigmund Neumann, and Carl Joachim Friedrich and Zbigniew Brezinski, with special emphasis on questions of method, opens the way to a reconsideration of the distinctly philosophical character of Arendt's work, and its shocking challenges to the scientific orientations of political science.
Exile, Science, and Bildung.
The Contested Legacies of German Intellectual Emigres
Edited by David Kettler (Bard College) and Gerhard Lauer (Goettingen)
New York: Palgrave, Spring 2005
During the first third of the twentieth century, German intellectual publics were torn by debates about a "crisis in humane education." At issue was the supposed conflict between scientific attitudes embodied in specialized disciplines and the legacy of education as the locus of national renewal. Most intellectuals forced into emigration by National Socialism came of age amid these controversies, oriented to them in their cultural and scholarly work. Their careers in exile, as teachers and cultural producers, were conducted against the background of their efforts to adapt this contested legacy. Paradoxically, the resulting dynamics enter no less into their frequent success as inspirational teachers than into the many instances of continued estrangement and even ultimate failure. In this comparative study, fourteen scholars contribute to an exploration of these themes, with special attention to the discourses of humanism and cultural criticism laced with distrust
of science. An antidote to lingering traces of Alan Bloom's polemic against the exiles, the work also questions recent attempts to incorporate the exile intellectuals simply within a narrative of international scientific transmission.
Fourteen scholars examine the work of representative German exile intellectuals against their backgrounds in the Weimar debates about a supposed crisis in humane education .
This is a book about Bildung and Exile. The critical examination of the relations between these contested concepts in the experience and thought of representative figures of the 1930s forced emigration from Germany bears directly on current topics. Education is the watch-word in the policy debates and politics of most wealthy countries, with the emphasis on performance, specialized knowledge, and the advancement of science. This thrust encounters a more or less coherent resistance, a fear that something is being lost. Variously cast as a concern for the arts, the cultivation of excellence, or even education for democracy, the protests circle around themes of the orienting, individual- and group-forming purposes of schooling. The Germans have a word for what may be lost in a single-minded focus on an inherently unstable scientific knowledge—Bildung,—and they have a history of contestation about this concept that is profoundly instructive about the powers
and failures of such a focus on a sacralized dimension of encounters with knowledge, especially when this focus is viewed through a prism of "crisis" and as an occasion for totalized decision. Exile, in turn, is a prime topos in postmodern theory, taken variously as a figure for an enhanced spiritual status of the reflective and distanced intellectual and cultural creator, in a time when displacement is alleged to be the only condition adequate to the disintegration of orders. A re-examination of representative exile experiences, where exile means defeat, expulsion, breach, abandoned tasks and obligations, and a difficult reorientation under the burden of unfinished business-moral, political and intellectual-is a salutary counter to the etherealization of the concept. The exile of these authors and artists disrupted their contested but common discourse about Bildung, science, and education, and confronted them with both opportunity and compelling need
to reanimate their legacy in a cultural space where the issues seemed tantalizingly similar but where the terms of agreement and difference were in fact dramatically different. "No happy end" and "contested legacies" are the guiding mottos of the multi-authored and open-textured argument developed in the book, shadowed throughout by a keen awareness of the wonders of renewal that nevertheless emerged, and that ultimately account for the collaborators' engagement with their respective texts and subjects. These themes are the subjects of the introduction by David Kettler and Gerhard Lauer.
No group active during the last imperial years in Germany and the fourteen years of Weimar was more intimately identified with the slogan of Bildung, expressly treated as remote from specialized sciences of the university and as core of an intimate association of individuals, than the so-called Circle around the poet, Stefan George. The members forced into exile after 1933 could not avoid decisions about this motif so demandingly present in their earlier lives, and they exemplify a significant range of alternative ways of managing this unshakable legacy, encapsulated in an elitist conception of 'secret Germany' that also resonated with many intellectuals drawn to National Socialism. In a brief essay grounded in his extensive scholarly investigations of George and his Circle, Ernst Osterkamp evokes and analyses this extreme exile experience.
Irving Wohlfarth, in turn, closely marks Walter Benjamin's dialectical conversion of 'secret Germany' into a location defined by "political repression and the denial of a public voice." While Benjamin's exile ended in death before he could join most of the individuals studied in this volume in one of the secure English-speaking nations, his years in Germany had been a constant preparation for exile, and the production of his brief years in French exile became a vital impulse in the self-confrontation of such disparate prominent exile figures as Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno. Yet, as Wohlfarth shows, Benjamin to an important extent kept his own secret, leaving it to be differently unriddled in different times. This Bildung has to be painfully extracted from of the given materials; and it bestows no status. With all the hermeticism and rebelliousness of Benjamin's position, as Wohlfarth shows, he profoundly affects the debate about enlightenment,
politics, Jews-and Germany .
Reinhard Mehring presents Thomas Mann as a writer who brings these issues more into the light, challenging the thought that myth and humanism are contradictory, first of all through the humanistic prototypes that people his novels but secondly also in philosophical essays, whose arguments are explicated by several exile philosophers and in the course of Mann's correspondence with Theodor W. Adorno. With the end of exile, as such, Mann's humanistic Bildungs project was largely abandoned by those who had expounded it earlier, and his extraordinary authority abruptly withered, especially within the new German literary scholarshi p.
A former secretary and close friend of Thomas Mann stood out, according to Gerhard Lauer, as a lifelong witness to a distinctive idealization of a "revolutionary" refounding of German Bildung, having chosen Germany above his native Austria, which he deemed polluted by Habsburg. In principle, Kahler made no concessions to the intellectual currents of his place of asylum, except insofar as his self-popularizations served a taste for cultural uplift. Here was an exile in the vestibule .
The contrast could hardly be sharper than with another émigré who similarly came from former Hapsburg territory to Germany, the artist, Lázló Moholy-Nagy, who enjoyed the success of a cosmopolitan figure. Anna Wessely shows how he was moved to leave Germany, where he had earlier come as exile from Hungary and how the terms of his welcome in America nevertheless compelled him to abandon the Bildung project of the Bauhaus, the aim that was of special value to him.
Another group of avant garde émigré artists illuminate a very different aspect of the American exile scene. According to Laurent Jeanpierre, the exiled Surrealists are linked to the aesthetician of the Institute of Social Research by the question of acknowledging the inescapable inner connection between Bildung and myth without a romantic transcendence of practical enactment in the realm of concrete social possibilities, notwithstanding the failure of both to recognize the hidden parallels.
Quite different, Gregory Moynahanpoints out, is the case of the philosopher, Ernst Casssirer, whose own contestation of the Bildung issues variously posited in the debate after Weber took place at the most stringent philosophical level, famously in his debate with Martin Heidegger in Davos in 1927. Cassirer's further elaboration of his argument-and its application to large political themes—shows clear and influential marks of his engaged encounter with the philosophical setting in his places of exile, Sweden and the United States. Cassirer's service as mediator in the transition to the new frame of reference is especially clear in the work and reception of Erwin Panofsky .
An unexpected affinity can be observed, according to Kay Schiller, between Cassirer and the renaissance scholar, Paul Kristeller, whose rigorous historical method precluded in principle the more symbolic rendering of Humanist ideas that Cassirer occasionally ventured in his writings in exile. At issue in the "humanistic turn" was the transfer to the United States of the debate about a "Third Humanism" that had talen authoritarian and elitist form in Germany. Cassirer and Kristeller came together in insisting on the philosophical seriousness of the Renaissance figures they studied and in rejecting their invocation in aid of stereotyped positions in the old Bildungs debate.
In his extended and extensively researched essay on Siegfried Kracauer, Jerry Zaslove brings forward the profound soberness with which this essayist, a convenor and participant of the Weimar Bildung debate, explores the experience of exile-and Holocaust—notably in displacing the destructive and wordy yearning for community with the distanced but infinitely attentive view of the photographer. Interestingly, Kracauer's work was completed, not by Theodor Adorno, with whom he had been in extended conversation, but by Paul Kristeller, who evidently found him a kindred spirit precisely in this prophetic ataraxia.
Jack Jacobs contends that the stark recognition of anti-Semitism as focal point of attention by the Horkheimer-Adorno group, during the years of exile, mediated the displacement of the theoretical focal point from Marxist social theory to a distinctive dialectical cultural-political configuration. Not only their reflections on the German spectacle, seen from a distance, but also the exigencies of their client search and service contributed to this reorientation. The conditions of life in exile manifested itself on more than one level.
The complexity of the exile situation of this distinctive group is made evident by an account of their anti-Semitism research project from Thomas Wheatland's competing perspective, where the emphasis is rather on the effort to meet the methodological expectations of American social science clients. The emphasis here is on the contested importance of the empirical methodologist-and fellow-exile—Paul Lazarsfeld for their work, an issue of particular interest because it highlights the question of the extent to which participants in exile revised their memories in the changed contexts of later times.
Theodore W. Adorno, like his closest collaborator, Max Horkheimer, rejected all aspects of Mannheim's approach. The conjunction of politics and culture, both in the diagnosis of the crisis and in the projection of its negation, was central to Adorno, Alfons Söllner shows, both in theory and in the Bildungs practice in Germany, to which Adorno returned after the years of exile. Adorno's strategy of "political culturism" is a sign of the breach produced by exile and of the subtlety required to work effectively across the gap.
David Kettler considers the importance of negotiation as a mode of relationship that played a special part in shaping exile existence, taking the case of Franz L. Neumann, who served as negotiator for the Horkheimer-Adorno group, but also transformed his own relationship with the group leadership into a bargaining form. In his subsequent relations with foundations, he exemplifies contrasting strategies for negotiating a way to the institutionalizing of a mode of political Bildung which he derived from his Weimar experiences, a space where concerns of science and a mode of Bildung would be in productive complementary apposition. The case study invites consideration of the diverse types of bargaining-or the failures to achieve such a relationship-that pervade all of the examples studied in this book. Then too, successfully to construct a negotiating frame work is not necessarily to achieve a favorable or sustainable settlement. Yet attention to such processes opens the way to balanced encounter with these varied and rich sources of current thought.
Exile, Science, and BILDUNG
The Contested Legacies of German Emigre Intellectuals
edited by David Kettler and Gerhard Lauer
First published in 2005 by
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 and
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG21 6XS
List of Illustrations vii
List of Contributors ix
1. The "Other Germany" and the Question of Bildung: Weimar to Bonn 1
David Kettler and Gerhard Lauer
2. The Legacy of the George Circle 19
3. Walter Benjamin's "Secret Germany" 27
4. A Humanist Program in Exile: Thomas Mann in Philosophical Correspondence with His Contemporaries 47
5. The Empire's Watermark: Erich Kahler and Exile 63
6. An Exile's Career from Budapest through Weimar to Chicago:
L ászló Moholy-Nagy 75
7. Occult Encounters and "Structural Misunderstandings" in Exile:
The surrealists and the Institut für Sozialforschung in the United States 101
8. The Davos Debate, Science, and the Violence of Interpretation:
Panofsky, Heidegger, and Cassirer on the Politics of History 111
Gregory B. Moynahan
9. Paul Oskar Kristeller, Ernst Cassirer, and the "Humanistic Turn" in the American Emigration 125
10. "The Reparation of Dead Souls"—Siegfried Kracauer's Archimedean Exile—The Prophetic Journey from Death to Bildung 139
11. Horkheimer, Adorno, and the Significance of Anti-Semitism: The Exile Years 157
12. Not-Such-Odd Couples: Paul Lazarsfeld and the Horkheimer Circle On Morningside Heights 169
13. "Political Culturalism?" Adorno's "Entrance" in the Cultural Concert of West-German Postwar History 185
List of Contributors
JACK JACOBS. Professor of Government, John Jay College and The Graduate Center, Cuny. Author: On Socialists and the "Jewish Question" after Marx (1992). Editor: Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe: The Bund at 100 (2001).
LAURENT JEANPIERRE. Sociology. SHADYC (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Marseille) / CEDITEC (Université Paris XII Val de Marne). Author: Articles on New York intellectuals, French exiles, Varian Fry, Surrealism, and History of the Social Sciences. Forthcoming book on the relationships between Surrealism and Structuralism.
DAVID KETTLER. Political Studies, Bard (Emeritus Trent University). Coauthor: Karl Mannheim and the Crisis of Liberalism (1995), Social Regimes, Rule of Law and Democratic Change (2001), and Karl Mannheim's Sociology as Political Education (2001).
GERHARD LAUER. Literature, University of Goettingen. Author: Die Verspätete Revolution (1995) and coeditor of volumes on problems of social history and literature, the return of the author.
REINHARD MEHRING. Institute of Philosophy, Humbold University, Berlin. Author:Thomas Mann: Artist and Philosopher (2001); Introduction to Carl Schmitt (2001).
GREGORY MOYNAHAN. History. Bard College. Dissertation: "The Face of the Times: Ernst Cassirer, Georg Simmel, and the Development of the Modern German Idea of Culture." Articles on Cassirer and Simmel.
ERNST OSTERKAMP. Literature. Humboldt University, Berlin. Author of numerous books and articles on German literature, with special interest in boundary between art and literature and the recent history of German "Bildung."
KAY SCHILLER. Modern Europan History. University of Durham, U.K. Author: Gelehrte Gegenwelten. Über humanistische Leitbilder im 20. Jahrhundert (2000) and articles on German–Jewish emigre historians in the United States as well as German history in the 1960s and 1970s.
ALFONS SÖLLNER. Political Theory. University of Chemnitz. Author, Peter Weiss und die Deutschen. Die Entstehung einer politischen Ästhetik wider die Verdrängung (1988); Deutsche Politkwissenschaftler in der Emigration. Ihre Akkulturation und Wirkungsgeschichte(1996); as well as some fifty scholarly articles on the social science emigration/return.
ANNA WESSELY. Art History and Sociology. Professor of Sociology, Eötvös Loránd University and Senior Fellow, Humanities Center, Central European University,Budapest. Editor of the Budapest Review of Books, author of articles on Simmel, Mannheim, eighteenth century philosophy, and contemporary art.
THOMAS WHEATLAND. Editorial Acquisition Department, Harvard University Press (Ph.D. in European and U.S. Intellectual History from Boston College, 2002). Author: Articles and a manuscript under development on the exile, history, and reception of the "Frankfurt School" in the United States.
IRVING WOHLFARTH. Professor of German Literature, Reims. Editor and contributor, Nietzsche and an "Architecture of our Minds" (1999); Speak Of Camps; Think of Genocide (1999).
JERRY ZASLOVE. Professor emeritus Literature and Humanities, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia Canada, monographs on Kafka, anarchism and culture, dialogic approaches to art and culture, recent publications on Siegfried Kracauer, Jeff Wall, Herbert Read and utopic modernism, and, forthcoming, on the death of the university, as well as an edited book of essays on Arnold Hauser.
The chapters in this volume originated in an ongoing project on intellectual exile at Bard College, directed by David Kettler, Research Professor.1 They grew out of papers presented at a conference held at that college on August 13 to 15, 2002: "Contested Legacies: The German-Speaking Intellectual and Cultural Emigration to the United States and the United Kingdom, 1933–45." This conference in turn was prepared at the "No Happy End" workshop on February 13 to 15, 2001. The editors are accordingly indebted not only to the institution and donors whose contributions made these meetings possible, but also to the many colleagues who participated in them. Since there were twenty presenters at the workshop and fifty at the conference, it was obviously impossible to include all the high quality contributions in the present volume. Yet the project was seen from the outset to be a cumulative and collaborative effort. Accordingly,
we would like to thank all the paper givers at both sessions who are not otherwise represented here: Peter Baehr,*** Reinhard Blomert, Jonathan Bordo,* Peter Breiner,*** Catherine Epstein, Christian Fleck,* Lawrence J. Friedman,* Judith Gerson, Lydia Goehr,* John Gunnell,** Wolfgang Heuer, Daniel Herwitz,* Claudia Honegger,* Martin Jay, Mario Kessler, Claus-Dieter Krohn,* Richard Leppert, Peter Ludes, John McCormick,* Neil McLaughlin, Berndt Nikolai, Margaret Olin, Hanna Papanek,* Paul Roazen, James Schmidt, Joanna Scott,* John Spalek, Michael P. Steinberg, Matthias Stoffregen, Edoardo Tortarolo, Roy Tsao, Mihaly Vajda, Suzanne Vromen,*** Wren Weschler, and Janet Wolff.2
Because of the intimate tie between the workshop, conference, and publications, we want to thank all the donors who supported the project in any of its phases: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), The Max Kade Foundation, Inc., The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Inc., the Open Society Institute, James H. Ottaway Jr., and, at Bard, The Bard Center, the Human Rights Project, the Institute for International Liberal Education, and the Bard Music Festival. We are indebted for institutional support as well to the Seminar for German Philology of the Georg-August-University, Göttingen. Special thanks are owed to Leon Botstein, the President of Bard College, whose support extended from his guarantee of the workshop before there were any donors to his grant of a year's exemption from teaching, for work on this book, to one of the two editors, as well as the invitation to the Contested Legacy Conference to meet in the week framed by the weekends of the inspiring Bard Music Festival devoted to "Gustav Mahler and His World," of
which he is the director.
1. The next phase of the project, "Limits of Exile," is introduced in David Kettler, " 'Et les émigrés sont les vaincus.' Spiritual Diaspora and Political Exile," Journal of the Interdisciplinary Crossroads (vol. 1, no. 2, August 2004).
2. Colleagues marked with an asterisk (*) are contributors to the collection of papers from the "No Happy End" Workshop, which also includes contributions by Laurent Jeanpierre, David Kettler, Ernst Osterkamp, Anna Wessely, and Jerry Zaslove, who are included in the present book: Contested Legacies (Berlin/Gleinicke: Galda & Wilch 2003). The double asterisk (**) marks the authors collected in a special issue of the European Journal of Political Theory, edited by David Kettler and Thomas Wheatland, which also contains an essay by Alfons Söllner: Contested Legacies: Political Theory and the Hitler Era (vol. 3, no. 2, April 2004). Independent publications of articles first presented at "Contested Legacies" include "Remigranten als Historiker in der frühen DDR," in Mario Kessler, Exil und Nach Exil: Vertriebene Intellektuelle im 20. Jahrhundert, Hamburg: VSA-Verlag, 2002, 181–197;" 'Weimar and Labor' as Legacy: Ernst Fraenkel, Otto Kahn-Freund, and Franz L. Neumann," Helga
Schreckenberger, ed., Die Alchemie des Exils. Exil als schoepferischer Impuls, Vienna: Edition Praesens 2005; Margaret Olin, "The Road To Dura Europos," Budapest Review of Books, 12 (2002): 2–5; Janet Wolff, " 'Degenerate Art' in Britain: Refugees, Internees, and Visual Culture," Visual Culture in Britain (vol. 4, no. 2, 2003).
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