Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology

Political and Social Theory from Nietzsche to Habermas

Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: Published: June 2002

Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy

With a groundbreaking, interdisciplinary approach to German political and social theory, Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology provides fresh insight into the thought of many of the most influential intellectual figures of the twentieth century. Its essays detail the manner in which a wide range of German intellectuals grappled with the ramifications and implications of democracy, technology, knowledge, and control from the late Kaisserreich to the Weimar Republic, from the Third Reich and the Federal Republic through recently unified Germany.
Scholars representing the fields of political science, philosophy, history, law, literature, and cultural studies devote essays to the work of Nietzsche, Weber, Heidegger, Lukács, Schmitt, Marcuse, Adorno, and Habermas. They also discuss the writings of such figures as Brecht and Freud, who are not primarily thought of as political theorists, and explore the thought of Helmut Plessner and reformist theorists from East Germany who have been little studied in the English language. In the process of debating the nature and responsibilities of the modern state in an era of mass politics, unparalleled military technology, capacity for surveillance, and global media presence, the contributors question whether technology is best understood as an instrument of human design and collective control or as an autonomous entity that not only has a will and life of its own but one that forms the very fabric of modern humanity.

Contributors. Seyla Benhabib, Richard J. Bernstein, Peter C. Caldwell, Richard Dienst, David Dyzenhaus, Andrew Feenberg, Nancy S. Love, John P. McCormick, Jan-Werner Müller, Gia Pascarelli, William E. Scheuerman, Steven B. Smith, Tracy B. Strong, Richard Wolin


"[A]n accessible yet sophisticated introduction to some of the most important and influential thinkers of the modern age." — Saul Newman , Australian Journal of Political Science

"The essays . . . are worth reading for new perspectives on a past and current problem. McCormick's volume may be recommended to specialists and to any well-educated person with a general interest in the topic." — Thomas Heike , Perspectives on Political Science

"The liveliness of these debates is convincingly reflected in the structure of this book. . . . A welcome collection of diverse, lively, and polemical analyses. . . . The present book provides valuable reflections and diverse standpoints that may contribute to the more vigorous study of the problematic nexus between democracy and technology." — Andrej Pinter, Knowledge, Technology & Policy

“The contributors to Confronting Mass Democracy and Indusrial Technology are a highly diverse yet uniformly first-rate lot. This rich volume is sure to attract scholarly attention in a variety of fields. There is nothing else like it in print.” — Stephen Holmes, New York University School of Law


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

John McCormick is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He is the author of Carl Schmitt’s Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology.

Table of Contents Back to Top

I. Rationality and Politics at the Outset of the Century

Love, Passion, and Maturity: Nietzsche and Weber on Science, Morality, and Politics / Tracy B. Strong

II. Strategies of Progressive Political Action in an Age of Technological Transformation

Post-Utopian Marxism: Lukacs and the Dilemmas of Organization / Andrew Feenberg

Herbert Marcuse: A Critical Retrospective from Berlin to Berkeley / Richard Wolin

III. Socio-Literary Theory: Unlikely Sources for a Critique of Capitalism?

History Lesson on the S-Bahn: Brecht’s Cartography of Capital / Richard Dienst

The Geist in the Machine: Freud, the Uncanny, and Technology / Gia Pascarelli

IV. Society and State as Machine in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

The Soul in the Age of Society and Technology: Helmuth Plessner’s Defensive Liberalism / Jan-Werner Muller

Leviathan in the 1930s: The Reception of Hobbes in the Third Reich / David Dyzenhaus

V. Theories of Technocracy in Two Postwar Germanies

Revisionism and Orthodoxy: Stalinism and Political Thought in the German Democratic Republic’s Founding Decade / Peter C. Caldwell

Unsolved Paradoxes: Conservative Political Thought in Adenauer’s Germany / William E. Scheuerman

VI. Throwing Off the Yoke of “the German Master”

Destruktion or Recovery?: Leo Strauss’s Critique of Heidegger

A Critical versus Genealogical “Questioning” of Technology: Notes on How Not to Read Adorno and Horkheimer / John P. McCormick

Provocation and Appropriation: Hannah Arendt’s Response to Martin Heidegger

VII. Critical Democratic Theory at Century’s End: Language, Gender, Ethnicity

Disembodying Democracy: Gendered Discourse in Habermas’s Legalistic Turn / Nancy S. Love

Reversing the Dialectic of Enlightenment: The Reenchantment of the World / Seyla Benhabib


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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2788-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2778-3
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