Concerning Resentment

by Max Horkheimer

A neat trick: the criticism of the system is to be the prerogative of those that have an interest in it. The others, who have the opportunity of getting to know its underside, are disarmed by the contemptuous remark that they are annoyed, vengeful, envious. They harbor ‘resentment’!

It should never be forgotten, however, that there is no possible way of getting to know a penitentiary unless one is really locked up in it for five years and knows that the golden freedom one longs for during that time will be a life of starvation.

To restrict testimony about this society which is largely a penitentiary to those who do not experience it as such almost seems like a tacit agreement among the fortunate ones.

SOURCE: Horkheimer, Max. Dawn & Decline: Notes 1926-1931 and 1950-1969, translated by Michael Shaw, with an afterword by Eike Gebhardt (New York: Seabury Press, 1978), p. 31.

Theodor W. Adorno Study Guide

The Frankfurt School: Philosophy in Relation to Social Theory, Cultural Theory, Science, and Interdisciplinary Research.
Phase 1: Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse in the 1930s.
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