Elements of a Critical Theory of Zionism. The Jewish State, the Disastrous History and the Changing Functionality of Antisemitism in the Late Thought of Max Horkheimer

Sebastian Neubauer


This article explores Max Horkheimer‟s Spätwerk, i. e. his scattered, fragmentary and enigmatic late writings from the time after his return to Frankfurt in 1950 until his death in 1973. The author claims that Horkheimer‟s late writings contain significant „Elements of a Critical Theory of Zionism‟. While elaborating on Horkheimer‟s account of Zionism in a close connection with his account of Judaism and of the Jewish Diaspora, the author argues that precisely these „Elements of a Critical Theory of Zionism‟ may serve as a foil, a prism, for deciphering Horkheimer‟s enigmatic late work. This deciphering comes down to a reinterpretation of the latter in a historic-materialist fashion, which sharply contradicts the common view that late Horkheimer has become conservative and/or religious in the conventional sense. Rather, the author reconnects the issue with Horkheimer‟s core conception of Critical Theory, especially regarding the relationship between philosophy and history. However, in the course of the argument the internal problematic of Hokheimer‟s core conception, as it is deeply reflected in his late work, is illuminated as well. Drawing on this, the closing section pays special attention to late Horkheimer‟s theory of (the functionality of) „antisemitism‟.

Palabras clave

Max Horkheimer; Critical Theory; Philosophy of History; Late Work; Zionism; State of Israel; Jewish Diaspora; Antisemitism; Religion; Judaism

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Copyright (c) 2012 Sebastian Neubauer

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Constelaciones. Revista de Teoría Crítica
ISSN 2172-9506