What should Concerned Citizens be doing, at this late late stage? We need to be demanding – and creating – the impossible. (Sure, it takes a little longer than the merely difficult.)
“Theory”, Adorno concludes, “speaks for what is not narrow-minded.” Practice, and practicality in particular, is more often than not an excuse or a self-deception of ‘scoundrels’, like that ‘idiotic parliamentarian in Dore’s caricature’, who is proud of not looking beyond the immediate task. Adorno denies practice the esteem that tends to be lavishly poured upon it by the spokesmen for “positive” science and those professionals of academic philosophy (indeed, an overwhelming majority of them) who surrender to their terror.
If “emancipation”, the supreme objective of social critique, aims at “the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves,” it is up against the awesome resistance of the “culture industry”; but also against the pressure of that multitude whose cravings that industry promises to gratify (and, genuinely or deceitfully, does).
Page 172 of Zygmunt Bauman’s “Liquid Fear“
And this, more vehemently is from page 276 of an amazing book called “The Other Side of Time: A combat surgeon in World War 2” by Brendan Phibbs. (Manfred is an anti-Nazi German who was parachuted behind the German lines, and made his way back to the Allies with whatever information he could gather.)
In the course of an argument in the command post somebody said, “Oh, shit, let’s be practical,” and I looked over to see Manfred staring at the floor, shaking his head, muttering in German. When I listened, he was saying, “Oh, shit, practical again, here comes practical marching. I’ll never be free from practical.” I asked him about his little chant, and he told me his definitions of “practical.” The word praktisch had been a two-syllable club he’d been beaten by fellow students and teachers and businessmen and clergy all through the nightmare years. “Stop being such a god-damned idealist” Be practical!”
“You know what practical is?
“Practical means I know right from wrong but I’m too fucking scared to do what’s right so I commit crimes or permit crimes and I say I’m only being practical. Practical means coward.
“Practical frequently means stupid. Someone is too goddamn dumb to realize the consequences of what he’s doing and he hides under practical.
“It also means corrupt: I know what I ought to do but I’m being paid to do something different so I call it practical.
“Practical is an umbrella for the everything lousy people do.”
I handed Manfred a bottle of brandy. “A toast, Manfred. Here’s to the destruction of the practical!”
“The cowardly, greedy, vicious, plausible practical!”
Practical is going to get us all killed, IMHO (with apologies to Leavergirl for wallowing in doomster porn)