The rumor persists that older critical theory has nothing to say about international politics. But has it perhaps just not been looked at closely enough so far? In fact, as Moritz Rudolph's groundbreaking study shows, it adds to theories of international politics what they lack without knowing it: a dialectic of unity and disintegration. In the numerous scattered remarks on international politics that run through the late work of Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Franz L. Neumann, and Herbert Marcuse, Rudolph finds the material for their reconstruction. In view of the communist revolution, which solidified into a dictatorship, and the National Socialist break with civilization, their point of departure is not the expectation of progress, but a pessimistic philosophy of history of the downturn: in the older Critical Theory, we then find the contours of a thinking that also suspects civilizational regression in the progress of world unification, sees a bleakly administered world community coming up, and fears the escalation of enmity – if the opportunity for a real break is not seized. The consequences of this for the four thinkers at the center of the book are quite different - and yet, in their political realism, always lead directly to our present, which has become both globalized and uncertain.
Moritz Rudolph, born in Gotha in 1989, studied politics, history and philosophy. He lives in Leipzig, is working on his dissertation on international politics in older critical theory, and writes for Merkur and Agave magazine, among others.