The ticket mentality

Image: Seyfettin Geçit


Elements of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism are characteristic of the permanence of barbarism in civilization

This text aims to understand some elements of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism as inherent to the permanence of barbarism in civilization, as long as social conditions are unjust and divide individuals in the struggle for domination and survival. To this end, they will be compared, in the fragment “Elements of Anti-Semitism”, from the book Dialectic of Enlightenment by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1947/2006), the seventh part with the previous six.

The constant statement at the beginning of that text (added three years after the initial publication in 1944) supports the no longer existence of anti-Semites at the time the text was republished – 1947 – also referring to the Nazi-fascist period, given that in the book's preface Dialectic of Enlightenment, which contains this study, indicates that its objective is to understand what led to the regression to barbarism, when there were (and continue to be) conditions for freedom and a life worth living.

We thus have the hypothesis that the no longer existence of anti-Semites at the time is not a conclusion restricted to element VII; since it is present in the dimensions discussed in the first six elements: ideological, social, economic, religious, anthropological and psychological, indicating that the new form of barbarism, if it presents distinct traits from the previous one, is derived from it: a self no longer divided, expressing psychic conflicts, but externalized in identification with celebrities and leaders who maintain a formal hierarchy, no longer based on merit, but on the power of the strongest, politically and economically. It should be noted, then, that, even starting from the analysis of the text, what concerns us is its object.

Considerations from other authors

The impact of element VII is notable. Commentators emphasize the mentality of ticket – the form of psychological regression imposed by industrial society in its irrational advancement, which, untied from conscious human action, makes every individual vestige succumb to monopolies and continues in the reification of consciousness and consequent alienation in late capitalism. In the shape of ticket, the relevance of the historical and social specificities of the Jews as determinants, which for the anti-Semite become nature, is attenuated and anti-Semitism is subsumed into a system that confines thought into blocks, disposing them to people.

Of the characteristics of anti-Semitism, the only vestige remaining in ticket it is the most superficial and generic aspect: its progressive or frankly anti-Semitic value. If those who have not yet completely lost humanity allow themselves to be attracted by tickets progressives, those who would be averse to inhumanity would not allow themselves to be trapped in ticket some: “It’s not just the ticket anti-Semitic who is anti-Semitic, but the mentality of ticket in general” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 171).

The disruptive content of this new section of the essay was highlighted by different authors who dedicated themselves to the work Elements of Antisemitism. It is worth mentioning their formulations in order to highlight how they highlight the objective rupture highlighted in element VII.

Gabriel Cohn (1997, p. 9), in an article about the Elements of Antisemitism, wrote: “This section, which at first glance is a kind of afterthought, introduced a new theme (…) This new theme, and the emblem itself formulated in this section (…) practically reorganize the whole and allow us to rethink the issue of “elements” (…) Even though it speaks of anti-Semitism in a very precise way when characterizing it. it in its distinctive features, the analysis, in doing so, points to an underlying process. It is about its reduction to elements that, although they still belong to anti-Semitism, nevertheless mark the gradual redefinition of the anti-Semitic complex as a whole, within a process that prolongs and overcomes it”.

It would be worth questioning how much, in fact, element VII would bring the possibility of rethinking the previous six, or whether formulations that would indicate the end of the essay were already present in them. As in a text by Löwenthal (1945-1946) the concept of ticket and like him, according to Horkheimer and Adorno, in the preface to Dialectic of Enlightenment, 1944, participated in the writing of the first three elements of the essay under analysis here, it can be assumed that at the beginning of the text, the authors had the outcome in sight.

Alves (2001, p. 53), discussing the argument for replacing anti-Semitic psychology with direct consent to the ticket fascist, concluded: “(…) there is a kind of inversion of what we might expect, that is, of an anti-Semitism that is original and intrinsic to the psychology of certain individuals. Instead, what is original would be the scheme of the ticket, capable of producing an anti-Semitic psychology according to its own convenience of channeling the conformist and aggressive tendencies of a mass of individuals psychologically frustrated and intellectually confused with cultural and economic modernity”.

But, in element VII, the authors already indicate that, at the end of the 19th century, stereotyping was present, just check the Prince de Guermantes' attacks on Dreyfuss, in the work In Search of the Lost Time, by Marcel Proust (1920/1990), to realize that they were superficial, a mere taking and display of a position; So, if the ticket points to a more regressed individual formation, its psychology was already present previously.

Freitas (2010, pp. 137-138), discussing the Freudian influence on Dialectic of Enlightenment, stopped at element VII to deal with the chapter on anti-Semitism. For him, the section addresses “(…) the mentality of ticket, in which thought is guided en bloc by a circle of options that predetermine the choice according to general models of mentality (…) This perspective, of an epistemological nature, is transposed to the economic sphere, in which the small company is replaced by the big store of departments, and from that to the drive economy of individuals, whose “small psychological company” gives way to the cultural industry, multinational managers, political commands, etc. Just as in the cognitive sphere, judgment is no longer carried out by the individual, in the desiderative sphere the psychic instances (id, ego and superego) have been expropriated, in such a way that the functioning of the economic apparatus is not disturbed by individuation, however docile it may be. this be it.”

It should be added to this analysis that the joint exposition of socioeconomic and psychological changes indicates a relationship rather than a transposition from one scope to another: as competitive capitalism is succeeded by that of monopolies, individuation is less necessary, otherwise, it can be inferred from this last quote that from the economic sphere it passes to the psychological and from there to the unstructured individual, while the unstructured individual is correlated with monopoly capitalism.

Silva and Caux (2019, p. 268) proposed a reading of the Elements of Antisemitism and, when discussing section VII, they indicated:

The anti-Semitism that remains after the Shoah (or “neo-anti-Semitism”) is emptied of its historical motivational substrate, but is perpetuated even without that ballast, thanks to the imposition of what the authors call the mentality of “ticket”, that is, adherence to synthetic schemes of representations and beliefs “bought” together in a single package. After the end of the Second World War and the configuration of two geopolitical ideological blocs, a new type of anti-Semitism emerged.

It can be considered, however, that, if the last anti-Semites, according to Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006), are from the end of the XNUMXth century, the reconfiguration of this phenomenon did not occur after the Second World War, as this quote suggests, but as an ongoing process of individual regression derived from the transformation of social infrastructure.

Borzuk (2021, p. 71) made notes on element VII and stated: “In this text, Horkheimer and Adorno present questions that shake solid convictions in force, both at the time the text was written, and even today. I refer particularly to the main thesis of the text, that is, the thesis that there are no more anti-Semites and, resulting from this, the one that justifies it, the denunciation of the psychological expropriation of men with the advancement of administered societies”.

Due to the reservations made in each citation, with the exception of Borzuk (2021), we disagree with the other authors regarding the way they highlight the rupture, as the modification of the object does not imply the abandonment of what was once constituted, but the development of a its potentialities. Therefore, we propose to analyze another aspect: continuity. Element VII breaks and continues the previous ones. It continues, as it shows a psychic regression in relation to what the authors analyzed, and it breaks, as it is another psychic dynamic.

The relationship of continuity and rupture is not strange to all the works cited, its distinction lies in the considerations that unfold from it and in the demonstration that the first six elements contained descriptions of changes in the phenomenon. The consequence of this distinction is the understanding that it is not so much a question of prolonging and overcoming anti-Semitism in the mentality of ticket (Cohn, 1997) regarding the realization of the psychic regression conducive to the mentality of the ticket which was seen in anti-Semitism.

In anti-Semitism the state of prehistory is prolonged, but the possibility of realizing history with consciousness is placed in such a way that it can be overcome. Thus, both tendencies – regression and overcoming – coexist in tension and, the more the bases for history advance, reinforcing counter-pressure, the more the pressure from prehistoric forces intensifies. In the psychological sphere, this means both the reactivation of archaic contents and impulses and putting signs of differentiation at the service of the archaic; the relationship between the two destinies is given by social repression.

In this way, prevented from connecting to what is differentiated, the subject has to connect to what remains; If the connection cannot take place under pacified conditions, it occurs in a destructive way. Freud's idea (1930/2011, p. 12) of the “conservation of the primitive together with that which was transformed from it” in the psyche can be read, then, as the coexistence of something that occurred in the past with its alteration in the present. It would be an indication of perennial social violence, and not an inherent psychological disposition.

It is not appropriate to underestimate that distinction due to the common inclination to enter into a functional correlation with the totalitarian whole. Only with it is it possible to reveal the levels to which it is necessary to dedicate oneself to unearth the culture of barbarism. The legitimate insistence on stating that certain differences refer more to quantity – a matter of degrees – than to quality should lead neither to forgetting that variation in degrees preserves traces of qualitative transformations, nor to the relativization of this gradation. It reveals that the excessive manifestations are contained, in germ, in discrete forms.

Text analysis

The work Dialectic of Enlightenment it was first disseminated in 1944 (Wiggershaus, 1986/2002). This is the date of Prefácio from the book. In 1947, Querido published it and, on that occasion, the authors added an addendum to the preface pointing out that the only change to the text completed when the world was still fighting World War II was the addition of the last thesis, element VII, which composed the essay Elements of Antisemitism: Limits of Enlightenment, which begins as follows: “But there are no more anti-Semites. The last were the liberals who wanted to express their anti-liberal opinion. The distance that the nobility and the military kept from the Jews was, at the end of the nineteenth century, a simple reactionary attitude. Modern characters were the Ahlwardt and the Knüppelkunze, that already had followers with the human material of the Leader and found support among evil spirits and confused minds throughout the country. When the anti-Semitic mentality was expressed, she felt both bourgeois and rebellious. Racist ranting still constituted a distorted form of civil liberty.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, pp.164-165)

What happened, according to the authors, was that: “Anti-Semitic psychology was, to a large extent, replaced by a simple ‘yes’ given to the ticket (…)” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 165). In the translator's final notes, the concept of ticket is referred to political choices. It is important, from now on, to ask, in order to think about our hypothesis, whether the “reactionary attitude”, explained in the previous quote, no longer implies this ticket. If so, element VII does not necessarily break with the discussion established in the previous ones, but presents it in a new form.

However, it is noted between the two excerpts mentioned above, the replacement of the psychological configuration by the political one and, thus, the indistinction between both – psychology and politics – implies what will be developed later: the psychic regression of an individual as psychoanalysis described and what it became under the rule of monopolies – absence of individual differentiation. The predominance of the social structure over the individual, from this perspective, is notable, and indicates that the possibility of the existence of thinking beings marks the advancement of civilization and vice versa, and that when material progress is dissociated from social progress this does not occur, but the opposite: the greater the progress, the lesser the individual development.

The six initial elements alluded to the ideological, economic, political, religious, anthropological and psychological components of anti-Semitism; This analysis would hardly be invalidated by the initial thesis of element VII. In any case, in the latter Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 169) claim: “The “elements of anti-Semitism”, based on experience and nullified by the loss of experience that is announced in the mentality of the ticket, are mobilized again by the ticket. Having already entered into decomposition, they bring to the neo-anti-Semite a bad conscience and, with it, the insatiability of evil.”

This statement may suggest that anti-Semitism is based on experience; but, if it were, the persecution of the Jews would be justifiable for the violence committed against those who hate it, something opposite to what the authors expose as the experience and knowledge defended against the forms of false projection of idealism and positivism that break with the subject-object relationship. Violence is never due to the victim, always to the aggressor who does not understand why he strikes (Adorno, 1967/1995); If anti-Semitism was based on experience, the victim would be responsible for the violence that befalls him, as he would have provoked that violence.

But the quote may contain the opposite interpretation: the experience as necessary to combat anti-Semitism and, thus, even this possibility was lost, because as they argue, the ticket progressive is as fascist as its opposite. In Spanish, the beginning of the quote in question is: “The 'empirical elements of antisemitism', unauthorized by the loss of experience that manifests itself in the style of thinking according to Tickets, are now activated and put into movement by the Ticket itself” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/1998, p. 248); strengthening the second interpretation. Disallowing – which prevents consideration as a basis – is distinct from basing, which brings the idea of ​​determination. Thus, the experience, given by lasting and substantial contact with the victim, can no longer be opposed to violence, as this already presents itself in the reduction of thought to the choice of the victim. ticket. However, as the clarification is contradictory, at the end of element VII, they accentuate it against the exposed violence.

In element I, when characterizing the violence directed against the Jews, Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 139) indicate that they attracted a “will to destruction”, were “the absolute object of pure and simple domination” and the goal was to “exterminate them like insects”. It is argued that it is possible to glimpse here the argument that “anti-Semitism is no longer an independent impulse” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 165), presented in element VII, which highlights the contingency of anti-Semitic predicates, their non-specific character among other predicates enclosed in the same ticket and which would, in part, replace an anti-Semitic psychology.

There is already a certain lack of specificity in the characterization of violence in element I. What seems more fixed in that equation of violence, the Jews as the object, and would lead us to believe that it is an “independent impulse” contrary to the replacement of that object, has its objective refutation in the letter of the text; they themselves are a replacement: the workers “after all are the ones targeted, [but] no one says it to their face (and rightly so)” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 139).

The interchangeable place of victims and the possibility of them becoming murderers depending on the situation is discussed below, in element II, and reinforces the argument, as well as the consideration that: “There is no genuine anti-Semitism and, certainly, no anti-Semite born” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 142).

No Research Project on Antisemitism: The Project Idea, published in 1941, Horkheimer and Adorno (2012), with the collaboration of Lowënthal and Neumann, outlined a typology of anti-Semites. The first type presented was the “born” anti-Semite: “The basic quality of this type is the renunciation of rational justification. He reacts with apparent 'instinct' to so-called Jewish racial traits – flat feet, smell, hunched over Nazis [sic], Jewish accent, gesticulation, etc [sic]. Their aversion is a reaction to the scars of mutilation that history has left on the Jews. Even their names (Itzig, Levy, Cohn) are repugnant to him. He simply cannot stand the Jews. It can often be observed that this type appreciates so-called 'spicy' women similar to the Jewish type if they are presented to him as Gentle (note Póla Negri's success with the National Socialists). This tendency indicates that the allegedly natural anti-Semitism in some of its representatives is, in fact, an overcompensation for repressed or inhibited desires.” (Horkheimer & Adorno (1941/2012, pp. 126-127)

Supposed racial traits are marks of historical violence and the repugnance of anti-Semites towards them revealed what they should repress without examination of conscience, without “rational justification”. The reaction depends on the representation, on how the characters are presented by external agencies; which alludes to ticket. Under the label “gentiles”, the characters provoke attraction (the actress’s success); under the label “Jews”, they provoke repulsion (they simply cannot stand it). Such incongruity shows that judgments are detached from the object and the subject, as the subject is capable of self-reflection and self-awareness. The reaction is so direct that it appears as “instinctive”; This means that it arises from poorly differentiated impulses encouraged from outside, becoming second nature (as element II brings).

The denial of anti-Semitism as an independent impulse can be unfolded in relation to the question of why Jews are made the “absolute object” of domination. Because they are absolutely inadequate to provide the satisfaction promised by their decimation, but they were designated as such and to this designation respond obfuscated individuals, in whom the ability to move has been immobilized: “True madness consists in the impossibility of moving, in the incapacity of thought. of achieving this negativity, in which, unlike consolidated judgment, true thought consists” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 160).

A similar reaction is that of predators towards their prey and the scientific concept towards its object: “Just as, today, practical and fruitful scientific projects require an intact capacity for definition, the capacity to immobilize thought at a point determined by the needs of society. , of delimiting a field to be investigated in its smallest details without the investigator transcending it, just as the paranoid cannot help but transgress a complex of interests determined by his psychological destiny”. (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 182) (element VI)

Anti-Semitic torment continues indefinitely because the victim cannot restore what he was also expropriated. If the bases of suffering are in the expropriation that is core to the social organization, but this cannot be confronted, what is offered in its place becomes the target of the intense fury that accompanies misery; and what is denied (expropriated) to everyone is, according to the authors, the possibility of a fair, free and happy life.

If the disinherited cannot carry it out, the opposite emerges: “Anti-Semitism as a popular movement has always been what its instigators liked to censure in social democrats: the leveling down. Those who have no power of command must have it as bad as the people” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, pp. 140-141). The fury against the system that denies justice, freedom and happiness is diverted towards those who represent, even if the representation is imaginary, freedom of spirit and hard work, but who have no power.

The groups that dominate as subjects in place of humanity disappear from focus. Adorno (1942/2004, p. 353) argues: “The prognosis of the theory about poor owners and the disproportionate mass of them that pose nothing is fulfilled, but instead of being able to manifest the essence of the society of classes, it is seen hechized by the society of masses where the society of classes is completed. The dominant class disappears after the concentration of capital".

The target of absolute evil, made the object of obsessed fury, appears as deserving of violence, as absolute evil; This is the cynical lie with which aggressors justify the unjustifiable: domination over others. As absolute evil needs no justification, ticket also: the other is absolute evil; and, if cynicism seeks to justify the unjustifiable, the relationship with the object of hatred is apparent, as appears to be the movement underlying adherence to ticket.

The falsity of the Nazi thesis about the Jews is highlighted: there is no race or anti-race determined by “any particular natural characteristic” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 140). Because such a statement was false, Nazism made it true. The more absurd the figure of the Jews, the more unrestricted the measures to make them correspond to it. Therefore, its disfigurement is greater. According to the authors (in element I), the existence of the current order depends on the “disfigurement of men” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 140). The disfigurement of the Jews served to create the “absolute object”, to adjust them to the projection onto them; argument present in element VII: “Anti-Semitism, in a way, has to, first, invent its object” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 170).

The “will to destruction”, of “extermination”, obeys undifferentiated impulses, that is, they are not independent impulses. These are impulses little transformed by culture and which are activated against its irrational organization, but which – nor have they been touched by it – consider that only by destroying it will they obtain satisfaction; They are reactionary impulses, they rebel against the hierarchy established by criteria of merit – criteria linked to the most advanced power at the time – to establish the order of strength, of mediocrity. Nature is incited against civilization – the slogan of race implies “the reduction to the natural, to pure violence” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 140). The type of violence mobilized is “persecution”, as stated in element I.

But, the authors state, “persecution in general cannot be separated from such an order” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 140), class society.[I] With this, they indicate the permanence of this barbarism as long as domination remains. It is his “essence, no matter how much he sometimes hides it” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 140); comes to light as an alleged revolt against domination and is a more primitive form of domination. The preface's understanding of being a “new species of barbarism” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 11) states that what they deal with is distinct (more regressed), but inherent to the existing one.

Element II contains other expressions that anticipate the argument that anti-Semitism no longer concerns an independent impulse: it is the “urge for destruction” that anti-Semitism helps; the only gain is the impoverished “collective ratification” of fury; the “dark drive” triumphs over anti-Semites (see Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, pp. 140-143).

In element II, the question of what the masses would gain from anti-Semitism is analyzed. The advantage, the authors argue, was nothing more than “a partially devasted ideology” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 141). It follows, then, that: a) the masses, who support fascism and are supported by this system through induced psychic regressions, were not simply tricked, the ideology to cover up the real in the consciousness of the past is replaced by the direct threat that demands immediate identification with the social order; b) if it was not a mere mistake and, proof of this was that anti-Semitism remained “immune to the argument of lack of profitability” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 141), there was a split with one's own interests and discernment .

The remainder of this break with rational and sensitive interests is “fury”, the energy most suited to persecution and what is associated with it in this society: work, whose essence, in alienation, is the self-sacrifice of those who produce, under the command of some willing to sacrifice whoever does not produce furiously against themselves and against existence in general, as work increases the means and concentration that makes workers dispensable and enrolls them in mutual persecution.

The affinity between the society of labor exploitation and the type of action without restraints of anti-Semitism were enunciated by the authors in elements II and VII: “Everything that lives becomes the material of its atrocious duty, which no inclination can harm anymore. Action actually becomes an end in itself and autonomous, it covers up its own lack of purpose. Anti-Semitism always calls for finishing the job. Between anti-Semitism and totality there was from the beginning the most intimate connection.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 142) (element II)

Something needs to be produced. The more the evolution of technique makes physical work superfluous, the more fervently it is transformed into the model of spiritual work, which we must prevent, however, from drawing the consequences of this. This is the secret of the brutality that favors anti-Semitism. (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 166) (element VII)

Totality and anti-Semitism are reciprocally reinforced: the subjection of the spirit to the model of degradation of physical work (more degrading because less would be necessary given the advancement of technique) reinforces the brutalization that favors anti-Semitism. And anti-Semitism elevates purposeless action, such as work, to the position of the ultimate end. People taken by anti-Semitism are taken by the totality, which illustrates the lack of distinction between psychological and political dimensions that previously existed. The assimilation of the former by the latter aims to extinguish subjectivity not only within each person; intends to extinguish subjectivity as a potential objectification of history. In this sense, it is not that there is a fusion between the psychic and political spheres; ultimately, the first tends to be eliminated.

An emblem of this process is that psychology now has behavior, its most external element, as its basic unit. Before, as Freud's work testifies, behavior (jokes, mistakes) led to the unconscious and its complex relationships with reality mediated by psychic instances. But the look at behavior started to lead to environmental contingencies and the complexity is limited to the relationship between events that accompany it. Those who insist on seeing more and cover up transparent reality with pompous concepts join, like those who falsify it, those who duplicate it because they are satisfied with describing it. Without criticism, both operate in her favor. The impoverishment of the ego, as conceived by psychoanalysis, is portrayed as follows by Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 156):

The inner depth of the subject consists of nothing other than the delicacy and richness of the world of external perception. When the entanglement is broken, the ego petrifies. When he exhausts himself in the positivist record of data, without giving anything himself, he is reduced to a simple point; and if he, idealistically, projects the world from the unfathomable origin of himself, he exhausts himself in an obstinate repetition.

In anti-Semites for ticket, the authors noted, in element VII, the suppression of any conviction – a dimension that attests to the existence of traces of the ego and the subject – and its replacement “by the predetermined reflections of the personalized exponents of their positions” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/ 2006, p. 165). This argument was already strongly highlighted in element II: “Anti-Semitic behavior is triggered in situations in which individuals obsessed and deprived of their subjectivity find themselves free as subjects. For the people involved, their gestures are lethal and yet meaningless reactions, like those that behaviorists observe without interpreting.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 141)

Subjects without subjectivity do not have their own convictions and, therefore, can accept any one or several, even incompatible ones, at the same time (as are the conglomerations of themes in tickets); a sign of the degeneration of the capacity for discernment and the ego.

It was previously indicated that the scarcity of economic benefits for the masses aligned with the anti-Semitic crusade evidenced an obstinate action “against their own discernment” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 141) (element II). The decline of this faculty was also noted in element VII. Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 166) wrote that “In advanced industrial society, a regression occurs to a mode of making judgment that can be said to be devoid of judgment, of the power of discrimination” and that “In the era of vocabulary basic of three hundred words, the ability to judge and, with it, the distinction between true and false are disappearing”; there is, therefore, no differentiation of objects, these are not specific, but specified only by the name and predicates associated with it and external to the object; the loss of discernment argument is crucial in defining the ticket.

That anti-Semitism nullifies the distinction between true and false was highlighted when discussing the Jewish object invented by the anti-Semite and Nazism's commitment to making its crazy ideology real. This requires, as stated, the use of force or the threat of its use. The dissolution of this distinction is not due to a weakness of the truth in asserting itself, but in its persecution. Truth survives in difference mediated by totality, and when this becomes entirely false, both – truth and difference – are extinguished. But, because it does not fit into the approved dyads – such as “friend-enemy”, mentioned in element VII –, whose poles are legitimized and obey the same matrix of the mentality of the ticket, “… in society, everything that represents difference has to tremble” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 166).

Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 171) point out that “fierce anger at difference” is immanent in the mentality of the ticket. Perhaps the obscure and undifferentiated instinctual foundation of this tendency is related to this anger, but, more than difference, hatred seems to be directed towards any object that forces the anti-Semite to relate to someone or something; If it is narcissism, the problem is not the other, but having to relate to them, thus abandoning the possibility of having oneself as the only possibility of being.

It is not the difference that would provoke hatred, but the “threat of suffering” caused by the affective relationship with others, as described by Freud (1930/2011), when indicating that love would be the best way to seek happiness and the most prone to suffering, so, to avoid risk, it would supposedly be better to love yourself. This would mark the difference with the anti-Semite of the past, who needed to justify his fury against a specific object, which indicated a certain consideration for the external world.

The tendency of the mentality of ticket is to activate destructiveness against the non-identical, but, if it is immanent and teleological, this tendency was already placed as the end to be achieved. It is worth mentioning the propositions that deal with the attack on the spirit, on thought, on what protects discernment and truth, remembering the difference and requesting the relationship with the other. In this sense, in element IV, on the religious dimension of anti-Semitism, the authors conclude: “The adherents of the Father's religion are hated by the adherents of the Son's religion because they think they know everything. It is the hostility to the spirit inherent to the spirit that hardens into the presumption of being salvation” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 148).

Elements II and VII state, regarding the image of the intellectual and thought (by extension, the spirit), that “(…) he [the intellectual] seems to think, what others do not allow themselves, and does not shed sweat fatigue and physical effort. The banker and the intellectual, money and spirit, exponents of circulation, are the renegade dream of those whom domination mutilated and which it uses for its own perpetuation.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 143)

To the extent that thought ceases to represent a piece of professional equipment, in a highly specialized form in different sectors of the division of labor, it becomes suspect as an out-of-fashion luxury object (…) (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947 /2006, p. 166).

In both excerpts, the elimination of what represents thought is based on the social maintenance of work as a sacrifice. The first section focuses on workers. For those mutilated directly by manual labor, what seems to escape “fatigue and physical effort” is unbearable, as it evokes the “denied dream” of idleness and satisfaction, and, thus, domination is perpetuated against themselves and against everyone. .

In the second excerpt, the subject is the dominant rationality through the organization of work. As long as intellectual work was useful for developing the productive forces to the point that the configuration of technique allowed the fragmentation of work and the deepening of alienation, it was still tolerated. Once this stage is reached, the consequence of which is uniformity in the various sectors of production, it, which still has differences, becomes unnecessary. Thought helped to produce uniformity within its domains, helping to seal its downfall, but it further expresses the possibility of it not being a mere socially useful profession.

The advancement of technique and uniformity of work are the bases for fulfilling the promise of overcoming excessive effort and sacrifice. The suspicion about the thought, the idea that it is “out of fashion”, is the distrust that it can bring that promise to the surface again. As a “luxury object”, it refers to what is not necessary, but promotes comfort and pleasure, and allows us to glimpse existing contradictions and constitute subjectivity; concepts come from it; in its absence, prejudices appear. In the world of needs, if thought can mean the possibility of overcoming them, the alliance with what exists resists, stirring up resentment and evoking the possibility of freedom.

Previously, it was about the possibility of changing who is targeted by violence and who carries it out, depending on the historical situation. Corresponding to this is the idea that everyone is subject to ticket and that the positions occupied in it are interchangeable, the attack directed at one group can be redirected at another. This is what is stated in element II: “And as the victims are interchangeable depending on the situation: vagabonds, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, each of them can take the place of the murderer, in the same blind voluptuousness of homicide, as soon as it becomes the norm and becomes feel powerful as such” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 142).

Effectively, power is paramount, not who exercises it. This implies that, to overcome violence, it is necessary to overcome power itself and not reorganize and redistribute it. With him, things happen as with free competition in capitalism. It necessarily leads to monopoly (Marx, 1932/2010) and always to the progression of value; regardless of the person of the capitalists. It is no coincidence that any division of power is just a moment that tends to be revoked and leads to the elimination of those less powerful.

This radicality of overcoming is found in element VII. It is stated that “The Jewish masses themselves are so susceptible to the mentality of the ticket like any of the youth associations that are hostile to them” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 170) and that the positions in the ticket are interchangeable. However, if this raises the hope that the “chiefs” could be allocated the place then occupied by the Jews in the ticket anti-Semitic, a true overcoming is beyond this relativity, because, in this case, “the transition (…) to a more human situation cannot occur because good and evil meet the same destiny” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p .170).

Following the general habit of stating what, in principle, needs to be discrete (justice, freedom, humanity) as continuous (fairer, freer, more human), perhaps it would be appropriate to say that the situation could become “more human”, as they did the authors. But they teach not to exchange truth for relativity; in its partiality, the false is about to take over everything: “Truth does not have degrees like verisimilitude” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 160). Just as the requirement for overcoming a state in which there are no more victims is overcoming power, the requirement for a truly human situation is overcoming the mentality of the ticket and what engenders it, does not simply reform or reorient its content, which is a mockery of content appropriate to the reified form of thought, and which is not linked to any object.

In element IV, the absence of content is highlighted in the religious aspect of anti-Semitism and, just as the economic representations of Jews are reinvested when their material base declined (as will be discussed), religious residues are incited after religion is “integrated as heritage”. cultural” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 146) or when “enemy religions, which once constituted the difference, found themselves transformed into simple cultural assets, thanks to successful assimilation” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947 /2006, p. 170), as stated in element VII. The sterility of content of “fanatical faith” is portrayed as follows: it “is none other than the bitter faith that once helped the desperate to endure, only its content has been lost. This continues to nourish only hatred for those who do not share the faith” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 146).

In the economic foundation of anti-Semitism, analyzed in element III, there is the absence of content typical of persecution. This passage portrays the process in which the domination, having made use of the Jews (the system's intermediaries in the position of traders), makes them scapegoats, disguising, through the circulation sector, the exploitation practiced in production. It is in the stage of undisguised domination, when such intermediaries are no longer necessary, that society reinvests its economic representations, blaming them for what it directly reproduces.

If even the old economic foundation has collapsed – when it existed, it functioned as a “socially necessary appearance” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 144) – the action carried out in its name lacks content and, thus, is difficult to be deterred. This argument from element VII is found in element III; below, both are presented: “It is precisely because the psychology of individuals and their contents are only produced through the synthetic schemes provided by society that contemporary anti-Semitism acquires an empty and impenetrable nature. The Jewish intermediary only really becomes the image of the devil after he has ceased to exist economically.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, pp. 169-170) (element VII)

They [the Jews] introduced capitalist forms of life into different countries and brought upon themselves the hatred of those who had to suffer under them. Because of economic progress, which is today their loss, the Jews were always a thorn in the flesh of the artisans and peasants, whom capitalism had declassified. Now, they experience in their own flesh the exclusive and particular character of capitalism. Those who always wanted to be first are left behind. (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 145) (element III).

The idea that the Jewish intermediary had ceased to exist is already present in element III, when it shows the material loss and consequent suffering suffered by the Jews. At the moment of the triumph of society over particularities, of the totalization of ratio economic and anonymity produced by concentration, the Jew is particularized: “(…) this society, in which politics is no longer just a business, but business is the entire politics – this society becomes indignant against the retrograde mercantilism of the Jew and designates him as the materialist, the drug dealer, who must retreat before the sacred fire of those who built the business into something absolute.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 143)

The traits of unjust social organization are condensed in the Jews, for this they are stripped of any other quality, degraded “to a species”, “indistinctly designated as 'the Jew'” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 145) . The centrality of society as that which delimits and designates a target is notable. This act of “designating” refers to the predicates of tickets, dictated by large agencies. In English the verb is labelling, which means attaching a piece of material to something – a tag (label) – with information.

Furthermore, more important than the psychological meaning is the social function of this target, as noted in elements III and VII: “That’s why people shout: “catch the thief!” and point to the Jew. He is, in fact, the scapegoat, not only of particular maneuvers and machinations, but in the broader sense in which the economic injustice of the entire class is taken out on him.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 144)

When the masses accept the ticket reactionary containing the anti-Semitic element, they obey social mechanisms in which each person's experiences with Jews are of no importance. In fact, it has been proven that the chances of anti-Semitism are as great in Jewish-free regions as they are even in Hollywood. (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 165)

If in the first excerpt the Jew is still described as the object of private devices, the generic inclination to be socially targeted (taken in the place of class) and disregarding the “experiences of each person” is already outlined, as stated in the second excerpt. The observation of the spread of anti-Semitism highlights a situation in which evil is absolute in the sense that it is not a historical specificity of the places where there were Jews and in the sense that, because it exists independently of what it became its object, it has no restrictions. The situation of social insecurity is general among all those who have been (or are) marked and not even the protection mechanisms generated by this order itself serve as a definitive shield against violence: “Even the Jewish director of a North American industrial trust culture lives, in all its splendor, on a defensive with no prospects for change” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 164); the Hollywood example, of element VII, was already present in element III.

The insatiability of evil is at stake. The mentality of ticket it is hostile to hesitation and doubt, traits of the spirit, of the mediation between desire, social demands and conscience. The text by Lowënthal (1945-1946) and element VII evoke Hamlet as a record of vacillation, a “sign of thought and humanity” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 169).

Having atrophied the spirit that constitutes differentiation, the non-nuanced brilliance of the decision stands out, which is not taken individually: “When the appearance of a decision is still left to the individual, it is already essentially predetermined” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006 , p. 168); being called upon to act. Evil becomes insatiable, as the individual capable of self-awareness and self-determination, an instance of reason, is not constituted; His presence protected the expectation of putting an end to evil; thus, in his absence, evil continues uncontained.

The propensity for the “insatiability of evil” (element VII) appears in element V: “They (demagogues and camp leaders) reproduce in themselves the insatiability of the power of which they are afraid. Everything must be used, everything must belong to them. The mere existence of the other is a cause for irritation. All others are “too spacious” and must be returned to their limits, which are the limits of limitless terror. Whoever seeks refuge must not find it; Those who express what everyone aspires to, peace, homeland, freedom, that is, nomads and muggers, have always found their right to citizenship denied. What they fear will be done to them. Even the last rest must not be a rest. The devastation of cemeteries is not an excess of anti-Semitism, it is anti-Semitism itself.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 151)

The refusal of the relationship with the other – even the other self of self-reflection – is based on the repression of mimetic impulses by civilization, the theme of element V. Identification disrupts the distance essential for domination and anti-Semitism persecutes the “mimetic ciphers” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 151) contained in the idiosyncrasies, through which the anti-Semite tries to justify his contempt for the Jews. Domination prohibited mimesis, but, as it was unable to eliminate these strong impulses, it technically organizes concessions; the anti-Semite can imitate the Jew as long as this culminates in his destruction: “The rejected impulse is permitted to the extent that the civilized person disinfects it through his unconditional identification with the refusing instance” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 152 ).

Here we read an extrinsic coordination of impulses: total identification with the “refusal instance” is the end and the permission of the “refused impulse” is the means; psychological residues are exploited by the fascist political system. The understanding in relation to paranoia present in element VI is similar: “For the usual paranoid, his choice is not free, but obeys the laws of his illness. In fascism, this behavior is adopted by politics, the object of the disease is determined realistically, the hallucinatory system becomes the rational norm in the world, and deviation becomes neurosis.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 154)

From the outset, one can observe the psychic expropriation carried out in the mentality of the ticket. This is reinforced with this scathing passage from element V: “It matters little whether the Jews really still have as individuals those mimetic traits that cause a malignant infection, or whether these traits are merely imputed to them. As soon as the owners of economic power overcome their fear of employing fascist administrators, the harmony of the racial community takes place in the face of the Jews (national community)… It is only in this way under the guise of accusation that the subliminal desire of the natives to return to the mimetic practice of sacrifice can resurface in their consciousness. And when all the horror of primitive times abolished by civilization is rehabilitated as a rational interest projected onto the Jews, there is no stopping it. It can now be put into practice, and the realization of evil still outweighs the evil content of the projection.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 153)

The concrete presence of the characters highlighted to mobilize the persecution is no longer decisive, it is enough that they are attributed by the competent authorities and in reaction to this spuriously designated object the mass responsible for its decimation is formed. It is worth noting that the regression is already drastic: the progress of alienation allowed domination to regress to nature, obtaining license for the desire to return to direct sacrifice. The unstoppable nature of anti-Semitism comes from this connection between the extremely undifferentiated and rationality. Unstoppable because it is authorization by the rationality (irrational) of trends to which the civilizing process should have done justice, but which were dammed.

It is a rational interest in psychic irrationality, but the social destructiveness released is even greater than the psychic horrors explored: “The racist fantasies about the crimes of the Jews, about infanticides and sadistic excesses, about the poisoning of the people and the international conspiracy, define exactly the anti-Semite's dream desire and fall short of its fulfillment.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 153)

Fulfillment fulfills more than the dream desire, it tends towards something worse, therefore, it responds to determinants that meet the projective content of individual irrationality, but are not limited to it. It is questioned, based on the proposed hypothesis, whether what had not yet been named in element V, but would allow us to understand how horror is capable of overcoming the “evil content of the projection”, would not be the mentality of the ticket and its emptiness; This concept expresses the existence of more degraded inclinations than those presented in the content of tickets and the existence of a desperate effort to allow oneself to be deceived by the explicit lies sustained by them, an effort that, as discussed, involves blind surrender to any violence that allows the lie to be converted into reality or to disguise its falsity: “But, if the ticket progressive tends towards something worse than its content, the content of ticket fascist is so empty that it can only be kept standing – as a substitute for the best – thanks to the desperate efforts of those who have been defeated. What is horrible about it is the manifest and yet persistent lie.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 171)

Among these “desperate efforts” is the action of substitutes for psychological mechanisms, substitutes because they preserve their form and effects, but operate at a time of psychological decline. In element VI, the rationalization is treated in this way: “The individual obsessed with the desire to kill has always seen in the victim the persecutor who forced him into a desperate and self-defense, and the most powerful empires have always considered the weaker neighbor as an unbearable threat , before falling on them. Rationalization was a feint and, at the same time, something compulsive.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 154)

The desire is undifferentiated (desire to kill) and does not refer to attributes of objects, but rather adulterates them. But, although rationalization is understood as a simulacrum, it imposes itself in an inescapable, compulsive way; characteristic of an objectless drive. This aspect anobjetal it is also denounced in the false projection of paranoid anti-Semitic behavior: “The objects of fixation are interchangeable like paternal figures in childhood; anyone will do, as long as it sticks; the delirium of the search for reference turns to everything without any reference” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, pp. 158-159). What is instinctual emptiness for the individual becomes material for manipulation by society and is maintained in this way by imprisonment in an order in which the search for protection is hallucinatory because the threat is extreme: “Projection is automated in men, just like other attack and protection functions, which became reflexes” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 155).

The dynamics of libido are deposed by the pressure of survival and as the individual has declined to the condition of a mere organism, only what can be reflex and secondary matters; the understanding of the automated projection of element VI is reinforced in element VII: “Paranoia no longer pursues its objective based on the individual clinical history of the persecutor; having become a social existential, it must first insert itself into the obfuscating context of wars and conjunctures, before the comrades of racist ideology (Volkegenossen) psychologically predisposed people can rush, as patients, internally and externally upon their victims.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 170)

In element VI, projection is understood as a crucial moment of knowledge, not just as a psychological defense mechanism. To perceive reality, the subject projects onto it, delivers himself in the form of judgments and understanding and mediates between perception and what is perceived, limiting the projection. The coordination of projection does justice to the object and the subject. With this, Horkheimer and Adorno (1947/2006, p. 156) support the thesis that “What is pathological in anti-Semitism is not projective behavior as such, but the absence of reflection that characterizes it”.

This displacement of the psychological aspect highlights what can be opposed to anti-Semitism: reflection. Its suppression appears in element VII, at the end of the essay, as decisive for the conservation of the horror of the ticket fascist: “While admitting no truth with which it can be confronted, the truth appears negatively, but in a tangible way, in the full extent of the contradictions of this ticket; From this truth, those deprived of the power to judge can only be separated by the total loss of thought. Enlightenment itself, in full possession of itself and transforming itself into violence, would be able to break the limits of enlightenment.” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 171)

Final considerations

In Spanish, the last sentence of the quoted excerpt does not mention the transformation of enlightenment into “violence”: “This is the Illustration itself, due to itself and in the process of becoming material strength, the instance that could break the limits of the Illustration” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/2006, p. 250). We refer to this translation because, comparing the versions, an understanding emerges: clarification free from the tutelage of domination can regain the ability to objectify reason as a material force, overcoming the limits whose failure to confront keeps emancipation hindered.

The violence of this objectification does not mean barbarism; some strength is necessary to rescue the hope that has been hidden, hope of stopping being persecuted and no longer needing to persecute. As Adorno (1951/1993, p. 175) asked: “Is there not in every persecution perpetrated by men, who, with their dog, stir up the whole of nature against the weakest, the hope that the last traces of persecution will be suppressed? , which is itself part of nature?”

This hope remains hidden thanks to the resurgence of social domination and its correlates: psychological regression and the suppression of thought. The hypothesis of this article, that the regression present in the mentality of ticket was a tendency contained in anti-Semitism, allows us to understand why hatred against Jews is a decisive limit of enlightenment: the destiny of the Jews is the destiny of humanity. If, as we have illustrated, there are similarities between several excerpts from the first six elements of the analyzed text and the last, the anti-Semitism of the 19th century already enunciated that of the 20th century, indicating a material and technical progress devoid of humanity, thus, individuals can be annihilated as disposable industrial parts.

The persecution of the Jew contained traces of destructive tendencies independent of the characteristics of those they targeted, without significant gratifications beyond their own ability to dominate, with the coldness of aggressors unable to shudder at their actions; traits present in various forms of violence and social persecution. The advancement of the mentality of ticket people's openness to content that could counter these trends weakened; where there is no living content, there is no subject or object, but such a situation in which everyone is a potential persecutor and persecuted and no persecution finds arguments in reason shows that all persecution is unnecessary.

* Herik Rafael de Oliveira He is studying for a master's degree in School Psychology and Human Development at USP.

*José Leon Crochik He is a retired senior professor at the USP Psychology Institute. Author, among other books, of Critical theory of society and psychology. Some essays (Junqueira and Marin). []

The original version of this work was published by the magazine Subjectivities.


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[I]The translations consulted in Spanish and English of the Elements of Antisemitism present the formulations as written in 1944. The quoted excerpt was formulated, in 1944, as: “La persecución de los judíos, como la persecución en general, es inseparable de la sociedad de clases” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1947/1998, p. 215).

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