No Comment, Quotation — January 24, 2008, 12:00 am

Adorno – When Questions of Truth Become Questions of Power

Pseudomenos. — Die magnetische Gewalt, welche die Ideologien über die Menschen ausüben, während sie ihnen bereits ganz fadenscheinig geworden sind, erklärt sich jenseits der Psychologie aus dem objektiv bestimmten Verfall der logischen Evidenz als solcher. Es ist dahin gekommen, daß Lüge wie Wahrheit klingt, Wahrheit wie Lüge. Jede Aussage, jede Nachricht, jeder Gedanke ist präformiert durch die Zentren der Kulturindustrie. Was nicht die vertraute Spur solcher Präformation trägt, ist vorweg unglaubwürdig, um so mehr, als die Institutionen der öffentlichen Meinung dem, was sie aus sich entlassen, tausend faktische Belege und alle Beweiskraft mitgeben, deren die totale Verfügung habhaft werden kann. Die Wahrheit, die dagegen anmöchte, trägt nicht bloß den Charakter des Unwahrscheinlichen, sondern ist überdies zu arm, um in Konkurrenz mit dem hochkonzentrierten Verbreitungsapparat durchzudringen. . . Nur die absolute Lüge hat noch die Freiheit, irgend die Wahrheit zu sagen. In der Vertauschung von Wahrheit und Lüge, die es fast ausschließt, die Differenz zu bewahren, und die das Festhalten der einfachsten Erkenntnis zur Sisyphusarbeit macht, kündet der Sieg des Prinzips in der logischen Organisation sich an, das militärisch am Boden liegt. Lügen haben lange Beine: sie sind der Zeit voraus. Die Umsetzung aller Fragen der Wahrheit in solche der Macht, der Wahrheit selber nicht sich entziehen kann, wenn sie nicht von der Macht vernichtet werden will, unterdrückt sie nicht bloß, wie in früheren Despotien, sondern hat bis ins Innerste die Disjunktion von Wahr und Falsch ergriffen, an deren Abschaffung die Söldlinge der Logik ohnehin emsig mitwirken.

Pseudomenos. – the liar – The magnetic power exerted by patently threadbare ideologies is to be explained, beyond psychology, by the objectively determined decay of logical evidence as such. Things have come to a pass where lying sounds like truth, truth like lying. Each statement, each piece of news, each thought has been pre-formed by the centers of the culture industry. Whatever lacks the familiar trace of such pre-formation lacks credibility, the more so because the institutions of public opinion accompany what they send forth by a thousand factual proofs and all the plausibility that total power can lay hands on. Truth that opposes these pressures not only appears improbable, but is in addition too feeble to make any headway in competition with their highly-concentrated machinery of dissemination. . . Only the absolute lie now has any freedom to speak the truth. The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labor of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge, marks the victory in the field of logical organization that lies crushed on that of battle. Lies have long legs, they are ahead of their time. The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power not only suppresses truth as with earlier despotic orders, but has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false, which the hirelings were in any case diligently working to abolish.

Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflexionen aus dem beschädigten Leben, pt I, § 71 (1946, 1951)(E.F.N. Jephcott transl.)

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