THE progress and their built-in demand to be

sociological theory that the loss of the support of objectively established
religion, the dissolution of the last remnants of pre-capitalism, together with
technological and social differentiation or specialization, have led to
cultural chaos is disproved every day; for culture now impresses the same stamp
on everything. Films, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as
a whole and in every part. Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites
are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system. The
decorative industrial management buildings and exhibition centers in
authoritarian countries are much the same as anywhere else. The huge gleaming
towers that shoot up everywhere are outward signs of the ingenious planning of
international concerns, toward which the unleashed entrepreneurial system
(whose monuments are a mass of gloomy houses and business premises in grimy,
spiritless cities) was already hastening. Even now the older houses just outside
the concrete city centers look like slums, and the new bungalows on the
outskirts are at one with the flimsy structures of world fairs in their praise
of technical progress and their built-in demand to be discarded after a short
while like empty food cans. The need which might resist central control has
already been suppressed by the control of the individual consciousness. The
step from the telephone to the radio has clearly distinguished the roles. The
former still allowed the subscriber to play the role of subject, and was liberal.
The latter is democratic: it turns all participants into listeners and
authoritatively subjects them to broadcast programs which are all exactly the
same. No machinery of rejoinder has been devised, and private broadcasters are
denied any freedom. They are confined to the apocryphal field of the “amateur,”
and also have to accept organization from above. But any trace of spontaneity
from the public in official broadcasting is controlled and absorbed by talent
scouts, studio competitions and official programs of every kind selected by
professionals. Talented performers belong to the industry long before it
displays them; otherwise they would not be so eager to fit in. The attitude of
the public, which ostensibly and actually favours the system of the culture
industry, is a part of the system and not an excuse for it. If one branch of
art follows the same formula as one with a very different medium and content;
if the dramatic intrigue of broadcast soap operas becomes no more than useful
material for showing how to master technical problems at both ends of the scale
of musical experience – real jazz or a cheap imitation; or if a movement from a
Beethoven symphony is crudely “adapted” for a film sound-track in the same way
as a Tolstoy novel is garbled in a film script: then the claim that this is
done to satisfy the spontaneous wishes of the public is no more than hot air. The
ruthless unity in the culture industry is evidence of what will happen in
politics. Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories
in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as
on classifying, organizing, and labeling consumers. Something is provided for
all so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasized and extended. The
public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of
varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody
must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined
and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his
type. Consumers appear as statistics on research organization charts, and are
divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that
used for any type of propaganda. The art historians and guardians of culture
who complain of the extinction in the West of a basic style-determining power
are wrong. The stereotyped assignment of everything, even the inchoate, for the
motivations behind mechanical multiplication outperforms the thoroughness and
general money of any “genuine style,” in the sense in which social
cognoscenti commend the natural pre-entrepreneur past. No Palestrina could be
all the more an idealist in killing each ill-equipped and uncertain
disagreement than the jazz arranger in smothering any advancement which does
not adjust to the language. While energizing Mozart he transforms him not just
when he is excessively genuine or excessively troublesome yet when he blends
the song in an unexpected way, maybe more essentially, than is standard at this
point. No medieval manufacturer can have examined the subjects for chapel
windows and models more suspiciously than the studio chain of command
investigates a work by Balzac or Hugo before at last favoring it. No medieval
scholar could have decided the level of the torment to be endured by the doomed
as per the request of heavenly love more fastidiously than the makers of trashy
legends ascertain the torment to be experienced by the saint or the correct
point to which the main woman’s hemline might be raised. The express and
understood, exoteric and recondite list of the prohibited and endured is
extensive to the point that it characterizes the zone of opportunity as well as
is almighty inside it. Everything down to the last detail is molded in like
manner. The political forces, state and districts, which had acquired such
organizations from absolutism, had abandoned them with a measure of the
flexibility from the powers of energy which commands the market, similarly as
sovereigns and primitive masters had done up to the nineteenth century. This
fortified craftsmanship in this late stage against the decision of free market
activity, and expanded its protection a long ways past the genuine level of
assurance. In the market itself the tribute of a quality for which no
utilization had been found was transformed into acquiring power; along these
lines, respectable artistic and music distributers could help creators who
yielded minimal more in the method for benefit than the regard of the
specialist. Be that as it may, what totally shackled the craftsman was the
weight (and the going with uncommon dangers), dependably to fit into business
life as a tasteful master. In the past, similar to Kant and Hume, they marked
their letters “Your most modest and devoted worker,” and undermined
the establishments of honored position and sacred place. Today they address
heads of government by their first names, yet in each creative movement they
are liable to their uneducated experts. Though today in material creation the
system of free market activity is breaking down, in the superstructure
regardless it works as a check in the rulers’ support. The shoppers are the
specialists and workers, the ranchers and lower white collar class.
Industrialist generation so limits them, body and soul, that they fall
vulnerable casualties to what is offered them. As normally as the ruled
dependably took the ethical quality forced upon them more truly than did the
rulers themselves, the misled masses are today enthralled by the myth of
achievement significantly more than the effective are. Ardently, they demand
the very belief system which subjugates them. By cunningly authorizing the
interest for refuse it introduces add up to concordance. The epicurean and the
master are detested for their pompous claim to know superior to anything the
others, despite the fact that culture is law based and disperses its benefits
to all. In perspective of the ideological détente, the conventionalism of the
purchasers and the audacity of the makers who supply them win. The outcome is a
consistent propagation of a similar thing. A consistent equivalence oversees
the relationship to the past also. What is new about the period of mass culture
contrasted and the late liberal stage is the prohibition of the new. The
machine pivots on a similar spot. While deciding utilization it prohibits the
untried as a hazard. The motion picture creators doubt any composition which
isn’t reassuringly upheld by a smash hit. However for this very reason there is
ceaseless discuss thoughts, oddity, and astonishment, of what is underestimated
yet has never existed. Beat and elements serve this pattern. Nothing stays as
of old; everything needs to run unremittingly, to continue moving. For just the
all inclusive triumph of the musicality of mechanical generation and
multiplication guarantees that nothing changes, and nothing unacceptable will
show up. Any increments to the well-demonstrated culture stock are excessively
of a theory. The solidified structures –, for example, the draw, short story,
issue film, or hit tune – are the institutionalized normal generally liberal
taste, directed with dangers from above. The general population at the best in
the way of life organizations, who work in amicability as just a single chief
can with another, regardless of whether he originates from the cloth exchange
or from school, have since a long time ago redesigned and excused the goal
soul. One may imagine that a ubiquitous expert had filtered the material and
drawn up an official list of social wares to give a smooth supply of accessible
mass-delivered lines. The thoughts are composed in the social atmosphere where
they had just been numbered by Plato – and were in reality numbers, unequipped
for increment and changeless. Kid’s shows were once examples of imagination
rather than realism. They guaranteed that equity was done to the animals and
articles they energized, by giving the mutilated examples a moment life.
Whatever they do today is to affirm the triumph of innovative reason over
truth. A couple of years prior they had a predictable plot which just separated
in the last minutes in an insane pursue, and in this way took after the old
droll satire. Presently, be that as it may, time relations have moved. In the
primary grouping a rationale is expressed so that over the span of the activity
decimation can get the opportunity to chip away at it: with the gathering of
people in interest, the hero turns into the useless protest of general
brutality. The amount of sorted out beguilement changes into the nature of
composed remorselessness. The self-chose edits of the film business (with whom
it appreciates a cozy relationship) watch over the unfurling of the wrongdoing,
which is as drawn-out as a chase. Fun replaces the delight which seeing a grasp
would supposedly manage, and defers fulfillment till the day of the massacre.
Seeing that toons do any more than habituate the faculties to the new rhythm,
they pound into each mind the old lesson that nonstop grinding, the separating
of all individual protection, is the state of life in this general public.
Donald Duck in the toons and the shocking, all things considered, get their
whipping so the crowd can figure out how to take their own discipline. The
happiness regarding the savagery endured by the motion picture character
transforms into viciousness against the onlooker, and diversion into effort.
Nothing that the specialists have concocted as a stimulant must escape the
fatigued eye; no ineptitude is permitted notwithstanding all the deceit; one
needs to take after everything and even show the brilliant reactions appeared
and suggested in the film. This brings up the issue whether the way of life
industry satisfies the capacity of occupying minds which it brags about so
boisterously. In the event that a large portion of the radio stations and film
theaters were shut down, the customers would likely not lose so in particular.
To stroll from the road into the film theater is never again to enter a
universe of dream; when the very presence of these establishments never again
made it compulsory to utilize them, there would be no awesome desire to do as
such. Such terminations would not be reactionary machine destroying. The
disappointment would be felt not so much by the enthusiasts as by the
slow-witted, who are the ones who suffer for everything anyhow. In spite of the
films which are intended to complete her integration, the housewife finds in
the darkness of the movie theatre a place of refuge where she can sit for a few
hours with nobody watching, just as she used to look out of the window when
there were still homes and rest in the evening. The unemployed in the great
cities find coolness in summer and warmth in winter in these
temperature-controlled locations. Otherwise, despite its size, this bloated
pleasure apparatus adds no dignity to man’s lives. The idea of “fully
exploiting” available technical resources and the facilities for aesthetic mass
consumption is part of the economic system which refuses to exploit resources
to abolish hunger. The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of
what it perpetually promises. The promissory note which, with its plots and
staging, it draws on pleasure is endlessly prolonged; the promise, which is
actually all the spectacle consists of, is illusory: all it actually confirms
is that the real point will never be reached, that the diner must be satisfied
with the menu. In front of the appetite stimulated by all those brilliant names
and images there is finally set no more than a commendation of the depressing
everyday world it sought to escape. Of course works of art were not sexual
exhibitions either. However, by representing deprivation as negative, they
retracted, as it were, the prostitution of the impulse and rescued by mediation
what was denied. The secret of aesthetic sublimation is its representation of
fulfillment as a broken promise. The culture industry does not sublimate; it
represses. By repeatedly exposing the objects of desire, breasts in a clinging
sweater or the naked torso of the athletic hero, it only stimulates the un subliminal
for pleasure which habitual deprivation has long since reduced to a masochistic
semblance. There is no erotic situation which, while insinuating and exciting,
does not fail to indicate unmistakably that things can never go that far. The
Hays Office merely confirms the ritual of Tantalus that the culture industry
has established anyway. Works of art are ascetic and unashamed; the culture
industry is pornographic and prudish. Love is downgraded to romance. And, after
the descent, much is permitted; even license as a marketable speciality has its
quota bearing the trade description “daring”. The mass production of
the sexual automatically achieves its repression. Because of his ubiquity, the
film star with whom one is meant to fall in love is from the outset a copy of
himself. Every tenor voice comes to sound like a Caruso record, and the
“natural” faces of Texas girls are like the successful models by whom Hollywood
has typecast them. The mechanical reproduction of beauty, which reactionary
cultural fanaticism wholeheartedly serves in its methodical idolization of
individuality, leaves no room for that unconscious idolatry which was once
essential to beauty. Today the culture industry has taken over the humanizing legacy
of the entrepreneurial and frontier democracy – whose appreciation of
intellectual deviations was never very finely attuned. All are free to dance
and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical
neutralization of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects. But freedom
to choose an ideology – since ideology always reflects economic coercion –
everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same. The way in
which a girl accepts and keeps the obligatory date, the inflection on the
telephone or in the most intimate situation, the choice of words in
conversation, and the whole inner life as classified by the now somewhat
devalued depth psychology, bear witness to man’s attempt to make himself a
proficient apparatus, similar (even in emotions) to the model served up by the
culture industry. The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so
thoroughly reified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now
persists only as an utterly abstract notion: personality scarcely signifies
anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odor and emotions.
The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel
compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.

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