Hans-Jürgen Krahl (1943-1970)

Hans-Jür­gen Krahl points to the ceil­ing dur­ing the occu­pa­tion of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt, May 15, 1968 (AP Pho­to)

Dave Mesing | Hans-Jürgen Krahl, For and Against Critical Theory: Introduction

For Anglo­phone read­ers, Hans-Jür­gen Krahl’s name is most dis­tinc­tive as a mark­er for a pos­si­ble alter­na­tive path with­in the Frank­furt Insti­tute for Social Research.

Hans-Jürgen Krahl | Personal Information

The anti-author­i­tar­i­an revolt was pre­cise­ly a process of Marx­ist train­ing, in which we have grad­u­al­ly detached from bour­geois ide­olo­gies, in which we have revealed the pure­ly ide­o­log­i­cal char­ac­ter of its promis­es of lib­er­a­tion, and defin­i­tive­ly under­stood that the clas­sic forms of lib­er­al­ism and eman­ci­pa­tion, which still dri­ve the lib­er­al cap­i­tal­ism of com­pe­ti­tion, have defin­i­tive­ly passed away. We have under­stood that now, in the strug­gle against the state, against bour­geois jus­tice, and against the orga­nized pow­er of cap­i­tal, in a long and cer­tain­ly dif­fi­cult process, it is a mat­ter of con­quer­ing con­di­tions that allow us to enter into orga­nized con­tact with the work­ing class and to cre­ate the his­tor­i­cal pres­sures nec­es­sary for the edu­ca­tion of class con­scious­ness. It was a long process of edu­ca­tion which also had to impose itself with­in the SDS.

Detlev Claussen | Krahl and His Conjuncture: An Interview with Detlev Claussen

The task for intel­lec­tu­als is not to prop­a­gate the rev­o­lu­tion from the out­side, but to devel­op eman­ci­pa­to­ry needs which go beyond work—an eman­ci­pa­to­ry con­scious­ness of the total­i­ty. In 1969, the world in Europe still seemed so open, the Ital­ian Hot Autumn and the Sep­tem­ber strikes in Ger­many made such a task seem appro­pri­ate.

Andrea Cavazzini | Class Struggles in Advanced Capitalism: Adventures of the Dialectic in the Work of Hans-Jürgen Krahl

Sub­jec­tiv­i­ty is nev­er iden­ti­cal, then, with sub­jec­tion. Inso­far as it emerges out of a frac­tured social syn­the­sis, sub­jec­tiv­i­ty vir­tu­al­ly extends the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an antag­o­nis­tic con­sti­tu­tion, of a dif­fer­ent social and pro­duc­tive syn­the­sis; in short, the struc­tur­al muta­tions of the pro­le­tari­at and the deter­mi­nate pos­si­bil­i­ties of its orga­ni­za­tion need to be incor­po­rat­ed with­in Crit­i­cal The­o­ry.

Massimiliano Tomba | Hans-Jürgen Krahl: New Emancipative Desires (1943-1970)

[Krahl’s] use of Marx is not only a weapon against reformism, but also against the prac­tice of many extra-par­lia­men­tary groups which emerged fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of the SDS. Krahl’s reread­ing of Marx intend­ed to wrest him away from groups who sought to legit­i­mate their own prac­tice by appeal­ing to a Marx­ist the­o­ry iso­lat­ed from the his­tori­co-polit­i­cal con­text. Krahl con­test­ed the abstract char­ac­ter of the posi­tions tak­en by those who assumed their own actions for the pro­le­tari­at as a dec­la­ra­tion of faith, a rit­u­al of self-con­fir­ma­tion in absence of a real rev­o­lu­tion­ary class.

Marco Assennato | “A Work of the Self on the Self”: Krahl and Intellectual Labor

1968 there­fore express­es a rad­i­cal change of the process­es of antag­o­nis­tic sub­jec­ti­va­tion, and con­se­quent­ly a major change in the com­po­si­tion of the pro­duc­tive sub­ject. Krahl knew how to grasp this nexus, cul­ti­vat­ed in many expe­ri­ences of hereti­cal Euro­pean Marx­ism, in his own way: cul­tur­al labor is increas­ing­ly deter­mined as com­mon, salaried, alien­at­ed, and exploita­tive by indus­try. From this major premise, what fol­lows is the refusal of the tra­di­tion­al fig­ure of the com­mit­ted intel­lec­tu­al, by now inscribed in a tra­jec­to­ry of pro­gres­sive pro­le­tar­i­an­iza­tion.

Andrea Cengia | Krahl, Panzieri, and Technological Capitalism

For both Krahl and Panzieri, the mas­sive intro­duc­tion of tech­nol­o­gy into the cap­i­tal­ist mode of pro­duc­tion must not be seen as a sign of the advent of the final phase of cap­i­tal­ism, but, on the con­trary, as the expres­sion of this mode of production’s capa­bil­i­ty for greater exploita­tion, an increase in real sub­sump­tion. The move­ment of the decom­po­si­tion of antag­o­nis­tic sub­jec­tiv­i­ty cor­re­sponds, with dis­turb­ing sym­me­try, to the increase in the organ­ic com­po­si­tion of cap­i­tal. The idea of a final stage of cap­i­tal­ism should be con­sid­ered a “mythol­o­gy.”

Elia Zaru | Subjectivity and Class Composition: Methodological Notes on Krahl and Negri

Strate­gi­cal­ly, sub­jec­tiv­i­ty reminds us that no pre­con­ceived rev­o­lu­tion­ary recipe is pos­si­ble, that no mech­a­nism exists behind the rev­o­lu­tion, that, in the last instance, there is a con­crete ene­my to depose. And that this task belongs to pro­le­tar­i­ans, no mat­ter whether they work in mate­r­i­al or imma­te­r­i­al pro­duc­tion.

Authors of the article

is part of the editorial collective of Viewpoint and a PhD student at Villanova University.

is a PhD student at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. He also works as a teaching assistant at the University of Milan, and is part of the organizing group of the Critical Theory of Society seminar at the University of Milan Bicocca. For the last ten years, he has been part of the editorial collective of Radio Onda d'Urto.

is an activist based in Berlin. He graduated from the Sapienza University of Rome with a focus on philosophy and critical theory.