Nihil moralia: culture industries in the 21st Century

Roux, Louis (2015-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Utilising the works of Theodor W. Adorno (especially Minima Moralia (1951)) and other Critical Theorists, this dissertation examines and critiques contemporary cultural products, in search of cultural alternatives to the capital-driven ideologies and mythologies of the ‘global village’. Through an exploration of everything from animal abuse in Pokémon to cell phone advertisements and African e-waste dumping sites, to social media and the growing political alienation/radicalisation of the youth, Nihil Moralia seeks to show that the most deeply reprehensible ideas of our society are the ones that are the most profligate, and perhaps the most deeply held. This wide-ranging yet deeply interconnected critique is made possible by the use of Adorno’s aphoristic style and form, most clearly seen in Minima Moralia. With the deep and apparently irreversible entrenchment of free market capitalism, with the ecological crisis looming large, and with workers suffering more than ever, I believe it is time to reinvestigate the questions that Adorno put to his contemporaries about culture, industry, progress and ethics, and to ask them again. I hope to illuminate – in some ways, negatively – some of our contemporary moral/ethical predicaments, and suggest that if we have any hope of surviving the century, we have to become a radically different society.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Deur die verkenning van Theodor W. Adorno (veral Minima Moralia (1951)) en ander Kritiese Teoriste se werk, beoordeel hierdie verhandeling kontemporêre kulturele produkte op soek na kulturele alternatiewe vir die kapitaal-gedrewe (kapitalisties-gedrewe) ideologieë en mitologieë van die ‘geglobaliseerde’ samelewing. Deur alles te ondersoek – vanaf dieremishandeling in Pokémon, tot selfoonadvertensies en die stortingsterreine vir e-afval in Afrika, tot sosiale media en die groeiende politiese vervreemding/radikalisasie van die jeug – wil Nihil Moralia toon dat die laakbaarste idees van ons sosiale samelewing dié is wat die mees wydverspreid en miskien die mees diepgeworteld is. Hierdie vêrrykende dog verbinde kritiek word moontlik gemaak deur die gebruik van Adorno se aforistiese styl en vorm, mees duidelik te sien in Minima Moralia. Ek glo dat, met die diepgewortelde en klaarblyklik onomkeerbare verskansing van die vryemark-kapitalisme, die opdoemende ekologiese krisis en met werkers wat meer as ooit swaarkry, dit tyd is om Adorno se vrae wat hy aan sy tydgenote gestel het oor kultuur, industrie, vooruitgang en etiek te herondersoek en weer te vra. Ek hoop om – op ʼn soms negatiewe wyse – party van ons hedendaagse morele/etiese vraagstukke te belig en om voor te stel dat, as ons enige hoop het om hierdie eeu te oorleef, die samelewing radikale verandering sal moet ondergaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98056
This item appears in the following collections: