On Adorno, Minima Moralia, essay # 90
Capitalism, by the time Thedor Adorno wrote Minima Moralia, had grown in influence and power to proportions unimaginable by even Marx. Adorno wished to demonstrate the omnipresence of Capitalism; its infiltration into private and public life. Adorno argues that every action performed by man has, reflected in it, the Capitalist state. In essay # 90 of Minima Moralia, entitled "Institution for deaf-mutes" Adorno uses speech as an example of the inescapable influence of the market system in everyday activities. He demonstrates how the emphasis on perfection in the school system makes natural speech seem wrong, and thus creates an implicit class distinction within speech itself. He shows how the competition of the market reproduces itself in speech and how power and class can be controlled by conversation.
"While schools drill people in speech as in first aid for road-accident victims and in glider-construction, the pupils become increasingly mute."
(137). Schools, under a Capitalist system, are built to prepare the student for work. Though speech exists in both the public and private realms of man; he is trained in it as if training for work. The emphasis on perfection, conciseness and correctness lends to the stifling of man's ability to converse naturally. A lecture or an academic paper are both to some extent practiced and perfected. Everyday speech is spontaneous and so, inherently less polished. "Spontaneity and objectivity in discussing matters are disappearing even in the most intimate circle, just as in politics debate has long since been supplanted by the assertion of power." (137). Correctness and eloquence in speech has come to stand for class and education; thus, the uneducated man is afraid to speak as he will reveal his lowly power position. Debate in politics becomes a game...