Adorno, committees and the tendency to the worst

If you have ever had to serve on committees on whom important decisions depend, or are thought to depend, you will see how the worst and the basest instincts prevail over the better, more humane ones. I should perhaps say that you will perceive this unless you completely identify with what is going on and subscribe to its principles. This is the basic experience, even though you will not see a simple confrontation between the ‘best’ and the ‘worst’, but rather an infinitely nuanced chain of individual decisions, proposals and processes that focus initially at least on topics that seem utterly remote from such global judgements. Nevertheless, in questions involving individuals there is an overwhelming tendency not so much for the worse speech to triumph over the better one, for the worse man to be appointed to the position that should have gone to the better one … Needless to say, it is not helpful to dwell on such experiences.

Theodor Adorno, History and Freedom, Lectures 1964-1965. pp, 30-1.

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2 thoughts on “Adorno, committees and the tendency to the worst

  1. I can well imagine the Emir of Qatar penning something similar upon receiving the news that, henceforth, he will have to consult with Parliament on the matter of building new palaces.

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