By E.E. Shelp
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It is almost difficult to overestimate the success of Spengler's work, which sold millions of copies, and which was also widely read in Britain and the United States. The analyses of decline, degeneration and decay which gave a morbid thrill to the intellectual classes of the early twentieth century draw largely on the inheritance of the Romantic revolt against reason: they are symptoms of the intense ambivalence which attaches to the idea of culture, once society is seen as standing in opposition to some more natural way of existing.
But, although he tried to adjust to more empirical research methods, a failure to produce results in the area of the project of which he was director led to the cancellation of that study in 1941. Whereas the Institute for Social 21 ADORNO: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED Research itself was funded out of the legacy of its major benefactor, Lazarsfeld's study was dependent on grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. Adorno found it hard to produce what in the deadening jargon of managerial academia would now be called 'research outputs'.
These complaints linger on to this day as common currency in what ought to have been Adorno's natural constituencies, the academy, leftist politics and the European cultural and political elites: that his work is esoteric, hermetic, a withdrawal from rather than an engagement with the world. His students wanted revolutionary slogans, but Adorno offered them only a course entitled An Introduction to Dialectical Thinking', suspended in April 1969 after Adorno was assaulted at his podium by topless female students.