Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Walter Benjamin on Praxis, Knowledge and Education

'The slogan 'work and education' under which the patriotic associations of Schulze-Delitzsch had conducted workers' education, was countered by Social Democracy with the slogan 'Knowledge is Power'. But the party failed to perceive its double meaning. It thought the same knowledge that secured the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat would enable the proletariat to free itself from that rule. In reality, knowledge with no outlet in praxis, knowledge that could teach the proletariat nothing about its situation as a class, was no danger to its oppressors. This was especially true of knowledge relating to the humanities. It lagged far behind economics, remaining untouched by the revolution in economic theory. It sought only to stimulate, to offer variety, to arouse interest.'

Walter Benjamin, in "Edward Fuchs, Collector and Historian", in Walter Benjamin Selected Writings, Volume 3 1935-1938, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002, p260-302.

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