Richard Wolin; Distinguished Professor of History and Comparative Literature; Graduate Center; City University of New York
Walter Benjamin is largely known for his resolutely left-wing political sympathies and preferences as exemplified by his pathbreaking works of the 1930s—the “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the Arcades Project, and so forth. By the same token, he always possessed a keen admiration for thinkers on the right side of the political spectrum, such as Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, and Ludwig Klages. In this lecture, Wolin seeks to address the question of how far this intellectual admiration actually went. When all is said and done, how serious was Benjamin about appropriating so-called conservative revolutionary precepts for left-wing political ends?