Joseph Malherek

Botstiber Fellow
Period of Stay: 
October 2019 - March 2020
Intellectual History
University of Vienna
Project Title: 
“The Frankfurt School’s Other: Socialist Émigrés Who Made Capitalist Culture in America, 1918–1956”
Project Abstract: 

What is the essential ideological form of socialism, and can that form be carried, translated, and incorporated into different cultures through the work of intellectuals, individually and collectively? My study considers the intersecting careers of a cohort of socialists—Austrian sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, Viennese architect Victor Gruen, and Hungarian artist-designer László Moholy-Nagy—who formed their beliefs and practiced their professions in the new republics of post-Habsburg Central Europe, and, as refugees from Nazism in the United States, translated an ethos of socialism within the foreign cultural context of American capitalism. While the critical theorists of Max Horkheimer’s Institut für Sozialforschung— associates of Lazarsfeld who were also exiled at Columbia University in the 1930s and 1940s—have become known as the chief intellectual antagonists of twentieth-century consumer capitalism, the émigrés I consider in this project became the unlikely avatars of European social democracy in the “free enterprise” culture of American business.