What is extraordinary about Das Kapital is that it offers a still-unrivalled picture of the dynamism of capitalism and its transformation of societies on a global scale. It firmly embedded concepts such as commodity and capital in the lexicon. And it highlights some of the vulnerabilities of capitalism, including its unsettling disruption of states and political systems. [...] If Das Kapital has now emerged as one of the great landmarks of nineteenth-century thought, it is [because it connects] critical analysis of the economy of his time with its historical roots. In doing so, he inaugurated a debate about how best to reform or transform politics and social relations, which has gone on ever since.
Adorno shared Marx's view of capitalism as a fundamentally dehumanizing system. Adorno's commitment to Marxism caused him, for example, to retain a lifelong suspicion of those accounts of liberalism founded upon abstract notions of formal equality and the prioritization of economic and property rights. Adorno's account of domination was thus deeply indebted to Marx's account of domination. In addition, in numerous articles and larger works, Adorno was to lay great stress on Marx's specific understanding of capitalism and the predominance of exchange value as the key determinant of worth in capitalist societies. As will be shown later, the concept of exchange value was central to Adorno's analysis of culture and entertainment in capitalist societies. Marx's account of capitalism enabled critical theory and Adorno to go beyond a mere assertion of the social grounds of reality and the constitutive role of the subject in the production of that reality. Adorno was not simply arguing that all human phenomena were socially determined. Rather, he was arguing that an awareness of the extent of domination required both an appreciation of the social basis of human life coupled with the ability to qualitatively distinguish between various social formations in respect of the degree of human suffering prerequisite for their maintenance. To a significant degree, Marx's account of capitalism provided Adorno with the means for achieving this. However, as I argued above, Adorno shared the Frankfurt School's suspicions of the more economically determinist aspects of Marx's thought. Beyond even this, Adorno's account of reason and domination ultimately drew upon philosophical sources that were distinctly non-Marxian in character.