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The Frankfurt School, The Founding Agenda

In 1923 Felix Weil organized a week-long symposium, chaired by the aforementioned Georg Lukacs, in Frankfurt, Germany in which they laid out a vision for a Marxist think-tank and research center. Ironically, like Friedrich Engels (Karl Marx’s longtime collaborator and benefactor), Weil was the son of a wealthy capitalist, but he had converted to Marxism as a Ph.D. student while studying under the political philosopher Karl Korsch at the University of Frankfurt. Following the conference, Weil secured the financing to erect a building and fund the salaries for an institute that would have the academic status of a university. The original name for the center was the Institute for Marxism (Institut fur Marxismus), but for public relations purposes the directors decided to give it a more generic name, The Institute for Social Research (Institut fur Sozialforschung). Since then, the ISR has usually been known simply as “the Frankfurt School.”

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