What then is this crux of Wagnerism that, in these renewed critiques of his music, of his theatricality, of his operas, has not been reached? In the eyes of Lacoue-Labarthe, it is the Wagnerian system as bearer of the aestheticization of politics; it is Wagner as transformation of music into an ideological operator for which it is always a matter of constituting a people in art, that is to say a figuring or a con-figuring of a politics. Here a vision of Wagner as proto-fascist is affirmed (I take the expression here in its descriptive sense), in that he invented a figure of closure in the opera (we will return to this point) by assigning to it the configuration of a destiny or of a national ethos of such a type that it would constitute the definitive political function of the aesthetic itself.
Adorno’s proposition consists in retaining (simultaneously and at the same time going beyond) Kant’s negative critique as well as Hegel’s dialectical negativity. One joins Kant’s critical gesture, which is a gesture of separation, of limitation of the pretensions of reason, with the Hegelian dialectical negativity shorn of its affirmative absoluteness. One retains Hegelian negativity as purely negative negativity. This is why Adorno’s doctrines, and more generally what will be called the Frankfurt School in the 1960s, which is called “critical theory,” are called by Adorno, “negative dialectics,” placing critical theory and negative dialectic side by side, surpassing Kant and Hegel.