Pedagogy as “Cryptic Politics”: Benjamin, Nietzsche, and the End of Education

Charles, M. (2018) Pedagogy as “Cryptic Politics”: Benjamin, Nietzsche, and the End of Education. boundary 2: an international journal of literature and culture, 45 (2). pp. 35-62. ISSN 0190-3659

Pedagogy as Cryptic Politics. Benjamin%2c Nietzsche and the End of Education (Charles%2c b2 - final version edited H.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (138kB) | Preview
Official URL:


T. J. Clark has described Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project as containing a politics that is “cryptic,” as if “being actively aired and developed elsewhere.” This article seeks to uncover this uncover the buried foundations of such a politics in Benjamin’s early writings on pedagogy and to identify their cryptic nature with his traumatic break from Gustav Wyneken and the tragic failures of the Youth movement. This involves, on the one hand, an inversion of his early Nietzschean influences into a political anti-Nietzscheanism, one that this article explores through the figures of freedom, character and happiness. On the other, it involves a re-evaluation of his early understanding of education, in terms of the solitude of the learner and the silence of the school, to one that emphasises the function of the teacher as the intergenerational mediator who makes teachings transmissible. Noting the generalization of this understanding of education as a technological mediation between collective humanity and nature, it concludes by returning to the specific question of Benjamin’s anti-Nietzschean politics of education.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Walter Benjamin;Friedrich Nietzsche;T. J. Clarke;Education;Pedagogy;Destruction;Character;
Subjects: University of Westminster > Social Sciences and Humanities
SWORD Depositor:
Depositing User:
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2017 09:03
Last Modified: 22 May 2018 15:42

Actions (login required)

Edit Item (Repository staff only) Edit Item (Repository staff only)