“Brecht and Benjamin’s high standards derived from their view that the formal radicalism of literary modernism was an unavoidable precondition of socially effective criticism – a view that also explains the ease with which they were able to connect with the artistic avant-garde. It was important to maintain the resulting tension. Any “scientific” founding of criticism had to respect the “technical standard” of literature and make it productive, even if this clashed with the taste-based criticisms of the middle classes. The crisis in the 1920s and ’30s seemed to serve Brecht and Benjamin perfectly in their aim of confronting the “bourgeois” camp with the progressive elements inherent in their own literature, driving these beyond themselves, so to speak. Benjamin later wrote: “The journal was meant to contribute to the propaganda of dialectical materialism by applying it to questions that the bourgeois intelligentsia is forced to acknowledge as those most particularly characteristic of itself.””

From: Utopian failing: “Krise und Kritik” and “Revue Internationale”

“During the Great Depression, c.1930, Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht sat down together to discuss plans for a journal (other leading figures in the project were Herbert Ihering, Bernard von Brentano, Ernst Bloch, Siegfried Kracauer, Alfred Kurella and Georg Lukács). The literary historian Erdmut Wizisla has rescued the plans for this ambitious project from oblivion. Krise und Kritik, the magazine’s working title, makes clear that Benjamin and Brecht were setting out to broaden the concept of criticism by assigning it a crucial mediating role between aesthetic commitment and worldly engagement. The criticism in their magazine was not supposed to remain confined to literature and the theatre, but rather would embrace all areas of life. Wizisla summarized the editorial discussions as follows: “Criticism, as envisaged by the participants in the discussions, was drastic, effective and consequential, a criticism which […] [in Brecht’s words] […] would be perceived in such a way that ‘politics is its continuation by other means’.””

From: Utopian failing: “Krise und Kritik” and “Revue Internationale”