Telos was founded in May 1968 to provide the New Left with a coherent theoretical perspective. It sought to expand the Husserlian diagnosis of "the crisis of European sciences" to prefigure a particular program of social reconstruction relevant for the US. In order to avoid the high level of abstraction typical of Husserlian phenomenology, the journal began introducing the ideas of Western Marxism and of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. With the disintegration of the New Left and the gradual integration of what remained of the American Left within the Democratic Party, Telos became increasingly critical of the Left in general, and undertook a reevaluation of 20th century intellectual history, focusing primarily on forgotten and repressed authors and ideas - beginning with Carl Schmitt and American populism. Eventually the journal rejected the traditional divisions between Left and Right as a legitimating mechanism for New Class domination and an occlusion of new, post-Fordist political conflicts. This led to a reevaluation of the primacy of culture and to efforts to understand the dynamics of cultural disintegration and reintegration as a precondition for the constitution of that autonomous individuality Critical Theory had always identified as the telos of Western civilization. Since all cultures have deep theological roots, Telos has recently sought to open a dialogue between Critical Theory and theology, in order to develop the kind of program of social and cultural reconstruction that Critical Theory has never been either able or willing to consider.
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