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“Critical Theory” was originally an interdisciplinary project of the members of the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt in the twenties and thirties of the previous century, a project inspired by Marx’ s critique of political economy. In this essay the term is used in a wider sense, including not only the work of later members of the Frankfurt Institute such as Habermas and Honneth, but also some related work done by philosophers outside the Frankfurt tradition, including Balibar, Hardt/Negri and Žižek. While various forms of critical theory are shown to be responses to varying social and historical constellations in this essay, the essay is also an accumulation of arguments showing why (existing?) capitalism and democracy have become irreconcilable opposites.