Saturday, October 01, 2005

Critique of Habermas' Discourse Ethics

Jurgen Habermas errs in assuming the absence of conversations, if at all, relationships bereft of domination by coercion or by instinct. In a pluralistic world, social contradictions of class continue emanating despite the absence of an over-arching authority such as a feudal Catholic Church dictating on people.

While it is true that there is recognition of vulnerability among individuals and everyone has the capacity to act thoughtful, kind or considerate, it is precisely this vulnerability which is exploited by those who wish to enslave and oppress, even under a system which has ceased having the state at the center of society. Even rabid capitalists who fund military-industrial complexes have this innate capacity to be kind, to even be philanthropists to foundations and pour their loose millions into its funds. But this is not because of a consensus between people who are part of a social intercourse but due to class determinations in which a mask of benevolence should be worn by scheming capitalists to elicit images of corporate social responsibility. Even Hitler had propaganda posters kissing babies! The fact that the individuated, marginalized and ostracized is still in society’s periphery holds despite changes in superstructures and even in the modes of production, without the necessary prerequisite of revolution.

There is interdependency, yes, but interdependency based on exploitation of classes in the service of profit. It is never borne out of love, in a social scale, that is. The language community that Habermas speaks of is actually a language of coercion and deception, using quasi-love and terror tactics to achieve an end on a hapless ruled majority. Oh, there is a tacit language too, the language of war between classes. Lyotard was correct in using chess moves as an analogy but unlike chess, the social intercourse between classes does not have rules as both will break the rules in order to win in the game or in the discourse. There is actually no consensual discourse that occurs even in a postmodern society where the relations of production continue to press forth. The worldview too that is created by this is a worldview of a need to destroy the class dictatorship of the rulers on one hand and the need to suppress the revolutionary progress on the other. This is truly how it is hoped one would conduct one’s life recognizing the existence of a class war, using overt and covert forms of language and communications to destroy and obliterate one another.

Moral problems can most definitely be resolved rationally and objectively. It is precisely our gift of cognition which separates us from lesser animals. Questions on pre-marital sex, abortion, gay marriage and other looked down upon social taboos can be resolved by the use of intellect. Habermas is correct in saying that such can only be done in a pluralistic society where there is no dominant authority out to sanction and control. Gay marriage cannot certainly be allowed in a very feudal-patriarchal society such as Iran, but it is certainly allowed in Scandinavian nations with very lax socio-cultural norms. Women will be stoned to death in the Middle East if they had lovers and had sex outside their marriages! A college couple in the Philippines would most certainly be asked to tie the knot had they been caught by their parents having sex at the girl’s house!

Pluralistic societies, which many misconstrue as postmodern societies have the luxury of deciding for themselves what to do without the need for social pressures from norms and traditions. But this laxity over norms contributes also to a decadent culture with norms trashed for selfish purposes and elicits irresponsible and immature behavior, especially among the youth. This is caused by the consumerism of a postmodern world and a manifestation of economic contradictions in an advanced stage of capitalism where in the guise of liberalism and openness to change, people are rendered ignorant further as they are eaten up by a culture of consumerism brought precisely by the rational mind by using choice as an excuse.

In that, there is great doubt if justice can ever be reached and if at all, solidarity.

huhuhuh... TERI!!! help naman kay habermas... ano ba ung mga sinsabi niya? hehehe.. ung dalawang essay.. konting summary naman oh.. please...
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