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Obama as Habermasian

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  • Gary E. Davis
    I expect that my subject line seems eccentric. However, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard scholar of American intellectual pragmatism, has just published _Reading
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 7, 2010
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      I expect that my subject line seems eccentric. However, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard scholar of American intellectual pragmatism, has just published _Reading Obama_ (Princeton, 2011) which argues, in light of a thorough reading Obama's young career as legal scholar and political author, that Obama is an "intellectual president" in the lineage of American pragmatism and that Obama's critical years of development at Harvard took place at a time of especially progressive ferment in legal theory concordant with Putnam's interest in Habermas and philosopher Richard Bernstein's pragmatism (beyond that fact that "...many of Bernstein's books...appeared regularly in the footnotes of law review articles and books...at just the time when Obama was studying law at Harvard…"[134]).

      Koppleberg briefly discusses key conceptual features of Bernstein's pragmatism (133-4), which (no news to a subscriber here) "drew together ideas from the traditions of hermeneutics and existential phenomenology, the later writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the critical theory of Habermas, whose Deweyan dimensions Bernstein was among the first Americans to emphasize." Koppleberg claims that "Bernstein has advanced the version of pragmatism that seems to me closest to the ideas advanced in Obama's books—although Obama is hardly as systematic in the presentation of the philosophy—[such that] I want to outline the five dimensions of Bernstein's pragmatism" as "echoing" throughout Obama's books: "fallibilism....the inescapably sociocultural character of individual experience....the participation of individual interpreters in a community of inquiry or discourse....[Jamesian/Deweyan] sensitivity to radical contingency....[and] a pluralistic philosophy
      for a pluralistic universe." This might be read as partisan overreading of Obama's political practice, except that the point of Koppleberg's book is that Obama is overtly thinking in light of a coherent and deliberate pragmatic philosophy that is integral to how he works.

      The highly esteemed Harvard theorist of Constitutional law, Lawrence Tribe, is said, according to Koppleberg, to "credit Obama [as student] for helping him [i.e., Tribe] to see...the interpretation of...the United States Constitution...as a conversation, an interpretive process that never ends" (133). That seems a bit exaggerated (Tribe is well-known for his animus for Original Intent jurisprudence and his support for the Obama presidency), but the comment goes to the point of Obama's seriousness of intellectual engagement, which Koppelberg's book is explicating in much detail.

      Koppleberg actually claims that Obama, as an undergraduate, read Habermas, among others, in Obama's overt search for a political philosophy (17, 104). An apparent keynote of Koppleberg's expository strategy toward Obama's legal education is to tie the discursive ferment of legal controversy at Harvard to Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, Rawls, and Bernstein, all of whom were at that time especially interested in Habermas while Obama was at Harvard Law. "Perhaps not surprisingly, given Putnam's position as a member of the Harvard Department of Philosophy, he has been more frequently cited by Harvard Law School faculty members than have the other contemporary philosophical pragmatists. In 'A Reconsideration of Deweyan Pragmatism,' Putnam's stirring contribution to _Pragmatism in Law and Society_, the volume derived from the 1990 Harvard Law School conference on pragmatism, he invoked both Dewey and James—and tied their insights to those of Habermas—to
      make the case for a 'radical' democracy that is pragmatist rather than foundationalist, participatory rather than elitist, and 'more hard-headed and realistic' than the romantic ideas [of much Deweyan work...,] precisely the model laid out in Obama's 'Why Organize' to justify the continuing effort to empower the disempowered" (136-7).

      *  *  *

      There's a rising tide in the U.S. of animus toward gilded age capitalism, being put in terms that the general public can appreciate: signaled by Robert Reich's just-published _Aftershock_, Pierson and Hacker's _Winner-Take-All Politics_ (Pierson is Chair of the Pol. Sci. Dept. at Berkeley), as well as the usual suspects in the progressive press.

      Disappointed progressives (many of whom were living a fantasy politics of good faith, a parallel universe against the fantasy politics of bad faith that leads Republicanism) sooth themselves by recalling how the Republican mid-term sweep of 1994 set the stage for Clinton's re-election in 1996. But this deserves more than soothing note. The Democratic mid-term losses were overtly anticipated at the beginning of the Obama administration (I could argue in detail). I'm glad to be on record now as claiming that the Republicans are going to implode through obstructionism (and their lack of realistic/pragmatic ideas); the economy is going to be recovering well by mid-2012; the G20 will have smoothed out recovery from the global recession; and Obama will be riding high in the polls.

      Quite obviously in early 2009, Obama was going to be strapped with Bush's mess. But all trendspotters at the time envisioned that the recession would be quite gone by 2011, and that appears to be increasingly the case. To my mind, the progressivism of 2008 has not been betrayed. But progressivism needs to—as one says these days—"man up" to the mechanics of change in a very organized storm.

      A sad reality of democracy in complex society is that most of the public will not have the time to understand what's actually going on; so competitions of fantasy politics prevail in elections, and populism of the moment can speak poorly for democracy. But a close reading of the Obama administration over  the past 20 months shows a progressive realism with Chicago street smarts (having no innocence about political machines).

      Progressives basically have 6 or so months to get their acts together, because the 2012 election season begins September, 2011. And American progressives need the constructive solidarity of progressives outside the U.S., not prevailing expressions of disillusioned fantasy politics.

      Pierson and Hacker are basically writing a historical story with _Winner-Take-All Politics_, but the upshot (their "Conclusion"—all of which is available online via Amazon.com's "Look Inside" feature) is that progressive organization needs to become as efficient as organized capital (which Republicanism serves). The better organized case wins. The nature of the game is organization: who understands the real organization of the world most efficaciously, at whatever level, and targets their resources most effectively (which is no simple reality of having the most money, proven by recent California elections).

      If a truly Habermasian advisor was close to Obama, would Obama be performing as he does? I would argue *yes*. And I challenge Habermasians to come up with a better politics than the Obama administration has.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Handelman
      I m not an expert on Habermas, but here are some thoughts: 1) If Obama was adopting a Habermasian perspective, wouldn t the correct thing to do, would be to
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 7, 2010
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        I'm not an expert on Habermas, but here are some thoughts:

        1) If Obama was adopting a Habermasian perspective, wouldn't the correct thing to do, would be to adopt a a policy plan on health care, that was less complicated and more understandable to the general public? For instance, a single payer system would be generally more understandable to the general public (and also polls indicate that most people support single-payer health care, more on polls in point 2) than the complicated mish-mash of policies that Obama was promoting—while, I recogize the danger of redbaiting, it seems to me that given the way in which the far-right operates (calling anything a Democrat does, as 'socialism'), at least the simplcity of the plan would enable broader debates about health care. It seems to be the health care plan that Obama health plan is typical of a very narrow technocratic inside-the-beltway approach (and how is that Habermasian?) to solving the health care crisis. Rather than involving a large public to debate
        health care, he tries to pass it by 'negotiating' with right-wing ideologues in the Senate/House.

        2) I'm much more pessimistic about the political system in the U.S.. One of the troubling things about the way in which the Republicans undermined themselves, is that Clinton 'triangulated' and moved the Democratic Party even further to the Right! In the short run, such a strategy may discredit the immediate right-wing party (they are seen as extremist, but it shifts political debate to the right! Furthermore, I'd be interested in understanding what Habermas thinks of the role of polling in the public sphere. Robert Reich claimed that Clinton governed through polling after 1996 (according to Reich, instead Clinton should have governed leadership whatever the hell that means), but I think governing through polling is not accurate. It is governing through selective polling, namely you ignore polls that show that most Americans want single-payer health care, or they want more resources to be committed to reducing poverty (yes, I know there are contradictory
        trends, i.e. they want more anti-poverty, but less welfare....,) and support neoliberal policies that the polls say the public wants. The relevance to this, is I have a very strong suspicion is that Obama will turn to towards govern through this selective polling (the way in which he constantly caves in to the Right...how he gets the message on 'out-of-control spending' bla, bla, bla)....which I have very strong suspcion is more consistent with manipulative governance of the refeudalization of the public sphere. 

        3) About the 'upcoming' economic recovery, I'm very sceptical about this. The dominant trend is towards Hooverite austerity measures globally. As I think it is obvious that such an approach leads to lower rates of economic growth (look at something like monetarism, trying to radically reduce inflation will strangle growth). If Obama caves in to the Republicans and cuts stimulus package and social spending in general, this would only prolong the economic crisis. The continuing economic crisis will be used to further undermine any sort of public sphere, it will lead to forms of regressive action for action sake (to sound like Adorno) which will be heavily manipulated by the right ("we need to cut taxes to the rich and deregulate to get the economy going and we can't have a reasoned debate, because we need the 'reforms' now"). And furthermore, presidents tend to get to get the blame or the credit for the economic conditions that they govern through. So it
        seems very plausible that in 2012, the Republicans have a good chance to win, with the most idiotic (or perhaps more accurately fascistic---and I tend to have fairly narrow understanding of what fascism is) candidates as possible! I furthermore, find it quite striking that Obama can't seem to articulate any sort of Keynesian argument for why social spending/stimulus is necessary economically (by saying this I'm not saying that he should adopt complicated mathematical equations to explain to people why things like unemployment insurance, social assistance etc. do not simply make sense from a humanitarian perspective, but economically as well...i.e. ensuring that layed off workers have enough money to buy things really helps the economy get out of recession). This is important for the operations of a public sphere. Instead, I could see that Republicans adopting a hard-core military-keynesianism in 2012 along the lines of "Lets Invade Iran, to get the
        American economy going, just like WWII got the American economy going). This military-keynesianism (which I think would accelerate the collapse of the public sphere, given the centrality of jingoism, nationalism, militarism, and other irrational impulses) could be seen as a 'stimulus' package that middle-class (and business class) Americans could accept because the Democrats refuse to offer any sort of defense of Social Keynesianism. 

        4) Furthermore, while I believe that Habermas moved away from the total critique of instrumental reason that Adorno, Marcuse, etc critiqued. It seems there is still room for critique of instrumental reason (as in his notion of the colonization of the lifeworld). But what are we to make of Obama's continued acceptance of the neoliberalization of education, to make it more instrumental for corporate interests, which does seem to be to a continued instance of colonization of the lifeworld by instrumental rationality.

        5) I'm also troubled by the fact that Obama's policies have been remarkably similar to Bush II's policies. So, I really don't see how one can claim Obama being 'Habermasian', without also claiming that Bush II is also a Habermasian.

        But perhaps the problem is I'm treating Obama as the Habermas the sociologist (which I'm more familiar with), rather than Habermas the legal scholar.

        --- On Sun, 11/7/10, Gary E. Davis <philosophy@...> wrote:

        From: Gary E. Davis <philosophy@...>
        Subject: HAB: Obama as Habermasian
        To: habermas@yahoogroups.com
        Received: Sunday, November 7, 2010, 8:51 PM







         









        I expect that my subject line seems eccentric. However, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard scholar of American intellectual pragmatism, has just published _Reading Obama_ (Princeton, 2011) which argues, in light of a thorough reading Obama's young career as legal scholar and political author, that Obama is an "intellectual president" in the lineage of American pragmatism and that Obama's critical years of development at Harvard took place at a time of especially progressive ferment in legal theory concordant with Putnam's interest in Habermas and philosopher Richard Bernstein's pragmatism (beyond that fact that "...many of Bernstein's books...appeared regularly in the footnotes of law review articles and books...at just the time when Obama was studying law at Harvard…"[134]).



        Koppleberg briefly discusses key conceptual features of Bernstein's pragmatism (133-4), which (no news to a subscriber here) "drew together ideas from the traditions of hermeneutics and existential phenomenology, the later writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the critical theory of Habermas, whose Deweyan dimensions Bernstein was among the first Americans to emphasize." Koppleberg claims that "Bernstein has advanced the version of pragmatism that seems to me closest to the ideas advanced in Obama's books—although Obama is hardly as systematic in the presentation of the philosophy—[such that] I want to outline the five dimensions of Bernstein's pragmatism" as "echoing" throughout Obama's books: "fallibilism....the inescapably sociocultural character of individual experience....the participation of individual interpreters in a community of inquiry or discourse....[Jamesian/Deweyan] sensitivity to radical contingency....[and] a pluralistic philosophy

        for a pluralistic universe." This might be read as partisan overreading of Obama's political practice, except that the point of Koppleberg's book is that Obama is overtly thinking in light of a coherent and deliberate pragmatic philosophy that is integral to how he works.



        The highly esteemed Harvard theorist of Constitutional law, Lawrence Tribe, is said, according to Koppleberg, to "credit Obama [as student] for helping him [i.e., Tribe] to see...the interpretation of...the United States Constitution...as a conversation, an interpretive process that never ends" (133). That seems a bit exaggerated (Tribe is well-known for his animus for Original Intent jurisprudence and his support for the Obama presidency), but the comment goes to the point of Obama's seriousness of intellectual engagement, which Koppelberg's book is explicating in much detail.



        Koppleberg actually claims that Obama, as an undergraduate, read Habermas, among others, in Obama's overt search for a political philosophy (17, 104). An apparent keynote of Koppleberg's expository strategy toward Obama's legal education is to tie the discursive ferment of legal controversy at Harvard to Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, Rawls, and Bernstein, all of whom were at that time especially interested in Habermas while Obama was at Harvard Law. "Perhaps not surprisingly, given Putnam's position as a member of the Harvard Department of Philosophy, he has been more frequently cited by Harvard Law School faculty members than have the other contemporary philosophical pragmatists. In 'A Reconsideration of Deweyan Pragmatism,' Putnam's stirring contribution to _Pragmatism in Law and Society_, the volume derived from the 1990 Harvard Law School conference on pragmatism, he invoked both Dewey and James—and tied their insights to those of Habermas—to

        make the case for a 'radical' democracy that is pragmatist rather than foundationalist, participatory rather than elitist, and 'more hard-headed and realistic' than the romantic ideas [of much Deweyan work...,] precisely the model laid out in Obama's 'Why Organize' to justify the continuing effort to empower the disempowered" (136-7).



        *  *  *



        There's a rising tide in the U.S. of animus toward gilded age capitalism, being put in terms that the general public can appreciate: signaled by Robert Reich's just-published _Aftershock_, Pierson and Hacker's _Winner-Take-All Politics_ (Pierson is Chair of the Pol. Sci. Dept. at Berkeley), as well as the usual suspects in the progressive press.



        Disappointed progressives (many of whom were living a fantasy politics of good faith, a parallel universe against the fantasy politics of bad faith that leads Republicanism) sooth themselves by recalling how the Republican mid-term sweep of 1994 set the stage for Clinton's re-election in 1996. But this deserves more than soothing note. The Democratic mid-term losses were overtly anticipated at the beginning of the Obama administration (I could argue in detail). I'm glad to be on record now as claiming that the Republicans are going to implode through obstructionism (and their lack of realistic/pragmatic ideas); the economy is going to be recovering well by mid-2012; the G20 will have smoothed out recovery from the global recession; and Obama will be riding high in the polls.



        Quite obviously in early 2009, Obama was going to be strapped with Bush's mess. But all trendspotters at the time envisioned that the recession would be quite gone by 2011, and that appears to be increasingly the case. To my mind, the progressivism of 2008 has not been betrayed. But progressivism needs to—as one says these days—"man up" to the mechanics of change in a very organized storm.



        A sad reality of democracy in complex society is that most of the public will not have the time to understand what's actually going on; so competitions of fantasy politics prevail in elections, and populism of the moment can speak poorly for democracy. But a close reading of the Obama administration over  the past 20 months shows a progressive realism with Chicago street smarts (having no innocence about political machines).



        Progressives basically have 6 or so months to get their acts together, because the 2012 election season begins September, 2011. And American progressives need the constructive solidarity of progressives outside the U.S., not prevailing expressions of disillusioned fantasy politics.



        Pierson and Hacker are basically writing a historical story with _Winner-Take-All Politics_, but the upshot (their "Conclusion"—all of which is available online via Amazon.com's "Look Inside" feature) is that progressive organization needs to become as efficient as organized capital (which Republicanism serves). The better organized case wins. The nature of the game is organization: who understands the real organization of the world most efficaciously, at whatever level, and targets their resources most effectively (which is no simple reality of having the most money, proven by recent California elections).



        If a truly Habermasian advisor was close to Obama, would Obama be performing as he does? I would argue *yes*. And I challenge Habermasians to come up with a better politics than the Obama administration has.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
























        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Gary E. Davis
        Michael, Thanks for your thoughts. You rightly imply that applying Habermasian interests or views to issues of an actual administration would involve much
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 9, 2010
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          Michael,

          Thanks for your thoughts. You rightly imply that applying Habermasian interests or views to issues of an actual administration would involve much detail.

          I took the few Indexed references to Habermas in Kloppenberg's book on Obama's intellectual development and made a short, enthused discussion from the contexts. Kloppenberg's project is, at least, to read Obama's intellectual development in terms of contemporary American pragmatism, which included Habermas. I would take that further and read the Obama administration with especially-Habermasian interest, following on my Habermasian "bias" in 2008 which caused me to have high enthusiasm for his campaign, then high interest in his administration. It's an exciting complement to my Habermasian enthusiasm for his politics that his actual intellectual development can be explicated in terms of contemporary progressive pragmatic thought that was also interested in Habermas' work. This is especially opportune for reading Obama's actual politics through a philosophically pragmatic lens---in other words: to read a progressively-minded practice theoretically.

          You write:

          M> If Obama was adopting a Habermasian perspective, wouldn't the correct thing to do, would be to adopt a a policy plan on health care, that was less complicated and more understandable to the general public?

          G: I would pose such a question as a matter of what approach is *appropriate* rather than correct. A policy that is appropriate for a legislative process relative to the actual complexities of the health care industry would be different than appropriating such dizzying complexity for variously-interested stakeholders. That is, a political education process, situationally relative to various stakeholders, is a different kind of matter than formulating legislative policy appropriate to the actualities of the health care industry. In light of appropriate legislation (for the moment, begging the question of what's best all around: for consumers, for medical practice, for cost containment, for coverage, etc.), implementation of programmatic aspects must, of course, be manageable and translated into practical systems that are understandable, fair, effective, evaluable, and revisable. The timeline for implementing the actual new legislation reaches into 2019,
          involving pervasive systemic adjustments and translations into practicable procedures, which is also very much a matter of educative processes. *Whatever* legislation results (single payer or not), for any legislative process, involves similar kinds of long view and complexity, relative to different kinds of stakeholders.

          I closely followed the process that led to the actual new legislation. Clearly, there was massive public debate, including lots of levels of dispute and lots of efforts to translate complexities into terms that made sense to the various kinds of stakeholders. For a legislative process, there really is no such thing as "the general public." There are varied public and private interests, competitors and collaborators, that must all be balanced as best as possible, given budgetary and political realities.

          Polling is an important thermometer in good governance. One might complain about appearances of catering to polls, but polling is just a generalized version of having a public in a city council meeting and periodically taking a show of hands about an issue under consideration.

          But skepticism is a healthy part of being reasonable. I would enjoy getting into your details about Democrats vs. Republicans and economics, but I want to limit my response.

          The economic recovery is a fascinating issue. I believe that the Federal Reserve is acting prudently, and I support Paul Krugman's ongoing reading of events. I'm quite interested in the disputes among G20 members about currencies, the need to balance internal and external markets, and avoidance of protectionism.

          The importance of fair competitiveness in a global economy is obvious, and education is vital to the health of any nation. I have no problem with governmental interest in advancing education for economic reasons. For professional education, there are various stakeholders, often competing. What individuals want for their lives, what communities want for their futures, what businesses want, what political communities want can altogether be understood through an integrated philosophy of education that is administratively realistic (and progressive all around, in my view). The difficulties of home-school partnership aren't the difficulties of curriculum integration relative to a fast-changing world, in turn not the difficulties of ensuring the tax base for public education that affords reliable salaries that attract bright persons into professional education. The challenges of education belong across the board, from individuals and families through local
          governments to the federal level. But a president facing intractable unemployment is acting quite prudently to see education as an economic force. 

          Gary





          --- On Sun, 11/7/10, Michael Handelman <mhandelman1@...> wrote:

          From: Michael Handelman <mhandelman1@...>
          Subject: Re: HAB: Obama as Habermasian
          To: habermas@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Sunday, November 7, 2010, 10:37 PM







           









          I'm not an expert on Habermas, but here are some thoughts:



          1) If Obama was adopting a Habermasian perspective, wouldn't the correct thing to do, would be to adopt a a policy plan on health care, that was less complicated and more understandable to the general public? For instance, a single payer system would be generally more understandable to the general public (and also polls indicate that most people support single-payer health care, more on polls in point 2) than the complicated mish-mash of policies that Obama was promoting—while, I recogize the danger of redbaiting, it seems to me that given the way in which the far-right operates (calling anything a Democrat does, as 'socialism'), at least the simplcity of the plan would enable broader debates about health care. It seems to be the health care plan that Obama health plan is typical of a very narrow technocratic inside-the-beltway approach (and how is that Habermasian?) to solving the health care crisis. Rather than involving a large public to debate
          health care, he tries to pass it by 'negotiating' with right-wing ideologues in the Senate/House.



          2) I'm much more pessimistic about the political system in the U.S.. One of the troubling things about the way in which the Republicans undermined themselves, is that Clinton 'triangulated' and moved the Democratic Party even further to the Right! In the short run, such a strategy may discredit the immediate right-wing party (they are seen as extremist, but it shifts political debate to the right! Furthermore, I'd be interested in understanding what Habermas thinks of the role of polling in the public sphere. Robert Reich claimed that Clinton governed through polling after 1996 (according to Reich, instead Clinton should have governed leadership whatever the hell that means), but I think governing through polling is not accurate. It is governing through selective polling, namely you ignore polls that show that most Americans want single-payer health care, or they want more resources to be committed to reducing poverty (yes, I know there are contradictory
          trends, i.e. they want more anti-poverty, but less welfare....,) and support neoliberal policies that the polls say the public wants. The relevance to this, is I have a very strong suspicion is that Obama will turn to towards govern through this selective polling (the way in which he constantly caves in to the Right...how he gets the message on 'out-of-control spending' bla, bla, bla)....which I have very strong suspcion is more consistent with manipulative governance of the refeudalization of the public sphere. 



          3) About the 'upcoming' economic recovery, I'm very sceptical about this. The dominant trend is towards Hooverite austerity measures globally. As I think it is obvious that such an approach leads to lower rates of economic growth (look at something like monetarism, trying to radically reduce inflation will strangle growth). If Obama caves in to the Republicans and cuts stimulus package and social spending in general, this would only prolong the economic crisis. The continuing economic crisis will be used to further undermine any sort of public sphere, it will lead to forms of regressive action for action sake (to sound like Adorno) which will be heavily manipulated by the right ("we need to cut taxes to the rich and deregulate to get the economy going and we can't have a reasoned debate, because we need the 'reforms' now"). And furthermore, presidents tend to get to get the blame or the credit for the economic conditions that they govern through. So it
          seems very plausible that in 2012, the Republicans have a good chance to win, with the most idiotic (or perhaps more accurately fascistic---and I tend to have fairly narrow understanding of what fascism is) candidates as possible! I furthermore, find it quite striking that Obama can't seem to articulate any sort of Keynesian argument for why social spending/stimulus is necessary economically (by saying this I'm not saying that he should adopt complicated mathematical equations to explain to people why things like unemployment insurance, social assistance etc. do not simply make sense from a humanitarian perspective, but economically as well...i.e. ensuring that layed off workers have enough money to buy things really helps the economy get out of recession). This is important for the operations of a public sphere. Instead, I could see that Republicans adopting a hard-core military-keynesianism in 2012 along the lines of "Lets Invade Iran, to get the
          American economy going, just like WWII got the American economy going). This military-keynesianism (which I think would accelerate the collapse of the public sphere, given the centrality of jingoism, nationalism, militarism, and other irrational impulses) could be seen as a 'stimulus' package that middle-class (and business class) Americans could accept because the Democrats refuse to offer any sort of defense of Social Keynesianism. 



          4) Furthermore, while I believe that Habermas moved away from the total critique of instrumental reason that Adorno, Marcuse, etc critiqued. It seems there is still room for critique of instrumental reason (as in his notion of the colonization of the lifeworld). But what are we to make of Obama's continued acceptance of the neoliberalization of education, to make it more instrumental for corporate interests, which does seem to be to a continued instance of colonization of the lifeworld by instrumental rationality.



          5) I'm also troubled by the fact that Obama's policies have been remarkably similar to Bush II's policies. So, I really don't see how one can claim Obama being 'Habermasian', without also claiming that Bush II is also a Habermasian.



          But perhaps the problem is I'm treating Obama as the Habermas the sociologist (which I'm more familiar with), rather than Habermas the legal scholar.





           



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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