Friday, October 29, 2010

Habermas on Leadership and Leitkultur

In "New York Times", October 29, 2010:

Leadership and Leitkultur

by Jürgen Habermas.

"The question is this: Does participation in democratic procedures have only the functional meaning of silencing a defeated minority, or does it have the deliberative meaning of including the arguments of citizens in the democratic process of opinion- and will-formation?

The motivations underlying each of the three phenomena — the fear of immigrants, attraction to charismatic nonpoliticians and the grass-roots rebellion in Stuttgart — are different. But they meet in the cumulative effect of a growing uneasiness when faced with a self-enclosed and ever more helpless political system. The more the scope for action by national governments shrinks and the more meekly politics submits to what appear to be inevitable economic imperatives, the more people’s trust in a resigned political class diminishes.

The United States has a president with a clear-headed political vision, even if he is embattled and now meets with mixed feelings. What is needed in Europe is a revitalized political class that overcomes its own defeatism with a bit more perspective, resoluteness and cooperative spirit. Democracy depends on the belief of the people that there is some scope left for collectively shaping a challenging future."

Comments in the German press
- Jürgen Kaube in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (November 2, 2010)
- Christian Schlüter in Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 2010)

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